Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 Book Group Planning Coming Up

Our book group will be getting together in a week to plan the books we'll read throughout the year.

Any great suggestions? Favorites you've read in the past year?

I plan on tossing "Leadership and Self-Deception" and "The Princess and Curdie" in the ring.

In 2008 our book group read:
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Peacegiver by James L. Ferrill
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
I am a Mother by Jane Clayson Johnson
Hatchet by Gary Paulson
Any book about finances
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
One of Ours by Willa Cather
Train to Potevka by Mike Ramsdell
Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens
Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Misc Things I've Learned About Reading (or Something Thereabouts) Recently

1. I can only put 15 books on hold at the library. When I discovered that (because I had put that many on hold), I added my extra holds that didn't fit onto Melanie's card (yet another good reason to have kids), plus had a list of another 6 I planned to pull off the shelf when I got there figuring no one else would have checked them out.

2. That doesn't always work. Like last week at the library. Someone had recommended "Mississippi Trial, 1955" for Adam to read. When we got there he mentioned he wanted to find it, so I told him I was going to check on a couple other things, then I would help him. A few minutes later I wandered to the YA section to find it, and it wasn't there. Checked the computer again, says it's on the shelf. Look again, all over the shelf, other shelves in the YA section. No book. I'm SURE I mentioned to him that I couldn't find it. A few days later I was putting something on hold for him that I found, and voila, it showed that he had the Mississippi book checked out on his account. "Did you have that on hold last week?" "No, as soon as I said I wanted it I went and pulled it off the shelf!" Duh, mom.

3. I hate hearing about a book and not being able to find it on the library website. Hate, hate, hate it. Books like "The Daisy Chain" by Charlotte Yonge.

4. Because of that, people in the Davis County library system benefit from the fact that I have personally requested about 15 books the library has purchased, such as 9 sewing books (that was the first time, just sent a whole list hoping for a couple but they bought the whole list!), the series mentioned at the bottom of this post, and most recently one I plan on holding on to for quite a while before anyone else realizes it's there (not "Daisy Chain," but I'll have to request that one too).

5. I am not prideful about the many wonderful ways I have contributed to our library system.

6. The library never purchased the $250 math videos. Oh well.

7. Adam told me the other day I think books are the whole world. I thought (with one eyebrow lifted), "Well, yah?"

8. What he doesn't know - book is the new word for cool. (Really, go read this.)

9. Shannon Hale, author of "Goose Girl," "Princess Academy," and several other wonderful stories gave a great challenge to give books for Christmas. This is not a hard challenge at our house. If you have girls in the house, I highly suggest one of Shannon's.

10. For a long time I've really loved the "Read-Aloud Handbook" and it's wonderful book suggestions, but was recently introduced to another wonderful set (thanks Cindi!) that I am newly enchanted by called "Honey for a Child's Heart," "Honey for a Woman's Heart," and one I haven't looked at yet, "Honey for a Teen's Heart." They will each eventually live on my bookshelf.

To finish, here's a quote I read earlier in "Charms for the Easy Life."
"In our house, the point of reading and learning was neither to impress outsiders nor to get a job or a husband, nothing like that. It had nothing to do with anybody but the three of us. When a good book was in the house, the place fairly vibrated. We trained ourselves to be exceptionally fast readers so a book could be traded around before the nagging and tugging became intolerable. I remember particularly, when The Grapes of Wrath was new, how my mother and grandmother felt I wasn't reading it quickly enough, how they asked me every half-hour or so how far along I was. When I suggested we take an afternoon-and-evening vacation and read it togeher, they sat down on the sofa and patted the spot between them, as if I were a puppy they were coaxing to jump up. We took turns holding the book, turning pages, and the only times we got up in twelve hours were to turn on a light and go to the bathroom.

"We shared a curiosity about the world that couldn't be satisfied in any other way."

So there you have it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Pearl

From an article by Stephanie Francom:

"Hugh Nibley translated one of the most ancient records that exists. In this record there is a story that is called "The Pearl." A prince was sent by his father, the king, to Egypt to retrieve a pearl. He took with him a pack of clothing and food. When the prince arrived in Egypt, the people didn't trust him because of his royal clothing. So he donned their clothing. They were still distrustful because of the way he ate, so instead of eating the food he had brought with him, he began eating their food. As he took on their ways, he began to forget who he was and his mission to retrieve the pearl. His parents, aware of his predicament, wrote him a letter and marked it with the kingly seal. When the prince received his parents' letter, he recognized the message as the same message that was written on his heart. He knew that he had forgotten who he was and that he had a mission to perform. He immediately sought after and procured the pearl, and then he was able to return to his parents with honor. Remembering who he was changed everything.

"I believe that each one of us has a pearl that we have promised to retrieve, or a mission to perform. We too have a message written on our hearts. And I believe that there is a letter awaiting each one of us that will help us to remember who we are, if we will seek it out."

Read that last night and had to share. The rest of the article is just as good.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Book Review: Little Women

I love "Little Women." I've been basking in the glow of its wonderfulness since I finished it a couple weeks ago. This is the first book I've wanted to study deeply and write about since graduating from Utah State 10 years ago (no, this isn't that). It is on my list of books I want to study for the rest of my life.

In a very small nutshell, this book is about values, and most especially, family values. I found the simple teachings to be deeply refreshing.

"Learn to know and value the praise which is worth having."
"Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault."
"Trifles show character."
"A woman's happiest kingdom is home, her highest honor the art of ruling it not as a queen, but as a wise wife and mother."
"Principles...may seem like prison walls to impatient youth, but will prove sure foundations to build character upon."

Mrs. March is a wise mother in every way. One of my favorite passages comes after Meg has been out with friends and overhears her friend's mother gossiping about the "plans" Mrs. March has put into play for her daughters by encouraging them to be close to their wealthy neighbor and his grandson. Meg is upset by the assumption, and upon arriving home and discussing it with her mother, she eventually asks her if she does have "plans" for them.

"Yes, my dear, I have a great many; all mothers do, but mine differ somewhat from Mrs. Moffat's. . . I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good; to be admired, loved, and respected; to have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send. To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman, and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience. . . My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world--marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting. . . I'd rather see you poor men's wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace."

Mrs. March's words, actions, and example were perfect to help her daughters reach that vision. Her wisdom and teaching to help them reach it were so pure, I underlined just about everything she says. Her determination in this shows by how firmly she has trained herself. Apparently she had a temper of her own like Jo's, till she finally decided "I must try to practice all the virtues I would have my little girls possess, for I was their example. . . The love, respect, and confidence of my children was the sweetest reward I could receive for my efforts to be the woman I would have them copy."

Funny, the week after I finished "Little Women" I read a little snippet about an article where the author calls it not only "stale" and ranks it with other "badly written" books, but he also says it's "a little creepy." No, I am not bitter. Just sad that those of lesser vision don't realize the beauty of this book.

I could say much more about it, but suffice it to say, I definitely definitely definitely recommend it.

P.S. Just found this review that has a lot of good points as well.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I don't know about everyone else, but we have a lot of STUFF here. Which is, of course, why I origianlly posted the Christmas question to those moms. I found these ideas to be extra creative in regard to that problem.

Here are some excellent 'no clutter' gift ideas.

o Food items are good (my kids love to get their own box of cereal or other treats that we don't frequently buy wrapped under the tree).
o For birthdays this year we've given all the kids season passes to Lagoon. So, a membership to somewhere is a good gift.
o One year I gave my husband a weekend away together as a gift. We went and stayed in a hotel one night, went to dinner, had tons and tons of time to talk uninterrupted. it was great.
o Last year for my husband's birthday, I bought us tickets to see a comedian that he really likes. It was a lot of fun for us. There are so many live shows, kids concerts, etc, around that you could find something like that for everyone in your family. For teens, movie passes are always appreciated.
o A magazine subscription isn't bad because you can then donate the magazine to your drs or dentist's office after you've read it (remove your address label.)
o Some people suggest service coupons (ie: I'll clean your room for you..., etc), but I find that no one uses them. I'd prefer to actually do some secret services throughout the month and then put an anonymous note under the tree saying your Secret Santa did all these things for you in the month of December!
o Last year for Christmas we gave our kids 6 months of video game rental at Hollywood video. They have a program where you can have one (or two)game out at a time for however long you want. The kids love it because they can try all the games they want for the same price. Hollywood also has an MVP program for movie rentals where you can have 3 movies out at a time and kids like that one as well.


More great no clutter gifts - annual passes to zoo, museums, etc.


We've all heard of regifting, but this family takes the cake.

How old are your kids? When my daughter was very young we would sometimes wrap up toys she already had but that she hadn't played with for a long time or that we maybe put away in storage and forgot about. It was nice to know that we could cycle her toys this way.

As she got older and more aware of things we ended up doing something different. One year my husband lost his job in the fall just before Christmas and I knew I wasn't going to have any extra money for Christmas so I told my daughter that we were going to pretend that our home was a shopping store and we were going to go shopping for Christmas! She had a lot of fun with this. We completely played the role and she and I walked from room to room shopping for presents to wrap and put under the tree. When she was shopping with me we were looking for things for dad, and then she would have another day where she shopped with dad and would shop for me. Dad and I also would shop for each other and also for her. She had a lot of fun doing this. We ended up wrapping things that we use every day and also things we haven't used in awhile. It was funny because we ended up wrapping dads watch so we could give him a
watch for Christmas and he didn't even realize it was missing, LOL. We also wrapped his wallet! It was fun. We wrapped things like a pair of socks, pair of jeans, shoes, food in the house like a jar of peanut butter, can of beans and so on. We got pretty creative.

Over the years this is a tradition we ended up keeping. Even on years when we have had plenty of money to spend, we would still do the "shop around the house" thing. I have tried to keep Christmas a low key thing when we buy gifts so we only get a few new gifts each year instead of a huge pile of gifts, but if you ever come to our house on Christmas Eve it will look like we have spent a fortune because there will be a ton of presents wrapped under the tree. The thing many wouldn't know is that over half of those presents are things we already owned.


What a fun tradition! Started out as a way to have things under the tree, and probably something that will carry on for years to come as just fun.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christmas - Three Gifts

These moms all talk about their family tradition of giving their children 3 gifts each year. Each one has a little different take on how they do that and why.

Two years ago we changed our who buying patterns for Christmas. Thinking of the 3 wisemen that brought gifts to the baby Jesus, we too have gone to just 3 items for each child in the family. A gift of knowledge, meaning, and usefulness.

I really think out the gifts now. A gift of knowledge provides something to learn of or from. For young ones it may be a puzzle and for the older kids a computer game, or scriptures, or a new book.

For the gift of meaning, it might be the gift they really want (within reason) or one of pure thought. Maybe they want to learn to sew, so maybe sewing kit or a sewing machine. For my 19 yr old, we gave him an iron, as he likes his clothes most tidy, and this was something he wanted. My daughter, 17, got an lds cd. For me, I wanted a coat.

For the gift of usefulness some got socks, or a new handmade scarf, or a blanket. My little boys got pajamas.

We have found that changing to this new way, that the kids really appreciate and love their gifts, rather than them being shoved aside as they open other things and then ending up under their beds a few days later.


I know what you mean! What we have done for the past 4 years is to give each child 3 gifts - symbolizing the 3 gifts given to the baby Jesus. One gift is their "gold" gift and the main large gift that they want (bike, dollhouse, kitchen set, etc.). Another gift is a gift to share with the family (game, art supplies, tickets to a performance). And the last is a gift of need (new fun bedding, clothes, etc. ) We also give new pjs on Christmas Eve.

I can't tell you how much easier it has made my life to do it this way. But the best thing is that it has brought a more simplistic feel to our Christmas and allows us to focus more on the real meaning of Christmas. The kids know that they will only have 3 gifts under the tree and they consider this very seriously when they let is know what they want. Plus, they are so grateful for what is given and they really use what they get. They still get gifts from family and friends so they aren't ever deprived, which was my big concern when we first started this.

This has made our Christmas so much better and I have spent more time with my family and less time shopping. We also save money by not buying something just to have more under the tree.


I have a problem with buying stuff just to have stuff, too. We started three years ago, I think, with wise men presents (Jesus only got three presents so that's all my kids need, too). We ended up with this plan: one for their body like a football or quilt, one for their mind (like a book or telescope), and one for their spirit like a quiet book for church or CTR ring. It helps keep me from over buying impulse items.

We do something similar, we do 3 gifts one for gold, frankincense and Myrrh. The gold is their big main present, something they really WANT. Frankincense is Spiritual, and Myrrh is something they need, usually an outfit, undies, or socks. I even wrap them to color, Gold is gold paper, Frankincense is white or silver, and Myrrh is a cranberry or red/mulberry type color. Then they get their stockings, full of fun things. I try to do games, books, girls get some fun jewelry, usually chapstick and pencils fun things. They also get a few treats. Then every Christmas Eve Mrs. Clause brings PJ's and a book, this is a tradition of my dh's family.

Even with 3 presents, with 7 kids (8 this year), that's still ALOT of presents!!


We are Christians, so we give gifts in the tradition of the three gifts mentioned in scripture. Meaning, each of our children also receive three gifts. One gift is more costly, one gift is one they maybe really want or ask for (and that's a big maybe), and one is a theme gift

For example on the theme gifts, my oldest daughter was interested in beauty products for hair, make up, etc. She's in drama and truly uses this stuff. So I bought her a bunch of make up and a hair straightener and curling iron, etc. I bought them through out the year and just kept adding them to her theme box. Most of my children (five out of seven) are artists, so I usually get them something they can do with their hands, and then I do try to get something close to what they wish for. Stockings are my favorite part so I put lots of little things in there that I know they will like receiving like candy or pairs of earrings. I have one daughter who loves beading and gosh those things are expensive. I can put a gift card or small amount of beads in a Christmas box in her stocking and I have at least contributed to her stock that way.

We try and fill our holiday with tradition more than anything, which can help us in the long run where gifts run short for our family, even intentionally.


In November, just before the present-buying-chaos begins, we have a family lesson (FHE) where we sit down with the whole family, talk about the original/true meaning of Christmas and about how blessed our family has been that year. We then buy each child 3 presents, as well as little stocking items. Each present has a meaning. I will try to find the official explanation, but basically they are each wrapped in their own color (red, green, gold) & have their own meaning (gift of necessity, gift of learning, gift of meaning) and make reference to the gifts of the Magi.

I like the kids to make a list of things they would like, just to give me an idea if there is something they really want or the name of a CD they have been wanting, etc. The gift of necessity is usually like clothing, blanket, or something for their bedroom. The learning gifts have been things like a guitar w/ "learn to" DVD, chess set, learning game, science experiment stuff, etc. The gift of meaning is the gift they have been longing for.

Our kids were open their gifts slowly, taking time to look at or play with the item before moving on.


We tend to buy a lot of "family" gifts. Each boy (I have 3) gets one gift from Mom and Dad and then one gift from Santa. Then they get "boy" gifts. Like a pass to the dino park, or a movie they all would like. Santa always brings a family game for all of us. Christmas is very small at our house but we make most of our gifts. Like snow hats, sweaters, quilts for the beds or one year the boys all worked on a sled with Papa to "give" to each other. We also pick a charity to give to. Last year we made hats on the knitters looms and gave them to a homeless shelter.

Also we use cloth bags to give our gifts in, then we don't have paper mess either.


This mom had theme ideas for four gifts instead of the three.

Something you want, Something you need, Something to wear, Something to read.


Smart. Smart. Smart. These Christmas suggestions gave me the most to think about.

I remember one Christmas in particular being so happy with my presents until my friend next door came over to see what I got. Disappointment and 'not enough' set in. I know her family wasn’t wealthy so I don’t entirely know where the feeling came from. Fast forward several years later, with me watching a video my dad had taken that Christmas of each of us kids showing what we got for Christmas. I started showing each gift and it kept going and going and going. And going and going! I couldn’t believe all I received, yet I remembered that feeling that it hadn’t been enough. Isn't that terrible?? I think these moms have hit it on the head.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas - Keep It Simple, Keep it Fun

Several months ago during a big bout of decluttering I e-mailed several of the homeschooling groups I'm on with the question:

"I've been doing a lot of decluttering this year, and I'm amazed at how many things I've paid a decent amount of money for that hardly got used. The idea of buying a bunch of 'stuff' just so there is 'stuff' under the tree makes me shudder. Any big Christams ideas out there?"

Thank goodness for really smart moms! There were so many wonderful replies, but it took me till just recently to read through them all (slacker!). I'm posting them for the benefit of all, and because of length, I've organized them into three posts.

One year we did a "Pioneer Christmas" where everything was handmade, even from their father. We did give books as that is a traditions in our family.

All the decorations were handmade, except electric lights for safety. We made Swedish hearts and pasted pictures of ancestors on them and showed our genealogy starting with the kids pictures and descending down the family lines as far as we could go in pictures. (We color coded families). All this we hung on the tree and told stories of each ancestor during the Christmas season.

My kids thought it was the best Christmas ever and want to do it again.


One year we bought just books for our children. I had them make a list of what they wanted in their personal library and we bought them. I think the kids enjoyed (and still enjoy) those presents more than any they got any other year.


Our kids get one present from us. I know they'll get other things from grandma and grandpa so we especially try to underplay the present part of Christmas.

We LOVE to do service projects for Christmas as the main focus, I buy Christmas stories at DI and we read them, trying to focus on why we celebrate Christmas.

One year I wrapped up all the Christmas books, including the Bible and Book of Mormon and put THEM under the tree. I think I had 20 or so, we opened one each day and read it, ending with the traditional Bible verses. That year was a big hit.


Along that line, we checked out a book this week called "Christmas Stories" adapted from the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. A friend of mine told me she read them to her kids one year and it helped get the perspective that more isn't always better.

I have also found that when you try to do the "big" Christmas, and then say the next year money is tight, then your kids feel let down. Or they begin to always expect the "big" Christmas. If you keep it smaller all the time then they are more appreciative to what they are getting and I think they respect their toys are take care of them more. If you have extra money, then save it.

We also spend less at Christmas so that we have extra money throughout the year to buy those little things for the kids. Like bubbles, sidewalk chalk, water toys, etc. Just the things you pick up throughout the year for fun. This way the kids aren't getting a lump of toys at Christmas and then having to wait a long time for more new stuff. It's kind of like spreading Christmas out through the year.


No name on this one but I think it's so fun!

Santa blows up a whole bunch of balloons and they get spread under the tree and around the stockings. It looks like there is a lot of "stuff" without a lot of cost or waste. My kids have loved playing with the balloons as much as anything else on Christmas.

You know they love the boxes best - toss some balloons into the mix.

Teaser for the next set of ideas - three gifts.

Read more "Talk About Tuesday" with the Lazy Organizer!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bathroom Adventure

In "Goose Girl" Ani tells her story to Enna backwards. I think I'll try it with this one just for fun.

The whole dentist office was happy to see us. Sammy had been rescued from the bathroom! It's an intense thing, messing with doorknob insides that you know nothing about with your child stuck inside. I called to let the office know we were working on getting there as soon as we could. Sam and I poked and prodded upon getting the doorknob off after I passed a screwdriver to him under the door. He was crying and crying about being stuck in the bathroom when I came into the house to see what the holdup was, because the other kids and I were in the van waiting for Sammy so we could go to the dentist. We were even leaving early!

We ended up only being about 7 minutes late. They all thought it was pretty funny. While we were there Carolyn needed a potty break, and after I headed her in the bathroom the receptionist asked, "Did you lock her in?" Ha! Ha!

Sammy is toting it as his first "real adventure." We're just really really glad Erin or even Carolyn weren't the ones that got stuck. Dumb that the screws to get the doorknob off were on the inside. Not so with the new doorknob!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good, Better, Best on the Blogosphere

I keep up on the blogs I read using Google Reader. When I run into a blog that I think I might enjoy reading more of, usually mentioned in someone else's blog, I'll subscribe to it through there and can see when it's been updated. Quick and easy.

I subscribe to some because they are my family and friends, which are always fun to see updated. There are others that I subscribed to thinking the author and I are at similar times in our lives, and it's fun to see things interpreted a little different through someone else. Many I subscribe to for personal educational value.

After a while it becomes almost a chore to read some of them. When blogs are on their way off my list I actually have a file I organize them into called "Those I Don't Care About." After they go in there, it would take some really good stuff to hold onto it much longer, but when I do unsubscribe there's a little guilt sometimes. Like we (the blog author and I) had a thing going for a while, a real connection (though of course they have no clue about how bonded we were), and I'm just not feeling it anymore. Such is life I guess.

(Stop and ponder about that for a while. Oooooh, life.)

Time IS limited. We simply have to choose what is worth taking up part of that precious time. From M. Russell Ballard, your choices should "expand your mind, increase your opportunities, and feed your soul." Currently I am subscribed to 44, about 13 of which I love to read as soon as I see something updated, some others that are still on the good list, and 4 on the way out.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Modern Art

I have really been feeling my artistic side blossoming lately. I call this latest creation "Earbuds in a Closed Laptop." It's pretty in a way, but sickening in quite another. The contrast and lack of pixels and color can be depressing. The harsh reality of it all makes you question not only why, but how. I think I'm going to be staring at this for quite some time.

For now, I am tethered again.

On a happier artistic note, this is one of the most hilarious pictures we've seen in any book we've read. It is from a story called, "Where's Mary's Hat?" by Barroux. Mary the cow is looking for her hat, asking animal friend after animal friend if they've seen it. On the previous page she asks a stork if he's seen her hat. He tells her, "No, but if you hurry, you might ask the goldfish before he leaves on vacation."

See?! Maybe it doesn't have the effect on you it did on us, but it struck us with full funnybone force. So simple. So funny.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sammy Sammy Sammy

Sammy is such a great kid.

He does cool things like this (airplane built with NO instructions, notice the prednasone cheeks):

and this (he has all the Indiana Jones Lego sets except one, and has been working on some fun Lego videos):

But recently he's had to do things like this:

That's not to mention the colonoscopy (which wasn't too bad either). And blood tests, which don't make him happy. At all. Thank goodness Primary Children's Hospital is such a happy place. He's been such a trooper. So far he's been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (the ulcerative colitis end of it), but Wednesday he was in all day for a liver biposy to see if they can figure out why his blood tests have been showing liver issues.

This guy, Brad, was fun. We learned two awesome jokes from him, and he explained like crazy. He even showed Sammy his heart.

Everything went really beautifully for the most part. He never complained about pain, and slept almost entirely from the time they started the biopsy till we left. He didn't wake up while Grandma and Grandpa Hall were there visiting, or when Dr. Guthery (his doc there) stopped by to talk to us. Even when we left at 8:00 that night he was only awake long enough to get in the car, then he was outcold again. He woke up more when we got home, but one of the meds he was on made him dizzy and he threw up a few times because of it. He was running around trick-or-treating with us Friday.

Now we're just waiting to see what they learned from it all.

Update: Got a phone call from the doc the Wednesday after, and it looks like he's got Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), so now we're trying to get our feet planted on the proper road ahead. Don't look it up, the things you'll find sound scarier than what we're told will happen (if you do, the doc said that just happens in the minority of cases and after decades of progression), but the big comfort is that we're catching it really early and can keep him good and healthy for a long time.

And for the record, I mainly wanted to add Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis to see what fun it would bring in my google analytics stats.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Do you ever look at tomorrow,

Knowing at the beginning you wake and the end you go to sleep,

And wonder what the story in the middle will be?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hobbits Sew on Patches?

I love checking out my Google Analytics. It's so funny to see how people make it to my blog. I still get a lot of hits from Petite Tresors Cocoa Dusted Truffles, but sewing scout patches has become another extremely popular road here.

Some of my favorite searches from the last month:
* hobbit sew on patches
* pull front teeth
* thomas jefferson drooling
* bedmaking in a hospital

My good buddy Clint posted about his Google Analytics stats last week, and talked about the hits he'd had from different countries. So I went to check mine. My favorite out of the US hit is from Riga, Latvia.

By the way, to read more about Google Analytics, check out this post.

Another Homeschool Blessing

I've been thinking for a while that it's time to potty train Erin, but sheesh, it's quite a committment. Last week I told the other little girls that I would pull out the potty on Monday and get her started. Didn't make it out till two nights ago while Erin and Carolyn were in the bath. Seeing this fun new toy, Erin decided she was done pretty quick, so Carolyn kept on swimming and Erin sat and sat and sat. Lo and behold, success!

I thought about it again yesterday morning, but since we were going to the park I didn't say anything about panties. Later that afternoon Melanie took it upon herself to panty Erin up and took her to the bathroom several times. Both successes and failures, but so it goes.

Melanie loves to be the little mother, and she's been playing that role a lot with potty training.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Strike a Pose

Just had to share. I was taking pictures of Erin on her birthday and Carolyn wanted to join in, then Adam, then they gathered everyone up for a group shot.

Last week we were in Twin Falls for a Wood Badge beading ceremony and stopped by the newly dedicated temple while we were up there.

Too bad we didn't make it up when we could all go inside!

Monday, October 6, 2008

On Food Storage

I was just sent this article on Food Storage by a friend. We've been trying to build ours up more, but I know there is more to do.

From the article I went to her website and found she's got a blog, Totally Ready. Looks like a good read.

And thanks Hannah for pointing out your blog Safely Gathered In!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Who Helps You?

I've been really enjoying our DI finds, reading books that I never did when I was younger. Right now I'm reading "Little Women" (WOW - a new favorite), and the kids and I are just about done listening to Madeleine L'Engle read "A Wrinkle in Time."

"Are you fighting the Black Thing?" Meg asked.

"Oh, yes," Aunt Beast replied. "In doing that we can never relax. We are called according to His purpose, and whom He calls, them He also justifies. Of course we have help, and without help it would be much more difficult."

"Who helps you?" Meg asked.

"Oh, dear, it is so difficult to explain things to you, small one. And I know now that it is not just because you are a child. The other two are as hard to read into as you are. What can I tell you that will mean anything to you? Good helps us, the stars help us, perhaps what you would call light helps us, love helps us. Oh, my child, I cannot explain! This is something you just have to know or not know."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

If I Don't Sound Very Logical...

...hold that thought for a minute. First the story.

I got the two littlest girls in the bath tonight then headed downstairs for a couple minutes, and Melanie followed me down. Suddenly Carolyn yelled, "Mom! I think you better come in here!" Thinking Erin had added unto the bath, I yelled back for confirmation. "Is there a problem?" No answer. I asked Melanie to run up and check on things, still figuring Erin was just trying to 'share' and was ready to run up after getting a confirmation. Then Melanie yelled down, "Come here! Carolyn's whole tooth is out!" When I heard "whole tooth" I was thinking yikes, roots and all, and I sprinted upstairs. Carolyn was sitting there with a grin, holding a little bottom front tooth.

"Did you bonk your mouth on Erin's head?"
"Then what did you do?"
"I just did this with my teeth (showed me rubbing top front teeth on bottom front teeth) and it came out!"

Tiny bleeding, better even than some I've pulled out for the kids. I checked the other front one, and it's definitely on the loose side too. She doesn't even turn 5 until February!

From there she was ready to jump out of the bath so she could get it ready for the tooth fairy. We had to explain the tooth pillow concept. She thought the tooth stayed in the tooth pillow till you took the tooth out to put it under your pillow, and was very adament about that until I pointed out how tiny the tooth is and how easy it would be to lose it.

Now about the logic. After she was all dressed I took a few pictures then had her call Daddy who was stuck at work. Took me a few seconds to think of taking video of her talking about it. See if you can follow the circles she spins. What a cutie.

So if I don't sound very logical, it's because I get this kind of loopdy-loop stream of consciousness a lot. At least she didn't pull a Grant, but she didn't even warn me it was loose!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lifelong Learning

Jamie checked out "The Book That Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books That Matter Most to Them" from the library a couple weeks ago. He finished it pretty quickly and passed it off to me. I was flipping through it the other night, reading about some of the books I recognized, when I happened upon one by Da Chen writing about "The Count of Monte Cristo." In it he talks about growing up in China and not being allowed to read anything that wasn't written by Mao. When a book happened into the village it was torn apart and shared around so everyone could hand copy it. I won't go more into that, but he talks about how with no books around, storytellers were revered. At the end of the day everyone would gather round the village storyteller and listen to his stories, doing whatever they could to keep him going. Da Chen became the storyteller for his generation, all climbing a big tree together where he would share stories he had heard from the village storyteller. He said that when he ran out of stories, people stopped coming to listen to him.

I didn't think much about that until today while I was cleaning out a closet and listening to a recent talk by Robert D. Hales on "The Journey of Lifelong Learning" (sorry, can't link straight to it but you can search for it here.) I don't know exactly what it was that bridged lifelong learning to Da Chen the storyteller, but I had an 'ah ha' moment. Of course learning makes anyone a better person, but for a person to be able to inspire those around them and continue to be inspiring, it is necessary to continue to become better and to share what you learn.

This is a huge concept in the homeschool philosophy we try to follow known as Thomas Jefferson Education or Leadership Education (more info about that here). I'll post about a fun way that lifelong learning works into what we do soon.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Like Magic

It amazes me what kids will respond to. The kids have been introduced to Mozart's "The Magic Flute" a bit because I LOVE the Queen of the Night's big aria (here's another during a clip from "Amadeus", and another really great one). Jamie and I went to see the Magic Flute the summer after we were married and I don't think I breathed through the entire song. I recorded if off a CD sometime and have played it here and there. I said something about it to them the other day and during the conversation I decided I should see if I could get a copy of the opera from the library. I thought the copy I put on hold was in English and put it on this morning just to run while we went about other things. It's in German. I was a bit disappointed since it would be harder for the kids to follow it, but as I type, the 156 minutes are just about done and Adam and Melanie watched just about the whole thing with Sammy, Carolyn, and I joining them here and there. I've put two books on hold for our next library trip so they can get the story of it all. It's got me thinking of other 'greatness' I should expose them to.

Speaking of magic, those beans I mentioned last post are still holding their magic. Today I taught Melanie about fractions using them and some measuring cups. She thought the whole thing was pretty amazing. Carolyn helped, but she was still a bit young for the concept. They've been out two other times today besides that, one time with Carolyn and Sammy sorting them.

P.S. Melanie told me tonight that the worst part about "The Magic Flute" is that it isn't ours. :)

Monday, September 8, 2008


Sammy came up to me today and asked if we get to choose our jobs. I told him yes, of course. He said, "Then when it's time to tell the guy what job I want, I'm going to tell him I want to be an archaeologist." I chuckled to myself then asked him if he would like to hear how people get their jobs. "Yah!" I walked him to my bedroom so we would have a quieter place to talk, then I told him how when I was young I wanted to be a teacher, a writer, and a mom when I grew up. That I went through elementary school, junior high, and high school learning all the things they wanted me to there, then when I went to college I could study things that would help me get to those goals. I told him how I started by majoring in education but decided that wasn't for me, moved to computer science, then literature, then finished off in technical writing, and told him that I was able to choose what I wanted to study.

His eyes were shining the whole time, but he got even more excited when I told him that since we homeschool if archeology is something he is interested in, we can start learning what he needs to know and study about now instead of waiting. We got on the library website and put 8 books on hold, found a kids archeology magazine he's thinking about using some of his birthday money on, and some interesting looking kids archeology websites.

This was all brought on by Indiana Jones, though we read on a website several months ago that he's a treasure hunter more than an archaeologist (because he's just trying to make his museum better than everyone else's). I don't know how long it will last, but we'll run with it while we can.

Speaking of discovery, I'm working on some fun ways to keep Carolyn and Erin entertained while trying to have even 5 minutes of conversation with the older three. Today I dumped a bag of mixed soup beans into a plastic container, gave them some little paper cups and some spoons, laid a tablecloth on the table knowing there was going to be a mess when they were done and hoping that would make clean up easier. For the hour it kept them busy, the clean up was nothing. Next time I think I'll put the tablecloth on the floor and let them play there on it. Less droppage.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

64 Books

The Hall Family has been on a book hunt. With a mission to expand our home classics library, we scanned the book shelves at three DI's the past couple of days, and now are 64 books richer. When you consider that many cost only $.50 and $.75, it's not a horrible investment, though there were the $1.00, $1.50, and $2.00 books in there, plus a few other 'treasures' the kids found during the expedition.

It's exciting to have so much greatness at our fingertips.

Jamie found a set of four books called "Out of the Best Books." I guess they were written to be used in Relief Society groups back in the 1960's to study literature together, but there are poems, short stories, and excepts with a discussion section after each. As it states in the preface to the first volume, "the best way to study literature is to read it... Literature is vivid and exciting and provocative--but only when we have read it." And so, we read! After looking through them I'm excited to read and use them with our homeschooling, and at only $1 each!

Here are some of my favorite quotes on reading.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School, Our Style

Hooray! The first day of school!

The kids and I took a hike up Ensign Peak today. Unfortunately Jamie had to head to Wyoming for a few days and we missed him being with us, but we still made it up the hill and enjoyed the hike. I've got more object lessons from this one hike than I'll be able to use up for quite a while. One biggie I didn't even think of till we got home, "in the world, but not of the world."

While we were up there we talked about vision, mission, and goals.

We talked about the vision the men had that originally climbed there to lay out a city, and how we need to have the same kind of vision in our own lives. We talked about having a vision for our family, and looking down at the temple we talked about how we want to all be there together as a family someday.

We talked about how each of us have a mission, and that everything we do and everything we learn helps us to get closer to learning what our mission is and makes us better to accomplish it (D&C 88:77-80).

We talked about how we had the goal to make it to the top of the mountain, and even though it got hard, and sometimes people even got scared (Sammy thought he saw a snake), we helped each other, pushed on, and MADE IT. Goals can feel the same way - hard, sometimes scary, but if we keep at them we'll be all the better for it. Over the next few days we'll be laying out some of our goals for this year.

We talked about some 'schoolish' things too through it all, like erosion and wildlife (on the way down the trail Melanie said, "It's sure nice they put all this nature here!" I let her know the nature was there before the people, LOL!) and of course Utah history. We're looking to visit the capitol and council hall sometime soon.

When we got back down the hill we decided to go to the Pioneer Museum and saw a lot of great things there as well. The kids really liked seeing tangible objects that belonged to people and prophets they've learned about, including the wagon Brigham Young rode into the Salt Lake valley on. Melanie made me take a picture of the two-headed lamb, but I am so not posting that here.

Just the beginning of a great year.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shining Eyes

Thought for the day...

Besides a variety of other credentials, Benjamin Zander was the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra for 28 seasons, beginning in 1979. At one point he realized that the conductor doesn't make a sound, "he depends for his power on his ability to make other people powerful... My job was to awaken possibility in other people. And of course I wanted to find out if I was doing that. And you know how you find out? Look at their eyes. If their eyes are shining, you know you're doing it. If the eyes are not shining you get to ask a question - who am I being, that my players' eyes are not shining? We can do that with our children too. Who am I being that my children's eyes are not shining? That's a totally different world... Success is not about wealth and fame and power, it's about how many shining eyes I have around me."

A powerful measuring stick. The eyes are windows to the soul.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

With All Eyes on Michael Phelps... can't help but see what a great woman his mom is, too. Don't you just want to give her a hug? You can tell what a wonderful, supportive family they are by watching them both.

I just read about this blog post called "Give That Mom a Medal" and wanted to pass it on.

Here's another from the NY Times on "Helping Her Son Find Gold."

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Power of Play

This afternoon I (don't be surprised) watched a talk by Freeman Dyson on looking for life in the outer solar system. Before he dives into that topic he shares a few thoughts on history and then on biotechnology. He makes the statement, "As soon as computers became toys, when kids could come home and play with them, then the industry really took off." Freeman said only half jokingly that that's what they need to do with biotechnology.

I think it's key that Freeman didn't say that when schools started teaching computers they took off. When they became exciting and fun, maybe even a little off limits at times, computers took off.

Play is a powerful way to learn! I try to use playing as much as I can here at home with the kids. Melanie learned most of her math skills last year sitting next to me at the counter adding up 6 and 12 sided dice while I was working on something else. Carolyn learned all her letters in about the same way, sitting next to me at the counter where she had climbed up to talk or color while I was doing something, and I would ask, "Do you know what this letter is?" and draw it out for her. I would quit after just a few so she wouldn't get bored. After the first few were introduced, most letters were pointed out while we were cuddled up reading.

I helped Adam create a blog for himself because he wanted to write about baseball and whever else he felt like writing about. I jumped at the chance thinking, "Ah ha! Typing and writing practice!" He's had it for several months and hasn't written too much, but I just helped his friend create one too, so maybe that will get a little blog competition going.

Sammy has played with animating his Legos a bit using my camera to take the pictures then scrolling through them, but this week he went to town and has done some really cool things. To take that further, now I plan to learn about Stop-Motion Animation so we can take all these pictures from the camera and make something with them. He doesn't know that's the plan because I don't want to get him too excited until I know we can do it, but he asked about starting his own blog to show off some of his Lego creations and animations so we did it earlier today.

The kids are also teaching themselves to play the piano. Melanie used to tinker all the time on it, till one day she played a few notes and realized they were the same notes in a primary song. I helped her figure out the rest, then after she got that down, showed her some simple left hand notes to go with it. Now she plays parts of 4 or 5 songs, one that she figured out the left hand entirely on her own. Jamie got Sammy started on the Indiana Jones theme. Adam hasn't jumped on the bandwagon... yet.

Play is probably why I'm so excited to really get back to school this year. We just keep having more and more fun! Did I mention I plan on hiking the kids to Ensign Peak for the first day back to school?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It Just Feels Right

There's something very comforting about having homemade chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge, ready and waiting to be eaten.

Monday, August 4, 2008 - The World is Bigger Than I Thought

All of the talks have expanded my mind and made me see that there is more to this world than I could have ever dreamed. Here are my favorites in that category.

Alisa Miller - This talks shows specifically why our world may seem so small to us. It's something I've thought about before as Jamie flips between the three 10 o'clock news channels here saying things like, "Why do they always put the same stories on at the same time?" and "Don't care... (click) Don't care..." My jaw literally dropped when she shows the second map, and again when she showed what happens to that map when they take out the one story (one stupid, ridiculous, insignificant, do people really care about that story). When I get finished playing on so much I plan on seeking out more international news.

I'll be adding more world stretchers here. - There's a Lesson in That

I feel these talks really have a great lesson to 'take home,' so to speak. The quotes I posted are points I really liked.

A.J. Jacobs on his year of Living Biblically:
"I couldn't believe how my behavior changed my thoughts... I almost pretended to be a better person, and I became a little bit of a better person." (abt. 6:25 in the talk)

Karen Armstrong on Compassion and the Golden Rule:
"You behave in a committed way, and then you begin to understand the truths of religion." (abt. 4:25, amazing how well that goes with the A.J. Jacobs' quote)
"In compassion... we dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and we put another person there. And once we get rid of ego, then we are ready to see the divine." (abt. 5:30)

Billy Graham on Technology, Faith, and Human Shortcomings - Towards the end of the 1998 conference, Graham asks the question, with all the great advances of our day, going to the depths of the ocean and far out into space, why can't stop the wickedness of man?

Nicholas Negropronte does great things with computers when he looks at chidren as a mission, not a market. He quotes Seymour? in 1968 about teaching children thinking, "Kids who write computer programs understand things differently, and when they debug the programs they come the closest to learning about learning." Thanks Dad for making me to learn programming when I was just a kid. :)

I'll be adding more. - Ordinary People, Extraordinary Things

This set of talks are some of my very favorites. The speakers aren't brainiacs that grew up digging fossils with their parents in Africa. They aren't masterminds of math and science performing experiments that cost millions and millions of dollars. They haven't been taking music lessons since they were 4 years old. They are "ordinary" people doing extraordinary things. They took an idea and ran with it. They saw something that needed to change and worked to make it happen.

Dave Eggers - This talk is absolutely inspiring to me, probably one of my top 3 favorites so far. Eggers saw a need and not only helped to fix it, but he did it in a really cool, really creative way (I had to force myself to not give it away). And he's really fun to watch talk about it. But not only did he help others do the same thing, he started the site where people can post their ideas to help local public schools, or just read about things others have done already to help. You can also go to the Pirate Supply Store website (though you have to watch to see what that's all about). Do not miss the Gallery of Signs.

Jonathan Harris - We all know that everyone has their own hopes and desires. Harris goes out and finds out what they are, both literally, and computerally (thank you, another word I just invented). This talk makes me want to type "I feel..." in every post now, but I would feel like a fame seeker or something if I did that. Watch the talk to see why, then visit

Rick Smolan telling the story of Natasha, an Amerasian from Korea. Just beautiful.

I'll keep adding... Addict

Hi, my name is Marni, and I am a addict.

I had watched some of the videos here and there, but while Jamie was out of town last week I realized how I can watch them while I work on bracelet orders, and make boring chores like folding laundry and doing the dishes more exciting (the laptop fits on our windowsill, sweet!).

I've been working on some posts to list some favorites or those that speak to me (I think I will post those today and keep adding the more I watch), but I must say that every talk I've watched has been interesting and educational.

A brief intro about TED: "TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

"The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

"This site makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free. More than 200 talks from our archive are now available, with more added each week. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted."

Isn't that nice? FREE!

Some of the talks have expounded on questions I've wondered about. Some have made me want to be better. Some have made me wonder if I could do something similar. Some have amazed me at the medical advances and technology being worked on. Some have introduced me to ideas I never would have imagined.

It's making my world bigger.

"If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

It's a good addiction.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Unseen DVD Blog-a-Thon

I saw a note somewhere about this Unseen DVD Blog-a-thon and had the perfect movie already watched. Last week Jamie heard about Batman Begins from a friend, so when we were looking at what would be coming from Netflix he told me to put that to the top. I mocked him. I mean, BATMAN? But I did it.

The night we sat down to watch I brought in 3 baskets of laundry figuring he could get his testosterone blast and I could 'watch' and be useful at the same time. About an hour into the movie I realized I hadn't folded a thing. It was REALLY GOOD. Probably another half hour or so later I got up to check the rating and was surprised at the PG-13. Yes it was intense, but the violence is mainly ninjaish fighting, very little blood if at all, and since Batman is so stealthy, many times he gives them a quick beating and they are done. The scarecrow mask thing is scary, and it's definitely upsetting when Bruce's parents are killed. We talked about it and decided to watch it again with the boys the next night. Before starting it we talked to them about the scary parts and that it's just a movie, then we warned them again when they were coming. They both loved it too. And the fact that Jamie and I both sat through the whole 2 hours and 20 minutes two nights in a row says a lot.

After seeing it I was totally surprised no one had told me about it, but maybe everyone else had the same mindset that I did. I'm still trying to finish up that laundry!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sweet vs. Bitter

I grew up eating apricot pits. My brothers, cousins, and I would hold big rocks at grandma's house and crack them by the dozens and dozens.

Probably the first time I had any inkling that that's not always possible was years later, eating them at my parents' house. My sister-in-law said, "Apricot seeds have cyanide in them, I'm not eating any." I thought, whatever, we've been eating them for years.

Later I heard grandma mention to someone that she had planted a new apricot tree and that it had edible pits, but that another somewhere else on the farm didn't.

It wasn't until after ours were bought and planted that I wondered if our trees had edible pits. We've had one for five or six years, and we planted two more last year. The older tree is loaded with apricots this year and I've been drying and freezing apricots. With all those pits hanging around, I hated the thought of throwing them away if they are edible.

I went searching for apricot pit information and learned that the bitter pits are supposedly cancer fighting, but they also contain cyanide. Eating 10 can kill a child, eating 40 can kill an adult. But if the seeds are sweet, or rather have an almond flavor to them, they are safe to eat.

So I did some checking. We only got a few apricots off the two little trees, some of which fell before I could even get to them. I went and grabbed a couple seeds from under the tree and tried one. Bitter. So those two are anti-carcinogenic according to ancient and alternate medicine, but also cyanidogenic (if that's not a word yet, I get credit for making it up).

I was going to wait till the older tree seeds dried before I tried one, but got impatient. Grabbed the hammer, cracked it - ALMONDY!

So yee haw, looks like I've got one edible, two non-edible.

From the table at the bottom of the bitter pits article, it says 'wild apricot pits' are superior sources of the good stuff, and that 'apricot pits' are excellent sources. I wonder if the non-wild ones are the sweet pits?

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Want People to Stagger Back in Admiration

Last week I wanted to post more and more about my decluttering, but didn't in case Jamie got into blackberry range and could read about it all. I wanted the big reveal when he got here!

So, the garage that he hasn't been able to park in for 6 months and can? "The garage looks nice." The basement that is two big DI trips and one big drop to grandma's for Saturday's shop-for-free emptier, not to mention two FULL garbage cans and all the remaining box combining and organizing? "I guess I should go away more often." No woooooowwwww. No, Marni, you're the rockinest, coolest, most wonderful wife ever, I am the luckiest man on earth that you would work your bootie off while I was up playing and swatting mosquitoes. It brings this episode of Keeping Up Appearances to mind (a great British comedy). The part I'm referring to starts at 2:17 to 5:06, a hilarious little clip. For the record, I'm not that hard to please. But in the future, I could use a little stagger. :)

My sisters both came over at different times yesterday for a tour. They didn't have much to say, but in their defence, it's not like I used to take people down to the basement just to show off how well our junk was piled around and spilling onto the floor.

Karen, when you make it over, remember you're Elizabeth.

Exciting and New

I've come across some really interesting blog posts lately, and a couple new blogs I've started to read.

From Mormanity, here's some interesting information on the whole Ammon story and why it plays out the way it does. And to think I always thought Lamoni just had a clever roundabout way to get to kill Ammon even though he was so annoyingly nice. "I don't want to marry your daughter, I just want to be your servant for a time, perhaps until the day I die!" (Okay, so that's not a direct quote.)

This one isn't a blog, but I learned about it on a blog, and it really... really... really... bugs me. Especially since Utah just passed a law that kids have to be in car seats until they are EIGHT! At least I did my part e-mailing the governor telling him not to sign it, but he did it anyway. If you haven't checked out, DO. I, like Lara, would love to watch every TED video. So many videos, so many kids to play with, so many dishes to wash, so many books to read, so little time. Thus the messy house, ha! Priorities, priorities.

Another interesting blog I learned about from... somewhere... is Interesting Nonfiction for Kids. Not one I read every word of, but it's fun to read what authors have to say, and learn about books we might not have.

Speaking of kids' nonfiction, we found a great series of books at Barnes and Noble. Adam wanted me to buy the Predators one, but at $17 (their price) I told him we would check the library. They didn't have any of them, but I e-mailed them about the books and now they have most of them! And lots of copies! We're totally impressed with every one we've seen so far. I don't know how to search for the whole series at once (different names, different authors), but if you look at one it has the others under the "Customers Who Bought This Item" section.

And for something old, I went looking for this the other day. I remember my dad bringing home a video of this he had borrowed from someone, and being amazed by it all. Still so cool! Too bad nowadays they just band together to gripe.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

If You Don't Use It, LOSE IT!

This podcast from the Savvy Organizer was just what I needed before sending Jamie and Adam off to scout camp this week. It's only Tuesday, and I took my first DI load this morning. Woo Hoo!!! I am so fired up to get things gone, there will be a healthy level of progress this week for sure.

If you haven't heard of the Savvy Organizer before, Maja is definitely worth listening to. The podcasts are short, to the point, and always have a lot of great ideas. I first learned about her through the Boutique Cafe podcast. Daria features Maja on podcasts 2, 37, and 40.

Talk About Tuesday

Friday, July 4, 2008

Wood Badge June 2008

It's been a few weeks since I got back from Wood Badge. I've wanted to write about it, but needed some time to get back into the swing of things before I could write about it.

First, the basics about Wood Badge. Wood Badge is different than any other scout or leadership training you will receive. Not only do you learn the leadership skills, the nature of the course allows those new skills to be put into practice immediately as you work with your patrol and the entire troop. There are some instructions here and there specifically on the scouting program (after all, it is put on by BSA), but the intent of the training is to teach leadership skills to the leaders so they can in turn teach those skills to the boys.

Something else unique to Wood Badge is that you leave with a ticket to work on. As a participant you visualize how you can improve scouting in your unit or area of influence and write five specific goals towards that, called the ticket. I won't go into why it's called that, but it goes back to Baden-Powell. So not only do you get the training there, you continue your training and bring your vision to life by working your ticket when you get home. When that is completed within 18 months after the training, participants receive their Wood Badge neckerchief, woggle, and beads.

Wood Badge isn't just sitting and learning, though we do some of that. We play games. We have ceremonies. We eat great food. We laugh, we cry. Part of the crying probably leads back to the fact that scouting is a values-based program, and during the course we want to get those values deep in the hearts of the participants. In the end, there is a real desire and commitment to move forward with your personal vision and mission. It's amazing every time to watch this rag tag bunch of individuals show up to go through the course, and come out working as a real team with a pack of leadership tools, new life-long friendships, and best of all, the deep desire to make a difference.

My favorite part has got to be the people. Amazingly committed, wonderfully inspiring people. People you wish could all be your neighbors. People you get so close to they feel like members of your family. People that just thinking about them lifts your spirits. Each of the four Wood Badge staffs I've been privileged to know as a participant and on staff has been like that. And as you get to know the participants, you find there are many in the same category.

I was an 'outsider' (so to speak) on staff this year. I was the only person on the whole staff and course that wasn't from within the council or even the same state. Every Wood Badge I've been involved with has been through the Snake River Council out of Twin Falls, Idaho, and they are always so welcoming. As a matter of fact, the day we were taking course pictures they were taking staff pictures of the people in each of the scouting districts. Someone said, "What about Marni?", knowing I wasn't in any of them. They decided to adopt me into all their districts, and this is the resulting picture.

I've been looking and looking at other pictures I could post, and I know they won't have nearly the feeling behind them as they do for those that were there. But I still can't help it.

Participants with their Troop Guides, ready to bridge from Cubs to Boy Scouts.

Walking to church in the snow


Ready to launch

We made atlatls as a quick scout activity

The day we celebrated Flag Day we also heard about the tornado that ripped through the Little Sioux Scout Ranch and killed four boys. After finishing an instructional activity we brought everyone to Gilwell Field, shared the news, and lowered the flag.

Flag Day Ceremony

Since I was the scribe there aren't many pictures of me since I took 98% of the pictures of there. But here's a final one with me in it as one of the hosts of the Wood Badge Game Show. Isn't this the most awesome dress ever? Go eBay!

Vanna Moonflower and Orville Eugene

This was my fourth time at Wood Badge, one as a participant and three on staff. It was a really hard decision to go this time, and several times I came very close to telling them that I couldn't go, but I am so glad I did. I am supremely grateful to my husband, my parents, and in-laws for watching the kids while I went.

If you haven't been to Wood Badge and get the opportunity, GO. It is a life-changing experience you won't regret.