Devotionals and Symposiums

That just sounds way more sophisticated than we actually are, but I’m going to go with it for now.

In a book I recently read (and outwardly adored in a previous post) the author suggested making time for the beautiful things that often, and very unfortunately, get overlooked: Music, Art, Poetry, God and Spiritual Truth. We are so busy focusing on decimals, fractions, dictations, and adjectival phrases that we sometimes feel we don’t have time for things that are lovely and wholesome and enriching. Actually, I seem to remember a previous post lamenting the fact that don’t have time in our busy schedule for things like art appreciation – despite the fact that I go to the same themed workshops year after year in hopes that I’ll finally “catch the vision” and all the sudden become that super-mom whose kids are not only academic, but educated and refined as well.

(Oh my goodness. I have a house full of 4 boys and one husband. We are so not refined.)

Anyway, new year, new chances, right? And besides, the promise of improving our life, no money down, for only 20 minutes a day sounded just too good to pass up this time.

So I started our own little “symposium.”

Every day before “school” starts and after the baby is put for his nap we gather in the living room and listen to a piece of classical music two times back to back. The kids have their symposium notebooks and are allowed to draw or write anything they want while we listen. I prompt them to draw/write about what the music makes them think of or how it makes them feel. But the requirement to put down something on paper isn’t really a requirement at all. It’s just a suggestion. (The only acceptable alternative, however, is to sit/lay down and listen. Gotta keep control. Four boys, remember?)

So far, one week into our experiment, I have had the kids asking for more every single day. They are convinced it is the best part of their school day. They asked to do it before and after school. They asked to do it on the weekend. They asked to listen to the music 3 times, instead of just twice.  And although we technically start “school” about 20 minutes later than usual, I kind of think they are in better moods – although somedays it is hard to tell. They are kids after all. I’ve heard the kids humming and singing the tune to themselves throughout the week, too, so I know they are really becoming familiar with it.


The first song I chose? Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor. Why? I don’t know, I just personally like that one. And it was the first one I could come up with by name AND have on CD – because I live in the stone age where we have to listen to music on physical CDs.

Here is a taste of what the kids came up with last week during symposium.

(So the first day the kid comes up with “Love and Jezis” and a Christmas tree – not pictured – and the next day he’s drawing burning houses? Well, it’s a very complicated and multi-faceted piece.)

This week, staying with our Grieg theme, we are listening to Peer Gynt, Suite 1-3 “Anitra’s Dance” and Suite 1-4 “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Who wouldn’t want to start your morning with that? It certainly wakes you up.

Now, the trick here is to add art appreciation and poetry appreciation as well. The art I am pretty sure I can do. I did go to that same workshop twice after all! But the poetry I think I will have a hard time with. (Although I just read a fun little poem by J.R.R. Tolkien called The Cat.) We’ll have to see how that goes.  And yes, as always, I am currently taking suggestions/tips/helps/poetry suggestions. Just leave me a comment.


OK, switch gears slightly. Devotionals. Or as we so sophistically and reverentially refer to them, “Devos.”

I realized that we already do the scriptural and spiritual part of the symposium every single day! Don’t you love that? Here I was doing it “right” all along. Somebody pat me on the back.

Every morning before my husband goes to work and every evening before the kids go down to “quite time” before bed, we gather as a family for about 5 to 10 minutes for our devo. We start by reciting the scripture we are memorizing (for simplicity I am just using the LDS seminary scripture mastery verses – why invent the wheel?), then read 3 or so verses in our scriptures from where we left off the devo before, sing a quick children’s primary song, and get on our knees for family prayer. Literally, when everyone is cooperating, this takes maybe 5 minutes. Other times…. it takes a little longer (and we are feeling slightly less loving and spiritual afterwards.) BUT! We are pretty consistent, and that is a plus.

To make it even easier this year I found some cute scripture mastery cards from someone’s cute blog, numbered them 1 to 25, and after we have passed off memorizing our scripture we get to hang the card here in the kitchen on this cute little string of clips!



Now, to answer your questions. How do I have an entire huge wall in my kitchen with absolutely NO decor? Boring! Answer: I just wasn’t blessed with any interest or talent in interior design. And your next burning question: Can I not hang a little string in a straight line with those tacks on the end even, at least? Do I not have a measuring tape somewhere? Answer: No, I cannot hang a string in a straight line, and yes, I do have a measuring tape but I prefer to eyeball the placement of the tacks, call it good, and not care (until I post it on the internet for everyone to stare at and start to feel a little self conscience.)


Moving on, besides having 25 scripture cards ready, and having picked out two more short pieces (Peer Gynt, Suite No 1 – 1 “Morning” and Suite 1 – 2 “Death of Aase” which are more emotionally moving and less adrenaline pumping) for next week, that is as far as I’ve planned. It’s too overwhelming right now to plan more. It’s taken me 2 years to get to this point so I’m going to stick with baby steps for now.  If YOU have any musical selections, art pieces, etc. you think I should use, please let me know.

Baby steps.