May 27, 2004

Raising Butterflies - The kids view

We have been raising butterflies for a few weeks now and are getting ready to release them - the kids have thoroughly enjoyed the entire process. Rhiannon would like to dictate a bit for me to write now:

"I like butterflies. They are my favorite in the whole world. I am raising some today. I decided I really really wanted butterflies to raise and now I am raising them with my whole family. I will let them free today if it does not rain today, maybe. I knew I would like butterflies. I just love them.

Well we had caterpillars - one did not budge - dad thought it was dead - but it was just poop. Then they were cocoons for a whole year I think but mommy says it was just a few days. Then they nibbled a hole and became butterflies. We put them in a big box as soon as they were chrysalis, dad did. Then one hatched and we went out and when we came home they were all hatched. I don't know I like them. What is it about butterflies? I don't know. It just gives me a love inside of me.

I love my Father in heaven - he created these I know it must be true. These painted ladies I love them they are so pretty. I got these for my fourth birthday. I will love them for all my life."

Ciaran had the following to say about butterflies:

"I love this butterflies and the pictures. I love them in the box. I love them in the TV. I love them in the glue. We raised butterflies - we checked in the mail and they were there. The caterpillars turned into butterflies. They were just ready. Daddy took them out and put them in the box then they become butterflies. We fed them with our imagination - we really feed them with water and oranges. Thanksgiving to butterflies."

I tried to dictate as closely as possible - Ciaran needed a little prompting. Rhiannon has a few more things to say:

"I just knew I would love butterflies for all my life. It was so happy - it gave me a sad heart and a happy heart. I had a sad heart but it made me very happy. I knew it would turn out that way. Mom and Dad, Ciaran, Sirah, our dog would know we would all get butterflies. Every day I knew I would love them. There was a loving heart who noticed me and mine and that was the butterflies. It was just love from me - everywhere I know it is true. There there there in my heart there will be a love - I love this name all there is is love. For all I say it is just in me. Thanks to God for giving me the chance to raise the butterflies. It was just my own inside of me. Praising God just like me, all the time - that would be my praise and that is true. All I say is like a bouquet. All I say is true. They are butterflies, butterflies they are, painted ladies are like me. I'll love them and take care of them. I'll never forget this it will always be just like me inside of me. I'll always remember. For all I say it's good for me. It's never stopping in my heart it will always be there. Me and the butterflies will be just the same. I hope nothing will happen to my own butterflies. There's so very pretty I knew they would become painted ladies. So I would just like to o say to my father in heaven the King - I thank you for all you've given me - the chance to raise my own butterflies. You are mine forever sake. For all the days. I thank you for every man. Thanks to God I've praised your name. Forever I will go and go to my King. Forever I will love, I will love you as love, I will know you as my father, as my king. That is why I love my God, so much that he is my God. I know that he is truly love, he has done so many good things to me, I knew it was true, truly I knew it would be. So I got it last in my heart and in my dreams and angel came to pray for me and love me forever,. I will go, go and go and have that dream thanks today I know it is true. My name is good I love my name thanks for giving the painted butterflies a name. So all I say thanks for giving me - this is all I want to say I knew you were going to be in - once I loved forever now now I love you more than ever, it is so good to have you around. For god is there I know it is true. There is one I pray I pray your name - please give me the angel dreams - of you and me thanks for you and guiding me."

May 21, 2004

A Round-Up

Been awhile since I rounded up our activities here. We have been focused on outdoor activities primarily - walks, hikes, water play, playgrounds, biking and of course playing in the yard. All of the kids love being outside - though Sirah has gotten her first sunburn already!

Sirah is growing so fast - she is crawling, standing on her own and beginning to cruise. She can climb up the staircase - though she is confused about what to do at the top. She has no fear yet and I worry she will launch herself over. She has 4 teeth and is working on a 5th. She has begun babbling and "dada" is of course her favorite. She is waving hi and imitating us. She enjoys playing peek-a-boo, ball, and blocks. We sing songs to her and she seems to enjoy the typical ones best "The Itsy Bitsy Spider", "Row, Row Your Boat", "This Little Piggy", "Twinkle, Twinkle" and the "ABC song" to name a few. The kids take turns singing to her as well. She loves eating books, scraps of paper and pea gravel, oh and did I mention she loves the dog's chew toys? Gross. She is a joy to be with, full of smiles and happiness and is so inquisitive and learning now.

Ciaran LOVES being outside and just running and playing. His shoes have been off since the snow melted I think and I've given up on the battle unless absolutely neccessary. He is a very imaginative child for his age and together with Rhiannon can spend hours at a time in their imaginary worlds (often based on books we read). He seems to have recently developed a special friendship with another little boy his age (born just a week earlier) in our homeschool group - the two of them play amazingly well together. WE have spent quite a few days at nearby parks - walking on trails and playing on the playground. He likes me to push him on the swing and to play star wars in the chute slides (they pretend it is the garbage chute) and just to run around. He likes to collect bugs (at least he has stopped picking off their wings) and loves riding his tricycle. He enjoys soccer, sliding and running and hiding inside trees. On a recent hike he picked up a stick and wanted to go fishing. I asked him what he would do with the fish he caught (we are vegetarians) and he said - let them go. He is an energetic little boy and a joy. His emotions are strong - happy and sad, joyful and mad. His language is very well developed and I love just talking with him. He refuses to potty train still but will when he is ready - he often takes off his diapers himself asking to be changed and sometimes out of the blue decides to go to the bathroom instead. He loves to bake and be a helper. His smiles are contagious and his phraseology is fun sometimes.

Rhiannon is turning into a very happy and helpful little girl. She wants to please and generally makes the right choices. She aims to make me happy and will even forgo things she wants sometimes to make things easier for me. She wants everyone to be happy (even her brother) and will often try to be the peacemaker and negotiate terms for everyone. She is very sensitive and cuddly lately and she is clearly growing as she has a "hollow leg" and even asks to take naps from time to time. Her schoolwork is going well - we are still working through Phonics Pathways and she has read all the Bob books in First and Fun series. She is able to read smoothly (without verbally sounding out) almost all phonetically spelled 3 letters words and can sound out longer words. She is working on blends and ending sounds. Her reading is going well and she has moved to reading us a story now. Her math skills are improving without any real focus or work from my end of things - she can add in her head now quite a few numbers and with her fingers or manipulatives 1-12. She is writing words and trying to spell everything (she spells it how it sounds to her) her letters are getting smaller and more controlled - though we have not started a formal handwriting program. She loves to play school and be the teacher, to draw maps and write lists - and then for us all to follow them. She loves being the leader and finds a willing audience in Ciaran - they play imaginary worlds for so many hours in a week and it is fun to listen to them and join in from time to time. She enjoys her dolls, dress-up, craft work (like making potholders) and spending time with me. She still has a passion for reading and asks to be read to all day. Immediately upon entering the car she asks to listen to our current book on tape and then quietly listens for the duration of our car time. She is often found sleeping on a stack of books she had in her bed with her. She reminded me of the woman in "The Library" by Sarah Stewart. She also loves being outside and her favorite activities are swinging (she is so happy she can pump herself) and riding her two-wheeler (she learned last summer) and I'm sure once the weather is warmer - playing in water will be added to that list.

Serona and I are doing fine. He is busy with work and new responsibilities there. I am trying to sort out the priorities in my life and learn to say no. I am becoming more and more active with our homeschool group and find other activities taking a more natural second place in my life. I am also enjoying crocheting - since learning in March I have made 5 full size afghans (including one HUGE one), 3 baby blankets and two small blankets for my kids. I am also working on another two blankets right now. Sometimes I write for my book and blog. Serona enjoys online gaming and writing his fantasy novel. We try to have a regular weekly date and our marriage is continually growing stronger - I love him so much more now than the day I married him - he makes me a better woman and is truly the other side of me.


May 20, 2004

It's All About Outside

May is probably my favorite month of the year. It is usually nice enough to be outside and comfortable in shorts during the day and a light sweatshirt at night. It is excellent bonfire weather, perfect park play weather and hiking weather. In Minnesota atleast the bugs have not hit yet and we can still enjoy the weather before the heat and the bugs. Not to mention my birthday falls in this month (I turn 30 this year) and we usually make our first camping trip of the year.

True to form we have spent nearly all day every day outside whenever possible this week. Sirah and I got our first sunburn of the season unexpectedly and we have enjoyed a variety of parks and playgrounds. We've taken hikes, walks, bike rides and even played in the lakes already (well I did not go in!). It has been so much fun and the beauty of homeschooling. We play when it is nice and work when we tire of being outside or the weather takes a turn.

I've decided to decrease our library books as I have recently realized we have not been able to read them all - I simply want them to be outside playing. As much as I love the summer sometimes it is too hot and the bugs are too much, this is the weather we never want to come inside for (except for the occasional thunderstorm or tornado warning) so I expect blogging will be sporadic in upcoming weeks.

I have gone to a Letter every two weeks as we are spending more time playing and less time on curriculum and I am slowly shifting my focus to preschool for Ciaran and supplementing for Rhiannon. Until recently we had been focused on Rhiannon and adding things for Ciaran. The approach still works nicely for both and I have more ideas and experience as I approach the alphabet for the second time around.

Hope your weather is as nice as ours and that you are enjoying it.


May 18, 2004


I am inspired by this family's decision to open their homes and their lives to a person in need. Their story shows how often we are called to help one another in unexpected ways and we ain so much more in the proccess. Read the story here.


May 17, 2004

Driving to S. Dakota

Yesterday was interesting. Serona slept in and then decided to treat the family to brunch at a local restuarant. After that we were in the car and trying to decide what to do. The conversation went something like this:

Serona: What should we do today?
Tenn: I don't know do you have anything in mind?
Serona: What do you think?
Tenn: We could drive to Wisconsin. Rhiannon said she wanted to see the "big woods" of wisconsin after reading a certain Laura Ingalls Wilder book
Serona: Well why not drive west - we've never gone to South Dakota
Tenn: Okay

So we stopped at home to pack a lunch and pick up our dog. Then for some crazy reason (actually no reason at all) we piled in the car and drove to the South Dakota border. We did not really visit anything or do much there - we just drive there. It was crazy and silly and fun (until the end of the drive home when the kids were done).

Serona drove, I sat in the passanger seat and crocheted an entire blanket for Rhiannon and we all listen to the end of Peter Pan unabridged and about half of The Hobbit unabridged. The kids were incredibly good considering we really just drove all day. We got out a few times for running - but mostly we drove as it started to ran about halfway into the drive. Our dog thought we were nuts.

We got into South Dakota and drove for a few miles and talked about how we were in a different state, then we turned around and came home! Our original plan was to eat dinner there but Sirah was asleep and we did not want to risk waking her up and the other two were content listening to the story and did not want to stop.

We arrived home a little after 9pm, had a dinner of Cheerios and headed off to bed. Serona and I looked at each other in bed and laughed and said "What were we thinking?" I still can't tell you. But it was a good time believe it or not (three kids under 5 and a long car drie) but it just convinced us we are not ready for our usual cross country trips to the east coast - those will need to wait atleast another year I think.


Family Fun

We hosted a family potluck for our homeschool community group on Saturday. It was a lot of fun! All the families got to enjoy themselves and get to know one another better. The kids ran around and managed to not destroy our home and there were plenty of laughs to go around. People survived coming to a vegetarian household for a meal and we survived people bringing several dishes that contained meat (though none was cooked here) and there was more food than we knew what to do with.

I love our community of homeschool families and know that over the years we will just grow into an even closer community. Family eents like this bond us together, I can hardly wait for our upcoming family camping trip.


May 14, 2004

Joys of Reading

Spending time reading to and with my kids is one of my favorite things to do. We make sure to do a little each day and it is good for all of us. Recently, I have found that if I am feeling very frustrated and upset that reading to my children actually helps by bringing us closer together for some snuggle time and getting lost in a good story. There are so many great children's books and I love entering the worlds of the stories together. We are currently reading Pinocchio and The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh - a chapter a day and that has been so enjoyable for us. We are listening to Peter Pan on audio book and recently finished The Trumpet of the Swan. The kids imaginary play often follows what they are reading in our stories and it is enjoyable to watch.

In addition our weekly library trips and our plethora of books here keep up filled with good children's stories. Yesterday during Ciaran and Sirah's naptime, Rhiannon and I worked on phonics and then she read me two stories while I closed my eyes and relaxed - she asked for help on a few words - it was such a neat feeling to have her reading to me. Of course we ended our time together with me reading to her again. Remember if you read just three storybooks a day by the end of the month you will have read nearly 100 books! Obviously I am talking about shorter storybooks here and not chapter books. But reading a chapter or two a day you can often work through one or two of those in a month, more if you do audio books.

I just love how reading inspires my children and truly brings out their creative sides. It also makes them more curious and helps them learn more. One of my favorite books that expresses the benefits of reading is "The Bee Tree" by Patricia Polacco. It is a fun and good read for children and it shows how the work of reading is worth the reward you receive.


May 13, 2004


A recent Star Tribune article interviewed families without TV and made some interesting discoveries. "TV-free house isn't such a remote idea" found that "Many TV-free homes contend they have healthier, more open families. Brock said her research, to be detailed in a book tentatively titled "No TV? No Big Deal," concluded that 70 percent of her subjects said they felt their marriages had improved once they threw out the set and that their kids were more likely to do better in school and be more physically fit."

Our own family experience is that TV free is better. I have been almost 12 years TV free and I will never go back. We did decide to have a set in the house for the occasional movie or video game (Serona loves his Xbox) however we do not get ANY stations - nothing more than static - we do not have bunny ears or anything. I do allow the children to watch a movie from time to time and we usually have a family movie night once a week where we watch a documentary or family favorite. However we consider ourselves TV free and I can not tell you much of anything about what is currently on television. My kids are not familiar with many of the popular characters and shows and they don't miss it.

Any of you who read my blog regularly know that we fill in our time in many other ways. Reading is a favorite pastime in our home, listening to classical music and creative play are others. Our family is close and we enjoy having the time together. I firmly believe my marriage is stronger and we have more time for each other and the kids.

I do occasionally miss the convenience of TV when the Olympics comes around and when the President gives a speech. But I can see the speech online and listen on the radio. I would recommend going TV free to anyone - it is easier than you think.

Read the article.


May 12, 2004

To be a kid again

Yesterday we met a family at a park for the day and the kids had a blast. It was nice for us mom's too - to be able to chat. But the kids had a great time - they played on the big wooden playground for a long time - had a nice snack and then went over to the water. At first it started with dipping their feet into the water and soon they were all fully in the water! I can't believe how cold they must have been - but they had a great time. The other mom said to me "Oh to be 3 year's old again" as she watched them romping and I felt the same. It was one of the moment's you want to bottle and take out on lousy days. I'm glad they had so much fun and I had a lot of fun watching them and didn't even mind the mess in the car that followed. Guess it is time to keep a bag of towels, change of clothes, bathing suits and sunblock in the trunk for those unexpected moments. Somehow I thought May was too early for this - but the kids sure did not mind the cold.


May 10, 2004

Fantastic Mother's Day

We had a great Mother's Day yesterday. It started with getting to sleep in late, a WONDERFUL treat for sleep deprived me! Then I awoke to a wonderful brunch the kids and Serona made me. It was a feast eggs, boca sausage patties, french pancakes, griddlecakes and strawberries with tea and juice. We had a nice relaxing meal together. I received many wonderful presents including 3 books, the Hobbit unabridged audio book and a homemade trivet made from the wine corks we have been saving (it is very beautiful).

Then we headed out for a day spent outdoors. We went to an arboretum and walked the trails and looked at many beautiful things. We spent hours there and the kids did well considering how much walking we did. It was pretty hot in the sun too so we found ourselves focusing on the trails that were in the shade. After we were thoroughly tired we took a drive (since the kids feels asleep immediately in the car) and that was nice - we talked, Serona drove and I was able to crochet some on my current blanket.

Then the weather started to look really ugly and we turned on the radio (we had been listening to Peter Pan unabridged audio tape) and had our suspicions confirmed - there were tornadoes nearby! We headed immediately home and into the basement where we watched "Inside the Whitehouse" documentary until the warnings were all over. Serona, Sirah and I watched (I crocheted some more) and the older kids played nearby. While documentaries usually hold their attention - this one was a little too dry for them.

We finished the evening off with a dinner of cold cereal and a cake to celebrate mother's day. The kids went to bed and Serona, Sirah and I headed to the library where Serona and I had set up our laptops to work on the books we are writing. Then we headed to bed where we both read for a little while. It was a perfect day.


May 7, 2004

Albert - Napoli, Donna Jo
Anansi the Spider - McDermott, Gerald
Annie and the Wild Animals - Brett, Jan
Apple Pie Tree, The - Hall, Zoe
Art Lesson, The - dePaola, Tomie
Astronaut Critter - Mayer, Mercer
Babushka's Doll - Polacco, Patricia
Baby's First Bible - Reader's Digest
Barnyard Banter - Fleming, Denise
Beautiful Blackbird - Bryan, Ashley
Best Friends - Kellogg, Steven
Birds: Kingfisher Young Knowledge - Davies, Nicola
Birdsong - Wood, Audrey
Blueberries for Sal - McCloskey, Robert
Boat Ride with Lillian Two Blossom - Polacco, Patricia
Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? - Carle, Eric
Click, Clack Moo Cows That Type - Cronin, Doreen
Curious George and the Puppies - Rey, H.A.
Curious George at the Parade - Rey, H.A.
Curious George Makes Pancakes - Rey, H.A.
Dance at Grandpa's - Wilder, Laura Ingalls
Day With Wilbur Robinson - Joyce, William
Do You Want to Be My Friend - Carle, Eric
Each Peach Pear Plum - Ahlberg, Janet and Allan
Elana's Ears - Lowell, Gloria
Emily is a Flower Girl - Masurel, Claire
Freefall - Weisner, David
Fruit is a Suitcase for seeds, A - Richards, Jean
God Made All The Colors - Lion Publishing
Goodnight Moon - Brown, Margaret Wise
Grandfather's Journey - Say, Allen
Harvest Home - Yolen, Jane
Hugh Can Do - Armstrong, Jennifer
I wish I were a Butterfly - Howe, James
If You Give a Pig a Pancake - Numeroff, Laura
It's Catching, Chicken Pox - Royston, Angela
Just a Dream - Allsburg, Eric Van
Kisses - Szeekers, Cyndy
Library, The - Stewart, Sarah
Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear - Wood, Audrey
Little Penguin, The - Wood, AJ
Ma Dear's Aprons - McKissack, Patricia
Marsupial Sue - Lithgow, John
Mrs Spider's Tea Party - Kirk, David
My Great Aunt Arizona - Houston, Gloria
My M Sound Box - Moncure, Jane Belk
My Mama Had a Dancing Heart - Gray, Libba
Noah's Ark - Spier, Peter
Paper Bag Princess, The - Munsch, Robert
Pickles to Pittsburgh - Barrett, Judi
Pinocchio - Littledale, Freya
Playing Poohsticks - Milne, AA
Polar Express, The - Allsburg, Chris Van
Pooh's Colorful Shapes - Walt Disney
President's Day - Ditchfield, Christin
Puddle, The - McPhail, David
Puffer - Pillinger, Ian
Pumpkin Soup - Cooper, Helen
Pumpkins - Giesecke, Ernestine
Pythons - Patton, Don
Snow - Mckie, Roy
Splish Splash Animal Baths - Sayre, April
Story About Ping, The - Flack, Marjorie
Tale of Peter Rabbit, The - Potter, Beatrix
Talking Cloth, The - Mitchell, Rhonda
Teeny Tiny Tingly Tales - VanLoan, Nancy
The Goose Girl - Kimmel, Eric
Toot and Puddle - Hobbie, Holly
Touch and Feel Kitten - DK Publishing
Winnie-The-Pooh - Milne, A.A
Winter Days in the Big Woods - Wilder, Laura Ingalls
Yellow and Pink - Steig, William

Last updated May 7, 2004

May 5, 2004

Reading Lists

I have been creating reading lists for our family - both what we have read and would like to read. I put together a binder with lists of recommended children's books and highlighted the ones we have read (quite a few) - I will bring this to the library with me when choosing our books. Much of this material is free online but I wanted it in a more portable format.

I have also created a spreadsheet of all the children's books we have read so far (started recording in November of 2003). Serona recommended I try to keep them in Excel and it was a great recommendation. Our list is around 600 books (not including all the times we reread favorite books) so far and will just continue to grow. Using Excel allows me to keep track of lots of information about each book. Some records in my database for each book: name, author, which child has read it, whether it is a family favorite, must read, never read again, great reference, content/ subject and whether I would recommend it or not. Excel allows me to sort by any of those features or several at a time. Allowing me to see books by author, title, subject, favorites and so on.

Serona has made fun of me about how excited I am for a spreadsheet! But it truly is a wonderful resource for me and makes record-keeping easy and helps with mommy brain (which Charlotte Zoltow book did we HAVE to read?, Who wrote that book? and so). I also intend to pass this on to my children when they grow older. I can still recall the joy I had the first time I read "The Little House" by Virginia Lee Burton to my kids and recalled loving it as a child myself. I know I want my grandchildren to read "Miss Rumphius" by Barbara Cooney and I hope my children will want to share some of their favorites with their kids and grandkids.

Anyway the time invested is worth it to me already - not to mention for years to come!


Rhiannon's menu

Recently we have been enjoying the outdoors we have spent so much time outside walking, biking, hiking and just playing. We have enjoyed a nearby pond, several playgrounds, a bog, some nature trails and bike trails and just our own backyard. I love this weather, especially before th bugs come and try to take advantage of it.

Rhiannon surprised us this weekend with a menu she wrote herself without any prompting our help. She decided on the items and then wrote them phoentically. Here is her menu with the correct spelling next to it

Tofoo Tofu
Citan Seitan
Grapfroot Grapefruit
Creul Cereal

I must admit to being very surprised and proud of her. It has been hanging on our fridge and I think that will make her "portfolio" as it is something I want to look back on and show her what she could do at 4.

In other things we have started P week at Ciaran's request - as he wanted to study Pooh Bear. So far we hiked at a nature preserve/park, had a picnic, visited playgrounds, put on a puppet show, played with play dough, visited a pond, pretend playing, watched Pollyanna, and made pancakes. Of course we have been reading and made two library visits.