Sunday, January 7, 2018

Its 2018 where did the time go?

It has been an incredibly long time since I oosted about our family and probably a reflection of the busy-ness of my brain, my life and our family life.
We are now living in Dunedin and Tane has just finished his 3rd year at medical school. It has been an epic long time but what a relief we have time for rest and relaxation before another busy year commences.
Josh has completed his 1st year at high school. The first 2 terms were a pretty bumpy ride as he struggled to find his place in the school and make friends. Now however he can say with a smile that he enjoyed school and he is definately looking forward to going back. He has found in his class a good bunch of boys who even if they do not have identical values, most certainly share Josh's intellect but also respect Joshua for his beliefs. Josh enjoys playo g the biolin and sailing. He is off to 2 regattas next week one in Wanaka and another in Queenst

Joseph and Anna spent their first year at Steiner school. Joseph also had a bit of a bumpy transition but that has settled nicely and he too has found a nice bunch of friends.  One of the highlights of his year would have been turning 12 and getting ordained to the priesthood. He also was able to go to the temple for the first time with his dad. He was supposed to visit his Poppa Monty but started vomiting and had to stay with grandma Sharon. He also had a year 5 trip to the Olympics -Greek style which  he loved.

Anna is now 10 years old. She loved her school from the start as well as her bew friends. However she has been a little tired of it during the winter and sometimes asks to be homeschooled still. She went for a school trip to quarantine island which she loved.
Anna has a passion and talent for highland dancing. She loves it and was in the national competition and came 2nd in  the jig. That was a great acomplishment. She is so graceful and strong. She continues to play the violin. And loves drawing and painting.
Here is Anna and the girls at their 'Anne of green gables tea party' they had when I went to Wellington for my GP exam. It was put on by Hannah their nanny who Anna misses a lot now she has gone back to Arizona.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Daughters of the King

To help the girls understand their divine nature and potential, we have a girls only evening, where they learn how to be a 'true princess', as they are daughter of a Heavenly King- their Heavenly Father. Each night we focus on a woman who exemplifies what it means to be a true daughter of God.

For our first princess night we read the book 'Daughter of the King by Rachel Nunes. I is a beautiful story about a girl who spends her life living like the daughter of the king that she is, so that when her life here on earth is over, she is able to stand in the presence of her Heavenly Father. This is a real treasure and a book we will read over and over again with our girls. For their activity, the girls 

Tonight we learnt about Queen Esther. She was a true princess because she was beautiful and virtuous. She was a righteous leader. She prayed and fasted in a great time of need to petition the Lord to save her and her people. She demonstrated great courage and selflessness by entering the Kings presence without his permission.

Her uncle Mordecai advised her “Think not with thyself that though shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if though altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

In her own words, she said “I will go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:15). What amazing strength, trust, courage and integrity she demonstrated. I love Queen Esther. She was a true princess. We can be like her too!

Tonight Annamaria earned a jewel or her princess crown. During the week she had gone on a hike with Daddy and the other children. They had gone late in the evening and as they were finishing Ella became cold. Annamaria showed kindness to her little sister by giving up her jacket so she could get warm. Kindness is the mark of a true princess. Well done Annamaria. We love you for having such a kind heart.

Ella also earned a jewel for her crown. This evening when she had been in the bath she had thrown a large bottle of shampoo which accidentally hit Annamaria in the eye and made her cry. Ella was truly sorrowful at having hurt her sister. She cuddled her to comfort her and even tickled her to try and make her laugh.

When Annamaria went to bed, she thanked Heavenly Father she could learn about the courage of Queen Esther. It was a beautiful heartfelt prayer. I am so blessed to have daughters who are learning and internalising the gospel and understanding who they truly are and who God wants them to become.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Knights of Right - Stand for Truth and Righteousness

As our boys are emerging from Core phase and are progressing through Love of Learning phase, we really feel the need to continue to help them develop their core values, as well as helping them to more deeply understand their core classic (which for our family is the standard works).

The boys have read a series of books called 'Knights of Right' which is a bit like a time travel series about 2 boys who go back in time to King Arthur's era. They both really enjoyed it. It teaches values, as well as how to cope with temptation and peer pressure. We used this book as a starting point for our own 'Knights of Right' evenings which we hold every Tuesday. 

We chose 'Knights' as a role model for our sons for several reasons. 

1. They are a natural hero and emulate certain qualities which we want our sons to develop such as courage and bravery.
2. CS Lewis in "The Necessity of Chivalry" quotes Malory's 'Le Morte d'Arthur' of Sir Lancelot
"Thou wert the meekest man that ever ate in hall among ladies; and thou wert he sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear to rest."
He discusses the disparate strands of manhood fierceness/firmness/strength/power and gentleness/compassion/kindness - can find healthy synthesis in the person of the knight and the code of chivalry. Society usually defines a man as either or, yet man needs to develop both sides of his character and to govern when to express these characteristics to truly become a knight. 
We want our boys to know they must stand for truth and righteousness and if that meant show strength or power for the defence of someone helpless, then so be it. They also need their masculine firmness to inspire and lead. On the other hand they need to be compassionate and kind to their family and those in need, be sympathetic and recognise needs in others. There are many, many such examples of knights in the scriptures and church history.

3. We want our boys to grow up to be honourable priesthood holders and great men who know and understand their divine missions and fulfill them. 

4. They need a guide to measure their heros and mentors by. The code of chivalry is a great guide to do this.

We made a pledge of allegiance. Allegiance is another important aspect of our family culture. There are 4 main allegiances one may have: God, others, self and evil. As a family it is important that we teach our children allegiance to God comes before allegiance to self or others.

This is the Knights of Right pledge of allegiance and Code of Chivalry:

Knights of Right Pledge

I pledge my allegiance to God and Promise to always abide by the Knights of Right Code of chivalry.

Code of Chivalry

  1. Stand for TRUTH and RIGHTEOUSNESS
  2. PROTECT the weak & vulnerable
  7. Keep moving forward with FAITH
  9. RESPECT and HONOUR women, girls and children
  10. Be CLEAN
  11. Strive for EXCELLENCE
  12. Cultivate SELF-DISCIPLINE
  13. DARE to do RIGHT
  14. LIVE for the HONOUR & GLORY of GOD

For our first ever activity, we learnt about the training of a knight, and how they begin as pages, progressing on to squires and then knights. We also learnt about the code of chivalry and these two aspects of man discussed by CS Lewis in his essay 'The Necessity of Chivalry'. We discussed examples of knights from the scriptures such as Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith and Paul. These are great men who exemplify firmness and power as well as compassion and meekness. As an activity, the boys made their code of chivalry appear old fashioned by staining it with tea water and then burning around the edges.

The boys are currently in the process of making their own swords. When they have done this they will be officially made into pages as they begin their journey to manhood.

For their second activity, as we are focusing on 'Stand for truth and righteousness, they learnt about the life of Joseph F. Smith and how he had the courage to stand up to some mob members when they were asking if he was a Mormon. I love his response

"Yes, siree; dyed in the wool; true blue, through and through.' 
-What would I give to hear my boys say the same in that situation.

Last week as it was the Priesthood restoration commemoration, the boys learnt about the Priesthood restoration. They continued working on their swords, but this time got out the power tools. The thing I think they are really enjoying, is having time with mum and dad without the other children, and they get to have dessert!

Tonight, we had another amazing Knights of Right evening. Tane took the boys though an account of the Battle of Waterloo, and discussed the moves of Napolean, Wellington and the Prussians. Afterwards I read a quote from Howard W. Hunters Books - That we Might have Joy.
The final and decisive battle of the Napoleonic Wars was fought on June 18, 1815, near Brussels, Belgium, in the village of Waterloo. What is now known as the Battle of Waterloo ranks as a great turning point in modern history and brought about drastic changes in political boundaries and the power balance in Europe. At a critical moment in this great battle between the forces of the French emperor, Napoleon, and the allied forces under the command of the British general Arthur Wellesley, better known as the Duke of Wellington, an anxious officer dashed into the office of the duke with the message that unless the troops were immediately withdrawn, they must yield before the larger French army.The duke ordered, “Stand firm!”“But we shall all perish,” replied the officer.“Stand firm!” again was the answer of the duke.
Then we discussed Helaman 5:12 and 3 Nephi 6:14. The boys had a chance to discuss the qualities we need to develop if we need to stand for truth and righteousness.
& Build our firm foundation on CHRIST.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

What we love about Grandma... for Mothers Day

For mothers day, we wanted to express our appreciation for Grandma Sharon. So here goes.

From Sylvia

I love grandma Sharon so much because you are the best grandma ever.
Grandma Sharon is lovely because she bakes cookies.
I remember playing with grandma Sharon when I was a baby
Grandma Sharon is the best grandma in my life
I love her so much and she has a nice hairstyle
I like talking to grandma Sharon on the iPad.

From Angela
As a very young child I lived with my mum Sharon, dad Gordon and my sister Deborah. My mother Sharon did a lot for me. She walked me to nursery, to speech therapy and church on Sundays. Sometimes on the way he we would stop at a bakery and get egg custards. Mum read to us all the time from ladybird books. She taught my sister and I to read. She did family home evenings and taught us basic gospel principles. At times my sister Deborah and I tried to surprise my mum. On one occasion we cut up red paper and put it all over the floor, we then hid behind the sofa and shouted, the lounge is on fire, when mum came in the room I shouted surprise, we are trying to trick you. We did the same with white paper pretending it was snow. I never realised that to my mum we were just making a huge mess. Deborah and I were excited when it was my mums birthday. We got some cocoa powder and margarine and put in into mums plastic bowl. We turned on the cooker and placed the bowl on the ring. Thinking mum would be excited  as we were making a cake, we ended up getting shouted at and sent to bed. The bowl and it's contents had melted all over the cooker. I felt so sad for upsetting mum and making her cry. Now as a grown up I can only imagine how I would have felt if my child Sylvia tried to cook a cake on her own. Not only would I have been upset about the mess, I would have been concerned about my child getting burnt. My mum used to take us to the park. We went on trips up the hill to fly kites and walks to the cemetery to look at family gravestones.

My mum sacrificed for me her whole life. She always looked after us and out meals on the table, she fought for me at school when I was bullied and stood up for me when children on the street for mean to me. My mother us always been an example of someone who loves the Saviour and has always taught us to keep the commandments and choose the right. As a teenager I wasn't always good and sometimes made my mum cry. I remember and regret this. She only ever cared and wanted what was best for me. My mum has always stayed active in the church and been a good example to me. She has set the example and taught me how to be a good mother. Mum was with me when I went through the temple for the first time. She helped to look after my daughter Sylvia when I became a mother and has always down everything she can to help me.

My mum is more than a mother to me, she is my one of my bests friends. I can talk to her about anything, my good times, my bad times, my happy times and my sad times. We do live far away form one another but with modern technology we can still communicate every few weeks and the best thing is that I know I am sealed to my mum. This means I can be with my mum and the rest of my family in the eternities and what more could I want than to be with my best friends (my family members forever).

THANKYOU mum for being you. I love you and happy Mother's Day.
Love your daughter Angela Key-Milnes

From Lily... 
Well she had nothing to say, but every time Grandma skypes her she has a big smile. She will love seeing Grandma later this month.

From Ella-Rose
What I love about Grandma
Her cuddles
I love her reading stories to me.
When she does puzzles with me.
I love playing with her.
Dancing with Grandma.

From Annamaria
I like Grandma because plays game with me. I liked baking a cake with her for aunty Ruth's birthday.

From Joseph
What I like about Grandma is that she takes me to the movies and we go to the park together. She comes and visits me in New Zealand.

From Joshua
I liked going to the Maritime museum with Grandma. I like playing skip-bo and going to the park with Grandma.

From Deborah
I love my mum. She is the person who has had the greatest influence on my life. From the moment she first held me in her loving arms I have felt her warm influence over me. I have very fond memories of growing up in our small house at Pinder Oaks Cottages. I remember she would have little classes in the evenings where she would teach us how to cook and how to sew. One time when it was her birthday and she was upset becase she did not have a birthday cake, Angela and I decided to make one for her. We placed a plastic bowl on the stove-top and turned the ring on, we added flour and sugar, and to make it chocolatey we added Nutella. Needless to say, the cake and bowl began to melt on the stove-top. I remember you were upset about what we did, but I remember you lovingly sat us down and explained that we needed to follow a recipe and measure out our ingredients.

When Angela and I would quarrel and get sent to bed we would sometimes write letters of apology and then sneak downstairs and try and post them under the lounge-room door. I remember how my mum would always take the time to talk to us, if we had been naughty or disobedient to explain why we should not behave in that way She would also spend a lot of time with us at bedtime. It was funny that even though we had all afternoon to spend with her, we would usually mostly want to talk with her at bedtime and tell her all about our day. I think sometimes we just wanted to stay with you that little bit longer son we would think of all the extra things we could talk about.

My mum was very patient. She was a great example to me for doing family history. I printed out a 7 generation pedigree chart last week and found that every person was present on both my mum and dad's side and I know a lot of that work is thanks to the diligent efforts of my mum. She is an inspiration to me and because of her ongoing interest in family history as well as the recent talk in general conference by Elder Quinten L. Cook, we have decided to make our home a 'Family History Centre' every Sunday afternoon.

My mum always took us to church. We used to walk through the graveyard to get to church and walking to church was a nice way for us to bond together as a family.

As I grew older she  supported me to play the flute and come to my concerts. You always helped me with my homework, ideas for my projects, and writing. But most importantly she taught me the gospel. She taught me how to pray and read scripture stories to us when we were little and helped us learn to read so that we could eventually read the scriptures for ourselves. She was an example of diligent service in the church, and was always active in callings in the primary, young womens or relief society as I was growing up. She always took us to church, no matter what, and the gospel just became a part of us. She taught us the gospel standards. She was a living example of her testimony of Jesus Christ. Always patient, kind and firm in the faith. These are the virtues that best describe my mum and that I try to cultivate so I can be more like her.

Although we were not rich in material things growing up, we were always richly encompassed by love, fun, and the gospel. I love you mum. You are an inspiration to me to be a good mum. Thank you for being equal to the task of being a great mother in Zion. xxxxxxxxxx

From Tane
Sharon has the kindest heart I have ever met. She is always thinking of others especially her children and now her grandchildren.
Thank you for being the best mother, grandma and mother-in-law. :) xxxxxx

Day out on the farm

We have friends from church who bought a 300 acre farm a year ago. It had no house on the property so over the past year they have built a shed for their family to live in. They moved in a few weeks ago and today we went and spent the day on their property. The children loved it. So far they have for 2 puppies, a border collie and a staffy, a kitten and 2 sheep. They are planning on getting chickens, beef cows and bees and intend to have an income from the property eventually, once all is up and running.

The boys especially liked playing with the puppies and did not fail to mention several times that they would love one.

The children enjoyed gathering wood for a camp fire, which we lit around 2.30pm. We put a lamb roast with potatoes and kumara in a dutch oven and put it on hot coals with hot coals in top. While that cooked, the children went exploring in the long grass, and had a turn shooting arrows at a target. The food was ready by 5.30pm and we had a super delicious meal. It made me want to go camping every night if we could eat a meal like that.

After dinner the children roasted marshmallows and we had lemon meringue pie and sponge-cake for dessert. Delicious. Thanks President. Joshua, Joseph and Tane did some target practice (in the pitch dark), trying to aim for  a target on a tree. I think we will try to do it again, but in the daytime... will likely be more successful. Only Tane was able to hit the target.

Joseph helped dig a hole to put the hot coals in for the fire.

Lily loved rolling in the dirt, as long as the puppies were not near her. If they did they wanted to kiss and slobber all over her but both she and Ella were terrified, so she had to be scooped up into mine or Daddy's arms.

Earlier this week Annamaria was teaching Ella how to do handstands. I love it when they work together as a team.


We love Ashie-Boy

We have the nicest neighbours. They have a pony. It does not live next door to us but lives in a paddock down the road. He is a white pony. Jordan is a 17 year old high school student and every Wednesday she teaches Annamaria horse riding. She shows her how to care for the pony by brushing him down and how to remove mud from in his hooves. She also gets to feed him, and put on his saddle, bridle and reins.

Annamaria would love to have a horse, and she is saving up. I think she has saved $32 so far. She sometimes does extra jobs so she can save more money. The only problem is we need a farm first.
This week the rest of the children had  a real treat because they all were able to have a turn riding Ash, including Lily. That was pretty fun. The funniest part was Lily had a big tantrum when she had to get off, and an even bigger tantrum when she had to take the riding helmet off. She just wanted to keep it on her.
Annamaria is becoming a professional. She can walk, and trot with Ash. She can also ride bare-back and without holding onto the reins. When Ash was jumping over the logs, he did a massive jump which surprised Anna and she grabbed onto his mane.

Ella was super excited to get her turn. We only went to watch Annamaria so we could take some photos, so getting to have a ride was a surprise.

Joseph enjoyed himself, but thought it was a bit scary when Ash was trotting.

Joshua would love a horse as well. 

 Lily was all very serious when she was riding. She loved the horse and wanted to be involved in all the action, as long as his face did not come too close to her.
Lily having a tantrum on the floor when she had to get off the horse and take off the helmet.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mothers Day

A favourite poem for Mothers Day

 William Ross Wallace (1819-1881)
      BLESSINGS on the hand of women!
        Angels guard its strength and grace.
      In the palace, cottage, hovel,
          Oh, no matter where the place;
      Would that never storms assailed it,
          Rainbows ever gently curled,
      For the hand that rocks the cradle
          Is the hand that rules the world.

      Infancy's the tender fountain,
          Power may with beauty flow,
      Mothers first to guide the streamlets,
          From them souls unresting grow—
      Grow on for the good or evil,
          Sunshine streamed or evil hurled,
      For the hand that rocks the cradle
          Is the hand that rules the world.

      Woman, how divine your mission,
          Here upon our natal sod;
      Keep—oh, keep the young heart open
          Always to the breath of God!
      All true trophies of the ages
          Are from mother-love impearled,
      For the hand that rocks the cradle
          Is the hand that rules the world.
      Blessings on the hand of women! 

          Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
      And the sacred song is mingled
          With the worship in the sky—
      Mingles where no tempest darkens,
          Rainbows evermore are hurled;
      For the hand that rocks the cradle
          Is the hand that rules the world.

I love being a mother. There is nothing more satisfying than stroking my baby's hair while she sleeps, or listening to my son talk to me about the battle of midway, or singing the children to sleep, or reading them stories at bedtime. Yes it is hard, tiring and exhausting at times, but isn't anything that is really worth doing well?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Why I love Leadership Education a.k.a. Thomas Jefferson Education

For home education we follow a philisophy called Thomas Jefferson Education (TJED) or Leadership Education. It is a fantastic way to bring up children in light and truth and to inspire them to learn. My youngest children are in CORE phase, where they are mainly learning right and wrong, good and bad, and work and play. My older two children are in Love of Learning phase, where we are inspiring them to fall in love with learning about a broad expanse of knowledge. Here are my highlights of this week doing TJED. 

1. I love it when Ella (3yrs) volunteers to set the cutlery on the table and then asks her big sister Annamaria (6yrs) 'can you train me?', which she obliges to do.

2. Joshua's conversation a few days ago after finishing reading 'The Once and Future King' - 
"The problem with King Arthur is that when he sets up the round table he makes the assumption that all men are inherently good... I mean they are all inherently good, but some of them just choose to be bad." 
That was such a good opener for a discussion. We talked all about people being corrupted by power, the innocence of children and the importance of having GREAT mentors, especially during those formative years. (Wish it could have been video-taped for the homeschool authorised person who does not think my children understand anything of what they read... yes my son does comprehension daily)

3. Overhearing Joseph and Ella. They were sitting down looking at her 'who's your hero book of mormon puzzle. This was the conversation...
Joseph - Is this a goodie or a baddie?
Ella - Goodie?
Joseph - No he's is a baddie...King Noah
Joseph - Goodie or Baddie?
Ella - Goodie  
Joseph - Yes, Nephi is a goodie.
Core phase is sooo fun.

4. Teaching my sons valiant class today at church and Joshua saying on the way home why can't our normal valiant teacher teach like a TJED teacher.

5. Sitting on my bed and glancing out the window I see Joseph teaching Annamaria how to throw a garden cane (javelin-style) in our little back garden. Had to grab the camera and get a quick pic of that. If they were stuck in school, they just would not have the time to develop these close relationships which I am relishing watching develop.

Here Joseph is showing Annamaria the correct way to hold and aim the garden cane.
 And here she has thrown it across the garden. I just love it!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Learning the apostle names

We really enjoyed general conference. The kids have had a blast learning all the names of the apostles, especially when they turned it into a hand-clapping game.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Too cute

Ella-Rose is so cute. She says 'Jesus kissed me'. I asked her where?, she points outside and says over there.