Wednesday, May 29, 2013


A few weeks ago I was in a discussion about novels verses non-fiction.  I’ve had many such conversations.  Often when talking about literature or books people get stuck in a rut.  They only like to read autobiographies or only like to read fantasy or romance novels, etc.  These types of exchanges “haunt” me.  I feel as though people who only read certain kinds of books or only “really like” certain genres are really missing out.  Before I explain let me just say, I enjoy non-fiction books and autobiographies.  I read anything and everything for fun.  But, if I am honest, I have learned the best life lessons from fiction and classic literature of all genres.

Good literature can do many great things.  Oliver DeMille, the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education and Freedom Shift, lists five reasons we should study great literature and classics.

1.        The Classics Teach Us Human Nature.

Literature has given me a glimpse into basic human instincts.  Learning through experience is good, but it is often better to learn from someone else’s experiences and build upon them.  If we let them, the classics can teach us lessons without the pain of repeating certain mistakes ourselves.

I read Chaim Potok’s My Name is Asher Lev when I was in my teens.  The relationship between Asher and his father taught me many things that I hope never to have to live through with my own family.  I really had to think about religion and art and the place where we each have to make a decision in our lives about the two.  I learned about faith and God.  And I learned about duty and callings.  Incidentally, I learned that I would probably not be like Asher.  I would use my art to worship my faith.  And I believe art and religion can coexist.

2.       The Classics Bring Us Face-to-Face with Greatness.

Oliver DeMille says “The purpose of studying literature is to BECOME better.”  We are inspired by greatness.  Reading good novels and stories have changed me and helped me to set higher standards for myself.

I recently read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I honestly wished I had read this book sooner.  (Thank you, Amy, for encouraging me to read this classic that I will re-read often for years to come!)  Jane Eyre is such a role model for girls.    She is strong and virtuous.  She has to choose between difficult choices and still manages to keep her integrity intact.  I hope I can emulate this great, FICTIONAL woman.  And I hope my daughters also develop similar characteristics.

3.       The Classics Take Us to the Frontier to be Conquered.

Human beings need a frontier in order to progress.  And today, we have only one frontier left: the frontier within.  Our challenges define us.  And fiction books deal with real life questions: joy, pain, fear, love, hate, courage, anger, death, faith and others.

There have  been many novels which have helped me to “conquer” my most challenging struggles.  J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter is one book series that helped me to deal with death, love, courage and faith.  Dumbledore and Doby’s deaths helped me with death’s grieving process.  I was able to cry and be angry and yet still find the faith I need to finish the novels.  When my grandfather died a few years later, I was able to use what I had learned about grief from Dumbledore with his passing.

4.       The Classics Force Us to Think.

“First, we are caused to think about the characters in the story, then about ourselves, then about people we know and finally about humanity in general.” – Oliver DeMille.  Reading great literature makes us struggle, search, ponder, seek, analyze, discover, decide and reconsider.

Last week I finished rereading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card with my daughters.  (I have read this book over ten times.)  This time I found new insight that I had never considered in my prior readings.  As I read I realized that Ender had a “Thomas Jefferson education.”  He was taught by reading and studying classic battles.  He learned from great models.  But most of all he learned because he CHOSE to educate himself.  Each time I read this classic sci-fi novel I have found new insight and great lessons.  They are there.  We just need to open our minds, question and look for truths.

5.       The Classics Connect Us to Stories.

Each culture is different because it has different shared stories.  Different stories define each family, religion, each nation.  Can you imagine the Jews without the stories of Moses or the Holocaust?  Or Americans without stories of Paul Revere, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln?  In addition to cultural, national and family stories we also have individual stories.  Our personal set of stories help us shape our lives. 

My religious stories are the stories from the Book of Mormon.  My family stories include The Walking Man by Gary McCallister, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, and Fablehaven by Brandon Mull.  My personal stories are too many to mention (some fiction and non-fiction).

I’m glad I love to read!  I’m glad my father loves to read and instilled that love in all of my family!  I’m glad my daughters enjoy reading!  I hope they never put themselves in one category and say, “I only like to read non-fiction because it is real.”  Or “I only read fantasy because it is fun.”  I believe there is great literature from all kinds of novels and books.  There are lessons to learn from great classics.  We just need to be able to question and put in the effort to find truth whether it comes in the form of a mystery, a fairy tale or scripture.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


The Melanson Service Crew (minus a few who were still working out front)
Service rocks!  Saturday we spent the entire morning working at the Melanson's home.  It was fun!  It was rewarding!  And it was HARD work!  I think the Melanson's were surprised and pleased.  They are such wonderful people who do so much for others it was nice to do something for them once in awhile too.

Scott worked mostly outside with the other men.  They weeded, tore down a deck, mulched, and laid rock foundation.  I think he enjoyed the camaraderie and the heavy labor.

I spent the entire time indoors; taking down wallpaper.  I'm quite a pro now.  A hot water and fabric softener concoction made the job easier.  (I found that idea on the Internet since I had never taken wall paper down before.)  Removing wallpaper is quite messy and at one point Dave came in and saw the mess.  For a moment he thought his dog had torn something up... he was about to yell at her but then realized it was just me.  I told him he would have to yell at me instead and he ordered me to my crate!  :-)
The Church Cleaning Crew (Nettie is taking the photo so she is not pictured.)
Key Lime Pie and Kotten Kandy also participated in the service.  They worked a bit outside, but they ended up going to the church and cleaning it for a few hours with one of their role-models: Nettie Melanson.  They are industrious young women and I'm proud of their willingness to serve.
This is Sally DeFord
Today a group of young people in our ward sang a beautiful song for sacrament meeting.  I got to play the accompany them.  (Actually I asked them to sing, too, since I am still the ward music chair.)  The song is "Arise and Shine Forth" by Sally DeFord.    I love her music.  And she wonderfully gives away her arrangements and compositions for free.  Her website is a gold mine for ward choir directors (of which I am also called.)  I'll be using a lot of her arrangements for the Christmas Sacrament Program in December also.  (Which I will be writing and directing and organizing again.  I talked to our new bishop on Wednesday and he would like me to continue that tradition.)  Anyways: if you are interested in Sally DeFord's music check it out at
Guess what?!  I'm actually excited that I get to go to girl's camp in two weeks.  That may surprise most of you since most of you know that I do not enjoy camping.  I think I'm excited because we have AWESOME young women and I love our YW camp leader/president, Roxy.  I'm mostly thrilled to get to spend the time with my two gorgeous daughters who are the light of my life!  I want to make it fun for them and help them to feel the spirit and enjoy the week!  Don't worry, I'll be posting a LOT more about camp in the following couple of weeks!
I'm making homemade potato salad today.  I haven't made homemade potato salad in over six years.  Hope I still remember how.  The potatoes are cooking right now!  :-)  And the eggs are already hard-boiled and peeled.
I just finished studying President Eyring's General Conference talk, "Come Unto Me" and Elder Scott's talk, "For Peace At Home."  We read and discuss one talk a week as a family (we missed Mother's Day so we are making up by doing two talks today.)  They were wonderful talks!  I think that Heavenly Father is trying to tell me I need to put more effort into my scripture study.  Elder Scott said, "Little things lead to big things.  Seemingly insignificant neglect can lead to big problems.  Simple, consistent, good habits lead to a life full of bountiful blessings."  After teaching about scripture study last week and reading about it this week, I am going to resolve to study my scriptures daily rather than just read them.  I think my downfall is that I tend to read the words without thinking about them sometimes.
Grandad White
I'm so grateful for the chance to celebrate true heroes this weekend.  I always think of my grandfather on Memorial Day.  (He passed away this past January.)  In the past, I always called him to thank him for his service during WWII.  He was in the navy, fought in the Pacific and even survived a typhoon aboard ship.  This year I won't be able to call him on the phone, but I will be able to think and reflect on the many great veterans of this wonderful nation.  The words that come to mind when I think of the service our navy, army and air-force men and women perform are:  loyal, honorable, selfless, smart and fearless.  These are traits that I hope to emulate and that I hope my children adopt as well.  Thank you too all the men and women who serve this great country by putting your lives on the line.  We love you!  We honor you!  You are true heroes!

Sunday, May 19, 2013


“…A strange art, music; the most poetic and precise of all the arts, vague as a dream and exact as algebra.”
~Guy de Maupassant (French writer, 1850-1893)


My studio's Music Recital was this past Thursday.  It was wonderful!  All the kids did a fabulous job.  I am proud of all of them.  I have 17 students and teach 20 lessons a week.  (Some of my students take piano AND voice lessons.)  They are a good looking bunch, as well as a talented one.  And I love EACH and EVERYONE of them!!!!

My daughters are also among my students.  Some people say that you shouldn't teach your own children music, but my girls seem to do well with me.  Key Lime Pie takes voice lessons from me (and violin lessons from Mrs. McGillin) while Kotten Kandy takes voice and piano lessons from me.  They are among some of my most talented students.  Both of them have beautiful soprano voices.  Key Lime Pie's voice is very lyrical and always on pitch.  She has a great ear.  Kotten Kandy has great stage presence and is a joy to watch.  Her soprano voice is strong and sure.  I LOVE my daughters!

K2 rescued a bird on Friday from being eaten or killed by cats/dogs.  This baby robin fell out of a nest and wasn't QUITE ready to fly.  The girls picked it up and took it to a safe spot without predators to let it go free.  They named the baby bird Kahn.  We only had the bird for about 2 or 3 hours and then we let him go. Kahn was instantly adopted by another family of robins and there were no enemies in sight.  It was a fun few hours.
We just listened to Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card again.  We are all excited about the upcoming movie in November.  Ender's Game is definitely one of our most favorite books.  We learn so much from it every time we read it or listen to it.
This time I was reading A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille at the same time we were listening to Ender's Game.  It was fascinating to me to think about Ender's education.  Whether O.S. Card knew it or not, Ender definitely received a Thomas Jefferson Education.  A TJEd (Thomas Jefferson Education) basically requires three things:  1.  The student is responsible for his/her own education.  2.  The student learns from good mentors who guide the learning.  and 3.  The student uses classics as the main 'curriculum.' Ender needed a strong education to beat the buggers, so he took responsibility of it.  He got good mentors who challenged him and "taught" him only when he needed teaching.  Mostly he taught himself.  And he used classic literature and studied classic battles to learn his craft.  It's fascinating how close to TJEd Ender's education was.  :-)
I definitely recommend both books.

Saturday we had a baby shower at our home for a friend who is having a baby girl in less than a month.  At the shower we played the game where we had to guess how wide around the middle the mother-to-be is by cutting string to match.  After the game there was a lot of yarn lying around.  Another friend and I began playing cat's cradle games with the yarn.  Some of the young women (including my two daughters) watched and wanted to learn.  I realized I had never taught my daughters this fun pass time.  Key Lime Pie picked up the skill extremely quickly.  It was fun to dust off my knowledge from 30 years ago.
I taught YW today.  I loved the lesson.  I was teaching about the importance of studying our scriptures.  Here's the six tips I gave my laurels that can help them in their personal scripture study:
1.  Pick the time of day that you are the most alert and have the most to give.  Study then.
2.  Pick a place where you can be focused on the scriptures.  Study there.
3.  Pray before you study.
4.  Try different ways to mark your scriptures.
5.  Write down what you learn as you study.  (I love my scripture journal that I have been keeping for over a year.  I learned the idea from
6.  Take your time.
I learned a lot from my own study of this topic.  I'm so glad I get to teach the young women.
My daughters and husband spoke in the Singles Branch today.  Scott was the high council speaker while our girls were his companion speakers.  They spoke about eternal families and had fun studying the subject together.  They are amazing!  And did a GREAT job!  I wasn't able to attend because I had to teach my YW class... but I helped them edit their talks and they were fantastic.  I'm sure proud of my family!
It's spring!  And I LOVE flowers!  Here are a few shots from my front yard!  They just make me happy!  Have a wonderful sabbath!

Sunday, May 12, 2013


This week has been a busy and fun one.  It's easy to come up with seven thoughts this week.
We went to see Iron Man III for Family Home Evening.  Tony Stark, aka. Iron Man, is one of my favorite superheros.  He is charismatic, funny and witty.  The movie had some impressive action sequences, and even a few surprises.  It was entertaining and my whole family liked it!  Do I recommend it?  Of course!
This week we started our Math Marathon.  It was actually my best friend's brain child.  She did a Math Marathon with her kids last week so we decided to do one starting this week.  The idea is that since a marathon is 26 miles you have to do 26 math lessons as quickly as possible.  It's not a race against your siblings though, the object is to finish because that is the goal of most marathoners.  It's going well.  Every seven "miles" (lessons), the girls get a "water break" (soft drink or smoothie).  At the end of the marathon we'll celebrate with a family activity (probably bowling).  The girls are excited about it and usually finishing 3 to 4 lessons a day.  YEAH!
Friday night was Bunco Night.  K2, Amy and I all went to our good friend's house (Sheila) and played Bunco.  It was great fun to hang out and visit with amazing ladies!  I am blessed to have such good friends and to have my own daughters included in that group!  I think everyone needs a night out with the girls at least once a month!  :-)  Thanks, Sheila for inviting us!
The Young Women's Personal Progress program is AWESOME!  I truly love it!  This week I worked on a poster for tracking our young women's progress.  They are doing so well.  And I am doing all I can to encourage them.  If the entire world would participate in this program, the world would be an AMAZING place!
I have been thinking about exercise.  I LOVE it.  If you knew me just three years ago, that statement would never have exited my  mouth.  But I really do like it now.  I don't always like sweating, but I do like how I feel after my workout.  And I am grateful to have a best friend (Amy) who pushes me to continue.  Without her I wouldn't be working out!  :-)  I hope my own daughters grow to appreciate being healthy from our example....
Today we had a beautiful lesson in YW about prayer.  I am SOOOOOOO grateful I have a Heavenly Father whom I can pray to, and I know He listens and answers our prayers.  About five years ago I was not in a good place physically or spiritually.  I struggled with self acceptance and felt that Heavenly Father would not want to hear from me.  The only thing that got me through that rough spot was the hymn "I Need Thee Every Hour."  That was my daily prayer.  I sang it over and over and over again since I didn't have the words I needed at the time.  To this day it is still one of my favorite hymns... and I still use it as a prayer.  I LOVE prayer!
I LOVE Mother's Day!  I know some people who don't, but I am definitely NOT one of them!

I love celebrating my own, amazing mom!  She is thoughtful, giving, and one of my true heroes.  I really admire her work ethic, and her dedication to our family.  She is beautiful inside and out!

I also love the opportunity to think and remember my mother-in-law who raised a fantastic son.  She is kind, smart and loving.  I'm grateful for her influence in my husband's life, my daughters' lives and my life.

I also love being remembered by my family.  K2 bought me PJs and a pillow pet.  I LOVE pajamas!  And I love the two beautiful girls who made me a mom!  My sweet husband got me a book by Elder Bednar that I had been wanting to read for about a year now.  It's called "Increase in Learning - Spiritual Patterns for Obtaining Your Answers."  I can't wait to start it.

Happy Mother's Day to EVERYONE!


Yesterday we determined, as a family, that DeGooyer Day is in our top three favorite holidays (along with Christmas Eve and General Conference).  DeGooyer Day is a day we celebrate being a family... being DeGooyers!  :-)  The traditions for this holiday are:  matching shirts designed by Scott, fun ALL day long, and no work at all during the day.  We have celebrated this day in the past by participating in fun activities, watching movies, eating out, playing games, etc.
Scott designed the shirts!  Aren't they terrific?
Key Lime Pie
Kotten Kandy
This isn't a spider... it's a cricket.  UGLY!  But amazing!
So our 10th DeGooyer Day we celebrated by going to Mammoth Caves.  We took a two hour tour and had a great time exploring and seeing the wonders of the earth 250 feet under the earth's surface.  The Mammoth Caves are extensive.  We only saw a mile of the caves but the length of the entire cave system is more like 400 miles.  More than once during the excursion we all admitted that God was truly amazing in his creations! After the caves, we went out to eat at Texas Roadhouse and then went home to play games (Stoneage) and watch the Mentalist.
After the cave trip, the girl's conked out on the drive home.  We were ALL tired.
It was a WONDERFUL day!  We had such a fun time together and really do enjoy being a family!  I kept counting my blessings - and they equaled Scott, Key Lime Pie and Kotten Kandy!

Sunday, May 5, 2013


I have decided to start a "series".  On some blogs I follow they have certain days of the week where they write about established themes, etc.  So on Sundays I am going to write seven random thoughts I've had throughout the week.  Why seven?  Because I love alliteration and Scott said seven sounded better than six! So here is my first edition of my "Sundy's Seven Sabbath Sentiments"!
This week we did Spring Cleaning!  We only finished two rooms: the kitchen and the living room/hallways.  It looks and feels great!  My daughters worked alongside me and we accomplished a lot!  There is nothing better than deep cleaning with your favorite girls.  OK, maybe there is something better like eating ice-cream with your daughters or singing and making music with them.  But it feels great to have a clean living space.
This week we finally watched "The Mentalist" for the first time.  My whole family enjoys it!  Friday night we stayed awake until 2 A.M. watching the show.  Patrick Jane is a fantastic character.  He is obviously brilliant and can spot minute details.  I also enjoy how he plays mind games with people and sets elaborate traps to catch bad guys.  It's fun.  I'm glad my friend, Amy B., recommended it.
We had stake conference this weekend.  It was awesome!  Last night we had the adult session.  Both K2 were babysitting so others in our ward could attend.  Scott and I went with the Bettenhausens and Chris.  I loved the topics.  Everyone seemed to speak about "Being of Good Cheer!" and "Standing in Holy Places!"  I love being spiritually uplifted by our local leaders.
This weekend was the Kentucky Derby.  It is a BIG thing here in KY.  We celebrate by eating Derby Pie, drinking Mint Julips (virgin style) and hanging out with our friends, the Fieldings.  I made my first Derby Pie this year.  YUM!  I've never made it before (usually we just buy it) but I like it better homemade.  It turned out great.  And it didn't last very long.  The recipe is really easy.  (If you want a copy of the recipe, let me know!)
The Fieldings are good people!  We really love them.  Bishop Fielding was recently released as the bishop.  He was a FANTASTIC bishop.  And we really love and appreciate him.  His wife is AMAZING!  She is one of the most selfLESS people I know.  She gives and gives and is an example of true charity.  She is also my daughters' seminary teacher.  They really love her!
I'm writing about the Fieldings, because not only did we celebrate the Derby with them... but we also got to go swimming on Friday at their home.  The girls had soooo much fun with their daughters.  And it was the first swim of the summer.  Welcome warmer days! -- Of course, right now it is overcast and rainy.  :-(
I LOVE pizza rolls.  Since my daughters and I are doing Weight Watchers again, I've found out that a pizza roll is only one point.  So they are filling, and have protein, and they are EASY.  I can eat them for lunch and dinner.  I just like them...
I'm going to go eat some pizza rolls right now.  I hope everyone has had a superb Sabbath!