December 19, 2009

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

"God is ever before my eyes. I realize His omnipotence and I fear His anger; but I also recognize His love, His compassion, and His tenderness towards His creatures."

December's Title Swap

Classical Kids CD's (My favorite are Mozart, Handel and Vivaldi)
My First Book of Classical Music (Easy Piano Arrangements) by Bergerac
Little House on the Prairie Series on CD by Laura Wilder
Alcatraz and The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

November 20, 2009

Networks Vs. Communities

So, I blog...actually I have three blogs to be exact. Yes, I finally decided to see why everyone is so into Facebook. I still snicker whenever I get a "friend request." Especially when it is from a person from high school that I never talked to during the three years we roamed those hallowed halls together, but now we are "friends," and I know their daily thoughts and activities. Although I have to admit that I can't wait to see if anybody has any comments about my latest quip I posted, I find myself feeling more depleted, not fulfilled after such encounters. John Taylor Gatto explains the reason for this feeling of emptiness that occurs after spending time in these social networks perfectly in his book, Dumbing Us Down. What amazes me the most about this book, is that it was first published in 1992, before the Internet was widely used.

He states on page 48 that, "The fragmentation caused by excessive networking creates diminished humanity, a sense that our lives are out of control -- because they are... that when people in networks suffer, they suffer alone, unless they have a family or a community to suffer with them.... These thin human contacts give you the feelings that your 'friends' don't really care about you beyond what you can do for them, that they have no curiosity about the way you manage your life, no curiosity about your hopes, fears, victories, defeats."

In contrast, "A community is a place in which people face each other (not just in cyber space with a web-cam, but really face to face) over time in all their human variety: good parts, bad parts, and all the rest. Such places promote the highest quality of life possible -- lives of engagement and participation."

What is the antidote to the depletion we experience everyday from the numerous networks we belong to-- Service! We can start by serving. Get out and get your hands dirty. Take your kids along and get their hands dirty. Serve your family and friends. Serve strangers. Start rebuilding a community feeling wherever you are. Hopefully this will help build our families, instead of continuing to deplete them.

November 19, 2009

November's Title Swap

The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling by Linda Dobson
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez
Created to Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl
7 Habits for Happy Kids by Covey

October 24, 2009

Was Hamlet Sane or Insane?

Hamlet was sane. He was brilliant with his ability to use his interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. This indicates that he was extremely aware of himself and everyone around him, thus making him responsible for his actions. The following are quotes from the play that demonstrate Hamlet's use of these skills and prove his sanity.

Interpersonal Intelligence (discerning people for who they really are):

Hamlet - Then I would that you were so honest a man. (Act 2, Scene 2, line 177)
Hamlet - Do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? (Act 3, scene 2, line 341)
Hamlet - You go not till I set you up a glass where you may see the inmost part of you. (Act 3, scene 4, line 20)
Hamlet - He keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed to be last swallowed. When he needs what you have gleaned it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry again. (Act 4, scene 2, line 17)

Intrapersonal Intelligence (internal reflection):

Hamlet - "Seems," madam? Nay it is. I know not "seems."(Act 1, Scene 2 line 76)
Hamlet - For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. (Act 2 scene 2, line 246)
Hamlet - What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! (Act 2, Scene 2, line 299)
Hamlet - To be, or not to be? That is the question (Act 3, scene 1, line 56)
Gertrude - O'er whom his very madness, like some ore among a mineral of metals base, shows itself pure. He weeps for what is done. (Act 4, scene 1, line 25)
Hamlet - What is a man if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more. (Act 4, scene 4, line 32)

October's Title Swap

Tales of Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
Hamlet CD by BBC
Teach Your Own by John Holt
Your Money of Your Life by Joe Dominguez
History Pockets by Evan - Moor

September 21, 2009

September's Title Swap

Miss Potter - DVD
Printable Rescources -
Debra Bells Ultimate Guide to Home Schooling
Charlotte Mason + the Guides to...
Ruth Beechick's 3R's
Confessions of an Organized Homemake
Last Child in the Woods - Richard Louv

Story of the World by Peace Hill Press
Literature Pockets and Daily Language Review - Evan Moore
Code Word Caper by Letter Factory - DVD
Meet the Sight Words - DVD
The Weighty Word Book - Levitt, Burger, Guralnick
Criket in Timesquare - CD
Mr. Popper's Penguins - CD
The Web Files - Margie Palatini

Primary Grade Challenge Math - Edward Zaccaro
Life of Fred - Stanely F. Schmidt
children's math stories - Stuart Murphey

Draw Write Now
Science Units from Debra Bell's Subject by grade lists

September 18, 2009

Trusting Our Children to Learn

I was most impressed by the John Holt's incredible empathy he shows for children in his book, How Children Learn. He gives us permission as parents to love children where they are and encourages us to look at things the way they do. I loved every part of this book! It has already changed they way I parent.

John Holt-
"What we have to do is break this long downward cycle of fear and distrust, and trust children as we ourselves were not trusted."

Children learn with the spirit of joy, foolishness and exuberance like the spirit of all good games including the game of trying to find our how the world works which we call "education."

August 31, 2009

Why Leadership Education?

In a Deseret News article that was published August 25, 2009 by Irene Maher, stated that “Starting or returning to school can be stressful and trigger emotions and anxiety in children that even the most attentive parents may miss.”

The article continues: “School can put (children) over the top. It has nothing to do with school, actually. That’s just the place the child brings his emotional baggage, says Dr. Peter Gorski, (a University of South Florida pediatrician who specializes in developmental and behavioral medicine).

Colette Parker of Tampa thought her youngest son, Xavier Williams, would handle kindergarten without much fuss, just as his older brothers did.

But two weeks into his first school year she started getting calls from his teacher. Five-year-old Xavier was throwing things, blowing up emotionally, running out of the classroom, acting aggressively and physically fighting with other children. The teacher couldn’t handle him.

Parker, 33, says her son had a difficult time making the adjustment from the familiar friends and caregivers at day care to the more structured environment of kindergarten. Day care was all about play. ‘In school he had to sit down and do work,’ says Parker.

‘We see a lot of families who never had issues with their kids until school started,’ says John Mayo, a licensed child therapist and deputy executive director of Success 4 Kids & Families.”

What is wrong with this picture?? For most of my life I would have said that some kids are going to have a harder time leaving home and adjusting going to kindergarten than other kids, but it’s a fact of life. Your child “has” to leave you at age five, and like it or not he or she has to start making his or her own way in the world.

I remember very well how I stood in a line of mothers and their kindergartners waiting for the bell to ring, signaling the first day of school. This was my last biological child and I knew I wouldn’t be able to have any more children. My heart was breaking and tears were willfully held back as I attempted to put on a brave face for my little girl. I look back at this experience with much regret and realize there is nothing I can do now to change what happened then. But I have the knowledge and power to change the outcome for the adopted children I have in my home now. The single greatest paradigm shift of my life has occurred because of discovering “Leadership Education.” I would like to share some my favorite parts in the book by Oliver and Rachel DeMille entitled Leadership Education - The Phases of Learning, that contributed to my transformation.

(Page 18) “Leadership Education recognizes the need for freedom in education and encourages self-motivation and personal mission accomplishment that result in feelings of inherent self-worth, leadership and compassion for others. The conveyor belt enforces sameness and aims to foster feelings of societal interdependence, based upon feelings of personal inadequacy and dependency on experts as the norm.”

(Page 23) “The greatest irony in modern education is that we will not let children play when that is practically all our teenagers do. What if children played and worked with their parents more and were lovingly taught about good and bad, right and wrong and true and false? What if youth worked very hard and put in long hours getting a great education and preparing for their life mission? What amazing results could come of making such a reversal in our society!”

(Page 45) “The increasing intellectual demands of the child in Love of Learning Phase upon the parent require that the home life and family’s time be kept as uncomplicated possible. Too many outside activities, no matter how valuable or interesting, can be over-stimulating for the child and draw him much too soon away from the ties that bind him to the nest. Too much “stuff,” either as clutter in the home or as entertainments and possessions that rob time from the necessary “right kind of vacuum” (that space of discomfort/boredom that impels a young person to exert himself to accomplish something worthwhile) can derail a family’s education... It is okay to stay home! It is okay to just play sometimes! We need to take responsibility to fill our homes with wholesomeness, warmth, light and learning and provide the time for family members to benefit from this ideal environment.

(Page 86) “The two biggest complaints are that Scholar Phase is too hard and the Love of Learning Phase is too easy.... There is nothing more challenging in the entire educational world than an excellent Love of Learning Phase. Day in and day out, week after week and year after year, the parent-teacher’s role is to inspire the child to happily, consistently and unswervingly study, learn, search, discover, enlighten, know and apply. The sad reason that people think Love of Learning is ‘easy’ is that they have been brainwashed by the conveyor belt. When they hear ‘Inspire, not Require,’ their brains are so conditioned against combining ‘inspire’ with ‘education’ that they actually go home remembering something very much like ‘ignore, not require.’”

(Page 127) “There are two proven ways to create a teenager: 1) force and push children academically and 2) let them do whatever they want in their personal life. In contrast, young adults are raised by parents who: 1) have firm disciplinary standards and 2) a high quality freedom-oriented educational system. The two components of creating youth are natural and excellent complements.”

(Page 135) “It is interesting that some modern feminists have described the stay-at-home mom or homemaker as caught in a life of boredom, subjugation and sad mediocrity. But true feminine ambition focused on the training of future leaders who fully understand and can accomplish their missions is the greatest challenge and opportunity of our time or any time. It is not enough to train up one’s own children. The true mother must also train and properly raise the whole community in which her children grow up, looking ahead three or four generations and acting accordingly. This is not a government village raising the child, but a mother raising her own children, her future sons- and daughters-in-law, and communities of great and good leaders who will ensure the liberty of their grandchildren. Not, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ but, ‘It takes a mother to raise a village.’”

(Page 135 - con’t) “The greatest educators are fathers and mother - from Eve, Mary, the mothers of Moses , Washington , Jefferson and Lincoln, to the women who embrace and magnify their roles and responsibilities as mothers in your neighborhood and your own family. These are statemen and stateswomen engaged in the work of building the family-the basic unit of society. A stateswoman puts her relationship with God and spouse in their proper place of preeminence, leads an inspirational life, is actively progressing through the phases herself, runs a Mom School, has her home arranged as a leadership home, says ‘no’ and ‘yes’ in the Leadership way, and mentors through the Phases of a Leadership Education. She is a powerful example of a woman living a life of challenging, fulfilling, exciting feminine ambition and expertise that is literally world-changing. It takes a mother to raise a nation.”

(Page 283) “A life spent making the world better for your future grandchildren is a life of service, leadership, and greatness. It takes a full lifetime to really make change. This is the message and purpose of life and the most important thing any of us can ever do. It is the reason for our lives. We better get started on it early, or as soon as we realize what it is all about.”

I didn’t understand “what it is (really) all about” until I was already a grandmother. Nevertheless, it is not too late for me to transform myself and become a scholar and provide leadership education in my home and community. When we open our hearts and souls and become receptive to what blessings God has in store for us, He will lead and guide us to where we need to be so that we can accomplish our missions and true purposes for being here on this earth. It is through applying the principles taught in Leadership Education that we can accomplish our life’s mission by guiding and preparing the future leaders of the world in our own homes and inspiring others to do the same.

No longer do I believe the myth that compulsory education is a fact of life and that there is no other choice but a conveyor belt education that enforces sameness and “feelings of personal inadequacy and dependency on experts as the norm.” I wish I could let all the “Colette Parkers” of the world know about Leadership Education and that there is a much better and more joyful way to nurture and educate your children and be the change you wish to see in the world. Little five year-old Xavier wouldn’t be carrying emotional baggage to school because he would be able to stay home with his mother who would teach him basic core principles and allow him to be a child and not worry about scholarly pursuits until he had a great core phase and loved to learn. Imagine how different Colette and Xavier’s lives would be with Leadership Education.

June 27, 2009

Les Miserables Preface Quote

So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age - the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night - are not solved; so long as in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, book like this cannot be useless.

Hauteville House 1862

June's Title Swap

Napoleon by Lucy Lethbridge
The Parenting Break Through by Merrilee Boyack
Blink by Malcome Gladwell
The Tipping Point by Malcome Gladwell
The Star Catchers and Peter Pan by Dave Barry (recommended as a family read aloud)
Music Theatre of Idaho

May 27, 2009

My Life in the Millennial Saeculum

I was born in April during a First Turning. I am one of many post war or victory babies born during an era of good schools, strong families, and general security. The 4th Turning has special meaning for me because the seasons of the Saeculum exactly match those of my own life. From Spring to Winter, history’s seasons are those of my life cycle as well.

My childhood was simple. My parents immigrated from Germany in 1956 to start their lives all over again. They carried all their worldly possessions in two suitcases and were 500 dollars in debt. They came to America with one goal in mind: give their children a better life than what they had endured during the Great Depression and World War II. My father and his brother started up their own concrete business making fireplaces, building facades and garden figurines. My father was also a part-time musician and assembled his own band that entertained other German immigrants. My mother stayed home and raised us four children. We went from abject poverty to a comfortable level of existence in a few years through hard work and the opportunities that America provided my family.

In this era, children were raised to be idealistic. We were adorable as babies, cute as grade school pupils and striking as we entered our teens, after which our parents would be very, very proud of us. I was supposed to become famous when I grew up. My parents expected me to become a famous dancer or violinist. Then my Opa in Germany would see me on television and he could tell all his friends that I was his granddaughter. But I had other ideas and without realizing it at the time, joined the many other Boomers who questioned their parents’ values and then rebelled against the establishment. I could not accept that the purpose of my life was to simply live out the fantasies of my parents and grandparents because they had been deprived of the opportunities that were given to me. Even as a young child I knew I had been born for a different purpose.

Along came Summer and the great Awakening. Shakespeare wrote, “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,” and my secure world was shaken up with my parent’s divorce in 1970. America ’s sexual revolution hit the Silent Generation at an awkward phase of life, just when they had kids at home. From 1969-1975, there was a divorce epidemic. Men felt claustrophobic and women felt resentful. My parents were no exception. The 1970's were the cult of the adult. The cost of raising a child became a hot topic. Adults ranked autos ahead of children as necessary for a good life. My father valued his exotic birds more than he did his children. He was deeply engrossed in himself and satisfying his own needs. Meanwhile, my mother was burdened with raising her four children by herself and needing to rely on church welfare to get us through the hard times. What a rude awakening!

I got married in 1977. My three children were born in 1978, 1980 and 1983, all during the end of the 2nd Turning. I went back to nursing school in 1985 and spent the next three straight years going to school full-time. My youngest was two years old at the time and she (and her siblings) had to get used to having a part-time mom. I had married young and started having children before I had the chance to fulfill my dream of becoming a Registered Nurse. My children had to pay the price of my dream because I had had them before I could do what I wanted to. After all, I am my father’s daughter.

My three biological children and an adopted son had to grow up in a hurry. They were latch-key kids while I worked full-time. They learned to be independent, resourceful and competitive at an early age. They were given every opportunity to learn survival skills. When my oldest son, David, was only 11 years old, he went on a two week trip across the United States with a private school that he had barely joined during the middle of the school year. He was subject to migraine type headaches when stressed, and of course experienced one in Denver , after the first couple of days on the trip. We were ready to go and pick him up and bring him home, but he toughed it out. At age 12, he spent 24 hours in isolation in the desert near Escalante as part of his curriculum. At age 15, he and his 17 year old sister flew unaccompanied to Germany to spend the summer traveling all over Europe with my sister’s family. Is it any wonder that David left home (to attend college) at age 17, after spending the summer working as a Boy Scout river running guide on the Snake River? David’s sisters have had similar growing up experiences. They are all grown up now, have children of their own and live out of state. At times it is painful for us to live so far away from one another, but we all know that they know how to survive without me. They were raised that way.

In the 1st Turning there is an economy of abundance and a psychology of scarcity. In the 3rd Turning there is an economy of scarcity and a psychology of abundance. 1984 started economic policy of large deficits, unchecked growth in entitlements spending, decreased national savings rates and heavy borrowing from foreigners. By the 1990's, fiscal excess, as well as personal excess was a way of life. The gap between the rich and poor widened. Most of America ’s adults grew up in a society with perpetually improving outcomes, better jobs, fatter wallets, stronger government, finer culture, nicer families, smarter kids, all the usual fruits of progress, but during the Unraveling, these goals were slipping away and we feared for our children and grandchildren. Dan Quayle diagnosed an ethical cancer that had metastasized through all levels of society. The Unraveling had darkened the quality of American Life.

People no longer trusted the government, but trusted the individual. There was no such thing as “normal” opinions. People found their own “niche” groups and each group exalted its own authenticity. It defined its adversary’s values as indecent, stupid, obscene and evil. The institutional order was not working and not worth defending and no one felt responsible for things as they now stood. During the 1990's, America ’s niche groups conflict came to be known as the “culture wars.” By empowering the ideals of the Awakening, the Unraveling laid the agenda for the crisis to follow.

During the 3rd Turning, my husband and I looked forward to having our children grown up and having some time for ourselves. I enrolled in college when my last two children were in high school so I could finally pursue an advanced nursing degree and further my career opportunities. At the same time I felt conflicted inside while fighting my own culture war. I came to realize that I had not yet fulfilled the divine purpose of my life. I was disenchanted with the pursuit of material wealth, status and entertainment. Staring at the prospect of having an empty nest, it didn’t seem so appealing anymore. We were at a major crossroad in our lives. My husband and I both had wonderful, secure jobs that we loved. We lived in a five-level stucco home that had recently been built for us and a large yard that we had landscaped ourselves. We loved our neighborhood and our ward. I was the Young Women’s President and I had great girls that I loved. We sang in a community choir that was very talented and sang at various community events. Our lives were full and busy and as perfect as they could be.

But the burning question I had inside of me that I had to know the answer to was this: Did I have the faith and courage necessary to sacrifice everything (as the Mormon Pioneers did) for a greater cause than just my own selfish consumption of material goods? What could I possibly contribute to the world in the very deepest sense, to give my life true meaning and purpose? I discussed my questions with my husband and turned my quest over to God and He answered me in ways beyond my wildest imagination.

My husband and I willingly walked away from everything we had built up together and started over again because it was for us, the right thing to do. We were born during the Spring and grew up during the Summer of this saeculum. We are principled visionaries with passionate values. Life isn’t worth living for us without being able to actually live what we believe deep down inside. Now that we have moved to a small community with our six adopted children and have returned back to the basics, living a much simpler lifestyle, we are living The Dream. We are no longer wasting our time and energy pursuing that which has no lasting value. We are fulfilling the measure of our creation by parenting and teaching six beautiful children that would otherwise have had no future. We have become Prophet parents raising a Hero generation along with our Nomad Children raising our Hero grandchildren in the 4th Turning.

Winter has arrived and we are preparing for tough times ahead. These are the most exciting and challenging times of all the seasons. Each generation serves a unique and important role in the 4th Turning constellation of generational archetypes.

As elder Prophets, we translate our lifelong values agenda into commandments that exact sacrifice from ourselves and others. From the young, we seek personal obedience and respect. To the young, we offer opportunity for heroism and achievement unlike anything they themselves had known at like age. As elder Prophets, we will provide the torch of conviction for younger generations during their times of trials. The Gray Champions will lead at a time of maximum danger and opportunity.

As midlife Nomads, our older children must step forward as the saeculum’s repair generation, the ones stuck with fixing the messes and cleaning up the debris left by others. They are the pragmatic managers of the crisis. They must keep the Prophets from wreaking needless destruction and the Heroes from marching too mindlessly under their elders’ banner. History is counting on them to do whatever hard jobs are necessary.

As young adult Heroes, our younger children and older grandchildren are the soldiers of the crisis. This generation complies with authority and accepts the need for public sacrifice and public virtue. They will work together as a team and build a reputation for meeting and exceeding older adult expectations.

As children Artists, our younger and future grandchildren are sensitive souls that must be protected during times of crisis. They are the vulnerable seeds of society’s future that must be saved while the emergency is overcome and the enemy defeated. They are the crisis era’s fearful watchers, tiny helpers and lucky inheritors if things turn out well.

With every 4th Turning there occurs an “ekpyrosis” - the death of an old order and a rebirth of something new. A 4th Turning clears out society’s exhausted elements and creates opportunity for fresh growth. It allows society’s survival instincts to emerge and harnesses all the archetypal strengths to maximum advantage, enabling society to work through problems that might otherwise destroy it.

There are three key points that I noticed are reoccurring themes in the book, The Fourth Turning. They are as follows:
1. An oscillation between the overprotection and underprotection of children.
2. The four archetypes lend balance and self-correction to each other and history.
3. History’s endings are open and subject to the good or bad acts of each generation.

“History is seasonal, but its outcomes are not foreordained. Much will depend on how tall we stand in the trials to come. But there is more to do than just wait for the time to come. The course of our national and personal destinies will depend in large measure on what we do now, as a society and as individuals, to prepare.” We need to move with the seasons and be present in the now. We cannot be stuck in the past, pining for easier times. We can best prepare by anticipating and preparing for the future.

My parents’ wish for their children to have a better life than they had, has come true. Without the sacrifices made by older generations in a previous 4th Turning, and my parents’sacrifice to leave their homeland and come to this amazing country of America , I would never have had the opportunity to live out my dreams. I will be forever grateful for all they have taught me to prepare me for my ultimate and final role as an elder Prophet during this 4th Turning. It is really true: the core dynamic of the saeculum is that history shapes generations and generations shape history. May we each play our parts well when it matters the most, so that our future generations can also have the opportunity to live out their dreams. It’s all up to us now and the outcome of the last turning of the Millennial Saeculum.

May 23, 2009

May's Title Swap

The Other Eminent Men of Wilford Woodruff by Vicki Jo Anderson
Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky A. Bailey
Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankel
Teaching Your Children to Fly by Merrilee Boyack

A New Perspective

Steven R. Covey declares in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “we see the world not as it is, but as we are – or, as we are conditioned to see it.” (pg 28) In order to live our lives most effectively, the author encourages us to have a complete paradigm shift that is principle based, not just a personality shift of behaviors and attitude.

Personality ethics are social comparisons and judgments. When we focus on improving personality ethics, we tend to try to change just our techniques and often attempt to manipulate others into what is the acceptable social model. If there isn’t deep integrity and fundamental character strength, the challenges of life will cause our true motives to surface and relationships will fail.

Many people fall in the trap of only focusing on personality ethics. Instead, we have to look deep inside ourselves and find what we fundamentally believe and think. True character ethics are timeless and universal to all humanity because they are principle based. Principles such as: fairness, integrity, honesty, human dignity, service, quality or excellence, potential and growth.

A little over a year ago, my husband and I felt so lost and unsure about parenting our oldest son, who was only four at the time. We had tried every parenting technique heard of, and felt we were “losing him.” After coming across an educational model, known as a “Thomas Jefferson Education,” that was principle based, Richard and I had such a significant paradigm shift we have profoundly changed our lives.

We stopped trying to squish our son (or any of our children) into the box of social norms. We began to focus first on ourselves by fundamentally changing our self-perception and how we viewed our children. We realized that we needed to begin with the end in mind – to know what our missions were, and then watch for and help each of our children with their individual missions.

We began to put first things first to create a more inspiring learning environment by reading classics and removing the television from our home. As parents, we realized that we needed to model the type of behavior and attitudes that we expected our children to have, by being more emotionally mature than they were, instead of borrowing strength from our position and authority.

Richard and I realized that “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them,” (Albert Einstein, pg 42). We found that principle based living and thinking was much more effective and satisfying, than just changing our parenting techniques. This road to valuing correct principles has been difficult, but well worth the effort. Keeping the end in mind, enables us to us have the courage to continue forward.

April 30, 2009

April's Title Swap

10 Essential Herbs by Lalitha Thomas
Applewood Books (Historical and Biographical)
Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
Value Tales by Spencer Johnson
The Core Knowledge Series by E.D Hirsch, Jr.

March 28, 2009

The Taming of the Shrew

In Shakespeare’s play, The Taming of the Shrew, there are two beautiful sisters who are upper-class young maidens-in-waiting. The oldest sister, Katherine is known by everyone as foul tempered, sharp tongued and disobedient. Her sister, Bianca is seen as a sweet, soft-spoken, well-behaved and obedient daughter to her doting father, Signor Baptista Minola. But we soon find out that appearances are not always what they seem.

It becomes apparent that there is an intense sibling rivalry between the two sisters and that Bianca is given preferential treatment by everyone because Katherine is known as “the shrew.” No potential suitor who knows Katherine wants to have anything to do with her and they all flock to seek Bianca’s hand in marriage, but Baptisa lays down the law and won’t let any man woo Bianca until Katherine is married off first. The play never reveals the reasons for Katherine’s wrath, but clearly she was unhappy and miserable. It seems it was easy for Bianca to become her father’s favorite when her sister was struggling.

I remember as a child that often when my siblings were in trouble, I felt happiness and satisfaction that I wasn’t the one getting scolded. I enjoyed being on top when they were down. I thought I found success because of their failures. On a daily basis, I notice how several of my children take turns behaving like shrews and angels. When one or more children are misbehaving, the others act sugary sweet, and then when the angelic siblings are found struggling and behaving like shrews, the one(s) who previously had behavioral issues instantly sweeten up. It is like a pendulum that swings back and forth and rarely can a time be found when every child in the family is feeling good about him/her-self and others, all at the same time. Why does it have to be like this? Isn’t it possible to have a win-win situation and not have to compete for your parent’s approval through your sibling’s downfalls? It appears that this is a common human tendency that a child feels “up” only when his sibling is “down” and some adults never grow up and get past this kind of behavior with others. From the book by C. Terry Warner, Bonds that Make You Free, he states that “to the immature, others are not real.” Maybe this is one key that can help us understand why the immature have difficulty in feeling compassion for another’s struggle.

At the same time, it can be a temptation for parents to consistently build up the child that is eager to please and to maintain a general negative attitude with the child that is frequently difficult to deal with as was the case with Signor Baptista Minola and his two daughters. No one expected Katherine to ever be anything but a shrew all her life, and who would have expected anything but virtue and sweetness from Bianca?

Bianca had the opportunity to tell her new tutor, Cambio, that she did not want to have anything to do with his dishonesty when he revealed himself to really be Lucentio, a rich nobleman from Pisa . Instead, she goes along with his charades and secretly gets married to him without her father’s knowledge that he is the “real” Lucentio.

Meanwhile, Katherine allows herself to become tamed by her new husband, Petruchio, and is the only one that is obedient and loving to her husband when he calls for her in the presence of a celebration gathering. Katherine has become a refined, dignified woman who encourages her sister and her former suitor’s new wife to humble their pride and stop being so foolish as to “offer war where they should kneel for peace; or seek for rule, supremacy and sway when they are bound to serve, love and obey.”

Petruchio saw beyond the label that others had assigned to Katherine. He didn’t pay attention to everyone who ridiculed him for marrying Katherine and helping her to become the lovely young woman that was hidden inside of her. It would have been interesting to see had Shakespeare continued the play, if Bianca would have ended up becoming more like a shrew in her marriage to Lucentio now that her sister had become more “pure” as the name Katherine implies.

And as parents of children who struggle with not feeling good about themselves unless their siblings are down, or who struggle with children who have an abundance of less desirable character traits, we need to remember that our children will live up to whatever we believe they can become. Beneath the undesirable behavior is a beautiful person that can rejoice in being someone special and who can value their siblings’successes and feel true empathy for their struggles.

March 27, 2009

March's Title Swap

Magic Tree House Series - Mary Pope Osborne
The Read Aloud Handbook - Jim Trelease
Our Home - C. E. Sargent, A.B.
Cardboard Can Rotater - click here for site
Honey for a Child's Heart
The Introvert Advantage: How to thrive in an Extroverted World
Love and Respect
What You Say When You Talk to Yourself

The Secret to Taming a Shrew: Virtue

In the last line of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” the character Lucentio is awed by the change he has witnessed in his sister-in-law, Katherine, when he declares, “Tis a wonder, by your leave, she will be tamed so.” How does one “Tame a Shrew?” Petruchio not only understood how, but he succeeded in genuinely winning Katherine’s love, affection, and devotion because of his unwavering virtue.

Upon arriving in Pudua, Petruchio seeks to increase his fortune by marrying rich. All he wants is a bride with an enormous dowry, and Katherine fits the bill. When he approaches her father to settle the terms of marrying Katherine, he is so honest and direct that he is chastised. “You are too blunt. Go about it orderly,” they chide. But Petruchio retorts, “You wrong me…give me leave.” On their wedding day, Petruchio arrives in what others deem to be very inappropriate clothing. When asked to change his attire, he declares, “To me she is married, not unto my clothes.”

Petruchio held a moral compass that few in his day possessed. Whenever anyone called Kate anything unkind, such as referring to her as a “shrew”, he protested and declared her to be virtuous and witty. Although he deprived Kate of shelter, food, sleep, and fine clothing, Petruchio did it all in the name of love. Because of the personal virtue he lived by, it enabled him to “kill a wife with kindness, and thus (I’ll) curb her mad and head strong humor.” It caused Kate to appreciate all an honest husband provides for a wife. She later publicly proclaims that, “Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper…and such duty as the subject owes the prince, even such a woman oweth to her husband.”

In contrast, Lucentio possessing no sense of morals, desired to win Katherine’s younger and more docile sister Bianca’s hand in marriage. Arriving in Pudua to study, he ironically declares to his servant, Tranio, “for the time I study virtue, and that part of philosophy will I apply that treats of happiness by virtue specially to be achieved.” Yet any scruples Lucentio possessed fled quickly when he beheld the beauty of Bianca. “I burn, I pine, I perish, Tranio, if I achieve not this young modest girl.” Upon hearing that Bianca’s hand cannot be had, unless the elder sister was tamed and married first, Lucentio and Tranio devise up a plan to deceive Bianca’s father in order to let Lucentio get close and woo Bianca. Their deceptive antics get so out of hand, that Tranio even attempts to send Lucentio’s father to jail in order to save face.

Does this lack of virtue bring the happiness to Lucentio that he specially wanted to achieve in the opening of the play? No. Although he does succeeded in wooing Bianca by winning her affection and love and eloping with her, Bianca does not respect or honor him. After Bianca denounces her sister Katherine’s duty to her husband, Lucentio miserably declares, “I would your duty were as foolish too. The wisdom of your duty, fair Bianca, hath cost me an hundred crowns since suppertime.” Bianca quips right back, “the more fool you for laying on my duty.” No wonder Lucentio is in awe of Katherine’s devotion to her husband. He contains no virtue that would demand the respect of anyone, least of all his wife’s.

March 10, 2009

TJEd Social Leadership

This weekend I was blessed to attend the Annual TJEd Form in SLC. One of the most thought provoking seminars was given by Shannon Brooks. He stated:

A Renaissance of Social Leadership means a rediscover of the joy of learning for learning sake, the development of personal mission and a focus on unleashing your personal genius.

He also stated that TJEd is not a curriculum or a method. It's the principals that allow you to suck the marrow out of the life! He challenged us to find the WILL to do so...

February 28, 2009

Finding our Modern Day "Walden"

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I can to die, discover that I had not lived."

Although I can not escape to the woods permanently, I can still simplify my life and try to live day deliberately...

February's Title Swap

Project Organization - Marie Ricks (Deseret Book)
Amazing Grace - The DVD
It's All Too Much - Peter Walsch

February 3, 2009

The Home Feeling

“Do you know that being a stranger is the hardest thing that can happen to anyone in all this world?” This is what the Princess told Little Sister in the book, “Laddie” by Gene Stratton-Porter. The Princess, along with her mother and father, the Pryors, were the newcomers in town and they had a dark, family secret they tried to keep hidden from their neighbors.

Mr. Pryor was a man who felt betrayed by his own son. He was so overcome with grief and shame over what his son had been accused of doing that he forced his wife and daughter to leave their home in England . They moved to the United States and changed their last name hoping to forget their past, yet ever living a daily nightmare of untold anguish and disappointment. They don’t fit in very well and reject help from others. Mr. Pryor becomes especially bitter and hardened as he rejects God. Various members of the Stanton family especially notice their suffering and isolation and desire to help them carry their burden.

One day, the mother of the Stanton family, Ruth, gets her opportunity to have a heart to heart talk with Mr. Pryor. Ruth explains to Mr. Pryor how much she would like to help him carry his burden. She tells him that it doesn’t matter to her what the burden is, if he had betrayed his country, blasphemed against God or killed his own child, he could not stop her from caring about him and praying for him. Mr. Pryor doesn’t believe that Ruth (or anyone) could ever understand his trials. Ruth’s response is, “You’re in the position of a man doubly bereft. You are without a country, and without a God. Your face tells every passer-by how you are enjoying that kind of life.”

The author, Gene Stratton-Porter does a beautiful job of setting side by side the polar opposites of the Pryors’ bitterness and pain that leads to their isolation and loneliness and the Stantons ’ creation of the home feeling that invites inclusion and friendship.

Ruth talks to Mr. Pryor about her family life and why it matters so much to her. She and her husband, Paul, are partners with God in everything they do and build their lives on this solid foundation. She says, “Shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart, I’ve stood beside my man, and done what had to be done, to build this home, rear our children, save our property.” Together they raise twelve children whom they teach self-control, how to study, to work hard, to have joy of life and to be satisfied with what they had.

Ruth explains that they always focused their energies on striving to transform this land “into the dearest, the most beautiful, spot on earth.” In making their home the best they could, in improving their township, county and state, they are doing their share toward building up this nation. Ruth’s highest aspiration is to be a clean, thrifty housekeeper, a bountiful cook, a faithful wife, a sympathetic mother. “That is life work for any woman, and to be a good woman is the greatest thing on hold the respect and love of my husband is the greatest object of my life.”

I don’t think it was a coincidence that the author chose to give Mrs. Stanton the name of “Ruth” which means “compassion” and “pity.” Ruth is filled with goodness and concern for everyone she comes in contact with.

At the end of their discussion, Ruth sends Mr. Pryor away with some cuttings and roots to plant in his own yard. When her husband Paul came home that night she exclaimed, “Praise God, the wedge is in!...Once he begins planting, and watching things grow, the home feeling is bound to come. I tell you, Paul, the wedge is in! Oh, I’m so happy.”

And Ruth is right. The wedge is in; the healing has begun. And through some fateful events the Stantons and Pryors become family through the marriages of their children. Mr. Pryor is reconciled to his son, and his daughter, the Princess, asks her father to forgive her for having hard feelings against him. She exclaims, “Oh Daddy, do let’s forget, and begin all over new, like other people!” I have no doubt the Pryors are learning how to have the “home feeling” for themselves.

January 30, 2009

January's Title Swap

The following are the titles that were brought to our January book group. Each member brought a book from their family's personal cannon:

The Secret Garden - F.H. Burnett
Sign of the Beaver - E. G. Speare
Hank the Cow Dog - John Erickson
The Standard Works of the LDS Faith
The Narcissistic Family - Robert Pressman
Leadership Education - Oliver and Rachel DeMille

We had a great discussion for all those who were able to attend on the Fourth Turning. We discussed:
What our personal generational constellations were.
Archetypes Myths and meanings.
What our Scripts are in a Fourth Turning.
And the great importance of raising the next generation of Heroes.

After studying and discussing this topic at length, our group came to the conclusion that the US has already begun the Fourth Turning. It was trigger by the events that took place in 9-11-2001 and the crises will climax within 25 years from that event, (if we follow the cycles of history from the last 500 years). May we all be prepared as best we can for the upcoming times.

January 8, 2009

Salt Lake City TJEd Forum for 2009

Mark your Calendars, it's time for the TJEd Annual Forum for 2009. It will be held on March 7th, in Salt Lake City.
If you are interested, the web site is found on

Early birds must register by Feb 7th, 2009.
Prices at a glance:

Early Bird Adult $52.00
Early Bird Couple: $72.00

Regular Price Adult: $72.00
Regular Price Couple: $92.00

There are special events the day before that cost more if you would like to go earlier. I am personally only attending, on March 7th myself. I think that you can order lunch through the conference or leave to get lunch. What a wonderful time to have a get-away!

January 6, 2009

Finding Relevance in History

"The farther backward you look, the farther forward you are likely to see," Winston Churchill
Perhaps you yearned for a closer connection to the ancestral wisdom gained by real people who struggled to build the civilizations you inherited. Perhaps you yearned for a feeling Americans haven't known in decades: to be active participants in a destiny that is both positive and plausible...This is a book that turns History into Prophcey.

Quotes from this month book, The Fourth Turning, page 20-21