July 28, 2005

Ciaran the Naturalist

Ciaran is so much fun to be around especially in the summer. He truly is our little naturalist. We can be walking anywhere and it is all about some bug, frog, flower or moss he sees as he is walking. The whole world needs to stop while he examines and tries to catch or conquer whatever it is.

I am so torn as a mother because I want to foster his desires and natural curiosity so I want to let him explore and look and do things on his own timetable. Yet with Ciaran everything is so exciting it demands much time and exploration and then we never can get where the rest of us want to go. I find it is a delicate balance with him, allowing the curiosity and freedom but reigning him back to the moment or task at hand as well.

It truly is amazing though to be so focused on my "goal" of getting somewhere usually to be waylaid by "Mom look at this" and then we fill in the blank with whatever amazing thing he has discovered. Sometimes I just don't want to stop and look but he is so excited and enthusiatic it is hard to deny him. But when I stop I am always thankful I did. I really am. Because of Ciaran we have had many amazing experiences this summer.

We have found many bird eggs, hatched and unhatched, we examine bird nests, find toads and frogs, catch moths and dragonflies, have butterflies land on our toes, spend 20 minutes watching a morningdove build a nest and collecting sticks to lay out for her to help her, we examine moss, climb up hills, run through trees, pick flowers, learn the names and sounds of birds, stop driving and stay still to listen to birds and frogs, we see the bugs caught in spiderwebs, look under rocks, name clouds, smell flowers, pick up leaves and acorns and a million other things along these lines.

Not a day can go by without examining in awe atleast one of God's creations. I am thankful for that I truly am and I remind myself of that whenever we get off whatever my track was and on to the track of the moment that is happening to us right now. While those traits are also exasperating to me especially when the distractions happens in other areas like when he should be cleaning his room, listening to a book or focusing on a task at hand. I need to remind myself in those difficult moments of all the blessings that come from the same trait as it plays out in his life.

If nothing else he gets us outside every day and reminds us to always examine and be thankful for the amazing creations of God as small or large as they may be. That is a trait I pray he possesses throughout the entirety of his life.

Ciaran Rides a Bike

Ciaran is learning to ride a two wheeler or should I say he is almost done learning and is pretty good. We started three days ago and tonight he was riding nearly the length of the block with Serona running by his side. He is very excited and does not even mind riding his sisters old pink bike. It was his idea to learn and he pushed me even when I was hesitant or tried to encourage him back to his scooter. Just shows me he does it when he is ready and when it is his idea it is very easy as he is so motivated.

Rhiannon Learns Cursive

The other day she just asked to learn cursive. I was not really wanting to go down this road and tried to convince her to wait a little while. Yet her manuscript print is very neat so I saw litle argument other than I simply did not want to start teaching it yet, not really the best argument. I put it forward anyway and she asked me if I would just print her out tracing sheets on the computer then. How could I argue. She did a great job and got some giggles over the way different letters looked. She asked to learn how to write her name and see how the letters combined. She practiced writing her name 5 times before she was happy with it, I was pleased after the second attempt!

I was wondering where the desire to write cursive came from and then I realized there have been some cursive words in the books she has been reading and she was probably wanting to understand them better so she saw this as a way to do it. She is frustrated when she seems a letter or words in cursive because she knows she can read but she can't read cursive yet. I think that is what was pushing th drive for cursive writing. It certainly did not come from me.

Swim Lessons

Well swim lessons are finally over. While I loved taking lessons outside 6 weeks of going to the beach without choice every weekday was getting old and I will be happy to have the freedom to decide whether or not to go and to not go on days when the weather isn't the greatest.

Rhiannon is Red Cross certified for Level One, she came close to passing Level 2 but needs to work on arm/leg combinations and will retake the class again.

All in all I am thankful for the lessons and think the money was well spent. Both the older kids love the water and seem to have little fear yet a healthy respect for it, the combination that I am thankful for. With time I believe they can both become proficeint swimmers.

July 20, 2005

I Love My Life

As I write this I am sitting in a wine bar drinking good red wine, eating great gouda cheese and working on writing my book. It is a peaceful place, a community place, a free wireless place and an easy place to relax and write. I enjoy reading, writing, knitting, surfing the web or visiting with friends here. What a blessed life we have that I have this opportunity, privelage really to take time and be here. I trully am blessed.

Kiss your babies and your hubby too!

July 19, 2005


Here is a creative Quidditch lesson plan. If you happen to have a large group of children who have read and enjoy Harry Potter this would be a fun game to learn. I think I would like to learn it myself.

Check it out here.


July 18, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

We purchased the book Saturday and I began it Saturday night and finished up this morning. I can't do a full review yet because I would need to include too many spoilers and I am going to guess that many of you have not yet read the book.

Lately I have immersed myself in the world of Potter again. I watched the first three movies, read parts of Goblet of Fire and all of Order of the Phoenix. I have been knitting a very large Hogwarts Gryffindor scarf and listening to the soundtracks of the first three movies. I enjoy doing these things before a new movie or book comes out, to refresh my mind of the story.

I still feel that my favorite book is Book Five: Order of the Phoenix (which Serona really dislikes) and while I did enjoy the newest book it was predictable with few surprises for me. It had a slow start and I thought the use of the pensieve got a bit old and was just a convienant storytelling tool.

I do like where the series is going however and the explanations that came out. I think this is a good setup book. Not a book I am thrilled with by itself - yet it sets up things for the following book and does a lot of explanation for the series. I think what is unimpressive to me is the things set up to be surprises or twists in the book did not seem that way to me as I figured them out quite early.

I always go back to the fact that these are children's books though so I should not expect too much subtly and difficulty in reading them. I suppose some may be surprised by what I found predictable but that did take out some of the fun for me.

In my opinion the enjoyable part of the story begins in chapter 22 - 469 pages into the book! There were a few good moments or chapters up until then but that is when the story really drew me in.

Hope you enjoy the book.

July 17, 2005

Summer Reads

For the summer I have decided to follow a different format - I will post most of the books we read (as best as I can record) for the months of June-August in categories. There will be many repeats to be sure as I am not going to go through and see if we already recorded that book and we often read the same book over and over again during the summer. To me the summer is a time to share some of my absolute favorites, the books I feel are must reads and then the rest gets filled in by the kids choices from our current selection and the library.

Reality Check - I don't post half of what we read. I am so out of a normal rhythm in the summer and Rhiannon reads on average a chapter book a day - she has been into the Great American Classics and the American Girl series this summer. Regular posting to resume in September. But there still are some good finds in the list.

Favorite Reads
Bird House, The - Rylant, Cynthia
Crane Wife, The - Yagawa, Sumiko
Frog and Toad are Friends - Lobel, Arnold
Day with Wilbur Robinson, A - Joyce, William
Ten Little Ladybugs - Gerth, Melanie
Stone Soup - Brown, Marcia
Story About Ping, A - Flack, Robert
Sailor Moo Cow at Sea - Wheeler, Lisa
Little Mouse, the red ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear - Wood, Don and Audrey
Growing Frogs - French, Vivian

Little Sibu - Grindley, Sally
Love Your Forever - Munsch, Robert
Runaway Bunny, The - Brown, Margaret Wise
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom - Martin, Bill
I'm Gonna Like Me - Curtis, Jamie Lee
Velveteen Rabbit, The - Williams, Margery
My Many Colored Days - Dr Suess
Where the Wild Things Are - Sendak, Maurice
Blueberry Shoe - Dixon, Ann
Wide Mouthed Frog, The - Faulkner, Keith

Other Reads
Who Built the Pyramids - Hooper, Meredith
Bashi Elephant Baby - Radcliffe, Theresa
Gorky Rises - Steig, William
Secret Room, The - Shulevitz, Uri
What Daddies do best - Numeroof, Laura
What Mommies do Best - Numeroff, Laura
Amelia Bedelia and the baby - Parish, Peggy
Exploring Earth's Treasures - Olson, Donald
Anansi the Spider - McDermott, Gerald
Copycats Animal Noises - Powell, Richard

Love - Moncure, Jane Belk
Trow Wife's Treasure, The - Dunrea, Olivier
Marmalade and the Magic Birds - Harris, Robin
Froggy Goes to School - London, Johnathen
England: Countries and Cultures - Boraas, Tracey
Freight Train - Crews, Donald
Hooray for You! - Richmond, Marianne
Oh Say Can You Say Terrible Tongue Twisters - Dr Suess
Storm Book, The - Zolotow, Charlotte
Wheels on the Bus, The - Zelinsky, Paul

Play Ball Amelia Bedelia - Parrish, Peggy
Flashy Fantastic Frogs - Patent, Dorothy
Frogs: Leaping Amphibians - Schaefer, Lola
Let's Go Froggy - London, Johnathen
Froggy Plays in the Band - London, Johnathen
Froggy Learns to Swim - London, Johnathen
Froggy Goes to the Doctor - London, Johnathen
Wolf's Chicken Stew, The - Kasza, Keiko
Animals of Buttercup Farm, The - Dunn, Phoebe
Ancient Legends of Ireland - Lally, Soinbhe

Three Stre-e-etchy Frogs - Bentley, Dawn
Counting Kisses - Katz, Karen
Goodnight Moon - Brown, Margaret Wise

Rhiannon's Reads
Henry and Mudge and the Wild Goose Chase - Rylant, Cynthia
Gorky Rises - Steig, William
Girl who Loved Wild Horses, The - Goble, Paul
Beauty and the Beast - Boyle, Eleanor
My j book - Moncure, Jane Belk
My first book - Moncure, Jane Belk
My d book - Moncure, Jane Belk
My e book - Moncure, Jane Belk
My t book - Moncure, Jane Belk
My b book - Moncure, Jane Belk

My r book - Moncure, Jane Belk
My n book - Moncure, Jane Belk
Peter Pan - Great Illustrated Classics - JM Barrie
Three Stre-e-etchy Frogs - Bentley, Dawn
Magical Ballerina Slippers, The - Ellsworth, Nick
When I Was Little - Curtis, Jamie Lee
Today I Feel Silly and other moods that make my day - Curtis, Jamie Lee
Bear Wants More - Wilson, Karma
Baby Sister for Frances, A - Hoban, Russell
Zelda and Ivy - Kvasnosky, Laura McGee

Beauty and the Beast and other stories - Great Illustrated Classics
Liitle Women - Great Illustrated Classics - Alcott, Louisa
Furry Alphabet Book, The - Pallotta, Jerry
Miss Spider's Tea Party - Kirk, David
Looking for Atlantis - Thompson, Colin
Yucky Reptile Alphabet Book The - Pallotta, Jerry
Twelve Hats for Lena - Katz, Karen
Wolf's Chicken Stew - Kasza, Keiko
Anne of Green Gables Great Illustrated Classics (GIC)- Montogomery LM
Danger at the Zoo: A Kit Mystery - Ernst, Kathleen

Gulliver Travels:GIC - Swift, Johnathen

Mommy Reads
Cybernation - Clancy, Tom
Jonathen Livingston Seagull - Bach, Richard - recommended
Red Hats Ride Again - Smith, Haywood
Table for Five - Wiggs, Susan
Walk to Remember, A - Sparks, Nicolas
Legacy of Love, A : Things I Learned from My Mother - Graham, Ruth
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Rowling, JK
Forever - Hamill, Pete
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - Rowling, J.K.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Rowling, J.K.

The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush - Gerhart, Ann (in progress)
Created to be his Help-Meet - Pearl, Debi (in progress)
A Good Yarn - Macomber, Debbie (in progress)
Hedges - Jenkins, Jerry (in progress)

Audio Books
Anne of Avonlea - Montgomery, LM
Anne of the Island - Montgomery, LM
Arthur Chapter Books Volume 5 - Brown, Marc
Horse and His Boy, A - Lewis, CS
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - Lewis, CS
Prince Caspian - Lewis, CS
Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Lewis, CS

Last updated July 20, 2005

July 14, 2005

Cool Geography Tool

We have recently been using the cool new google geography tool called Google Earth. This is a free download that is currently being beta tested. It utilizes satellite technology and gives you a perspective on the size, location and distances of places on planet Earth. We spent the morning finding our old homes, places we've travelled to, our family members, our old schools and favorite places and showing the kids where the missionaries we support live. It is pretty cool. I recommend it and think you will find it interesint, educational and informative. I must admit I think Serona and I enjoy it even more than the kids right now!


July 11, 2005

Scottish Fair and Games

We spent this weekend at the Scottish Games and Fair of Minnesota. While neither of us is very Scottish, Serona does have some Scotch blood in him, we all had a grand time. Serona was excited to attend a place he would not be alone in his kilt. Though he found he was still different as he was wearing a UtiliKilt where most everyone else there was wearing a more traditional dress tartan kilt.

We arrived in time to watch the caber toss. For those of you unaware - big strong men in kilts throw very large poles (think telephone pole) and try to flip them 90 degrees. The kids thought it was a hoot and it was interesting to watch and those men have my admiration even if I can not understand the sport!

There were several other heavyweight games such as stone-throwing, weight tossing, hammer-throwing, and sheaf tossing. There was a tug of war, sheep herding (the border collies handled this), dance and of course music competitions. I do love the sounds of bagpipes and Celtic drums. To be surrounded by Celtic music all day was wonderful.

There were many good vendors and we managed to drop quite a bit of money. Both Serona and Ciaran bought their first dress black watch tartan kilt:

We also picked up a Celtic Sword, and great dress up stuff for the kids: swords, breastplates and shields that were reasonably priced, good quality and more authentic looking than you usually find.

The evening ended with a Ceilidh. For those unaware a Ceilidh is pronounced "Kay-lay", (emphasis on the 1st syllable), is many things. It derives from the Gaelic word meaning "a visit" and originally meant just that (and still does in Gaelic)! It can also mean a house party, a concert or more usually an evening of informal Scottish traditional dancing to informal music. Ceilidhs in the Lowlands tend to be dances...in the Highlands they tend to be concerts!

In many ways an Irish fair and a Scottish fair are similar. There are differences to be sure and I would never claim to be Scottish because I am Irish but there are many similarities that help you feel at home. The Celtic music and dress and overall attitude being the primary ones. Bagpipes, which are not that common, make you feel at home if you love them one way or the other. A Celidh and a Ceili (Irsh) are so similar it can be hard to tell the difference. No wonder I felt so at home being as Irish as I am.

We ended the evening with a failed attempt at camping there. After setting up tent and settling everyone down and fighting with them for over an hour we realized between the fireworks, music, and general sounds of people visiting it was going to be a long time before we settled them down, we had to head home - but all in all a great day. I highly recommend visiting one.


July 6, 2005

School is Out

Well I went back and forth and then finally admitted to myself we are truly taking a summer vacation from school type work. At first I thought I would try to keep up with math, handwriting and phonics but then I realized we all need the break. Of course Rhiannon still reads about an hour a day just by her own choice. Yesterday I had to talk to her about walking upstairs with her nose in a book, though I must admit it was a precious moment to me to realize she was so interested in her story that she was unwilling to pause to come up the stairs so she needed to double task. She also writes letters, cards, journal entries or just word lists on her own about once or twice a week. We also tend to do math problems in the car as we drive, simple addition and subtraction games. So I figure we are keeping the skills we learned fresh in her mind once a week and she is reading enough for me to not need to do anything. Besides having the break is refreshing and good for all of us.

We do more field trips. Our memberships to the arboretum, zoo and historical sites are getting good use as is our local beach. We take swim lessons, ride bikes and play at the park. We look for frogs, moths, butterflies and birds nests. We examine eggs, find lost animals and just enjoy being outside. We seem to drive more so we also listen to more books on tape. In general we spend lots of time outside and doing interesting things. Learning through all of them and just plain having fun, an important part of childhood to be sure.

The one thing I struggle with is we read so much less than I am used to. Those of you who read my blog regularly have surely noticed how much shorter our reading list is than usual. This is because we are spending less time reading, tend to read and reread our favorite books over and over again and because I am worse about keeping records in the summer when I am not keeping other records regularly. I do feel a bit guilty for the change in our reading habits. Part of me justifies it by saying with Rhiannon is reading more on her own, but still the other two need me to read to them.

Don't get me wrong we probably still read more than an average family does but I feel a real lack and I find myself missing the closeness of reading time in our house. Of course I know I need to let them be outside and enjoy this good weather for the few months we have it, but I miss our reading time. Occasionally a day will go by when I realize I did not read aloud to a child today and that saddens me as we typically spend over an hour each day reading aloud. I am trying to get better about reading before bed regularly at least. Truth be told though the kids would rather get five more minutes in on their bikes or running in the yard so I comply and let the reading time decrease, knowing I will pick it up again in the fall when everyone want to snuggle under a blanket and read for an hour at a time.

Hope you are enjoying your summer vacation.


July 1, 2005


I find that since this is typically a homeschooling blog I write far too little about baby Sirah - who I can't really call a baby anymore. She is fastly approaching her second birthday and is such a joy to be with, even with the increasing tempers!

She is my little Irish lass. If there was one word that sums up Sirah right now it might be "Meself". I hear that word probably more than any other she says and she says quite a few. To Sirah, meself means "me", "Sirah", and "I do myself" so she says it in place of those words often. She is very much in the "I do it meself" stage. I am not sure where the whole meself thing came from. I think it was just too cute to correct and it stuck and now it is just her personality and who am I too change it, besides it really is very cute. Especially since she has this impish grin, mischievous smile and reddish hair, very fitting to say the least.

Sirah has been enjoying this summer. I can hardly believe the freedom I give her, freedom I did not give her siblings. Partly because she is a third child and I have learned and partly because she is such an independent and good kid. She loves playing in the yard with the kids, running up and down the beach at swim lessons and having enough space to do things herself. She can play by herself and entertain herself quite well. She climbs the bunk bed ladders, gets her own shoes on, picks out her clothes and does part of her seatbelt (she is adamant about that).

She has begun enjoying books and asking for them just as much as asking to nurse before naps and bed. She insists on picking out a story herself for storytime and fights with the other two over whose story I will read first.

While she generally is content to not fight for attention she has a way of being heard and voicing her opinion. I think her cuteness is a big factor too. She has taken to singing in the car her favorite is "winkle, winkle ittle star" and her ABC song. Lately she has taken to trying to run the opposite direction and try to get away but is content to get caught and break out into giggles. She laughs and giggles so many times in a day it is good for me to remember how healthy and important it is too laugh!

I can already see less laughter, smiles and giggles from my older two and we need to get back to being downright silly to protect that healthy laughter and fun I think that is part of what makes kids bounce so easily and makes them such a joy to be around.

Sirah is precious and we all love being around her. She still has an infectious smile and laugh and she is just the kind of kid you want to scoop up in your arms and cuddle and hold and smile with.