I am on vacation in California and having a blast. We went whale watching Tuesday, getting up at the unearthly hour of 4:30 so we (all nine of us and then most of my siblings and their families) could be to the boat by 9 AM and out on the Pacific Ocean off of Newport Beach, breakfasted, sunblocked coated, and with lunch packed and gear to go swimming later.
This is my niece who looks beautifully recovered after feeling sick on the boat and lying face down to take a nap and escape the seasickness. I saw some whale tails and backs and spoutholes and now know for sure that such creatures do exist because I saw some with my very own eyes. If you look hard in this next picture you can see the whale’s back and spouthole with a spray of water coming up. Sorry the picture’s not the greatest, it’s the best I could get with the camera that I have.
Then we spent some hours on the beach. I love the beach!
Thanks to my generous parents who are paying for our lodging, we have a condo right next to a pool at a resort in Palm Desert. We are enjoying the sunshine and water of California with grandpa and grandma and aunts and uncles and cousins, all 35 of us. The really nice part is that all 35 of us are not in the same condo. Each married couple/family has their own unit. I have a king sized bed that makes cosleeping and nursing my toddler in bed much nicer.
All of this fun pales however to last week. The most excitement that I have had in a long time came on Saturday. It just so happened that we would be traveling to CA the same weekend that the Youth for Freedom people would be announcing the winner of the Andau Character Prize. This is a one-year tuition-paid scholarship to George Wythe College. See http://youthforfreedom.org/YFF2012/Andau_Character_Scholarship.html God definitely had a hand in the timing of this. YFF picked the date for the announcement of the winner and my dad picked the date for this week’s family vacation/reunion in California.
I am not sure what I am looking at, maybe a bird?
My friend Aneladee’s daughter won the prize, so did my friend Roslyn’s son and my friend Amy’s son, all years ago. I have watched these amazing youth and hoped that someday at least one of my children would win it. I have been to the web site for George Wythe College countless times and stared at the tuition page, wondering how we would pay for it. I have been to the Andau Character prize page countless times and wondered how I could inspire my son to go for it. I have known about GWC since its beginnings because my sister-in-law Mary was in the charter class. She had Oliver DeMille as a mentor and Tiffany Earl as a classmate. Wow, that would be so fascinating. She doesn’t realize what an amazing opportunity she had. As I have looked over the listing of the books that the students read I have thought, I have read some of these, during my college education, but how cool would it be to read all these books and know them thoroughly. Drooling over this list of books made me realize I wanted my children to go to GWC.
I also remember hearing Oliver DeMille speak over 12 years ago at an LDS homeschool convention. He told the story of some Latter-day Saints who were waiting to embark on a ship to travel from Buffalo New York, I think it was, to go to Ohio. One of their leaders, I think it was Wilford Woodruff (which would be cool if that’s really the case because my 5-great-grandpa taught him the gospel and baptized him) and all of the sudden he felt the Spirit tell him these saints should not board the ship. People believed him and did not get on the ship and were spared disaster because the ship sank. That story has always stuck with me. When I heard it long ago it planted a seed in my heart. I wanted my children to be like that, to be able to feel the Spirit and to know when they were and to be willing to follow the Spirit and go against the flow of everyday life. Well, all I can say is, be careful what you wish for because it just might come true.
Because we would be driving through southern Utah anyway we decided to leave on Friday, spend two nights at my sis-in-law Sally’s home, and be there for the announcement of the winner at the end of the Youth for Freedom session. I am sooooo happy to share the news that my son won this year’s prize! He and two other youth were finalists and they were all there for the announcement. I haven’t cried out of excitement like that in a long time. I feel like we have won the Superbowl! But instead of saying he’s going to Disneyland my son can say he’s going to TJED Land.
Thiis is a picture of three of my sons, their three cousins who also “do TJED,” my husband, and me.
My son also applied to BYU and got accepted with a half-tuition scholarship. I come from a huge BYU family. My dad and brother are both professors there. I and all of my siblings have bachelor’s degrees from there as well as each of our spouses. Even my grandma has a degree from BYU. I felt great pride knowing that he had a scholarship to BYU. I did want him to go to George Wythe, but wasn’t sure how we could pay for it or that my son would win the Andau. The BYU scholarship was a great “cushion” to fall back on in my mind, if he didn’t win the Andau. Unbeknownst to me, however, before my son went to Youth for Freedom in June to compete for the Andau (while they are at the camp the Andau candidates are watched like a hawk and given character tests. Those who pass the character tests and the essay exam are then given an oral exam) he called BYU up to tell them he had decided not to go to school there and that he did not want the scholarship. I found out a few weeks later and just about had a heart attack. What?!!!? Couldn’t you wait until after you heard about who the winner of the Andau is in July? No, mom, he told me. My younger son explained to me that he was applying the law of the vaccuum that Leslie Householder teaches. “He has to make room for the Andau by letting go of the other scholarship.” My older son also explained to me that he had been praying and the Spirit was telling him not to go to BYU, that he was to go to George Wythe. So I finally got my wish, a child who is willing to follow the Spirit, but does it have to happen when the stakes are so high? Apparently so. My brain wanted to argue him out of following this path but I knew my heart was agreeing with him, so I accepted his decision without any more talking about it. I had to remind myself that this was his decision to make, because it was his education, not mine.
This is Hilton with Margaret Milius, one of the judges, GWC grad, and former Andau prize winner. It’s pretty ironic that my son decided to wear his BYU tie. I guess he will always be a huge fan of its sports teams. We still like BYU and I still wouldn’t mind any of my children going there. Go Jimmer!
When Margaret Milius announced Hilton’s name as the winner I felt such a rush of relief, gratitude, and euphoria. I felt like I feel after I just have a baby. All those mentor meetings I have had with him, all of the dinner table conversations to generate excitement over learning and following a non-conveyor belt education, all of the times I have put my foot down and not let him play video games, so that he would spend his time more productively. i.e. reading and studying, all of the seminars and talks I have been to be a better homeschooling mom, all of the times I have spent reading a book, hoping that it rubbed off on him, it had all come to fruition. I am feeling extremely blessed and grateful right now. Dreams really do come true. Thank you God for working this miracle in my life! I owe this all to you, and to Diann Jeppson, owner of http://tjedmarketplace.com, since she raised the money for the Andau.
I used to call Leadership Education “ownership education.” I thought it was all about owning your own education and letting your children own theirs. Now I know a better term for it. When you let God own your education by giving him permission to guide you, and better yet, when you let God guide your child’s education and teach the child to let God guide it, it’s “stewardship education.” Let God guide your children’s education through His whisperings to you and your child and see what miracles unfold. Hey, I think that’s what being a student whisperer is all about. http://tjed.org/purchase/books/student-whisperer/
Back at Aunt Sally’s home with more siblings and cousins. The first thing Hilton wanted to do after winning was to call his younger sister and give her the news.