Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Dum: Gum
Sister Butt: Sister Buck
Raisin Brains: Raisin Bran
Buttle: Buckle
Meelt: Milk

Jacob: Ask your mother.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TO DO...

The checklist is so often touted as the ultimate form of accomplishment that is no wonder that moms, especially those of small children, feel so incurably UN-productive on a daily basis.

It is no wonder that when living by a checklist so many things are so blasted irritating! The unexpected breakdown. A spill. The child who is really tired, or even worse, sick. An overworked husband. Those things are such a hindrance to our day...because THIS was the day I was going to get something DONE!

I am just not going to get the shopping, the laundry, 6 miscellaneous craft projects, the dusting (dusting, what's that?), painting the stairwell, the scrapbook, the schlepping, the sweeping, the garden, the toilet scrubbing, the meal planning and cooking and eating and cleaning up after, ALL done today.

I may not get even one of them done.

I need a new list of accomplishments. Accomplishments that I, oh, actually care about in the long run. It is time to change the To Do list.

1. Take some deep breaths.
2. Soothe frazzled feelings.
3. Kiss owies.
4. Thank my overworked husband.
5. Hug my boys.
6. Squeeze my girls.
7. Be kind to a friend.
8. Laugh.
9. Encourage.
10. Be patient.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Four Parenting Temperaments

What kind of parent are you?

yearn for…
Romance/the Ideal

Teaching and Nurturing Style
Allow failure to bring future success
Does not tolerate back talk
Difficult to hoodwink
Clever rather than heavy-handed
Care for children’s food, clothes, shelter and behavior.
Children’s behavior reflects on the family
Punishment can be an effective tool in teaching right from wrong
Patient listeners
Alert to opportunities for cognitive and social growth.

Least likely to try to shape their children
Teaches through natural consequences and removing privileges
Children first need to…(the other things follow)
spread their wings.

contribute to the family and community.

have a positive self-image.

be capable and self-reliant
Give their children…
Physical contact
Emotional support
Opportunities to reach their potential
Want their children to…
have joy and give freely.
have a sense of belonging and to be a contributing member.
feel good about themselves and be kind.
be autonomous.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Poor Mormons

Bill Maher slammed Mitt Romney on The View for giving to Mormons, in other words, a cult, not a charity. Here is a clip from The Dennis Prager Show (my favorite radio rabbi) in which he reacts to Maher and makes some excellent observations about the temporal welfare of Mormons. 

It is really worth a listen, at least part of it:

How Does a Homeschooler Change a Lightbulb?

First, mom checks three books on electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life. Next, everyone studies the history of lighting methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles. Next, everyone takes a trip to the store where they compare types of light bulbs as well as prices and figure out how much change they'll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99 and pay with a five dollar bill. On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money and also Abraham Lincoln, as his picture is on the five dollar bill. Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed. And there is light.

...oh wait, we haven't done Grammar today!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Book Recommendation

Here is one you really should take seriously, please. Really. It will change you. 
Read it, then come sit on my couch share all your gained wisdom with me. 
I would love that.
 I'll make you waffles or Eggs Benedict or a strawberry napoleon.

Food for insight. That's my offer.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Assessment of a Classic

Our Favorite: Classic Fairy Tales by Scott Gustafson

Lily after a bedtime reading of The Three Bears: 
Goldilocks is rude!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sacrament Talk: Teaching in the Home

Be warned: I didn't proof this all too carefully...and it's long, I know, it's for specific people who actually want it.

The Challenge
  • The world in which our students choose spiritual life or death is changing rapidly. When their older brothers and sisters return to visit the same schools and campuses they attended, they find a radically different moral climate. The language in the hallways and the locker rooms has coarsened. Clothing is less modest. Pornography has moved into the open. Tolerance for wickedness has not only increased, but much of what was called wrong is no longer condemned at all and may, even by our students, be admired. Parents and administrators have in many cases bent to the pressures coming from a shifting world to retreat from moral standards once widely accepted. The spiritual strength sufficient for our youth to stand firm just a few years ago will soon not be enough. Many of them are remarkable in their spiritual maturity and in their faith. But even the best of them are sorely tested. And the testing will become more severe. ("We Must Raise Our Sights," CES Address, August 14, 2001)
  • Our children are being born into a world they live in extraordinary physical comfort. Their struggle is a spiritual battle. The challenges they face include more than only the more visible wickedness like immodesty, or coarse language. They “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). 
  • Society has made an attempt to eradicate morality from education. In short, this is impossible. Without morality, we take out the very part our unique brains that makes it possible for us to be educated. Without morality education becomes only about materialism. How to get money, how to distribute money, and how money is the panacea to all of society's ills.
  • To paraphrase Plato: The practical life falls short of completeness. The wealth one acquires in business is a useful thing, but as such, it exists for the sake of something else." (Hicks) The classically educated student  [Latter Day Saints] aims for more than a life of comfort; she aims for a "life that knows and reveres, speculates and acts upon the Good, that loves and re-produces the Beautiful, and that pursues excellence and moderation in all things." (Wise 602)
  • in other words, seeking after the virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy...
  • “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God” (John 7:17). 
  • Such learning requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception. - Bednar
  • If such learning is not happening at home children will have a hard time recognizing the good and beautiful from the many deceptions. They "will begin to doubt the soundness of their own judgments... They are more susceptible to immediate gratification, [emotional manipulation], rhetorical flourishes and simplistic solutions in order to understand the which course of action is right and which is wrong." (Hicks) And if they cannot tell the good from the evil, they will relinquish their precious agency and leave the decision making to, personally, the people around them or emotional whims, and publicly to a few authoritative experts.
  • In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of agency—the capacity and power of independent action. Endowed with agency, we are agents, and we primarily are to act and not only to be acted upon— ...The Savior preserved moral agency through the Atonement and made it possible for us to act and to learn by faith. Lucifer’s rebellion against the plan sought to destroy the agency of man, and his intent was that we as learners would only be acted upon. (Bednar)
Our Goal
  • In a world like this, we have a lot of work to do at home with our families. The sheer weight of the import of it all makes it all sound rather impossible.
  • I know I don't have to reiterate that. I look around at all my friends, people in this ward who are wonderful, careful, loving parents, people I try to emulate and the big question I've had in my mind over the past few days is, "What is the adversary doing to prevent me and you from arming our children with what they need to fight this battle?" Elder Bednar asks us, "Are you and I encouraging and helping those we serve to seek learning by faith? We are all to be anxiously engaged in asking, seeking, and knocking ...Are we as parents ...consistently helping [our children] to act, to learn for themselves, and to stand steadfast and immovable? Are we helping our children become anxiously engaged in asking, seeking, and knocking? (3 Nephi 14:7)
  • The two things that readily came to my mind were fear and distraction.
Our Weakness

  • The adversary wants us to feel inadequate, incapable, and helpless to help ourselves. When we have a bad day, or a few of them, we begin to doubt our ability to do a good job at raising a perfect family. When we are feeling particularly bad about the disastrous state of our day it is very easy to look around and perfect parents and children around us.
  • Just look at what everyone around us is doing. Our children should be: 
    • model students, always cheerful and funny, able to handle chores independently around the house, develop good friendships with the best kids, a peacemaker amongst their brothers and sisters, respectful to adults, always get up on time for scripture study with a smile on their face, be the high scorer in every sport, master at least one musical instrument, write poetry, and this is all before the 2nd grade.
  • The point is, We paralyze ourselves with comparison and competition.
  • Elder Ballard said,  There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. ...What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.
  • Perfection is not a requirement for parenthood. We are all amateurs, and I mean that in the best possible sense. What would happen if we turned our sacred stewardship over to the "professionals"?
  • If there is one thing I would tell all parents I know, it would be. Trust in the Lord, trust in yourself trusting the Lord. We need not fear.
  • We worry that we aren't doing what other parents are doing and we feel bad. Sometimes I think we even worry about doing things better than other parents and making them feel bad! Trust in your own inspiration to guide your unique family. We do not have to do what other parents are doing, even if it's wonderful. We don't even have to do what our own parent's did. 
  • Sister Beck: Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world’s goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all.
The Solution
  • I like the idea of daily bread. Consistent effort in seemingly small daily steps. DAILY bread, not an occasional feast. Like the Israelites in the wilderness receiving manna for the day, we can gather physical and spiritual strength on a daily basis.
    • prayer
    • scripture about it
    • Live the gospel and testify of it daily
    • Follow the spirit, not emotional drama
    • take time, listen when they are talking and teach in the moment. The most effective teaching does not come in overly programmed, outlined lessons.
    • encourage a love of learning and curiosity and create an atmosphere conducive to that in your home, a reverent home. 
    • Teach your children that learning is a life long process - not a product, certificate or degree.
  • We call upon parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church. The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility. We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities. However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform...As we strengthen families, we will strengthen the entire Church. -First Presidency Letter 1999
Hicks, David V. Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education. University Press of America, 1999.
Wise, Jessie. "Some People Hate Homer." The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home.
Bauer, Susan Wise. "A Neutral Education?"
Henry B Eyring, "We Must Raise Our Sights," CES Address, August 14, 2001
M. Russell Ballard, "Daughters of God", April 2008 General Conference
Julie B Beck, "Mothers Who Know", October 2007 General Conference
David A Bednar, "Watching with All Perseverance", April 2010 General Conference

Saturday, January 28, 2012

An Andrew Family Christmas

Some of my favorite moments with family over Christmas:

Emma and Lily looking out the window of the train as we come to a particularly graffitied area:
Emma: Don't read that stuff, Lily, it's bad.
Lily: I can't read dat. Is it Yapanese?

Seeing that Grandma has graduated from merely using Post-it notes for everything imaginable to meticulously cutting the Post-its around her writing so she can now get approximately 40 notes from a single Post-it.

LeeAnn: Cheeseball!

Playing Go Fish:
Lily: Karen, do you have a koala?
Karen: Go fish.
Lily (holding her hand out): You lyin'!

Lily using Grandma's bathroom: (happily) This is where Daddy went potty when he was a little boy. (reconsidering) But I won't talk about dat. Pee is not funny.

Janet: Divide and conquer!

Samuel and Marie arguing about Samuel's food choices:
Marie: Licking broccoli occasionally does not count as eating vegetables!

Lily is so terrified of automatic flushing toilets that she will hop up midstream to avoid going down with the flow.

LeeAnn: Cheeseball!

Werewolves of Miller's Hollow.

Nauvoo Missionary: The bricks get their coloring from iron oxide...
Jacob: YESSS!!!

Watching the missionary at the Nauvoo blacksmith's make a little horseshoe.
Jacob: Now you have to try to find a horse that it fits on.
Nauvoo Missionary: You just stole my joke.

Do you remember that time it took us four hours to get home from Nauvoo?
Laura (yelling at the men in the other car after losing them for half an hour): Stay close to us, 136 takes some odd turns up...
Tom (being particularly snarky): We'll just stay on 136!
45 seconds down the road.
Laura: They're going to make a wrong turn again, I know it.
45.6 seconds down the road...

Emma and Lily

Emma: Lily, sometimes you are SO cute!
Lily: Emma, I'm always cute.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Me vs the Crocodile

I love, love, love teaching my kids to read, then being surprised when they do it. It's FABulous.

I love watching them all give hugs and kisses to each other after family prayer.

I love that they love to play together...all the time.

I love that they read to each other.

I love that when Ethan hurts his brother's feelings, he's worried that he Jake will remember him as unkind. He wants him to know and remember that he loves him.

I love that we don't watch TV.

I love that they don't care much about getting presents at Christmas.

I love that they thanked us no less than fifteen times when we brought them out for ice cream. I love that they are grateful.

I love that Jacob's favorite part of vacation was being with his ailing Grandpa, because 'he seemed lonely without us'.

I love that they are original thinkers. I am no good at raising parrots.

I love that they are still children for a bit longer.

I am officially declaring war on the ticking crocodile.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bedtime conversations

Mom: Did you have a bad dream?
Lily: Yeah.
Mom: Do you remember what happened?
Lily: There was a skeleton in Dad's closet.
Mom: He's got lots of those. Did you see it?
Lily: No. I just saw the doorknob wiggling and I yelled at Jacob to run upstairs because then it couldn't get us.
Mom: That is a scary dream. Are you still scared?
Lily: No.
        I don't like skeletons.
        I only like the skeleton in my body.

Mom: You sure were a big help today with all the little kids.
Emma: Yes. Little kids just really like me, I don't know why.
Mom: It's because you are so nice and always think of great things to do.
Emma: I guess so.
Mom: You are going to be a great mom with those kinds of talents.
Emma: I think so.

Jacob: I like Ethan.
Mom: What do you like about Ethan?
Jacob: He's nice. He wrestles with me and plays with me.
Mom: He really likes playing with you. He sure loves you.
Jacob: Yeah.

Ethan: ...General Sullivan carried out George Washington's orders to destroy a lot Iroquois villages in New York because they had been raiding the settlements. The French arrived a year later, General Rochambeau was in charge and they came to Rhode Island. The French also gave the Continental Army $20,000 in gold. Gold! The French defeated the British in a naval battle and that's what trapped General Cornwallis in. He had no where to go and that's ...
Mom: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Cherish these days.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Watching football.

Ethan says,

"I don't like cheerleaders.

All they do is scream and say, 'Look at my pits!'"

I see his point.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Ethan was talking about...something.

I don't know what it was about.

But he misspoke and said something he didn't mean to say.

"Oh, that's not what I meant. I made a typo."

"Ethan, a typo is when you make a mistake typing something."

"Oh." pause "Well, then I made a taco."

talk-o, get it?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bearing One Another's Burdens

And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
 10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
 11 And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.

I don't know if I have made it here yet. I've had some tremendous opportunities to serve others in need lately which I'm so grateful for, really. But it is a sacrifice. It is bearing burdens. It is mourning. 

I'm not clapping my hands for joy. I am just wiped out. Whew. Tired.

I am so ready for General Conference. It always gets me in that clapping kind of frame of mind.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Boys' Brains

I love taking peeks inside my boys' minds. I like to see what's floating around in there. Correction: not much floats, more like darts and dives.

Ethan's brain is made up of hundreds of shiny filing cabinets teeming with manilla folders. Clearly labeled. No drawers are locked. Yet.

Ah yes, here is "Hullabaloo" right between "Dirty Socks" and "Things That Make Me Itch".

Sometimes, I find a file that is out place and I need to yank that sucker outta there and refile it, in spite of all his squirming. I'm his mother after all, it's my job. Sometimes, I find out he had it in the right place after all. I would have filed "Making Lily Laugh" at the end of the B's, but he was right, it really does belong after "Frogs".

Jake's mind still has a bit of the wreckage in there left over from being a four year old, but the thoughts are beginning to fall neatly into place. Caution is still required for the stray water balloon or spider crawling around where I least expect it. I could walk away from a stroll through his brain with singed fingers or maybe an ice cream sandwich. You never know.

It's an easy casual ride today. I wonder how I'll handle tomorrow when keys and passwords are required to check out just a single file only to find out it's encrypted.

I hope today lasts.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Grandmotherly Advice

I've been helping a friend with her homeschooling efforts and it made me think of such a wonderful quote by my honorary grandmother, Sister Marjorie Hinckley, that I thought I would post what I wrote as a good reminder to myself (and yes, Sister Hinckley is really my honorary grandmother. I have adopted her. I bet you didn't know we were related.):

Don't stress too much about having everything on a timer, things will naturally adjust to a good workable schedule (if you let them!). For me, I would get worried if we weren't doing the 45 minutes I had scheduled for a subject. That's really not as important as doing it everyday. Fifteen minutes a day is better than an hour every third day.

I have found it invaluable to have other things to keep their free time full, not structured, but with plenty to do that is not merely entertainment. We don't watch TV, we don't play video games, we have lots of art supplies, lots of books, lots of games, and lots of chores, so their free time is productive and creative. I just wish we had more land. I'll admit it's a little challenging for me to leave them unstructured, but I've come to see how valuable that time is.

I'm not sure where that came from, probably, from me telling myself not to worry so much. I just read a quote from Sis. Hinckley saying there is so ... I'll go find it:

One day our oldest boy turned up missing. There were lawns to be mowed and irrigation ditches to be cleaned. The hours ticked away. All afternoon I practiced the speech I would give him when he showed up, and show up he did, at meal time, which I knew he would. ‘Where have you been?’ I asked. ‘Down in the hollow.’ ‘And what have you been doing down in the hollow?’ His reply, ‘Nothing.’

Some years later I had reason to be glad that I had not given him the speech. He was home from his mission and was a senior at the university. It was test week and he was under a lot of pressure to do well in order to get into the graduate school of his choice. The pressures of adult life were beginning to be felt. I watched him as he drove home from school one afternoon. He got out of the car, kicked a clod of dirt, went over to examine the swelling buds on a lilac tree, came out to our kitchen, straddled a chair backwards and said, ‘Mom I had a wonderful childhood, didn’t I?’

’Well, I hope so; you did your fair share of complaining about all of the work that had to be done.’

’Oh, it was wonderful—those long summer days when you could lie on your back in the hollow and listen to the birds sing and watch the ants build their castles.’

The memory of the peace of a summer day-- 'God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.' -- sustained him when the pressures of adult life began to crowd in.

Things are different now. Children hear so many voices from so many directions. There are so few empty summer days. There are pressures to excel. It has become a challenge to let children be children.

It has never been so important that children have a home that is a place of refuge, a place of peace, a place of unconditional love--even when the report card may not be what you hoped for...

...We all feel the pressures and stress of the sophisticated, fast-paced, complicated, competitive world in which we find ourselves. Not only do we feel it as adults, but the children feel it too. Because of TV, the press, and videos, our children are exposed to adult life very, very early. This makes it doubly important that mothers and fathers consciously strive to make it possible for children to be children before they become adults.

As a homeschooling parent it is really difficult to resist that, "I need you to perform because it reflects on how I am teaching you!" Maybe you won't have that weakness, but I battle it. I think I win ... most days.

A lot more than you asked for, but at least you got counsel from Sis. Hinckley, not me.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Memorial Day

Tahoma National Cemetery

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A few photos

Banyan Trees in Black Tempera and Oil Pastels
Ethan Emma
Jacob Lily (and some Mom)

Jake's Mad Scientist 7th Birthday Party
This is right before we put the Mentos into the Diet Coke

Pinewood Derby
and a goofy face

Ride The Duck Tour of Seattle

on land...

...and by sea.
...yes it was May and they are wearing scarves and hats! Brrr!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I'm not saying a word. Not a single one.

Saturday, May 28, 2011



It's my favorite question.

Why don't people ask it more?
'Cause lemme just say, I'm asking it for you.

Why? is probably the most helpful question I ask as I raise my family: Why are we doing this or that? Is there really a good reason for it? And if I can't come up with a good answer, then, guess what? I'm not going to bother. (And not just in parenting either.) There are so many things of which I know the WHYs that I don't have time for the:


or the

or the

or the

or the

Those aren't real answers. I know there are a lot of WHAT? kind of people, ie, those who just need to know what they should do and they do it. Fine. I'm just a WHY? kind of person. Quoting Jeffrey R. Holland quoting an unnamed philosopher:

"Tell me sufficiently why a thing should be done, and I will move heaven and earth to do it."

For example: (This is a limited trivial example but it will do,
and it could have very untrivial ramifications.) I have enrolled none of my children in soccer. In spite of the fact that it is what everyone does. Some go to great lengths to provide it, in spite of even constraints of time and money. That's what good moms do. It teaches team spirit, cooperation, hard work, respect, physical exercise, endurance, self-control, good sportsmanship and how to kick a ball. It is, to some, the very definition of good parenting. How can I possibly deprive my children of this essential life experience? This is not about soccer. It's about choices.


What is the goal?


Are there better ways to accomplish those goals?

Have I really considered them?

Am I brave enough to attempt the better way?

These are tough questions. But when I can answer the WHY?, when my everyday thoughts and actions help me reach the things I really want, I feel greater meaning and purpose in life, even with, or sometimes in spite of, the trifling things. And hence, no matter the circumstances I can naturally live with:








I can do with more of that.