June 30, 2005

Swim Lessons

Swim lessons are over - at least this particular round is. The kids really seemed to enjoy them, I think they liked them more because they were outdoors. The weather truly ran the gammit from extreme hot to cold, windy and thunderstorms! They both did really well and learned more than I had anticipated. Both had major accomplishments for themselves.

Ciaran, while not moving to the next level has mastered front and back floats and keeping his head under water with confidence! Today he was so proud that he was able to do a back float without getting panicky as he said. Rhiannon passed and received her Level 1 red cross card and will begin Level two next session. She caught on quickly and mastered all the skills she needed to for this class.

Overall I was happy with their lessons and while some seemed skeptical of outdoor lessons taught by teenagers I was pleased. Their ratio was very good 4 students to one teacher and they obviously learned well and the cost was reasonable unlike many other options in our area.

I must admit I look forward to the few week break we have now before we start up again as our lives have seemed quite busy these past few weeks. Still there are worse things to have to do in the summer besides going to the beach every day!


June 27, 2005

Last Week

Last week was a crazy busy and long week. I have hardly had time for much of anything, thus the blogging lag. Yet, it was a fulfilling and very busy week. I will try to post on different topics and review the progress for the week rather than lump it all together. Serona is finally home after two weeks in London and Dublin - we missed him so it is wonderful to have him home. Be sure to scroll down for all the latests news.



I have very sad news. The tadpoles died. When we got the tadpoles they were just tadpoles and had not begun the metamorphosis yet. Quickly they got rear bumps, then legs, then front bumps, front legs and one had begun to enter the final stages of changing their breathing (gills to lungs and mouth) and the shortening of the tail. It was at this point that we lost them and I believe the fault was my own.

When they enter those final stages of metamorphosis you are supposed to add something for them to climb. We added two stones and a stick from our yard. The next morning we awoke to find them dead. At first I thought maybe the one frog;et could not climb out but then I saw that the other one died as well (even without any front legs) and the water was discolored and had begun to smell. This leads me to conclude that they introduction of the stick and stone changed their environment in a deadly way. Perhaps there were chemicals or residues on them that disrupted the environment.

I felt terrible and prepared for Ciaran’s reaction, which for those of you who know him (in real life and on the pages of this blog) was about what I expected. He was nearly devasted – he cried straight with tears and sobbing and shaking at points for over 30 minutes straight. He was tough to comfort no matter what we tried. Rhiannon and I tried hard to comfort him. Finally after talking to Serona on the phone and getting out his good cry he began to calm down before another round began over the fact that we were not going to bring anymore home. I tried the approach of how much he loves frogs and we need to do what is good for them and they needed to be in their environment, but he was not convinced. Finally promises of a frog hunt with dad and daily visits to the ponds where we could see them settled him down.

I have very mixed feelings about the raising tadpoles from the wild experience. While it was recommended by the area naturalists to do I feel guilty that two tadpoles died in our care. It is especially tough that they were so close to becoming frogs and being released (our intent all along was to release as soon as the metamorphisis was complete) when they died. It was amazing to watch the process and see the bumps form and then turn into limbs. To see how fast they swim and then how they begin to jump. To see their gills and then their mouths forming. As many books as we have ready (and we have ready many) the real life experience was so much more valuable and meaningful to bring it home. It would be tough to see this day to day transformations without having some in captivity. Yet the risk of losing them is there and it was tough on our family. I suppose the best alternative would be to find some real close to your home and visit them daily – scoop some up to examine them closely in a pail and then release them. Yet you truly need to visit almost daily to get the full experience.

Ciaran is doing better – we have visited twice in three days and he was disappointed we did not get there today but we will go back again tomorrow and probably Sunday. I believe the process was valuable for our family and while there was some emotional stress involved overall it was a good experience.

Vacation Bible School

Rhiannon has been enjoying Vacation Bible School every day this week. She loves it but is tired. It makes all of us appreciate the fact that we homeschool as getting up, dressed, fed, and out the door to be somewhere by 9am sharp is near impossible and quite cranky for our family. I have to wake her up each morning and she is not pleased. But once that task is over she truly loves her time there and comes home filled with smiles I have not seen on her regularly in awhile. She is bubbling over with joy and passion for God and wants to share it. We went to her VBS program and watched as hundreds of kids sang these praise songs and of course our little girl managed to work herself up to the front and center position of the kids (she takes after her father) when they were singing.

VBS has also given her a heart for missions and she decided to give all the money she had been saving bills and coins to the missionaries associated with VBS. Her heart is so tender, her love and motives so pure and I am sure she is glorifying God and making us all remember we too need to love God with the purity and love and forgiveness of a child. If your child has an opportunity to try out a vacation bible school I recommend it.

Rose Garden

We have been visiting a rose garden several times a week and keeping track of the transformation the flowers go through. We have been taking verbal and pictoral notes of the process from leaves to buds to full bloom to slow withering. All the heat and sun that we had led many plants to go from small buds to full bloom in just three days! The garden overall went from a sleepy green place to vibrant waves of blooming color. Ciaran’s plant was in full bloom and then was clipped off! Rhiannon’s plant was just blooming a bit slower but with many more blossoms. The kids enjoyed walking through the garden noticing all the colors and stopping to smell each flower.

Fort Snelling

We took a field trip to Fort Snelling – this is a historic fort that the kids enjoy. They get to watch a demonstration of the loading and firing of muskets, play traditional kids games such as hoop and stick, look inside the homes of the captain, officers, and recruits, lay on the straw beds (they slept two adults in one bed – head to foot), go into the guardhouse including the pitch black and smelly holding room, take part in a medical visit with symptoms and treatments of the day, help the blacksmith stoke his fire and carry coals in, drill a hole in some wood for the carpenter, dress up in period clothing, and many other things we did not even get to today. If you are in the Twin Cities area you will want to visit.

Historic sites are so interesting for both parent and child. If you get your children to start going at a young age they actually enjoy it! My kids did not want to leave after three hours and are already asking when we can go back. Glad we have a membership!

Swimming Lessons

Week two of swimming lessons and I am pleased. Both kids have no fear yet respect for the water. Both will go under water and try to swim. Rhiannon can swim several feet under water now and it began to click for Ciaran this week. He can do a front float and can swim briefly under water. Rhiannon also got the back float down. I still love that the lessons are outdoors even though over the course of our lesson we have had severe thunderstorms (the only day we did not go), rain, cold, and 100 degree weather! Still through all of that we get ready and go to the beach and enjoy ourselves no matter the weather. Not to mention it is several hundred dollars less than if I paid for expensive private lessons that are so popular in this area! We have one week left of this particular lesson session and I am anticipating good results next week as well.

June 26, 2005

Homeschooling: It's not what you think

A nice story about homeschooling, positive, informative and pretty good overall. Of coure the headline will not mean a thing to you as they actually do describe homeschooling with a bit more realistic picture. Though personally I think they overemphasize that some kids take classes at public schools still.

A good read: Worldandnation: Homeschooling: It's not what you think

June 20, 2005

Tadpole and Rose Update

The tadpoles definately have hind legs and they are using them to jump off the ground of their tank. The bumps on their fronts are getting larger and it won't be long before those are front legs.

It is funny I have read about this transformation over a hundred times but to witness it firsthand is so much more interesting and enjoyable. If you have the opportunity to do it I recommend it. Truly gives you an appreciation for the wonder of life and God's design.

We went to visit the rose garden again and it was peak - the garden is beautiful the hot weather must have led them to open to their fullest. It is gorgeous. Ciaran's flower was in full blossom and sadly we did not have the camera with us. Hopefully we can still get a picture the next time we go.

We had tremendous thunderstorms today. The kids were in the backyard when the sky shifted and I had one of those panic moments ran out and yelled for them to come in immediately as they shut the door the wind whipped and the hail started. We headed to the basement to wait out the storm. We watched travel videos on Ireland and England. Then watched the Incredibles for the twentieth time. Ciaran and Sirah fell asleep for awhile and it was a nice way to pass a stormy afternoon.


June 19, 2005

Reasons we love Serona

Being father's day I just wanted to share some of the things that the kids and I love and appreciate about Serona and the father he is. He is truly a great man and we are blessed by him.

1. He is a godly man
2. He strives to be better each day
3. He is a man of prayer and faithful service
4. He loves us above all
5. He is dedicated to his family
6. He is a faithful provider
7. He is humble and gives thanks and praise where it belongs
8. He is the smartest man we know
9. He is dedicated to being a life long learner and growing each day
10. He has his priorities in order
11. He rough houses
12. He mows the lawn
13. He changes light bulbs
14. He stayed true to his word that he was responsible for the dogs even when that means scooping poop, giving baths and everything else they need
15. He cleans when he gets frustrated
16. He motivates us all to be better
17. He plays guitar and sings
18. He is a great actor and finds time to be in performances
19. He is the best Aslan we know
20. He does the voices when he reads stories Frances is a favorite
21. He led our family to adopt Star Wars as part of our identity
22. He sews homemade jedi costumes
23. He has lightsaber duels with all of us
24. He always wears Sirah in the backpack
25. He has slept on the very edge of the bed for 6 years of family bedding
26. He has supported me through 6 years of breastfeeding anyone who has done this knows what a big sacrifice and adjustment it is for dad too!
27. He tells jokes
28. He laughs at our jokes when they are not funny
29. He is each and everyone of our biggest fans
30. He forgoes the fast and wealthy lifestyle of so many in his field to make stay at home parenting, homeschooling and our priorities a possibility
31. He does not begrudge us our beach days while he is stuck indoors working to make it possible
32. He goes camping with my friends
33. He makes those people his friends truly
34. He gives the kids tractor rides
35. He plays soccer in the backyard even with his sciatica
36. He always manages to Buck up buckaroo
37. He keeps our computers working
38. He keeps us on the cutting edge and early adopters in technology
39. He made me go wireless
40. He made us put a wall mounted flat screen monitor in our kitchen
41. He does science experiments
42. He demands much of the kids and treats them like the people they are instead of like the little children too many people think they are
43. He laughs
44. He dances
45. He blasts loud music throughout the house
46. He pulls weeds
47. He gets up and goes to work every day
48. He gets up on the weekends to spend time with us
49. He launches rockets
50. He lets the kids watch movies I would never but they really should be able to
51. He gives the kids freedom when I pull the reins too tight
52. He buys them Krispy Kreme
53. He gives horse rides throughout the house
54. He tells the kids he loves them every day
55. He prays for them every day
56. He demonstrates his faith in everyday life and in the little things
57. He is involved in our church
58. He is a good friend
59. He is a writer
60. He is a reader and helps our kids want to be readers too
61. He organized our home library by the Dewey decimal system
62. He got me to start blogging
63. He keeps us up in politics
64. He is involved in our community and our local politics
65. He volunteers
66. He is generous with his time and money
67. He is thankful and teaches the kids how to be
68. He is self-sacrificing but in a genuine and good way
69. He makes us walk the Mall of America
70. He will go outside and hike even when it is not his first choice
71. He loves long drives
72. He is spontaneous
73. He has adopted and embraced and encouraged our Irishness
74. He gets the yard work done even when I dread it and try to ignore it
75. He won’t let things slip in our home even when it means he gets little free time
76. He walks the walk louder than he talks the talk
77. He makes nearly every decision with our entire family in mind
78. He believes in our kids
79. He believes in me
80. He believes in himself
81. He is an optimist
82. He is genuine
83. He wears a kilt
84. He pierced his ears again because our daughter wanted someone to do it with her
85. He does puppet performances at doctors offices
86. He drives an old car with peeling paint and no functioning wipers.
87. He travels the country and world as needed to support our family
88. He is alone on Valentine's Day, our anniversary and Father's Day without complaint
89. He keeps us all young and content
90. He teaches the kids to sing
91. He teaches them to love life
92. He teaches them to love the Lord and have a faith of their own
93. He keeps us at a good church even when it can be hard
94. He models good behavior
95. He loves
96. He forgives and truly forgets and keeps no record of wrongs
97. He is kind and generous
98. He is fun
99. He is the kind of person you want to be with all the time
100. He is a husband, father, friend and man of God all rolled into one.

Thank you Serona for all you do for us. You truly are a great father. We are blessed by you.

Love Tenn, Rhia, Ciaran, and Sirah

June 18, 2005

Atlatl and Petroglyph Field Trip

Today we spent the day on an excellent field trip. It was a long drive for us but worth it for the activities we got to participate in. The kids got to each make their own atlatl or spear thrower. They made them pretty much from scratch After putting it all together they were able to draw symbols on them and then test them out with spears on a buffalo target - funny being vegetarian.

It was quite tough for Ciaran as his fingers barely wrapped around his atlatl - but with quite a bit of assistance from me and a volunteer he was able to manage and he hit his target twice - sufficient to receive the certificate of "buffalo hunter" just what they always needed. Rhiannon did quite well on her own and they did have to move the target line up for her but she managed to make three hits for her certificate. I even tried two throws and I was terrible!

We spent quite awhile looking at traditional artifacts that might have been used by Native Americans - Ciaran's favorite was the wood and stone weapon and Rhiannon's were the moccassins. Sirah just enjoyed being able to touch everything. All of the kids were amazed by the sign that said "Please touch - hands on" they both asked me and looked to me for assurance that they really could touch all this cool stuff!

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the site and looking at the petroglyphs. We had watched a brief introductory video which helped the kids understand more of what petroglyphs are and how a simple picture can represent a story and how those carvings are the written history of a generation of people. We compared our blogging/writing history/photos to the carvings they used and how people want to make records of their life and how amazing it is that these lasted. When they asked why we could not walk on parts of the rocks I explained how it could damage those carvings and we would lose the history. Just as we would not damage our photos we should not damage their history.

The kids were much more interested in this than I really thought they would be. I took them there thinking much of this might go over their heads and that it could be a flop - they might have been too young. While I will concede that they did not get as much out of it as an older child might have they did enjoy themselves, learn and develop an apprecaition for the petroglyphs and how hard it must have been to hunt with an atlatl and a spear. I believe they learned a lot and they did enjoy themselves and have fun. Not once did they ask to go home or stop doing what we were - they only seemed to ask for more. It was a good day even with the nearly 6 hours spent in the car roundtrip!

We also listened to The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and A Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis as well as another book on tape in the Arthur series by Marc Brown. I could hardly believe we listened to three books on tape! Ciaran and Sirah of course slep through parts of this but Rhia listened to all of them. She also read 6 storybooks to Ciaran and Sirah on the drive. They were well behaved and we even stopped for ice cream along the way! A good day was had by us all.


June 17, 2005

Rose Plants

There was one science concept I had put on hold until the spring/summer and that was plants. This summer we decided to tackle that subject just in an everyday sort of way. Originally we planned to plant a garden - well a wet and rainy spring and little time has thwarted that idea but we have found an alternate route to studying plants. We joined an arboretum and attend weekly - if not more. Some people look at me strange for thinking of bringing the kids there but they truly love it and will wake up and ask to go there. The flowers are beautiful, they have some hands on activities for the kids, and we can walk around outside, look at, smell and touch beautiful things. There are many interesting things to draw and to learn about and best of all their favorite question "What's that" can be immediately answered as most plants and flowers are labelled - bless them!

We had a class with our homeschool group there and we just explore and talk ourselves during our visits. To make it a bit more fun and educational when we were walking through the rose garden one day I asked the kids to each pick a particular rose plant or bush and claim it as their own. I encouraged them to pick one that was not yet blooming (very difficult to convince Rhiannon of this) so we could observe and watch it through the year. They each picked one and we took pictures and made observations about the plant in the stage it was in. Observing the different leaves and buds and development of the flowers. Each week we check in with the same plant, take new pictures and make new observations. When they see the roses at their peak I think they will be most excited - yet when they look back and discover they watched the plant through its development I think that will be exciting too. Then each can develop a little book or something for their particular plant for keepsake. It is fun, easy, very educational and they enjoy it. I think it has also helped give them some sense of ownership and desire to return to the arboretum regularly. You could do this anywhere with any plant that has not bloomed yet.


Raising Tadpoles

We finally found some local tadpoles to raise. I originally wanted to raise from eggs but as we never found any - we decided to go right from tadpoles. So we have no idea whether they will be frogs or toads. We collected two from a local pond area and brought them home and set them up in a little tank here. The kids love watching them and have shown reserve and not touched them much to their sadness. I agreed they may keep them for four days after they make the final transition into frogs and then we will release them back to their home pond. In case you are wondering I am fully expecting and prepared for tears and protests when it comes time to release them.

The morning that we found them we began the day by reading "Growing Frogs" by Vivian French which talks about doing exactly what we did and how to do it. We went out for a walk and found some and caught them in a little plastic container. The kids could not be more excited. At first I just expected Ciaran to be excited but all three of them are.

Rhiannon and Ciaran are positive the tadpole is already developing its rear legs - I am not convinced yet. However, I am first to admit that these two have proven me wrong before. Last year we raised butterflies and released them and here is what they had to say about the experience then. I am pretty sure they will enjoy raising tadpoles as much if not more. The metamorphisis is different, much slower and less dramatic but still very interesing and there is more interest in frogs and toads in this house then there was about butterflies. Also it is fun to watch the tadpoles zip all around the tank.

Will try to post updates as they happen. Of course while raising tadpoles those updates will be far in between each other.


Swimming Lessons and Beach Days

We have been taking daily swim lessons at an area lake. The kids really enjoy it and it is good for me because it gets me outside every day. While they take their lessons Sirah and I play in the sand and water. Then since we have already gone through the effort of getting to the beach we stay and enjoy the afternoon for a few hours. Once you have done all the work to get there you might as well enjoy it!

I must admit I am enjoying being at the beach each day. I grew up on the ocean and I dealry miss it. While I am still not ready to admit that a lake shore is the same as an ocean shore it is admittedly more relaxing for me than worrying about the waves. The kids are able to stand in the water pretty far out and I have discovered that Rhiannon is a fish, just like me. She stays in the water nearly the entire time - the other day for over three hours straight.

I must admit amazement at her progress. We have worked little to none with her when it comes to swimming. She had a pretty strong fear of the water until recently so we never pushed it and I signed her up for a very early beginner class (her and Ciaran are actually in the same class) and she has progressed quickly. Her instructor let me know I should plan to advance her to the next level for the second session. She is clearly over her fear of water. Doing cannonballs and bellyflops off the dock. She is playing games holding hands and going under the water. She has taught herself to swim under water and is making progress on her doggie paddle, flutter kicks and back floats. I am guessing by the end of the summer she will have a grasp on swimming.

Ciaran is doing about what I expected - he is on the younger side and his attention span is pretty short. But his behavior and listening skills did improve when I told him I would take him out after the first class. He is learning some skills and still has little to no fear of the water - he is the one I most need to worry about and be on top of at the lake. Thankfully he has decided that he really wants to master catching fish and spends most of the day skimming the water with his net or bucket trying to catch them. So he is pretty self-contained and relatively easy to keep tabs on - atleast until the novelty of trying to catch fish wears off.

Sirah is loving the shoreline. She enjoys running up and down the shoreline in ankle deep water. Occasionaly she walks out far enough to squat down and get wet to her tummy - any higher than that and she is unhappy. Yesterday she got brave enough to lay down in the water and practice kicking - she spent nearly an hour doing that. I tried to bring her out into the deep water twice. She responded by clinging to me and saying hurts, cold, back there, out now - until I relented and we went back to shore where she resumed her usual activities. She also enjoyed digging in the sand and playing with her water wheel. When she gets cold she climbs up onto my lap and has me wrap a towel around us and she lays there like she is asleep until she is warm enough to get down again.

They have been relaxing and enjoyable days. We have settled into a routine and today when we did not have swim lessons we still went to the beach for two hours. We have a few more weeks of lessons to enjoy being outdoors - I may even sign up for the second session now. I am thankful the lessons are outdoors as we spend more time outside this way. I feel okay saying this because we already did have one rainy day and one cold day as well as two nice days for lessons so far. The rain was not as miserable as I feared and we still were outside on a day I would not usually have let them out. If you have an opportunity for outdoor lessons in a lake I recommend it. Of course I took my own lessons outside in the cold community pool, not in the nice indoor heated pools of todays lessons.


June 14, 2005

Baby Gosling

This morning Ciaran came running in from outside holding a baby gosling! At first I thought it was a frog he caught but he kept saying I caught a bird! Completely astonished I looked and discovered it was a gosling. The gosling does not appear to be hurt but is quite young. The kids took turns petting her gently (some research indicates that brown eyed goslings are femals and blue eyed male)and I went to find out what we are to do with this gosling. There is no sign of the mother or siblings anywhere. We have a fenced yard and two dogs so I am wondering if the dogs scared off the family and they accidently left this young one behind.

I had the kids listen carefully and sure enough they can hear the gosling make sounds which I imagine is her calling for her mother. We will bring the gosling to the part of the yard where Ciaran found her and keep enough distance in hopes the mother will come back. Otherwise we will need to capture her again and hold her while I call our local animal rehabilitation center.

I really had no idea what to do and my kids are thrilled and want to keep the gosling as a pet. This was a helpful website on what to do when you find a baby bird. Ciaran let it go nearby and is watching for its mother.

UPDATE: Well we followed the advice to release and watch and I am not so sure this was the best strategy. As we live in a fenced area and all our neighbors have fences too. The gosling ran under a fence and into neighbor bushes. We went to try find it but can not locate it. Now of course I am concerned for this little gosling as they really can not survive well without their parents and there has been no sign of the parents yet.

My children are concerned too now because they are worried and I was insistent that they release the bird so it could find its parents. Now they feel like the gosling has noone no parent and not even them to help. We will keep looking.


June 13, 2005

Triple Tasking

Tonight I had a very effective 30 minutes. During that time I finished my current knitting project (a bible cover for Rhiannon), rode the exercise bike for 30 minutes and watched part of a movie, all at the same time. I put my exercise bike in front of the TV put on a movie and picked up my knitting. I wasn't sure it would work or that I would be effective at either. But I actually found I was quite effective at both. You see I wanted to knit but needed to exercise. So I said to myself you can knit so long as you are exercising. This kept me going far longer than I would have just sitting on the bike even while watching a movie. I told myself I had to make it to the end of the row before I could stop biking. This kept me working on my knitting at a good pace because my legs really wanted to stop. Then I started up again because I really wanted to knit. It worked for me.


I've seen better days

The kids woke up arguing and went to bed that way and spent most of the day in between the same. They must have cotton stuck in their ears for much of what I said fell on deaf ears - especially when those ears belonged to Ciaran. At first I thought it was just me but when their swimming instructor also seemed unable to communicate effectively then I just knew something was wrong with their hearing.

Rhiannon must have special cotton in her ears that leads her to hear the opposite of what I say. I said go she heard stay, I said stop she heard go. It was particularly interesting when I said pizza and she heard cereal for dinner. Her day was filled with moments like this. I am hopeful that a good night's sleep will restore their good hearing which will of course return us to our regularly scheduled behavior in place of this "special" programming we experienced today.


Another reason to homeschool

Parents in Shrewsbury Massachusetts are rightly outraged that their school district will not allow the to view a copy of the survey their sixth grade children were given at school, which included several sexually explicit questions.

When asked to view the survey the parents were told that:

"The school committee in Shrewsbury will not allow parents to view copies of the survey because they feel parents will "misinterpret" the questions."

Parents are rightly angry. No matter how you feel about 6th grade students being asked questions about their sex lives the parents should be able to view what their children are being asked. One parent when interviewed stated:

"Still, Fisher -- who has an 11-year-old daughter in the school system -- says there is a great deal of anger among parents in his neighborhood and across the town.

"First, [because] of the contents of the survey -- and then secondly, [because] we have been purposely kept in the dark and [are being] made to feel as though we're backward, we're ignorant, [and] we would misinterpret these questions," the Massachusetts father remarks. "The problem is, we interpret them correctly. It's the school department that is misinterpreting these questions [and] seeing nothing wrong with them."

To read more view the article from AgapePress news.


June 12, 2005

Days Outdoors

While the weather is just perfect, upper 70's low 80's we try to spend as much time outdoors as we can. Today was a good example of that. After church we went to a picnic in the park with members from our church. There was a playground, wading pool and picnic area. The kids and I shared a picnic lunch of almond butter/jelly sandwiches, strawberries, cheese and crackers. I had snippets of conversations with people between watching the kids. All three loved the wading pool and it was difficult to get them to leave. Sirah feel asleep in my arms and I had an interesting conversation about extended nursing with someone - it was much more pleasant then those conversations typically are. We finally left, much to Ciaran and Rhia's disappointment after two and a half hours of nearly nonstop pool time.

Home for naps and then dinner. We headed back outside to a nearby playground where we spent the next three hours. The kids spent the time alternating between playing on the slides, swings and tire swing with riding their bike and scooter and running and jumping in mud puddles. I had bits of conversations with other parents - including a family who I never met before but recently made the decision to homeschool and live a few blocks away - hooray! I could hardly belive that we managed to pass the time away until 8:30 pm! Home for baths, bedtime stories and blessed sleep.

I am hopeful for good sleep from each of them. We start swimming lessons tommorrow - weather permitting. Yes we are actually taking them outdoors, none of this heated pool stuff - unfortunately looks like rain all week.


Ask Tenn - Before Kids

What did you do before you became a mother and a homeschooler?

In the days BK (before kids) I wore several hats. Perhaps my favorite BK hat was that of intercollegiate debate coach. I spent the last two years before Rhiannon was born coaching a college debate team and traveling the country with them. I loved coaching, it was one of those things I was clearly made to do. I was good at it, I loved it and my team loved me. Serona and I met through debate, and I actually was his debate coach during our first year of marriage (how complicated was that?). We used to joke that we got married so we can argue more conveniently (anyone know the book reference?) - as former debaters and excellent research and communications scholars we certainly have our moments.

When I coached debate I was surrounded by young smart college students who cared. They were smart, passionate and informed. They were hard working, dedicated and believe it or not fun! Leaving the debate community was difficult because I was surrounded by people who could and wanted to hold deep conversations on subjects that mattered to me. The people I was surrounded by knew how to research, construct arguments and discuss nearly anything and we were talkers.

But alas debate life is not family life and we had to move on. For awhile I thought that was going to be my career track and then we discovered we were pregnant with Rhiannon and life changed in many ways, all for the good. Debate, for all its glory had a serious family downside, near continuous travel and when not traveling all consuming work and research. I could not balance debate and family life so I left to stay home.

Before Rhiannon was born I also taught college Public Speaking 101, worked for the public relations department of a university, in the government publications department of the library and held other odd jobs that saw me through college (including being a door to door canvasser for the environment).

After our first was born we moved to Georgia where Serona worked for a non-profit organization and I started staying home full time. To help make ends meet I worked some part-time from home as a web designer. I also worked part-time for a fair trade coffee company and importer. I kept up these jobs until we moved to Minnesota and were expecting Ciaran.

Then I moved into more and more volunteer work. In one year I helped start two non-profit organizations and was heavily involved with La Leche League. Breastfeeding, attachment parenting and natural parenting were pretty defining terms and lifestyle choices during that time in my life. My work in La Leche League led me down the path that ultimately led me to homeschooling.

Sirah's pregnancy was very difficult on me as was my recovery time and I found myself pulling back from most of my volunteer organizations. By then we were also homeschooling and I soon discovered that while I was still an attachment style parent and extended nursing (three siblings of different ages at one point) those things were no longer defining for me - homeschooling had become much more of the label that described me or that I self-described as.

Now I find myself raising and homeschooling three kids (well mostly just playing with Sirah), staying home full time and slowly getting back into volunteer work. Now my volunteer time is more split between the church, my homeschool groups, and politics. But homeschooling takes much time and energy and placing my family first has limited what I do outside the home and how much time I can dedicate to it.

At times I miss some of the things I did before I had kids and homeschooled but overall I am very content with where I am in life now and I am thankful for the opportunities I have had. Homeschooling allows me to still do many of the things I loved about coaching and teaching. I still get to experience those "light bulb" moments when the kids really truly get it. Only now I see them more often and I am the one who gets the joy of sharing those moments with my own kids.

Thanks for asking.

June 11, 2005

Ask Tenn - Kids Names

" How did you choose the names for your children?"

Rhiannon - Taken from the Fleetwood Mac song and also a relative with the name.

Ciaran - a gaelic name for our heritage

Sirah - This developed out of the name Sirannon, a stream in Middle Earth and from another charachter in a Fantasy novel by Melanie Rawn

June 10, 2005

Arboretum Field Trip

We went to an arboretum with our homeschool support group for a field trip. The arboretum provided a backpack of supplies and the moms took turns teaching different classes with the supplies and worksheets provided. The supplies and classes went well it was a great field trip and I would recommend contacting your nearby arboretum and asking them if they offer any classroom kits or supplies for a self-guided tour. The kids learned about colors in the garden, different kinds of plants, trees, shrubs and stems. I taught a section in a herb garden and the kids went around rubbing and smelling the leaves of the different plants. I had the kids look at different leaves and colors and what they all realized was that plants smell. Then they ended the class with a section on snails and what where snails live and how they eat and they used magnifying glasses and looked around.

The trip was good but Ciaran's temper was not as good. He has two major meltdowns and it was difficult at times. We managed to make it through though the day and still enjoy the overall trip.


Got Questions?

Anyone have a burning question they want to ask me? Wonder something about our family, homeschooling, me personally, how we do something? Leave a comment with a question and I will answer it to the best I can sometime this week on my blog.


Nerds Make Better Lovers

According to Elle magazine: "Ready for a real relationship? Ditch the pretty boys and grab yourself a geek."

The article goes on to say

'A nerd is an excellent provider and a guy who puts you first,' says E. Jean Carroll, Elle magazine's love and sex advice columnist. 'He'll turn out to be a great father and a great husband.'

And, she insists that a woman who is willing to stick it out with a nerd and get past his quirks will be handsomely rewarded. 'Don't give up on him too fast,' she said. 'If you stick with him, he's going to turn out to be really great.' "

Okay I have some experience here. Serona definately qualifies under some categories as a geek. He would wear this label with pride for some areas of his life. Just last night I came home and found him on the computer and asked what he was doing to which he responded "geeking out" he was reading scienceblog.com, articles on time travel, space exploration and time. The other day he asked me if I ever just think about the relationship between space and time and then proceeded to have a conversation about it. Our home library is filled with philosophy and science fiction/fantasy books. He is a HUGE star wars fan and a computer programmer. Of course I am very blessed because I not only snagged a geek, but a cool and good looking one too!

What the columnist said is true. Serona is an amazing provider, husband and father. He puts me and the kids first and is really an all around great guy. Should I start a club "Proud to be married to a geek?"

Still looking for your mate and interested in a "geek" you could check out Geek2Geek.


June 9, 2005

The Hobbit - A Play

We recently went to see The Hobbit done by the Minnesota Children's Theater. It was very well done. They did a great job portraying Middle Earth, which is a complex place. The costuming was good and the scenery very well done. The managed to do Smaug the dragon quite well and I especially enjoyed the Gandalf charachter.

There were some pacing issues at times it went too long and they probably could have cut out a few parts to make it run smoother but overall it was enjoyable. The kids seemed to like it, Ciaran got scared at points. Rhiannon said parts of it were "tense" but it was good even with the tense parts.

Even Serona took the morning off to join us for the show. When we go as a homeschool group you simply cannot beat the price - for our family of 5 to go it was 36.00 for a professional performance that typically costs nearly that for one ticket. It was a bit loud before and during the breaks of the show but it was quiet enough during the show. The theater's website offers some followup activities - even if you havent seen the play but just read the books you may want to check out Hobbit Study guide.


June 8, 2005

Day of Freebies

Today has been my day for posting freebies, be sure to scroll down for free lessons, posters, printables, nutrition information and books.


Free Currency Resources

The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing is offering free posters and lessons on the new US currency. For more information and to order your copy check out US Bureau of Engraving and Printing Youth Education.


Blogging for Books

Millennium Hippies started blogging reviews of books and I decided to follow in her footsteps and become a blogging reviewer for Mind and Media. The way it works is I choose and receive free Christian books to read and review on my blog. That's it. I read and review it and I get to keep the free book and I get to select which ones I want to review. Great deal for me, free books, great deal for them, free publicity. You too can join too, learn more here.


Free Products

Currently there is an educational supply company promtion offering 25.00 worth of free products just for visiting their site. You can get an extra 10 for using a referrer - feel free to use me - name Tenn, addy: tennielatgmaildotcom. They carry primarily printable preschool worksheets, games, file folders and other supplies. Much of what they have available is free online but with this promtion it is free so worthwhile - I especially like their nutrition information.

Worth a visit atleast and possibly picking up some free materials, visit Reach for the Stars.


June 7, 2005

Daily Log

Today I decided to keep a log of what I did throughout the day as I did it. Not a schedule of what I would do but a realistic glance into my day. Today was primarily a cleaning and organizing day as we recover from our camping trip over the weekend. We had several church activities as well.

5:30 shower and get out the door
6-7:15 bible study
7:15-8:30 car driving Serona to work
8:30-9:15 breakfast and check email
9:15-9:30 dishes/cleaning
930-945 nursing Sirah and managing squabbles between Rhia and Ciaran
9:45-10 everyone quiet time
10-12 clean entryway,organize closet, sweep, vacuum stairs
12-12:15 mail and paperwork
12:15-12:30 general pickup
12:30-12:45 nurse sirah for nap
1245-115 lunch and email
115-145 set up slip n slide
145-200 nurse Sirah
2-230 read for bible study and watch kids on slip and slide
230-245 vacuum living room, dining area and hallway
2:45-300 kids shower and changed
3:00-3:10 pickup bedroom
3:10- 350 blog book list
350-405 hunt down library books
4:05-4:15 IM with old friend
4:14-5:30 laundry
5:30-6:00 dinner and cleanup
6:00-6:20 driving
6:20-6:45 watch painted turtle lay and bury eggs
6:45-9:30 dessert and meeting at our pastors home
9:30-10:30 errands return library books, get dog food and aloe for kids sunburn
10:30-11 get kids bathed and ready for bed.
11pm blog and go to bed!

June 6, 2005

First Camping Trip

This weekend we went camping for the first time this season. We went with three other families from our homeschool support group. The kids had built in playmates and the parents got snippets of time in front of the campfire when the kids were otherwise occupied or sleeping.

Smores, rain, hikes, playground, campfires, exploring the woods, toads, collecting pieces of nature, hammocks and imaginary games. This was the fare of the weekend. I finished knitting a hat for Serona and made some progress on a poncho I am making as a gift.

Camping is one of those things I love to do. Even with the stress of packing and lugging and setting up so much for such a short time I find it relaxing. I didn't keep track of time and just enjoyed the slow pace of the days. Sitting around the campfire at night is one of my favorite things to do. Even after everyone else retired for the night I stayed up for awhile and enjoyed the moment.

Hopefully there will be many more camping trips this summer.


June 1, 2005

Enjoying the Outdoors

We have been spending nearly every possible minute outside and loving it! WE have done so many interesting things over the past few days but I have had little time or energy left to blog about them.

We have visited a historic farm and helped with farm chores, taken several nature hikes, found the first toad of the season, paddled a boat around a lake, launched rockets, visited the arboretum, various playgrounds, played family soccer games in our backyard, had birthday cake, evenings with friends, learned Star Wars Role Playing game as a family and many other fun things!

These few last days of May and early days of June are among the most precious to me in the whole year as the weather is beautiful typically 70's with blue skies and breezes. Very few mosquitoes are out yet and the humidity is in check. These early summer days and early fall days are my two favorite times of the year. I find all I want to do is spend the time with my famly outside.

I recently celebrated a birthday and when my kids asked if I was going to have my friends over for a party I said yes - I will have my four best friends with me. My kids starting listing my friends trying to guess who were my four best when it dawned on Ciaran - you mean us! I said yes I do. This weekend just reinforced for me that my family are the people closest to me and I am so thankful for them.