Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Joyful Mother of Many Children (LDSEHE basic talk outline + Distance Ed. Thoughts)

Happy & Relaxed 
My daughter put together this puzzle and gave it to me for my birthday last year and it hangs on the wall in my bedroom.  The content and relaxed mother in this picture is the goal, my ideal.  But we mother's of many or even a few young children know it really can "be a puzzle" to figure out how to get there!  (This end goal is also the purpose of my six strategies post.)

Going in Circles
Home-schooling with young children and babies can sometimes make us feel like all we are doing is “going in circles”. I called up my husband who was home in North Carolina caring for my four younger children while I was at the LDSHE conference with my baby and older children. When I asked him what he was up to he replied: “I’m going in circles.” I said, “Hmmm…sooo you’re getting a truly great Mr. Mom experience already?” He calmly responded: “No, I really am going in circles…I’m on a merry-go round at the park with the kids!” :)

Truth Sets Us Free
In spite of the obvious challenges of raising a family, I will be eternally indebted to a couple of religion professors at Brigham Young University who plainly taught the teachings of the prophets regarding having children and the importance of family.  We took their words purely by faith early on in our childbearing years, but that faith has turned into a knowledge that children are truly the greatest gift Heavenly Father can bestow upon us next to Eternal Life.  And through this amazing process we are being molded, shaped and hopefully becoming more holy by the grace of our Heavenly Father by our families! A more refined character can be the fruit of humbly raising children.

"If only I had known,,,"
Most people in our “sophisticated” society don’t understand the blessing and power of righteous family life.  And way too many people have suffered great pain and sorrow because of extreme selfishness of other family members. But some people, especially good women in the world, are gradually beginning to wake-up and realize what they have missed.

I met one of these women while attending a business conference with my husband on a rare get-a-way trip to San Diego a number of years ago. We had my nursing baby along with us, of course, and a very kind business woman would dote at my baby at breakfast or in the hallways of the hotel and likely thought this was our only child. I learned that she had a two year old son and was in her early forties, now divorced. One morning at breakfast she confessed that, “If only I knew, when I was younger, what I know now, I would have started early having children and just kept on having them until I could no longer have them anymore!"  In amazement I told her that this baby was my seventh and that’s pretty much what I’ve done!  She just looked at me in amazement and was completely speechless. :)  I mention this for those of you down in the trenches, so to speak, with lots of little ones.  Know that you are the envy of some, perhaps many if the truth be told, professional women out there in the world!

But how do you do this?!
We don’t do this without God, at least not successfully! The Lord is responsible for any and all successes our family will have.  All good things come from God! The more we can step back and put Christ at the helm of our lives and let go of our own pre-conceived notions, the more success we will experience. I testify to that.

Below are additional notes of comments I made while going over the “Six Strategies for Sanity" (see full post!) at the LDSEHE Conference.

1. Spiritual Oxygen
Mental challenges often seem greater than the physical, especially potential feelings of isolation and loneliness at times.

Giving up lots of reading and study time has also been a very challenging thing for me as I add new babies to our home, (as well as for most other home-educating mom's that I know), but I’ve learned that we are taught valuable lessons by doing too!  A real revelation...:)  Raising a large family has tons of opportunities for DOING! We learn by study AND by FAITH! That means doing things that take faith in our life!

(And thank goodness for ipods, iphones and easy downloads of scriptures, conference talks and great audio books!)

I've discovered that reading the scriptures (esp. The Book of Mormon) with my children nourishes my spirit tremendously.  What a blessing to accomplish several important things at the same time: teaching reading, teaching gospel principles to children, and learning new things, through the Spirit, myself!

2. Cleanliness is Next to Godliness (Ok, so at least we try!)/Work for Order and Guard your Family: We do like the "Food Nanny Rescues Dinner" book and have used a lot of her recipes (esp. my 11 yr. old daughter) but many of her recipes are more complex than I prefer.  I love the theme night idea because sometimes I just don't want to use any more creative brain energy to think about what to make. If I know a theme for that day it takes much less creative effort. For example: If it's "stir-fry" night I steam some rice in my rice cooker, chop a few different vegetables and add some chicken from my freezer, or whatever I find in my freezer. Of course we usually season this with a little garlic and onions in a small amount of oil before adding the veggies, as well as sometimes add other healthy seasonings. If it's "Italian night" we can make spaghetti, lasagna, or noodles with a garlic/parmesan white sauce, etc.  "Mexican Night" could be bean burritos, taco salad, tacos, enchiladas, etc.  
(See the Six Strategies post for more info on this point #2.)

3. Use Self-Educating Curriculums or methods
It's important to have consistent goal setting sessions and just "checking in" on a consistent basis with each individual child.  The frequency will depend on the age and individual needs.  I just created a "Mom's Meeting Book" with a tab for each child.  When I meet with my children I am looking for ways I can best help them reach personal goals or perhaps help them with setting goals if they don't know quite what they are yet.  Just use common sense and treat your children the way you would have liked to be treated at their age.  Each personality is so unique and we have the great opportunity to guide them in a way that best fits them. Use the spirit and you will know what to do in helping inspire them and guide them down a great educational path!  Not even an expensive private school can do this as well as a loving, patient parent. How often you meet with them depends also on the age of the children. Interestingly, my older children feel the need to have these meeting more frequently than my younger children.

We also create charts where we can see our book list and the names of the children (we've added a TJed booklist recently).  They put either a mark or small sticker next to each book that they finish reading so we can see "at a glance" where everyone is. They track their math "error rate" on graph paper so we can see how their doing quickly, but mainly to motivate them to work carefully.  

A new book discovery that I highly recommend: "100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child's Learning Style" by Cathy Duffy
I love the principles of this author! She comes from a Christian perspective but is not overbearing and really gives great guidance in understanding yourself and your children as it pertains to home education. Excellent!!!

The only drawback we have seen with distance classes is the extra time it takes to watch and then do the homework. (We're spoiled as we are used to doing things very efficiently and quickly.) Another challenge could be if you're on a very tight budget, but that said, it can be worth real sacrifice if this is how your child will respond best. (K-12)

My oldest two children watched History, Science and English for many years through Liahona Academy.  They loved the History teacher, Brent DeGraff, the English teacher, Sister Wilburn is very good, and we were SO disappointed when the Science teacher, Richard Rush, retired.  Liahona doesn't officially start with students till around the fifth or sixth grade.  My oldest son started watching in the third grade when I started his fifth grade sister, Kristine.  He has told me more than once that the Liahona teacher's have positively affected his "thinking".  These two oldest children did not do Liahona on an accredited track so it was very low stress.  Quite a few years later, after starting the Liahona program, I enrolled my son in a couple classes outside the home, mainly because I was having difficulty motivating him to do his math.  I figured as long as I'm putting him in a couple classes I might as well add some other children, and after that we really struggled with making time to watch Liahona.  I realize now a much better solution would have been to have a tutor come in and work with my son either once or twice a week with math.  It would have been much less expensive and less stressful than what I ended up doing! Not only that, better educations for all would have resulted! (I don't recall prayerfully considering all those choices that year as I think I just felt desperate--never a good place to be when making decisions of any sort!)

I tried again several years later with my third and fourth children, but I must have been feeling quite over-confident while planning as I not only over-scheduled, I failed to go to my Heavenly Father in humble prayer again before making each commitment (hence point 4 below!)  We signed up for the Liahona full accredited track  (3 classes) and a new Science teacher went crazy with homework assignments.  These daughters were also doing French, piano and regular church activities outside the home and it was way too much added all together. We all burned out after one semester! (Liahona let that teacher go after that one semester, so I don't think we were the only people to drop!)

Please seriously consider Liahona, however, as it is the best teaching you will find (and its even LDS) which will give you greater chances for success.  But also consider not doing the accredited track and just enjoying the classes! :-)

4. Outside Activities: Less is More

I'm still looking for the scripture that states we need to sign up our children in multiple various outside activities.  Yes, I believe in developing talents, but we must KNOW or at least feel strongly that it is Heavenly Father's will before making regular commitments of our time and resources. (Will write later about oldest son's recent music experience.  Amazing!)

5. Know Your Personality Strengths and Weaknesses & Work to Improve.
Having the spirit is the most important thing to bring out the best in each of us, but we can still study and work to improve certain personality traits.  Much of our life is determined by the the decisions other people make about us.  It helps a great deal to simply be "likable".  Joseph in Egypt (from the Old Testament) is a great example of this as well as many others in the scriptures/Latter-day prophets.  

6. You’ve only got one body. Take care of it.
I love to go walking outside with my children and push my youngest two in the jogger stroller. 

 My experience has been that pregnancy can make your body even stronger IF you will give your body the nutrients it needs. That's a big "if" and we focus a lot of energy on striving to eat as healthy as we can (most of the time) and good supplements make a very big difference for me personally.


It’s impossible, truly impossible, for us to look at our families and not think, with the help of my Heavenly Father, we have done/are doing something great with our life. Each child is such a miracle! 

Attitude is everything. We’re not any different or more amazing than any other woman out there.  But we happen to know true joy comes in "losing our life" by building up and nurturing others, not in building up ourselves or "finding our life". That is what the Lord Jesus Christ did. We serve “the least of these” because we love and in turn we are directly serving the Lord.  We become refined and purified as we turn our whole heart and mind to the Lord. Our better character is the fruit of this entire, often stretching, process called motherhood!


  1. Thank you for your inspiring thoughts. It is helpful to read this as I strive to create a happy family life.


  2. Thanks so much, Jana! I'm excited for you and your family to be traveling the world together. I loved our time in Germany and hope to some day get to travel again with our family more!

  3. Hi Karolyn! This is Julia (Fawson)...I love your blog. I would love to catch a glimpse of your "normal" daily schedule. I'm homeschooling 6 now and some days ate great....others full of interruptions & "real life.". It would be nice to see hoe you manage the time aspect. Love & have started implementing some things already from you're blog. Thanks so much!

  4. I loved that you pointed out how we find true joy when we "loose our life" rather than find it. As a new mom of one sweet baby boy, I have already begun to see the difference it makes in my own happiness when I try to build up and nurture both my husband and my baby. Thanks for reminding me of this great principle!

  5. Dear Rose,
    I can tell you are already such a wonderful mother. Thank you for your sweet words!


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