The Ten Commandments and a Poetry Recital

We had our first poetry recital. I was going to do it sometime during the week, but no one wanted to give up one of their subjects, so we had it Saturday morning instead.

The kids were really excited about this and they felt a lot of pride in their work. Linus told me that memorizing poems was his favorite thing of the whole week. Moses said he was going to write all the poems he memorized in his journal.

Ruby and Linus memorized all ten poems and earned eleven cookies. (I awarded two cookies for “If”. Only those two memorized it.) Herbie and Moses memorized nine poems, Penelope seven and a half, and Archie three and a half (although he lost one cookie for a rude outburst during one of Ruby’s recitals—it was in the rules, announced ahead of time).

Woo made a great dead-tired dad face and pose during everyone’s recital of “Only a Dad”, and Penelope went over to help him hold up his head.

The kids all told me that "The Gate of the Year" was the most difficult poem to memorize because it didn't rhyme, and a few of them vowed to skip it, but by Saturday all of them had it except Archie.

I am already prepared with the new proclamation (worth a cookie a paragraph), and five other poems for our next couple weeks. (I think the proclamation will stay up longer with the poems rotating out.) But I’m not putting them up until Monday to give everyone’s brains a break.

The daily spelling or geography bee is still something to look forward to.

Penelope is an excellent speller. I had to move her up a grade level to have any chance of getting her out, and she’s still getting most of those. Archie spells some things as if they were Portuguese, but he is learning.

Herbie and Moses know quite a few world capitals. Herbie knows a lot of state capitals. Linus, Penelope and Archie know hardly any at all, but they’ve been good sports this week and have learned a couple more every time.

Ruby usually has some sort of reading at the end of the day that she would prefer to do over the bees, so she doesn’t always participate. Only when the others appear to be having too much fun, will she put it down and come join us.

Christopher Columbus has become an exciting figure for both Herbie and Linus who are reading a lot about him. I think the interest sparked when they learned Portugal would be involved and then Linus was more excited when the book he read said that Columbus prayed when he set foot in the New World. He wants all his history books to be about Columbus.

Ruby has been reading about World War I and she laughed a lot while reading her book on great composers... I guess they almost always were characters, weren’t they?

Moses really loved his Abe Lincoln book. He asked for more by the same author for his history reading time and was excited to start reading about George Washington and Buffalo Bill.

We learned that school will be out for the rest of the year, tests are cancelled, and starting the end of April, the country will be teaching grades 1-9 by TV (?!??!).

We’ll see exactly what that means later, I guess, but when we told the kids about the TV part Linus and Moses and a couple of other kids were like—do we have to?? Can’t we just keep doing this?

Herbie told me he liked the homeschool, if only he could go surfing, then it would be perfect. Unfortunately, emergency state has been extended until May 1st.

I’ve always thought of Ruby as my most social child, but in questioning her this week, she said she didn’t really miss school, or didn’t think about it much. This is possibly a strengthening blessing she’s receiving? She had already had some concerns about attending high school here (as did we), and seemed to think we were resolving them.

The most stressful thing for me all week was the figuring out which library book was on which library account at any given time, but I got that straightened out on Saturday and also in a way that the kids can easily do it themselves.

I’ve mostly dropped our home library in Utah, but I discovered that they had Harry Potter in like ten languages, and no one was ever checking out anything but English, so Ruby and Herbie spend some of their French time reading a French one (and laughing over the French words for muggle and Hogwarts).

Ruby, Moses and Herbie spend some of their Portuguese Reading time in a Portuguese Harry Potter (Linus prefers to read the Portuguese translation of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and Penelope is reading some Enid Blyton books we already had in Portuguese), and Herbie is reading Harry Potter in Spanish. I also checked out a German copy, but no one knows enough German to read it but me, and I don’t want to, so I guess I’ll return it.

On the morning of our fast I mentioned something about the Passover, Woo remembered he’d enjoyed the movie the Ten Commandments as a kid, and we decided to show it to the kids during lunch to distract them from that large empty time period where they wouldn’t be eating anything.

Woo found it in short increments on YouTube. Which meant he showed it to the kids on his phone and they were still absolutely enthralled.

There was a lot of discussion about what the movie showed and what we know from the scriptures. Also, the Passover has come up a lot in talks today and other places recently. It seems I encounter Elijah's appearance in the Kirtland temple a few times a day. I really think it is meaningful for us right now.

Upstairs man only yelled at us once all week, but he wasn’t upstairs, he was pulling into his building in his car. He did call us murderers a few times, but we ignored him like we always do.

I didn’t have large chunks of time to myself, but during the little ones I read a few short books by George MacDonald that I’d never read before: The Lost Princess, The Golden Key, The Light Princess. It was enjoyable and I felt like reading the Lost Princess helped me be a better person. In fact, after reading it I was led to understand a line in my patriarchal blessing better—a line I thought I already understood.

We had our first Sacrament meeting by Google Hangouts today. It was... difficult to pay attention to. I felt the Spirit, and I'm sure it was the right place for us to be, but I kind of hope it's not our new routine.

And that's our week. Hope yours was great!


The Quarantine Marches On

Conference Sundays are busy here with the time difference and Saturdays are always busy. I’m sending my email tonight to lighten my weekend load.




In other events... several times this week, I thought, “This is what I’ve always wanted...” Homeschool Monday was a good day and Tuesday was awesome.

I told the kids to use their textbooks and make their own assignments, do their own study, and right off the bat Moses assigned himself a project for science that I remember doing exactly, but in the the grade after his.

Ruby has already been good at going over everything in her books—she’s already done with some—and Herbie has become quite self-motivated himself within the last year or so. So no problems there. 

Archie always resists doing anything at the beginning of a new subject, then he gets down to work, and then he doesn’t want to stop to switch to a new one... transitions are the most difficult part. 

Herbie loved his new astronomy class, he kept blurting out tidbits he’s learning, also from his book about Ben Franklin.

Penelope told me she loved homeschool; she was learning so much more. She loves pretty much everything she’s doing, even her class math book (which is sometimes a struggle for the other kids, but once they get started, they’re fine). She’s even fine writing out her multiplication tables like her teacher always makes her do.

She’s started reading George MacDonald’s princess books, which makes me happy. The Princess and the Goblin was one of my favorites as a kid.

Moses, however, told the missionaries it was “boring.” But he has been surprisingly interested in art history. I was unaware that there were so many good books for kids for this, but I found several.

But I’m mostly surprised at how much Moses loves Tarzan of the Apes (the original by Edgar Rice Burroughs). Not that it isn’t a fun read (surprisingly for most of us with modern impressions of Tarzan being a buffoon), but that I would’ve predicted it to be above his reading level.

Linus unpleasantly discovered that he had a class Zoom meeting just when he was scheduled to start computer science. He burst into tears. I had no idea he was looking forward to it so much.

He was further annoyed when no work was done at the meeting. “They’re just telling jokes!” And that the class scheduled another meeting right after the first one (40 minute limit on free accounts). 

Woo chatted with his teacher where we learned that the meetings weren’t required. They were just for the kids in his class to socialize if they wanted to. Linus happily ditched it and Herbie got him set up on Scratch.

The kids are now reading good books across a variety of subjects... I couldn’t be more pleased.

Also, I’ve always wanted the kids to memorize more poetry, and that is happening now too! I only had one teacher do this (in 6th grade, and even then I could tell that this was a great thing to do). 

Tuesday, I selected 10 short poems to start that either teach a lesson or are beautiful examples of the English language. I told the kids that in a month (or earlier, if that’s too easy—it’s looking like 2 weeks might be perfect) I’d make cookies and every child could have one cookie for each poem they memorized. Then I wrote the poems out and taped them to the window.

I could not have gotten a better response. As soon as it was lunch they all gathered around and immediately started reading them out loud, began committing their favorite to memory, mapped out when to memorize what when, and copied them down for their own portable copy.

Penelope and Archie surprised me by not picking the shortest poem (“Nothing Gold Can Stay”) first, but started with their favorite “Which Loved Best.”

I included that poem because I knew they liked it, but I didn’t know they liked it that much!

Archie came and gave me a hug every few minutes while he was memorizing it. Also, asking him: “which child are you being right now?” or “what would Fran do here?” were great motivators.

Ruby came up with the smartest plan, I think. To start with the longest poem (“If” by Rudyard Kipling) and work down from there. The poem was a challenge for her (which I was hoping it would be). It also broadened her vocabulary. Then she heard all the other kids repeat the shorter poems so often, they were already familiar when she started in on them.

Moses really went to town. He memorized 6 poems by Thursday, and worked on it frequently during his free time.

Linus told me he never had to be bored anymore because he could always work on the poems. 

Herbie, however, did not lift a finger to learn any of them after that first burst. He’d heard “in a month” and decided to do it later; he’d have plenty of time. Also, he was afraid he’d forget everything he’d memorized by then. He was very unhappy when I reminded him that I’d said “or sooner” and all the other kids were doing so well, it most certainly would be.

The schedule worked really well—almost all kids were happily busy almost all of the time, but the last twenty minutes on Monday seemed to be a struggle for everyone, so I decided this was the perfect time for a spelling or geography bee, and I was right!

I felt like one of those one room country teachers. This is also definitely the case where six students are better than one. I asked each kid grade appropriate words, and we had a lot of fun.

I went to bed so excited Tuesday night at what an awesome day it had been and then Wednesday was horrible. Maybe the kids had been up too late running poems through their heads?

Anyway, it was a rainy, dull day. The kids were cranky. The missionaries called (yes, they’re still here) to give us a spiritual thought which was nice, but they talked a lot about how we’re stuck in the house and can’t go anywhere, and we were all packed together to be seen on the screen while they were talking and I started to feel really stir crazy myself. The power of words is incredible. I really think if they’d never mentioned it, it would’ve been better.

Our spelling bee that day turned into a tantrumy mess as half the kids were horrible losers and they were very upset when they spelled a word wrong... (by Thursday they were already much better with the disappointment), but immediately afterwards they started quizzing each other on world capitals in preparation for the next day.

Anyway, I was flat out exhausted when Wednesday ended.

Thursday was better and Friday (today) was even better. The kids know what the pattern is and transitions are getting easier.


We are ready for conference. We’ve been doing our thing about the restoration. The kids have their bingo and matching games ready. I did my baking beforehand so I can relax and enjoy, and we have our questions to be answered. Mostly...
Archie: Mom, I already have my question for conference! 
Do you want to hear it? 
Me: Sure. 
Archie: It’s: Who’s going to speak in conference? 
I might have raised an eyebrow.
Archie: I already know some of them, but not all of them... 
Happy Conference everyone!