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.


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.

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.


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.

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."

"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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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!

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.


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.

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.


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!

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.

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!

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!

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

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.

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!

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!

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.

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!

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.


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,
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.

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.


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,

November 6, 2003

Reading Our Way Through "c" week... Well with all the other events of this week - it seems I have little energy to do much more than read to the kids on the themes of the week. We have done some hands-on experiments including making homeade crystals. As I type this the kids are playing with their cars on their car roll-out village mat and having a good time using their imagination. We just spent an hour reading on different subjects related to our theme of "C' - today we traveled to the circus, rode on a Conestoga wagon, counted dinosaurs and visited long ago and far away castles. On the way to pick up Serona from the airport (he has been in Cincinnati all week) we will catch up on the adventures of our favorite clownfish "Nemo" on a read-along CD. We also made the kids their own calendars as we talked about the concept of time as it relates to calendars. Tonight we intend to make our own log cabin with our Lincoln Logs and perhaps let the kids "camp out" in a tent.

Even if we don't do much true "schoolwork" - I would say that reading as many books as we do that we are definitely learning as we go through our days. We also point out C wherever we go and keep our active word list. It is truly amazing how many things are interrelated once you start looking. I find the "C" in almost everything we do by being creative and when I miss it the kids are usually able to point it out. Sometimes this creativity brings the joy and simplicity back into our lives as well.

Well here is the reading list so far for today:

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 (Covered wagons)

I am also excited for tomorrow's character lessons. I plan to use "Quick as a Cricket" as my main lesson plan and talk about all the different character traits in the book and how our characteristics make us up. It is a favorite book in our house and I think the lesson will go well.

Reclaim Your Brain... Hop on over to CyberEcology to read my recent writeup on the article "Reclaim Your Brain" which discusses the glut of information we have and how we do or do not process it. My post discusses knowledge "specialist" and "generalists" and some ideas on how to manage all the information that comes your way.


November 5, 2003

The C's of today... Well we are in the middle of "C" week and today feels like a waste of a day. It was spent mostly preparing for a house showing this evening. I feel like I spent much of the day short and focused on a clean house and not healthy and happy children. Yet we had an alright day, the kids got to go to the mall and play on a n indoor park and then we went out to lunch (Mexican) and headed home for naps. After naps we had to head straight out again for the showing was over dinnertime - we headed out for Italian (two meals out in one day - VERY rare for us) and then off to the library. We came home and got ready for bed and spent about an hour and a half cuddled up in bed all of us just reading books. So today we worked on cleaning, cuddling and closeness, we also talked quite a bit about clouds. The books we read that related to C are:

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

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

Hope you had a great day. I look forward to tomorrow as we will be doing several experiments on crystals, color and caves.

It's All About Love... Here is a great article written from the heart of a homeschooling mother. I am sure we can all relate and can take her words of wisdom to heart. I know they were an excellent reminder to me during a very stressful week - when it seems all I am doing is running from here to there and trying to please everyone - and in reality - my voice is louder, shriller and not sounding so full of love. Her wisdom will stick with me today. From her article:

"It was time for confession and then a simple prayer each and every day that everything I do, I could do with love. Every time I served, I wanted a servants heart glad for the opportunity to act in charity towards the precious children I so dearly love. Mothers have so many, many chances to do for the least of our brothers. We have so many ways to love. But we miss them. We do our duty; we get the job done and we think we are doing well. But we neglect to smile or to sing while we do it. We neglect to stoop down to the level of the child and to speak in a soft voice. We neglect to take the time in the car as the great gift it is and to strike up meaningful, loving conversation with the teenager. We get it done, but we don't love while we are doing it.

Life becomes a list of chores to check off instead of an opportunity for relationships to grow. Meals are fed to stop the growling in a child's stomach instead of served to nourish both body and soul. We need to pause, to pray and to truly offer it to our Lord. Everything we do, all day, everyday, we can do with love, blessing it and bringing joy to it. It's a matter of attitude and the invocation of the Holy Spirit.

It's not all about me. And it never should be. It's all about love. And that's really all that matters, now and in eternity."

Read the whole article to lift your spirits.

A fun blog... Check out Mental Multivitamin a fun blog I just discovered via Me and the Boys. Both will be added to the blogroll.

Two posts to check out are Just Borrowing and It's All in the Delivery (warning this one eludes to foul language - it is a criticism of it - but I warned you). I enjoy this blogger, and not just because s/he encourages us not to eat fast food.

Getting to Know Me...

For Fun - from Mojo

A: Actor.
Tom Hanks

B: Boyhood Idols. (How about a girlhood idol?)
my grandmother

C: Chore You Hate.
cleaning the oven and bathtub

D: Dad's Name.

E: Essential Video In Collection.
Star Wars (without it Serona would be crazy) and The Music Man

F: Favorite Actress.
Meg Ryan. (and yes i like their films together)

G: Gold or Silver.
silver (except for my wedding ring)

H: Hometown.
currently Twin Cities - originally somewhere in NY

I: Instruments Played.

J: Job Title.

K: Kids.
Two girls and a boy

L: Living Arrangements.
2 bedroom in the burbs with Serona, kids and our faithful Aussie

M: Mom's Name.

N:Number of hours of sleep you got last night

O: Overnight Hospital Stays.
5 - including 3 deliveries - plus two more for my kids

P: Phobia.
None - but I REALLY don't like heights

Q: Quote You Like.
"Why be the same thing to everyone when you can be everything to just one person"

R: Religious Affiliation.

Non-denominational Christian

S: Siblings.
Three brothers

T: Time You Wake Up.
between 6:30 and 7

U: Unique Habit.

I cannot sleep with the sheets tucked in - my feet need to breathe

V: Vegetable You Refuse To Eat.
None I can Think of - but my fruit would be banana

W: Worst Habit.

According to Serona - forgetting to throw away the little tab from our soy milk containers (I constantly leave them on the counter)

X: X-rays Taken.
Many bones when I was younger

Y: Yummy Food You Make.

Baked Seitan
Lentil Soup
Vegan Pizza

Z: Zodiac Sign.
Don't believe in it or pay attention
Continuing with C... Well today we moved along with the letter C. We ran errands in the morning and then after naps we spent quite a bit of time on Enchanted Learning's Little Explorer Dictionary for the letter C. We continued our word list and then spent the early evening reading several library books. Some of our favorite subjects covered so far this week are crystals (we are going to grow some tommorrow), caves (we agreed to build a cave to spelunk and hibernate in) and constellations (I wish it were warmer to take them outside to watch them - perhaps we will have a field trip at the end of the week to the planetarium) and chocolate chips. All in all it was a fun day (until bedtime) and we learned alot.

Today we read the following C themed books:

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
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Here is our C list so far:

Actions: Choose, Clap, Clean,

Animals: Caiman, Calf, Cow, Camarasaurus, Camel, Canadian Goose, Canary, Capybara, Cardinal, Caribou, Carnotaurus, Cassowary, Caterpillar, Cat, Centipede, Centrosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Chameleon, Cheetah, Chick, Chicken, Chihuahua,
Chimpanzee, Chinchilla, Chimpunk, Clam, Clownfish, Coyote, Crocodile, Crab,

Bible Stories: Creation,

Body Parts: Cheek, Chin,

Clothes: Cap, Cape, coat, crown,

Flowers: California Poppy, Carnation

Food: Cake, Candy, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Cheese, Cherries, Chocolate, Crackers, Coffee, cucumber, cereal,

Household Items: Cabin, Camera, Cane, Card, Carpet, Carton, Chimney, Chopsticks, Clock, Clothespin, camera, curtain, cup, comb, calendar,

Instruments: Cello, Clarinet, cymbals,

Math: Cent, Centimeter, Center, Century, Change, Check, Chart, Circle, Closed, Counting,

Names: Clifford, Claudia, Ciaran, Carlo,

People: George Washington Carver, Champion, Chef, Children, Clown, cowboy,

Places: California, Canada, Castle, China, Church, Circus, City, Country,

Science and Nature: Cactus, Canyon, Cave, Cape, Carnivore, Cell, Centigrade, Chrysalis, Claw, Cliff, Clones, Cloud, Crystals, Constellations, Cassiopeia, Color, cocoon,

Social Skills: Caring,

Tools: Chisel,

Toys: Cards, Checkers,

Transportation: Cab, Car, Camper, Canoe, Caravel, Cart,

Objects: Cage, Chain, Chair,

School Items: Calculator, Chalkboard, Clay, Crayons, chalk,

Miscellaneous: Can, Candle, Cast, Cavity, Clever, costume, cold, cactus,

November 4, 2003

Mommy how do you make chocolate chips?... Wanting to give the offhanded comment - chocolate is processed and put into a bag and shipped to the store - I resisted and Rhia asked me "Could You Please Look It Up Right Now?" How am I to say no? So while the kids finished their dinner of cake and cookies (I'm not kidding - it was potato and broccoli cakes and chocolate chip cookies) I headed to the "answer box" to find out more details. The answer was not as easy to find as I hoped. What I came up with was a few information pages on chocolate and its' history, trivia pages with quotes and little known facts and a TON of chocolate chip cookie recipes.

The best resources are as follows. For a nice overview of the process of making chocolate I like What Is Chocolate, Anyway? . It was easy to adapt this for my children's ages as I read. For a fun story about the origin of the chocolate chip cookie I like Food reference Website. For a coloring page we used C is for Cookie and If you give a mouse a cookie. And of course our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (easily made vegan) can be found at Whole Foods 365 Cookie Recipe and Ingredients.

Have fun I know we did, we are off to read "If you Give a Mouse a Cookie" by Laura Numeroff (again).

Cool New Resource... My area support group eloop just sent me this great link for printing out worksheets, flashcards, posters. quizzes and all sorts of neat things. They have many pre-made lists and you can easily customize your own. Check out Personal Educational Press. This link is for their government pages, but they have premade Science, Geography, Writing and Reading as well. Definately worth a click.

It's Official No Sense Denying It Any Longer... Well it is true there is officially snow on the ground and my denial needs to end. I need to face the facts and head out to the store and pick up the winter boots and snow pants we need for the season. I already have the hat, mittens and coat knowing and accepting that the weather was getting "chillier" but today there is no hiding from the fact that the snow has fallen and will continue to fall.

Each year I struggle with my denial that the snow really does start here in November and each year I am caught unprepared when I truly should have been. The reason? I don't want it to snow yet, I LOVE fall and hate to see it pass and the first snowfall always is the rude reality check for me that autumn has passed and we are headed into winter.

Serona loves to listen to a Prairie Home Companion, I do not. However, one episode sticks out in my memory where Garrison Keiler talks about what it is like when winter settles in here in Minnesota (no I don't live in Lake Wobegon) and that is what I think of when the first snow falls. It's not that I hate snow, I don't. It's not that I mind the cold, I don't. It is truly letting go of cool fall nights jeans and a sweater weather and bringing out the parka, mittens and layers of clothes.

Last year I tried explaining how much harder life is with small children during the winter. To which Serona promptly gave the absolute wrong reply - "It's just another layer." While logically he is completely right any mother of small children can relate to me and how I felt at that compassionate response. Don't get me wrong Serona truly is a compassionate and empathetic man - he just truly did not understand. Perhaps I exaggerate because I miss fall - or perhaps the reality of a bouncing off the wall two year old and the feeling of cooped up children comes slamming me back in the face and I want to run and hide under the nearest blanket in front of the fireplace.

But we don't hide, we embrace winter and soon will be enjoying it. Sometimes I just wish it could wait until the middle of December - or atleast Thanksgiving. There is something special about a White Christmas I will grant you - but must there always be a White Thanksgiving and sometimes a White Easter?

Still even as I complain, I would not trade even a snowy November for another hot Georgia August (oh wait I mean May-September) for anything. Sometimes I miss the temperate climate of the Northeast - where it truly felt like four seasons. But then I hop online and realize that I could afford to live in a shoebox in a neighborhood I would not feel safe in and then I am thankful for the snow outside and the warm house we have inside.

So tomorrow we will make an attic run and bring down the sweaters, mittens, and my favorite - flannel sheets that make you want to crawl into bed at 4pm and never get up in the morning. I will be thankful for the new carpet we put down when my feet are warmer than on the hardwood floors I miss. And I will snuggle up on the couch with my three beautiful children and bury ourselves in pillows and curl up and read books all day - while I bake an apple pie in the oven. It's too bad this isn't "B" week we could make a cave and hibernate in it. Oh wait - we can make a "cave" and continue the lesson we started tonight about caves and spelunking.

It's moments like these that I am truly glad we homeschool - noone needs to leave our house tomorrow - or even all week if we don't want to. We can just enjoy the warmth of our home and watch the snow fly outside the window - perhaps we will bundle up and play outside and come in for some hot apple cider or cocoa. Or perhaps we will just stay inside and give ourselves time to come to terms with the reality of a Minnesota November.


November 3, 2003

Start of C week... Well we are getting back on track with curriculum this week. We are starting "C" week. Today we focused on the language arts aspects, the sounds of C - utilizing the "c" sound box book by Jane Moncure. We began to keep our word list and all our reading books today had something to do with the letter C.

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

I have even let the children watch some videos today as I needed to get on top of our finances and catch up with bills and filing. They got to watch Cinderella 2 and Homeward Bound (for the cat) - needless to say they were excited. I can't say the same for myself - balancing a checkbook and fighting with insurance companies are not at the top of my list. Sirah has slept most of the day (which means she will be up most of the night) and I feel like I have wasted the day away (though it was necessary and important) to bills and phone calls.

For mathmatics we simply worked on counting by ones and tens. And of course the ever important "cleaning" lessons - that fill our days as our house is on the market. I am "cooking" dinner now - the kids choice - pasta with butter and veggies. Not the healthiest but they did have tofu, potatoes and squash for lunch so I'll be a little lenient with dinner. I'll add in some soy milk for protein and it will be easy to get them to eat.

We are also working on our Bible verse, Colossians 3:20 "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord." Rhia can now recite 4 verses and is always eager to learn the next one. I really enjoy the resource "My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God's Word in Little Hearts" by Susan Hunt - illustrated by Yvette Santiago Banek. The kids really like stories and it was nice to have the verses picked out - one for each letter of the alphabet - which of course works nicely with our homeschool planning.

Well off for dinner - just dropping a quick update.

Weekend Activities... We had a great weekend here - though it was busy and at times stressful we still managed to enjoy it and spend some good quality family time together. Friday morning we went to our homeschool party - Rhia was Queen Amidala, Ciaran was Bob the Builder and I wore Serona's handmade Jedi costume (the kids were quite disappointed that my lightsaber, which looked real, did not actually light up), Sirah just went. That night we went to our neighborhood party in different attire. Rhiannon was Aurora from Sleeping Beauty (Serona brought this beautiful costume home from DisneyWorld), Ciaran was a bob the builder jester (trading in his hardhat for a fun jester's cap Serona also brought home from DW), I put on my Tenniel Djo costume (also hand made by Serona) and Serona adorned his Jedi getup. Sirah got sick and I stayed home, but the rest of the family had a good time.

Saturday was dance class, dr's appointments and the Children's museum. While I must admit to being less than impressed with many of the museums of the Twin Cities (I believe growing up in NY and then college near Chicago has set my standards quite high) I do find the children's museum to be good fun and entertaining for the kids. Serona walked the museum with Ciaran while I followed Rhiannon around with Sirah in the sling. Both children were most entertained by this simple construction zone activity - placing blocks on conveyor belts. It was manual labor and they both (independently) spent ALOT of time here. Made me wish I could create a conveyor belt at home to get them that interested in working and cleaning up the house! They also enjoyed the water exhibit, Rhia had her hair dyed in rainbow colors and made a craft in the "invention" room, while Ciaran enjoyed the natural habitat exhibit and storytime with Serona. All in all it was a good way to spend the afternoon and as an added bonus for us it was free!

Saturday night was spent catching up and cleaning the house in order to get it back into shape for showings (still on the market - but we are hopeful and know God is faithful) and I actually went to bed early as Sirah is still sick and needed a chest to lie on for sleeping. Today was church, errands, and some family time at the mall this evening. We went to the library and I stocked up on "C" books for the upcoming week. We found a great Mexican restaurant that served healthy, delicious and reasonably priced food. We spent the evening at a mall, letting the kids run out some energy in the indoor park and walking through the mall and picking up our pictures from Serona's recent trip to Disney World. Then as a nightcap we headed over to the bookstore and spent the time in the children's section reading a variety of books to the kids and watching them roam the section and read books themselves as well. I love the fact that my kids love bookstores and the library. Ciaran also tried to play with the train display - but sadly some older boys were there and would not let him play. He ended up taking some trains and sitting on the floor with them. I offered to help but he seemed content on the floor and didn't want to cause problems where there weren't any.

All in all we had a great weekend and just enjoyed some family down time. I especially enjoyed having some time to work with Ciaran on flashcards he enjoys while Serona helped Rhiannon practice writing her letters - she was really struggling with writing lower case e, but he helped her realize she could do it. Everyone seems ready to face the week ahead. We will be centering our activities from this week around the letter C - hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy living it out!


November 2, 2003

Discriminating against illustrators... Keeping track of our recent reads has made me realize how often I leave out the information about illustrators. When I write the list of our reads I always include the author but never the illustrator - even when it is favorite illustrators like Eric Carle and Audrey Wood. Why is this I wonder? Even when I am reading the book to my children I have to consciously remind myself to include the illustrator's byline. This is pretty terrible of me as often it is the illustrations that make or break a children's book. Often we decide to read or purchase a book simply based on the illustrations and some of our favorite books are because of the illustrations (Audrey Wood, Eric Carle and Chris Van Allsburg to name a few) yet why do I always find myself only giving credit to the writer? I need to be better about this. I recently began emphasizing the illustrators to Rhia and make her repeat back to me what the illustrator does. Perhaps it is the left brained focus of my mind to only credit the writer.