Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Election Aftermath

Okay, it's over! I never thought we'd make it. Now we have a good four or five weeks before it starts over. I decided to take advantage of this lull to post some of my own reflections on the subject in order to ease the effects of the withdrawal you might be experiencing.

Those of you that know me know that I am passionate and opinionated. I could probably go on forever on a variety of political discussions. For the sake of everyone, including me, I've decided to only touch on the MOST IMPORTANT thing I learned from this election cycle. It's actually been good for me to try and boil all the confusion down to one simple truth. In a minute I'll tell you what it is, but first...

The night of the last presidential debate, I had decided I wasn't going to watch it. I was already suffering from election fatigue and I didn't think I could stomach a couple of hours of argument (particularly while eating dinner). Unfortunately for me, Tom had turned it on, and more out of boredom than anything else I sat down to listen - just for a minute. I expected to hear discussions on topics such as education, health care, the war in Iraq, abortion, gay rights, economics, maybe even judicial review if I was lucky. I already have ideas on all of these subjects, so what I actually heard surprised even me. It was thickly spread across the board, between both candidates, and it was all too familiar. It went something like this:

"Vote for me and I will solve all your problems. You won't have anything to worry about because the government will take care of you and do everything for you. You won't have to make any decisions...heck, we won't even let you make any. Best of all, you'll have me to thank for it." Now, you might wonder if this is such a good plan, why it can't be completely voluntary. In order for this plan to work, it must be forced.

Contrast that plan with the one that goes, "Vote for this plan and you will be free. You will definitely have challenges and life won't be easy. You will actually have to think and work hard - solve your own problems, but you will also have the opportunity for God to bless you because of your faith. Above all else, you will be FREE!"

The obviousness of our situation shocked even me. We spend so much time listening to outside forces confusing people that we often miss the simple truth of the matter. The bottom line is that we already voted on these two plans once. We spend so much time trying to figure out who to vote for and how to approach individual issues that we often miss the simpleness of it all. No matter what happens-no matter what the issues are, in the future, I will always vote for the plan that keeps us FREE! That is my commitment to you. End of story.


I know all of you are familiar with the letter that frequently drops in your junk box from someone (??) from somewhere (Africa) asking for your help moving their money out of the country. I used to open these just out of curiosity (and against my better judgement) because I was so intrigued that these people actually thought anyone would fall for this. Well, the other day I was searching the want ads looking for work when I came across an ad for a music teacher. "Perfect", I thought, and I answered right away. Mind you, the ad was pretty simple; enough so that it never entered my mind that I might be falling for the proverbial "oldest trick in the book". Imagine my surprise when I received the response to my email. It went like this:

Thank you for the email,i want my kid for the tutorial. A boy of 14yrs, more so for accepting the offer and its okay by me,I have madecontacts with my son concerning the

arrangement of the tutoring which
he told me piano or guitar is ok by him and i want you to know that iam going to pay
for 2 month,which should be $50.00/hr(which i have in mind) And am
planning that you should be teaching him 2hour, twice a week,so get back to me with the total fee... so i want you to know that i will be sending
you a check for the payment of the tutorial and the rest of thepayment will be sent to the Nanny to take care of him while he isthere for the lesson, so as soon as you get the check cash you

will deduct cost of tutoring of the lesson and send the remainingbalance to my Guardian that will be taking care of the kid Viawestern union. Regarding this, kindly send your full information torecieve the payment so it can be made out on-time. So hope i can trust

you that you will teach my son good academics and some moral respects
so that they can be good to their self in the future, i hope i can
count on you

for the tutorial and the money to be sent to theGuardian.Thanks and waiting to read from you. kindly get back to me with the necessary details needed such as,


Will be waiting to read your mail soon.

No, I'm not kidding. Needless-to-say, I was a little angry that I had wasted my time, but more embarassed that I had fallen into the trap so completely unaware. Luckily, my brilliant husband crafted a reply for me to return. For your reading enjoyment, I'm publishing it here for all to see.

"Thankyou good sir for recent reply of the tutoring of kid. I have experience in teach piano to full extent of talent of skills and instruction. I would gladly forward the requested proceeds but first must comply with recent wishes of Madaam of the house. Her full departure rendered nearly $200.00 daily as a per diem for teaching boy of 14 yrs. I will gladly receive money order or like equivalent in gold bullion for lessons of tutoring music instruction. It is with my warmest regards and best wishes that I hope to teach boy of 14 years and would enjoy further instruction with guardian. (EXPLITIVE - this is a family friendly blog)!

Love, Music Tutor"

There! Now I feel a little better! Thanks, Tom, for defending my honor!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Perfect Day

For those of you that worry that our kids might be socially deprived, (or worse yet, impaired) due to their homeschooling, I thought I would share an experience in order to ease your minds. A couple of weeks ago, we received an invitation to a homeschool opening social, of sorts. Another mom reserved a park up the canyon and sent out a "Come One, Come All" email. She made simple food assignments and then waited for people to arrive. (In all fairness to her, it wasn't that simple. She had it VERY well thought out, and we were certainly grateful for her effort!)

The morning of the event, I was met with mixed responses from the kids. The little ones were excited to get out of the house. The middle ones were anticipating the time with friends. David, however, was unhappy that his precious time was being imposed on. He tried to talk me into letting him stay home. After all, no one his age would be there. None of his friends would be hanging out with "little" kids. I explained that this was a family activity, so he grudgingly went along.

When we arrived, things were still being set up. Since we were some of the first, the kids willingly jumped in to help. When they were done, they began to explore. A little way from the pavillion was the perfect river; not deep or fast enough to worry about the little ones, and walkable (across, that is) for the rest of the kids. There was also a fair amount of debris (boards, branches, rocks) laying around the river bank. David took one look at the potential, and though he probably won't admit it, I heard the words, "Let's see. What can we build here?" escape his lips. After that, I didn't hear from him again for...4 HOURS!!! He managed to rally the troops and draw them all into his adventure. He's always been a natural leader in that way. He put them all to work.

Meanwhile, Josh found the coolest tree to climb. He kept telling me how "awesome" this day was. Kendall disappeared into the wooded hills with some other cousins. Chamane wandered the vast, open lawn to her hearts delight. Thomas sat and listened to Grandma Allen read stories and teach silly songs to the kids while she played the guitar. They played games on the lawn. We ate and ate and ate. Best of all, I had a great time visiting with my sister, Ellen, and many of my other friends. There was no deadline of when we had to be home. There were no jobs that needed to be done. We were totally free to experience nature and relax.

As far as the kids were concerned, they were super busy. There was no asking when we could go home. There was no whining about not having anything to do. I think they stayed away for fear that if they were seen, I would say it was time to go. As the afternoon wore on and it was time for people to think about leaving, they decided to take a picture of all these kids together (moms included). I didn't think anything of it until I saw the photo later. I must admit that the sheer number of homeschoolers was impressive. I think at last count, 160 people attended the activity, and that was just a handful of those that were invited.

When all was said and done, we all had a great time. I think every one of us made at least one new friend. Most importantly, we all went home refreshed and ready to hit the books. I thought it was cool that we could spend a day like this and call it "school"!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Miss Maney

"You have got a face!"

I've had a request for more pictures of Maney. Since I've always considered myself to be eager to please, I'll go ahead and post some...if you twist my arm...ow...ow.....

I promise this shirt was clean when I put it on her...I think...

All of our kids are great foragers, aided by the kids who dish up BIG bowls of applesauce and just leave them. At least it wasn't wasted.

Maney enjoying some Grandma time while her mom has a bottle with her muffin. YUM!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What kid doesn't know about McDonalds?

Yesterday my husband and I took our 5-year-old on a date. We went to McDonalds to get a bite to eat. On our way in, he squealed with glee at the prospect of going to a restaurant. As we got our food and found a seat, he commented nonchalantly that there was a McDonalds sign outside. He said something like, "Hmm. There's a McDonalds sign out there." We started to ask him questions about his whereabouts. We asked him if he knew where we were. He promptly changed the subject. We asked if he'd ever been to McDonalds. He said, "No." We asked what McDonalds looks like. No answer. As we were starting to chuckle over his lack of comprehension of the situation, he took another bite of the hamburger from his "happy meal" and pointed out that there was a McDonalds sign on the napkin. What do you know. We had to flat out tell him that we were at McDonalds! I wish I had a camera to capture the excitement on his face! Every kid's dream!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tom's 40th B-Day

My AMAZING husband turned the big 4-0 this week. My super cool sister, Angie, put this video together for the celebration. Tom, here's to the next 40 great years! And here's to more of Angie's cool videos. Ange, thanks for helping me look a lot less lame!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I've been waiting for something amazing to happen to our family so I can blog about it. As you can see, I'm still waiting. In the meantime, I thought I would give a glimpse of what a typical morning at the Rogers household looks like by taking candid shots of each person in the throws of what he/she was doing. Unfortunately, our dad was at work, so he couldn't participate in this great experiment. Andrew was at scouts, so we'll have to catch him later, as well.
Here goes...

Josh took up his usual post to wait for the garbage truck. Once again, his patience was rewarded when it appeared right on schedule. It doesn't get any better than this!

David figured out how to record with Mitch's equipment. He decided that if he couldn't get anyone to join his band, he'd just play all the parts himself.

Kirk and Mitch were caught read-handed (no, that's not a typo). They're dominating the summer reading chart!

Speaking of being caught red-handed! Look who's taking lessons. I wonder what he's looking for....


And she's outa there!

There's the one with the most immaculate handwriting...practicing his handwriting. Go figure!

Chamane was eating a vitamin and drinking a bottle while her nose was running. Talk about multi-tasking!
Would you believe it? Carmen was practicing her violin until she saw the camera and dove for cover behind the Freedom Festival magazine. I hope the violin's not broken!

And there you have it. A small piece of a day in the life...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain

Have you ever worried that you have made a HUGE mistake? Have you ever made a decision that made sense at the time, only to wonder, when you carried it out, what in the world you could have possibly been thinking? This was the circumstance I found myself in early one morning as I watched out my front window, all of the children in our neighborhood heading back to school after their summer vacation. They were all wearing their new school clothes and sporting new back-packs. They were excited as they anticipated the new school year, new teachers and new friends. My own friends were equally excited to send their children back to school so that they could once again enjoy the peace and quiet they had relinquished for the duration of the summer.

When each child turned five years old, I dutifully got him or her the required kindergarten physical, collected the paperwork necessary to prove I was the mother, then marched that child down to the local elementary school to start on the long journey of public education. The teacher made her assessment of the child’s kindergarten readiness while I waited anxiously. To keep my mind off the interview, I answered numerous questions so the teacher would know all the strengths and weaknesses of my child. I mapped out all the dreams and aspirations I had for that child. I thoroughly listed that child’s specific gifts and talents. It was important to include all this information because it was what the teacher was going to use as a basis for what was in the best interest of my child.

As the child demonstrated that he knew all the sounds the letters make, yet faltered while naming a few of them, I made a mental note to not forget to teach the names of letters as well as sounds. Thankfully, he could correctly identify all of the colors of the crayons in the box, though I chuckled at the expression on his face as he wondered why the teacher didn’t know her own colors and had asked for his assistance. Then the teacher asked how many times we went to the library over the course of the summer. I told her we went twice, not offering the added explanation that the second time was to drop off the books through the drive-thru that we had checked out on our first visit. I made another mental note to quit being such a slacker and spend more time reading Dr. Seuss out loud. I left the appointment heaving a sigh of relief that I made it through and reassured myself that whatever short-comings my child had experienced thus far in his education would certainly be remedied by the fact that we lived within the boundaries of a very good school. He would shortly be turned over to the professionals and all would be well.

Luckily, the kindergarten as well as the second grade teachers were determined to train my children in the merits of homework from the get-go. They figured that if they could learn it early, their educational success would be assured. We did math assignments faithfully. Each night either before or after dinner, I took one child around the neighborhood and counted all the windows we could find. When we returned, we located all the stray buttons in the house for the other child to sort. I couldn’t help but wonder why they had so much work to do at home after spending most of the day at school. Nevertheless, I trusted in the merits of the system that was educated in how to educate. There were word searches that they needed help with and art projects I was responsible to turn in. For one assignment, we made a parade float out of a shoebox that demonstrated our vast knowledge of the state of Tennessee. My eighth-grader was unable to help around the house because he was busy working on an assignment for his English class. He was drawing and decorating (including borders) a letter of the alphabet that he had been assigned. The class actually spent a couple of weeks on that unit.

About this time, I noticed that the second-grader was struggling in his reading. The books he brought home had great pictures and a lot of words that could not be sounded out phonetically. In addition, he had some fancy math moves, none of which were familiar to me. My fifth grader was taking an eternity to make it through one multiplication problem, and when I asked him what was holding things up, he answered that it takes that long to add seven, eight times. I figured I could get to the bottom of this by going to parent-teacher-conference and expressing my concerns to the teacher. That way, she could give me her expert advice as to how I could best help my children through their individual struggles. She was, after all, the experienced and credentialed professional. I was merely the mother without any confidence in my own public education.

I eagerly met with the first teacher. She assured me that my child was reading right on grade-level. I was not sure how a second grader not reading at all was on grade level, but I moved on. As to his math genius, she said that she hadn’t taught the class anything. She just put up two problems on the board and the children talked among themselves until they figured out how to do them. My son either learned his system from another child in the class or he came up with it himself. She went so far as to say that some children even learn to “borrow” and “carry” at home. REALLY? In a near state of shock I approached the fifth-grade teacher about my son’s inability to perform simple multiplication tables efficiently. She admitted that there were many children in the class that were having the same struggle.

Over the next several weeks, I came increasingly to the realization that it didn’t matter whether or not I felt qualified to educate my own children. I didn’t have a choice. I was their mother and was the one ultimately responsible for their welfare and their education. The one to blame if they ended up delinquent would be me. At first I was frustrated at the prospect of taking on their entire schooling myself, but I also knew I was going to have to come to grips with the situation and figure it all out.

Since I didn’t have any idea of where to start, I looked up an old friend who had been homeschooled for much of her education. She had turned out alright, as had her siblings, so her mother would know what to do. Maybe she would be willing to steer me in the right direction. I hadn’t seen her in several years, but when I explained my dilemma, she was more than willing to help. She invited me to come over and see some of the things she was doing with her own young family. She pulled one book after another from a shelf and explained how she used them. If I didn’t have to make up everything myself, it might not be so overwhelming. The thing that I found most re-assuring, was the fact that there was actually a place to start.

Though I wasn’t as prepared as I had wished, I decided I didn’t have any time to waste. Ashamedly, I had somewhat prided myself on my ability to pull down good grades in school without much effort on my part. I impressed myself with how many books I didn’t read. Since that wasn’t the love of learning that I hoped to instill in my children, I started working on my own education. I went to the library, checked out a book and read it. I loved it. Then I chose another book to read out loud to my family

My husband made the observation that if all we did was turn the TV off, our family would be better off, and he was right. We discovered that one son wanted to find out about Roman, Greek and Norse mythology. He checked out books from the library and then went back for more. He read 5,000 pages over the course of a few months. One day he asked if I had a notebook he could have so that he could write down everything he had learned about mythology. My husband noted that he would probably not be reading at all if he were in school, because he would be tired of “school” by the time he got home in the afternoon.

We learned to step out on faith and trust the process. The son that previously was unable to read became hooked on a historical fiction series, which then sparked an interest in herbs and their medicinal uses. One daughter decided to check out all the books on Mozart and archeology, an odd combination I’ll admit, but I went along with it. She also wanted to learn to sew, so we found a woman in our neighborhood willing to let her come over and help her with her projects. We learned about things like cake decorating, organic gardening, guppy breeding, and recording engineering, to name just a few. Another son went looking for books on mathematics, not text-books, but books on math tricks and games. He was the one that always had the answers in his head. It became apparent that each child was individually gifted. Each had his unique interests and struggles. Luckily, we were able to address all of these in ways that most benefited each child.

We met other families who were educating their children at home. One mom was an expert at teaching math and science. She did summer science camps and invited my children to participate in exchange for me helping her daughter learn music. My children loved going to her house to play math games with their friends while she looked over their homework and gave new assignments. Other moms planned activities for their kids and would invite other families. There were field trips to the corn maze, the water-treatment plant, the children’s museum, and the zoo.

This isn’t to say that everything has been without challenges. We have never met our ideal of perfection, but we keep trying. Was the decision to home-school my children a huge mistake? Do I still have days when I wonder if I’m crazy? Yes, I do, but then I realize how much I love to learn new things and how each child is thriving in his or her own right. My only regret is that we didn’t start sooner.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Miracle that is Google

I was playing around with google the other night, trying to search the remotest things I could think of. I put in my Grandpa Vances name and, lo and behold, this picture came up. It was taken in 1965 at a BYU football game. He was the team physician for quite awhile and spent a lot of time putting the players back together during and after the games. He passed away when I was about six years old. I don't know if I'm more amazed at the technology that makes this possible, or the unexpected feeling of excitement brought on by seeing a familiar face that I've missed for a long, long time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Girl in a Whirl by 'Dr. Sue' a.k.a. Vickie Gunther

Look at me, look at me, look at me now!
You could do what I do If you only knew how.
I study the scriptures one hour each day;
I bake, I upholster, I scrub, and I pray.
I always keep all the commandments completely;
I speak to my little ones gently and sweetly.
I help in their classrooms! I sew all they wear!
I drive them to practice! I cut all their hair!
I memorize names of the General Authorities;
I focus on things to be done by priorities.
I play the piano! I bless with my talents!
My toilets all sparkle! My checkbooks all balance!
Each week every child gets a one-on-one date;
I attend all my meetings (on time! Never late!)
I'm taking a class on the teachings of Paul,
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all.
I track my bad habits 'til each is abolished;
Our t-shirts are ironed!My toenails are polished!
Our family home evenings are always delightful;
The lessons I give are both fun and insightful.
I do genealogy faithfully, too.
It's easy to do all the things that I do!
I rise each day early, refreshed and awake;
I know all the names of each youth in my stake!
I read to my children! I help all my neighbors!
I bless the community, too, with my labors.
I exercise and I cook menus gourmet;
My visiting teaching is done the first day!
(I also go do it for someone who missed hers.
It's the least I can do for my cherished ward sisters.)
I chart resolutions and check off each goal;
I seek each "lost lamb" on my Primary roll.
I can home-grown produce each summer and fall.
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all.
I write in my journal! I sing in the choir!
Each day, I write "thank you's" to those I admire.
My sons were all Eagles when they were fourteen!
My kids get straight A's! And their bedrooms are clean!
I have a home business to help make some money;
I always look beautifully groomed for my honey.
I go to the temple at least once a week;
I change the car's tires! I fix the sink's leak!
I grind my own wheat and I bake all our bread;
I have all our meals planned out six months ahead.
I make sure I rotate our two-years' supply;
My shopping for Christmas is done by July!
These things are not hard; 'tis good if you do them;
You can if you try! Just set goals and pursue them!
It's easy to do all the things that I do!
If you plan and work smart, you can do them all, too!
It's easy!" she said
and then she dropped dead.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mercy me - I can only imagine

I've come across this song several times in the last few years, and I finally looked up the music video. It took me a few times through to figure out what was up with the picture frames. It's basically the Christian rock version of "I Wonder When He Comes Again."

Bum Scooch

Does anyone know how to teach a baby to crawl? How about how to get black dirt spots off the seat of her pants? I guess she figures she can get around alright this way. In any case, we think she's pretty cute.