Personal Reference Email

This was a quiet week. I started out not having anything to write about, but ended up writing a lot of details about our daily lives, so I guess this will be a personal reference email. 

It rained a lot in the beginning of the week, leaving a giant puddle in the parking lot that the kids enjoyed floating “boats” on and playing Marco Polo.

We continue to refine our at-home routine. I have my 10 subjects that I read to the kids from for an hour total a day (20 minutes a subject): Poetry, History (The Story of Mankind), Literature (The Story of the Treasure Seekers), Geography (Japan), Biography (Columbus), Church History (On the Wings of faith), Old Testament, Shakespeare (The Taming of the Shrew), Natural Science, Temples (churchofjesuschristtemples.org), Biography (Washington)

I added a three question quiz at the end of each subject last week which has improved motivation a lot. The kids are actually upset if they miss something now. But a lot of the books are fun. We’ve really enjoyed The Treasure Seekers—lots of laughs—learning more details about Columbus and Washington is also enjoyable; our geography book has also been a hit.

Ruby was sad to miss the Taming of the Shrew for her online class. This was Ruby’s first week of virtual school and she spent some minutes after class was out Friday evening in bed crying. It is exhausting and uncomfortable, and some of the deadlines have been stressful. Friday is also the day with the most classes, and being at the end of the week is extra exhausting.

She felt better at dinner and for the rest of the weekend, but we are actively racking our minds and prayers for solutions for her. Maybe she just has to tougher. I don’t know :(.

Before Friday she had an enjoyable week, working on her own projects in the mornings before class. Her drawings are looking very nice.

Woo has been taking an hour a day also to show a documentary. He started the David Attenborough collection, which starts right at the beginning with the simplest forms of life.

Moses spent some time on our walk today closely inspecting flowers and mosses and telling me some things he’d learned over the week.

We don’t get the packets until next week, and Moses wasn’t doing enough work. Also, it was cloudy and dingy. He started to get bored, but improved later in the week when he stopped spending all his free time playing. On Friday he made some berry pancakes that made the apartment smell like a delicious donut shop.

Herbie and Woo went surfing everyday. They still complain that it’s crowded. Herbie said one day this week was the most crowded ever.

Woo got hurt spending a couple hours trying to fix a bike and also spent other hours missing snow. He does realize that probably all ski resorts have become just as crowded as the waves, and he mourns the fact that now everyone else is enjoying his cushy work-from-home lifestyle. It was a good 11 years 😊.

Here’s Woo’s foray into modern art. 

 Woman in repose: under a blanket

Linus had a great week. He went out of his way to play a castle game with Penelope and Archie for an entire morning. He doesn’t normally do that, preferring to hang out with his older brothers (or comforting Ruby if he’s been grouchy).

Penelope also left her coat back in the parking lot and he immediately volunteered to ride back fast and get it for her. It reminded me of when they were younger, and Linus was so kind to Penelope.

Penelope was the only one besides Ruby who had anything from the school this week. Building a castle from recyclables was one of her assignments. This is not the kind of thing she naturally does, so I was surprised at how excited she was about it.

Archie’s teacher was the most difficult to work with last year, before she finally agreed to help us, and she has been the most difficult this shutdown too. That was a day or two more stressful than I like, but things should be good now.

Archie’s English writing made big improvements this week, and his reading is noticeably better also.

He’s begun to get the hang of our family scripture study and always has things he’s learned (looking for answers to a specific question), while before he’d always say he hadn’t learned anything. A time or two he has gone to bed feeling really good.

We have over 20 questions like: how can I be less selfish?, how can I improve my learning?, how can I overcome pride?, what does Heavenly Father want me to be better at?, what question does Heavenly Father want me to ask Him?, how can I Hear Him better?, how can I improve my Sabbath day?, how can I use my time better?, etc.

This has really been good, as one person reads and we all concentrate on the question. All of us are taking notes and learning things. Rarely do we have kids not paying attention or distracting others. Many truly inspired things have been said by pretty much everyone.

This isn't really what I'd like to write, but I guess I’ll also talk about “command your children to repent.”

Many months ago I asked when we’d overcome contention and rudeness. I got an answer that I did not understand. A couple months after that understood that part of the answer was when the kids (also Woo and I, probably) would repent. Now I understand the answer was when I would command the kids to repent (however, I have no idea how long we’ll need to work on this.)

Anyway, what’s been working well is after evening scriptures having the kids go to their quiet place, and ask: what do I need to repent of today? Then ask: is there anything more? And again: is there anything more?

Then, I’ve asked them to write down anything they got about how they’ve treated anyone in the family. Then I go around and read it with them individually. For some reason, many of the kids don’t really repent well without this, and also I can tell if they’re sincere or not.

Herbie was really the leader here, catching the vision of it right away and humbling writing sincerely repentant things every evening. He’s not perfect yet, but he’s has become must less bossy. He has a special notebook that he keeps a running list in from day to day, also a special pink pen that he MUST use for this and also his scripture study notes.

Moses resisted passively for awhile, and we could tell he was just writing random stuff down, but he’s gotten it now. He writes big, long lists, all of the items on the list requiring some humility to write down, and he hands the paper to me with a smile. 

Like Ruby said: Moses, don’t you know that repentance is fun?! And there have been nights where the kids have walked around to each other, apologizing for the things on their lists, and giving each other hugs, with lots of good feelings all around.

The kids have become more humble, and have stopped a lot of things they’ve done for a long time. They’re also learning what are sins and what Heavenly Father thinks they could be better at. Penelope once wrote on her list that she hadn’t complimented any of her siblings all day. I always laugh when there's something like "called Mom names in my head" because I can tell they're doing exactly what I hope they're doing, and writing it out a couple times seems to be all it has taken to be aware enough to stop.

I think this was a big reason why Linus started to be nicer to Penelope, for example. One night he wrote that he hadn’t told Penelope thank you for something nice she’d done for him. The next day he was willing to do nice things for her.

Anyway, I’m sure this is long enough. I hope you all had a great week!