Saturday, October 20, 2007

Apple Hill

We had an opportunity to go to Apple Hill at the end of September. We went through a museum and the kids had fun seeing some of the old things that they had read about in stories. We saw a one room cabin and how it was set up. The thing that impressed them the most was a real bearskin rug.
After that we went to a little restaurant and Kamron had his first carmel apple, which he declared the best food in the world. We then went to another farm that had a place to eat in the apple orchard. The kids got to feed fish in the pond there and they got to see a whole pig being roasted. Brennen looked at that for awhile and said, "I guess I don't like meat anymore." (That has not lasted though, he is back to declaring that he is a meat eater and devouring as much as is offered).


Baby Seth is six months old now. He went through a fussy stage, but has emerged from it into the smiliest baby ever. Every time anyone looks at him he smiles. He is really one of the sweetest little things. It is really amazing how blessed our whole family is to have a baby again. It is hard to explain, but he gives us all so much joy to cue over and hold every day. Everyone of my other children kiss, hug and talk about how wonderful he is on a daily basis. What a blessing!

At the end of the day I always tell my husband all of the cute things the children did while he was gone. The older kids have caught onto this and now they can't let a cute incident go by without telling their dad and I. Aubrey does this the most and will even point out things that her other two little brothers do. I am just loving being a mom right now.

Seth was my earliest crawler and learned when he was barely five months old. He started at about four and a half months reaching for things and then wiggling to get them and then figured out how to get up on his hands and knees after that it was only a couple of days before he figured out the crawling motions. He is now six and a half months and can follow me around the house. He is much better at it though when his little toes are free. He got his first two teeth at five months also and he does bite. Sometimes I'll be sitting on the floor and he will just crawl up and bite, and it hurts!

Charlotte Mason and Brain Based Research

So my original project had to be abandoned, but I ended up doing the research paper that follows.

Education is very important in America, but there is an educationalist of great value that is often overlooked in the academic discussions. Her name was Charlotte Mason and she collected the knowledge of how to educate children from the past. She also observed children in the educational field and then applied with great success her observations. Because the field of psychology was so new at the time little of what she did was backed up by formal research, but the research exists today and much of it gives us reason to take another look at her ideas in the hope of improving the education of our children. This paper will look at three of the principles that Charlotte Mason put forth as important to the education of every child, namely; narration, the use of living books, and scheduling of schoolwork. This discussion will follow a look at the peer reviewed psychology literature that provides us with the studies and the understanding of the need for these specific principles. It is hoped that this discussion will show that Charlotte Mason’s principles are sound and need to be further studied and utilized in the educational fields.
Statement of Problem
Recently an article ran in Education Daily that reported “America's lackluster performance on international tests have raised red flags at the United Nations group charged with gauging the nation's economic health. The UN Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found Americans performed at or below the international average across the board” (Sparks, 2007, pg. 1). To most who work in the educational field this is not news. The schools are doing poorly. They are not doing well on tests nor are they doing well in developing students known for their speaking, or leadership skills. Many of the ideas presented by Charlotte Mason will help students to improve drastically in their ability to think, discuss, relate ideas from one subject to another, and to lead.
This literature review and correlation to Charlotte Mason’s ideas is also important, because of the growing numbers of individuals who have begun to implement them in the nontraditional schooling sphere. Just one Charlotte Mason curriculum provider, Ambleside Online, has over four thousand families on their discussion list, trying to learn the specifics of teaching with this method. According to the Economist (2004), 1 in every 25 school aged children in America is home schooled. The Charlotte Mason philosophy is a primary method of teaching in this population. While the exact number of private schools teaching with the method is unknown there are at least twelve in the eastern United States. It is important that these principles of education are looked at from the perspective of current brain research and scientific study, so that those who are using them will be able to implement them in the best possible way. That is what this paper will begin to do, limiting itself to only three principles, which are offered as a starting place.
Literature Review
The literature reviewed in connection with the subject matter under consideration was obtained primarily from scholarly journals found in Pro-Quest and Academic Search Premiere data bases. Also a book, which has gathered and correlated much of the brain based research with the field of education will be discussed. This is in no way a comprehensive view of the subject matter as it is very vast, but it will serve as an overview.
The first article is one of many linking emotions to long-term memory. It is titled Memories of an Emotional and a Nonemotional Event: Effects of Aging and Delay Interval. In this article the authors conducted a study to see how well people would remember information that was more and less emotional in nature. They also correlated their results by age. In 2003 surveys were sent within two weeks of both the Super bowl and the Columbia shuttle explosion. They were sent again seven months later. It was found that both groups rated the shuttle explosion as a lot more emotional and both groups remembered more details about it in both surveys. The younger individuals remembered both events more accurately, but the difference was less great for the Columbia explosion.
The second article is The relationship between type of teacher talk and student attentiveness. A study was done in junior high, high school and university music classes. Classes were observed during productive rehearsal time with their normal teacher and scored based on how often and for how long the teacher stopped the music playing to talk. The type of talk was categorized. The students were observed to see how attentive they were to this teacher talk. It was found that The more a teacher talked in all levels the more off tasks the students became. They were most attentive to the talk when it was academic in nature.
The third article is not a report of a study, but a summary of some of the information we need to discuss the topic of this report. It is titled Brain-based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning and Test-taking Success. In this correlational article Willis discusses what we have learned from the studies so far about the brain. She describes what we have found from experiments on lab rats in enriched versus non-enriched environments and says, “Dendrites increase in size and number in response to learned skills, experience, and information. New dendrites grow as branches from frequently activated neurons. Once these dendrites are formed, it is the brain's plasticity that allows it to reshape and reorganize the networks of dendrite-neuron connections in response to increased or decreased use of these pathways” (2007, pg. 10).
It has been found, mostly through studies done on rats, that when an idea or part of the brain is used often the mylination around the dendrites thicken and this speeds up the recall of the information. In essence, the more often you use information you learn the easier it is to remember. When you do not use information it is pruned. “Pruning occurs when some brain pathways and connections are selectively maintained and "hard-wired," while others are selectively eliminated, or "pruned." Since active cells require blood to bring nourishment and clear away waste, cells that are inactive don't send messages to the circulatory system to send blood” (2007, pg. 11).
Willis further cites the research that shows how learning something in multiple ways creates multiple pathways to access the information and helps the information to remain accessible. She then goes on to describe the different types of memory. “From the most basic awareness of our environment, our memory skills progress from rote memory, working (short-term) memory, patterning and connections to relational memory, and, ultimately, long-term memory storage” (2007, pg. 12). In order to get something from working memory to short term memory or long-term memory the student must pay attention to it. There are many ways to do this. By being emotional involved with a subject it is much more likely to go to your long-term memory. Also one can recall the information often and this too will move it over to long-term memory and then further thicken the dendrites to make future recall even easier. Another way to move ideas into long-term memory is to allow students to experience an ah-ha moments, a moment when they connect new information with old and both the new and the old are seen in a new way.
In Learning about Learning: from theories to trends Gail Bush discusses some of the changes that have taken place in the field of education. The author discusses the changes of the field of psychology as it relates to education. “There was a strong sentiment among leading scholars at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, and elsewhere that if psychology was going to continue as a science of the mind, it would have to shift focus from observing behavior to studying mentalistic processes and concepts” (2006, pg. 14). As American educational psychology began to grow changes were taking place in other fields, which opened up new research possibilities. New demands were also soon made. “The education community was taking a hit from the space race, and along came cognitive science with much to offer education as a burgeoning body of knowledge ready for practical application” (2006, pg. 16).
Another article that is pertinent to our discussion of brain research and education is by Marcia D’Arcangelo. She interviewed some of the top scientists and researchers on the brain as it relates to education. Marion Diamond is a leading scientist in the area of how enriched environments affect brain functioning and physiology in rats. Eric Jensen is a leading researcher in the fields of both brain research and education. For the purposes of this paper I will focus mainly on these two individuals’ responses. Diamond was asked about the enriched environments of the rats she works with in her studies. She replied that enriched environments are environments where the rats have plenty of room, other rats with which to socialize and a variety of toys that are often changed for the rats to explore. The experiments are done with control rats that are isolated and only have bedding material and food, but no toys. “We found that the rats living in the enriched environment had developed a thicker cortex than those rats living in the impoverished environment. Their cortex had grown as a result of interacting with other rats and with objects to explore and climb upon” (1998, pg. 21). When asked to apply this to humans Diamond states, “No two human brains are alike. An enriched environment for one is not necessarily enriched for another. No two children learn in the identical way. In the classroom, we should teach children how to think for themselves” (1998, pg. 21). It is further hypothesized that a students individiual reactions with the environment is what will turn an educational environment into an enriched one. Diamond further explains, “There are some principles that drive learning. Every human being is driven to search for meaning. We all try to create patterns from our environment, and we all learn to some extent through interaction with others. Because ours is a social brain, it's important to build authentic relationships in the classroom and beyond. Complex learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat. We want to deeply engage learners with their purposes, values, and interests. Thinking and feeling are connected because our patterning is emotional. That means that we need to help learners create a felt meaning, a sense of relationship with a subject, in addition to an intellectual understanding” (1998, pg. 23).
Eric Jensen adds several important points about education that are relevant to our topic. His research has shown that students must pay attention to something to learn it, but attention of young children is not anywhere the half hour to hour long classes that we want them to pay attention to. “The normal human brain works in periods of high levels of attention, followed by periods of low levels of attention. The brain needs downtime” (1998, Pg. 24).
The next important work I would like to discuss is not a peer reviewed article, but a book by Eric Jensen who was interviewed in the previous article. He has collected data on how the brain learns and written a book entitled Brain-Based Learning. This book discusses in more depth how the brain moves things from working memory to short-term memory to long-term memory. It further discusses the need for an enriched environment with a variety of things to study so that students can get out of it what they need in their own situations. There are many helpful ways to prepare the learner to receive new information. In essence a learner needs a hook to place new learning onto and it has been found that the hook should be given to the students well before the teaching of new information, but this is not as difficult as it seems as everything is connected or related. The student be allowed to develop these relationships in their mind to make the learning more meaningful. Jensen sites many studies about the need for downtime and for physical activity breaks in between focused studies.
These articles and studies give a good overview of the current understanding of the current brain research and how it relates to education. The next section will show that all of this backs up three of the principles of education that Charlotte Mason observed and set forth as the best methods for education. It is not within the scope of this paper to demonstrate proof for all of her educational principles only to show an example of their timelessness when the ideas of behaviorism are falling by the way side because they have failed to stand up to current brain research. The author will first discuss the principle of narration, then living books and last scheduling.
Discussion Narration
Narration is the individual process of taking what you have learned and putting it into words. This is of greatest importance in the Charlotte Mason philosophy. It sounds simply and when someone is trained in it, it is. When a child is six lessons begin. The child is read some interesting story or part of a story and then asked to tell what happened. The child then has to ask him or herself how it began and what happened next and so forth until the entire episode is recalled. A small discussion may follow, but never precede the narrations.
Attention is the cornerstone of education. Jensen says, “For years, many teachers have found that their Holy Grail has been attention” (D’arcangelo, 1998, p. 25). We have learned a lot about acquiring attention and we now know why narration works so well. “All learning is state-dependent. The physiological, emotional, postural and psychological state that your learners are in will mediate content” (Jensen, p. 125). Narration sets up the needed state required for attention, because the students know they will have to tell back what they are learning. This way the attention is not able to drift to other things and it is held to the topic at hand. The lessons are age appropriate in length so this exercise is not too taxing on the children, but it does stretch them so that their attention will increase as they get older and the subject matter gets more complex.
Narration is also a form of repetition. Daimond explains, “The important thing that we’ve learned is that repetition helps memory” (D’arcangelo, 1998, p. 24). Wolfe further explains, “the second time two neurons fire together, they become more efficient and fire more readily. That develops what we call long-term memory” (D’arcangelo, 1998, p. 24). The more often something is recalled the more often the neural pathways are accessed and when this happens they become stronger and more protected from pruning. When a child hears a lesson that may be the first time the content is heard, but he or she immediately narrates either verbally or in written form, this accesses those neurons again, and then when the subject is picked up again the next day or next week a short recap of where the students are is done, which accesses the neural pathway another time. Then as the lesson is continued new material is being built onto what has previously been learned and as these connections are being made the neural pathway is again accessed. This repetition works together to increase the long-term memory of the information.
Memory can be classified into working memory, short-term memory and long-term memory. Certain things need to happen for the information to move from one category to another. Anything we notice may be held in working memory. “The challenge students face is to move information from working memory to their long-term memories. If they don’t do this in about 20 minutes, that information can be lost” (Willis, 2007, p.311). Repetition and relating new content to old content are two things that make this much more likely.
“Often (the facts presented to students) don’t have obvious or engaging patterns or connections that give them context or relationship to each other or the students’ lives” (Willis, 2007, p.311). In narration the child is allowed to build these relationships and find the patterns. When a child narrates he is telling the parts of the lesson that meant something to him. For instance, when we read Paul Revere’s ride by Henry Longfellow it is very likely that one child may give much more detail of the historical aspects, while another connects more with the horse. For both future lessons on the material will give them something real that he or she can connect with. The behaviorist idea that we can set up an environment, or a lesson, and every brain will react to it the same way has been found in education to be inaccurate. “Remember how the behaviorists thought that we all share the same understanding after learning new content? We beg to differ, say the constructivists. Learning is viewed as a search for meaning; we construct our own understanding of the world. Constructivism is a cognitive perspective to learning that at its core holds that knowledge is constructed by the learner and developed through experience. Information that is registered as input (we are bridging the information processing model here) is matched with previously stored knowledge. The new understanding is again stored for future use and now has more connections. The crux of constructivism is in the active construction of meaning through interactions with the social and the physical environment” (Bush 2005, p.15). This is also why we revisit material as educators. As we call on previous knowledge we add to it and the previous knowledge is further clarified according to the students new learning. As we are studying we are constantly personally relating to the material and connecting with the new and old material in our own way.
Narration is also beneficial as it relates to other subjects and gives many opportunities to learn. “Good language, like the synapses that make it possible, is gained only from interactive engagement: children need to talk as well as to hear” (Healy, 1999, p.88). Jane Healy author of Endangered Minds points out that most students are not given enough time to put their thoughts into words and are not proficient in doing this. Narration offers the child the opportunity to do this. The content is provided, but the child gets to develop the skill of taking that content and selecting what he or she feels is important and verbally putting it into words that are easily comprehended by others. This is also true of writing. As the child’s ability to narrate verbally increase he or she is then asked to narrate in written form. This is especially important in traditional schools where it is hard to give everyone an opportunity to narrate verbally, everyone can still narrate in writing. The same mental questions have to be asked of the student, by the student.
Narration is a highly valuable principle that is an effective method of meeting what we now through modern research to be what the brain needs to learn. It can be used in all subjects. Imagine how beneficial it would be if the students were consistently asked to tell how to do math, rather than just answer problems. The former would bring comprehension up to a much higher standard. That is what narrating does, it holds attention, develops easier recall of the information, helps to move the information to long-term memory, provides an opportunity to relate to information in an individual way and it can be used embedded in the other content areas.
Living Books
The second Charlotte Mason principle I would like to discuss is the use of living books. Living books are whole books that are written by an author who is passionate about the subject and clothes their story in literary language. Textbooks on the other hand, our current traditional schools, are often written by large committees of people in language deemed exactly suited to the particular grade the book is designed for.
Jane Healy gave an example of the difference. She visited a school to observe its language arts teaching. The school was under a great deal of pressure to meet state standards and the district had handed out grade level literature books with scripted lesson plans. In the first class the students were reading a carefully worded story that was considered developmentally appropriate. The students were bored. They expressed irritation through comments such as, “this is stupid,” and “who’s this creep anyway?” There daily readings were not connected to any others day readings and so there was a feeling of relief when the story was over. Little was comprehended and little was remembered. In another classroom the teacher had quietly scrapped the readers and bought some interesting unabridged novels. She only had enough for every three students to share, but the students eagerly sat around their copies and, though story was more difficult than the one in the other class, the obviously understood and eagerly discussed it. The story continued from day to day and so they remembered it and were eager to get back to it.
Living books have personality and enthusiasm. With it they engage the readers much more than textbook descriptions of an event or fact. Diamond says, “Every human being is driven to search for meaning. We all try to create patterns from our environment, and we all learn to some extent through interaction with others. Because ours is a social brain, it's important to build authentic relationships in the classroom and beyond. Complex learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat. We want to deeply engage learners with their purposes, values, and interests. Thinking and feeling are connected because our patterning is emotional. That means that we need to help learners create a felt meaning, a sense of relationship with a subject, in addition to an intellectual understanding.” (D’Arcangelo, 1998, p. 25). Living books do just that. They allow a relationship with the subject matter to develop. They engage learners on an emotional level like a text book can not do. “Anything that is emotionally laden will get our attention quickly” (D’Arcangelo, 1998, p. 25). Sylwester adds, “And yet, our emotional system drives our attentional system, which drives learning and memory and everything else that we do. It is biologically impossible to learn and remember anything that we don't pay attention to. The emotional system tells us whether a thing is important-whether we ought to put any energy into it. We've basically ignored emotion for years. We didn't know how to regulate it, to evaluate it, or to measure it” (D’Arcangelo, 1998, p. 25). Yet in many educational environments we are still using books that have little or no emotion in them. Texts that only present facts rarely inspire interest, build comprehension and create long-term memory for students. Living books can do this. When a father who went through it and lost their child in it tells a history of World War I, then the reasons for it and the realities of it are going to be remembered by the reader much better than when a section in a text tells the date it took place along with other pertinent facts.
From what we understand of the brain living books are the most appropriate material to use to help students develop understanding and long-term memory, as they provide context, emotion and real ideas.
The last of Charlotte Masons may ideas that this paper will address is that of scheduling. Charlotte Mason used shorter lessons and a variety of subjects. Lessons were continued over many days. For instance, a 10-year-old child reads a history biography once a week for twenty minutes. This may spread the book out over about six months. Students read up to twenty books at one time. Spreading books out this way gives more opportunities to recall the information. “The more times one repeats an action (e.g., practice) or recalls the information, the more dendrites sprout to connect new memories to old, and the more efficient the brain becomes in its ability to retrieve that memory or repeat that action. Eventually, just triggering the beginning of the sequence results in the remaining pieces falling into place” (Willis, 2007, p.311).
Jensen summarizes, “The normal human brain works in periods of high levels of attention, followed by periods of low levels of attention. The brain needs downtime” (D’Arcangelo, 1998, p. 26). Charlotte Mason was very aware of the need for what is now called downtime in the schedule. This is the time that allows the brain to process the new material that has been covered. She suggested that lesson be kept short, no more than fifteen minutes in the primary grades and that they alternated between mental tasks such as a new grammar lesson and less mentally demanding tasks, such as handwriting practice. This going back and forth would give the child the processing time needed to secure the knowledge in the mind.
Schedules done this way are full of many subjects such as poetry, music, artists study, art expression etc. While our schools go through cycles of cutting back to “the basics” and attempting a richer curriculum there is evidence that a broader curriculum is more brain friendly especially during the younger grades. Sylwester puts it this way, “Part of our brain is set up to deal with music and art. It wouldn't be there if it weren't important. If you don't stimulate the language centers of your brain to master language, you are in a deficit for the rest of your life. What about the music centers of your brain? A human brain isn't just about staying alive, for goodness' sake. A human brain is about the quality of one's life. The arts are very central to the spirit and the quality of our lives” (D’Arcangelo, 1998, p. 26). It is just as important for the child who is not gifted in art to still study drawing as it is for the child not gifted in math to study arithmetic. The more opportunities in the curriculum for each child to connect to several subject areas the better. This variety provides an enriched environment, which maximizes the connections of the dendrites in the brain.
This paper has described the three principles of narration, living books and scheduling that Charlotte Mason suggested as valuable to education. It looked at the research on the brain and described how this research backs up these three principles. The works of Charlotte Mason have many other valuable principles that ought to be discussed and applied in our educational environments so that we can meet the needs of our many individual students. In many aspects our schools are failing and the application of this approach, it is believed, would help America to achieve its goal of again becoming a world leader in kindergarten through twelfth grade education. As educationalists search for how to do this the philosophies of Charlotte Mason should be part of this discussion.

Bush, G. (2006). Learning about learning: from theories to trends. Teacher Librarian. 34 (2), 14-19. Retrieved September 26, 2007, from Pro-Quest Direct database.
D’Arcangelo, M. (1998). The brains behind the brain. Educational Leadership. 56(3), 20-26. Retrieved September 26, 2007, from Pro-Quest Direct database.
Fogarty, R. (1999). Architects of the intellect. Educational Leadership. 57 (3) 76-79. Retrieved September 26, 2007, from Pro-Quest Direct database.
Healy, J. (1999). Endangered Minds. Simon & Schuster, New York.
Jensen, E. (2000). Brain-based learning. Corwin Press. Thousand Oaks, California.
Kensinger, E., Krendl, A. & Corkin, S. (2006). Memories of an emotional and a nonemotional event: effects of aging and delay interval. Experimental Aging Research. 32(1), 23-45. Retrieved October 10, 2007 from Academic Search Premier database.
Mason, C. (1989). The Original Home Schooling Series, Six volume edition. Charlotte Mason Research & Supply.
Napoles, J. (2006). The relationship between type of teacher talk and student attentiveness. Journal of Music Teacher Education.16(1), 7-20. Retrieved October 10, 2007 from Academic Search Premier database.
Sparks, S., (2007). International group faults U.S. schools. Education Daily. 40 (101). 1. Retrieved September 23, 2007, from Pro-Quest Direct database.
Willis, J. (2007). Brain-based teaching strategies for improving students’ memory, learning and test-taking success. Childhood Education 83(5) 310-316. Retrieved September 26, 2007, from Pro-Quest Direct database.

Infant and Teens

A couple of responses to discussion posts in my last class.


I find Dr. Diamond’s studies to be extremely interesting. She has also written a book called Magic Trees of the Mind with the author of this article. They go into more details about Diamond’s studies and then attempt to translate them to human terms. This can be difficult because an enriched environment for a rat is very different than an enriched environment for a child. I have studied various aspects of this topic in some detail as I have set up home and educational environments for my children. I strongly believe that the primary thing an infant needs is a loving adult who is thoroughly attached to him or her. “Recent brain research suggests that warm, responsive care is not only comforting for an infant; it is critical to healthy development. In fact, a strong, secure attachment to a nurturing caregiver appears to have protective biological function, protecting an infant to some degree against the adverse effects of later stress or trauma” (Shore, 2003, p. 27). The ideal learning environment would also include the following:
-A healthy, safe environment, where the infant is breastfed.
-Adults who respond to the child’s cues in a loving kind way.
-Playfulness and cheerfulness are given in frequent interactions throughout the day between the primary caregiver and the infant.
-Physical attention is given often. The child is carried, rocked, held, kissed and hugged.
-The adult understands basic child development, but also realizes the uniqueness of each child and that every development has a normal range.
-The environment is linguistically rich. The adult talks, reads and sings often to the child.
-There are a variety of activities that the infant engages in throughout the day. This would include such things as tummy time with toys just out of reach to encourage the child to learn to crawl, and pillows over soft carpet for the infant who has started crawling to climb over. Also a variety of colored objects would be available to the infant, but only a few at a time in a rotating basis.
-Routines would be in place although strict schedules would not.

To implement such an environment most parents could use a little counseling and shown the research as to why these steps are beneficial. Researchers could then observe and record the behavior of the caregivers and infants along with a control group of infants who in daycare centers with high staff turnover. Future records of the two groups could be made at five years, ten years and fifteen years to see how the two groups faired intellectually, emotionally, physically and socially. If the group with the nurturing attached caregiver faired better than the infants in daycare with high staff turnover then we can conclude that the suggested enriched environment is better at helping children to develop well.


I do not believe western civilization is the only civilization where adolescents have to figure out their identity and their direction. In many cases this has been decided for the youth already, as Hall says in our text (2007, p. 181), and so this aspect is different than many experience in our society today. At the same time I do think our modern society has created the “teenager.”
In our house we have defined teenagers from the examples of the many that we know who are self-inclined, lazy and often rebellious individuals between 13 and 19. Youth are the hard working youngster between 13 and 19 who know their parents have a purpose, they have a purpose and that we all must put in a great deal of work to figure out and accomplish those purposes. I have a friend that has informed me that all children sleep around and try drugs and rebel when they become teenagers and her oldest is now in those years and proving her predictions to be true. But I did not do any of those things and neither will my children. I was too busy as an apprentice to a horse trainer, riding instructor, nanny, leader in my youth group, straight A student and following my many other self imposed goals. The rebellious teen image is often the product of a generation of children who have been raised doing mostly what they want with too little supervision and too few goal setting sessions and heartfelt talks with their parents. When a parent is around and requires hard work and that the child pursue something of his or her choice that is of value then much of the tumult of these years is channeled into productive purposes and not allowed to fester unsupervised. Also rebellious acting out is limited when the individual has real responsibilities that no one else will step in and fill. For instance, my siblings and I were all required to buy our own extras, cars, insurance and in my case horse feed from the time we were 14. My parents had eight children and work was simply part of our family. This isn’t to say we didn’t get hormonal and moody, some of us did, but it never lead to all out inappropriate behavior. We simply loved and respected my parents and this kept us in bounds. All of this comes together to resolve Erickson’s view of identity crisis. But take a teen who does not set goals, is not required to work and doesn’t pursue anything that will help him the future. In this case the identity crises will not be solved and the person will go into the next stage still not knowing anything more about what he or she is to do here. This is when we get the twenty something who is still partying, living at home or off others and has no real direction. Not always, but more often now than ever before.
Other examples of youth versus teenagers can be seen throughout history. Benjamin Franklin became an apprentice to his older brother, a printer, at age twelve. He worked long hours and learned a lot. At seventeen he moved to a new town and set up his own printing press and newspaper. At 16 George Washington became a surveyor, laying out property lines for new settlers. At 14 Thomas Edison set up a chemistry lab on a short circuit train, where he sold newspapers and other merchandize, so that he could do experiments in between selling things. These men were reacting to an environment that expected them to work, which is in sharp contrast to the homes of many teenagers today who are given much with very little required of them in return.
For those who work with teens Sheryl Feinstein author of Secrets of the Teenaged Brain suggests that we help them make goals, identify obstacles to realizing the goals, find alternatives for overcoming each obstacles, rank the alternatives and then choose the best alternative (2004, p. 133). We should help them to make goals and pursue their goals as much as we possible to encourage more mature behavior and support in solving their identity crises’.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Last Class!

I have just begun the last class in my Psychology BA. Five weeks left! I will try to write a little more often after it is done. In this class I get to do an applied project aka a study. I am going to correlate data between geographical areas and the comments that large families receive. Sound familiar =).

After this class I will be going to Rio Salado to get the teaching credential from there and then I will transfer it to California and then I will complete my Masters so that I can have the option to teach online. So I will still be in school for about three more years. Ahh, well, at least I will be in the education field of studies soon. I have already finished three classes at Rio Salado and found them to be very interesting so I have high hopes.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Baby Seth

Introducing Seth James Calapp. He finally arrived 17 days late and after a second induction attempt on April 3, 2007. He was 8 lbs. 15 oz. and 21 inches long. The kids love him. Kamron is so glad he is here finally and just wears an adoring expression, Aubrey wants to hold him as much as possible, Brennen can’t stop cooing and laughing at every noise he makes, and Logan mostly ignores him except to utter an occasional, “ooooh, how sweet!” Little Seth seems content as long as he is usually held or next to Mom. He likes to eat, isn’t much of a wiggler and … he has dimples! So sweet!

Play Touched by Living Ideas

I find delight in seeing the ideas that have been introduced in our studies find there way into my children's play. There are bears that currently in habit the book houses on my couch. The one under the largest book is Oso Blanco and he only speeks Spanish, but is attempting to communicate with the other bears. The teacher part of me recognizes this as a form of narration, but afterall isn't life a narration of all that has been fed to the mind whether good or bad, and I am pleased. My daughter has left Jumpstart Spanish because of growing protests and though her mom won't let her move on to the more grown up Rosetta Stone she is now studying books and seems to enjoy it more.

The other day they were playing that Kamron was the donkey, Bottom, and Aubrey was a woman who stood so still that as he looked at her he thought she was a statue, but after awhile she stepped down and suprised him because he had been living the whole time. I sat thinking about how I han't been introduced to Shakespeare until high school and her my six and eight-year-old were reinacting characters, although from two different plays.

Awhile ago they had friends over and the seven children went in the backyard and set up the tent, built a pretend fire and well with a bucket that one could raise and lower. They spent several hours being pioneers and Indians, hunting and harvesting, exploring and battling. It is these moments that I want to shout, it is working, my children are getting an education.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I was to due to have this little baby boy 10 days ago. He has decided to stay right where he is. I really wanted to go into labor naturally, but the doctor felt like we should induce, so yesterday I went to the hospital at 8 in the morning. The doctor checked me and found I was at 1 cm and 40% effaced and that the baby was still too high to break my water or strip the membranes, so they started pitocin at 11 a.m. I brought with me the babies final blanket which I was crochetting an edge onto, I felt this would make a good labor project as I didn't have to think too much, but it would stifle the boredom of sitting there while giving me something productive to do and it was for the baby. I had regular contractions that got about three minutes apart and were about a 3 on the pain scale by about 2 p.m. Then I talked to the nurse who said I should be in more pain or else the cervix wouldn't open. She said most of the time they never got past 7 on the pitocin in a woman who had already had a baby and I was at 13 on my fifth child. I asked if the doctor would send me home if nothing was happening and she called and said the doctor would check me at about 5:30 and if nothing was happening I would probably go home and try again another day. By 4 p.m. I had finished the blanket and the contractions had gotten further apart and less painful despite the pitocin being at 15. The doctor checked me and found I was now dilated to 1.5 cm and 50% effaced. We checked out at 6 p.m. and went out to eat. I had joked with Kevin earlier that we could skip the whole thing and go spend the day together somewhere, well we at least went out to dinner, before we got home to thank my mother- and sister-in-law for coming and watching the kids. I feel like I have inconvenienced a lot of people for nothing, but my mother-in-law cleaned our carpets and I finished the blanket, so the day was not totally lost. The baby seems higher than usual and I have little hope of him coming soon. They want to try to induce again next Monday, starting with a pill to soften the cervix first instead of pitocin. Maybe he wants an April birthday.
P.S. did I mention that I am really big.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Doll's Kitchen Set

This is a little late, but I thought I would share anyway. My mother had a collection of pattern books when I was a girl with all of these plastic canvas fashion doll rooms. I made several for myself as a girl. I still have a few and Aubrey loves playing with them so I made this set for her this Christmas. I had started the prior January and didn't get done with it until December. She likes and entertains all kinds of dolls and animals with it.

Brick Houses

Kamron got this kit for Christmas and a couple of weeks ago, he and his Dad spent about four hours putting it together. I think they enjoyed building it.

Baby Blankets

I finally finished the crocheted blanket for the baby. It took me about three months, ripping and redoing many times. It was by far the most difficult pattern I have done, but I love the finished blanket. The pattern is from "Candy Blankies." My whole family wants one now as it is made from super soft yarn and is extremely warm. All of the children already have crocheted blankets, but Kevin has been asking for one for a long time. He went through all of my patterns and said he wants one like this, but he wants it in single crochet so it will have smaller holes, and he wants it king sized so we can both cuddle in it. I told him it would take me about two years to complete, and he says that is fine, because we will have a gorgeous blanket until we are old. It will be dark, dark blue and off-white.

The next blanket is a two sided flannel blanket with tabby ribbons sewn into it. It took me all of an hour and a half and $3.50 to make, as I got everything on sale.

Attitudes Toward Homeschooling

This is my final paper for my last class. I found the research quite interesting and thought I'd share.

Attitudes Toward Home Schooling
Melissa Calapp
Psychology 320: Research Methods and Statistics
February 7, 2007

Attitudes Toward Home Schooling

Introduction and Statement of Problem
I am a home schooling mother of four. I recently went to the doctor for my oldest son. The doctor asked me what my son’s teacher thought of a certain condition, and I told him he was home schooled. The doctor then asked me why, to which I replied that I did not think the local schools were very good and I could provide him with a better education at home. The doctor replied, “Well, yes, but we recommend the children go to public school, so that they can learn street smarts.” This instance brought again to my mind the question of people’s attitudes towards home schooling. If this doctor can admit that the local schools are not good educationally, but still recommend that the children go there, would other doctor’s also? What is the attitude of professionals and lay people toward home schooling and has it changed over the last twenty years?

This topic is timely and relevant for several reasons. According to Lawrence M. Rudner of the Home School Legal Defense (1999) there were between 750,000 to 1,200,000 home schooled children in 1998, while today there are over 2,000,000 children being educated from home. According to the Economist (2004), this number represents 1 in every 25 school aged children in America. The number of home schooled children is increasing each year, and it is now much more common for someone to know a family who chooses this educational method, which would lead us to ask that as people become more familiar with a variety of home schooling families will their opinion of them change? One other reason this is a relevant topic is that little research has been done on it and it would be beneficial to the general population along with those who serve children to understand this specific population better. Before I began the research on this topic my hypothesis was that the attitude towards home schooling has become more favorable over the last ten years, but there are still many who have negative opinions about it.

Literature Review
The literature reviewed in connection with the subject matter under consideration was obtained from scholarly journals found in Pro-Quest data base, with the exception of one article which was not found in a scholarly journal, but held important data and was quoted in other more scholarly journals. This article is reviewed along with five of the more scholarly articles below. None of them relate exclusively to the topic at hand, but by correlating the information from the articles a strong case for the hypothesis is made.

The first article is by Patricia Lines, from Public Interest (2000), it was not found in the scholarly journal section yet it was the most often quoted article by the others that I reviewed, with good reason. Lines worked in the Department of Education since 1985 and was partially in charge of recording how many home schooled children their were. She used “data from state education agencies; distribution of curricular packages for homeschoolers; and state homeschool associations' estimates of their constituencies” (75). Within her statistical analysis and questionnaires she came to the conclusion that many of the home school children are being pulled from students who would typically be candidates from private schools and less often from the public schools.

Lines then recounts a history of homes schooling reminding us that it is public schooling that is a recent educational method and home schooling has in fact always been the primary method of most people especially the upper class, who would hire tutors, and those living in rural locations. The modern movement started as a liberal movement in the 1960’s and then as the schools became more liberal has swung to a more conservative movement today, but with significant amounts of people from the liberal side still.

Lines hypothesizes that future growth in home schooling may come from the minority populations. She sites a study that was done Vanderbilt University and Nashville State Tech, a selective private university and a two-year college. The survey had 254 participants pulled from the classes of the professors doing the studies, so the results may not represent the general population. Nevertheless, 45.3 percent of African-American students replied yes or maybe when asked if they would home school their own children. The percentages were even larger among other minority groups.

The next study was an annual report sent out to Florida home schoolers, which shows a shift in the reasoning behind the decisions to home school. Before 1995 the primary reason was consistently religious, but after 1995 the primary reason for home schooling was a dissatisfaction with the public schools, which has also led to an even more diverse home schooling population.

Lines reports the findings of another study she had done previously. She was interested in the attitudes of colleges and Universities towards these students, and what they did with admission packets from them. She conducted phone interviews with a variety of schools and found an overwhelmingly positive response in the attitudes towards these students from schools ranging from local junior colleges, to tech schools to Ivy League schools. She then shows how the numbers of schools who have admitted home schoolers (which is more than 900 in 2000) has grown and become a much easier process for these students.

Lines then brings up two studies that were cited in several other articles as well. The primary concern that most people have about home schooling is for the social well being of the children. Two studies were conducted to see if there was any difference in social performance between the home schoolers and public schooled children. The first study was done with 70 children from each group. The 140 children were video taped at play with other children. The video tapes were then given to trained counselors who were not told how the children were being schooled. The counselors then rated the students and the data was then analyzed. It was found that there were very few differences overall between the two groups. This same study is cited by Wooster (2000), who says that the only significant difference was that on average the home schooled children behaved better. I was not able to locate the study to verify.

The second study was a questionnaire and personality analysis done by psychologists on a group of home schooled students and a group of public schooled students. Both groups scored as well-adjusted, “with comparable scores on scales measuring aggression, reliance on others, perception of support from others, perceptions of limits to be followed, and interpersonal relations among family members. Not surprisingly, the nonhomeschoolers scored somewhat higher in resolving interpersonal problems with other children” (78).

Lines then cites some public opinion polls, which are very pertinent to our topic. “In 1985, only 16 percent of respondents to the annual Phi Delta Kappan Gallup poll thought that the homeschool movement was a "good thing"; 73 percent thought it was a "bad thing." By 1988, 28 percent rated it a good thing and 59 percent rated it a bad thing. By 1997, the approval rating had grown to 36 percent while the disapproval rating edged down to 57 percent” (79).

The last study that is cited in this article was done by Christian Smith and David Sikkink of the University of North Carolina found that home schooling families tended to be more politically, and civically involved then those families whose children attend public school.

The next article (Wootser, 2000) cited several of the studies, which have been described above, but also included a study by statistician Lawrence Ludner, from the University of Maryland, who looked at test scores from 20,000 home schooled children and found that they consistently score better than public schooled children. They average 67 points higher on the SAT test then public schooled students. The studies that show that on average home schoolers consistently perform better academically compared with publicly schooled children are important in the general populations change in attitude toward home schooling, because the question of academic performance was one of the primary concerns twenty years ago.

Houston and Toma report on two surveys done that directly shows the change of public opinion. “In 1986, a Phi Delta Kappa-Gallup poll found only 16% of Americans believed home schooling to be a "good thing" (Lines 1996). In 1994, however, a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found 28% of Americans would actually prefer home education to in-school education.” These polls admittedly are not as carefully done as we would like from a carefully conducted experiment, and that must be taken into consideration. In this article the attempt to regulate home schooling by creating a law to require at least one home schooling parent to have a teaching credential was defeated in the House of Representatives 424 to 1. This does tell us something of the opinion of politicians of home schoolers in general.

In “Education Reform (2002),” by Pamela Paul which was published in American Demographics, a correlated study was reported where polls on the publics opinion of the public schools and home schools were collected and studied. It was found that the positive opinions of American’s in the public schools has sharply declined. For instance, in 1973 58% of the population had “quite a lot” or “a great deal” of confidence in the schools. By 1999 this number had fallen to only 36%. This study shows a possible reason for a change in opinion of home schooling as people tend to be more open to other methods of education when they are less positive about the main method.

An experiment found in School Psychology Review, was done by Steven F Duvall, Joseph C Delquadri, D Lawrence Ward, who are the authors of the article (2004). The effectiveness in teaching children with ADHD by home schooling parents who were untrained, according to current educational thought, was the topic of the study. First several publicly schooled and home schooled ADHD children were identified, and then two matched sets were identified. Each of the students and parents or teachers were then observed by two observers on a monthly basis for five months at timed intervals for 30 to 45 minutes. The students were then tested multiple times to see how effective their learning was and how effectively it was retained. Both sets of students started out at the same place on the tests, but both of the home schooled students were consistently scoring higher by the end of five months. It was found that even though the parents were not trained to deal with ADHD children they used many of the same techniques as the teachers, with a few differences. The parents more often directed learning from the side of the student or from out of the room, while the teachers were typically in front or behind the student and were directing larger groups of children. The home schooled students attention was focused and they were more on task then those in the public school situation. The home school parents more often ignored inappropriate behavior while the public school teachers more often engaged “talk management.” This experiment shows that untrained parents can teach children more effectively than trained public schooled teachers. This and another study done found no correlation between home schooled children’s academic performance and whether their parent had a teaching credential seem to show that parents teach children very well even without special training, which further breaks down some of the arguments that people have against home schooling. One drawback of this study was that it did not record the parents prior experience, which may very well have included quite a bit of research on how to deal with ADHD children. Another drawback is that it only used two pairs of students.

The last article I would like to discuss can be found in Clinical Pediatrics and was written by Susan L Klugewicz and Carol L Carraccio (1999). The authors wanted to find out what pediatricians thought about home schooling and if when they knew a family home schooled did they provide additional services that were normally provided at the public schools. They sent out over 1100 questionnaires and got about 600 replies from a variety of pediatrician offices. They found that 74% of pediatricians felt their knowledge of home schooling was inadequate. Eighty-eight percent thought that home schoolers would do well academically, while 51% thought that home schoolers would be less mature. Only about one-third said that they supported home schooling. Of those who had home schoolers in their practices the percentage of favorable responses towards it increased, while the opinions were most negative amongst those who had the least amount of home schoolers. Neither group offered any additional services to these students. The author recommends that pediatricians become more informed on this segment of the population and offer additional services to them.

Through my research I have found that, indeed, opinions towards home schooling have become more positive as the home schooling movement has become more widespread. In Home Schooling: an alternative choice Houston and Toma (2003) say, “Public perception of home education has also changed over the last 15 years. In 1986, a Phi Delta Kappa-Gallup poll found only 16% of Americans believed home schooling to be a "good thing". In 1994, however, a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found 28% of Americans would actually prefer home education to in-school education” (p. 925). Seventy-three percent of the participants of a Phi Delta Kappa-Gallup poll in 1985 thought the home schooling movement was a “bad thing” according to Lines (2000). In 1988, 28 percent thought it was a “good thing” and 59 percent thought it was a “bad thing.” In 1997 36 percent thought it was a “good thing,” while 57 percent thought it was a “bad thing.” In the 1997 poll 82 percent said that parents should have a legal right to home school, compared with 53% in 1988.

In Home schooled children: A pediatric perspective (Klugewicz, S. & Carraccio, C., 1999), the pediatricians were found to have a more positive opinion with the more home schooling families that they come in contact with. This confirms the hypothesis that the more familiar laymen and professionals become with home schooling, the more positive their opinions will be. One interesting finding was that on the whole the pediatricians really were not that familiar with home schooling and knew that they were not, which accounts for why on the whole their opinion of it was more negative than that of the general population.

There are several things that have contributed to the change of opinion in home schooling. One major factor, which has already been pointed out, is simply the growth of this form of education. With this growth has come a wider familiarity with home schooling in general. This same form of human behavior can be seen in other areas, as the general population becomes more familiar with a variety of people from a minor population. For instance, when schools and some apartment buildings were desegregated the attitudes of whites towards African Americans did indeed become more positive.

This form of education has been unfamiliar to a lot of people, and so it was not, and still is not, uncommon for home schooling families to receive a lot of questions and concerns about it. The top concerns have been can the children keep up academically? Will they get into college? Are parents capable of teaching as well as a trained professional teacher? Will the children be social misfits?
All of these concerns have been addressed with sound research. In addition to the research on academic performance already cited, in 1997 HSLDA sent out questionnaires to 6,000 home schooling families, the children were also given standardized tests and the data was then collected and correlated for the 5,402 recipients that responded. The results were then published in the Educational Policy Analysis Archives (Rudner, 1999). It was found that home schooled children performed on average one grade level above their peers in elementary school and four grade levels above their peers by eighth grade. This correlated educational levels of parents and how well the students did on the tests. In almost one-fourths of the homes one or both parents had a teaching degree, but there was no correlation found between this and a students test scores. However, there was a correlation between the parents educational and income levels and the test scores. The higher the educational levels and income the higher the test scores. But those with parents who did not have a high school diploma still did better than public school students who had parents with some college or an AA.

The research clearly shows that home schoolers are just as likely to get into the college or university of their chose as those in the general population. Most colleges and universities either accept students on their SAT and ACT scores or they have what is called a portfolio review, specifically designed for them.
The last major issue of socialization also was shown in the above research to be a concern that is misunderstood. The children have been shown to relate very well to others, and to be more politically and civically involved then publicly schooled peers (Lines, 2000). This is a hard area to define as there is no agreed upon meaning of the word socialization. Some home schoolers consider their school to have been a success if their children can not relate to some things in the general population, like drugs, premarital sex, and being told what to study, when to study and how to study. Others view “street smarts” as the correct socialization goal of schooling. There are a variety of people in both populations, and there will always be a few who miss social cues given by others or have a hard time interacting in groups from both groups and with these students it is not necessarily the method of education that produces students who do not meet everyone’s ideas of a well-socialized individual. There are probably external factors involved, such as individual personality. Another factor to consider also is that home schoolers often represent children who went to public school and did not fit in. An interview by Jenni Russel (2005) in England found that many of the parents pulled their children out of public school, because they were being bullied. She cites one student who had had a gun pulled on him by bullies. So, perhaps, any social differences that exist between the two populations is not a result of home schooling, but those that do not fit into the publicly schooled social environments are more likely to be home schooled.

As all of this research becomes public knowledge the fears of home schooling tend to dissolve, which I believe has helped the opinion of the general population to improve.

The last thing to consider is the inverse effect pointed out by Paul (2002). As the confidence in the public schools has sharply declined more people will look to other forms of education, which will lead them to be more open to home schooling. This has the effect of making the home schooling population more diverse and more numerous. As it grows in this way those in the general population will be more likely to know several different families who chose this option and less likely to make universal judgments about them, which will have the effect of increasing their opinion of home schoolers.

I have shown through solid research that as the home schooling population has grown, and many concerns have been proven unfounded that opinions towards home schooling, which were largely negative in the 1980’s, have now become largely positive. This swing of general opinion has been based largely on growth and the removal of ignorance about what it might be like, through a variety of solid studies, and a few controlled experiments. It is very important for the general population to abandon their prejudices, so that home schooling can be seen as the effective and worthwhile educational method that it is. As this is acknowledged, its strengths can then be studied and implemented to the improvement of other educational methods. This would help all of the children in the population and therefore be of great benefit to all of us.


Duvall, S., Delquadri. J. & Ward, D. (2004). A preliminary investigation of the effectiveness of homeschool instructional environments for students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. School Psychology Review 33(1), 140- 159. Retrieved February 2, 2007, from Pro-Quest Direct database.
Houston, R. & Toma, E. (2003). Home schooling: An alternative school choice. Southern Economic Journal 69(4), 920-936.
Klugewicz, S. & Carraccio, C. (1999). Home schooled children: A pediatric perspective. Clinical Pediatrics, 38(7), 407-412. Retrieved January 19, 2007, from Pro-Quest Direct database.
Lines, P. (2000). Homeschooling comes of age. Public Interest (140) 74-86. Retrieved January 22, 2007, from Pro-Quest Direct database.
Paul, P. (2002). Education reform. American Demographics 24(8), 20-22. Retrieved January 22, 2007, from Pro-Quest Direct database.
Rudner, L. (1999). Scholastic achievement and demographic characteristics of home school students in 1998. Retrieved January 21, 2007, from
Russel, J. (2005). When parents are a child’s best teachers. New Statesman 18(840), 24- 27. Retrieved February 2, 2007 from Pro-Quest Direct database.
Wooster, M. (2000). The virtues of learning at home. The American Enterprise 11(8), 56. Retrieved January 22, 2007, from Pro-Quest Direct database.

Drawing for Stake Conference

In the book "Hidden Art of Homemaking," by Edith Schafer she has a chapter on drawing. Her husband was a preacher and as he preached on Sundays she would draw pictures of the sermon for her children, so that her children could understand. I draw a wonderful stick figure and have been thinking about doing this for awhile with my children. This Sunday was Stake conference, and as their was no classes for the children I decided to leave the younger two at home with Kevin, who is not active in the church and doesn't go to conferences. This was a perfect time to try drawing the sermons. The first man spoke of Nephi who was praying for his people on the wall, so I drew him standing there and the people around him pushing each other. I went on to draw the rest of the story and then at the end I drew a boy and girl with the question "what will Kamron and Aubrey be asked of God to do?"

The next talk was about how important it is for the mother to guard her home and that we should have families. I drew a mom with a big shield and several children behind her. I then asked what she needed to defend the home and children from and in a whisper the children told me while I drew the following; robbers, drugs, bad words, bad TV, bad music, people who don't like families, and people who might hurt them. I then talked to Aubrey about how she would have this job when she grew up and she swelled with pride.

I continued to draw what the rest of the speakers spoke about and one thing that suprised me is how much I got out of those talks. I geuss drawing is not just for teaching the kids.

Grocery Shopping

Shopping has become more difficult for me as walking for over an hour usually exhausts me. I must admit that this pregnancy, though not particularly difficult does make me feel a lot older all of a sudden. I try not to take the kids shopping with me and have really been limiting how often I go to the store. Anyway, yesterday Kevin didn't have any jobs until 11 a.m. so in the morning I took Logan, 21 months, with me to do the shopping, as Kevin had things to do. I had the most fun shopping! Logan wanted to sit in the back of the cart and as we went along he would say to everyone hi and then bye. Then he started pointing everything out, the lights the colors, everything. Then he started counting spanish-I didn't even know he could, but he can count to sies, quite well and did so over and over. As the cart started to fill up I moved him to the front seat, and he wanted to sing, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." I have a horrible singing voice and can't stay on tune even on that one, but I figured there were plenty of people who walked around WalMart looking like they were talking to themselves (they have funny things in their ears though=)) that I figured noone would mind if I sang so I began, but Logan stopped me saying, "No, do this," with his little fingers starting the hand motions. I kissed him and said he would have to do the hand motions, because I had to push the cart. He seemed okay with that, but really wanted the hand motions for "Itsy, Bitsy Spider," so I had to stop a minute for that one. I tell you that little boy just made my day. I think he made a few other people's day too.

Monday, February 05, 2007

My Planned Garden Calendar

This past month I have planned out what I am going to plant when, along with a few of my gardening chores. We are going to build raised square foot gardens this year. Here is my calendar of acivities below.

February-1st plant 6 broccoli seeds indoors. Order cinnamon ferns, 1 honeybell hosta, 1 ostrich fern, 3 hydrangeas from Henry Fields, 15477 peat pot and get supplies, detail plans of planter boxes. Have dirt delivered a specific day in March. 15th 9 cauliflower seeds indoors. Plant Four O’clocks indoors. Plant 6 mint seeds indoors. Make the shade and cages. Plastic covering, clothes pins. Get fluorescent lights in garage on table

March-1st build planter boxes, along with boxes along back wall and vertical frames, put in dirt and compost, plant 9 spinach plants in 1 square. Add dirt to front beds, side bed in back and along back wall. Plant 3 peppers inside. Sow 20 lavender seeds indoors. 15th plant 4 carrot seeds each week, plant snap peas that have been presoaked overnight, cover for first month with tunnel. 20th Transplant broccoli. Purchase two parsley plants, plant out covered. Get large garbage can and scoop and mix up fertilizer, buy vermiculite and mister.

April- 1st plant lettuce, plant 4 carrot seeds each week, Plant 8 radish seeds every two weeks, transplant out 3 cauliflower with a cutworm collar surrounding plants. Plant two rows of onions. Plant a few baby’s breath in partial shade. Plant squash and zucchini indoors. Transplant four o’ clocks outdoors in front yard 15” apart. Plant first two varieties of sweet peas. 15th plant 4 squares of tomatoes, two seeds in each square, fertilize peas, spinach and broccoli, begin taking a few outer leaves from the spinach, sow 36 salad greens in 1 square. Transplant one pepper plant outdoors, with wire cage. Plant sunflower seeds along fence, and water daily until true leaves come and then weekly. Plant mixed flowers and poppies in front bed, 6 inches apart. water daily until they sprout. Plant Shasta daisy’s in front of den. Plant mint outside in partial shade in containers. Transplant 10 best lavender plants out front, 18 inches apart. 20th rubberband cauliflower leaves above heads. Plant 9 muskmelons inside in paper cups. Plant squash and zucchini outdoors and mulch. Plant a few baby’s breath in partial shade.

May- 1st plant 4 carrot seeds each week, Plant 9 muskmelons in vertical frames. Plant 8 radish seeds every two weeks, harvest 4 radishes each week. plant 9 bush beans in one square and 8 pole beans in one square soak seeds for 3 hours prior, begin harvesting salad greens when they have 2 or 3 true leaves. Plant two rows of onions. Sow 9 watermelon seeds indoors. Plant a few baby’s breath in partial shade. 5th plant hollyhocks, plant morning glory seeds outdoors. 15th start looking for curds on cauliflower and be ready to pick as soon as they are ready, harvest first lettuce, plant 2nd batch of lettuce, watering with cold water, feed lettuce fish emulsion. Thin tomatoes to one seed in each square, cage them. Fertilize squash and zucchini. Pull to leave 2 squash plants and 1 zucchini plant. 20th Begin harvesting peas, fertilize peas and broccoli. Main head of broccoli will be ready. Harvest last of spinach. Clip the six weakest cantaloupe plants. Place straw around Pepper plants. Begin harvesting summer squash. Plant watermelon seeds out, mulch. Plant a few baby’s breath in partial shade. Plant two later plantings of sweat peas. Plant Canterbury bells under shade in front towards back.

June- 1st plant 4 carrot seeds each week, harvest first carrots, continue to harvest a row of four carrots each week, Plant 8 radish seeds every two weeks, harvest 4 radishes each week. Plant two rows of onions, begin harvest first batch of onions. Fertilize watermelon. 5th side shoots of broccoli are ready then plant is done. Begin harvesting peppers. Plant squash and zucchini indoors. Plant a few baby’s breath in partial shade. Shasta Daisy’s should begin blooming in front. Begin harvesting and storing mint leaves.
15th plant large type tomato inside to take the place of the Early Girl when it is done, 20th begin to harvest bush beans. Fertilize peas. Begin harvesting zucchini. Fertilize squash and zucchini. Fertilize watermelon. 20th plant squash and zucchini outdoors, mulch. Fertilize sunflowers and stake them if needed. Plant a few baby’s breath. Begin harvesting and drying lavender. Thin hollyhocks if needed.

July-1st, begin to harvest pole beans, harvest final of first lettuce and first of second batch of lettuce, plant third batch of lettuce, feed lettuce fish emulsion. plant 4 carrot seeds each week, harvest four carrots each week, Plant 8 radish seeds every two weeks, harvest 4 radishes each week. Plant 6 broccoli plants in containers indoors. Plant two rows of onions. Fertilize watermelon. Place any watermelon fruit on straw, or train it up wires. If Morning Glory’s are not flowering by now water them less. 15th Harvest early girl tomatoes, and supersweet tomatoes, plant 9 cauliflower seeds indoors. Begin harvesting cantaloupe. Thin squash and zucchini to one plant each, fertilize. Plant brussel sprouts indoors. 20th end harvesting bush beans, plant one more square of bush beans, seeds soaked for 3 hours prior. Fertilize peas. Pinch out ends of watermelon and train side shoots to grow laterally either up or out.

August-1st other cherry tomatoes are ready to begin harvesting, plant 4 carrot seeds each week, harvest four carrots each week Plant 8 radish seeds every two weeks Switch to planting winter radishes, harvest 4 radishes each week. Plant 1 more square of peas in a shady spot that have been soaked overnight. Plant two rows of onions. Plant out brussel sprouts. 15th harvest final of second batch of lettuce and first of third batch of lettuce, plant fourth batch, feed lettuce fish emulsion. Fertilize squash and zucchini, begin harvesting second plantings of these. Plant brussel sprouts indoors. Hollyhocks should begin flowering. 20th transplant broccoli outdoors 30th plant 3 cauliflower plants outdoors. Pull first plantings of quash and zucchini if they have stopped producing.

September- plant 4 carrot seeds each week, harvest four carrots each week, Plant 8 radish seeds every two weeks. Plant two rows of onions. Transplant brussel sprouts. Take off cover for Canterbury bells, and let them grow until next year.
15th pinch out top growth above flowers on tomatoes, plant one square of nine spinach plants, fertilize squash and zucchini. Sow brussel sprouts indoors. 20th begin harvest bush beans, harvest 4 radishes each week. Fertilize peas and broccoli. 30th plant another square of nine winter spinach. Tie leaves above cauliflower heads.

October-1st harvest final of third batch of lettuce and first of fourth batch, plant fifth batch (winter lettuce), harvest four carrots each week, Plant 8 radish seeds every two weeks, harvest 4 radishes each week. transPlant brussel sprouts outdoors.
. 15th begin looking for curds on cauliflower and pick immediately, plant a sixth batch of lettuce in two squares, begin covering the lettuce, feed lettuce fish emulsion, fertilize spinach, plant 3rd square of winter spinach. Plant brussel sprouts indoors. 20th final bush bean harvest. If a frost is coming bend over tomato plants breaking part of their stems and cover with straw and all remaining fruit will ripen, or if frost is coming that night, pull out plant and hang in garage upside down, mulch carrots and broccoli. Second harvest of peas begins. Fertilize peas and broccoli. Last harvest of squash and zicchini. 30th first brussel sprouts are ready to harvest. Cut back Shasta Daisy’s and they will regrow next year.

November- harvest four carrots each week, harvest first square of spinach, harvest last of the onions. Transplant brussel sprouts. 15th harvest last of fourth batch of lettuce, and first of fifth batch, harvest 2nd square f spinach, fertilize spinach. Harvest 4 radishes each week, harvest main heads of broccoli. 30th harvest first of sixth batch of lettuce, feed lettuce fish emulsion. Harvest remaining peas, harvest side shoots of broccoli. Second Brussels sprouts are ready to harvest.

December-1st Begin harvest third square of spinach. 15th harvest last carrots, harvest last of radishes and last of first square of spinach, fertilize spinach. 30th harvest last of fifth batch of lettuce and last of 2nd square of spinach. Third brussel sprouts are ready to harvest.

January- 15th harvest last of sixth batch of lettuce. Harvest last of winter spinach. 30th fourth brussel sprouts are ready to harvest

March-15th harvest last of the brussel sprouts.


Just as the fresh fruits and vegetables are gone from the local farms and I am beginning to crave them again, my in-laws orange tree begins to ripen. This tree is about thirty years old, has been moved around their yard several times and I am told used to bare horrible fruit. This was a leafy, bushy tree until the year that my husband and I stayed with my in-laws while we were evicting renters from a house we had just bought. We wanted to help as much as we could while we stayed there. Kevin pulled out pompus grass and an old dead tree that was about to fall over, we picked up prickly balls and one day Kevin decided to prune that old orange tree. My dear husband tends to prune things very hard. All of the lower branches were cut along with many of the upper ones. When my in-laws came home they were shocked. But that next winter, those oranges were better than they had ever been. They are some of the most delicious oranges I've ever tasted. This year my in-laws and three of their children's families have been generously provided with oranges from mid-December until now. Our family has eaten an average of three a day for nearly two months. We are down to three left, and alas, no more delicious fresh oranges until next year. But then, the farms will begin to open in about two months and hopefully my first garden harvest will come shortly thereafter.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I just love being a mother and watching all of the personalities of these little ones unfold. Logan, who is 22 months, is so fun to watch lately. It is as if he is realizing that these people around him are his very own family and he just can't stop being excited about it. He'll just be sitting there and he'll begin reciting everyone's names, "Aubrey, Logan, Brennen, Kamron, Mommy, Daddy." Then he'll smile. When he wakes up in the morning, he is usually one of the first of the kids and when he first sees the others he'll go, "Aahhh, Kamron," or whoever he sees and then he wants a hug and will often repeat the, "aahhh." This sure emakes everyone start their day off feeling loved and connected.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

My Goals for This Year

I live by goals and plans, though they do not always coordinate with the new year. I have a master plan of goals that I would like to do by 2012, this is a step towards that. It looks ambitious and probably is, but I have gotten off to a good start already.

Goals for 2007

Gardening and Outdoor Spaces

Grow a productive square foot garden
Get an orange tree
Plant flower bed under back window
Plant part of flower bed in front yard


Document and master 12 breakfasts with recipes in a pretty recipe box
Master 10 lunches
Master 10 dinners
Master 8 types of bread
Master 10 vegetable dishes
Master 3 desserts
Work a plan of freezing 10 dinners in the freezer each month
Make strawberry jam along with strawberry syrup
By fall have a four month supply of food


Crochet Kevin a large cozy afgahn for the master bedroom
Make a coordinating quilt
Sew 20 items on the machine
Crochet 20 items
Embroider a sampler
Embroider 2 items


Paint kitchen, dining, frontroom, family room and halls
Purchase pictures needed for these rooms
Make coordinating curtains


When the weather warms up, set up biweekly porch dates with Kevin
Go on a date with Kevin at least once a month
Continue anniversary weekend getaway with Kevin
Visit Mom’s grave with the kids and bring flowers we’ve grown and tell the children stories about her
Write two more stories about her
Begin a May Day tradition with the kids
By doing all of the work Saturday, create a peaceful and very different day on Sunday full of rest, relaxing and reading, also do not allow the children’s toys out of their rooms on Sunday, so the house will stay neater. Once or twice a month stay home after church instead of going to visit family.


Play pretty background music more, find at least 7 CD’s that I love
Learn a little bit about scents and incorporate them into my home more


Continue with the Saturday cleanings,
As the children get better at keeping things in their places add more scrubbing into the Saturday schedule
Continue with our school schedules, get done with current year by the end of June,
Work with the children, so that they can take on more household responsibilities


Keep up with what Kamron can play


Add to my blog at least four entries a month


Eat from the garden and/or farms for the whole growing season
After the baby is born, get my weight below 135 again
Help Kevin to get his weight below 200


Stick to my weekly budget, without going over
Make $500 from book sells


Square Foot Gardening
The New Testament
Birthing From Within
The New Vogue Sewing Book
Creating a Beautiful Home
School Education
Staying Healthy With the Seasons
The Mother At Home
Your Body’s Many Cries for Water
Teaching No Greater Call
The Hidden Art of Homemaking
Letters by Marjorie Pay Hinckly
Art of Homemaking
Pilgrim’s Progress
Little Men
Mere Christianity
Little Britches
Standing For Something
Lectures on Faith
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Twelfth Nigh
Spencer W. Kimball
Jesus the Christ
Educating the Wholehearted Child
Wild Days


Keep up with all classes and get A’s or B’s in all of them
Complete 10 more classes for a total of 15
Clep out of 2 classes, to leave only 3 left to complete my BA

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Our Week

We have been able to stay home most of this week, which has been nice. New Year's Eve my mother-in-law had the three older kids over to spend the night with their cousins. Kevin and I got to play some new board games that we got for Christmas. When Nanny brought the kids back, Brennen was lethargic and had a fever. I kept track of it, but it never got over 101 so I decided to ride it out and not give him any medicine as it may be fighting something, in two days it was gone and he was back to himself. That morning Logan woke up with a fever, his got up to 102.6, so I did bring it down with medicine once. Other than that he wouldn't let me put him down and I held him for almost four days. By Saturday my floors were looking terrible, the kitchen was a mess and the fact that I hadn't found a place for all of the new Christmas toys the kids got was beginning to drive me crazy, but Logan still didn't want me to put him down, and I don't have a baby bacpack, as it got lost in the move. Kevin had appointments all day and by five, I felt like giving up. I had made a ham, but couldn't get ten minutes to make anything to go with it, so I said forget it and we just had cereal for dinner. Kevin finanlly got home and asked if I needed some help. I ever so kindly gave him a list, please fix the vacuum so I can clean the floors, stack the heavy boxes up in the garage, change the light bulbs in the kitchen, and so I don't have to cook in the dark. He immediately stacked the boxes, fixed the vacuum and proceeded to move all of the furniture and vacuum everything, I love his eye for detail! I put Logan in the bath with Kamron-the one place he was okay without me for a few minutes, then I got the ladder and changed the bulbs and scrubbed the kitchen, picked everything up in our room and my closet, the older three kids picked up everything in the rest of the house and cleaned the hard floor, tables and chairs. Aubrey curled up on the couch and fell asleep, while Kevin took the boys to fly airplanes on the bed and left me to get a little more work done. By the time the kids were in bed at 8:30, my house was clean and I felt so much better.

I woke this morning to a clean house and kids playing quietly in their rooms at 8:30. Our church time has switched to 1:00, which means sleeping in and relaxing mornings. I have worked on the scout budget and done the Relief Society Newsletter this morning. Kevin is in building a model of a brick house and windmill with Kamron. Aubrey has sat by me and sewn a teddy bear by hand until she was just finished and is now playing with Brennen and the stuffed elephant she made him for Christmas. I love Sundays. Kevin's family and the missionaries are coming over for dinner after church. I think we will have ham.