Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It's Off to Work We Go

After years of kind of "muddling through," we have finally figured out a morning routine that works well for our family.

Me-up between 5:30 and 6:30
Catch up on e-mails, blog, journal
Personal scriptures and prayer

Kids-up (around 7:00), breakfast, family scriptures and memorization
Curtis off to work
me and kids-chores
"Mad Movie"

Here were my challenges: For chores, Arden has always responded well to chart systems with rewards for accomplishing certain kinds of goals, while Maile has not. Nor do most bribes or threats really work for her, so I needed something that would work for both of them. (I found that one of the few bribes that worked was movie time, so I decided to exploit that and work it into my schedule!)

I needed something that would be a little bit flexible, so if the kids (or the parents!) woke up later then normal, or if we lingered a bit over scripture study or breakfast, we could still carry out our routine and not "feel behind."

Maile is a dawdler. Big time. I hate having to nag, nag, nag, for her to get things done, so I needed some sort of deadline and some way for her to self-direct.

I needed the kids to get into good habits without me having to remember to remind them every day...brushing teeth, making their beds, etc.

I needed to have some time in the morning for myself--to shower, get dressed, etc., since as soon as I get back from exercising, we make breakfast and do scriptures, so we can get Curtis off to work in a timely fashion.

Here is what I came up with that has been working splendidly.

I wrote both the kids' jobs and things they needed to accomplish in the mornings on index cards. (I drew pictures on Maile's cards). I had some popcorn bags laying around the house which I labeled with the kids' names.

When each of them accomplishes the task on their card, they have me check it off and insert the card into their popcorn bag. When all of their cards are in their bag, they get to watch "Mom's Mad Movie." This is always a (short) educational show. (Lately it has been "Liberty's Kids" on Netflix.) Maile is a very visual person, so she likes to see the cards so she knows what she is supposed to do. It is also nice for her to see the cards going one-by-one into her bag, so she doesn't get overwhelmed by her tasks, and she can see how little she has left. Arden knows the routine well enough he doesn't need the cards any more.

To solve the time issue, I created a fun itunes playlist with lots of "working songs." It starts with The Teeth Brushing Song, when we all dash into the bathroom to brush our teeth, then goes on to the rest of the playlist with songs such as Happy Little Working Song, Spoon Full of Sugar, High-Ho, Clean Up, Whistle While You Work, etc.

The kids know that the movie starts right after the last song, so if they've dawdled, as soon as they hear the last song on the list begin, they get busy real quick! It eliminates my nagging! I love it!

Their movie time is just enough time for me to take a quick shower and get dressed.

Then we start school.

So, that is our routine. We've been doing it for a couple of months now and it has worked better then anything we've tried thus far. I even got a "Mom, this is fun!" from Maile when we first began it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Of Freedom and $$

Two years ago by happenstance, I came across some lectures on CD by this man, Dave Ramsey.

I had heard my good friend mention his name, so I picked up the CDs and Curtis and I began listening to them in the evenings as we cleaned the kitchen. Not only was he humorous and fun to listen to, with lots of good anecdotes, but we felt he had great advice as well! We began implementing many of his suggestions into our financial dealings, and I can say that we have drastically changed the way we do our finances because of his advice. I'll be honest--it's been sometimes a challenge to be disciplined, and we've had to put off a lot of things we would have liked to purchase, but the rewards have been great.

This last month has been a very exciting month for us, as we are now COMPLETELY DEBT FREE!!!!! BOY does it feel good! No car loans, no student loans, no medical bills, no house loans...we are FREE! And we hope to stay that way! (With MAYBE the exception of purchasing a house within the next couple of years--with a substantial down payment!)

It's kinda neat too, because as we have been doing this, it's somehow gotten brought up with old college roommates and friends, and I have been surprised at how many people I come across who are also doing his method!

Copied and pasted from his website, here are Dave's seven baby steps to financial security.

Baby Step 1
$1,000 to start an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is for those unexpected events in life that you can’t plan for: the loss of a job, an unexpected pregnancy, a faulty car transmission, and the list goes on and on. It’s not a matter of if these events will happen; it’s simply a matter of when they will happen.

Baby Step 2
Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
List your debts, excluding the house, in order. The smallest balance should be your number one priority. Don’t worry about interest rates unless two debts have similar payoffs. If that’s the case, then list the higher interest rate debt first.

Baby Step 3
3 to 6 months of expenses in savings
Once you complete the first two baby steps, you will have built serious momentum. But don’t start throwing all your “extra” money into investments quite yet. It’s time to build your full emergency fund.

Baby Step 4
Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
When you reach this step, you’ll have no payments—except the house—and a fully funded emergency fund. Now it’s time to get serious about building wealth.

Baby Step 5
College funding for children
By this point, you should have already started Baby Step 4—investing 15% of your income—before saving for college. Whether you are saving for you or your child to go to college, you need to start now.

Baby Step 6
Pay off home early
Now it’s time to begin chunking all of your extra money toward the mortgage. You are getting closer to realizing the dream of a life with no house payments.

Baby Step 7
Build wealth and give!
It’s time to build wealth and give like never before. Leave an inheritance for future generations, and bless others now with your excess.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Of Painted Ladies

For Maile's birthday, one of the presents she got was a little butterly habitat from Insect Lore. She is such a critter person, and loved watching the little catapillars turn into chrysalises, and then emerge as beautiful painted lady butterflies. She had fun carrying the last one of the five around the house before she let it go.

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Haunted San Diego Tour

Friday night we took the kids and some of their friends down to Old Town San Diego, which is, believe it or not, known as one of the most haunted towns in the USA. We learned a bit about the history of many of the "haunted" buildings that were built in the 1800's, saw the old graveyard on San Diego Ave., and saw several other houses that are purported to be haunted. We even saw a page mystically turn on an old book, a few ghostly people floating about, and, creepy, our car, which was parked across the street from the cemetary, had it's dashboard lights flicker all on their own until we were well away from the cemetary.

I love the power of imagination.


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We ate some yummy Halloween treats, as well!




If any of my local readers would like me to e-mail them my research notes and a map of the different buildings, send me an e-mail!

Of Delicious Fall Treats

If anyone is in need of a great fall treat, may I recommend two of our favorites? Apples with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top, and hot cocoa with a couple of scoops of ice cream in it. YUM! The hot cocoa with ice cream is such a fun contrast between hot and cold.
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Sadly, I will not be drinking any 'til the middle of December, as I am doing THE GREAT SUGAR ESCAPE with Kayla until then. (Still trying to lose the five pounds I gained on vacation!)

The Best Handbook for Life

So, about three weeks ago, I began attending an institute class on the Book of Mormon taught by the wonderful Susan Shupe. Her classes are just amazing, and I learn so much from them. She has a way of getting one excited about the Book of Mormon, and helping one see how the stories and teachings apply to nearly every aspect of our lives. She very appropriately calls the Book of Mormon "A Handbook for Life." Truly, this is an amazing book with much to offer. Read on!

For those of my readers who may not be familiar with The Book of Mormon, briefly, it is a compilation of thousands of years worth of fascinating historical and spiritual records of the people in the ancient Americas. The Bible mentions these people in John 10:16. Mormon, a prophet/historian living back in the day, compiled "the cream of the crop" from these records just for us, as he forsaw our day (Mormon 8:35, pp 483). The Bible actually refers to the Book of Mormon in Ezekial 37:16-19, with the sticks of Joseph and Judah referring to the Book of Mormon and the Bible respectively, and the two becoming "one stick," or one testament of Jesus Christ.

Anyway, last week in an e-mail to my family, I shared some of my notes, then I got to thinking I should post my notes on my blog for my extended family, my posterity and my dear other readers. So, here you are. Enjoy!

From President Benson, 5 Reasons We Have the Book of Mormon:

1. It prepares us for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

In 3 Nephi 1:8 (pp. 407), righteous believers in the land were about to be put to death by the wicked if the signs of Christ's birth prophesied by Samuel the Lamanite didn't happen by a certain day. The time was drawing near, and this verse records that the people, as you could imagine, were watching "steadfastly" for the promised signs (the star and "the day and the night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night"). Here are a few thoughts applying that story to our day.

First of all, we, too, should be watching steadfastly for signs of Christ's second coming so we can be spiritually and physically prepared, and help prepare our families for what is to come. Serious readers of the Bible and the Book of Mormon can see these signs in abundance! Pretty scary stuff! Some suggestions for us to be prepared: Be where we are supposed to be, when we are supposed to be there. When Christ appeared to the people in the Americas after his resurrection, where did he come? He came to the temple, where the people had gathered. We need to "stand in holy places" and be frequent temple attenders.

One more note our teacher pointed out about this preparation. In the Book of Mormon, the Book of Helaman is where we are in terms of politics and what is going on in the world nowadays. If you will recall, there was a lot of corruption going on in the government, and people breaking the law and going unpunished because they were able to bribe officials, among other things...sound familiar?! So we are in the book of Helaman, and of course, the following book is 3 Nephi, where the Savior appears. Since the Book of Mormon is "a type and shadow of things to come," we have an exciting time coming, but again, a lot of scary times coming before Christ comes again.

2. The Book of Mormon teaches us the dangers of materialism.

The main danger of this, I think we determined, is that "stuff," including money, can easily distract us from the things that are most important. We've got to be careful to have good balance in our lives.

3. The Book of Mormon teaches disciples of Christ how to live in times of war.

There are a lot of wars that occur in the Book of Mormon! I often wondered why those were included, and now I know. Read on!

We will probably be involved in physical war throughout the world until Christ comes again, and most surely in spiritual warfare, so this is very pertinent to us. How we build up our defenses...defenses for our families...these are all answered here in the Book of Mormon.

As an aside, conference was amazing, as always. I was struck by the frequent mention of how we are raising our children in enemy territory, on a battleground. WOW. If that is not a wake up call, I don't know what is. Scary! I listen to some of my young women tell about things that happen in high school and I am just appalled by things kids are doing nowadays. Truly we are in a battle with evil and we need to have our defenses in place. "Shields up!" as Curtis would say!

4. The Book of Mormon teaches us how to be missionaries.

In our family reading, we are near the beginning of Alma, where Ammon puts his life in his hands to go teach the gospel to the Lamanites, and is captured by King Lamoni. The kids are loving these chapters--they are so adventurous!

As I was thinking about why missionary work is such a prominent part of the Book of Mormon, it occurred to me that as members of the church, we have such great protection for our families that most of the world doesn't have and desperately needs! I think of the promises that are made in the temple, and the protection that is found there. I think of the spiritual protection that has been promised to our families and children just for reading the Book of Mormon daily. I think of how comforting it is to have a prophet of God who gets revelation for us--our day--and can warn us of things to come that we need to prepare for. What a blessing! I think of the counsel of prophets in years past to get out of debt, and to have an emergency food storage in place as well as 72 hour kits. Having these things in place is so comforting! Anyway, again, great protection from living the gospel, and we need to share with others!

5. Finally, the Book of Mormon helps us draw nearer to God.

Check out this cool little fact (courtesy of Susan Easton Black). In all, there are 101 names/titles of Christ that are collectively presented 3,925 times in 6,607 Book of Mormon verses. That would average out to Christ being mentioned about every 1.7 verses. Cool!

Anyway, more exciting things to come! I have some great notes to share on what the Book of Mormon teaches us about relationships, as well as how to have successful scripture study as a family, and some interesting things we should consider about pride.

Of Curtis' Company in the News

So Curtis just got back from a prestigious conference in Washington D.C., and their robotics stuff (5-D Robotics) was on the front page of Defense News! Take a look!

I am so proud of him and his excellent team.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Trek Part Two

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Trek Part One

Well, I know it has been a long time in coming, but here, FINALLY, are photos of our trek this past summer. What a wonderful experience this was, with many poignant moments that gave one a great appreciation for the hardships the early pioneers went through. In reading through one of Curtis' ancestors' accounts of the trek, one thing that impressed me was his mention of all the fun times they had and humorous moments, despite having to leave their homes to trek across the western frontier, and many of them starving and freezing to death. I think a great lesson can be learned from this. Certainly our trek was no different in terms of humorous moments! We only had to endure dust, wind, mosquitoes, and a few blistered feet and sore muscles, but fun and good times abounded. Sticks pulls, square dancing, fun river crossings, kidnappings, etc.One thing that was especially neat to me was to see how much the teenagers stepped up and really were the backbone in getting our handcarts to our destinations each day. Lots of other things I could write about, but before I get on to the photos, many thanks to Anona for taking little Leila (that was a HUGE blessing for me!) and to Aunt Joan for organizing this wonderful trip!Oh, and by the way, look for us as "extras" in a video about a South African lady in between sessions of next April conference!*********************************************************************************And I am related to these hooligans?! I thought it was funny how the kidnapping attempt petered out pretty quick after the kids started fighting back with sticks!
I think the kids are so cute in their little outfits.
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