Climbing My Family Tree and Giving My Presence as a Daily Present


I haven’t blogged much lately. Is it ever an overstatement for a mom of seven to say so much is happening in her life? Tonight was FHE and I gave a great lesson on service…taken from the Gospel Principles lesson that we are studying this month in Relief Society. I love these basic lessons. I connected the idea of service to love since it’s Valentines. I had grand ideas of getting Valentines made during our homeschool this morning and leaving them on lonely widows’ porches but it just didn’t happen. Sadly, the activity my son did didn’t go over so well and he was disappointed. His older teenage brother and his dad were nearly passed out in sleep. In past weeks we have been playing our new board game from Christmas, Word on the Street, for a quick 20 minutes for the activity. I have never seen my children get so obnoxious until we played that game. My 12 year-old has mastered the art. The whole idea is to be so annoying with suggestions to your opposing team that they can’t think clearly. It’s lots of fun if you can get used to your son being a pestering motor mouth.


I’ve also been climbing my family tree, doing lots of family history research and sending names to the temple with my older children to do the baptisms. It is so fun to find the “bare branches” on my family tree and make them fruitful. I am finding a ton of people in the 1800s who don’t have a spouse or children identified. So I find their spouses and children in or the new web site of the LDS Church, which got revamped recently and got released from beta testing. Then I plug them in and claim them for getting the temple work done. My older kids have been going almost every week to the temple to do baptisms. I can just send the names with them. Last Saturday I got to do a temple endowment session with a name I had found by my very own self for the first time. It felt good.


In my research, I found a family on one of my branches, a collateral line,  whose dad was a doctor. They had two sets of twins. The dad used herbs in his practice in Georgia and had a 13 acre herb farm. I love learning about my people. And with the collaboration allowed on, everyone is “your people” as my sister-in-law says. It’s not about “your people” and “my people” but “our people.”


A while ago I found out that I qualify to join the Daughters of the Revolution. I found out around Christmastime from my brother about one of my ancestors being a Revolutionary War vet, but in the past week I have found out about two more. One of them even fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill.  I was all hot to apply for membership so that my son could apply for this really great scholarship for college that only DAR member children can get. I started getting the documents in order with the help of my genealogy guru extraordinaire sister-in-law. But then I realized there was no way I could get a DAR membership number in time to put it on the scholarship application. So we will just have to save this research for the rest of my kids and their cousins for them to apply in future years.



Last week I got the word from Diann Jeppson that I will be speaking at the SLC TJED Forum for Youth on March 19. My friend Amy Bowler and her son Brad will be my co-presenters. See We will be talking about Hero Generations and The Fourth Turning. I am really excited. Diann has a lot of new speakers coming.


It’s going to be a full day. This year I get to take the whole family. Last month Mary Ann Johnson, the Home School Coach (see asked me to be her assistant all day in the new Love of Learning Center. That’s the fancy term for the all day babysitting of the kids that come with their parents. The idea is to do more than just babysitting, to have activities that the kids will excitedly engage in all day. I told Mary Ann I might be speaking too and she said we would we would work that out. So my four younger kids get to be in the LOL day care center all day. Saaweet! Now I don’t have to pay a baby sitter. Every year that is a challenge for me to think of who to get to tend the younger ones and how to pay for it. Two years ago my husband babysat (or fathered, it bugs me to say that a mom or dad babysits) and then we realized, hey, he should be coming too. This year I was feeling especially challenged wondering what to do with my toddler. He is too young, with his nursing, to be gone from me all day, but I definitely did not want to take him to the Forum with all of his rambunctiousness. Thanks to Mary Ann’s offer, the problem is solved. I love the woman! Somehow the angels influenced her to think of my name to be her assistant. Maybe all that temple work I’ve been doing is giving me payback.


Mary Ann has been blessing my life so much. I have been testing her Closet Mastery Pilot Program for homeschooling. She has mastered the art of using the closet ingredient of TJED and teaches parents about it. As I went through the lessons in the workbook and did the assignments, I had a lot of introspection. One of the rules of using the closet is “to be present.” I realized that I had not been present enough for my children, not in the “school time” part, but in the foundation we lay every morning for school. The morning routine. I had been staying on the computer after they woke up and just telling them to do their morning routine instead of being present with them and doing it with them. That delayed the start of our school a lot because they would dawdle. Even with my Miracle Music playing.


Michelle Brady Stone’s admonition in her Celestial Education DVD has been ringing in my ears for a few years now. “The mother is the Holy Ghost,” meaning the mother should be the young child’s constant companion. 


(OK, So not literally. Not every waking moment can we be right by our young child’s side. But we can be in the same room for a lot of the day and at least the same house for all of the day, most days. We do have errands to run and business and play that is best done without children around.) I had a visit with her at the LDS-HEA convention when we both spoke years ago and told her that idea jived with the idea of TJED that in core phase the parents are supposed to work and play with the kids. The phrase should be, “Let’s get dressed now,” and “Let’s do this work together now,” as in “LET US” instead of “Do this alone” and “Do that alone.”



So I realized that I needed to treat my mornings with them like a sacred duty. I have a sacred duty to stay off the computer from the time they wake up in the morning until after school time and lunch time is over. That way I can be truly present with them for the foundation of our day, and that gives me more time to be present with them during school time. I had to face the fact that I was spending too much time with the computer over them. If I could be addicted to anything, it would be sugar, and the Internet. It’s great to nip this in the bud now. I conquered the sugar thing in college and now I’m doing the digital world.


This whole introspection made me think of my visit with Kelli Poll and Wendi Jackson one day as we rode down to Cedar City for a George Wythe College seminar two years ago. Kelli has been my informal homeschooling mentor since I moved to Davis County, UT. She has been doing TJED for a long time, longer than the DeMilles practically. She speaks every year at the SLC Forum.  We were talking about the idea of “structure time not content” and she likened it to the idea of dedicating a specific chunk of time to an area in your life. You tell yourself, OK, for this three hour block of time, I am going to work on dejunking the play room. Or for two hours on Friday I will work on family history research. You don’t tell yourself you have to get this and this done. You just tell yourself you will work solidly on dejunking or research, staying focused, not getting distracted. (OK, with children around, I am talking about major distractions, not the minimal ones to be expected with little children.) When the time is up, you leave the activity and move on to something else. During the chunk of time you focus on that activity. You don’t give in to distractions of “Oh, I am just going to get on Facebook and see what my friends are doing while I wait for the dryer to buzz, then I will take the clothes out, then I will get back to dejunking.” By focusing on the activity, you dedicate yourself to it. That means you build a sacred space of time and don’t let things intervene or distract.



So that made me think of the temple. The temple is dedicated as house to the Lord, wherein his purpose of sealing families for eternity is performed. It is a “sacred space” that doesn’t allow distractions or things that don’t belong there. So if I am going to structure my time for homeschooling I have the honor of building boundaries, like temple walls around the time, to create the sacred space that doesn’t allow activities that don’t belong there. That mental image has really helped me to increase my homeschooling joy. My homeschool day morning is like a temple and it needs a sound foundation of a morning routine with me, the mom, as a companion to my children. Being present at more than just school time is the best present I can give them and me.



Two weeks ago on the conference call for the Closet Mastery Pilot Program, Mary Ann shared with us her idea of time management that extends this concept of dedicating chunks of time even further. I am excited to learn more. She said her daughter Jodie Palmer would blog about it. When I find the info I will let you know.



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