March 29, 2006

Music Recommendation

A friend recently introduced me to the CD Station Wagon by Sara Groves. It is truly a great cd for parents. Similar in sound and style to Sara Mclachlan, this Christian singer has great lyrics and a powerful voice. This particular CD is only available at her website or her concerts. You can listen to clips and view lyrics before purchasing.

Slow to buy cd's since I use streaming music this is one I am thankful I have. Will listen to on my computers and will be my car cd. AS if I ever get a chance to listen to my music in the car, we are currently on Charlie and the Glass Elevator. Thanks Mamadala!

In Him,

March 27, 2006

A glimpse into Ciaran

I realized that Ciaran's birthday presents this year offer a real glimpse into the boy he is. We are giving him a West African Balaphon, two meaningful books, a homemade fireman's hat and pair of mittens, a sketchbook and pencils, and some star wars toys.

The balaphon represents his love of music and his increasing desire to learn. He truly wants to learn an instrument and wants something of his own. We saw this and thought of him. Not the typical first instrument but somehow it fits him just right.

The fireman's hat was originally going to be chainmail but somehow this was the project I ended up knitting. It fits his love of dress up and being a hero. Hours of imaginary play and protecting his sisters and me to follow.

The mittens were a last minute project done just this past weekend. His is starting ice skating lessons tomorrow and needed another pair of mittens, ones that were flexible but warm, I decided a felted pair of mittens would do the trick.

The star wars toys represent his fun side and his love of playing but also a special connection and relationship with his dad who loves star wars. It is a move into boyhood and sharing those connections with daddy.

He also got a baseball bat and mitt a few weeks ago on a special daddy date and he can't wait for the snow to melt so he can try out his new sports equipment and also his skateboard. The skateboard and ice skating are clear Olympics influences.

The sketchbook and pencils go hand in hand with one of the books (The Raft) he is receiving and are a link between his love of drawing, learning and nature. Creating his own special "nature notebook" and his observations on God's creation that he has a special bond with.

The last two gifts are perhaps the most important ones for me to give him and really show his personality right now. Typically we buy one special book for their birthday each year but this year I could not decide between two and bought them both. I wrote an inscription inside each book and I will share it here. The inscriptions relate both to the books and my son. To the parts of the books that I want to highlight or remind me of him.

The first book "I'd Be Your Hero: A royal tale of Godly character" by Kathryn O'Brein was also the subject of a recent class. The story of a boy and his mother and a representation of the godly character traits little boys have and develop. My inscription:

"Dearest Ciaran,

You are 5 years old! Hooray! I am proud of the boy you are and of the man you will one day become. You will always be my hero and I will always love you just the way God made you.

I know that you will always stand up for and protect me and your sisters all the days of your life. Ciaran you are brave, compassionate, determined, a hard worker, fiercely loyal, talented, humble, smart, able to make good choices, friendly, cheerful with an infectious smile and laugh, caring, strong, generous, prayerful, respectful and obedient.

You are special and my hero just the way God made you and by the good choices you make each day as you grow into that man. I will always love you my son."


The second book we will give him is "The Raft" by Jim LaMarche. It is about a boy who goes to stay with his grandmother on a lake and finds a love of nature and an artist within himself through the events of the summer. This book just screams Ciaran, he is so into nature and all that goes with it. My inscription:

"Dearest Ciaran,

Happy 5th birthday! This book just called your name to me. You are my "little naturalist" and no doubt if we lived on a river you would be our "river rat." You have a love and heart for God's creation. Hold it close and nurture it all the days of your life.

You also have a quiet artistic side that I am sure will develop over time. Nurture those gifts and passions that God has granted you and laid upon your heart. May you draw closer to Him each day of your life as you wonder at and appreciate His masterful creation.

All our love,
Mommy and Daddy"

Perhaps these presents give you a glimpse into dear Ciaran and I suppose also into us as parents and what we choose to give as gifts to him and the reasons behind them. I have enjoyed these five years and am thankful for the blessing he is to our family and to my heart.


Our day

Decided to share a glimpse into our day today. Enjoy.

Woke up around 6:30am to two kids and a dog in our room. One child had already been there for several hours. Serona let the dog out and sent the kids back to their rooms. I stayed in bed another half hour. We got everyone up and ready and out the door to drive Serona to work. Back home again for breakfast and a little bit of play time. During free playtime Ciaran finished building a train track in the living room, Sirah made a little bed for her doll who was going to sleep and Rhiannon built a stable and house for her horses and princesses, I caught up on a few emails.

We headed downstairs to start our school day. Rhia began with her Miquon math book and Ciaran with some dot to dots. Ciaran and I did a quick mini-lesson on bats at the desk next to Rhia while she worked on fractions and I answered questions for her. Meanwhile Sirah played nearby tracing stencils and doing puzzles. She grew impatient and I put on a playsongs video from Karen Henley that she does motions to and sings to. I finished working with Ciaran and Rhia who had then moved on to working on her Illustrated Bible project.

Sirah is pretending she is making cookies, and Ciaran is playing with powerful magnets trying all sorts of different things. Now he is working on his Orange Miquon book matching numbers and sets and practicing writing his numbers. Sirah came up to me and said "I need to do my exercises to get healthy." She began climbing up and down our indoor little slide. She informed me "This is a hard game. Now I need a drink of waters." Then after awhile she picked up some chalk and is drawing a big picture of me on our wall. We painted nearly an entire with chalkboard paint

I have been listening to "Mom watch me" and "Mommy are you watching and "Look" or "What's next." I go back and forth continually and sometimes simoltaneously with all three of them. It can tiring and at times they all are very demanding at the same time. But it is also more rewarding and I see how much we get done in a day.

Signing off for now at 11:30am - more to follow.

Ciaran and Sirah are playing Candlyland DVD - a fun game that burns ALOT of energy and they both enjoy it and get along while they play. I can manage the play while I work with Rhia on other things. She is reading a chapter from science. Right now we are working through a book about the human body and having good health.

I had one plan for science and we flushed it. Serona picked up an old science textbook at a garage sale and Rhia picked it up one day and started reading it and she loved it. So we worked through one entire science book already. Then at our support group book sale I found a few other texts like it. Think the typical science school book you were probably raised with. She chooses to read one chapter a lesson and then we talk about it. As she finds something of more interest we follow up with a more whole book approach and with web resources making it more of a unit study. This way she gets to read a braod base of information but go into more details.

Today she has read about bones, joints and muscles. She asked to do a little experiment about muscles while she held she muscles to see how they feel when she uses them. Then she asked to learn more about hinges and joints and the things that let our body move this way. After a quick google search: hinges joints kids - the second listing gave this ueful website with a short pictorial description with a brief image that shows the motion of your knee as a hinge joint.

Ciaran and Sirah played Lucky Ducks a noisy board game that works on matching colors. Rhiannon is walking around practicing the recorder. So my life is very loud now! These are the moments you question your sanity. Thankfully they are not all day and they last very briefly.

Rhiannon asked to learn the "song from Pollyana" which is America the Beautiful she read and practiced the lyrics for a few times after I sang it twice and then practiced singing it herself twice before we did it again with the lyrics. We ended the morning with a round of "Mr Mint says" from Candyland DVD for all of them, a play on Simon Says.

Off to make lunch now, signing off at 12:30


Bats Lesson

Impromptu lesson for Ciaran who turns 5 this week. He has been starting to want to do more and more each day.

Lately he has been very into doing connect the dot puzzles. I start nearly each morning by printing out a few connect the dots for him. Today he was looking over my shoulder and asked for the bat printout.

He did a connect the dots and then asked me if he could learn about bats. He wants to see pictures of them, know about their sounds and what their claws are used for. He wanted to see a video.

So I began my google searches with: creature feature bats. Creature Feature is a neat part of the National Geographic for kids website that offers videos, audio and fact files on a wide variety of animals. Here is the link for vampire bats.

We began by watching a video on vampirew bats. It showed a video of a vampire bat flying and catching prey as well as a group of them together. Then we read the fun fact files and learned about them. We listened to a one minute audio clip and located where they live on a world map. Then we sent daddy a postcard at work where Ciaran dictated to me all he learned and wanted to share with daddy.

Then we did a google image search for bats and looked at a variety of pictures. We watched a few brief video clips from and will end with reading a Gail Gibbons book on bats.

It was quick, easy and fun. I love google!

March 26, 2006

So there was this Elk Farm...

Hello all. This is Tenn's DH. Yes, I took the children, a little while ago, to an elk farm. DW has been asking me kindly to blog the event for oh about 6 months now. So, I thought now was as good a time as any. Honestly, it's difficult to remember much (it was so long ago) but apparently, it was a seminal event in the maturation of our children. NO, not maturation in that way! They didn't see anything that was difficult to explain ('are the elk hugging, daddy?').

It was a full-on farm experience. There was the mud. It was thigh high (at least you'd think so by the time we were done by looking at the kids). What is it about farms and mud? You can see it in the picture. Now understand, this is not a picture from our event. It's just a random elk farm picture. But you can see it there too. There is the mud and a large antlered elk standing like the cock-of-the-walk (er, elk-of-the-walk or elk-of-the-wok as we later found out!). I don't think wild elk wallow like farm elk seem to do. There are not wide expanses of hoof-churned mud out in the wild that attract elk like African water buffalo at a water hole.

So there we were, walking gingerly around mini mountains of mud. There was the obligatory farm cat underfoot and we made our way to the first of several large paddocks. It had all the male elk - some juveniles sprouting furry horns like a teenage boy on his first date with a girl a year older. Our friendly proprietor emptied some elk food (which looked like rabbit poo). Thing 2 (middle boy child) said it looked like "nuts". Hmmmmmm. At the mere sound of the rabbit poo food hitting the wood trough that ran the entire length of the fence separating us, there was a juvenile horny antlered elk stampede right at us. We stood there, mouths agape and slightly upturned as we witnessed a true 'Marty Stauffer' moment. Our joy in the 'nature experience' wavered slightly as the elk running toward us didn't seem to be slowing. We all wisely took a single step back from the fence - sure to put a "safe" distance between us and them if the flimsy fence failed to withstand the brunt of about 50 2000 pound elk hitting it at full tilt.

It held, they stopped and started eating the "food". They weren't just eating it, they were fighting over it. Yeah. About 3 feed from where we were standing, separated by a wire fence, they started using those cute furry antlers to try and gore each other for better position and access to the poo-food. I mean they were going at it! The antler clashes sounded like thunder cracks. I was reminded of Tennyson (win an honorable mention on this blog for commenting on the reason why I was reminded of Tennyson).

After extracting our boots from the mud which had engulfed them, we moved on to paddock 2. The girl elk were there. Honestly, (and I mean no disrespect here) they were pretty boring. Standing there looking like fat oversized versions of Bambi (but without the spots) they (not we!) blinked at us. That's all. I think one winked at DW but she may have been a lesbian elk. You can never tell with elk. We quickly moved on to the grand finale - paddock 3.

This paddock was rocky and rife with scrub brush. The elk appeared confused by the scrub, being used to the mud. Nevertheless, it was a much more "natural" feel for us city-folk. The men in our group (my vegetarian self, too, I'm ashamed to admit) alternated between making obscene hunting boasts, beating our chests, and marking our territory. Well, we didn't actually do that last part but we would have; goodness knows the elk were certainly doing it (in large fountaining quantities too - ok, that was too graphic for the family nature of this blog. See what happens when DW goes away for the weekend and leaves me with Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3?).

It was here at paddock 3 that we had our "nature encounter". Apparently these wild majestic creatures aren't partial to rabbit poo nut food. They LOVE carrots! Now here was something I could relate to. I'm not partial to rabbit poo nut food either! As the implications of this thought ramified through my mind a budding and somewhat grudging respect started to blossom. Any creature that could actually eat rabbit poo nut food was clearly designed by God to wallow in mud and stay "restrained" behind the merest suggestion of a barrier. At that time I simply loved being Human. I respected Mr. Elk farm man for his ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Then we all got to feed an elk a carrot. It was like feeding a horse a carrot - only the horse wanted to eat the carrot and your hand and skewer you in the eyeball with a pointy antler. After that Thing 1 had to go potty and, wanting to keep as much (insert personally acceptable scientific term here: evolutionary, punctuated equilibrium-ally, created, alien-seeded) distance between us and the elk as possible, we again extricated ourselves from the mud and made our way back to the homestead to use the facilities. Several more jokes about elk meat, vegetarians, tofu-elk, and "horny youth" and we headed back to grandma and grandpa's house.

So there you have it. Hope it was worth waiting for.

March 22, 2006

MN Alert

Thanks for all your calls. You can stop calling now. I received a new update this morning. Thanks for your calls. The bill was heard and tabled. MACHE had representation at the meeting and have talked to the author of the bill to rework it and she has agreed to work with them to help protect homeschoolers rights. For now we can relax. Thanks for helping protect homeschoolers rights.


March 21, 2006

Call Now MN

They are heading into committee. Be sure to call NOW! Olson is against this bill already so you know the others did not state positions as I got legislative assistants primarily.

Please call the Education Committee today and urge each senator to
vote against S.F. 2124. Tell them, "This bill is unnecessary. It
restricts parental choice and wastes taxpayer money. Please vote 'No'
on SF 2124!"

Education Committee:

Senator Steve Kelley, Chairman
(651) 297-8065
Senator Rod Skoe, Vice-Chair
(651) 296-4196
Senator Gen Olson, Ranking Minority Member
(651) 296-1282
Senator Michele Bachmann
(651) 296-4351
Senator Tarryl Clark
(651) 296-6455
Senator David Hann
(651) 296-1749
Senator Geoff Michel
(651) 296-6238
Senator Tom Saxhaug
Senator LeRoy Stumpf
(651) 296-8660
Senator David Tomassoni
(651) 296-8017

March 20, 2006

Call to Action - Minnesota

Minnesota--Calls Needed to Stop Increased Control Over Homeschooling

Senate File 2124 would increase the reporting requirements for
Minnesota by two years, by lowering the required age for starting
school from 7 to 5. Though this bill has been in the Education
Committee for a year, it has just recently been revived, and is
scheduled for a committee hearing tomorrow. We have a short window of
time to make a difference!


Please call the Education Committee today and urge each senator to
vote against S.F. 2124. Tell them, "This bill is unnecessary. It
restricts parental choice and wastes taxpayer money. Please vote 'No'
on SF 2124!"

Education Committee:

Senator Steve Kelley, Chairman
(651) 297-8065
Senator Rod Skoe, Vice-Chair
(651) 296-4196
Senator Gen Olson, Ranking Minority Member
(651) 296-1282
Senator Michele Bachmann
(651) 296-4351
Senator Tarryl Clark
(651) 296-6455
Senator David Hann
(651) 296-1749
Senator Geoff Michel
(651) 296-6238
Senator Tom Saxhaug
Senator LeRoy Stumpf
(651) 296-8660
Senator David Tomassoni
(651) 296-8017

March 16, 2006

Ciaran's first math sheet

Ciaran decided he wanted to start a new math book this week - so we are starting him with the orange book of Miquon math. He loves using the rods and went through three worksheets the first day and has asked every day since to do some.

He also loves sudoku puzzles!

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March 14, 2006

Let Them Be Wild

Or atleast let them spend time in wild places is what a new study finds.

Letting kids spend time outdoors camping, hiking, exploring and so on helps them develop a love and respect for their environment.

This connections seems obvious but still yet another reason for all those nature walks and time spent exploring outdoors.


March 13, 2006

I'd Be Your Hero Lesson Plan

This is a lesson plan I developed for a preschool class of little boys based on the book, "I'd Be Your Hero: A Royal Tale of Godly Charachter" by Kathryn O'Brien. It is designed so you read each short section of her book and then do the activities listed below. It is fun, easy and teaches tremendous charachter lessons. Could easily be adapted for a much wider range of ages. I highly recommend this. Can be combined with the lesson plan for "I'd Be Your Princess" by the same author for the girls in your class.

1. Castle with snapping alligators, hissing snakes -keep watch
a. Have boys take turns being animals and taking watch
b. While on watch have boys stand still, listen and call “Halt who goes there”
c. Talk about how brave they are and how God is with them.
d. "Do not be terrified …for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

2. Bow and arrow practice -hard worker
a. Have boys take turns with bow and arrow
b. Alternatly have them practice throwing a ball at the target
c. Talk about importance of trying again and again because they are hard workers. Practice is important. Talk about sports.
d. "Let us run with perserverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus" Hebrews 12: 1,2

3. Jousting tournament -very talented
a. Have boys pretend to ride horses around the room
b. Have them practice holding their arms (or swords) very still
c. "I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge" Exodus 31:3

4. Congratulate others -you are very humble
a. Have each boy feel the cheering and brave bravo of each other
b. After being cheered for have each boy congratulate each other boy for a job well done.
c. Talk about the importance of being a good sport and being humble with each other. Always seeing the good in each other.
d. "Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another." 1 Peter 5:5

5. Journey through wilderness -ask your opinion -make good choices
a. Have boys practice running through the wilderness. Charge over high mountains, leap over rocky streams.
b. Let boys play follow the leader to demonstrate how they make good choices and others follow their directions.
c. "Blessed is the man who finds wisdom." -Proverbs 3:13

6. Discover treasures and describe them -you know interesting things
a. Let boys scavenge the room for treasures, little plastic animals, bugs and shells.
b. Let each boy have a turn sharing and telling what they know about their item and how they found it.
c. Talk about importance of learning and sharing our knowledge.
d. "Wise men store up knowledge" Proverbs 10:14

7. Ride horse, carry shield and smile -you are friendly
a. Have boys take turns riding horses around the room as the others cheer and wave to them.
b. Have boy practice smiling and waving back
c. Talk about how important it is to be friendly and kind to each other
d. Have boys practice scowling and frowning and talk about how it feels and looks different.
e. "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart" Proverbs 15:30

8. Drop gold coin -rush to pick it up and return it.
a. Talk about doing the right thing even when it is hard to do.
b. Walk around the room and drop money on the ground. Let each boy have an opportunity to pick up the coin and make a choice what to do with it.
c. Talk about how hard it is to make good choices and how happy we make God and our parents when we do make good choices.
d. "Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people." Galatians 6:10

9. Help lift heavy things -you are strong
a. Have boys pretend we are on a ship
b. Have boys take turns doing hard work, lifting and carrying heavy items, carrying things from place to place, doing the hard chores.
c. Talk about doing hard work and how God makes each of them strong.
d. Talk about how they can be strong for their moms and sisters and help with their muscles.
e. "The Lord is my strength and my song" Exodus 15:2

10. Welcoming and sharing -you are very generous
a. Have boys take turn greeting each other
b. Have them share their horses and knight gear with each other.
c. Discuss importance of sharing even when it is hard.
d. Encourage them to share with a sibling or friend this week.
e. "Be generous and willing to share" 1 Timothy 6:18

11. Pray to God -because you love to talk to God
a. Talk about importance of prayer with God and the importance of being respectful during prayer time.
b. Sitting in a circle have each boy take a turn leading a prayer to God
c. "Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances" 1 Thessalonians 5:17

12. Listen to stories of knights -good listener
a. Talk of importance of listening carefully
b. Play telephone to have boys listen carefully to each other
c. Read a poem and have boys recite it back
i. Humpty Dumpty
d. "Let the wise listen and add to their learning." Proverbs 1:5

13. Conclusion
a. Have boys remove knight armor and gear and sit back down.
b. Remind them they are heroes and knights, brave and strong, wise and kind just the way God made them without costumes, gear or titles.
c. They are brave and special and parents and God love them as they are.
d. They need to see other boys as heroes too just as they are and be kind and good to women.
e. End with a discussion of protecting those around them and how God protects and loves them.

I'd Be Your Princess Lesson Plan

This is a lesson plan I developed for a preschool class of little boys based on the book, "I'd Be Your Princess: A Royal Tale of Godly Charachter" by Kathryn O'Brien. It is designed so you read each short section of her book and then do the activities listed below. It is fun, easy and teaches tremendous charachter lessons. Could easily be adapted for a much wider range of ages. I highly recommend this. Can be combined with the lesson plan for "I'd Be Your Hero" by the same author for the boys in your class.

1. Smile and wave to all people in the kingdom - you are so beautiful

"Let your beauty be of your inner self" -1 Peter 3:4
-Have girls put on princess crowns and gear.
-Have the girls take turns walking up and down the aisles smiling and waving with all the others waving back at them.
-Discuss how we are all truly beautiful by what is inside us and the actions we do.
- Have girls frown and scowl and compare how that felt inside and looked outside to when they smiled.
-Share how our kind actions and choices we make are what make us attractive to people and not what we wear. How God wants us to clothe ourselves with kindness, good deeds and inner beauty

2. Lower the drawbridge -because you are so helpful

"Serve one another in love" Galatians 5:13
- Have girls take turns opening the door for each other.
- Talk about how we are to serve and help one another.
- Share how Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and came to serve and not be served.
- Ask them how they can serve a member of their family this week, encourage them to do it.

3. Listen carefully -because you love to learn

" Let us learn together what is good" Job 34:4
a. Take turns looking through the telescope at the pictures on the wall.
b. Have girls practice listening carefully as you tell them names of things
c. Share how the bible encourages us to learn and pay attention to wisdom, how we learn more when we listen carefully.

4. Listen to your opinion -because you know how to make good choices.
"For the Lord gives wisdom" Proverbs 2:6
a. Discuss how God gives us wisdom and our parents teach us how to make good choices. How each time we make a good choice we build trust and show we know how to make good decision.
b. Play Follow the leader to demonstrate how when they make good choices people will listen to them and follow what they say.

5. When someone falls down you help him -you are a good friend
"A friend loves at all times" Proverbs 17:17
a. Have girls take turns helping each other up from a seated position on the ground. While discussing how we need to help each other as friends.
b. Have girls take turns cheering each other on as they each do something fun up on stage. Talk about how we need to encourage and support our friends.

6. Sailing Ship, Hold the Wheel -because you are brave

"Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God goes with you." Dueteronomy 31:6
a. Pretend you are sailing a ship, let each girl take a turn steering the "wheel" and leading the group. Talk about how they are brave and the importance of that.
b. Share the story of Jesus calming the seas and remind them that God is in control and takes care of them, allowing them to be brave.

7. Bow to the people -because you are humble

"Clothe yourself with humility toward one another." 1 Peter 5:5
a. Teach the girls how to courtesy.
b. Discuss the importance of being humble and not prideful. How we should never think ourselves better, prettier, funnier, etc than each other. But love each other and see the good in all people.

8. Say please and thank you -because you have good manners.

"Show proper respect to everyone." 1 Peter 2:17
a. Have girls ask each other for their crown by saying please and then saying thank you after they receive it. Make sure each girl has one crown at the end.
b. Demonstrate a counter example of "give me that" and taking something then walking away without saying thank you. (You do this not the girls)
c. Ask the girls how that would make them feel and then talk about the importance of having good manners and how nice manners make people feel respected and liked.

9.We would sing -because you love to sing praises to the Lord
"It is good to praise the Lord and to make music to your name O most high" Psalm 92:1
d. sing a praise song (short one) of your choice with the girls
e. mention how God loves hearing our praises.

10. Sharing -because you are so generous
"Good will come to those who are generous" Psalm 112:5
a. Have girls change crowns again to demonstrate sharing.
b. Encourage them to practice sharing with a sibling or friend this week.

10. Being gracious when someone breaks something -because you are kind

"Be kind and compassionate to one another." Ephesians 4:32
-Discuss how we can be kind to others when they may not be kind to us.
-Discuss how God and our parents forgive our mistakes and we need to forgive each others.

11. Dance -because you are good company
"Your love has given me great joy and encouragement" Philemon 1:7
-Have girls dance around the room and talk about being a good guest.

12. Conclusion
-Have each girl remove her princess gear and sit back down together.
- Each of us is special as we are -we are princesses as God made us, we don’t need crowns or castles or a title.
- Our parents and God love us just as we are
- We need to love each other just as they are.

March 9, 2006

Mozambique Country Study Pictures

Some pictures from our Mozambique Lesson:




African Drum

Country Study: Mozambique

Yesterday we started a unit study with two other homeschool families. Just a short 4 session unit study on the country of Mozambique. We have friends who are currently missionaries in the country with children near our kids ages. Having done country studies before we thought it would be fun to do one on the country they are in and with friends.

The first day of the studied opened at a friends house. We had 8 children there with two primary ages groups of PK/K and 1/2nd grade which we taught together. Sirah also wanted to do everything the older kids were doing and she participated more than I expected. The baby in the group, a one year old blessed us with a nap almost the entire time!

The Mozambique lesson began with the kids assembling at the kitchen table and listening to a children's song about Mozambique. Then we talked about passports and they got country flag stickers to serve as their passport stamps. Then they located Africa on the globe. Then they were handed out an outline map of Africa and located the main oceans and wrote them as well as locating and coloring in Mozambique. Brief discussion about Africa and climates and all the zones that it crosses. Then they worked on their Mozambique map. They drew in the rivers and learned some facts about them. They put a star on the capital, Maputo and wrote it out. They talked about other geographical features of Mozambique like the coastline and islands. Also learned about some of the national parks and conservation attempts.

We stopped for a snack and during snack time the kids listened to a book on "Counting through Africa" which talked about different things in Africa in Swahili. They learned how to count to 10 in Swahili and sang a song that counted to ten in both English and Swahili.

The kids then made a replica of the Mozambique flag. We had an actual flag from Mozambique brought to us by our friends who live there this Christmas. The kids made their flags out of big pieces of foam, cut to shape. A photocopy of the red triangle with all the symbols was glued on last. The kids learned about the reason and symbols for the flag design and glued a piece of paper with this description on the back of their flag.

The kids then had a lesson on African drums and finding rhythm and beats. They began with the teacher (one of the moms) showing them how to hear and find rhythm with their hands on their legs. Then they played a game with a partner, clapping on their knees twice and then patting hands with their partner twice. They had great fun with this. Next, they sat in a circle on the floor with several drums being passed around. They listened a CD with children's african songs and had to try to find the beat with the drums. We had two more traditional drums, from Africa (though not Mozambique) that were given to us by a friend who lived in Benin Africa a few years ago. We also had a few plastic drums - the kids played one drum for a song and then passed it until each child had a turn with each of the drums (they were short songs).

Then we stopped for lunch, everyone brought a lunch from home. We ended lunch with the reading of another really cute book about an American child who lived in Africa and had to come back to America but considered Africa home. It was called "When Africa was home." Then they all tried a homemade coconut rice candy and a bit of fresh coconut. Then the kids had some playtime while we wrapped up and cleaned up.

It was a fantastic day! The mom who taught the class did an outstanding job and the kids all really enjoyed themselves. It was very educational, even to me, I never knew that Mozambique is the only country in the world that has a machine gun on their flag. It was great fun! It is so much more enjoyable to take a break from our usual studies and work together with other parents to teach in such a fun and relaxed environment. Three more to look forward to!


March 8, 2006

New blogger

Welcome Jackson to the blogosphere. A homeschooled teenager, he wrote an excellent post on the TV show 24's Hidden Motive.

I am not a TV watcher but found it worth the read. I think we will see great things from this young man who already expresses himself so well! Check it out and leave him a comment.


Their Giggles

Putting my kids to bed tonight and listening to their giggles and laughter I know that is what I will miss. Already Rhiannon laughs so much less, which is sad to me. Still I have Ciaran and Sirah with their infectious laughter, giggles and smiles. I just want to bottle them forever.

When my house is quiet and my kids are off at college, I think I will really miss these giggles. Heck in just a few years I will miss the giggles and the big hugs around my neck - where they never let go.

I have not felt like my kids have grown up too quickly and I am enjoying each stage and think I will enjoy them as they get older even more. But these giggles and laughter, these are precious, to be treasured and adored.


March 7, 2006

Living with our choices

Today we learned a good lesson today. A lesson about living with the consequences of your choices. I thought the day was going to teach this lesson to our dear Rhiannon, and it did. However, more importantly, the events of the day taught me the lesson in spades.

I will admit I was sick of fighting over math, sick of fighting to get Rhia to sit at the table and start schoolwork. It was Monday, our original plan of a fun day of unit studies with friends was squashed by Sirah's 2am fever and we were all in a bit of a funk. I know it did not help that I had laundry, dishes and plenty of clutter to pick up. Perhaps the combination of events led me to the brillant idea that I would not fight today. I would let Rhia make her bed and live in it. In the end it was I who made my bed and stayed in it.

At 9am I simply threw in the towel and said "You can still play now and choose when to start school but you will not eat lunch until you finish your work." Then I went on with other activities and waited. At 10:30 I retracted and told her she needed to start or she would not have time to get her work done before lunch. What followed over the next several hours was lots of pain for me.

Every inch took forever to accomplish as Rhia bucked at each suggestion and requirement. We went on with school until nearly 4pm! Yes I did relent and give her lunch at around 2pm and in case you think I give too much work to my darling young child I assure you her work could have easily been accomplished in a bit over an hour and certainly within 2 hours easily. So why did we then take over 5 hours to accomplish the task? Because I gave her too much choice and responsibility for which she was not ready to handle.

You see I want her to be able to control her own schedule and to make choices and start and finish when she wants but I need to realize this comes later and right now, given the type of child she is, Rhiannon needs clearly defined boundaries and guidelines. She needs structure and then she can have freedom within that structure. Today I simply overwhelmed her with a freedom and expectations she could not be expected to handle. The reality was she could not assess her our limitations here and I shirked my responsibility and left it to her. A weight too big for her little shoulders, though one she will be ready to carry in the too near future.

Serona used an analogy tonight when he was helping me realize that the fault was really my own even though I was frustrated with Rhiannon. In case you wonder, Serona is fair but if he leans anyway usually it is more strict on the kids and more leinant on me, the complete opposite of tonight which made me realize the truth in what he was saying. His analogy was on the eating habits and choices of our children.

If our kids could choose, as most kids, they would choose to fill their bodies with lots of yummy and unhealthy things. Now don't get me wrong my kids do like fruit, veggies and yes even tofu but they still love cake, ice cream and candy. It is my responsibility as a parent to help them set limits and give them some freedom within those limits. It is my responsibility as a parent to be sure that my child has many healthy options to choose from and some sweets to enjoy. It is my responsibility to set the boundaries and limits and give them choice within those boundaries while they are young and then grant them more freedom as they get older and have the experience and wisdom to make better choices for themselves.

The same is true for our schooling time. I need to set some firm boundaries and guidelines and then grant my children freedom within those boundaries. Children's personalities can vary so much but I need to recognize my own child and her desire for limits and structure.

Rhiannon is a child who thrives well with certain boundaries and expectations clearly outlined. She is also the child who will push right up to the edge of those boundaries to see if they are really hard and fast or not. I have found that she is much happier when she knows that they are real boundaries and when they stand up to her testing. She likes to know her limits and then stay within them once she realizes they are real limits.

Today I lived with the consequence of my choices. I became a frustrated and tired mommy. I fought all day long during what were supposed to be fun lessons. There were tears and angry words from everyone. Feelings were hurt, productivity was down and it all could have been avoided. The worst part for me is knowing that I did what I did out of good intentions and it backfired. So I lived with the consequences of my own choices.

Tommorrow I will try again and hopefully do better.

March 6, 2006

When Homeschoolers Stink...

I came across this post when I should have been sleeping but could not. It is a must read for homeschoolers, moms especially. Be sure to check out Black and White's When Homeschoolers Stink.


March 5, 2006

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe Lesson Three

This is the third lesson in a six part class on "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis. You can read the syllabus, lesson one, and lesson two.

Week Three Lesson

March 3rd:
Assigned Reading: Chapters 9-12, also read at least one human encounter with God from the bible. Some examples to

choose from are Moses and Saul.

Chapter 9

A. Edmund as Fool of the bible
1. Edmund convincing himself he is not sinning p 96-97
While Edmund is walking to the Witch's house, we are treated to a little "explanation" of his thoughts. Edmund tries

to convince himself that the Witch isn't as bad as everyone says, when in reality, he knows she is.

Edmund has been bewitched by the magical Turkish Delight, and is too stubborn to admit that he may have been wrong.

All of this allows us to understand that Edmund is not necessarily a wicked person, just foolish and obstinate.

2. Share personal experiences from their lives of doing that rationalization about behavior or opposition ‘s

real intention

3. Edmund's behavior is inexcusable. He has had plenty of chances to realize the error of his ways and repent,

but still he continues in his childish ways.

4. Edmund is an example of what the book of Proverbs calls a "fool," who does not learn from his mistakes and

does not listen to wise council. As Proverbs 13:19 says, "A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest

turning from evil." (For more words of wisdom concerning fools and their ways, read Proverbs 12 & 13

5. Read p 103 drawing on the lion and discuss

B. Mythology in Narnia

Witch's half of each p96
Dwarf - 101 (witch's castle)
Satyrs - 104
Spirits of trees (dryads) 105
Dragon - 105

Chapter 10

A. Foreshadowing
1. Coming of Age The children become accustomed to life in Narnia, and welcome the adventures that come their

way. They have never before been adventurers, of course, but they don't seem to have any trouble marching, sleeping

in shifts, and behaving like little soldiers.
2. Upcoming Battle Father Christmas bestows gifts upon the children; a sword and shield for , and bow, quiver,

and horn for Susan, and a vial and small dagger for Lucy. The children are very grateful for these presents, but the

gifts bring with them the promise of an upcoming battle. For all the jollity of the occasion, Father Christmas also

conveys a warning, things are heating up in Narnia, and the children should be ready for some action.
B. Prophecy
1. Definition Prophecy - in a broad sense, is the prediction of future events. But prophecy often implies the

involvement of supernatural phenomena. It is also used as a general term for the revelation of divine will.
2. Christmas in Narnia - prophecy coming true p 116 -117 Father Christmas comes. As Mr. Beaver reminds the

children, the Witch has twisted Narnia so that it is "always winter and never Christmas." The coming of Father

Christmas is the first indication that the Witch's power is waning. This can only mean one thing: Aslan is coming.
3. The end of winter prophecy p85
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.
C. Symbolism of Weapons in Literature
1. Read p 118 and discuss
2. Sword - The names given to many swords in mythology, literature, and history reflect the high prestige of the

weapon, nobility
3. Dagger - secondary defense weapon in close combat
D. Writing idea for personal enrichment
Choose an animal in Narnia and write a few paragraphs about how you think they may spend Christmas. What traditions

they may have. What their day and festivities may look like.

Chapter 11
A. Edmunds Consequences
1. Edmund is not faring well with the Witch. She treats him disdainfully, and when he finally musters up enough

courage to ask for some Turkish Delight, she instead feeds him stale bread and water.
2. Edmund is learning the hard way what happens when you place your trust in someone who is only interested in

looking out for themselves. Since both of them are selfishly seeking their own gain--the Queen by using Edmund to

get to his siblings, Edmund wanting only to eat more Turkish Delight and exact revenge on his siblings--there can be

no co-operation between them.
3. By contrast, Peter, Susan, and Lucy are having a pleasant journey with the Beavers, working as a team and

enjoying each other's company.
B. Coming of Spring - Literary Symbolism - Hope p 131-133
1. For witch - not pleasant. The coming of spring is not such a pleasant prospect for the White Witch. Not only does

it prove that her power is waning and that Aslan is coming, but it also means she cannot ride in her sledge any

longer; she is forced to get out and walk. As the weather continues to grow warmer, flowers peak their heads above

the snow and the streams melt and begin to flow.
2. Traditionally in literature, the arrival of spring coincides with a renewal of hope and high spirits; winter is

over, and life can begin again. Historically, people and cultures have equated spring with resurrection, as new life

rises from the dead ground.
3. For Narnians - In Narnia, the coming of spring means that Aslan is on his way. As to what this means exactly, we

are not yet sure.

C. Edmund's Turning Point - Climax for him
1. P 124 read his section of realization he will not be king
2. Stands up for the fox and squirrel and friends
3. Discussion - He hits rock bottom and finally starts to admit his mistakes to himself and repents. How is

that similar to your own lives?

Chapter 12

Meeting Aslan/Meeting God Parallels
A. Meeting Aslan
1. Read p 139-140 "But as for Aslan himself…through Peter's intro"
2. Kids discuss
3. Their meeting with Aslan is greater and richer than the children could have possibly imagined. He fills them

with happiness and bravery and calms their fears. He is a dominating presence, but a welcome one.
4. Lewis makes it a point to describe Aslan's impact upon the children:
5. Terrible and awesome - What does Lewis mean by this? Usually, when we use the word "terrible" we mean that

something is frightening. But the word has another meaning too that is akin to awesome. In this sentence, C. S.

Lewis is using the word "terrible" in the second sense, Aslan fills the children with awe and they are blown away by

the power of his presence.
6. Does any of this sound familiar to you? It should: similar language is used to describe God in the Old

Testament. In fact, the King James Version uses the word "terrible" to describe God quite a few times. Our God is an

awesome God.
B. Biblical Encounters with God
1. Moses
2. Saul
3. Abraham
C. Personal Encounters with God
1. allow kids to discuss personal experiences
D. Religious Parallels - or metaphor
1. Discuss the similarities and differences of Aslan encounter with a God encounter or a Jesus encounter
2. Does this support LWW as allegory or metaphor, why?
Coming of Age
A. Discuss what it means to come of age
B. Other literary/movie examples
a. Aragon in Lord of the Rings - Land of the dead
b. Frodo in Lord of the Rings
c. Luke Skywalker in Star Wars - battle
d. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia - land of the dead
C. Sometimes it is a moment sometimes it is a process
D. Read p 143 "Let the prince win his spurs." And again from p145 "You have forgotten to clean your sword to

the end"
E. Discuss Peters' Coming of Age, compare/contrast to other examples
F. Singled out as leader by Aslan
a. Let the prince win his spurs
b. P 142 " you shall be high king"
G. Symbolic and actual renaming of Peter

Symbolism of The Stone Table
- Religious Representation of the Old Law
- Compared to 10 commandments
In a letter to one of his young readers, C. S. Lewis explained the connection. The Stone Table loosely represents

the Old Law, the Ten Commandments handed to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
In later chapters, you will learn that the Stone Table is covered in ancient writing, just like the tablets God

gave to Moses. Keep this connection in mind; its importance will become clear later on. You can read the story of

the stone tablets in Exodus 24.
Class Wrap - Up
1. Reminder to Read Chapters 13-15, also Mark Chapters 14 -16 in your bible and to bring bibles

2. Optional Quiz Handout and Showcase Handout

3. Time for showcase

Ciaran Learning to Read

Ciaran has turned the corner and shown a real interest in learning to read lately. Just this week he began asking what letter different words start with, sounding things out and read three of the Bob books. He is very excited and we are going with the interest as it is there.

Until now he mostly choose to do math type games like adding manipulatives or doing suduko puzzles. In addition he has been working on learning his name because then he can get his own library card when he can write it neatly and small enough to fit on the card signature line.

I love these early days of interest in reading. Watching the light bulbs go on as they get it is very exciting to me. He is fast approaching his 5th birthday and these past few weeks has seen a real maturing in him.

I have never pushed him to read or do anything along the school lines yet. Rather I have offered opportunities when he asks for them and occasionally to see if he would like to try something. If he says no we leave it alone until he is interested. Lately, he has enjoyed being read to more and more with a much longer attention span and choosing more and more non-fiction books as opposed to the picture storybooks he usually chooses.

Exciting and fun times ahead,

March 4, 2006

Rhiannon on Academy

This week at Academy Rhiannon enjoyed her classes. Some of the highlights according in her words:

In sign language class I learned animal signs. My favorite was horse. She demonstrates. Hold both hands on the sides of your forhead with thumb and two fingers making and L, other fingers turned down. Then you turn your hands down toward the ground. We fingerspelled everyone's names and their parents names. She also demonstrates how to sign father and mother.

Next I went to manners class. We learned how to be a guest and how to be a hostess. When being a good guest, help when asked for help, stay and help pick up, do not leave dirty dishes. When being a good hostess make sure everyone wants to play the same thing, make sure they are comfortable and playing well. I also learned how to behave at a guest's house.

Then I went to my character class. Here I learned about being truthful. I learned a story about a boy. See if you can figure out which is false and true.

In Africa boys were camping out. In Africa boys used to kill lions to show their strength. One of the boys decided to show off his strength. He went on a walk and saw a friendly lion. He looked and saw that everything about him was safe. He picked up the stick and started waving it wildly at the lion. The lion was getting annoyed, he was about to make an attack. As the lion jumped in the air the boy leapt at him stuck his hand through his mouth, through his stomach to his tail and pulled him inside out. The lion was tickled to death by his own fur. So the boy conquered a lion and brought him back.


In Africa boys used to kill lions to show their strength. One of the boys decided to show off his strength. He went on a walk and saw a friendly lion. He looked and saw that everything about him was safe. He picked up the stick and started waving it wildly at the lion. The lion was getting annoyed, he was about to make an attack.
The boy picked up his spear and stuck it in the ground. As the lion leapt the stick pierced his heart and he brought back the lion's body for all to see.

We also learned the story of Peter the Wolf and a story that our teacher told us that she did with her children.

My teacher was teaching her children about half-stepping. Her is the story she told. Me and my children were getting ready to pack. The children wanted to play with their things one more time before getting in the car. They were half-stepping so they had more time to play. On their last day of school their mother only brought them halfway and pulled over. She said "today we are only going halfway." This lesson showed them the importance of not half-stepping. It taught them to do things right the first time otherwise you have to do it twice. When you do things half-way often you are not doing them right.


March 3, 2006

Blue Sky Bluebird Narration

A male bluebird finds a female. Then they find a place to nest. The female lays four eggs, shiny as the morning blue sky. For two weeks she sits on her eggs. Then they push out of their shells. The last baby bluebird pushes out of his shell. Soon it is time to learn to fly. When they are all 19 months old they come out. THeir mother and fathers try to coax them out by holding their meal, spiders and worms, in their beaks to try to coax them out. Then they all try to fly. Their wings work beautifully but one bluebird refuses to come out of the nest. He stays in there and one winter night snow made him freeze and shiver and he flew out into the night and found his family nestled in a tree. He joins them next spring the father and mother go back to mate and have a second litter. Older children help take care of the new youngsters getting food, protecting from predators, they work as a team. Soon it is time for he and his sisters to go out and find mates of their own. Once again the story is started.

Book written by Rick Chrustowski
Narration by Rhiannon

Lifecycle from seed to Sunflower Narration

I learned that seeds have a special shell that the main root grows through and then the plantling starts to push out and then some more roots grow. The seedlings break off the shell and then they start to grow leaves. Then tiny buds appear. When summer is in full shine a flower bursts out. But when autumn comes it will whither and die and shed its seeds. From the mother plant so they can grow to be beautiful sunflowers as well.

Book written by Gerald Legg
Narration by Rhiannon