Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Catch Me on My Other Two Blogs

I've decided it's time to stop posting blogs here. The weaning process of transitioning to blogging at my other two sites is over. It's too complicated for me to do duplicate and triplicate posts. If you want to see what I'm doing and thinking, please catch me on my other two sites, which each have a blog.

The first is This is for moms who are into Christ-centered natural family living. Those LDS moms like me who like to breastfeed, attachment parent, homeschool, use herbs, garden, practice NFP, and eat whole foods, among other things that are not mainstream in our conveyor belt culture, but used to be mainstream. These are things that give women and society sustainable liberation.

The other site is This is is for moms and dads who are into A Thomas Jefferson Education, aka Leadership Education. You can have discussions and get third party reviews of TJED-based schools, books, ebooks like Headgates, events, and services. It's also a place to share your notes from TJED classes and events. Since I have no financial or familial connections to TJED or GWC, feel free to be candid with both positive and negative remarks.

After over ten years of following the DeMilles and TJED, I've decided that TJED is whole, organic education and bears delicious fruit. So if you' re into whole foods and whole herbs and whole everything, you owe it to yourself to taste whole education for yourself and kids. I resisted TJED for five years or more because I thought it wouldn't work. But after learning more about it, I realized it was the best way to set up my home and life to maximize my kids' learning and promote agency. So far my children's education is turning out great! I have kids ages 14 and 16 who want to study and read all day. (In the name of avoiding "misleadership education," I still think you should require kids over age 8 or so to do math everyday, just like you make your toddler take a nap. You just have to figure out how to make math palatable just like you make taking a nap very appealing to your busy toddler. Leadership Education works for all the other subjects. You TJED purists can now throw rotten tomatoes at me. :-) Just kidding! But I am up to a friendly discussion of what "inspire, not require" means when it comes to math. So let's discuss it on )

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What do you Spend on Food?

OK, so it is time to revamp my food budget now that my baby is walking, (YES, walking...he's so big now and it's gone so fast) and eating more solids. We are a family of nine and I'd like to know what other frugal families spend per month per person. Please scroll down to the very bottom of the gadgets (all the stuff on the right) and answer the question. Don't worry, your answers are anonymous.

Day Two of My Journey is Delayed...Please Help

My post about day two is delayed...I have more pressing matters.

My friend Rachael and I had a great time this afternoon discussing Democracy In America, the first 8 chapters of Volume I. Every third Tuesday I am hosting a free online discussion of this fascinating work at If you want to join us in a discussion of the next 8 chapters (Part 2 of Volume 1) on Tuesday August 17 at 2 PM MDT I would love to "see" you there. Let me know and I will send you the invitation with the URL. I am learning so many things I didn't learn in my high school U.S. history class from this book. One of the juicy tidbits that I didn't hear in high Tocqueville says that the reason that democracy and self-government thrived in America, (as compared to France, where it led to tyranny) is that it found fertile soil in New England. This fertile soil came from the righteous Puritans who were dedicated to God and family. DeTocqueville contrasts this to the scalawags who founded Jamestown. These were men of low moral character, single men who were speculators looking for gold and treasure. Because of their low moral character slavery took hold when the first slave ship came to Virginia back in the 1600s. Now that's something you won't learn in today's media or public schools. I love learning about real American history! I've been learning a lot lately. My husband got to give a talk on patriotism and the gospel of Jesus Christ in sacrament meeting. I begged him to let me write the talk so I did research for that. Email me if you want a copy of the talk.

I hope you all had a great Pioneer Day. I did. Two weeks ago, the same time my hubby gave a talk, I got to give a talk in sacrament meeting about "My Pioneer Heritage." This was a fabulous opportunity. I did not grow up knowing that I had a pioneer heritage because my parents are not natural storytellers, like my mother-in-law. Consequently the stories I've been hearing for the past 19 years have been all about my husband's pioneer heritage. This was a great time to do some research and I found out about my valiant pioneer ancestors. One of them, Luman Shurtliff, my 4th great-grandfather, got to have dinner with David Whitmer in Kirtland and hear him bear testimony that he saw the plates of the Book of Mormon and the angel. He was even confirmed a member of the church by Brother Whitmer. He got to hear Joseph Smith speak in person and shake hands with Joseph. He even got to see the Egyptian papyri and the mummies that the Pearl of Great Price came from.

Another one of my 4thgreats, Zerah Pulsipher, read the Book of Mormon in the fall of 1831 in New York. He prayed to know if it was true while threshing grain in his barn. He had a vision of an angel coming to him bearing witness that it was true. He got baptized and then was ordained to the priesthood and called on a mission. He taught the gospel to Wilford Woodruff and baptized him. Zerah and Luman both came across the plains to Utah and settled in Dixie and Ogden respectively. As I did this research I felt the spirit of God bear witness to me that this work of the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored by Joseph Smith is true. Despite all of my trials in life, I find so much comfort in this truth. Jesus is the Ultimate Tree of Life and the One Sure Guide to us mothers.

Some of you may have noticed that the groups (dedicated to different womanly arts) that used to be up on the Tree of Life Mothering site are no longer there. My web site host, Ning, changed its pricing plans and I had to go with the cheapest plan which doesn't allow groups. All of the pages I had on the site under the tab "library" which were helpful handouts about homemaking systems and how to teach your kids to work are gone as well. Boo-hoo!

So here's where you can help...for every donation of $10 that you give to the Tree of Life Mothering Network (which will go towards upgrading the site so we can have the groups back) you will receive three mp3 downloads of talks given by natural LDS moms at the conference I sponsored last year. These talks are all about 45 minutes of inspiration. Listen to them while you do your exercise, housework or yardwork. They have been selling for $4 each on the site, so this is a special savings. By upgrading this site, I can also integrate it with Facebook, which will make it easier for all of you Facebook fans.

Will you please donate $10 or $20? If you do so, go to paypal and send the money to "treeoflifemothering." In the notes area let me know which talks you want sent to you. You can choose from the following talks given by well-known LDS moms who are all out in the trenches doing the hard work of mothering:

Leslie Householder on "How a Stay at Home Can attract Prosperity"
Vernie DeMille on "How to Enjoy Gardening with Little Children"
Jonell Francis on "How to Claim Your Life Back by Improving Your Diet"
Donna Goff on "How to Self Nurture a Mother Culture"
Diann Jeppson and Jodie Palmer "Mealtime Magic: Teaching and Bonding with Children over Food"
Joyce Kinmont on "Treasuring Children"
Aneladee Milne on "Getting off the Entertainment Conveyor Belt"

If you buy six, you can get the last one listed, please another one about eco-friendly funerals by my friend Joyce Mitchell, as two bonus gifts!

If you don't want to use paypal and want to arrange another payment, email me at to let me know.

Enjoy the talks!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Treasures from Day One..the Journey to TJED Land

So much has happened since our trip to St. George. Family reunions...scout camp for my son this week...Young Women camp for my daughter last week...visits with other cousins...Independence Day...lots of reading on my part of Democracy in America and other books about U.S. history and running through our lovely wooded park. We also had a fun picnic yesterday at the park with Grandma, an aunt,and cousins and got caught in a freak hailstorm. That's July weather in Utah for you! What a full and lovely summer! I was also violently ill last week and had my share of messes of other violently ill family members to clean up, plus I've had some disappointments, but I won't dwell on those.

But the best news of scholar phase son is now an Eagle Scout! The Eagle Court of Honor is coming soon. I am so pleased that he is done! The best part of it is that I haven't had to lift a finger doing all of this, well, besides have mentor meetings to encourage him. You know how some 12 year old boys get their Eagle rank? Well, I am willing to bet my house that there is someone named mother behind the scenes doing a lot of the phone calling and planning for the Eagle project. You can also bet the mother doesn't have a ton of little children younger than the Eagle boy. My son has really earned this rank, not me, so we are all dancing a jig.

I am really excited to read my new Leslie Householder book and apply the teachings of the laws of thought on a more consistent basis. We planted a garden this year and it is fun to see the plants getting taller and taller. When I read Leslie's writings, I feel this peace come over me. I think it's because these teachings remind me that success is like planting a garden. The success of my garden growing is up to me (and God). It's up to me putting the seeds in the ground, and giving the seeds water and sunlight. The success is up to no one else. If I pick things that will grow, like seeds, they will grow, if I follow the laws that cause growth. Success is not impossible, like changing a rhinoceros into a pile of diamonds.

Sure, there can be things out of my control to defeat my garden, like bugs and storms. But if I am in touch with my garden often, I can see the signs of bugs and do something to fight them off. I can see the signs of a storm approaching and do what I can to protect it. There might be times when I can't save the whole garden from a storm that ruins it all, but that's pretty rare. I remember hearing Vernie DeMille say that one year she and her husband lost their whole huge garden to a hailstorm in Missouri. They cried and then they got to work and planted a new one. So in the end if my success is defeated by something out of my control, I would cry, then get to work and start over, trusting that God, for whatever reason, wants me to receive some blessing from starting over.

So back to blogging about my trip. We left for St. George on a Sunday morning bright and early at 8 AM. Dad stayed home (he had to go something as frivolous as work the next day) and the rest of us waved good bye. It's important for me that we go to church every Sunday, even when we are traveling. But I didn't want to wait until after our meetings at 1. I felt adventurous so we wore our Sunday clothes and I planned on just finding some chapel off of I-15 and going to church in Fillmore or Cedar City. Wouldn't it be cool if we ran into the DeMilles or some other TJEDers? I thought. Maybe the Grofts, or the Simmermans. Well, since they are all in the same ward then that would be super fun.

By the time we got to Fillmore it was 10:20. I didn't want to wait until 11 for church (Latter-day Saints usually have church at 9 or 11 AM or 1 PM, yes we have figured out how to maximize meeting time and space, the only ones who do it better are the subset of Latter-day Saints who go to church at BYU in school buildings and classrooms). So we kept on driving. We got to Cove Fort at 11. I was excited to stop there and learn more about the LDS Church history there. We've been there before but haven't been able to take it all in.

TIP: If you are on I-15 in Utah driving south and have a nursing baby, a great place to stop and nurse is Cove Fort. You can always nurse your baby in the car, I do this all the time with the baby still buckled in his car seat. But if you want to nurse with the baby out (not while you are driving, of course, but after you park) it is so much nicer to pull over and get out and let the older kids stretch their legs and get a change of scenery. At Cove Fort you can all watch a movie and nurse in air-conditioned splendor. The tour guides were very friendly and I could tell the woman was a grandma. She seemed to have a "grandma heart."

We ended up going to church in Enoch at 1 PM. And we did see some TJEDers! We weren't lucky enough to hit the jackpot with the DeMilles, the Grofts, and the Simmermans all at once but we saw the Pattersons: Symbria Patterson and her family. Symbria used to work for GWC. I wanted to go talk to her but she doesn't know me from Eve. I let my shyness take over. Now I wish I had just gone over and talked to her. I found this great blog post about her on Teri Helms' tommymom blog. See

Then we drove around Enoch with me fantasizing about what it would be like to live in TJED land. I have been wanting to move for a long time and I can't decide between TJED Land (Enoch/Cedar City) or the Aneladee half of LEMI Land (Bountiful). I decided that Enoch is too windy and doesn't have enough trees. My husband sent me a text message. I was slightly disturbed that he was texting during church. At least it wasn't sacrament meeting, thank goodness. No we hadn't arrived yet. Since I was driving I could control the schedule and I wanted to linger a bit. We checked out New Harmony. I absolutely love New Harmony! It seems like the perfect little town to raise a "georgic" family. One church and one library and one gas station, what more could you need? If we moved there we would be only 20 minutes from GWC and shopping and 40 minutes the other way from our cousins in St. George. I found my dream house right next to the chapel in New Harmony. See photo above. Isn't it darling?

We finally arrived at 4:30. i was thrilled to see my sister-in-law Sally and her family. They had moved and their new place is so cool! So huge and totally family-friendly. Sally has these great plate glass windows in her kitchen with tons of greenery growing right there outside. I feel like I'm in a greenhouse. She even has a chinaberry tree right out that window. (This picture is not a chinaberry tree, it's something else growing in her yard.) I didn't know a chinaberry tree existed, I just thought it was the name of one of my favorite businesses ( I had even brought along a book to read that I found at the library thanks to the recommendation I got from the Chinaberry catalog.

Next blog post, Day Two.

Feeling the Magic Again.., these Laws Work!

One of these days, I will start writing about the treasures from my trip. The trip I took to TJED Land back in June. But first I have to share my story from last week. I went to my friend Emily Clawson's class "Proclaiming Your Personal Liberty" last Thursday. I figured it would be a great, cheap date night for me and my husband. The topic, about how to free yourself from debt or addiction, interested me.

Well, when I got there, I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was a review of the teachings I have learned from my friend Leslie Householder. As I reviewed these ideas, I felt the magic coming back to me. I've gone for months forgetting these teachings. I started to feel the possibility again that my dreams CAN come true. It was so great to feel this power!

At the end, Emily did a drawing for Leslie's new book, Portal to Genius. As soon as she announced that she was drawing a name, I consciously applied the "laws of thought" taught by Leslie in her book, The Jackrabbit Factor. I thought, "I feel so happy that Emily is announcing my name as the winner of the book." I imagined her saying my name and felt gratitude.

Portal to Genius

The first name was one of the followers of this blog, and then...lo and behold...the second winner, was ME! YIPPEEE! I have been wanting this book! So now I am a proud owner of Leslie's new book and am eagerly reading it whenever I sit in a certain spot in this house. (I always have two or three books I am reading, besides, the scriptures, and I read them whenever I sit down at that spot either to eat or nurse my baby.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Today's the Day!

Today's the day for my online colloquium of Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville. What does a French guy who lived over a 100 years ago know about America? Anybody who hasn't studied this work is an intellectual wimp, according to Kurt Vonnegut. Even if you haven't read any of this, come join us for a fascinating discussion.

It's today at 2 PM. Go to and log in. Please do so about a half hour before the class starts so you can work out any technical troubles. This is new to me too so if it doesn't work we may do this next Tuesday.

If you don't have a headset/microphone or webcam, don't worry. I don't either. I am planning to do this all by typing into the chatbox.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Families are a Type of Christ

I haven't been online much because this week in sacrament meeting my husband and I are giving talks, plus three of my children and I will be singing. (Our first time. I love to sing but my voice is very untrained and nobody beyond the ward choir director has ever begged me to come sing. We volunteered for this.) So I have been busy researching, writing, and singing. The themes are "patriotism and the gospel" and "my pioneer heritage." I beseeched my husband to let me write his talk, the one on patriotism. It didn't take much for him to agree. (To say that he doesn't like writing is an understatement.) This will not be your typical Mormon talk on patriotism, I assure you. None of the typical smug self-congratulations. No-siree. All is not well in Zion.

Last week we went to the beautiful Colorado Rockies for a family reunion. Oh, so many beautiful things happened. After we left Wyoming and entered Colorado my 12-y-o son serenaded us with "Colorado Rocky Mountain High" by John Denver as we drove. It touched my heart deeply. Some say it's a song about doing drugs but I prefer to see a nobler purpose in it.

Women of the Old Testament

I took along a copy of the new book Women of the Old Testament by Camille Fronk Olson. It was overdue at the library but I felt like I had not drawn enough from its deep well of living water. This book is so cool! The typical world's way of looking at these women is to marginalize them and overlook them or even say they were not good. But thanks to courageous scholars like Beverly Campbell, who wrote Eve and the Choice Made in Eden, and Camille, we know the truth about Eve. She was the first women's libber.

I love what Camille's book says about Eve and Rebekah, Isaac's wife. I have long wanted to understand better her story with Isaac and switching Esau and Jacob. I had a personal experience to deepen my understanding this past winter. She did something that was needed and righteous, within her bounds. This book confirmed my hunches. I had a great discussion with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law about this.

This book also discusses the same story that James Ferrell's The Peacegiver does, that of Abigail and David from the Bible. As I read the account in Camille's book, I was reminded of how women are types of Christ. Then I thought of how men are as well, when they serve others, especially when they bear the priesthood righteously. As I discussed this with my mil and sil I learned of something vitally important someone in our family did to help someone else. Then it occurred to me that families are types of Christ as well. Each of us are in roles where we can do something for somebody else that no one else can. I thought of one of my other sister-in-laws who has lightened my load and helped me when no one else did. I am thinking of all the possibilities for each of us to do good for someone in our extended family.

Well, I could go on but I need to go shopping and make dinner. And I still want to blog more about my trip to St. George. The trouble with life is it goes faster than I can blog about it. Here's an endearing video our nephew did of the bonding family reunion we had. Everyone had loads of fun and I found out that one of my online TJED friends in Colorado actually knows my sister-in-law. These connections are so much fun.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Help Make Breastfeeding History

It was 13 years ago this July that I got my sixth edition copy of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding signed by all seven of the founders of La Leche League International, with my daughter, Virtue in tow (in a sling of course). That was a moment that can't happen again. Not all seven founders are alive today. I got to chat with each one and they each exuded peace and motherliness. Even though the organizers of the autographing event kept telling those of standing in line to be done, these kind old ladies obliged us autograph seekers as if they were queenly rock stars and stayed till the very last groupie was satisfied.

The eighth edition of the Womanly Art is coming out this July! It's been completely rewritten to be more "hip" and "girlfriendy." I am curious to see how this will read. One of the authors is Diane Weissinger. I like everything she's written that I've read so far. You can see her site at I appreciate that the WAB was written by some of the founders because that gives it a patient, grandmotherly perspective from women who grew up in the prefeminist age. I know I gave the breastfeeding book So That's What They're For! five stars but I've been thinking I should change that to four.

It's because that book is written from the postfeminist age perspective that having a baby and breastfeeding is something that you do alongside a career. It's written from the perspective that mothering, fertility, and breastfeeding are things that you turn on and off, according to the needs of your nonmotherly career. The WAB has more of an old-fashioned perspective of yes, you can breastfeed and mother, it's the natural thing for women to do from time immemorial.

When I asked one of the founders of La Leche League to sign my older edition of the WAB that I had brought to the conference, she politely refused. She said it had some stuff in there on birth control that she didn't agree with. But the newer edition that was just being released that month of July 1997 was kosher to her. So what was the big change that Mary White agreed with? The newer edition mentioned LAM as an effective form of birth control. (Please go to to read the rest. You will have to sign in if you haven't already.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Orphaned Brainchild Got Adopted

I am excited about the holistic LDS living conference this Saturday. Over a year ago I hosted its predecessor, the Natural Family Living for LDS Moms conference, at the same place, Paradigm High, in South Jordan. I almost called mine a holistic LDS living conference.

I couldn't do the conference again, but my friend Amy Jones, who came to my conference, decided to do this one. She is even using a tree motif which fits in with my Tree of Life Mothering concept. It's like she picked up my vibes and just took over. I knew if I did another one I should get a board together and delegate. But honestly, between having a new baby, mothering seven children (which for me means homeschooling) and returning to the work or getting my book out, I knew that I didn't want to add board meetings and organizing a conference to the mix. So I am thrilled that Amy picked up the ball and ran with it! This one is so much bigger and better than mine, with lots more vendors and more than one speaker during every time slot. Some of the speakers are the same, like Cliff Dunston and Joyce Kinmont. Some are people I have met and have enjoyed visiting with like Lara Gallagher, Michelle Brady Stone, Janeen Brady, and Nicholeen Peck. Some are people I wanted to come last year, like David Christopher and Steven Horne. Some are people I have never heard of.

Go to to learn more.
I would love to see you all there, hope you can come!

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Just Starting to Be..." and Treasures from Cousins

I am still basking in the afterglow of our trip to St. George where we played with cousins while Valor went to Youth for Freedom. It was the perfect way to kick off our summer. When I was young my parents drove us through southern Utah about twice a year to go see cousins who lived in southern Nevada in this little town of Overton, halfway between St. George and Vegas. It occurred to me how fitting it is now that we drive south to take my kids to see their cousins.My mom grew up in Overton surrounded by cousins. One of her cousins was more like a sister and a best friend. I grew up loving to hear about the adventures my mom had with Verla and their horses and kittens. They grew up playing on their farm, in nature and living in the safest town on the globe, where kids could wander freely. It sounds kind of like Mayberry. Here is a picture of my mom and her cousins and sisters that I snapped at our family reunion last fall. Aren't they beautiful?
Here is a pic of my kids with their cousins. We love all of our cousins and feel blessed to see a lot of them regularly. My brothers and sisters have kids that fit my kids' ages like hands with fingers intertwining. These cousins in St. George, however, are extra-special because they share our family culture of Leadership Education. So our lifestyles are more similar. When Valor started his Commonwealth school six years ago this fall I shared my excitement about it with my sister-in-law Sally. She shared the concept with her homeschooling friends down there so they up and started one for them. So now when we visit it is so fun to hear about what LEMI scholar projects her kids are doing and what dances and activities and even problems her Commonwealth is having.
I've been reading a charming book about cousins to my kids. So far it has two lines that capture my feelings to a T. The first is "cousins...if they are the right kind, can be kinder than siblings and closer than friends." Yes, yes! The cousin bond is one-of-a-kind. The second line is how during the first part of June you just want to bottle those days up. The whole summer is ahead or "just starting to be," as Portia says in Gone Away Lake at the beginning of the story. I feel so full of promise at the beginning of June. (I also feel bittersweet as I reflect back on D-day which happened in early June but that's a post for another time.)These lines come from the book Gone Away Lakeby Elizabeth Enright. A few years ago we enjoyed one of her other books, The Saturdays. for our family read-aloud. I can already tell that this one will be even more darling. Elizabeth Enright was a very talented children's book author who wrote pure, captivating fiction of children's lives in simpler, more innocent times of pre1960. She was also the niece of Frank Lloyd Wright. Good taste runs in the family. She could illustrate but gave that up to focus on writing. I read about Gone Away Lake in my latest catalog from Chinaberry and just knew it would be the perfect read-aloud for summer. (Have I mentioned Chinaberry before? I get the catalog--see and then mark what books I want and get them from the library. Every time it hits my mailbox it's like a breath of fresh air and an invitation to soak in the tub while I peruse the offerings.)

This book and our visit to our cousins makes me also think of an article I read in Mothering magazine (, although they don't have the exact article digitized), which for the life of me, I can't resurrect after looking through my Mothering stash. It was this delightful recounting by a mother of the summer she had spent with her four children. They had lazy days drinking in the magic of the season. They went on nature walks. They picked blueberries. They house-sat for their relatives for a weekend and enjoyed the treasures there. They did some arts and crafts and read classics and played musical instruments. That is how I want my summers to be, full of sensual delights and free from conveyor-belt entertainment, forced learning, deadlines and pressure. Heck, that's how I want my life to be. That's why I homeschool, using the TJED philosophy, and I can honestly say that many times I feel that feeling I got when I read that article, that feeling of freedom and playfulness and love for what we are learning.
Sally told me she feels that the most important key of the Eight Keys of Teaching and Learning is the phases. I actually just looked it up and the phases aren't a key, but they help you understand the keys. See I decided I agree. I have been calling them the "natural seasons of learning" to fit in with the Tree of Life Mothering theme. My upcoming book, Volume III, will have a chapter on these. (Since Volume I will come out this year, who knows when Volume III will be ready.) Anyway, if anyone is struggling with education, whether at home or in public school, or life in general, an understanding of the phases or seasons of learning will help solve a lot of the problem.

I will be blogging a lot about our trip in the coming month. I've got a lot on my plate right now with a family reunion to Colorado next week, a yard sale for LLL this weekend, plus the Holistic LDS Living Conf. But I've got to get these memories about our trip down! The trip was so impactful and full of memories and great epiphanies I had while reading (A Sacred Duty) and great conversations with Sally and others that I don't want to stop thinking about it!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Is Breastfeeding Really the Norm Now?

Yesterday, I read an article in Redbook magazine in the reception room of an oral surgeon while my son got his wisdom teeth pulled. You can find the article here"


The author claims that breastfeeding is the norm now, unlike 50 years ago when LLL started, and that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of breastfeeding, so that moms who don't breastfeed are made to feel that they are bad mothers.

This is so sad. Moms who don't breastfeed should feel regretful, not guilty. This whole debate is just evidence of a larger problem...(Please sign in to
and go to the Ecological Breastfeeding group to read the rest of my post and add your comments.)


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

News From TJED Land


Dan Ralphs, the guy who came to speak at my virtue fireside last Sunday, is moving to Mesa this week to start a TJED-based high school in the fall. He's been doing one in St. George called Williamsburg Academy with James Ure. When I heard about this over a year ago I was so wanting to just pack up and move down there. I envied my sister-in-law, Sally, who is living in St. George and doing TJED with her six kids. Dan and James bought this high school from Troy Henke. But Dan and his wife feel it's time to settle down and they want to do that in Arizona where his wife has deep roots. So Mesa is the lucky home to Dan's new school, Lexington Academy. This will be a brick and mortar school. See

It sounds so wonderful to have a place for homeschooled kids in the late teens who are truly ready to do a scholar phase to be mentored in Oxford-style education, like the kind of education C.S. Lewis was into. But don't despair if you can't ship your scholar off to Mesa...

If you want to read the rest of this please go to my new web site, a gathering place for TJED junkies, at and go to the blog. You will have to sign in first. This is a place for people to review and share all things TJED.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Real Education Makes You Virtuous

The fireside with Dan Ralphs was spectacular! I feel so inspired to read classic literature and do hard things and get a great education. Dan basically said that if you get a great education you will become Christlike. Therefore you will have virtue in education, because Christ is virtuous. The best education leads one not to just know stuff, and not to just understand, but to actually become Christlike. The best education changes or transforms you. You "become," instead of just knowing and understanding. That makes sense because Christ is the only source of power that changes us, or helps us become, for the better. He gives us a new life through a new birth.

Dan quoted from Les Mis and said that someone said it was the best work about the atonement outside of the standard works. I read it for my Face to Face with Greatness class (see but that was just a skim, rushed, conveyor-belt reading. Maybe I will actually go back and read it and allow it to help me "become." Dan also quoted Elder Neal Maxwell about what real education is, and then he had to translate the Maxwellian talk for us. I am hoping that one of my friends who was at the fireside will type up her notes and then I can share them on my site. It was at Michele Smith's home. She is so on the ball and organized and her youngest is 4 (meaning she actually has free time not dictated by naps) so I think she will do this for me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Living Water and the Holy Grail

So last week we drove down to southern Utah to take my son, Valor, to the Youth for Freedom summer camp. He really wanted to go, but we didn't have the money. With two weeks left for it to start, he asked if he could use his short-term savings to pay for it. It just hadn't occurred to any of us to use that money before. Thanks to hearing Janine Bolon speak, he has been "60/40ing" his money that he earns mowing lawns and umpiring. That's where you take 40 percent to spend and use the remaining 60 percent for tithing, charity, and savings. You teach your kids to live on 40 percent of what they make and then later when they are adults and paying rent/mortgage they switch and live on 60 percent. Yes, I am would like to learn that lesson myself. (Thank you Janine, the money muse for this teaching! Janine's site is ) We agreed, with the stipulation that he not buy anything until he pays back his savings.

So two Sundays ago we drove down to sunny St. George and played with cousins while he went to Youth for Freedom at a camp in Orderville. (see ) He had a life-transforming event and the visit was so heavenly for us as well. Our dad stayed home and enjoyed the batchelor life. After the camp, I actually saw Valor writing down his goals and "saygobedos" (see ) that were inspired by this camp. But the best part of it all was after I went with my friend Amanda through Zion's National Park (the only way to get to Orderville) to pick up my son and her daughter on Thursday night. We came back to the cousins' home and the first thing my son asked was, "OK, where's the stuff to change the baby's diaper?"

Can you believe a 16-year-old asking to change a baby's diaper?! I was so impressed! You know how sometimes when kids spend a long time away from home and responsibilities, especially if they are with their friends, they get selfish? Not this kid. Especially not with the education he's getting. It's partly because he's great and I am hoping it's because he spent so much time at this camp learning about being virtuous, unselfish, service-oriented, and fulfilling a great mission in life.

Four years ago I started integrating the Leadership Education philosophy in my home. So far I am very pleased with the results. It is stimulating and humbling to learn about this education and the call it issues to every student to follow the path of virtue.

Sister Elaine Dalton has issued a call to return to virtue. (See )As far as I can tell,her past four talks to the youth of the LDS church have been about virtue. Hence, I have felt inspired to create a community of youth that heeds this call. Montesquieu says that the goal of education in a republic is to create virtue. Article IV section 4 of the U.S. Constitution says that our government is a republic. So I have asked Dan Ralphs to come speak to youth this Sunday, June 13, in Highland about virtue in education. If you want to know more about Dan, go to this blog by TJED mom Teri Helms, here

Dan says that virtue is a source of living water, a holy grail that has been sought for by sages of the past and must be cultivated by anyone today who wants to be great. I can't wait to hear more!

If you want to come, again, as I said in my last post, sign in to and read the latest blog post to get the details. See you there!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Catching My Breath and Please Come to my Fireside

Last week we had a totally fun time down in TJED land (southern Utah) with cousins. My son decided to go to Youth for Freedom at the last minute and pay for it with his own hard-earned cash. That's a TJED-based youth camp. We played with cousins while he got out of his comfort zone. Now he and my daughter are at AYLI's Simulation Week because they won the Freedom Bowl last January. I have so many fun things to tell you all about our trip. But first I want to get the word out about the Virtue Fireside I organized coming this Sunday with Dan Ralphs, head mentor at Lexington Academy, a sister school to Williamsburg Academy. (See These two schools are TJED-based high schools, specifically designed for homeschoolers.

Dan is coming up to Utah County to speak this Sunday! I am so excited! My friend is hosting it. It's not that far of a drive, even people from Logan are coming. Then on July 11 I have my husband's cousin, John Hilton III speaking (see and If you want to come and bring your youth, at least age12 (if they can behave themselves) then sign in at and go to "blog" to read the details. Be sure to RSVP to my friend so she can have enough chairs.

Let's make virtue hip, fun, and fashionable! It is the only way to freedom, true power, and happiness, and those commodities are always in style. I have even more news about virtue and youth from my friend Aneladee Milne but I will wait a few months to share that secret.

See you there!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Learning to Listen to the Holy Ghost

It was one of those nights, a "crunch" night, where you have two different places to be because your scholar phase kids are involved in one thing and you want to be somewhere else.
Thank goodness I have another child old enough to babysit so I didn't have to drag everyone else along, that definitely would have slowed us down. We had planned a departure time, 5 PM, so we could drop the scholar phasers off at their Shakespeare play performance in Clearfield and then get to our meeting in Bountiful for the original commonwealth school that we got involved when we first moved to Davis County six years ago. Crazy, I know, but Davis County, Utah is the only place in the world blessed with two Commonwealth Schools and we happen to be greedy enough to be involved with both of them. We just don't want to miss out on any of the classes and mentors offered by either. (If you don't know what a commonwealth school is, it is a terrific jr. high homeschool alternative that is based on TJED. My children absolutely love it. It provides for the social outlet children crave as they become adolescents. The idea was founded by my friends Tiffany Earl and Aneladee Milne See

I was so excited for this night. I had been anticipating it for days. At 5:30 we would hold an orientation meeting for parents who were interested in learning about Williamsburg Academy with a web chat visit from the headmaster, James Ure. James is this amazing young man who has a leadership education and is changing the world by changing youths' lives. Oliver DeMille says he is "real deal." I got to take a class from him about the Constitution. I am so blown away by his knowledge, his scholarship, and his ability to relate with students.

Then at 6:30 we would have a potluck dinner, and then at 7 PM we would have the parents' meeting. I wasn't so interested in the last part, the business meeting, as I was for hearing James talk about Williamsburg (see and socializing with my TJED mom friends during the potluck. I always glean such little nuggets of truth when I rub shoulders with these fabulous women.

The only hitch was that a book at the library just two blocks from my home was calling my name, loud and clear. I had put it on hold months ago. I had been about 60th in line and it was finally available! I really, really, really wanted to go pick it up and start devouring it. I had been waiting since Monday to go pick it up and it was now Thursday. I had been good for the past four days, doing my motherly and homemaking duties and I felt it was time for my "reward" of picking up the book finally. The only problem was that it was 4:30, dinner still wasn't quite ready, and we were supposed to leave at 5. The only other little problem was that three of my children wanted to go with me and that would for sure slow down the errand.

I kept feeling this nagging thought of, no, you shouldn't go. It doesn't matter that you really want to get that book, you shouldn't go tonight. But I kept pushing it out of my mind. We were backing out of the driveway at 4:45 and I finally decided to heed the thought. "You know what?" I said to my library-going children, "this is crazy. I feel that the Holy Ghost is telling me not to go and I need to obey." I knew they would be disappointed and I was too, but we went back into the house. I was able to finish seasoning the black beans (my potluck contribution), my husband came home right after that, and we left shortly after 5 with our food and scholar actors in tow to drop off.

We ended up being fifteen minutes late to the meeting, but the good news was that they hadn't started. I know it's just coincidence, but it almost seems like at so many of these homeschooling meetings people are just waiting for the Shumways to arrive before they start. We didn't miss out on any of the meeting with James. I am so excited to share with you what I learned about Williamsburg Academy in a future post. Youth living in TJED land (southern Utah) are no longer the only youth who can benefit from it. Through the wonders of technology, any youth with an Internet connection can get this leadership education from these astounding mentors at WA.

A scripture in the D&C says that if you don't follow the will of the Lord, you will fall. That usually does not mean physically falling. It usually means you will fall short of your goal. You will fall short of what you could have been blessed with. I know this night I was blessed with success of being at all of the meetings we had planned on because I listened to the Holy Ghost and stopped going to the candy store, I mean library. I know the Lord knows what is best for each of us and if we submit to His will, which He reveals to us, through the Holy Ghost (which for me manifests in the form of persistent thoughts and little feelings) then we will be blessed with more success and happiness than we originally planned for ourselves.

So what was this book I was so hot for? See below. I am reading it and loving it and it. It is so true that we learn best from answering questions, especially questions that we come up with ourselves, not questions someone else cooks up for us. That's as true in our education as it is in our relationships. That's why I love TJED, because it encourages our children and ourselves to ask and answer questions that nobody else can for us.

I've also noticed that asking questions can help us listen to the Holy Ghost better. Asking and answering questions is how Joseph Smith was tutored and blessed. It's how we can be blessed as well.

Change Your Questions Change Your Life Change Your Questions Change Your Life by Wendy Watson Nelson

Friday, May 28, 2010

Is Fascinating Womanhood a Bent Book?

Recently, the book Fascinating Womanhood has come to my attention. I read the companion book, Fascinating Girl, over 20 years ago, before I went to BYU, got my degree, got married, or had children. I have read parts of Fascinating Womanhood. Keri Tibbetts, the author of an ebook about how to give your child a classical education, "Headgates" (see lists this book in her appendix.

One of my homeschooling/georgic friends read Headgates and said she doesn't agree with all of it. She also says that Fascinating Womanhood is a bent book. Wow. I don't know if I would go so far as to say that it is bent. Another homeschooling friend of mine who is well-known in the TJED world says that is one of the "stupidest books" ever. Double wow. If you go to and read the reviews you will find a fun mix of strong feelings about this book, including a review by a granddaughter of Helen Andelin, the author.

What are your opinions, dear sisters? Anybody itching to say something about this book that was written in the 60s or so to swing back the pendulum of the sexual revolution?
Please go to, sign up, and then go to the discussion group on wifing. I would like to hear what you all think!

Face to Face With My Self-Deception

You know how sometimes you have this big event planned and you look forward to it for a very long time, and then it comes and disaster happens? You have this grand picture in your mind of how it will be and you just figure that everyone in your household has the same picture. You just think that all elements will swimmingly move into place with simply a nod of the head from you, even rascally little boys who only want to play in dirt all day.

Last week was my oldest son's big deal graduation from TJYC. That stands for Thomas Jefferson Youth Certification. He was been taking classes from the LEMI Commonwealth Schools here in Davis County for five years, and the TJYC is the last class. (see I have been looking forward to this time for years. Every graduating class has a night with speeches from each of the TJYC students about what they learned over the previous semesters. TJYC is usually three semesters but his mentors love the work so much they made it into four. The course is so grueling that half of the students usually quit. The students who finish can receive one credit of work at George Wythe College. They study literature, history, leadership, worldviews, and Supreme Court cases. It is a huge accomplishment to finish. So we have been looking forward to this celebration for years. After the speeches, the families go out to a dinner to celebrate and visit. We have been to previous years' speeches to inspire him and now it was his turn to be inspiring.

I thought we would be to this event on time, and walk in with each of my children looking perfect. It didn't quite happen that way, but the night still turned out. You can read more at my other blog at under "blogs." I've started this site as a social network for LDS, AP, homeschooling, crunchy granola moms. Please join and spread the word.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Liberating Ourselves from Those Conspiring Men

My last post was so long and doesn't have any personal pictures. I am sorry about that. I know how hard it is to read lots of plain type with no pictures. I have some really great ones of my baby, our trip to the Homestead crater, the walk we took of downtown SLC to see Brigham Young's grave, and of my younger children on Mother's Day. I kept meaning to add some but my camera and computer were making it hard because their dates weren't in sync. Let's just say that when my scholar phase children have lots of Shakespeare play practices during an infamous "heck week" (the week before the performance) my tech help is gone. When they are home and I can ask them questions I feel guilty for pulling them away from studying.

So I put some fun photos of me and my children that I can actually access in this post even though they don't have any thing to do with the topic, other than they are of me and my kids and I am writing this.

From the title of this post you might think I am going to spout traditional feminism. I'm not. I am going to talk about liberating ourselves from the people in the food industry who want to make money off of us when the food they are selling actually causes us to become sick, namely processed food, including pasteurized food. Even if we think we are OK by eating raw or whole food, we might need some added knowledge to get the most nutrition out of that food.

I am so excited to go this Saturday to my girlfriend Shauna's house to watch Caralee Ayre teach her Nourishing Traditions secrets from her own kitchen. She is giving a cooking class. I kept meaning to advertise it here but then Shauna sent an email saying that 40 women are already coming. Guess it doesn't need any more advertising! But Tara's class is coming up in the summer and she is mentored by Caralee so if you are on the Wasatch Front and miss Caralee's you can come to Tara's. (see

Nourishing Traditions:  The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

Caralee sent us some email links so we could do some homework to prepare. Here is what she sent:

I have been reading the one about phytic acid. As my girlfriend Shauna says, "These are written by PhD's and therefore lengthy. Caralee will condense all the blah-blah-blah into the most salient points." Thank goodness! This info is so overwhelming but so incredible and critical to understanding for your health and your family's health. Especially if you are into whole foods like I am. It basically says that plant food (whole grains, nuts, and seeds) has this thing called phytic acid which is made up of phosphorus. The phosphorus binds to minerals and makes it so we can't absorb the minerals we are eating. It also inhibits the production of enzymes in our stomachs and intestines which helps digest food so we can get stomachaches from eating improperly prepared whole grains.

If we don't properly prepare the whole grains, nuts, and seeds then even if we are eating them and being smug about being on a whole foods diet, we can become sick with digestive problems and mineral deficiencies, like osteoporosis and tooth decay. The article says that your neighbors next door could be eating Wonder bread and white rice and feel healthier than you. It's because they are eating food that has zero phytic acid, while your whole food does. Wow, finally an excuse to eat some white bread and white flour besides the fact that they taste better!

This info on phytic acid is overhwhelming to digest and even think about putting into practice. I have been soaking my grains for a while but not my flour. And I haven't been soaking my grains in yogurt or whey, which is what NT recommends, just water. I have not been soaking my nuts and seeds and now I am wondering how I am going to deal with peanut butter since that's a staple and it's made from unsoaked nuts. I guess this means granola bars are bad and fresh nuts and seeds and...oh, boy, is there anything fresh that's safe to eat besides rabbit food? I am eager to learn the "how-to's" of all of this with a big family to care enter Caralee, mother of six, going on seven, who also homeschools and knows my time demands.

Every woman, especially a mother, needs this information! When you are armed with correct information, you can make the best food choices for your family. You can be independent of the "conspiring men" that God mentions in Doctrine and Covenants 89. You can have the fullest health possible. I used to think that these conspiring men were those of the tobacco industry, but now I think it includes anyone who is willing to put profit before people's health, including those behind lots of food at the grocery store and even so-called "health food" at the health food store. Let's not get sucked into buying food that is actually bad for us.

Also, let's not get sucked into the lines of the "diet dictocrats" as Sally Fallon calls them. These are the people who say that animal fats, the good fats from from raw milk of pasture-fed cows and eggs from pasture-fed chickens, are bad for you. Cholesterol has a purpose! Veganism and vegetarianism have a place, for those who want to cleanse for a time. But they are not diets that can be sustained for a long, healthy, fertile, growing time. A mother, especially one who is in for the long haul of bearing and nursing many babies, and growing children can't thrive long-term on those diets. When I was still vegetarian with my fifth baby, I remember my midwife practically ordering me to eat some meat. She said that she had studied the issue and was aware of women who had problems with their births and their babies because they were long-term vegetarians. If you want some great recipes that involve animal fats and whole foods (although I don't know if it's totally NT correct) check out the Diet Rebel's Cookbook at

Every mother, from the time her baby is in the womb, is the link between food and her family. Since food is the biggest determining factor in health, you are the link between your children and good health. The diet of a pregnant woman can lower the chances of the baby having low birth weight and premature birth and the mom having toxemia. See The Weston Price people have even more specifics for a pregnant and nursing mom's diet and say this diet can prevent birth defects. See (I am not thrilled about the liver recommendation but next time I'm pregnant I want to do their diet. Hey, maybe I should start now since I am nursing.) Then when the baby comes, mom gets to choose between her milk or artificial milk. Artificial baby milk increases the risk of your baby getting sick and you getting ovarian and uterine cancer. Your milk makes your baby smart and healthy.

I know this position of responsibility and attachment to your children through food can be overwhelming to think about, but it's also a great, God-given honor and one that, with God's help, we can embrace and fully live up to. It does say in the LDS Church's Proclamation to the World on the Family that a mother is primarily responsible for the nurture of her children. That's true women's liberation, to live up to the role God gives, and be liberated from conspiring men who don't care about your or your babies' health.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Quick Getaway With Baby and He Left Her Speechless

I hope you all had a Happy Mother's Day. I did, complete with s surprise breakfast in bed served by my sweet husband. He even scooped my eight month old baby out of our family bed at 7:30 AM when baby woke up. Then he went to fix the breakfast, and I was left to joyfully sleep in with no baby noises, the only day so far of this baby's life when I have been able to sleep in past my baby's wake time. That was the most luscious Mother's Day gift of all.
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So much happened in my life last week that I am still processing it all. We had a marriage retreat, our first night of leaving our oldest in charge overnight, then we we went on a walking tour of SLC with some friends, and then my firstborn went on his first date to go ballroom dancing. Wow! Then it was Mother's Day, with all of the emotion that accompanies that day.

It occurred to me that I haven't said much about AP (Attachment Parenting) since I started this blog, even though I mention it in the banner. I guess that's because after having seven babies, it comes very naturally to me and it just seems like the default, de facto way of life. Some would say it ties a mother down even more than normal mothering does. I say it liberates a mom because it gives her peace of mind in her parenting, knowing she is giving her baby the best start possible. It also liberates a baby to rise up to her full potential because it meets all of the baby's needs in the most physically and emotionally intimate way possible.

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from  Birth to Age Two (Revised and Updated Edition)

I first heard about AP when I was pregnant with number one and was working at the U of U med school. I stumbled across the book that first laid out AP, The Baby Book, by Dr. and Mrs. Bill Sears, at the U of U bookstore. I consider it providential that it was first published the year I had my first baby in 1993. I bought the book and brought it home and announced to my husband that I really liked this philosophy of parenting and wanted to do it. He read about it and liked it and we have been baby bedding together, babywearing, and baby bonding ever since. He even bought our first baby sling. If you don't know about AP, click here

Since then I have been able to hear Dr. Bill and Martha speak a few times in person at LLLI conferences (see and have become enamored with them even more. Martha is even an LLL Leader, like I am, so that just makes her feel like family to me. I even got so close to Dr. Bill that I could have gone up to him and spoken to him like a fawning groupie but suddenly my shyness took over and I just didn't want to. My shyness didn't overtake me with Martha however on a separate occasion and I asked her a question. She was so friendly, she even gave me her phone number so I could call her and ask more questions!

AP just seems so natural to me. It's a no-brainer, the way babies and parents are supposed to live harmoniously together, with the least amount of tears, fear, and anxiety. My LDS faith ( with its belief in eternal families gives me the "why" for attachment. We can't have a fulfillment of happiness, heaven, or even love, unless we are eternally sealed to our husband and our children, as well as to the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. AP gives me the nuts-and-bolts, "how-to" of family attachment in the real, everyday world. Physical attachment with my babies facilitates and precedes emotional and eternal attachment as they mature. At one of these LLL conferences I heard someone quote an old Jewish proverb, "If you get up with your children when they are young, they won't be getting you up when they are old," meaning, respond to your babies' cries when they are little, and chances are that they won't be causing you to get out of bed when they are teenagers. Of course, free agency is always at work and I do know some families who practice AP who still have wayward children but the risk of that happening goes down. At least these parents have peace of mind knowing they did what they could for their children when they were young by practicing AP.

Some people say that AP takes too much time and makes the baby spoiled and manipulative. I disagree. It is an investment in happy, mature, peaceful children. I don't have time to go into all the tangents that AP can get me off on, like gentle discipline and no circumcision. But I found a great blog,, that pretty much sums up my views. Yes, you can still have obedient children, a life outside of children, a passionate marriage, and not go crazy if you practice AP.

Whenever I read about suggestions to leave your baby for a marriage-building retreat, I cringe. You can just take your baby with you! Last Thursday I got to have a quick overnight getaway with my husband. We left everyone home but the baby. I don't even like reading that you have to leave your baby to go on evening dates with your husband. I do remember a line from Sheila Kippley in her eco bfg book that suggests you take the baby with you and that's what I do. At one of the first LLL meetings I went to I heard from a veteran mom (this was when I only had two kids) that as long as you leave the big kids home, it feels like a date, even if you bring the baby. I totally agree. Ever since then I have been bringing the baby with me on dates and overnighters. Once they start walking then I leave them home.

We used to leave our oldest home all the time when he was a baby to do dates and business meetings and I regret that. It would have saved a lot of stress on me to just stay home with him or bring him with us. Despite all the separation I did maintain my breastfeeding relationship with him until he was a year old, by pumping and leaving him a bottle. When I see moms leaving their babies for overnighters or days at a time, I feel sad. Forget about saving the earth, save the breastfeeding you have going with your baby. I've since repented and now take my baby with me or stay home.

Every year my husband gets two free nights of a hotel stay to go participate in a conference for his work as a parental public defender attorney. Out of something like seven years since he's been doing this, this was only my second time to go with him. It's a great free marriage-building retreat so I would love to do it every year. Last time it was at the Homestead when I went (fiver years ago) and this year it was at the Zermatt. Usually I am too busy with carpooling duty or momschool teaching to go. But this year we figured out how to sandwich my escape between chauffeuring my oldest child to his leadership education econ class and his speech and debate class the next day.

We had such a delightful time away! We had some great conversation and watched the movie Fireproof. Lately my baby has been crying a lot in his car seat on car trips, which is so nervewracking for an AP mom. I got the brilliant idea to stop and buy a teething biscuit after I dropped my scholar son off in Bountiful and that was just the ticket to a blissful baby car ride. (Blissful baby = sleeping baby = happy mommy who can listen to de Tocqueville wax philosophical about liberty of the press in Democracy in America as I drive through Parley's Canyon). So I got to Midway with no screaming. We took a walk in this freezing cold Utah sprinter (spring + winter) to the Homestead across the street. We went through the tunnel to this hollow crater on the Homestead property that has a hot spring where people can scuba dive. Then we went shopping to buy our dinner. On the way back to the hotel I nursed baby with him still buckled in his car seat.

He fell asleep on this ride home. Hooray! It was 8 PM. Now we could have some time alone without tending to any children at all. He stayed asleep the rest of the night. (He did wake up to nurse a few times in the hotel bed but then went back to sleep so I still count that as "sleeping through the night." Yes, you can cosleep or bedshare and still have a baby who sleeps for decent chunks of time and doesn't "nurse all night long." More on that another time.) We had a lovely visit talking about almost nothing that relates to our shared household, our children, or homeschooling, as we dined. I didn't even feel guilty that I was missing the end of year meeting for the north Davis county commonwealth school that my two scholar phasers attend. We did talk about who we thought would be elected to next year's board for the school. Then we watched Fireproof, a movie on DVD starring Kirk Cameron, which we hadn't seen yet even though it's ages old.


Yes, I pretty much live in a cave when it comes to movies. I just shun most of what the Hollywood conveyor belt churns out, because it's mostly garbage. But Fireproof doesn't come from the typical Hollywood studio. It's made by the people who did Facing the Giants. See If you haven't ever watched Fireproof, do it for your next date night. It is a fabulous movie and totally clean! Not only that, it's based on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthens marriage by encouraging people to turn their marriages over to Christ. Every married couple should watch it and discuss. (I thought the acting was great but missed reliving the glory days of late 1980s primetime TV with Kirk Cameron since my husband is a baby boomer and barely remembers Happy Days. )

My husband told me a story that put a smile on my face. He left a lady speechless with something he said. At the same his conference was going, so was another. It was for some association of perinatal social workers. So in the vendor display area there were booths and tables for vendors selling things for babies and those who are social workers for babies. One of the booths was for Abbott Labs, one of the main ABM makers. (ABM = artificial baby milk, or SIN, synthetic infant nutrition). My husband said, "You know, my wife is a La Leche League Leader, so babies and nursing and breastmilk are very prominent in my home."

One of the vendors for Abbott Labs smiled and said, "Oh yes. We here at Abbott Labs are very much in favor of breastmilk. We promote it all the time." (Yeah, long as they have their foot in the door, or their pricey can of ABM in your "free" hospital diaper bag, offering it "just in case breastfeeding doesn't work," and then they get you dependent on it. See To which my husband deftly replied, "Oh, well, my wife would slash your adversting in a heartbeat because it violates the WHO Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes." The vendor opened her mouth but nothing would come out, and her sales partner next to her patted her arm and said, "He's got you there. Don't even bother going down that path. " My husband told me the story and it got me thinking about the WHO Code. I have become less in favor of the UN and government regulation in general lately since reading Richard Maybury. I am going to have to ask my LLL Leader friend who is also a John Bircher how she reconciles the two.

I could just picture myself angrily tearing down their posters and throwing their cans in the garbage. Not my style! My dear husband sometimes translates my zealous opinions into militant action. I'm generally not that assertive. Just for the record, you can be an AP mom and use ABM, even Dr. Sears says so, although it does take conscientiousness to be an AP bottlefeeder. ABM does have its place, especially for babies who simply have no access to a mom or a milk bank, like these poor babies helped by perinatal social workers probably. But I agree with Dr. Jack Newman, a medical doctor who specializes in breastfeeding (, that ABM should be treated like a drug that requires a prescription. It has risks to both baby's and mother's health and side-effects. Breastmilk from the mother while nursing, then pumped milk from the mom, then pumped milk from other moms, then ABM is the hierarchy I follow. Wouldn't it have been cool if there had been a booth at this perinatal conference for a mothers' milk bank, LLL, or the people at who help adoptive moms with breastfeeding?

The next morning I got to go to breakfast with my husband as part of his conference. Lo and behold, who should we end up sitting with but Joyce Kinmont, one of the speakers from my conference last year, homeschooling mom guru and founder of She volunteers her time helping parents who are fighting DCFS and likes to go to conferences like this. One of the guys who shares office space with my husband, Don Redd, was also there. Don's wife Karen was there at the breakfast table as well, and she is one of my heroines. Here is a woman who has borne 15 children, yes 15!, and looks not only perfectly normal to be a mother to so many and a grandma too, but still beautiful as well. She just retired from singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I look at her and what she is doing in her phase of mothering now that her youngest is 12 or so and it reminds me that there is a season for moms to develop their talents with more focus than in interrupted blocks of time.

The breakfast table discussion fascinated me. It was attorneys mostly talking, along with Joyce and two of the wives. They were basically saying that the state system that professes to protect families actually breaks them up. So then the talk went to, well, it's not just that the system is messed up, it's the culture of today with the broken families. One attorney there said that families are going down the tubes, especially since moms are no longer home all day. He said that moms don't even have to eat breakfast with their children, they can just send them to school for free breakfast. Then they have free lunch, and then at night (I thought to myself), a lot of kids don't eat dinner with their family either. The forage for their own dinner of cold cereal or microwave food and eat in front of the TV. It's sad when women outsource the feeding of their children, starting with ABM and then as they grow older turning it over to others constantly. If you want some inspiration, go to

Thursday, May 6, 2010

We Can Build Zion From Our Kitchen Counters!

At our stake conference last Sunday, we got to hear Sister Julie Beck of the General Relief Society Presidency of the LDS Church speak. She said that a righteous woman is like a "lioness at the gate." She is fierce about what she doesn't and does let into her home. She categorizes her desires into "essential," "necessary," and "nice to do." Sister Beck stated that a righteous woman will see mealtimes as an opportunity to gather her family around and share the gospel and bond. She didn't come right out and say it, but she was basically saying that mealtimes together are essential to a loving, eternal family, not just nice to do.

I feel so happy that she brought that up. I have seen the power of mealtime in my own family. We used to live in a very small apartment with five children and my husband commuted an hour and a half each way to work. Having a tasty homemade dinner when he came home really helped ease his stress and mine too during this hard time. My mother used to always have a hot homemade dinner for us every night, even when she started working full-time as a kindergarten teacher. Perhaps this is part of the reason why we all turned out so well. All five of us went to BYU, graduated, got married, and have happy families of our own. Mealtime is part of a mother's secret weapon to teach and train her children. It is a time to please your family with great-tasting food and delicious, nourishing mind food as well. I have done a lot of stealthy gospel teaching and homeschooling at dinnertime, it's just a natural time to teach.

I read this terrific book recently that I saw in the Chinaberry catalog, The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner. In this book, an LDS mother of seven shares her great secrets on how to overcome obstacles to having family dinner. Her name is Liz Edmunds and she is now a grandma. She says anyone can learn to be a great cook. Her book is sprinkled with references to Mormon culture, such as the pictures of her wall with plaques of LDS sayings and a Family Home Evening chart. She has even hit it big with a show on BYUTV, which you can watch on Thursday nights. See This book is a great inspiration! She has yummy recipes that must be the best, coming from a woman who has the great heritage of Utah/Relief Society cooking (think, dinner rolls with roast beef, comfort food with lots of fat!). With her years of cooking pleasing food for a large family she is now an author, Internet celebrity, and consultant for the restaurant Sur La Table. After reading her book I felt so inspired I whipped up some pizza for my family dinner, a first for me. I usually avoid homemade pizza dough and just use pita bread. But I am wanting to avoid commercial bread as it is so full of preservatives, probably petroleum-based.

If you go to my website and click under "The Library" and "Home Cooking" or "Home Dining" you can get a free pdf file I wrote with more ideas from her book, including the list of the "theme nights" she uses to plan her menus and some of her questions that spark conversations at dinner for family bonding. I also share some ideas for gospel teaching at dinnertime, with quotes from Elder Bednar, Truman Madsen and Elder Holland.

Dinnertime is the time for power nurturing! Sisters, as my girlfriend Jonell Francis says, "We can build Zion from our kitchen counters!" (You can order the talk from my LDS natural moms conference that contains this quote from my web site under "Recordings." She tells her story of healing from fibromyalgia by changing her diet.) As my girlfriend Tara says on her blog, quoting Jacques DeLangre (I have no idea who that is, anybody know?),, "When a woman stays at home and cooks with good judgment and understanding, peace and happiness result. She thus controls the family's health and destiny, also her husband's mood, disposition and feeling, and assures the futures of her children."

This is one of the great powers we have as women and homemakers! When we assume this honor, we and our families are liberated from illness, overbearing stress, and tension. Our life won't be perfect, but we will have the nourishment, both physical and mental, to cope with our trials. This is part of the true women's liberation. Sisters in Zion, unite, and have homemade family dinners together! (Tara is going to give some classes on how to prepare super-nourishing family meals by soaking grains and using lacto-fermented condiments. I am so thrilled, go to her website to learn more!)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Falling in Love with Those Gorgeous Greens

Do you avoid eating greens? Especially the sturdy ones like collard and kale? I used to, even when told to eat them when pregnant, because I didn't know how to prepare them. I thought you were supposed to eat them raw. I remember dutifully buying them when I was pregnant because "dark leafy greens" were on this list of what I Was Supposed to Eat. I brought them home and took one bite and, Ugh! It's because I didn't know how to prepare them. Occasionally I will have them raw, torn up into bits and pulverized into a smoothie, but if you are going to serve them by themselves and relatively whole, this method is the way to go.

I remember taking a macrobiotic cooking class from a darling older lady in Salt Lake City. She would often say, "Greens are my friends!" Unfortunately greens were not part of the curriculum, so I never learned how to prepare them. But she had the most beautiful skin, very smooth, and she was over 60.

Maybe her skin was smooth because of all the greens she ate. Greens are one of the most nutrient-dense foods of all. They help your skin be young and smooth and keep your body young with all of their anti-aging antioxidants. I found this great web site from one of my favorite whole foods cookbook authors. She has lots of videos on how to prepare whole foods meals. (And no, it is not Sally Fallon.) Go to my web site and you can watch it. These cooking videos are so much fun! They have a sense of humor and show real life cooking in a kitchen with kids and people coming to the door interrupting you or fix-it people working in your home. Now I love to eat my greens! I like to go to this web site (found on the video) when I want some inspiration for a dish to take to a potluck gathering or even for dinner. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In Harmonious Vibration With Eggs

Be careful what you think about, it just might come true.

Two weeks ago I went through my dresser drawers and closet. I got rid of a bunch of clothes I have had for over ten years. I thought, I need more clothes. These clothes are out of date. It's scary to get rid of them though because I don't know where more will come from. Maybe my sister will give me more clothes. Leslie Householder teaches that if you want something, create a vacuum for it and then the new thing will come. She tells the story of how she and her husband wanted a new car, so they got rid of the present car her husband was using to commute in, and within a month they had the car they wanted.

Sure enough, the following Sunday at our family dinner in Highland at my parents' home my sister announced she had some clothes to give to me. Hooray! These clothes included two pairs of denim capris that fit perfectly and three stylish tops for summer. I just won't think about the fact that they are probably her "fat clothes" and she is losing weight much faster than I am. We both have the Sudweeks' genes that holds on to fat instead of the Shurtliff genes like our other sister, our mom, and one of our brothers, which allows one to burn all fat ingested, including however much ice cream and brownies taken in. She said that if I didn't want them she would give them to her friend. I thought, whew, I guess my thinking about wanting clothes sent the vibes to her to prevent her from giving her friend first dibs.

So last week for lunches I was thinking how I like to fix scrambled eggs and wishing we had more eggs. We went to the wedding reception for our nephew James on Saturday night. This complete stranger came up to my husband and asked if he likes brown eggs. She said she had lots of extra eggs from her chickens and would he like some. Then she produced two dozen eggs in cartons and handed them to Dan. (This urban chicken keeping thing is amazing. Everyone is getting in on the act. I went to pick up my son from his friend's house and they had baby chicks in their living room!)I had been on the phone with my girlfriend Tara talking about Leslie Householder's teachings. Tara said that awhile ago she was thinking that they, her family, hadn't been to California in a long time. She wished they could go. A few days later, her mom-in-law called to announce that her brother had died and invited them to go to the funeral in California. Her wish came true, and they went off on their trip to see family and reconnect. Another day she was wishing she had a mixer and a few days later one showed up in the mail, I think from her mother-in-law.

So I am visualizing a bigger home while generating positive, grateful emotions like in the book Jackrabbit Factor by Leslie. I am also dejunking and packing things up, to prepare for this move that I am attracting. Maybe it's time to listen to Leslie's CDs again too. If anyone wants to buy the set of seven CDs where she explains the laws of success, let me know. I have an extra set and would like to sell them for $75. They are sold out of the CDs, but have them as mp3 files for $99 on her site Contact me at if you want to buy my set for $75.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Blessings are Flowing...Homeschooling is Working

Yesterday was a GREAT homeschooling day. The DeMilles (see say that one out of every ten days is a perfect day according to schedule and that's how yesterday was for us. Ever since my baby was born it's been a struggle for me to get my exercising in before our family scripture study at 6:45 AM but yesterday I did it! I woke up at 4 AM to nurse the baby and after he went back to sleep I stayed awake miraculously. It's because I was in bed by 10 the night before.

I had fun exercising while I listened to my Constitution class with James Ure. I am so impressed with his knowledge. I am learning so much about law and government in my leadership education. I passed the AP Government and Politics test in high school but this time around in my study of government I feel like I am actually learning important facts from a Godly view. Then I blogged about my new recipe for buttermilk ranch dressing (see last post). Then we had family prayer and scripture study. The kids did their morning chores diligently and we had breakfast. My husband drove the two scholar phase children off to their youth conference for NSSA and SDLA, the two commonwealth schools of Davis County that they do scholar projects with.

I played the piano after breakfast and sang songs with my children which is something I used to always put off thinking, "There's so much work to do! I don't have time to play the piano." Then I realized that I was neglecting a great blessing, my ability to play for my children, and the gift of having a piano around. I listened to one homeschool mom in my moms as mentors group talk about how singing increases your vibrational frequency. If there's any time of day when I need an increase in my frequency, it's right after breakfast when the load of the day's work faces me. So now I play the piano and sing with my core phasers while the two love of learners/core phasers do the breakfast dishes. We always sing Dr. Seuss' song, "Let Us All Sing" from the Dr. Seuss songbook, a treasure I found at D.I. That always puts me in a great mood! Then we sing Primary songs and Brite music and I just feel ready to conquer the day.

My baby had a terrifically long morning nap. Yay! I helped my two core phasers do their folding of clean laundry and putting it away. I dug into an organizing project of taking care of two drawers full of learning card games. They were all mixed together. My two sons, the core/LOL (love of learning) helped me with the project. One of them did his math schoolwork and actually did it quickly! My two little core phasers, ages 4 and 5, found a Bible card game featuring Bible characters. They were enamored with it! Their enthusiasm for Bible stories was so endearing. We made up a game of finding the character after telling the clues. They loved it and even my core/LOL age 8 joined in, begging to play with us.

The time for the two Core/LOL to go to their Knights of Freedom love of learning class was fast approaching. I didn't want to bundle everyone into the car to drive them since the baby was still asleep and my scholar phasers weren't home to tend so I called and asked my husband to drive them and he agreed.

It occurred to me that my life was flowing beautifully. The blessings are pouring in. Homeschooling is hard, but it does work and it's working for our family. It was four years ago this weekend that my husband and I journeyed to Cedar City to attend our first TJED convention. We had moved to Davis county the previous fall from Provo. I know that God had a hand in the move, to get me to a place where I would be mentored in the TJED philosophy. He brought my dear friend Kelli Poll back into my life (I had met her five years prior when I lived in Provo. That's a story in itself of how I found her exactly at that time, without phoning or emailing her. )

She had just started a moms as mentors group which I was able to join right as she started it. The timing was just perfect. She had friends in her neighborhood, as well as her sister-in-law, who were just starting their homeschooling journey. I was a veteran homeschooler of six years or so but did not do TJED. I had heard about when I started homeschooling in 1998 but did not embrace it. I heard Oliver DeMille speak in 1998 o1999 and slept through most of it. I bought his book and it sat on my shelf untouched. I needed to move to Davis county to find the mentors I needed to put it into my life.

The past two Saturdays I administered an ACT practice test and boot camp with my friend Ann Meeks, who I met eight years ago at one of my Veggie Gals lunches at my girlfriend Becky Edwards' home. Ann is amazing! My son took the practice test with her and got a high score, even though he is only 16 and has not studied for the test or taken trigonometry or finished geometry. Homeschooling works, at least for him. I have to confess though that he was not raised on TJED homeschooling. We started that when he was 13, although he started his TJED scholar projects at his commonwealth school when he was 12. I did require him to do math every day out of a (shhhh!) math workbook/textbook, much before he was in scholar phase. I will have to write more about this ACT boot camp another time. I learned so many things and am so grateful to Ann for putting all these ACT secrets into one package. Ann and Cyndi, teachers of the ACE the ACT course, both veteran TJED homeschooling moms with children either at college or accepted into college, admit that math is the exception to "inspire not require," unless you count using sugar as inspiring.

It was a year ago that I wanted to get my son to take this ACT class and we couldn't afford it at the time. I started fantasizing about him taking it and contacted Ann and found out that if I organized one and got enough people to take it, he could take it for free. So I put the work in and now I am tasting the success of seeing not only my son, but my daughter, as a bonus, take it and learn about it from a mentor. I am feeling so grateful! My son and daughter, ages 14 and 16, are motivated scholars. They like to study and put the hours in. I can see college scholarships in their future. My other children are growing and happy. I have made peace with my two core/LOL over doing math every day. (They are doing it, with some bribery.) Best of all, a blessing I have waited for a long time has happened and I have much greater hope for the future. Praise the Lord! Tomorrow is stake conference and I get to hear Sister Julie Beck and Elder Hales speak. Hooray!