September 30, 2004

MN Zoo and the Presidential Debates

We spent majority of the day at the zoo with our homeschool support group and had a nice day there. Ciaran's favorite animals were the fire-bellied toad and green tree frog (I am sure you are as surprised as I am) he also stopped to look at the pictures and photos of other frogs - letting me know which were poisonous.

Rhiannon's favorite were the tigers, especially the babies. She enjoyed seeing them and climbing through their cave. She also really enjoyed the wolves. They came right up to the glass this time. Sirah was very good and seemed to just enjoy being there - she did really well in the stroller (unusual for her) and even took a brief nap.

We had finished schoolwork in the morning before we headed out for the zoo. We got math, phonics, read alouds and copywork done in the morning. We listened to Charlotte's Web unabridged in the car on the ride. We talked about various animals and their habitats and such at the zoo and kept pointing out the C animals we saw (caribou, camel, cats (mir, tigers) and a few others. We actually saw majority of the zoo but missed the dolphin and bird shows which they often enjoy going to.

I took the three kids out to dinner at an Italian restaurant between the zoo and the presidential debates. As we do not have television (even network) we went to a friends house to watch the debates. I had Rhiannon watch part of the debates but as the focus was on Iraq, Terrorism and Foreign Policy a lot of it went over her head and we decided early on that she did not need to watch the whole thing.

Serona and I enjoyed watching it and the friends we watched with are active Democrats - Serona and I are active Republicans it was very civil and enjoyable. The debates were not likely to affect any of our votes but we enjoyed watching them all together.
You can read our live blog at Cyber::Ecology Serona's blog where I spout off from time to time as well.


Rhiannon's Narration

The Lion and the Mouse (her narration)

One day a lion was napping in his den that day a mouse accidentally ran over his tail. The lion roared in distress. The lion let the mouse go because the mouse was going to help him someday. Then one day weeks later two hunters tried to trap the lion, they put down a big net across two trees. The lion was hunting for food he stepped right into the trap, he got caught right in the trap. The more he pushed and pushed on the net on his back the more it wrapped around him. The lion at last could not get out so he laid back his mane and roared with distress. Roar. The mouse heard the roar from far away and as fast as she could came running she nibbled with her little teeth as she nibbled the net began to grow looser. Finally the lion was set free. A small one can help someone who is really big.

She did an excellent and very detailed narration of this fable. The exercise called for me to prompt her with questions and for a few sentences - instead I asked her to describe the story in her own words and I would just occasionally say "and then what" the above is her words - I did not add or encourage any of it. She was able to narrate the main parts of the story with some specific details as well. She even threw in some added details "Then one day weeks later two hunters tried to trap the lion, they put down a big net across two trees." I reread her the story and showed her that it was not in the story and she said that is how she imagined it and then I reminded her that when we narrated we just covered the story itself and she said
"I thought the story would be even better than the real story if I added some detail in it."

I was very proud of her she seems to have taken to narration and enjoys it. I believe I will need to work with her to summarize more as she likes to include lots of details and apparently add some that she thinks will make it better. But for her age I am very excited at how well she did. I will have her copy the moral for copywork today.


September 29, 2004

Rhiannon's Words

I would like to say I woke up and I did schoolwork right away. I got much more playful time. I want to tell you for all I did phonics more easier and quicker today. I did two pages. Tomorrow I am going to make a book. I did subtraction. I want to tell you we played circus, atleast we tried to. Now I want to tell you that I love you and I miss you. I've gotten used to phonics, phonics is fun. I can read five letter words now. I am able to read. I can write and read and now I am typing this by myself - mom helped spell and capitals. The end.

C Day

Today we reviewed B week by emptying out our B box and taking down our B board and we began C week with reading My "C" Sound Box by Jane Belk Moncure and starting our C box. We had to stop collecting C items as the box filled up quickly with a wide assortment of items including: camel, caterpillar, chimpanzees, caribou, clownfish, chewbacca, cucumber, carrot (larry and laura from VT as well), cat in the hat, cats, crocodile, cups, cutting board, crayon, coin, car, conastoga wagon, child, circle, care bear and others. We also put together our C board for the week

Letter: C
Theme: cars
Color: Orange
Bible: Creation
Number: 2
Shape: Circle
Vocab Word: Computer

Rhiannon chose to get her work done early this morning doing math, phonics, copywork and read alouds early on so she was able to play outside from 10am until lunch - I think it inspired her to work more efficiently. I've been letting her test out working all at once and getting it done quickly or doing one subject then taking a break and so on. I think today she really saw the value of getting her work done early and all the benefits it provides.

For geography today we printed out a book aboutThe Seven Continents from Enchanted Learning. I agreed that she could just cut them out today and we would write them tomorrow for copywork. She also colored in a stained glass picture of camels and spent quiet time in the library looking at a Mary Cassat book.

The kids played on the computer for C week, watched a movie on the Grand Canyon and we made cookies and cleaned the house. We spent most of the time Sirah slept reading as she is starting to object to us reading when she wants to play.

I got some special playtime in with her - playing ball, puzzles and dancing. She will also come over with a book and sit on your lap and want you to read for a page or two until she loses patience. This morning she took Serona by the hand and led him down the stairs and then pulled out a book and went to sit on his lap to have him read to her - it was a very precious moment.


Loving the Mothers We Are

This post is very worth the read. It serves as an excellent reminder to us all that we have unique strengths and weaknesses and need to love ourselves for who we are. I try to reread it every once in awhile. A recent comment on my site made me reread it again and realize how much this blog entry has inspired and influenced me.


A true leader

A true leader is someone who leads even and more importantly when noone is watching. A leader is a leader to each and every person as well as to the collective s/he serves. George Bush has been an excellent leader and this is just another example of how that will never make the nightly news.


September Reading

Playing Pooksticks - Milne, AA
Curious George and the Dinosaur - Rey HA and Margaret
Touch and Feel Wild Animals - DK publishing
Princess and the Froggie, The - Zemach, Harve and Kaethe
Pet, A: The Sounds of P - Flanagan, Alice
Astronaut - Mayer, Mercer
Counting Kisses - Katz, Karen
Big Old Bones: A Dinosaur Tale - Carrick, Carol
Abiyoyo - Seeger, Pete
Johnny Appleseed - Swain, Gwenyth

What is an Athlete - Lehn, Barbara
Very Hungry Caterpillar, The - Carle, Eric
Frogs, Toads and Turtles - Burns, Diane
How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World - Priceman, Marjorie
Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock - Kimmel, eric
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Viorst, Judith
Amigo - Baylor, Byrd
Curious George Goes to the Aquarium - Rey, HA and Margaret
Aurora Means Dawn - Sanders Scott Russell
Curious George Feeds the Animals - Rey, HA and Margaret

Anakin to the Rescue - Venn Cecilia
Albert - Napoli, Donna
Snow Angel - Marzollo, Jean
You Can't Take a Ballon into the National Gallery - Weitzman, Jaqueline
Animals Should Definately not wear Clothing - Barrett, Judi
Sip of Aesop, A - Yolen,Jane
Babushka's Doll - Polacco, Patricia
Ten Little Ladybugs - Gerth, Melanie
Empty Pot, The - Demi
Apricot ABC - Miles, Miska

Arches to Zigzags: An Architecture ABC - Crosbie, Michael
Mats, The - Arcellana, Francisco
Australia - Pluckros, Henry
Apples - Robbins, Ken
All About Alligators - Arnosky, Jim
Army Ant Parade - Sayre, April
An Anteater named Arthur - Waber, Bernard
One Is a Snail Ten is a Crab - Sayre, April and Jeff
Icy Watermelon - Galindo, Sue (spanish and English)
Abigail Adams - Wallner, Alexandria

In the Night Kitchen - Sendak, Maurice
Goodnight Moon - Brown, Margaret Wise
Annie and the Wild Animals - Brett, Jan
My Visit to the Aquarium - Aliki
Signs at the Airport - Hill, Mary
Africa is Not a Country - Knight, Margy
America: A Patriotic Primer - Cheney, Lynne
Fun and Games in Colonial America - Thomas, Mark
Where the Wild Things Are - Sendak, Maurice
Paper Bag Princess, The - Munsch, Robert

I Pledge Allegiance - Sampson, Michael
This Land is Your Land - Guthrie, Woody
Home in Colonial America - Thomas, Mark
American Flag, The - Quiri, Patricia
From Wheat to Bread - Capstone Press
Star of Christmas, The - Kenney, Cindy
Ant - Hartley, Karen
Amphibians - Stewart, Melissa
Picking Apples and Pumpkins - Hutchings Amy and Richard
Biggest Frog in Australia, The - Roth, Susan

Animal Noises; Copycats - Powell, Richard
Apples - Landau, Elaine
Life Cycle of an Apple - Royston, Angela
First Bear in Africa, The - Ichikawa, Satomi
Out and About at the Aquarium - Rechner, Amy
New Coat for Anna, A - Ziefert, Harriet
My "A" book" - Moncure, Jane Belk
Truman's Aunt Farm - Rattigan, Jama
Angelina and Alice - Holabird, katherine
Ant and the Grasshopper, The - Poole, Amy

Aesop's Fables - Aesop
Art Lesson, The - DePaola
Footprints in the Snow - Benjamin, Cynthia
Arthur Meets the President - Brown, Marc
Into the woods: John James Audubon lives his Dream - Burleight, robert
Frogs - gibbons, gail
Apricot ABC - Miles, Miska
Very First Native Americans, The - Ashrose, Cara
From Head to Toe: The Amzing Bodya nd how it works - Seuling, Barbara
What Santa Can't Do - Wood, Douglas

Freshwater Alphabet Book, The - Pallotta, Jerry
Animalia - Base, Graeme
Kissing Hand, The - Penn, Audrey
Days With Frog and Toad - Lobel, Arnold
On Mother's Lap - Scott, Ann Herbert
Love - Moncure, Jane Belk
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day - Viorst, Judith
Human Body, The - Jeunesse, Gallimard
Love You Forever - Munch, Robert
Noah's Ark - Spier, Peter

Amelia Bedialia Family Albulm - Parish, Peggy
Athletes: Women in Profile - Strudwick, Leslie
Touch and Feel Wild Animals - DK Publishing
Touch and Feel Pets - DK Publishing
Against the Odds: Four True Life Stories About Courage - various
Bentley and Egg - Joyce, William
Bison for Kids - Wilkinson, Todd
Bird Alphabet - McKernana, Llewellyn
Butterfly Alphabet, The - Sandved, KJell
Wide mouthed Frog, The - Faulkner, Keith

Wild Bears - Simon, Seymour
Australia - Fowler, Allan
Babies, Animal - Hamsa, Bobbie
Picking Apples and Pumpkins - Hutchings, Amy and Richard
Animalia - Base, Graeme
Aslan - Lewis, CS adapted
Beautiful Butterfly - Berowska, Marta
Botticelli - Venezia, Mike
Dressing Up Like Mommy - French, Susan
Johann Sebastian Bach - Venezia, Mike

Arrow to the Sun: A Peublo Indian Tale - McDermott, Gerald
Mr Brown Can Moo Can You? - Dr Suess
Bible ABC Book - Russell, Solveig
Daniel Boone - Armentrout, David
How a Book Is Made - Aliki
Days With Frog and Toad - Lobel, Arnold
Animals Should Definately Not Act Like People - Barrett, Judi
Berry Book, The - Gibbons, Gail
Dealing with Anger - Johnston, Marianne
Apartment - Schaefer, Lola

Museum ABC - Metropolitan Museum of Art
Quick as a Cricker - Wood, Audrey
Butterflies - Simonsen, Ned
An Invitation to a Butterfly Ball: A Counting Rhyme - Yolen, Jane
Boat Rides - Walker, Pamela
Broken Bones - Silverstein, Dr. Alvin
I Can Play Baseball - Eckart, Edana
Polar Bear - Penny, Malcolm
Frog Alphabet Book, The - Masiello, Ralph
Bee Tree, The - Polacco, Patricia

Barn Dance! Martin Jr, Bill and John Archambault
Seven Loaves of Bread - Wolff, Ferida
Butterfly - Child's Play
Butterflies Fly - Winer, Yvonne
Pop: A Book About Bubbles - Bradley, Kimberely
Bread Bread Bread - Morris, Ann
Bald Eagle - Morrison, Gordon
Bugs Are Insects - Rockwell, Anne
Sometimes I'm Bombaloo - Vail, rachael
Election Day - Murphy, Patricia

Learning About the Bible - Lion books
Barn Cat - Saul, Carol
Frog and Toad Together - Lobel, Arnold
Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? - Carle, Eric
Bear, The - Briggs, Raymond
Baboon's Umbrella: An African Folktale, The - Ching
Beautiful Blackbird - Bryan, Ashley
Growng Readers Phoncs Bible, The - MacKenze, Joy
My Thank You Bible - Henlye, Karyn
Tuesday - Wiesner, David

Beetles - Pascoe, Elaine
Bats - Gibbons, Gail
Amazing Bone, The - Steig, William
Best of All - Lucado, Max
Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies - Boring, Mel
Make Way for Ducklings - McCloskey, Robert
Where Do Ballons Go? - Curtis, Jamie Lee
Altoona Baboona - Bynum, Janie
Erandi's Braids - Madrigal, Antonio
Owl Babies - Waddell, Martin

You're a Genius Blackboard Bear - Alexander, Martha
Story of a Blue Bird, The - Tomak, Bogacki
Best Friends for Frances - Hoban, Russell
BearDream - Hobbs, Will
Fearless Hero - Aptekar Devin
Brookyn Bridge - Curess, Lynn (portions)
Bears Make Rock Soup - Erdrich, Lisa
Bedtime for Frances - Hoban, Russell
Little Bear's New Friend - Pepin Muriel
Kiss for Little Bear, A - Minari, Else Holmelund

Badgers - Kalbacken,Joan
Little Badger's Just About Birthday - Bunting, Eve
Bach's Big Adventure - Ketcham, Sallie
Just Me and My Dad - Mayer, Mercer
Condor's Egg - London, Jonathan
Frogs and Toads; The Leggy Leapers - Miller Sara Swan
Chefs and Cooks - Snow, Panky
Common Colds - Silverstein Alvin
Carpenters - Yanuck Debbie
Custodians - Yanuck, debbie

Colin Powell - Hill, Mary
Frogs - Gibbons, Gail
Cowboy - Miller, Heather
Cashiers - Bagley, Katie
Circus 1-2-3 - Halsey Megan
Castles Caves and Honeycombs - Ashman Linda
Enchanted Storks, The - Shepard, Aaron (based on The Calif Stork)
City ABC book, The - Milich, Zoran
Chameleons are Cool - Jenkins, Martin
My B book - Moncure, Jane Belk

My C book - Moncure, Jane Belk
Twelve Hats for Lena - Katz, Karen
Cooking Tools - Snyder, Inez
Cactuses - Fowler, Allan
Keep Clean - Bagley, Katie
Clown of God, The - dePaola, Tomie
Carousel - Crews, David
Corduroy - Freeman, Don
Crickwing - Cannon, Janell
Clara Caterpillar - Edwards, Pamela

Crictor - Ungerer, Tomi
Those Building Men - Johnson, Angela

Last updated 9-29-2004

September 28, 2004

Homeschoolers for Bush 2004

Great site (now inactive) for all fellow Bush supporters. There are some great election activities and ideas to do between now and the election. The curriculum is set up as a unit study that can easily be adapted to a wide variety of ages and there is a point system designed to go along with it. We began a few things today and I am excited for this. Please check it out and consider doing some of the activities yourself. The curriculum was designed to start this week so you are not behind - jump right in.

For those of you who are true believers - as a woman on my list said today "Give a child a unit study and they will want a t shirt to go with it.


Career and Frog Day

Today's themes were careers and frogs. An odd combination I know. Ciaran, as many of you know is obsessed with frogs, and wakes up every day asking if today can be frog day. I decided while I will wait for a full blown frog day until F week I need to feed his interest now. So we started with two nonfiction books on frogs and they really hold his attention - he can name them and tell you the differences between a variety of frogs and toads. We went for a frog hunt but did not find any. We talked about how they will hibernate like bears (continuing yesterday's lesson) and he was very unhappy about that. On our frog hunt we kept a list of C words we saw, from that list: canoe, crabapple tree, crickets, crooked sign, cold, children, crack, creek, Cheney (as in Bush Cheney sign Rhia pointed out), chair, can, car and carraige. We made different frog sounds and calls and he had some coloring sheets.

This afternoon we started talking about C. I started with the theme of careers because I found several short books about different jobs that start with C. We began by showing them all the book covers and telling them they were related to careers and asking what they thought that meant. Rhia said "It is something you do" and then we talked about work/jobs and careers. We started naming some different careers and talked about computer programming (Serona's field and Ciaran's C vocab word). Then I read books about cowboys, custodians, cooks/chefs, cashiers and carpenters. From other books we read we also talked about president, Secretary of State (Colin Powell), heptologists (frogs), composer (bach, beethoven), artist (Cassat). We ended by talking about what they might want to do. Ciaran picked heptologist (surprised anyone?) and Rhia said a chef.

Ciaran took a nap and Rhia had quiet time and then finished her daily lessons. We also started working on the Homeschoolers for Bush unit study. For copywork today she began writing George Washington's "Rules for Civility" (we will try to write one a day until the election as part of the hs4bush study)and we talked about who we call to make sure they are registered to vote and how we can help people register to vote.

Rhia and I also worked on archaelogy today and collected various items to bury for our archaeological dig that might help someone understand our culture if they found them. Serona and I will bury them in the sandbox so they can excavate them tommorrow. It was fun to have her help pick what would represent our culture and it will be interesting to see how she does with the excavation proccess.

Been keeping up in Phonics Pathways, Miquon math, Story of the World and First Language lessons, bible memorization and our other usuals. Today's language lesson was fun - it was narration from a picture and then a review of proper and common nouns. She is really gettting much better about using complete sentences in her narrations. At the wedding she received a compliment on how well she always speaks in full sentences.

Off to clean and make dinner. Peace,

Bears, Badgers and Buses

Yesterday we finished up B week as there were some activities I really wanted to do but did not get the chance to do. We had three themes for the day on top of our usual school workload and it was a very busy but wonderful day.

We began the morning with some basic lessons (math, handwriting, phonics) and then moved into our bear theme. Using the bear worksheets from Enchanted Learning as a baseline we had a great lesson on bears. I had them color each of the bears in while I read the detailed information on that bear. We covered: brown, grizzly, American black, polar, sun, panda and spectacled bears. We learned, sang and acted out the song "Going on a Bear Hunt" and then discussed the difference between teddy and real bears and how teddy bear got it's name (Teddy Roosevelt). The kids looked at their wide collection of bears and matched the bear to the type of bear it was a replica of. We watched streaming video of polar bears and listened to sounds of brown bears fighting and black bears nursing. We built a cave under our kitchen table with blankets and put all the bears in there and hibernated with them. I read them some stories about read bears and teddy bears under there then we went to sleep and woke up from hibernation hungry and with bear cubs we had to find food for. Bears is one of my favorite lessons.

Next we moved into our bus theme. We decided to take a big bus adventure. We started out by stopping at a bookstore and buying a B book. Then we waited at the bus stop and the kids got to take their first bus ride - they were very excited. Each got to put the fair in and take their transfer ticket. We took the bus to a bakery where we had brunch and the bakery had a bear theme. We walked around pointing out all the bears and bear related items. We went back to the bus station and sat on the benches there and looked at old pictures of older buses. We came home and moved right into our badger theme.

For badgers we started with two pop culture badgers videos they enjoy (Serona's influence) to peak their interest in badgers. These can be found here and here. Even Sirah enjoys these. You will want to prewatch them before showing them as they are rather silly, not very "educational" and some may not find them appropriate or worthwhile. My kids love them and think they are funny and they were a nice transition into badgers. We read a non-fiction book about badgers, then two Frances books (bedtime and best friends for Frances) as my kids think she is the most famous badger and love her songs, and then another fiction book about a badger. We finished the lesson by watching a streaming video of badgers which reviewed much of the material in the book and let them see them in action.

We finished the day with some carschooling as we went to pick up our dogs. Rhiannon read three books out loud, did two math file folder games, a phonics file folder game , colored three pictures, and completed two dot to dots. Ciaran got to listen to his Big Bug Book on tape and then we moved into C week with listening to Charlotte's Web again on tape.


September 27, 2004

Random Blogs

Spent some down time surfing the blogspot next blog function to visit a wide variety of blogs and get a flavor of all the different ones out there. At first I thought this was interesting but soon I realized that this was not productive or enjoyable for me. There are a ton of blogs out there that while meaningful to many simply do not interest me. Between the ones in different languages, the ones with language to foul for me to read any further, the ones with no posts and a variety of others I decided to stop for the night. Here are some notable ones I discovered tonight:

CoCo Chi
"This blog contains links to sites that students and faculty of Columbia College Chicago might find useful in their careers. " There were some really useful and helpful links on here.

Philosophy, et cetera
"Assorted ramblings from an undergrad philosophy student." Put on your thinking caps and get out your thesaurus

Dump Dick Durbin
"Ellis Wyatt is not my real name, but I do live in Rockford, Illinois. I'm a father, a husband and a lawyer, in that order. I consider myself to be a libertarian conservative or, perhaps more accurately, a "South Park Republican." I dislike Dick Durbin with a passion and I think he is one of the worst Senators currently serving. I distrust the Mainstream Media and believe that blogs are the "wave of the future" with respect to staying informed. I hope to contribute in some small way to the blogging revolution."

Legal Theory Web
"This is Lawrence Solum's legal theory weblog. Legal Theory Blog comments and reports on recent scholarship in jurisprudence, law and philosophy, law and economic theory, and theoretical work in substantive areas, such as constitutional law, cyberlaw, procedure, criminal law, intellectual property, torts, contracts, etc."


September 26, 2004

Vacation Day Three and Four

We spent the evening at the wedding. It was a beautiful wedding - a nice but still short service (which was nice with the three kids) the bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome and the vows and ceremony went off without any trouble. Weddings always make me appreciate more my own husband and family and how blessed we are. I truly enjoy them and love spending time at weddings with Serona. The kids behaved much better than I expected and we were off to the reception which was a lot of fun.

Rhiannon really enjoyed herself spending all the time she could convincing people to dance with her and listen to her. She danced with all of Serona's cousins and his uncle. She even got to dance with the bride which I believe was the highlight of her night, she kept telling everyone! When Serona or I would ask to dance it was as if she were reluctant to give up some of her precious dancing time though she did enjoy dances with both of us. At one point in the evening when one of Serona's cousins asked her to dance she said "I'll have to get back to you" as if she had a dance card and it was all full! It was funny simply because she is only 5! She was beautiful in the dress she picked out and realy enjoyed dancing.

Ciaran ate WAY too much chocolate that evening. As many of you know our kids rarely get sweets and so when they do it is a real treat - but it also sends their systems into a shock of some sort when they have more than they should. He was so wound up - he tied ribbons around his head - and it made him look like a Native American and he was running around the table and hiding under it. Finally I took him outside and literally had him run laps with me. He ran between me and a wall MANY times. To keep him interested I had him act like a different animal each time (frog, lion, tiger, bunny, cheetah, kangaroo, fish, deer, antelope, monkey, baboon, cat, dog, pig, cow and many others I am not remembering). People who were walking by stopped to look and comment on how much fun he was having. At first I was concerned people would think he was being bad - but I did not get one negative comment - mostly positive about how creative I was being or how cute he was. It was a great way to burn out his energy and he was in a better mood when we went back into the reception hall.

Sirah pretty much just walked us the whole night. Serona and I took turns walking around the reception hall with her. She enjoyed running around and going up to people, opening drawers and crawling under coffee tables out in the main area. She walked around inside the ballroom when it was appropriate and spent some time in the sling. Mostly we walked laps around the reception hall.

Despite keeping up with the kids who kept us quite busy - Serona and I actually were able to visit with our family and truly enjoy ourselves at the wedding. We worked so well as a team and took turns seamlessly that we were all still able to enjoy ourselves and avoid any battle of the wills. While we did not accept bad behavior we tried to preempt much of it and were successful for the most part and everyone enjoyed themselves. The kids crashed within about 30 seconds of coming back to the hotel and for the first time in FOREVER they slept until nearly 8am! I was in shock!

The morning was a lot of fun - we started with a big family cuddle time us and all the kids in bed - laughing and playing and rolling around. We got a phone call to join our family for breakfast before it devolved into pillow fights - but we were nearly there. Then we headed to breakfast and visited with family we do not get to see too often. Then it was off to the grooms parents (Serona's aunt and uncle) for a day of visiting the bride and groom spent a good amount of time there which was a wonderful surprise. The kids enjoyed playing with Serona's cousins and I think they helped wear the kids out some! I love spending time with our family - they are the kind of people that the more time you spend with them the more you want to spend time with them. There were people we haven't seen in 1, 3, 5 and even 7 years there and it is as if no time goes by and everyone just jumps right back into your life and loves you for who you are right now. It is refreshing to not need to make excuses or apologies and to just understand each other and know that the love is there. I feel so welcome and loved in this family as do my kids.

We finally got on the road around 3pm to head home - anticipating a 12-15 hour drive depending how much time we take for stops. After being on the road for several hours and nearly to Chicago - we realize that we have left Serona's computer back at the hotel! A quick call confirmed that they indeed did have it and as it is for work we needed it immediately and could not wait for it to be shipped so we turned the car around and backtracked the entirety of Indiana that we had covered! Then we debated staying another night at the hotel and starting in the morning or pushing through and traveling while the kids slept. Based on the fact that the kids had been miserable in the car that afternoon and we did not want a repeat we decided to push on through. It was around 11pm when we started out from Indianapolis the second time with a car full of food and munchies.

Serona and I took turns driving and sleeping and the kids thankfully slept nearly the whole way home. As tired as we were today we made the right decision driving through the night as we made excellent progress when the kids were asleep and the kids had patience left for the early morning push as they slept all night. Serona and I were both able to actually sleep in the car and then keep ourselves awake with books on tape, music and of course the grace of God who was watching over our journey home. We finally pulled into our driveway nearly 20 hours after we started the 10 hour trip. We unloaded, unpacked and cleaned the car and then Serona graciously let me take a wonderful nap while he watched some of the Star Wars trilogy with the kids. I awoke and then sent him to bed for the evening while I read to the kids and continued with the trilogy. I will go to sleep as soon as they all do as well!

It was a great vacation. We had some challenging moments but overall we made it into a great time. Tomorrow for school I have some followup work from the trip - papers and activities we picked up along the way and discussions based off the weekend. We will also finish up B week and play catch up from the weekend we missed.


September 24, 2004

Thanks for Reading

Thanks to everyone who reads regularly. Just realized I am getting over 100 hits a day now!


Vacation Day Two

Spent the morning exploring downtown Indianapolis together as a family. We parked and went on our adventure. We spent most of the time in front of the capital building in a nice little green park they have with a walnut tree and other varieties of tress. The kids collected leaves, pinecones, seed pods in various stages, walnuts in various stages and other miscellaneous items. We read some of the monument plaques and pointed out and discussed the seals of Indiana and the State Capitol. Ciaran made people smile as he yelled at the squirrels to "come down" - he was very excited when one happened to "listen" to him and run down and away from him.

We walked along the canal and through a garden where the kids commented on the bees and butteflies that were pollinating and flying all around. When we passed the Indiana State Library both kids asked to go inside and that made me smile. Even Sirah walked around quite a bit. We visited the big fountain display in the courtyard of several hotels and the kids enjoyed walking along it and then making handprints, leafprints and writing their names with water.

Indianapolis is a beautiful city and there was a lot to see and it was all together. It was very clean and child friendly. There was much more we could have done but we could only stay a short while. It was very enjoyable and nice to find the teachable moments while we walked around.


September 23, 2004

Vacation Day One

Writing from a hotel in Indiana we have had a huge day. We left our home at 2am - I had been up since 7am that morning without a nap. I drove until nearly 5am and then Serona took over and we drove until the kids needed a break. We stopped at a park in Wisconsin and we took care of all our needs, ran around awhile, ate breakfast and then the kids collected some leaves, acorns and other items from the park. We will have them collect from parks throughout our trip and compare them at home as we identify the things in the park by what we pick up.

We got back in the car and drove until we reached a mall in Illinois that we used to go to occasionally while in college. We got out for a break and for Cinnabon - Rhiannon saw a dress she really liked and we got Ciaran new shoes - so it turned into a shopping event. Rhiannon contemplated getting her ears pierced but decided to wait until she is older. It was a nice break and then we got back in the car and headed out again.

Our last stop was the Indiana Information Bureau. They had a wonderful setup with displays, activities and free activities and take home sheets and coloring books for kids. Rhiannon put on a puppet show, Ciaran made different animal tracks in a big sandbox and both did color rubbings of different animal tracks. We got a nice group of take home activities we can work on in the hotel and on the car ride home.

The ride went pretty well until the end - Sirah lost her patience and the last few hours were pretty tough - we were all very tired - especially Serona and I - he had about 6 hours sleep and I had about 3, He did more of the driving but it was tiring. We were very happy to see the hotel.

We ate dinner and took the kids down to the pool to burn off energy and release some of the cooped up energy they had from the LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG car ride. I went swimming with the two older ones and Serona held Sirah as she was very unhappy about going in the water. The kids took turns kicking and running laps across the pool with me holding them. I was trying to both get them comfortable in the water and to expend as much energy as possible. Ciaran went to sleep within minutes of laying in his bed as did Sirah - Rhia is still sitting up enjoying an extremely RARE opportunity to watch TV - she is watching Animal Planet - a special about Rhinos. I can't wait for my bed - it has been a long day - but the next few days should be enjoyable.


Daily Round-up

Focused on the basics as we had a busy day around the house getting ready for our trip. Rhia did some handwriting (bible verse), grammar (common and proper nouns, math (numberline, adding columns, patterns) and reading. The rest of her day was rounded out by the books we read.

Ciaran reviewed the items in his B box, reviewed the concepts on his weekly board:

Letter: B
Theme: Bears
Number: 1
Color Blue and Brown
Bible: Noahs Ark and Matthew 5:9
vocab word: brain

He practiced tracing the letter B and then we cut out items from magazines for his letter B collage - he found so many that after we finished putting them on our letter B he had an overflow sheet to keep in his binder. He played Little Bear on the computer going with his bear theme and we read several books.

The rest of the day entailed packing for our trip, cleaning, playing, watching movies and both Ciaran and Rhia napped (at different times of course). I am sad B week is getting truncated as it is a good week and there are several things I like to do. We may still do some next week like attend a baseball game, visit a bakery and take a bus ride.


September 22, 2004

Remember What's Important

Take a moment to read this blogger's insight. I know I enjoyed it and it made me take time to ponder.


Free Online Books

Check out John Piper's collection of Free Online Books.


Homeschooling Terrorists?

Drudge Report is now linking to this report of recent anti-homeschooling activity in Michigan.

Of course Daryl was covering this yesterday. For those of you unaware, a Michigan school district, Muskegon County school district, was set to run a mock terrorist attack to test the districts readiness to respond. From the original article (emphasis mine):

"About 60 middle and high school students from Reeths-Puffer and Whitehall public schools will be part of the exercise, according to Kristin Tank, public information coordinator for the MAISD. Local law enforcement agencies, fire departments, human service agencies, transportation services and medical services will participate.

Students from Muskegon Community College and Reeths-Puffer will assist in applying makeup to add to the reality of the gruesome scene. Between 200 and 300 people will observe the exercise, including school bus drivers, school administrators, emergency personnel and evaluators from agencies across the state who will provide feedback.

The exercise will simulate an attack by a fictitious radical group called Wackos Against Schools and Education who believe everyone should be homeschooled. Under the scenario, a bomb is placed on the bus and is detonated while the bus is traveling on Durham, causing the bus to land on its side and fill with smoke. "

Obviously the concern comes from the school district choosing to reinforce negative stereotypes about homeschoolers. Comparing homeschoolers to terrorists even in a light way is unacceptable as Rob Paige found out not so long ago. Michelle Malkin makes a good point about it.

When President Bush's education secretary, Rod Paige, likened the NEA in jest to a "terrorist organization," teachers' union officials and the media became completely unhinged. How dare he make such an odious comparison, they gasped. How dare he make light of the real terrorists, they fumed.

"I can tell you what my first response was: Scary. That's really frightening," said Diana Garchow, a special-education teacher at Highland Elementary School in Bakersfield, Calif., to the Associated Press after Paige's remarks. "It's scary that you can't voice an opinion in this country without being called a terrorist. . . . I don't care if it was a joke or what it was, that was a totally inappropriate comment."

Paige was forced to apologize to teachers. What about the Muskegon County, Mich., school system? Will its public education militants apologize to homeschoolers for taking an intolerant swipe at their beliefs? Or will this politicized "Wackos Against Schools and Education" terror drill be coming to a classroom near you?"

Malkin is calling for an apology - however an official statement has already been released. Granted it should be released more publicly, but here it is.

From Kristin Tank:
Dear Lxxxxxxx Family - We are so sorry. We did not know the scenario
involved with the exercise until we read about it in the paper. Please
read our apology and that of the Chief Deputy of Emergency Services who
constructed the scenario. Please forward it on to any others in the
home school community you may be connected to. Thanks, Kristin
Statement from the MAISD Superintendent
Michael H. Bozym, Ph.D.

September 21, 2004

Contact: Kristin Tank, Public Information Coordinator, MAISD, (231)

The Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) shared the
disappointment of others when we learned the September 21, 2004,
emergency preparedness drill referenced home schoolers as the fictitious
group responsible for a mock disaster. We apologize. The MAISD and
local districts were not aware of the scenario, and it was not shared
with students or parents who took part in the exercise.

According to Dan Stout, Chief Deputy, Emergency Services of Muskegon
County, this scenario was constructed in his office. A sample scenario
was required in order to receive the necessary funding to stage the
event. The Muskegon Area Intermediate School District and our local
schools did not construct the scenario, but participated with other
county agencies, hospitals, and emergency responders in conducting the

This exercise was meant to sharpen the skills and response time of our
emergency services personnel, but was unfortunately clouded by the
choice of this fictional group. We believe this exercise had everything
to do with testing emergency response time and the protection of our
children. It had nothing to do with the home school population.

As educators, we believe that the first and most important teacher is
the parent, whether in home schools, public schools, or non-public
schools. We all work together to ensure a safe and secure environment
for our children to live and grow.

We sincerely regret offending home school educators. We believe that
all parents are educators and do important work at home with their

# # #

Please forward all additional questions and comments to the Public
Information Coordinator at the Muskegon Area Intermediate School
District at or (231) 767-7263.

Apology from Emergency Services of Muskegon County

Daniel Stout: (231) 724-6341

In the world today Homeland security is very a important issue. The
training of our nation to respond to the many threats we face is of
importance. As part of a full scale homeland security exercise on
September 21, 2004 in Muskegon, I wrote about a fictional group and
fictional scenario for the exercise. This fictional group and scenario
reference to fictional people who are against schools. This fictional
and scenario was not meant to offend any home school students. It has
nothing to do with any home school population. Home school students and
former students are a very important part of our nation. This scenario
will not be used again.

Daniel Stout
Muskegon County Emergency Services

Kristin Tank
Public Information Coordinator
630 Harvey Street
Muskegon, MI 49442-2398
Phone: 231-767-7263
Fax: 231-773-3498
Visit our Web Site:

To read the backstory on this apology and more go here.
I encourage you to still write an complain and let them know this is unacceptable.


USA government coop

Yesterday was our last week focusing on the USA in coop. I co-led the class and it went well. We started with a game where each child had to act like an animal while the others guessed. Then they placed a sticker on the right location where the animal lived on a map. To make the stickers I googled the animals and got a picture of each in the wild. I resized them and saved them on a single sheet which we printed on sticker paper.

After the animals we presented an overview of the government structure. As I talked about each branch of government the kids placed a sticker on a piece of paper they were using to make a diagram of the government structure. I used the very helpful information and diagram found on Ben's Guide to US government for kids. A great resource!

Then we read a book on Election Day which outlined voting, elections and ballots. Then we conducted our own election day. I showed them our homemade ballots (pictures and words) and explained how they would vote and that they could only make one choice on each ballot and each child would only get one vote. One by one the kids came into a separate room with me to fill in their secret ballots. They each got to choose between George W Bush and John F Kerry for president. They also got to chose their snack (graham crackers or pretzels) on a separate ballot. They placed their answers in a ballot box. After all voted I brought the box out and we counted the votes together. In case you are curious George Bush and graham crackers won.

While the kids ate their snack I clarified that we did not ACTUALLY elect the next president and explained how you needed to be 18 to vote. Then we talked about different types of voting that can occur in our country. We talked about how their personal vote was secret but sometimes it was not that way and sometimes you could try to influence one another. We told them they would have the opportunity to debate and then vote on an issue - where the next group field trip was.

They were excited to pick where their field trip was as the moms always decide. They could choose between the zoo and going on a hike to various parks - Ciaran wanted the hike - everyone else wanted the zoo - each child took a moment to speak and explain their reasons and Ciaran managed to change one person's mind. Each child received a piece of paper with their name on it and had to link it to a chain under the picture of their choice. The kids counted the chains to see which had more. The zoo won and the kids will get to go there next trip. Then we talked a bit about if the vote was fair and how it would look if just one person could vote as much as they wanted and how they could see each others votes. We tied this section up by explaining to them that they had just voted and done the things that the leaders of our government do every day.

We finished off with a President's craft from Enchanted Learning. We had done much of the background work so the kids just had to glue the leaves down. My coleader had set them all in number order with numbers written on the back of each leaf. Each leaf represented one president, showing their picture, name and the years they served. We gave each family several cutout apples that they can write some historical facts from the time periods and add to their tree as homework. As the kids finished they were read to from U.S. Presidents Feats & Foul-Ups which dedicates a page to each president with some nice facts and some funny information as well. We played some patriotic music in the background while they did their craft. Each child left with printouts of the animals we discussed, a picture of President Bush to color, an overview of the Branches of Government, a copy of the Preamble, Bill of Rights and outline of the Constitution - in addition to their craft (which listed each president and term), their diagram of the branches of government, their map with the animals and a copy of the ballot.

All in all it was a fun and informative class - the kids really seemed to enjoy themselves even on a subject that can sometimes be dry and tough to teach younger kids - government.


September 21, 2004

Ciaran's Words

Can you tell me about coop?

After I get on the stool. Mommy, how about I have to tell you something. Thank you for graham crackers. Thank for toes.

What else would you like to say?

Thank you for butterflies. Mommy I like frogs and toads.I dont want to say anything more.

Rhiannon's Words

Well today we played an animal game and I was a beluga whale. Other kids was horses, sharks, snakes, woo scary. I was silly there and running around and making faces like this (she sticks her fingers in each end of her mouth and shows her teeth and breaks up in giggles).

We voted for George W Bush and snack. I voted for graham crackers. The most people wanted graham crackers and George W Bush. It was a secret ballot. Everybody went in a room to have a secret ballot.

We did voting between going to the zoo and for a hike. We all voted for the zoo - the zoo had the most. We all did leafs of presidents and we put them all on a Christmas tree.

Animals of North America

Star Wars!

For those of you unaware the Star Wars Original Trilogy came out on DVD today. I was among the first to purchase them - before 7am! Serona is a huge fan and even I have grown attached to them. We have attended the Star Wars Conventions in full costumes and gone to the midnight openers in costume with kids in tow! For us it is a family event.

I was able to surprise Serona - he woke up to find the trilogy and three packages of collector action figures on the counter. He looked like it was Christmas! I'm sure w will be up late tonight.


Butterflys, Biography, B Box and other B's

Today we moved into B with full gusto. We had a wonderful butterfly themed day. We spent over an hour classifying different butterflies we had. I spread out all our butterflies on the floor in our office and the pulled up different images and descriptions of butterflies and the kids had to find the matches. They enjoyed this activity for quite awhile and I believe learned quite a bit. We talked about the lifecycle of the butterfly - though both are ery familiar with it and it was mostly review. Then we acted it out (my favorite part) they started curled up like eggs on the floor and then broke out of their eggs and crawled around like caterpillars eating everything they could. Then I helped them cocoon themselves by wrapping them in toilet paper with their arms at their sides. Then I took turns holding each one upside down as a crysallis and they used their arms to break out and become a butterfly. Then we flew around the house as beautiful butterflies and pretended to pollinate and just fly. It was so much fun and is still one of my favorite activities to do - the kids too - this is the third year we have done it and the first year that Ciaran really understood what we were doing and had so much fun. We rounded out the butterfly lesson reading a book on butterflies and having the kids work together on a life cycle butterfly puzzle we have - where they put each stage together in an individual puzzle. Finally they each made a butterfly craft where I traced their hands spread out like butterfly wings - the outline of each hand is one wing. I drew a body and they drew the antennas, eyes and colored them in. We even made one for Sirah. Great fun!

We also read a wide variety of books including biographies of Bach, Boticelli and Daniel Boone. Boticelli was by far their favorite of these books and both really enjoyed "Birth of Venus". We listened to the music of Bach during the course of our work. They watched a video of Backstage at the Ballet - which included quite a bit of the performance of the Nutcracker. We read Angelina (as she is a ballerina) and several other fiction stories including one of my favorites "The Bee Tree".

Ciaran and I worked on our B box, some items in there: banana, book, boy, bus, boat, bunny, boar, bear (panda and brown and several stuffed), bread, ball, brown, blue, block, bead, beetle, bee, and bugs. He also colored a picture of a bullfrog.

Rhiannon worked on several dot to dots for math work today including beluga whales, beach, and a birthday cake. She also did some worksheets from Miquon and focused on how different number combinations can equal the same total. She worked on the letter B for handwriting and drew a picture of birds in her nature notebook. She read from her phonics bible and drew pictures and words on the chalkboard that started with B.

It was a VERY busy day - but we got so much accomplished and we had a good day. The kids played outside in the afternoon and I got much of the house cleaned. Serona and I even had a date tonight. We went and saw "Sky Captain of Tommorrow".

Tommorrow will be even busier as we have our country coop in the morning. I am co-leading this session and just finished all my prep work! We are leading a class on animals and the government of the US. We have fun things planned - check in tommorrow evening for a recap.


September 19, 2004

School roundup

We decided to work through the weekend since we will be taking a few days off at the end of this week. Rhiannon got through the basics each day (phonics, math, handwriting, bible story, language arts, read aloud and narration).

Ciaran did some coloring and we took a walk tonight - just him, me and Sirah and we kept a list of all the B things we came across along the way. Some words from our list: ball, blue, bird, boat, bug, baseball field, base, bleachers, bench, basketball hoop, bicycle, brown, building, box, bucket, and black eyed susan. There were others but my list is not in front of me at the moment. We also had a great time listening to a variety of bird and frog calls online for about an hour and surfing to find online frog games he could play.

Serona took the kids to the barbershop to have their haircut. He also took them for a walk around the mall and let them have cookies and lollipops for lunch! I took a wonderful mid afternoon nap while he did that.

We did get some reading time in over the course of the weekend as well. We began our focus on B books with some of the kids personal favorites thrown in (will try to update the reading list this week) and we seemed to focus on non-fiction quite a bit. The kids amazed me by sitting through a 42 page non-fiction book on Bison - very detailed and descriptive book with far more words than pictures. Of course what stuck with them the most was that the Native Americans would use Buffalo Chips (poop) when firewood was not available for their fires. They could not stop laughing and it was what both kids chose to narrate about later.

I love reading whole books - it really sparks the kids interest in different subjects and keeps them choosing to read non-fiction books. Sometimes they surprise me when they chose a nonfiction book over a fiction story. Tonight at bedtime (always a free choice of any book) Rhiannon picked "How a Book is Made" by Aliki and Ciaran picked Frog ABC (a nonfiction book about a wide variety of frogs) and both loved their choice. There is something special about reading a whole book on a topic rather than just a snipet in a textbook. Oftentimes after reading a book the kids have further interest and we hit the web to find more details or answer particular questions and then supplement the lesson with a coloring page, handwriting worksheet or an online game, photo, or sound file. Just tonight while reading the Bison book - Serona googled for us to discover if there is a difference between Bison and Buffalo because the kids wanted to know and the book was not clear.

We ended the day with some free playtime outside with some neighborhood children while we visited with the parents. It was interesting to see our kids interact in a different way. These kids are heavily into action figures and the kids were exposed to playing with water guns, swords and other action figure type play they are not used to. Overall it went okay. Ciaran got upset at being squirt with the waterguns and I was a bit concerned about Rhiannon being too aggressive but she did fine. It was nice to see an impromptu playdate pop up for the kids and to have some time to talk as families as well.


My Budding Artist

Well we were moving along great on Friday - having a stay at home day to catch up on school, reading and housework. Then Friday afternoon mayhem broke out. Ciaran decided he wanted his carpet red and poured a container of Red Tempera paint all over his bedroom floor! As if this was not enough - he must have stomped in the puddle he made and marched throughout the house including down the stairs and through several rooms of the house leaving red footprints everywhere he went all over the carpet.

That was the end of anything productive until Sunday afternoon - we spent all of Friday evening and all day and evening Saturday cleaning the carpets in our house. We borrowed a steam cleaner from a friend and spent the whole weekend cleaning every carpet in our house with the exception of our library and our main living room. We moved furniture and just did the whole thing. The house looks nice now atleast and as my father in law tells me "You will have such funny memories!"

I actually was able to keep my calm through it and Ciaran is doing just fine for those of you wondering. Serona made the comment "Well he is artistic and perhaps that is how Jackson Pollock got his start" of course this was before he came home to see the extent of the damage. Needless to say it has mostly all come out and we are moving on.

Hope your weekend was a bit more relaxing then ours.


September 17, 2004

In Rhiannon's Words

Dear Grandma and Grandpa in New York,

I wanted to tell you I miss you and I love you. I hope you're having a good time at your house. I want to know dear grandma when will you send me your pussycat picture? I hope you're going to have a good time the rest of the week. I wanted to tell you very very much I miss you and I love I hope I'm gonna see you soon. I want to tell you and that our dog is growing up very well but she still poops in the house.

Dear Grandma and Grandpa in Maine,

I hope you can come out soon and let us see you. I want to tell you I miss you and I love you. I hope you can come out soon, very very much. I hope your dog is doing fine. I want you to send a picture of Gus. I wanted to tell you our family is doing great. Our puppy is very beautiful. Last thing I wanted to tell you - May God be with you wherever you are. I've memorized some verses: Joshua 1:9, Proverbs 15:1 and Titus 3:5.


Scary Weirdness Hits Close to Home

A man was recently arrested for odd and concerning behavior at a local Target - one I've been to many times.

"As they bent down to get detergent or stooped to find the right shade of eye shadow, the unsuspecting women shopping at Target didn't notice a man with a hidden camera taking pictures up their skirts and down their blouses."

Furthermore and even scarier:

They also found his notebook listing license-plate numbers, physical descriptions of women and scores rating them on a 10-point scale, according to court papers. Arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, he was released, and police are sending the case to city prosecutors.

For the full story go here.

What in the world? Please be aware and take care of yourself and your family. Another great reason to do more online shopping!


Partisan Politics gets ugly

Okay partisan politics aside - this is unacceptable! I don't care which side you are on this behavior is inappropriate from either side and as a mother and a citizen I am disgusted.


September 16, 2004

Apples, Airplanes and Action Figures

Finishing off A week and today we have had a good morning. We watched a documentary on airplanes - it was great film I highly recommend it and will look for more in the series. Then we read a DK Big Book of Airplanes and then they colored a picture of an airplane.

We are also focusing on apples today - reading the The Little Red House with the Star and making apple paintings (cut the apple in half for the story then use the halves to dip in paint and make apple art) and reading "10 Apples Up on Top" for phonics work today and we will go to an apple orchard today, learn about apple cider and make an apple pie tonight.

Another spur of the moment lesson plan came when Ciaran wanted to color in his star wars book - we decided to talk about action figures, color them and play with them. Well off to continue our day.


September 15, 2004

Rhiannon's First Narration

Well we did our first narration exercise today with one of Aesop's fables. Rhia did much better than I anticipated - I actually had to encourage her to use less detail - which surprised me. Here is her narration:

The Hare and the Tortoise - narrated by Rhiannon

Once there was a hare and a tortoise, A rabbit made fun of the turtle, he said how slow you move. They agreed to make a race. But they asked who would decide on the winner? Let's ask Mr Fox said the hare. Fox came and said go and the race began. The hare took great big bounds and leaps and soon was out of sight. But the tortoise went plot plot so slow you couldn't see him move. The hare got tired in the middle so he laid down on the side of the road. Plot plot the tortoise went until he passed hare. When the hare woke up the tortoise was so close to the finish line. He ran as fast as he could but when he got close the hare was at the finish line. Fox said tortoise is the winner of this race. Remember this: plodding wins the race but fast and lazy loses the race.

A Mature Response

Take time to read this excellent response written by a homeschooler in a local paper.

"I am writing in response to a letter by Mr. Scott Walker ["Not all Republicans are bad, either, but this one sure was," Sept. 8], who said the following, "Not all Republicans are ignorant evangelical Christian hillbillies who home-school their children and create hate throughout the world."

I am 12 years old, and I happen to be home-schooled, Christian, and a Republican. I think Mr. Walker was trying to prove a point about how we are all discriminating against each other and how this is a very bad thing. And he seems to have been trying to say that he didn't think Republicans were bad.

But instead of saying that, he turned around and, in the same breath, discriminated against Christians and home-schoolers. I found this to be a hateful comment, and it insulted me.

Obviously, Mr. Walker does not like to be discriminated against as a Democrat. Well, I don't particularly liked being called an ignorant hillbilly. I am proud to be Republican, American, home-schooled, and a Christian, and I do not think of myself as "ignorant" because of any of those things.

I hope by writing this letter, people--like Mr. Walker--will not discriminate against people who are home-schooled, or Christian, or Republican, or Democrat, or whatever.

I agree with Mr. Walker that people should stop creating hate, but before pointing at others, we should work on ourselves first.

Maybe one day when I pick up the newspaper and read it, I won't be disappointed.

Kate Fawcett"

You can find it here.


A Healthier Mom

I have finally come to appreciate what people have told me for years - that you need to take care of yourself or you are no good to anyone. For about 5 years now I have always put all of my needs behind the needs of everyone else and it has started to wear me down and have negative effects on the whole family. I am trying to rectify that situation by taking positive active steps to a healthier me.

I have begun walking each morning (earlier than I like to admit) for about an hour with a neighbor. I follow that with a shower and some daily quiet time and bible reading and some breakfast - usually all that is accomplished before the kids awake, or atleast before I need to take over sole responsibility for them. Serona has been wonderful in helping me in the mornings.

I am trying to get to bed earlier (though the timestamp shows I'm not always successful here) and to get enough rest. I still try to take naps whenever possible - perhaps getting one or two in during the course of the week.

I've been working on getting us on a routine and trying to stick somewhat to a schedule - not so much a minute by minute one but a set of tasks that need to get done through the course of the day and a general idea of when I will get that done. I'm trying to be more consistent in the time of day I take on certain tasks and helping the kids be the same.

We've streamlined our shopping, cooking, meal planning, bills and nearly everything we can. I am trying to use the same shopping list and rotate through some quick or simple recipes and keep that simple. I have simplified the kids rooms and the school/playroom as much as possible so it is easy for them to help maintain and clean-up. I try to keep on top of things through the day instead of letting it all pile up.

I am making strides in my weight loss - 4 pounds this week and trying to eat healthier and get that exercise in - while not obsessing about it. I'm also trying to set a good example for the kids and help them in that area before it becomes too late.

I'm much more positive in my outlook and trying to be more positive in believing I can get things done and focusing more on the good than the negative. Trying the whole "believe and you have received" and "mind over matter" philosophy.

Overall I feel better. I have ups and I have downs and I stumble but I'm trying to get back up without breaking my momentum and maintain my passion for improving my life and the choices I make. I keep reminding myself that I need to take time to improve me and help me so that I have what I need to fufill my multiple jobs and responsibilities.

That being said it is clearly time for me to be in bed!

September 14, 2004

Daily Recap

Phonics first thing in the morning. We are working through Phonics Pathways and are just about done with 2 letter blends at the end of words. Her stories are getting longer and she can read four and five letter words without stopping to verbally sound them out. She is able to just read the words now and to follow along better. She is beginning basic narration and reading comprehension. She still resists phonics but it willing to do it and understands its importance and we just do it first to "get it out of the way" and move on to the things she enjoys more. We also find that moving around the house and doing it in a different spot each day seems to help - today was on my bed.

For handwriting she worked on a geography book from Enchanted Learning, which helps a child locate where they live from the planets right down to their street - covering plants, continents, countries, state and town. She colored each section and wrote where she lived. It was a good tie in of the geography skills we learned last month and some science and handwriting skills. She also enjoyed it and for once did not complain about coloring in the pages.

She also worked on another flag book from Enchanted Learning as a review of last weeks' American flag lessons. She finally got the Pledge of Allegiance memorized and is very excited by that fact. We discussed the symbolism and history of the flag.

While she worked on these books Ciaran worked on an Apple Book from EL as well. He colored in apples, learned what the trees look like during the different seasons and learned how to say apple in 9 different languages. He memorized some basic facts about apples and was able to answer some simple questions about apples - such as what colors they are, what season they are harvested in and how many seeds they have. He was actually enjoying himself and did a good job concentrating and working on the whole book. I was very proud of him.

We headed off to coop class for the rest of the morning. For a full recap visit the link. The kids enjoyed being with their friends and the projects we did. We treated ourselves to a lunch of bagels afterwards. Then naps and quiet time.

Rhiannon worked on Math this afternoon - a Miquon sheet working on drawing number lines with objects and before and after ordinals. She worked on ordinals 1st through fifth and practiced writing numerals 1-25. More work in her flag book and some reading time rounded out the day.

I've decided on coop days to just focus on the basic three (phonics, math and handwriting) and anything else we get in is a bonus. They actually do quite a bit of learning at coop and they just need some downtime and to accomplish other things as well that I am hesitant to push anything more.

Another good and busy day.


US Culture Coop

Today was week two of our world country cooperative. Today we looked at the culture of the United States. The kids began by hearing definition of culture and some of the things that make up American culture such as the food we eat, the way we dress, where we live, what we do for arts and the like.

Then there was a discussion of the first Americans who lived here and what their culture was. A book was read that outlined some of the differences between the different tribes and how they lived. While the book was read the kids made a map of the US placing pictures of the different tribes in the area they originally lived in. They really seemed to enjoy this activity and it helped even the youngest to sit still and listen to a longer and more detailed book.

The subject then turned to money and they talked a bit about what we needed money for and what kind of money we had - they had some printouts and discussed some of the history of money and colored some pictures showing different types of money and barter available through history. They finished off this section by cleaning a dirty penny with a lemon and then had snack.

After snack they talked a bit about art and the different forms it can take. Then there was a real brief overview of the creator of mobiles and the kids did a craft project to make their own mobiles. This craft was challenging for the children to do and it was a bit frustrating as the pieces would not stay together. The kids seemed to enjoy it but it required a lot of adult help and it sometimes feel apart so I would not recommend it - though the kids were excited to be making it themselves.

All in all it was a good class and the kids seemed to all do pretty well and enjoy themselves. Next week is my class - hopefully it will go well.


September 13, 2004

In Ciaran's words

Thank you for finding that tree frog and thank you for those sticks and thank for my one toad. Thank you for toes. Thank you for marshmallows. Thank you for eyes.

I put some things in my A box: alligator, arthur, apples, aurora, airplane, action figure, asparagus, andy and ann (raggedy), ape, abraham, adam and eve, alabama, abacus, astronauts, ambulance, ant, arm, and automobile. My favorite thing is the alligators.

Today I drew apple tree, letter A, decorated the A, draw triangles and apples. Now I just want watermelon


In Rhiannon's words

I had a lot of fun camping - I especially had fun on that tree and around the fire and roasting marshmallows and having fun. The most wonderful thing was seeing good friends and frogs. So I had a lot of fun camping.

A week and thank you for my little Ariel grandma. I had a lot of fun learning the caterpillar poem and illustrating the poem. Yes, yes, yes. I had fun when I got to put sparkles on my flag during our coop lesson. Thank you for learning about babies (giggles and dives under the desk). Thank you for learning about noses. Thank you for phonics. Thank you for toes.


Website Recommendation

I highly recommend A Kid's Heart. This website has many great free resources. They have a manuscript printer that lets you type in a word, phrase or sentences and it prints out traceable pages for the child. We use this for our bible verses, handwriting practice, narration and story writing. They also have a wide variety of coloring sheets, worksheets and other printables and games.


Morning Recap

We reviewed bible verses over breakfast - even Ciaran has his memorized now. Rhiannon and I did phonics work and then she practiced handwriting (A,a, Proverbs 15:1). She did some math work (numberline, matching numerals to size, recognizing rods and matching color to numeral. She colored in her bible story on Adam and Eve and we read about and discussed astronomy for science.

Ciaran colored in A,a and pictures that start with A. He then drew pictures to go with each of his memory verses. He drew a mean monster for Proverbs 15:1 and several crosses for Joshua 1:9. He picked what to draw and did it himself. He also played with the abacus and is now playing dinosaurs with a friend.



We had an outstanding weekend camping. We went with four other families from our homeschool support group and the kids had a blast. We are 10 adults, 9 kids and three dogs and a lot of fun!

The kids just played together very well throughout the whole weekend - it was interesting to see how they would pair off in so many different ways and combinations and play a variety of games - they were also able to play together as a group very often for long periods of time.

There was a huge dead tree behind our campsites and they spent hours climbing and exploring that. They also were big on collecting frogs, toads and caterpillars. They would have races with them and they even caught a tree frog! At first we could not believe it - but they did and it was really neat - Ciaran caught it and was SO excited - he was running around showing everyone. It was bright green with the big sticky pads on his feet. There were many frogs caught and released over the weekend.

We went hiking, the dads and kids went fishing, we roasted marshmallows, made smores, ate together, laughed together, talked, relaxed, the guys played horseshoes and the couples and the kids played games. This was one of the more relaxing trips we have been on (this is the fourth of the season with this group) and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

The couples are all forming good friendships and you can see the level of comfort and familiarity increase. Everyone supports and helps one another out and even laughs and can be honest with each other. I love that about this group - I also enjoy that we are becoming friends as couples - instead of just as moms. Don't get me wrong I love the mom to mom support - but it is also nice to have common friends with Serona and for the families to all get along well.

At one point this weekend - three couples played Taboo well into the night (Serona and I included) and we played with "stakes" involved. I am unsure how it developed into this: the game became women versus men and the losers had to treat the winners to a night on the town with a limo ride. Dum de dum dum - the women won! It came down to the last round and it was a very close game (within 2 points) we were getting competitive and not always in a positive way - but in the end the women won. In the process we increased our bond as couples and learned more about each other.

The kids of course really enjoyed camping - though Sirah's sleeping was very messed up and she liked to run laps in the tent at night when we want to be asleep. The sun wakes you up at the crack of dawn and the fire encourages you to stay up into the wee hours of the morning. But it is a grand time and one of my favorite ways to pass a weekend.

I think camping is one of my favorite vacations (second only to spending time at a beachhouse) and it is one we can do often and one that is made more fun by sharing it with other families. Despite the ages of our children (or maybe as a result of) we have a great time!


September 10, 2004

Homeschool Camping Trip

We are off for our last homeschool support group camping trip of the year (before the weather gets too cold for the young ones) - more to come on Monday.


September 9, 2004

Our School and Play Room

Daily Round-Up

We cancelled our field trip to the Art museum as most everyone in our hs group was sick. Instead the kids and I had a nice stay at home day (our first this week). We played in the yard and stayed in line with our A theme. We were astronauts and we took an air balloon from our house to the airport, and then an airplane from Minneapolis to Florida and then got in our spaceship and headed to the Moon. We walked around and examined the moon and hopped since there was less gravity. We went on the upside down moon hammock and Sirah played with a moon rover (little plastic car) and we collected some specimens to take home. We stopped by Neptune and landed our spacecraft in Africa before heading back to America. We were careful of the asteroids and kept out attitudes in check. It was a blast - literally! We probably spent over an hour doing this in our yard and on our playset - it was a hoot.

We also accomplished phonics, bible memorization, math (miquon - matching numerals and sets - drawing sets and drawing numerals) and handwriting this morning. In the afternoon Rhiannon spent quite a bit of time on StarFall and she really enjoyed it - she worked through many activites and games and read several books on there. She also did a few printouts from there as her handwriting work today. We had probably nearly two hours of read aloud time today and kept working through our A theme.


September 8, 2004

Threshing Wheat on the Farm

Historic Farm

Today we went to a historic farm for a field trip. We participated in threshing wheat with a pretty old thresher - two horse power (literally) and helped harvest mangoes and carry water into the kitchen. The kids got to pet and be near a variety of farm animals. Rhiannon's favorite was the sheep and Ciaran really like following the rooster. We toured the barn, house, grounds and garden - helping out where we could and learning about how things worked in that time.

This was our second trip to this particular farm and both have been a grand success. It was fun to see how literature affects them at every turn. Today when they pet the horses Rhiannon said "She looks just like I picture Black Beauty" and Ciaran said "They are like Laura and Mary would have". Later he found a spider web and mentioned "Charlotte's Web" and Rhiannon mentioned Kirsten (from the American Girl collection) when she saw how some people were dressed. It was really nice to see them use literature to make sense of what they were seeing and to make the connections themselves. Later this evening Ciaran was looking at a book with me and saw a log cabin and said "That's what Laura lived in" - it is nice to know that the stories we read stick with them.

On the way to and from the farm (about 45 minutes each way) we listened to Aesop's Fables unabridged and in their entirety on CD. We paused between stories now and then to talk about the moral and whether or not we agreed with them. There were actually several that we did not agree were positive messages. It was nice to be able to use questions and have the kids come to the conclusions themselves. Rhiannon really enjoyed "The Dog and the Bone" and Ciaran enjoyed "The Ant and the Grasshopper" - I wonder why? He did catch three crickets at the farm and was sad to let them go. It is amazing how easily he can catch them now and how excited he gets over them.

I love visiting historical sites with the kids, they are so educational and the people who staff them are so helpful and friendly and they really are great places for homeschooling families to visit. This is even more so now that everyone else has gone back to school. It is nice to have places like the library, zoo, historical sites and other locations more to ourselves while other kids are at school. My kids are getting much better about answering the "So are you in school" questions. At first Rhiannon was timid about it but now she just smiles big and says "We're homeschooled!" in a very excited voice.


Productive Morning

I took a 2.5 mile walk with a neighbor, the kids rooms were clean, breakfast, bible story, phonics, read-alouds, grammar, math, handwriting, reciting poetry, learning the Pledge of Allegiance and our A soundbox activity were all done by 11am!

Today handwriting was practicing all the families proper names (tie in with grammar lesson), math was miquon (counting, numerals, one-to one correspondence and addition, read alouds focused on the USA (America) to continue our country theme and go along with A week, bible story is Adam and Eve and bible verses is Joshua 1:9 and Proverbs 15:1.

For America theme we recited the Pledge, learned and sang "This Land is Your Land", made a fun and easy Stars and Stripes craft (we took craft metal craft rings shaped in stars and cut red, white and blue ribbon and tied them to the star to make rings the kids can wave, shake and do creative dance with - they love them and they are cheap and easy), and read several books about America.

In our soundbox we collected items that started with A. Some examples include apple, alligator, airplane, action figure, ambulance, abacus, Angelina, Alice, Ariel, Arthur, apatasaurus, asparagus (junior), angel, Abraham, Adam, and an ape. We will take them out and review them throughout the week.

After lunch we went to a historical farm and then returned home to do some reading and work on "What We Love About America" collages. I had the kids cut up some old travel/picture books on the Appalachians, Atlantic seashore, and Alaska (going with our A theme) and then they glued them on to construction paper in a collage format - they enjoyed it so much that each got two pages and I think it would have gone on longer if it was not approaching dinner time.

Great and very busy day!

Rhiannon's Stars and Stripes Craft

September 7, 2004

Country Co-op

Today was our first day of our homeschool country cooperative. We are taking the kids traveling around the world and focusing on each country for an entire month. We meet 3-4 weeks a month and will cover: maps, geography, culture, currency, stamps, politics, history, animals and some other random items. We decided to start in the United States to give the kids a baseline and to ease the moms into the teaching part of it. Then we are moving on to Israel, Iraq, Turkey and Iran for the fall.

Today we covered geography and flags. The kids REALLY enjoyed the class. They started by making their own passports with a polaroid photo and pretty realistic looking passport books a mom made. She also brought in her passport to show them what the stamps and a "real" one looks like.

Then they listened to the book "Me on the Map" which is a cute and simple to understand book that explains the basics of maps right from a map of your room, house, street, neighborhood, state, country, world. It is a good book. The kids listened and asked questions.

Then they played a game where they learned the phrase "North, South,East West, Geography is the best!" and they had to follow directions and jump, hop, run, skip, or crawl in the direction they were told. There were signs up marking the directions.

Next they made a topographic map of the US. They were handed a blank outline and a mom explained some of the landmarks and where you could find them in the country. For the younger kids they provided stickers of mountains, cactus, ocean, and a star for the capital. For the older students they used colored pencils to draw in the geography on the map.

They had a snack and then finished up with a craft time. They listened to a story about the American flag and some of the history and meaning behind it and some poems about the flag and the United States of America. They each made their own replica of the US flag. The mom provided precut red stripes, a white piece of felt and a small blue piece. The kids glued the red stripes on to the white piece making 13 stripes and covered a small section on the top with a blue piece. They made dots of glue and covered it with glitter for stars. Then each child had their flag glued onto a stick.

I was impressed with how patient the kids were and how well they followed directions - even the younger ones. Of course there were moments in the beginning, end and at snack time when it seemed they wanted to run wild but they were reigned in easily enough and they really concentrated and enjoyed the tasks at hand. We finished up with a shared lunch time and cleanup.

I think this is going to be a success. Next week we have our culture class - where we cover things like: music, dress, customs, currency, stamps, food, dance, art and the like. We finish off the month with the week I am responsible for with another mom: history, government, famous people, science and animals. Some months we will conclude with a party with food from the country and some time to enjoy and review the country.


Ciaran's American Flag Craft

Daily Recap

I actually was up and outside of the house this morning before 7am! I took one of our dogs for a walk around the neighborhood and it felt great to exercise and get out this morning, I think it has kept my mood up all day. I came home and after breakfast we got school rolling.

Rhiannon did handwriting practice A,a and a words. Then she did some Miquon math and we reviewed our bible verses for this week and last Joshua 1:9 and Proverbs 15:1. Then we had to head out for first day of coop - which was great!

We hit the library on the way home and I met a neighbor with a little girl Sirah's age. The kids enjoyed the games, Sirah enjoyed playing and I picked up some books for next week.

We headed home, Ciaran napped and Sirah and I played then Rhiannon did some more schoolwork. We worked on Grammar, Phonics, Reading, Reading Comprehension and Read Alouds. She did some dance and recited a poem. Ciaran and I set up his poster board for the week A, apple, the number 0, triangle and and anatomy (vocab word). We will wrap up today with putting together our Sound Box with letter A items.


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September 6, 2004

First Official Day Back

Well I am going to label today our first official day back at "school". This morning Rhiannon and I worked on Miquon math, practicing writing numbers, handwriting practice (she wrote out her monthly schedule on her calendar), calendar skills (learning how to read and use the calendar and how many wed in month, what is the third Tuesday and so on), phonics drill, read-aloud and her reading to me. We also got together some of our supplies for tomorrow's start to our hs coop on countries.

Ciaran and I played dinosaurs and little people, we practiced writing letters on the chalkboard. He walked over drew a line and said that is "i" and then drew a circle and said "o" and then an A and said "a" - I almost feel over I did not know he knew those letters every time I ask him he is like I don't know. But I guess he does know some of them! Then we practiced some others until he lost interest. We played memory and matching. Then he used his color pegs to practice grouping by color and counting. We used a flip game to work on counting and number recognition and he played Reader Rabbit on the computer.

Sirah enjoyed playing with her big music block, playing dinosaurs and little people with us and erasing the chalkboard with her hand. She ate some books and took everything off the shelves I just finished reorganizing yesterday. She jumped on the trampoline and drove cars on the table. Serona learned to play a new song on his guitar and sang for us.

It has been a good day and that was just the morning. The kids are napping now and I believe a family walk and frog hunt are on the afternoon agenda.


Political News

For political news and to hear Serona and I on our "soapboxes" visit Cyber::Ecology.


September 5, 2004

Sarah Mclachlan

Well Serona took me on a GREAT date. He wrote on our family calendar a few weeks ago "super secret suprise - do not schedule" and that was it. I found out on our way to the event that he was taking me to see Sarah Mclachlan in concert! What a wonderful surprise and I really was shocked. I had not been to a concert in many years - atleast 6 or 7 and almost 10 years since I've been to one that big (Pink Floyd) and I love her music.

She put on a great show and I loved her music selection. While she played nearly all (if not every one) from her new albulm Afterglow - she also played many old ones and several of my favorites from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy and even one from Touch (my favorite albulm. Her set was good and her voice is amazing. There were nearly 10,000 people there according to one review I read and she did not disappoint. She had a double encore (coming out the last song wearing a MN Wild shirt) and I left there with many memories floating through my mind.

Sarah's music was very meaningful to me especially in college and the early years of marriage. I have many many good memories and feelings associated with her music and her beautiful voice. Serona also enjoys her and I think we were both a bit surprised to see how mixed the demographic of the concert was. I think we were all assuming that it would be college aged women - but we were median age I would guess. There were many more men there than I expected and it was a much more middle aged crowd then I would have guessed. Just wanted to share the great moment.


September 4, 2004

State Fair

Well I attended my first state fair ever (I think) and it was interesting. Serona assured me this was a good state fair and he has been to others I will take his word for it. I had been warned it would be overwhelming and hard to have kids at. I did not feel that way - the hardest part was dealing with the rides in the center which we had no intention of going on. After the kids accepted that we REALLY meant we were not going on the rides it got better.

Some highlights:
We rode in this giant glass elevator that spun around slowly and we could see the whole state fair and the skylines of both cities. I was hesitant but Serona was steadfast and I must admit I did enjoy myself and the kids of course loved it.

We went through a neat farm exhibit where the kids got to be farmhands (apron, basket and all)and do activities like gather feed and feed the animals (just display), collect eggs, wool and milk. Move haybales in mini tractors, plant and harvest vegetables and take everything to market. When finished they each got to pick a treat (both picked potato chips) and then did a seed germination experiment.

The kids ate sno-cones while Serona visited with some fellow bloggers from Minnesota at a get together, many there were from The Northern Alliance, a group of conservative political pundits with a radio show and several great blogs (including: James Lileks Bleat, PowerLine, Fraters Libertas, SCSU Scholars, Captain's Quarters, Spitbull and Shot in the Dark) If you have never read them - be sure to check them out and don't forget Serona's blog Cyber::Ecology. I was amazed at how well the kids did and we all had a great time.



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September 3, 2004

School Buses and Pond Walks

Well the school buses have arrived this week. We took the opportunity to talk about some of the benefits of homeschooling and all the things we can still enjoy. We saw the bus pass by while just getting out of bed this morning and we enjoyed a slow morning and a pancake breakfast.

Then we headed out to explore a pond and wooded area nearby. We collected various leaves that had changed colors, watched frogs and birds. Saw a heron and caught ladybugs, millipedes and frogs. We played in an open grassy field and hid under the trees. We drew in our nature notebooks as the mood struck. We walked our neighborhood and played in our yard.

We took a two hour nap, read many favorite stories and some new ones. We played in the sprinkler and on the swings. We enjoyed this day of summer and enjoyed dinner outside on our deck. There were no tears, no separation just a continuation of the rhythm of our days. We enjoyed a beautiful family day.

There were squabbles, sibling moments, and occasional disobedience but overall it was a joy filled day and one I'm thankful we had. As the school buses pull up I have no regrets just confidence in our decisions and enjoyment of my family.