December 29, 2003

Home Library... I am so excited I can hardly contain it! We have mostly finished the library. This is a dream come true for Serona and I and we can hardly believe it has been accomplished before we are even 30! I thought I would share some photos with you.



The other side of the room:



And there is a walkway into the office between those shelves. It is beautiful and I am so excited. God has truly blessed our family and we hope to be able to use this to serve him well. Just wanted to share.

Peace,
Tenn

December 28, 2003

ClassroomsCare Reading List

This is a list in roughly the order we have read the books. I will update it somewhat regularly. Our goal is to read 100 books by December 31 so that Scholastic Book Clubs will donate 100 new books to one of its charity partners. I am NOT including the "real little" books we read. Though I wonder if our storybooks are what they had in mind - and yet we are reading age appropriate books so that is what I will count. I am also only recording each unique book we read once, not every book we read as we read many of these books several times in a week (and often in a day).

LIST BEGUN October 25th, 2003

Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You by Dr Suess
Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth
ABC by Dr Suess
Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
Angelina and the Butterfly by Katherine Holabird
Butterfly Kisses by Bob and Brooke Carlisle
Mama Do you Love Me by Barbara M Joosse
Cinderella the Masked Ball by Walt Disney
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

Hard Scrabble Harvest by Dahlov Ipcar
Jacob's Gift by Max Lucado
You are Special by Max Lucado
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBranty
Thomas Gets Tricked by Rev W Awdry
Never Ride Your Elephant to School by Doug Johnson
Little Bird and the Moon Sandwich by Linda Berkowitz
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
The New Baby by Mercer Mayer
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood

Because I love you by Max Lucado
Sailor Moo by Lisa Wheeler
My Five Senses by Aliki
Just the Way You Are by Max Lucado
All You Ever Need by Max Lucado
Butterfly House by Eve Bunting
DW's Library Card by Marc Brown
God Made You Special by Zonder Kids
The Ugly Stepsisters by Walt Disney
Crawdad Creek by Scott Sanders

Meeting Trees by Scott Sanders
Bashi Elephant Baby bu Theresa Radcliffe
Homeplace by Anne Shelby
Poppleton in Fall by Cynthia Rylant
Clifford's Busy Week by Norman Bridwell
The Looking Book by Mary Ann Hoberman
Let's Count it out Jesse Bear by Nancy White Carlstrom
Prayers for Family by Merrigold Press
Cinderella by Walt Disney
I spy A Book of Shapes by Patricia Hall

There was an old woman who swallowed a fly by Books, Incorporated Ladybird
Cliford's Itchy Day by Norman Bridwell
Who's Got Game? The Ant or the Grasshopper by Toni and Slade Morrison
Kipper's Toybox by Mick Inkpen
When the Chickens Went on Strike by Erica Silverman
Four friends together by Sue Heap
The Race by Caroline Repchuk
A Name on the Quilt by Jeannine Atkins
Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg
Right Here on this spot by Sharn Hart Addy

Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino
La Nina Sin Nombre by Jose Luis
You Can't Smell a Flower With Your Ear by Beverly Collins
Kisses by Cyndy Szkeres
Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
Emily is a Flower Girl by Claire Masurel
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault
If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff

Silent Movie by Avi
Does a Tiger Open Wide by Fred Erlich
Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
Frof and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
Finding Nemo by Disney Pixar
My First Purse by Rebecca Bartlett
If You Were My Bunny by Kate H. McMullan
Amelia Bedila and the Surprise Shower by Peggy Parish
SWIM! by Matchbox
The Silver Chair by CS Lewis

Crocodile and Hen by Joan Lexau
Mrs Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile by Won-Ldy Paye and Margaret H Lippert
County Fair by Eilsha Cooper
Coyote in Love with a Star by Marty Kreipe de Montano
The Giant Carrot by Jan Peck
Chicken Little by Sally Hobson
How Chipmunk Got His Stripes by Jospeh Bruchac and James Bruchac
Carlo Likes Counting by Jessica Spanyol
My "C" Sound Box by Jane Belk Moncure
Circle of Thanks by Susi Gregg Fowler

Crab by Rebecca Stefoff
Cars by Hal Rogers
Cats Colors by Jane Cabrera
Caves and Caverns by Gail Gibbons
Cats by Gail Gibbons
Constellations by Diane Sipiera
Clever Tortoise by Francesca Martin
Growing Crystals by Ann Squire
Coyotes by Emilie Lepthien
Clifford Takes a Trip by Norman Bridwell

The Costume Ball by Katherine Holabird
Camping Out by Richard Scarry
Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak
Corduroy by Don Freeman
What Do You See in a Cloud by Allan Fowler
The Caboose Who Got Loose by Bill Peet
Cars! Cars! Cars! by Grace Maccarone
Copy Me, CopyCub by Richard Edwards
It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G Shaw
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

HOORAY - 100 BOOKS DONATED - November 5, 2003


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Little Cloud by Eric Carle
Calico's Cousins by Phyllis Tildes
Circus by Lois Ehlert
Clown by Quentin Blake
Sector 7 by David Wiesner
Czech Republic by Henry Pluckrose
Count-a-saurus by Nancy Blumenthal
Parade Day: Marching Through the Calendar Year by Bob Barner
Canals by Elaine Landau

Castles by Franklin Watts
Circus Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Going West by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Circulatory System by Darlene Stille
Cicadas by Ann Squire
Cows by Rachael Bell
A Ticket to Costa Rica by Tracey West
China: Picture a country by Henry Pluckrose
The Cat in the Hat by Dr Suess
Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory by Margret & H.A. Rey

Curious George Goes Camping by Margret & H.A. Rey
The Cabin: The Sound of "C" by Cynthia Klingel
Canada by Elaine Landau
Fun with Color by Maria Gordon
Cars & Trucks by Karen Rissing
Moses in the Bulrushes by Mary Auld
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Once a mouse by Marcia Brown
My Little House Songbook by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Manners by Aliki

Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Glen Rounds
All the Mamas by Carol Shough
The Mean Hyena by Judy Sierra
Music From the Sky by Denise Gillard
Follow the Money by Loreen Leedy
Eye Wonder Mammals by Sarah Walker
Clickety Clack by Rob and Amy Spence (a hold out hiding in our library basket from last week)
Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney
My Map Book by Sara Fanelli
A Picture Book of Martin Lutehr King Jr

Marsupial Sue by John Lithgow
Young Mozart by Rachael Isadora
My Mother is Mine by Marion Dane Bauer
Is Your Mama a Llama by Deborah Guarino
Malls the Sound of M by Cynthia Klingel
Mona Lisa by Letizia Galli
From Metal to Music by Wendy Davis
Market Day by Lois Elhert
Mabel Dancing by Amy Hest
Our Marching Band by Lloyd Moss

The Mitten by Jan Brett
Mountain Dance by Thomas Locker
Table Manners by Vladimir Radunsky (definitely DO NOT recommend this one)
The Calico Mother Goose Book of Games, Riddle, and Tongue Twisters (we skipped a few pages)
Monkeys are just like us by Allan Fowler
Mama do You Love Me by Barbara M joose
One Lighthouse One Moon by Anita Lobel
Going to Town by Laura Ingalls Wilder(no real M connection)
And if the Moon Could Talk by Kate Banks
The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons

Mountains and our moving earth by Pam Robson
Marshmallow by Clare Newberry
Mustang Canyon by Jonathen London
Marshmallow Kisses by Linda Brennan
Mirror by Alexandra Day
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jan Brett
My Great Grandmothers Gourd by Cristina Kessler
Green by Sarah Schuette
Gold Fever by Veria Kay
Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather by Bruce Koscielniak

Grandfather's Dream by Holly Keller
I Wanted to Know All About God by Virginia Kroll
Marvin K Mooney will you please go now by Dr Suess
Before I Dream by Karen Henley
Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man by David Adler
Goodnight moon by Margaret Wise Brown
God Knows My Name by Debby Anderson
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Suess
Going to Sleep on the Farm by Wendy Lewison
Curious George Takes a Job by HA Rey

My G Soundbox by Jane Belk Moncure
Good Night God Bless by Susan O"Keefe
God is Like by Julie Waters
Gifts for Gus by Peg Ballard
The Gas we Pass by Shinta Choh
Postcards from Greece by Denise Allard
Give me Grace by Cynthia Rylant
David and Goliath by Mary Auld (do not recommend)
Giant Ape by Michael Goecke
Gathering A Northwoods Counting Book by Betsy Bowen

What the Sun Sees by Nancy Tafuri
What the Moon Sees by Nancy Tafuri
Giraffes by Julie Murray
Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say
George Washington A Picture Book Geography (not for the real young readers)
Baby's First Bible by Reader's Digest
Fox in Socks by Dr Suess
Winnie the Pooh Nightime Mystery by Walt Disney
A Tiger Cub Grows Up by Joan Hewett
Taste by Patricia Murphy

HOORAY - 200 BOOKS DONATED - November 26, 2003


Sam and the Tigers by Julius Lester
How Teddy Bears Are Made by Ann Morris
Emma and the Silk Train by Julie Lawson
God Made You Special by Big Idea
The Tangerine Bear by Betty Paraskevas
Giraffes by Lepthien
Gymnastics by Christin Ditchfield
Grizzly Bears by Stuart Kallen
A Place to Grow by Soyung Pak
I'm Taking a Trip on My Train by Shirley Neitzel

Little Bear by Else Homelundd Minarik
LIttle Bear's Friend by Else Minarik
Jeremy by Jan Karon
Machines at Work Fire Truck by Caroline Bingham
Big Machines at Work Dump Trucks by Jean Eick
Touch by Brenda Walpole
Trumpets by Pamela Harris
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
How Do We Think by Carol Ballard
Shamu and the Adventurous Seal Pup by Marc Shulman

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Curious George by Ha Rey
I Hear I See I Touch by Helen Oxenbury
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
The Sneetches by Dr Suess
Sky Tree by Thomas Locker
Ten Go Tango by Arthur Dorros
Pete's a Pizza by William Steig
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
River Story by Meredith Hooper
The Children's Book of Virtues by William Bennett
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban
Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus
William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow
George Shrinks by William Joyce
Baby Says by John Steptoe
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle


Freight Train by Donald Crews
Bed Time for Frances by Russell Hoban
The Stinky Cheese Man by Jon Scieszka
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
Learn Your Numbers by Grandreams Books Inc.
What if the Zebras Lost Their Stripes by John Reitano
You're Adorable by Martha Alexander
How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague
The Little Merbaid by Walt Disney Pictures Gallery Books
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
The Star of Christmas by Big Idea Books
The Travels of Babr by Jean de Brunhoff




Last Updated December 28, 2003

December 26, 2003

Been awhile... I think this may be the longest I have gone without blogging, including when Sirah was born! The move has gone quite well, thanks to all of you who have stuck with me during this time. We are recovering from yesterday. We had an amazing outpouring of generosity and love that came our way in the form of presents and phone calls from our family who live so many miles away. Thanks again!

The kids are coming off their sugar highs (we let them have some candy and other sweets throughout the day - pretty unusual for them) and they are enjoying playing with all their new presents. I am busy trying to find a home for all the new items and referring squabbles that occur over who gets to go first. I just put the kids down for some quiet/naptime and thought I would try to sneak a few minutes to blog - before I get booted off the computer again from our terrible cable connection - which rumor has it is supposed to be fixed next week.

Serona and I are busy creating our home library. Yes I said home LIBRARY! A dream come true for the both of us. Last night he put together two more bookshleves to bring the total up to 8, tonight we will finish the last two for an even 10 and hope our books will all fit in them. We are also going shopping for a nice reading table and a few other little things to make that room have the feel we want (and can afford at this point). We sat on the futon looking at the full wall of shelves and both thought it was a beautiful sight and shared how we were happy to have married a fellow reader instead of TV watcher.

Today the kids have put on dances and concerts and have played dress up and considerable time with the new wooden train set. We have played a butterfly catch and had breakfast and lunch and even squeezed a little cleaning in there. We have worked on thank yous and had a good day so far. Hope all is good with you and yours and I hope to be back to consistent blogging after next week.

Peace,
Tenn

December 18, 2003

Great Political Resource... Serona has been all fired up lately about Howard Dean's statment that "the capture of Saddam has not made America safer." so I decided to find the whole speech text. I'll let you read and decide for yourself.

My search brought me to this wonderful website called Project Vote Smart , I highly recommend it. Here you can type in a candidates name and find things such as: Backgrounds, Issue Positions, Campaign Finances, Performance Evaluations and Voting Records. There is a lot of valuable information to be found here and an easy starting place for a lesson on voting and learning about the candidates position.

Peace,
Tenn
The Joys of Moving, Not... Don't get me wrong - I love our new place but I would like to have reliable internet service. My ISP is spotty at best and hasn't really worked since it was installed on Monday _sigh_ hope to be up and running again soon. Of course I also hope to have th boxes out of my garage soon and my daughter keeps reminding me how many days until Christmas!

Peace,
Tenn

December 17, 2003

Reflections on “Homemaking”… Well we are officially in our new house, sort of. All our possessions have moved from one location to another, but many of them are still in boxes and most of those boxes remain in our garage for the time being. It will be a slow but steady process. The new house is wonderful and soon it will feel like our home. As I type this we are still without internet access, my children are all asleep and Serona is watching the X-men downstairs. It is so nice to not hear his movie from my upstairs bedroom for a change. I feel like we have so much space here and it is definitely a house that can and will grow with us. Here I can see my kids growing up and that is a wonderful feeling (though part of me just wants them to stay little – especially Sirah) and for once I feel like saying let’s just stay here and put down roots. Everywhere else we have lived has felt or planned to be so temporary – but this time I feel different and so does Serona, and it is a nice feeling.

I find myself reflecting on how blessed our family is and how much we really have. I am so thankful for my marriage, children and the family we have created. I am thankful for good friends and extended family. I am thankful for our wonderful new home and all the things we are blessed with that help change this house into a home. We really are so rich in so many ways and it is amazing to me. I am so thankful to God for his faithfulness and his generosity in his provision.

I’ve never worn the title “Homemaker” with much pride. I always think of myself as “Mom” and for some reason that title has always made me fill more fulfilled – until recently. You see I finally realized the value and importance of building a home for my family. I don’t mean providing a building for them to live in that is kept clean and well stocked with the necessities. Rather a home is a place for them to receive all they need to go into the world and fly. To have their fountains filled here: spiritually, physically, emotionally, intellectually and the many other ways we need to be filled. For my husband and children and yes even myself to feel like our needs are met and we can move on to take on the world.

I want our home to be a place of peace and comfort, a solace, a place we all want to be. A place filled with real people and real things. A place of beauty and calm. A place one comes to feel refreshed and you leave here feeling better for having been here. Those are lofty goals and maybe someday we can achieve them – but we will make babysteps each day to try to get closer to that goal.

Tommorrow I will start by unpacking the boxes and finding homes for everything (a place for everything and everything in its place) and letting go of the things we no longer need or cherish. I will try to not hold on to tightly to those things that weigh us down and to truly enjoy and cherish the things that help lift us up. I will try to teach this lesson to my children as we work side by side.

Each day I will try to add something to make our home a more beautiful and enjoyable place for every member of our family and every person that stops by for a visit. I will try to remove the weeds of anger, yelling, too much TV, excess possessions, and discord in relationships. I will try to fill our days with good music, art, and literature. I will try to focus my family on their individual relationships with God and teach them the ways of the Lord. I will choose each day to serve God and to show my children my relationship with him. I will build my husband and children up and help them feel loved and special. I will take time to fill my cup and meet my own needs so I can meet the needs of my family. I will maintain and manage my household so it has legs to walk. I will prune out the weeds so it has room to grow and need not compete for the good soil. I will try to create an atmosphere of learning and peace so we all have time to spread our wings to learn to fly. I will work hard to turn this house into our home.

But I realize that I can not and should not go at this alone. I need the support and help of each member of this family. We all need to value our family and our home and we need to do our part to help accomplish and maintain that atmosphere of home. So I will teach my children how to meet their responsibilities as well. Hopefully Serona and I can train up our children in the way they should go so they will not stray from it later in life.

So the next time you are asked your profession and you circle “homemaker” stand proud and realize all that you do and the value of your job. I know I have a new appreciation for my field of work and I can’t think of any profession I would rather be in or that I am better suited for. I am thankful for this job opportunity and I fully intend to do my best for each member of my family.

Peace,
Tenn

December 13, 2003

Mid-move... Well we are mid-move here and I have only a few moments. Things are crazy - we still have internet access for another few hours (at the old house) and then we will be without access until Tuesday. We are almost fully moved out and are cleaning the old place and have a garage full of boxes and possessions to unpack (how do we collect so much stuff) and it seems like we will already fill the new house that has almost 800 square feet more!

The kids are holding up amazingly well and I have to thank our homeschool support network again. Two of the moms from the group came and helped today - we could not have done it without them. They watched and held kids, played with them, brought treats, packed boxes, cleaned and made car runs. I can't think of anything they didn't do - Thanks! You were amazing! They also helped us hire two men to lift the big heavy things for us and we had another generous friend from church helping us. The move has gone about as smooth as one could ask for in the snow and freezing weather.

Serona is incredible and has been working hard all day and we will be working well into the night. Will touch base again sometime next week. Hope all is well with you and yours.

Peace,
Tenn

December 11, 2003

A Heartwarmer... It seems so rare these days to find feel good news stories - but here is one. This very caring 13 year old girl, Makenzie Snyder, has given over 28,000 foster children duffel bags and stuffed animals. Read more here.

Peace,
Tenn
Lessons While Moving... Just two days left until the move and our stress level is very good. Today is the final big packing day (I need to pack all those things I needed to leave out - a box or two in each room) and we are going to tie up loose ends (get the rest of the utilities working at the new house, change our address, etc) and the kids will make going away cards for our neighbors. They are excited about the move, but will miss some of our neighbors. I am trying to help them with the transition by allowing them to draw pictures and visit people.

We have also been counting boxes - practicing stacking objects - some piles nearly reach the ceiling, practicing self-restraint in climbing and of course getting out energy by climbing in "safe" areas, and a million other little life lessons this move has given us opportunities to teach. I have learned how creative my kids can be with very few toys and learning materials. And they have enjoyed that they get to watch a video nearly every day (not the norm in our house).

We have been listening to music (Christmas carols, classical and praise) nearly all day long and taking breaks to dance all together or in different pairs. The kids have taken little breaks to color or do worksheets or file folder games or play with play-doh. Today we will work on stewardship lessons and teaching them to care for all the things God has given us and to leave our home in excellent condition for it's new owners. This will be taught mostly through practical cleaning exercises, LOL!

Actually I have learned that my kids really enjoy cleaning and fufilling tasks. Even ones they aren't so fond of are made fun by the use of a timer and a reward if they get done before the timer. You would be amazed how fast my children really can put their toys away when they feel motivated. Part of me just wants to put videos on all day so they will be "busy" and I can get alot done. But the larger part of me knows I would regret losing all those "teachable moments" we will have. So it will take us a little longer but we will do it together and they will learn and we will have fun and be all together. I'll save the video for the hour I need to make phone calls to set up utilities and the like.

Well I guess I better be off for our final day of packing and cleaning in our current humble abode. Thanks for your patience with me through these crazy times.

Peace,
Tenn

December 10, 2003

Weekly Update... Just a few minutes to blog - we are a one car family this week and need to head out to pick up Serona from work. Three days until we move and I can't pack another box until Thursday night (how is it we need so much stuff for just three days?) but seriously our progress is really good this time. We are excited for the move.

It's been a good week, we got a bunch of snow (hooray) and it has even been nice enough for the kids to be outside playing with their friends, sledding, building snowpeople and making snow angels. They have had alot of fun doing that recently. We also managed to make cookies with them - snickerdoodles which were fun because they rolled them in the cinnamon and sugar mix themselves. We even had some apple cider.

I have given up on doing anything for the next few weeks. We just found out grandpa is coming to stay with us next week - yay that will be alot of fun for the kids and I can get some unpacking done. Well I had better be off.

Peace,
Tenn
On Vaccines Again... I decided to leave this soapbox over at CyberEcology but it is worth a click to find out about problems with the recent CDC study on the link between autism and mercury in vaccines.

Peace,
Tenn

December 9, 2003

Kindergarten Behavior... Reading this article both saddens me and reinforces our decision to homeschool and to have a full-time stay at home parent with our children.

Time magazine reports Does Kindergarten Need Cops? and while the headline seems a bit aggressive the article is even sadder. There are serious behavioral problems being seen in children in larger numbers and in earlier ages throughout the country.

The article highlights some sad examples and then discusses some reasons people are citing for the behavior. One woman states:


Many cite economic stress, which has parents working longer hours than ever before, kids spending more time in day care and everyone coming home too exhausted to engage in the kind of relationships that build social skills. "Kids aren't getting enough lap time," says Karen Bentley, a seasoned elementary school administrator in Miami, who sees increased aggression in young students.


Not enough lap time? That to me is so sad - and one thing my kids will not be lacking. It is so sad to me that children are unable to enjoy their parents and to spend time with them in meaningful ways. I am again thankful for the gift Serona gives me in enabling me to stay home full time with my children.

So today when you get stressed with your kids while they don't want to follow a lesson or get something done, think about what other families and children are facing today and put your kids in your lap and read a story or just enjoy some quality family time together.

Peace,
Tenn

December 8, 2003

Little by Little

"Little by little" an acorn said
As it slowly sank in its mossy bed;
"I am improving day by day
Hidden deep in the earth away"
Little by little each day it grew;
Little by little it sipped in the dew;
Downward it sent out a thread-like root;
Up in the air sprung a tiny shoot;
Day after day, year after year,
Little by little the leaves appear;
And the slender branches spread far and wide,
Till the mighty oak is the forest's pride.
"Little by little" said a thoughtful boy
"Moment by moment I'll well employ,
Learning a little every day,
And not spending all my time in play
And still this rule in my mind shall dwell
"Whatever I do, I will do it well'
Little by little I'll learn to know
The treasured wisdom of long ago
And one of these days perhaps we'll see
That the world will be the better for me."
And do you not think that this simple plan
Made him a wise and useful man."

-Anonymous
Space & Finding Teachable Moments    Here's a nice article on Space.com about helping kids grasp the details of space, distance, and answering the question, "why don't we just go there?". The article is HERE.

There are also some neat sample lessons (PDF format) here, although I cannot vouch for their content:
Science Detectives: SETI Institute
Project Haystack: SETI Institute

December 7, 2003

Brief update.... Well I have been packing like a madwoman for the past 45 minutes and decided to take a break - just 15 minutes of course. The move prep is going very well actually - we have packed up almost everything but the essentials we need to make it until the weekend. The only room left untouched so far is the kitchen - which I will tackle tomorrow. We are living amongst towers of boxes - the kids really just want to climb inside them or better yet on top of them. We have even cleaned out the attic already - seems everything is on track.

We went to get our pictures taken for Christmas cards and what a fiasco that turned into. Rhiannon refused to smile, Ciaran kept giving the 2 year old "CHEESY" grin and Sirah just wouldn't look at the camera. It was an event - sometimes I am convinced a snapshot captures my children far better and far cheaper! I get complaints from family and friends that our kids don't get "professional" pictures done (we may do it once a year - yes even when they are babies) but our experience has not been good and they are always so expensive. I will admit it - I am NOT a "creative" memories mom. My memories will be passed on to my children in the form of this blog, their personal journals and probably a shoebox of photos and a ton of digital pictures and the occasional video. Each mother is different I suppose - hopefully my kids can appreciate our written history and the snapshots that go along with it. I simply don't have time or interest in cutting paper into pretty shapes and gluing things into a book.

Hope you had a great weekend and please be patient with me this week and next as we move (we will actually be without computer service for atleast 4 whole days _sigh_).

Peace,
Tenn

December 5, 2003

Clay Field Trip... Today we went on a very interesting filed trip to a clay factory. The kids seem to enjoy themselves and the tour guide did a great job explaining the process to their age level. The tour included viewing the materials, machines and process for mixing and packaging the clay and the glazes. We also saw the kiln and they actually took our pieces out with us there- we helped, it was very interesting. The kids made some ornaments and coasters and pinch pots and had glazed them as well.

It felt good to be out doing stuff again, we have been self-quarantining ourselves since we were exposed to chicken pox - but the incubation is over and it appears to have passed us by _whew_ so it was nice to get the kids out. They behaved so well I was so thankful and very impressed with them. All the kids on the tour did actually - it was a nice time.

Peace,
Tenn
Our Favorite Children's Books...
I've tossed the idea of reviewing all the books we read on this site - but we simply read too many. Instead I've decided to highlight a few favorties from each family member. My choices are books that I enjoy reading to them or that I love the story. They are not in any particular order, just as they came to me.

Rhiannon
Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood
Anything with a Disney Princess
All the Angelina Books
The Little House Series (both the regular and the storybooks)

Ciaran
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood
Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth
Marvin K Mooney will you please go now by Dr Suess
Goodnight moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Thomas the Train books

Both of them
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff
If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
Sailor Moo by Lisa Wheeler
Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Any Curious George
Before I Dream by Karen Henley
Any Pooh Bear stories


Mommy
Mr Brown Can Moo, Can You by Dr Suess
You are Special by Max Lucado
Butterfly House by Eve Bunting
Meeting Trees by Scott Sanders
It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G Shaw
Sector 7 by David Wiesner
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
My Little House Songbook by Laura Ingalls Wilder
All the Mamas by Carol Shough
The Mitten by Jan Brett

God Made You Special by Big Idea
The Children's Book of Virtues by William Bennett
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban
Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
Blueberry Shoe by Ann Dixon
Mama Do You Love Me by Barabara Joose
The Napping House by Don and Audrey Wood
Moving Progress... I thought I would post an update for those of you following my move.

Days to Move: 7
Boxes Packed: 39 - plus two storage units full
Closets Left - 2
Stress Level - Low
Family Health - Good

Actually we are doing the best I have ever done in our 5 moves in the past 4 years, I guess you just get better each time. I feel like there is little I can do this week - I have already thinned our clothes down to what we need to wear - the kids toys have almost all been packed. I left out a basket of blocks and a basket of puppets and hard vinyl animals and a little rubbermaid tub of cars and some books of course. I have even packed up the desk and all our files and office and school supplies. The only major things I have left are the kitchen - which I always wait until the end for and our linen closet. So I really can't complain this time.

Tenn
More Reading Lists... Well we aren't making as much progress on the ClassRoom Cares List as I had hoped, because we need to read "unique" books and we have be in a reread all our favorites stage. The kids keep requesting the same books over and over again and I am not going to deny them their picks (though I do sneak a few new ones in) so we are still reading alot but I am not writing down all the titles over and over again. Some recent new reads include:

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
River Story by Meredith Hooper
The Children's Book of Virtues by William Bennett
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban
Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus
William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow
George Shrinks by William Joyce
Baby Says by John Steptoe
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

Pete's a Pizza by William Steig
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Freight Train by Donald Crews
Bed Time for Frances by Russell Hoban
The Stinky Cheese Man by Jon Scieszka

December 4, 2003

Screwed Up World.... Okay warning this has nothing to do with homeschooling - skip it if you like. I am VERY FRUSTRATED right now about the status of the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign.

I started out hopeful and excited - for once a message that stated the truth - not just "Breast is Best" but that choosing not to breastfeed has potential and proven consequences. The campaign ads were to illustrate that children who are not breastfed have a "higher risk of developing asthma, diabetes, leukemia and other illnesses."

But lo and behold in comes the formula manufacturers to express their displeasure at the risks of not breastfeeding being highlighted (THESE ARE A REALITY PEOPLE) and suddenly the AAP changes it's position. From the article:
The campaign has divided physician members of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Joe M. Sanders Jr., the academy's executive director, and Dr. Carden Johnston, its president, sent a letter to Tommy G. Thompson, secretary of health and human services, in early November expressing their concerns about the tone of the campaign and the soundness of the science providing the base for some of its claims. That upset the academy's own breastfeeding experts, who had been working with the government on the ads and supported their aggressive message.

Dr. Lawrence M. Gartner, the former chairman of the pediatrics department at the University of Chicago and current chairman of the academy's executive committee on breastfeeding, said he believed that academy officials might have sent the letter to appease formula manufacturers; some of them are large financial donors to the group.



The Dr's claim they were changing their position before the formula companies objected because some members were "concerned that the advertisements could make mothers who chose not to breastfeed feel guilty if their child later developed leukemia or another medical condition."

While I empathize with their point - these mothers are ENTITLED to the truth and not to be shielded from the truth for fear of hurting their feelings or potentially making some people feel guilty. They should only feel guilty if they KNEW the risks and chose to do it anyway. The AAP and formula companies seem to be advocating hiding the truth from parents - letting the soft "Breast is Best" campaign continue.

Don't get me wrong I am all for supporting "Breast is Best" but our breastfeeding initiation and continuation rates in this country show that it has not been enough. I believe many parents simply don't realize that there are risks if you don't breastfeed and then chose to bottle feed. If these parents knew that breastfeeding would offer their children not only advantages but be preventative of many other things perhaps some would choose to breastfeed than.

It just enrages and saddens me that we live in a culture that will put babies and small children's health at risk for fear of hurting someone's feelings and so some companies can make more money. It is disappointing and disgusting in my opinion. Perhaps people need to be offended and feel a little guilty to instill a necessary change in our country. Progress isn't always comfortable - but that doesn't make it wrong.

Read the article for yourself. Breastfeeding Ads Delayed by a Dispute Over Content.

Peace,
Tenn

Bringing in the wood... I love children's imaginations. Rhiannon went to see Little House Christmas yesterday and now she is leading her brother in an imaginative reenactment of scenes from the play and the books. As I type this they are using several of the empty packing boxes to "bring in the wood" and make a nice warm fire. They are sitting by the fire to warm their feet and they are talking about different things from the book. Rhia wants me to call her Laura and Ciaran Mary and I am to be referred to as Ma and Sirah as Carrie. Pa is off at work. They are so cute. Perhaps I will try to just stay with the Little House theme all day to get them to do what needs to be done.

Peace,
Tenn

December 3, 2003

Little House Christmas... Today has been a great day for our family. Serona took the day off to have a special date with Rhiannon, they went to see a performance of Little House Christmas. They really enjoyed it, she is very into the series, we have been listening to it on tape so far and we will be giving her the set of books for Christmas. They had a special date complete with a chocolate treat from what I hear.

Meanwhile Ciaran and I had some special playtime while they were gone and Sirah was sleeping. We built castles with blocks and then drove cars around them. He played with his "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" cutouts and we read some books together. His favorite is Still "The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear" by Audrey Wood. We then made pancakes together and had a lot of fun - he loves to cook and to wash the dishes.

When Sirah woke up we all sat on the floor together and listened to Christmas music and sang while we played with the blocks. Serona and Rhiannon came home and then he headed out to run an errand with Ciaran and left me with the girls. Then he headed over to pick up Ciaran a new life like animal - a treat he loves for less than 5.00 and it lasts and gets played with over and over again.

This time Rhiannon and I worked on a few things. She drew a replica of our front door wreath complete with pinecones and bow in her nature study notebook while I did our online bills and banking and then we read several books. Her favorite was "Harold and the Purple Crayon" by Crockett Johnson. Then we did a few review questions and discussion from the play she saw this morning (provided on the theater's website) and talked a bit about Little House in general. Now she is playing quietly by herself and Sirah is in the swing while I write this - I am going to try to pack a bit now.

Peace,
Tenn
Days and Nights... Why do babies get these mixed up? Sirah has been sleeping during the day and ready to party at night. Right now I so want to go to sleep but she is still up and raring to go. Serona is working late and there is no choice but to be awake. I used to never really mind but with three it is harder as one is awake when the others are asleep you know the others will wake up when this one falls asleep and then you have lost all that sleep. I am reminded of the Bare Naked Ladies song" Who Needs Sleep? Well your never gonna get it." Yet even as I complain I don't really mind. I know these days pass by too quickly and I know I will sleep again someday - as my father told me you can get a few good years in between the youngest turning 5 or so and the oldest becoming a teenager - then you never sleep again until they are fully out of the house. I have learned to function on less sleep though I am a much happier mom when I get more rest. Perhaps I can go bore her to sleep now.

Peace,
Tenn

December 2, 2003

Good Afternoon... Before the chaos of bedtime hits I would like to let you know we had a great afternoon. Rhiannon started her Nature Study notebook with two drawings of the flowers on our table and a short poem from The Children's Book of Virtues "Try, Try Again". She also had me jot down a little note about one of the flowers and God. It was a nice moment. She worked on her art while I danced around the room with Sirah and Ciaran took a nap, a nice peaceful moment in an otherwise loud and crazy household.

The kids are making forts and houses and climbing on all our moving boxes those that are full and those that are empty. Sirah has slept away much of the day so I am anticipating a long night. It seems whatever sickness we had has passed us by and that is wonderful!

I am trying to psyche myself up for the bedtime routine and reading some stories now and then heading back down here to the mess to try to pack up some of my desk and file all the stacks of paper that have collected around the house. Hopefully I won't miss any bills during this crazy time. Keeping track of paperwork is always the hardest on me during a move.

Peace,
Tenn
Raising Whole Children... I have recently been reading A Charlotte Mason Companion:
Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning
by Karen Andreola, and I can't say enough good about it. I LOVE this book and I love almost everything I am hearing in it.

Sometimes I feel like each new book I read awakens a part of me I never realized was there before. It seems each new homeschooling book (almost) I read teaches me something that I decide I want to utilize in our home and family - but this one was different. This book reinforced what I am already doing in my home and helped me think of better ways to do it. That is a special book - kind of like the first time I read The Baby Book and The Discipline Book by Dr Sears and found someone describing the way I was parenting. It is nice to find yourself in a book and to find new and better suggestions.

Some ideas that we have decided to start implementing right away (ok AFTER our move) are a Nature Study Notebook, Narration, and studying one composer and one artist for 3 months. I really want my children to grow up cultured and I suppose I have a very different definition of culture than what it seems is promoted to children these days. I read a Jane Austen novel and I love that they had a thorough appreciation for art, classical music, poetry and worked on these skills. I want my children to recognize and love Bach, Beethoven, Monet, Manet, Keats, Dickens, and Shakespeare to name a few. I want them to appreciate and love beauty in everything and I want them to be whole people.

I recognize this culture starts in the home and in the atmosphere you raise your children in. We are already clearly a family of readers and reading is encouraged and cultivated at every turn in our lives (including a library in the new house!!!!) and that will continue. But as of recently I realized I have been so focused on literature that I have let music and art appreciation slip through the cracks, not to even mention poetry. Now don't get me wrong my children are still very young and I know they have plenty of time - but how easy it is to play classical music while we make and eat lunch. How nice it is to read a simple and short poem as a respite between play. How wonderful to show the children real art masterpieces and encourage them to truly draw themselves. How much more can that enrich their lives. I can't do it all at once. But in true FLYbaby style I will babystep it one step at a time.

It is easy to get several CD's by a single composer and big art books from the library (or as our budget affords) and keep them on display and on the stereo for three months at a time. It is easy to listen to classical music for just 30 minutes a day and read one poem a day. We recently began reading one proverb a day (corresponding with the date) and I found it didn't take long to become a routine and it doesn't take much time at all.

Again I come back to my "I can do anything for 15 minutes philosophy" and I realize how easy it is to introduce my kids to a large variety of culture and in a meaningful way. We will work on introducing classical works, art masterpieces, wonderful poetry and sketching God's creation into our days and I am sure that is a decision we will NEVER regret. I want to grow whole children and I think there is much wisdom in the days of past we can and should learn from.

Pick up a copy of A Charlotte Mason Companion:
Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning
by Karen Andreola and find yourself refreshed and inspired. The pictures alone in the book are worth it. They represent the kind of atmosphere many of us want for our children. They show children at peace, at play and in an atmosphere that promotes the love of learning and the growth of a whole child.

Warmly,
Tenn


UPDATE: AS I was reading this morning Linda's blog had a link to get a sonnet a day. How easy some things are in the days of the internet and email!
Reading List...

Little Bear by Else Homelundd Minarik
LIttle Bear's Friend by Else Minarik
Jeremy by Jan Karon
Machines at Work Fire Truck by Caroline Bingham
Big Machines at Work Dump Trucks by Jean Eick
Touch by Brenda Walpole
Trumpets by Pamela Harris
Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
How Do We Think by Carol Ballard
Shamu and the Adventurous Seal Pup by Marc Shulman

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Curious George by Ha Rey
I Hear I See I Touch by Helen Oxenbury
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
The Sneetches by Dr Suess

December 1, 2003

What to Do With Little Ones... Karen Andreola (author of The Charlotte Mason Companion) has a great site with excellent resources. On this site is a nice page of ideas for preschoolers during class time. Check it out.

Peace,
Tenn
General Malaise... Well we are sick here now _sigh_ with less than two weeks to the move. Rhiannon is having general not feeling well symptoms: low grade fever, upset stomach, sore muscles and tiredness. She doesn't have energy to smile, laugh or talk. She just wants to cuddle, sleep, watch movies and listen to stories. We were exposed to chicken pox two weeks ago and I am wondering if it coming now. Of course it could also be this terrible flu going around. Time will tell - but I will be out of commission for awhile.

Peace,
Tenn

November 28, 2003

Some recent reads...

Baby's First Bible by Reader's Digest
Fox in Socks by Dr Suess
Winnie the Pooh Nightime Mystery by Walt Disney
A Tiger Cub Grows Up by Joan Hewett
Taste by Patricia Murphy
Sam and the Tigers by Julius Lester
How Teddy Bears Are Made by Ann Morris
Emma and the Silk Train by Julie Lawson
God Made You Special by Big Idea
The Tangerine Bear by Betty Paraskevas

Giraffes by Lepthien
Gymnastics by Christin Ditchfield
Grizzly Bears by Stuart Kallen
A Place to Grow by Soyung Pak
I'm Taking a Trip on My Train by Shirley Neitzel
Sky Tree by Thomas Locker
Ten Go Tango by Arthur Dorros
It's Official, We're Moving... We are still staying in the Twin Cities, just graduating to a 4 bed/2 bath big fenced in yard (yay!) in a different neighborhood. It is the right move for our family, though it will be tough to leave our neighborhood. Of course this move is easier than some in the past, we don't really need to start over again with building friendships and support networks. Anyway everything is going to move very quickly as we need to be out of this house in 2 weeks!

Needless to say with the holidays, travel, packing, moving and unpacking my blogging time will probably be limited and I have put any "scheduled activities" for the kids on hold. I need to start rounding up all our library books and resist the temptation to take any more out so we don't have more to pack. So I'll be in and out for a little while and will pick up with daily blogging in January.

Peace,
Tenn

November 26, 2003

Homeschoolers and Taxes... Reading thishomeschooling article I was calmly absorbing the points being made until this sentence jumped out at me:


"Education officials support parental decisions to home-school, but not on the taxpayer's dime, especially when the state is strapped for cash, he said. 'We can't provide textbooks to our own public students,' Crouch said. 'The program gives money when there is no money to be given out.' "


It is funny to me that the system just EXPECTS all people (homeschooling, private, publicschooling, elderly, singles, etc) to fund the public school education system and their is an absolute outcry if there is any money spent anywhere other than there. Now I am not against public funding of schools and I am not saying I want my district to pay for my schooling (I want to be free from their influence) but this article is actually talking about online charter schools - which are NOT homeschools _again_ .

Okay stepping down again and taking a deep breath.
Tenn

Tactile Time... Okay so we are in the letter "t" week for Thanksgiving - but that would have been my header anyway. I have noticed that Ciaran REALLY needed some "tactile time" as I have put all his "messy" and most of his "Creative" toys away. As the tempers have rose somehow I forgot the two biggest helpers for me during that time - playdough and water! So this morning we made up a batch of homemade playdough.

Homemade Playdough Recipe
1 cup flour
½ cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Combine above ingredients in a large saucepan.
Gradually stir in:
1 cup water
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon food coloring
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until a ball forms. Remove from heat and knead until smooth.

Taken from the Fresno Family. I added a teaspoon of vanilla for a nice smell. And we played on the kitchen floor all together.

I am going through ALOT of stress right now and kneading warm playdough was actually pretty good therapy for me as well. Try it - you might find you enjoy it just as much as your children do. My next batch I think I will use kool aid instead of food coloring. If the recipe pans out I'll be sure to share it.

Off for naps, lunch and unloading the groceries that our WONDERFUL delivery service will bring so that I don't need to brave the stores the day before Thanksgiving. Hope you have a great holiday.

Peace,
Tenn

November 23, 2003

The Power of the Answer Box... I am constantly amazed at how easy it is to find free resources and reliable information online through the web (specifically through Google and storing them using Mozilla.

It makes homeschooling so easy and cheap! Tonight I did some preliminary research for a co-op we will be starting up in the fall. The plan is to take a unit study approach to different continents and countries during the course of the year. In less than 15 minutes I was able to find a nice starting list of resources to refer to and utilize. I was able to bookmark them all in a single Mozilla tab that I can save and open when I want to research a particular country. It is wonderful!

I promise I don't work for Mozilla or Google - but I will sing their praises and encourage you to try it for yourself (if you aren't already) you won't regret it!

We mix a healthy amount of library books with our online resources for a nice variety. I must admit it is so wonderful to not have to reinvent the wheel but rather to stand on the shoulders of the "giants" who have gone before me.

Peace,
Tenn
Newsflash: Breastfeeding is legal... While I am astounded at the headliner and PR push of this headline Burger King To Allow Breast-Feeding, it should not be news - but sadly it is.

The article which boldly states:
"From now on, mothers who wish to breast-feed their babies are welcome to do so in Burger King restaurants."

Makes it seem like Burger King is doing this noble and grand thing by merely upholding the law! For those unfamiliar with this case, a woman was told to move to the bathroom in Burger King to nurse her child because a patron complained. There was a nurse in planned in response and the day before it was scheduled Burger King was forthcoming with it's generous policy reversal:

" Under the new policy, employees are told if a customer complains about a mother who's breast-feeding, they are to explain that breast-feeding is permitted in the restaurant and suggest that the complaining customer move."

While I am VERY excited that this is getting national media coverage and that Burger King made a reversal of its policy - I am in shock that it is being reported in a favorable light for BK. Where is the outrage at the fact that they were ILLEGAL in what they did?

Perhaps Burger King management and lawyers had merely overlooked the law of their state (in this case Utah) which according to:

Utah House Bill # 262, 1995
1995 Ut. HB 262
Utah Code Ann. § 10-8-41, § 10-8-50, § 17-15-25, § 76-9-702, § 76-10-1229.5,:

" 76-10-1229.5. Breast Feeding is not Violation of this Part.
A woman's breast feeding, including breast feeding in any location where the woman otherwise may rightfully be, does not under any circumstance constitute a violation of this part, irrespective of whether or not the breast is covered during or incidental to feeding."

Furthermore:
"Boards of Commissioners and City Councils of Cities may not prohibit a woman's breast feeding in any location where she otherwise may rightfully be, irrespective of whether the breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding."



Perhaps Burger King lawyers never read this part of the law or never informed their clients of it until the nurse-in was staged - but really to give KUDOS to Burger King is a JOKE! How about merely stating that Burger King admits it must follow the law and any mother is allowed to nurse and if a customer has a problem with it they should move to the bathroom for the remainder of their meal (I'm not serious - though perhaps for once it would drive home the outrage of asking a mother to nurse on the toilet!!!!

_Sigh_ Deep Breath... Stepping off the Soapbox and saying I AM GLAD that Burger King is going to follow the law now.

Peace,
Tenn

November 22, 2003

Praise for Midwives... Many of you know I am a huge fan of midwives. My first birth was an OB/GYN and my last two were with midwives. While each birth is beautiful in it's own way - the midwife deliveries were far better for so many reasons, I would not do it differently and I only wish I had known sooner about midwives.

Here is a father's story about their recent birth with a CNM. Worth a click.

Peace,
Tenn
Reflections in the Snow... Well the first Minnesota snow is here and just this morning I ran into another one of those people "defying" reality that winter is coming, wearing a flannel shirt and jeans - he did atleast have a hat and mittens when we were outside this morning. Of course Serona while helping a neighbor load dirt into a truck in the snow was doing the same _sigh_ I on the other hand will have my silk leggings on under my pants and insist the kids were their hoods or hats. We are expecting nearly a foot last I heard. To me that is good, if it is going to snow - we might as well get mileage out of it! One of the things I like about MN winter is that the snow is always around and nearly always white - just as it is going to get that ugly slushie messy brown of the Northeast - we get a new fresh coat and it looks all beautiful white. Sure it takes until April to melt - but this is Minnesota after all.

Sometime this week the reality of my motherhood life set in. I realized I have been either pregnant or nursing (or both) for 5 years consecutively now. 3 kids in 4 years - no wonder my hormones are crazy! We have lived in three states and moved 5 times with another move coming up in just a few weeks (yes mid December in MN) and we are not even in the military! It seems we always move when we have another family member join us (atleast this time it is within the state) and then we start over again. It isn't the moving that is so hard (though keeping my house clean enough for showings was) it is the loss of networks and support. This time we should not experience that though - as we are just a drive away from friends (many whom we will now be closer to) though we will need to go through the whole getting to know your neighborhood again.

In recent days I have really realized the importance of having a support network for whatever you do (nursing, homeschooling, motherhood, attachment parenting, cloth diapering to name some of mine) is ESSENTIAL. I used to think it was nice to have now I know it is so much more than nice. We all need those people in our lives who understand us and where we are at the moment. Now I have a few good friends that have known and loved me through a bunch of transitions and major life changes and they are very important to my life and will be forever - but sometimes you just need the person who is right where you are right now. That is why support groups and the relationships we build through them are essential - because you surround yourself with people who are there or have been there really recently.

Today I had a homeschool support group meeting and the very people I most needed to talk to were there - they could relate to what I am struggling with as many of them have had or are having those same struggles now. They were able to encourage me that I was not alone and that other people are like me and that it can and does get better. It was just relieving to know that other people go through these things as well and that we can all help one another over the rough spots.

Through the week - two of my closest friends (members of my first preschool cooperative and LLL leaders) were able to see me through some tough times and encourage me. Somehow it is different when women who are in the same position as you are able to rally by your side and support you. It suddenly makes everything better.

These networks are hard to build sometimes (though I think within the homeschool community it is easier) but they are DEFINITELY worth the investment of time and energy. I am so glad that we started early so that when we hit the real tough times we already have a network in place to help support us through them rather than go searching for one then. When we are in the thick of it. You need to take the time beforehand to develop and nurture those friendships so you have them there when you need them. I am so thankful for the wonderful women that surround and rally around me and my children - I need them right now.

Sadly, our culture no longer seems to value the relationships of women and the importance of them in each other's lives and the lives of their children. As I have watched my kids develop close relationships with other mothers - it brings joy to my heart to know that my kids have other adults they look up to and trust (this is especially important to us as our family all lives so far away). I once heard a mother say you need to have relationships that if necessary you could drive up to the front lawn and drop your kids off and know they could find their way into the house themselves and they would be completely welcome and well cared for. Those are the relationships I want to have, and I am lucky enough to have a few very special relationships like that right now.

If any of you are reading this you know who you are and I thank you! And many of you share a unique relationship with me - a purely virtual one - but I lean on you for support and encouragement in other ways. I read your blogs, I learn from you, I laugh with you and sometimes I cry for you. All the while I know there are others of us out there and that we can offer each other support - even if it is only through knowing other people are there and going through what we are as well. Thank you as well.

Warmly,
Tenn

November 21, 2003

G Reading List....
Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man by David Adler
Goodnight moon by Margaret Wise Brown
God Knows My Name by Debby Anderson
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Suess
Going to Sleep on the Farm by Wendy Lewison
Curious George Takes a Job by HA Rey
My G Soundbox by Jane Belk Moncure
Good Night God Bless by Susan O"Keefe
God is Like by Julie Waters
Gifts for Gus by Peg Ballard

The Gas we Pass by Shinta Choh
Postcards from Greece by Denise Allard
Give me Grace by Cynthia Rylant
David and Goliath by Mary Auld (do not recommend)
Giant Ape by Michael Goecke
Gathering A Northwoods Counting Book by Betsy Bowen
What the Sun Sees by Nancy Tafuri
What the Moon Sees by Nancy Tafuri
Giraffes by Julie Murray
Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say

George Washington A Picture Book Geography (not for the real young readers)
Sparse Blogging... We have had several showings on our house over the past few days and a variety of other issues going on in our lives so blogging has been taking a back burner. I apologize and expect next week to be better.

Peace,
Tenn

November 20, 2003

Great New Resource... A friend emailed me the link to a great lesson plan site. I just started browsing around and enjoy it. Not all the links work the way you expect them to - but it is worth a click and there are many valuable resources here. The site is based around children's books by letter - which fits very nicely into our style of school now. I think it is a nice addition to your resources (for a variety of ages) and a good springboard for ideas. Check outLesson Plans for Children's Books.

Peace,
Tenn
Gifts... With holidays coming up I thought I would provide some links for places I love to give and receive gifts from. It seems the more kids we add the more I shop exclusively online or through catalogues, it is just so much easier and I think their stuff is so much nicer and more original. Unfortunately the prices are often higher as well, plus you add shipping, still they are worth a click. You will notice a theme to these sites of natural and educational toys for kids. Happy browsing!

My two favorite all around kid gift sites are Magic Cabin and Lakeshore Learning. Be sure to check out Lakeshore's clearance pages and I really enjoy their catalogue. Two new sites we are trying this year are Rosie Hippos and Willow Tree. I like their products but can't tell you how it goes yet.

Of course there are the good old standby's of Half.Com and the The PlayStore. As for brick and mortar - I actually like the natural toys that can be found at Target and Creative Kidstuff is an excellent shop. Finally if you are in the St Paul area be sure to check out PeaPods.

For the adults on your list - I love to receive gifts from the Attachments Catalogue and of course LL Bean, MotherWear and La Leche League.

Some non-traditional gift ideas would be memberships to local museums, zoos and parks. Or purchasing a class or lessons for a child in a special area of interest (Rhiannon's grandparents gave her Irish Step Dance Lessons for her birthday). Perhaps a subscription to NetFlix for the movie buff or a subscription to Music Match for the music lover.

Anyway Happy Holiday Shopping and enjoy these upcoming months and days that seem to pass so quickly.

Peace,
Tenn

November 19, 2003

Groceries... Well we hardly ever go to the grocery tore anymore. We get our groceries through the buying club and our online delivery grocer. It is wonderful, we never have to go out - but last night in the spirit of G week we headed to a grocery store (me and the three kids). This particular grocer had little shopping carts the kids could push - and Rhia and Ciaran both pushed one and had a blast - it did make the trip more fun and we talked about groceries as we went and each child got to pick out one treat. Ciaran picked out Clementines (great choice) and Rhia picked out "pop-up" popcorn - which is puffed air essentially (sigh) but it was a good trip and even educational and fun for them. I survived and so did all the other people in the store!

Peace,
Tenn
Go, Go, Go... Yesterday we spent the day on the go. Ciaran really needed to run some energy out so we went to an indoor gym and he got to run, climb, ride, play and just be crazy - it was perfect! We spent the morning there, then came home for lunch and quiet time (no successful naps) and then we headed outside to enjoy the 40 degree weather (it felt warmer) and let them play in the leaves (we still haven't bagged) and run before the snow comes and settles in. It was great to just let them play and let out all that energy that seems to build up these days.

Peace,
Tenn

November 17, 2003

Starting G week... This week we are working on the letter G. So far it has been a slow start to the week as we try to find a rhythm. We bought a small lifelike gorilla at the toy store today and talked about gorillas and goats. We read of course, here is today's list.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jan Brett
My Great Grandmothers Gourd by Cristina Kessler
Green by Sarah Schuette
Gold Fever by Veria Kay
Geoffrey Groundhog Predicts the Weather by Bruce Koscielniak
Grandfather's Dream by Holly Keller
I Wanted to Know All About God by Virginia Kroll

A few other books we have read recently:
Marvin K Mooney will you please go now by Dr Suess
What the Sun Sees
What the Moon Sees
Before I Dream by Karen Henley

Well I am off to bed, we just found out we may have been exposed to the chickenpox so all the sleep we can get now is necessary! Of course we won't know for a week or two.

Peace,
Tenn
A Weekend Off... Decided to take the weekend off from blogging and just spend it all with my family and it was a good decision. Saturday Serona spent the day with the kids and I had a conference to attend with just Sirah, everyone had a pretty good day. Yesterday was a good family day and in the evening Serona and I watched "A Mighty Wind", and enjoyable flick for the most part.

We are off to Monday coop and then we are starting G week here. I am also contemplating doing a test run through of a week of Five in a Row. We have decided today is the only day we have anything planned and we may not leave the house for the rest of the week - it has just been so stressful trying to keep the house so clean and run here and there all the time. I think the kids and I need some time to just reconnect and spend time close together - most likely reading.

Hope you all have a great day and I'll try to give an update later tonight.

Peace,
Tenn

November 14, 2003

Kudos for Homeschool Response to CBS... I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who took the time to respond to CBS's terrible homeschool story - see October Archives for full story and my responses. Capitalism Magazine did a recent story on what business people can learn from our response to CBS.

This is definitely worth a click. But the highlight from the article:

For homeschoolers, as for most businessmen, the real story - the government’s attacks on freedom through forced taxation and regulation, and the attempts by committed individuals to break away from the coercion—was buried under layers of obfuscation. There was a blatant attempt to link homeschooling with death, in the minds of viewers—as businessmen are now linked with crime.

But, in the case of homeschoolers, something went wrong. Instead of passively accepting that CBS had a “right” to defame anyone it wishes, the homeschoolers fought back. CBS news phone lines and email address were overwhelmed with protests against the program. As the President of the North Carolinians for Home Education (NCHE) wrote:

“There is room for difference of opinion, even principled opposition, towards homeschooling in the media; however, the selective reporting, misrepresentation, and insinuation used in this report cannot be tolerated. It is crucial that CBS, and others who are watching, understand that if they wish to choose a compliant group to slander in the name of their agenda, homeschoolers are the wrong ones to target.”

The key point is that homeschoolers refused to remain “compliant.” They reacted with forthright indignation to an assault on their independence. CBS News has been forced to deal with principled opposition, something they are not used to. This has forced them to actually deal with the homeschoolers, not merely to smear them with impunity.




Thanks for standing up for all of us!
Tenn

November 13, 2003

A moment to bottle... Today Ciaran and I had one of those moments that you just want to bottle up to take out for viewing every so often. You know the kind of moments that make your heart leap for joy, bring a tear to your eye and you just want to hold them so close. It was just so precious to me. We were cuddled up on the couch getting ready to read and Ciaran really wanted to read "The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear" by Audrey Wood, his current favorite book. So he brought it over climbed on my lap and started to read with me, I would stop and he would continue with it. Then this afternoon he climbed in bed with it and "read" the whole book to me from memory with this GIANT GRIN on his face. It brought me such an indescribable joy and sent me soaring for the rest of the day. This is the first time he has done anything like this and he was just so cute. His language still isn't crystal clear - which only made it cuter in my mind. I need to bottle it up and save it for when he is 16!

Rhiannon decided she wanted to show that she can read too. So she "read" "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Quick as a Cricket to Sirah. I love that my children love to read.

Warmly,
Tenn
Make-Believe, More Reading and Mom-Time... Today has been a really good day. We started out by reading 6 books this morning (shorter storybooks) and then headed out to our field trip. We went to a local maintenance facility and heard a talk on snow safety and got to sit in the snowplow. Mealtime, movietime and naptime. Then it was settling into the couch for story-time. We read for over two hours, today's list:

Our Marching Band by Lloyd Moss
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Mountain Dance by Thomas Locker
Table Manners by Vladimir Radunsky (definitely DO NOT recommend this one)
The Calico Mother Goose Book of Games, Riddle, and Tongue Twisters (we skipped a few pages)
Monkeys are just like us by Allan Fowler
Mama do You Love Me by Barbara M joose
One Lighthouse One Moon by Anita Lobel
Going to Town by Laura Ingalls Wilder(no real M connection)And if the Moon Could Talk by Kate Banks

The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons
Mountains and our moving earth by Pam Robson
Marshmallow by Clare Newberry
Mustang Canyon by Jonathen London
Marshmallow Kisses by Linda Brennan
Mirror by Alexandra Day
The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey and Don Wood
Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin

After dinner this evening we had special date time with each child. Serona took Ciaran out to see a movie and Rhia, Sirah and I stayed home. Sirah took a nap and Rhiannon and I played Uno and make-believe (house and school - she was the mom and the teacher) I really love having date-time with each of our children, it is so important. Hope you had a great day!

Peace,
Tenn
Curriculum Feedback? I am reviewing Five in a Row by Jane Claire Lambert for our curriculum for next year. I am also considering Sonlight. Or making my own from a combination of The Well-Trained Mind and unit studies. We seem to be leaning Charlotte Mason and Classical Education. No matter what we choose I am pretty sure we are going to do Story of the World, Miquon Math and Phonics Pathways. Anyone have any opinions and feedback, I really want to hear!

Peace,
Tenn
New Blogs... Welcome to Marie and Anne to the blogging world!

Peace,
Tenn
Fun on the Snowplows... We just returned from a field trip to the local city maintenance facility, where we had a class on snow safety. The kids watched a video on snow safety (not building snow forts, plow safety, and snowball safety). The teacher was a snow plower and he talked about some of his experiences and the dangers that can occur when children do not follow safety rules near him. Then the best part in Ciaran's mind (and many of the other kids as well) they got to actually see and climb into a big snowplow. The tires were taller than Ciaran and Rhiannon had many questions to ask about the truck. Ciaran liked crawling through the front plow blade like a tunnel and everyone liked climbing in the truck. Ciaran's grin was from ear to ear when it was his turn (twice) and you could see him just light up on the inside. What is it about little boys and big trucks? It was a great field trip and the kids even got handouts and worksheets to bring home.

We are really wound up here even after our lunch of tofu, orange and yellow peppers, carrots and apple slices with carrot/apple juice to drink. They did so well with lunch they both got a chocolate chip cookie. I tried to settle them into reading and they were bouncing off the walls so I settled for a Winnie the Pooh video to calm them down, then naps and then we will have our reading time.

Peace,
Tenn
Morning Thoughts... Well we are heading off for a field trip in a few minutes, I'll write more later. Just wanted to say we have already read 6 books before 9am this morning! I also wanted to share that I am listed in this weeks Carnival of the Vanities for my
Reclaim Your Brain post, which can be found over at our other blog CyberEcology. Happy Reading and Happy Day!

Peace,
Tenn
This makes me MAD... It is so sad to me that in our country we have moved so far away from what is natural and good that a mother gets asked to move to a bathroom to nurse her child! I am glad this mother stood up to Burger King and I am deeply saddened that there response is so generic and poor. It is as if they are trying to avoid publicity by being so non-responsive. The whole thing is pathetic to me and I will continue to nurse my children wherever they need to nurse. And to the client who complained - I would like you to eat YOUR next meal in a bathroom stall!

Peace,
Tenn
Midweek Ramblings... Sorry I have been away for a few days. We have had quite a busy week and blogging time was non-existent. I am actually writing this after our date! Yes I said date, we went to a friend's house and only had one child, Sirah who in the sling is quite easy. It was nice to be out in a social setting together.

This week I made the decision that we are only going to focus on reading and narration for awhile, with math and art thrown in where appropriate. It seems that is the best fit for all members of our family. I started the letter themes kind of too fill in the gap of schooling while we were showing our house. But I have found it to be such a good fit that it is what we will use for awhile atleast - I think I would like to get through the whole alphabet before we stop so that will be awhile.

I have found my kids and I really enjoy picking a letter and then picking all the themes around that. Playing with the letter all week and discovering how interrelated everything actually is, learning different names for the same concept or object as it fits into multiple weeks. We are REALLY enjoying reading such a wide variety of books and covering so many topics and with such a loose structure. I do find it hard to record all that we do in a given day, though the books are a fair representation of the topics we choose to cover - we just typically go more in depth on each topic than I have time to write about. I also find this method very easy to teach at two different levels and love that we are exposing them to so many different concepts, ideas, people, and places - even if they seem old for them at the time, atleast they are creating mental placeholders they can fill the details in later.

The past two days reading list:

The Mean Hyena by Judy Sierra
Music From the Sky by Denise Gillard
Follow the Money by Loreen Leedy
Eye Wonder Mammals by Sarah Walker
Clickety Clack by Rob and Amy Spence (a hold out hiding in our library basket from last week)
Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney
My Map Book by Sara Fanelli
A Picture Book of Martin Lutehr King Jr
Marsupial Sue by John Lithgow
Young Mozart by Rachael Isadora

My Mother is Mine by Marion Dane Bauer
Is Your Mama a Llama by Deborah Guarino
Malls the Sound of M by Cynthia Klingel
Mona Lisa by Letizia Galli
From Metal to Music by Wendy Davis
Market Day by Lois Elhert
Mabel Dancing by Amy Hest
If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff


November 10, 2003

Moving into M week... Another post lost because I was logged in too long. So I will recap briefly - we choose the letter M this week after all the questions that came from the lunar eclipse viewing of the weekend. The moon will be one of our topics for the week. I have maxed out my library cards holds and checked out another 30 books or so today. I love the library. We are trying for one storybook and one non-fiction book on a wide variety of subjects related to M. I also went heavier on the storybooks this week as the kids enjoy them much more than the non-fiction. Though you will still see them peppered throughout.

Today we focused on the arts. We spent quite a bit of time on music - singing songs from "My Little House Songbook" and memorizing Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes to recite. We also had a very fun and long singing of Old MacDonald that was memorable. The kids also spent a good amount of time in make-believe land. Rhia spent time with the puppets at the library: having tea, selling them at a pet store, being a vet and letting them all sleep under the chairs. Ciaran made meals for us with the wooden play food, his favorite was the tempeh tofu sandwich with special cheese (aka dairy free) he made me.

Our reads from the day were:

Moses in the Bulrushes by Mary Auld
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Once a mouse by Marcia Brown
My Little House Songbook by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Manners by Aliki
Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Glen Rounds
All the Mamas by Carol Shough

I don't usually comment on the books we read but today we had several good ones that fit together so nicely unplanned. I highly recommend Miss Rumphius - it is a beautiful story about how important and simple it is to make the world a more beautiful place. I also really enjoyed All the Mamas - a nice illustration of the generations of women and their relationships with their daughters and how we are all basically the same despite our differences. This would also be great to use when trying to teach lineage. Finally the Little House Songbook is a nice compilation of several classic and short songs I remember singing as a child and I want to pass on to my children and grandchildren.

Completely unplanned these books worked well together to teach about generations, lineage, and our heritage. They show common values and the importance of family, history and our country I believe. I honestly don't think I could have planned it better. Another blessing of a great homeschooling day.

Peace,
Tenn
Fun New Blog... A big Welcome to River's Edge Urban Academy. This new blogger is a working mom who is also homeschooling. An inspiration to us all that you can do both if you have too!

Peace,
Tenn
Off to the library again... Well we are headed off to the library this morning to of course pick up our numerous books from reserve. Yesterday was daddy pick day. After church we headed over to the dreaded (oh I'm sorry fun-filled) Mall of America. Actually even though I complain I am learning to enjoy those special family times. We don't actually shop at MOA, rather we use it as an indoor track and place to people watch. We had a good time. We stopped at a big store on the way home to pick up some items we needed and then had an early to bed and read all night long kind of night. Serona finished his book and I am nearing completion of "Seventh Son".

Well I've got to round up our books and head out the door - hope you have a great day.

Peace,
Tenn

November 8, 2003

More C books... This weekend we have continued reading along our C theme. Here are the latest reads:

The Circulatory System by Darlene Stille
Cicadas by Ann Squire
Cows by Rachael Bell
A Ticket to Costa Rica by Tracey West
China: Picture a country by Henry Pluckrose
The Cat in the Hat by Dr Suess
Curious George Goes to a Chocolate Factory
Curious George Goes Camping by Margret & H.A. Rey
The Cabin: The Sound of "C" by Cynthia Klingel
Canada by Elaine Landau
Fun with Color by Maria Gordon
Cars & Trucks by Karen Rissing

Current Mommy Reads... I have been saddened by the loss of my books and have had to limit my reading so the house does not appear so cluttered with books - another reason I can't wait to sell our home. So these days I have cut down my usual lengthy list to just a few ongoing reads.

Spiritual - besides my Women's Devotional Bible I am also still working through "A woman after God's own heart" by Elizabeth George

Homeschooling - "The Charlotte Mason Companion" by Karen Andreola and the Sonlight website.

Parenting - Current issue of Mothering magazine

Intellectual - sadly I am limiting myself to web sources - but I am enjoying Mental Multivitamin and my usual news sources and of course blogs that I read

Breastfeeding - Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hillary Flower

Fiction - Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card

On my to read next list

Can of Peas by Traci DePree
Shepherd's Abiding by Jan Karon
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Deliberate Dumbing Down of America: A Chronological Paper Trail by Charlotte Thomson-Iserbyt
The Giver by Lois Lowry

Ah life is full of so many books and so little time,
Tenn
A Minnesota Saturday... We had a fun family day here in chilly Minnesota. The temperature was somewhere in the 20's I think and it felt that way let me tell you. But we bundled everyone up and headed to a park with a big playground the kids climbed on, a nice BIG hill they ran up (they are napping hard now), and a small lake that had a thin coat of ice on it. The kids skated stones across the water with Serona and Sirah cuddled close to me in the sling - she was zipped up inside my coat in addition to her own clothing and coat. It was a very fun time - then we headed over to a Caribou Coffee and bagel shop. The kids got steamed soy milk with vanilla and Serona and I got "grown-up" drinks, we got bagels with hummus and cream cheese and settled into the couches. The kids played with a very nice wood block set while Serona and I talked and then he assisted them in building an awesome castle while I sat back and watched. Then it was home for naps (ah still going on).

Our Aussie is off to be groomed and we are just relaxing here with some tea and vegan chocolate chip cookies. I finished my lesson planning for the upcoming book while Serona worked on his current Terry Goodkind read "Faith of the Fallen." Tonight we are considering heading to an observatory for a viewing of the eclipse - but need to decide how cold we really want to get as this is an outdoor event. If not we will stay home and enjoy a warm evening spent playing games and reading.

This morning I had some special time with Ciaran just spent building cabins with our Lincoln Logs and playing with our cars on our village mat. It was nice to just lay around and play with him and be silly together while Serona and Rhia headed off to Irish step dance. I do enjoy playing with him so much and he always makes me smile. Even the other day when he emptied all our bookshelves into our closet because his toys were cold in the snow and the closet was a warm car they needed to be in. He really has a wonderful imagination and quite a stubborn streak in him. But fun all the same.

Peace,
Tenn
Trouble at the Library... Well I have maxed out my amount of library book holds at 50! That is not to mention the 38 books I have checked out right now and the 30 something I returned today. I know my library use may seem excessive - but we do go through them and that is what it is there for right? I suppose it is good that they have a limit. Of course I just started putting things on my "wish list" which will transfer to my hold list once I pick a few more books up tomorrow. I must admit I love our online library system - I don't think our library use would be quite as high without it - but it is so easy to browse and click from home and then pick them up all in one pile and need to only check them out. I feel better this time most of my books have call numbers - the children's storybooks only have the last name of the author and book title and the librarian needs to thumb through all the books by that letter until s/he finds it. But it is the system they designed and the system I will use.

Peace,
Tenn

November 7, 2003

I Hope You Dance... I love this song! I love this philosophy of life and I have to live it. I just wrote a long post about this and lost it because I was logged in too long. I honestly don't have the time to write much more as our day will begin here shortly. So I will recap. My life recently has been more like that of the "grouchy ladybug" that a woman filled with wonder and dance. I have let the busyness of my days steal my joy from myself and my family. Instead of laughing and playing with my children I am short with them and even yell. I am so focused on getting the task at hand accomplished that I lose my sense of wonder and forget to smile and laugh.

There are many things in life that truly need to get done and many things we want to get done and we can and should do these things. The thing that I had forgotten is to do them with a smile and to remember why we are doing them. My kids need to see me laugh, smile and dance. They need to know that there is JOY in my life and even in my work. They need me to take time to simply BE with them and ENJOY them. They need to not feel as if they are continually competing for my attention (as I believe they have felt recently) and they need to know that life is WONDERFUL. They are not going to learn this from a "grouchy ladybug" mommy.

So I needed an attitude adjustment and this morning's quiet time has given me just that. I WILL Dance with my children today. I WILL LAUGH with my children today. I WILL HUG my children today. I WILL tell my children that I LOVE them. I will SHOW my children I WANT to BE with them today. I will let my children SEE the JOY in my life in all I do. Today we will foster that sense of WONDER and we will be PASSIONATE about life. Today will be FUN in all we do.

So my dear friends I HOPE YOU DANCE in your life as well and remember what is truly important and pass those lessons on to your children in the best way they understand - BY EXAMPLE.

Peace and JOY,
Tenn