Wednesday, August 18, 2010

School Pictures

Every August we have school picture day. I started the tradition a few years ago, once Mark and Anya were old enough to be in "grades". Mostly I do it for their baby books, to help chronicle their growing up in a way that only annual pictures can. So without further ado, or nonsense of any kind, this year's portfolio. (Also, we have been watching ALOT of Lois&Clark on Netflix, hence Mark's best superman impression.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Liken the Scriptures

A few months ago we instituted a new family government of sorts. We made some firm changes in our discipline techniques. It's all about teaching kids (and adults) to have self control. That can seem fairly obvious, but we break it down to the point of helping them understand that they do in fact have control over how they react in any given situation. Getting angry is a choice, just like choosing a blue shirt or a red one. Granted it is a much more difficult choice, but it is a choice.

Anyway, as part of this new government we have some set consequences for certain "offenses", such as an extra chore for disobedience. One of the more severe consequences is a designated amount of scripture reading time followed by an oral report and discussion. This is one that they sometimes don't mind and sometimes hate. However this past Monday we had several altercations between certain small, male family members, which in the end required the enforcement of said consequence. Mark earned 10 minutes and James earned 15 (he was involved in both altercations).

Incident #1 - Breakfast time - Mark asked Anya to move from a certain chair that he "sits in half the time." Anya didn't hear him and didn't move. James jumped in and told Mark he was lying about how much he sits in that chair. Mark responded with the ever brilliant "You're a stupid dummy." Creative, I know.

Incident #2 - Peter was putting stickers on cars. James thought this was a bad idea, so he took the book of stickers away. Peter responded by throwing the cars at James, who replied by grabbing Peter's arm until he cried.

So, after all was said and done Mark got his reading done with 1 Nephi 7 (purely random). In that chapter Nephi is teaching righteous things and Laman & Lemuel don't like it. So they tie him and plan to leave him for wild beasts. A son and daughter of Ishmael plead for his release and eventually after many prayers, hearts are softened and Nephi is untied. (This is all according to Mark, by the way.) Somehow I was greatly blessed with inspiration and through my discussion with Mark we talked about whether he was being Nephi, or Laman/Lemuel about his situation. He clearly didn't like what James had said to him, but he realized that he had chosen the Laman/Lemuel response of striking out at what you don't like. We talked about choosing to be better and how he could choose to be like Nephi and not get angry regardless of what anyone says to him.

Now James, who is easily overcome by emotion was having trouble just knowing where to read, so I pointed him to Helman 5, cuz that's the first thing that came to mind. This is what James got out of the chapter, which he didn't quite finish: Nephi and Lehi, sons of Helaman, not the first ones, were teaching people who were being very bad. They were sad and remembered what their father had told them about having faith. The bad people threw them in prison and probably threw things at them, they prayed and Heavenly Father sent a pillar of fire to protect them. Remember I was really on a roll, so we jumped right in with remembering what his (James) father has taught him. He declared that David had taught him absolutely nothing, so I prodded with a few questions to lead him to realize that while his Dad doesn't sit down and formally teach him everyday, that he teaches through his example. He teaches him to have faith, and to be nice, etc. Then we moved on to the people who were coincidentally (okay maybe) throwing things at Nephi and Lehi. We talked about how they didn't grab anyone's arm, or even get angry about it, they just prayed. He knew pretty quick that even if he prayed that Heavenly Father was not likely to send down a pillar of fire when Peter throws things at him, but that something else would happen that would help. Perhaps something as simple as a prompting to leave the room, or to speak kindly to Peter. Either way, if he prays, the Lord will help him through anything.

I honestly don't know if those discussions had any effect on my boys, but they did on me. I have never really had an easy time with 'likening the scriptures', so it was rather enlightening to have it be so clear so suddenly. And the fact that Mark picked his own chapter to read that fell right in line with what had happened, plus me picking Helaman 5 out of the air, well it was amazing. I am really glad that we picked this as a consequence, and I hope that it will, over time, help our children to have experiences of turning to the scriptures for help with life's problems. I never really saw how that worked before, but now I know it does.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mount Vernon

Not sure why we chose the end of July to visit Mount Vernon...but it was still a fun trip. We didn't even see half of the estate so we'll go back again (in the Fall when the weather is cooler).
George Washington is exactly right - "No estate in United America is more pleasantly situated than this..." 8000 acres of fields of grass, woodland, pastures, livestock, gardens...all overlooking the Potomac River. It was absolutely beautiful.
The trees were no mighty redwoods of California, but they were massive for the east coast. These trees lined the several paths that led to Washington's estate. He was all about formality...and you can see that in the landscape, architecture, and gardens.
Here's a closeup of the house. I always thought it was stone. It's actually pinewood that has been grooved to look like stone. When the paint was wet, they threw fine sand on it to give the appearance of stone. Rustification is what the practice was called. And it looks really cool!
Just behind the house, the backyard gradually descends and then drops off to the Potomac. Not a bad view. We couldn't take pictures inside the mansion but we could take pictures in the two seperate wings attached to the mansion. The one in the picture below was their kitchen.

Here's the back of Washington's mansion.
And this is what the Washington's saw as they sat on their back porch:
There are even better views than this, but I already have a lot of pictures in this post. You'll just have to visit the estate yourself to see it all. :)
As was common for the time, the Washington's were self-sufficient. They had sheep and hogs and horses and chickens...maybe someday we'll have our own little estate. Luke enjoyed exploring it all.
What is it about piglets that are so cute? There were about a dozen of them and for some reason everybody was attracted to the hog pen.
While we were waiting in line to walk through the mansion, we came across the "necessary." I won't go into the details...but it's the most sophisticated kind of outhouse around.
After touring the mansion, we strolled down to the Potomac.
And secluded in a wooded area between the mansion and the Potomac lies General George Washington with his wife, Martha. During the 100 year anniversary of the Boy Scouts, these young men have an opportunity to participate in the official wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb. And they earn a special patch. Wouldn't it be cool to be a boy scout this year?!?

Washington's hand is at the perfect level for little boys. :) Peter and Luke were anxious to go on a walk with Washington and his family.
In one hallway of the museum, there were photographs of all the U.S. Presidents who have visited Mount Vernon. I especially liked this particular photograph of Ronald Reagan with his wife, Nancy. I miss the leadership of Ronald Reagan.
And I long for another leader like George Washington. This is the original painting of "The Prayer at Valley Forge" by Arnold Friberg. He recently passed away on July 1, 2010. Since his passing, this original work of art has been valued at $12,000,000. So here's a picture of $12 million dollars. :)

Although George Washington considered himself a farmer above everything else, he was so much more. He was a humble and inspired servant of the Almighty God. What a treat to be able to walk in his yard and in his home. We look forward to meeting him one day.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mount Vernon Posting Delayed

I don't think I have time to tell you about our little adventure to Mount Vernon yesterday. So to maintain your interest until then, here are the two youngest in our family to entertain you.

Luke is a firecracker and always fun to play with. He'll be 3 in October.

And here is a real treat. Eliza is 10 months old. I refer to her as our lazy baby. Think about what a typical 10 month old does--Eliza doesn't. But she makes plenty of noise and has figured out her own unique way of moving around. She recently discovered the air vents. And although she can't breath when she puts her face over it...she just can't resist. Enjoy!