Tuesday, March 26, 2024


Today for FHE we did our first quarter check-in on our goals for the year and discussed our recent "plateau" in homeschooling (where the kids do their darndest to not accomplish any actual work the entire day until I, exhausted, give in and tell them to go outside and play). 

On the one hand, we had a good discussion about procrastination (stemming from Alma 34:33):
I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
Though Rachel accidentally read verse 35 instead, which was really a little harsh for our purposes:
For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.
So we also talked about how grace—and the atonement—can really cover a lot of stuff, so I'm not saying the children are headed to "heck" in a hand basket simply because they procrastinate from time to time (though procrastinating repentance while banking on being saved is...a whole nother ball of wax). 

Anyway, we talked about other scripture stories this made us thinking of and the kids came up with:
  • The parable of the ten virgins (five of whom were unprepared)
  • The prodigal son (who wanted to play without responsibility)
  • The parable of the talents (and the servant who buried it in the dirt, thinking that would be enough)
  • Noah (and all the people who wouldn't listen to him)
All excellent stories to bring home the point Andrew and I were trying to make about buckling down to do your work before goofing off. Because it just makes everyone happier. For one thing, in theory the kids would get to play sooner if they simply...did their work...right? For another thing, Mom would be much happier, which would make everyone happier, right?

We talked about how doing things—using our bodies, using our minds, creating things (art! stories! gardens! needlework! clean spaces!)—helps us feel happy. Avoiding doing things (like, for example, how I'm avoiding working on the paper I should be working on right now) can make us feel happy for a time, I guess, but at the end of the day...when we think about what we've's...a bit depressing.

I don't say this to promote perfectionism. Goodness knows I believe you can thrive in mediocrity (I believe I do)! You can garden poorly (as I do), but you still get to be amazed whenever something that you planted grows (because it's quite a miraculous thing). You can dance poorly and still feel great doing it (because dancing is just fun). You can run slowly and still start feeling stronger. You can paint horribly but still find beauty in your creation. You don't have do anything well to reap the benefits of doing it at all. Perfectionism is not the goal here. Yearning, perhaps, is what we're after, a constant seeking after...for goodness. 

Andrew brought up might be for me to go back to school for my PhD. It will be a lot of grueling work. But! It's a means to continue searching, and the search itself is valuable. 

I brought up Auntie Em, who in recent years has found a love for singing, even getting up on stage to perform in small groups, sometimes singing solos with her school choirs (that she conducts!). Singing brings her joy (but it isn't really something she ever pictured herself enjoying when she was younger because she hadn't yet discovered her love for singing).

She also recently tried out a stage production for Fiddler on the Roof, something she said was entirely outside of her comfort zone because she's never acted on stage (she's always been in the pit (orchestra)). But she tried out—and landed the role of The Fiddler! So she'll be on stage, in costume, playing a part. And she's really excited! 

And I'm so excited for her because I know how fun it is to be part of a production! 

Our point was that there is no time limit for this quest of creation, of learning, of mountain climbing. You can keep on trying new things and finding new joy for a long time—and this is a way to keep finding happiness. It's never too late to try something new

We also talked about what happens if we achieve a goal and then let it simmer. Sometimes this is fine, but other times it can lead to backsliding. Like we think we're on a plateau, but really we're sliding downhill. If you run a 10-minute mile (Miriam) and then don't go running for weeks on might be hard to pick up that 10-minute pace again. So that's kind of why "procrastination" or "sitting on the plateau" puts you in the devil's power (so to speak). Because he's miserable sitting out on his backsliding plateau and wants us all to be miserable with him (for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself). 

We don't have a family motto. We've tried to come up with one but never quite have. But I think I might put forward: dare to be up and doing

Maybe we'll work on something like that. Anyway, I closed my section of our lesson with a poem by Joseph Fasano (which he put out on St. Joseph's Day):

My name means to create
and so I had to.

I tried to teach my son
the common wonders:
nail, and join,
and hammer;

with twisted heartwood,
level, bend, and shore it.

Now I kneel
and look up
at my broken son.

Father, father,

make more creators than destroyers.
Make more creators than destroyers.
I asked the kids to tell me what relevance the poem had to our discussion, which lead to a very interesting discussion about whether doing nothing is destroying. Like, obviously creating is good and destroying is bad...but what if you're not destroying or creating. What if you're just procrastinating? The poem doesn't condemn that! Nor do the scripture (that we read this evening) really condemn destruction (they condemned procrastination, the doing of nothing). 

I was pleasantly surprised (though surprised isn't really the right word, so perhaps...)...

I watched in awe as my children worked through this seeming paradox to come to the conclusion that doing nothing is destruction. 

If we never vacuum the carpet, it will still eventually get hopelessly dirty even if we're not actively tracking in grime on it or holding food fights or dropping buckets of paint...

If we never tended our yard, it would go wild. If we didn't deal with the squirrels living in our attic...yikes.

If we do nothing to aid Palestine, are we not allowing its destruction?

Miriam brought up a quote by J.K. Rowling (who...has many opinions on many subjects...and I don't always agree with her opinions, but here I do):
“Those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.”
There's Jefferson's lines from Hamilton:
I’m in the cabinet. I am complicit in
Watching him grabbin’ at power and kissin' it
If Washington isn’t gon’ listen
To disciplined dissidents, this is the difference:
This kid is out!
I'm sure we thought of other examples, but I can't remember them. Ultimately, our conclusion was that doing nothing—and thereby allowing or colluding with or being complicit in evil doings—is a form of destruction.

We have to actively be up and doing good.

We need to be creators.

And that's all well and fine! 

But then—after putting the kids to bed—I decided I'd take a look at our attendance sheet (just because we're heading toward the end of the year and I have been seriously slacking off with my record keeping—but, the kids have worked through a lot of their curriculum (like, there simply isn't much left to do!) and Rachel only has one week of classes left in her semester at BYU-Idaho) and I realized that today we hit day 165 (of 180) and we really haven't taken a break since Christmas. 

True, we've mostly been doing four-day weeks since Christmas (but we've also been doing a lot of make-up Fridays due to my perception of...inadequate effort during the day (someone take away the whip I'm cracking!)). 

And we had a bit of a chaotic time in February with COVID (not that we really took time off of school, but we frankly didn't do as much as usual, and what we did do was different because we were all sick—lots of documentaries and so forth).'s possible...that we might be ready for a break?

I think we'll keep going strong for the next day or two, though. And then we'll start our spring break on Thursday, take Friday off for sure (Grandpa and Darla are getting married), and then maybe just breathe through the first week of April. 

Because even though we're supposed to be up and doing and climbing every mountain and fording every stream and all that good stuff, we must "see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength" (Mosiah 4:27). 

Sometimes you have to take a breather. 

And, honestly, having the kids play outside all day every day for a week will allow me some good, uninterrupted, not-past-midnight writing time. I'm seeing no negatives to this plan...*

* This plan does not apply to certain lucky teenage girls who need to finish their college courses before flitting off to Europe with Auntie Josie to visit Uncle Patrick... Those girls will keep on keeping on until they're finished! But—they're almost to the finish line!!

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