February 28, 2007
I started with my morning bible study/prayer group and came home expecting to take Serona off to work and have the car today for some activities we had planned. Well the best laid plans have to change and adapt - Serona needed the car and we were staying home which is just fine.
Now it was early and the kids were already fed and dressed, an accomplishment here so where to start. I decided to tackle reading time with Ciaran first. We recently made him a rule that he can only play video games in a 2:1 ratio with his reading time so for every hour he reads he can play a half hour of video games. He strongly dislikes this rule since his favorite thing to do is play Gamecube and reading is a challenge to him and something he does not yet love. But so far it seems to be working out well.
I sent him off to pick out readers for himself and he returned with books he wanted me to read to him - since I had no real strong plan I decided to go with it. Sirah was playing in her oatmeal "sandbox" and Rhia was off reading her latest book so we had some quiet time. He asked me to read "Nature's Fury" a book about natural disasters and the harsh effects of weather. He kept asking question after question and wanted to dig deeper. I decided to find a video clip for him of an avalanche which was hard to describe and very easy to understand after the first one you have seen.
I head over to google video search and end up with clip after clip from youtube (no surprise since google purchased them a little bit ago) and he was really getting interested. Then he started asking to see clips from all the other things we talked about. So we were sitting side by side on my laptop. Both Sirah and Rhia wandered down to see what we were doing and Rhia asked after trying to find a way to climb behind me to see my small screen if we could put it on our school computer (which is linked to our wall mounted wide screen tv) so everyone could see.
Then we spent the next few hours going through youtube clips about whatever they wanted. We spent most of the time on natural disasters like: tornadoes, avalanches, mudslides, hail storms, hurricanes, floods, etc and then Sirah wanted to find kittens so then we moved on to animals and watched a blue whale swimming, frogs eating other animals (including mice), kittens nursing from mama, kittens playing, horses being trained, and so on. Of course there were things like surfers and snowboarders thrown in as well. Basically they went around and around taking turns what the next clip would be. It was great fun and really I think they learned a lot more than just the book was showing them. Something about seeing a tornado tear down a row of trees and a snowboarder trying to outrun an avalanche sticks more than reading about it.
A few words of caution though. This is scary stuff if you have a sensitive child. Our kids don't seem sensitive to this stuff but are really sensitive to other things that we would not let them see. Most of these disaster clips are in real time and you see actual houses topple in a mudslide, people get caught in an avalanche (all the ones i clicked on specifically said the people survived so I could start out that way with them)and hurricane katrina from a parking garage. We often did not watch entire clips if I thought they were getting too intense.
Another word to the wise - play these clips on MUTE. The sound effects are at times chilling and since people are in scary situations the language matches those of a wide variety of people in intense situations. Also people sound scared and that at times I think is more frightening than seeing the actual clip. I learned this quickly and found it worked much better to keep the mute button on. If I wanted them to hear the actual sound effects I tried to judge a moment in the clip when people would likely not be speaking.
A wise parent probably would have previewed all the clips ahead of time but as I said this was impromptu and we managed without them seeing anything too much and nothing inappropriate. Though I will say you need to think through your search terms and use prudent judgment before clicking on links from search results. Using google video search also adds another layer as you can set your filters to be more restrictive.
We spent pretty much our whole morning on http://youtube.com. Ciaran did read for about 45 minutes so far today - he is working on his first Nate the Great book - with lots of help from me. It is a nice change of pace from the Primary Phonics readers that we love but use every day. Then I agreed today could be a math games day for math so they played Chess and Grid Works and are set up to play Parcheesi after quiet time (one of the best counting games) and they had to spend time listening to their skip count cd's, in a different room from me :)
So school was lots of fun today and lots of learning and practicing still managed to get done. I am working on updating reading lists this afternoon while the kids play Parcheesi - while I usually play with them - I can use the two hours to get a few things accomplished today.
Try youtube schooling some day it is interesting and fun and really it is like having on demand science videos at your fingertips. Sure they are short clips but there are a whole lot of them to choose from.
February 25, 2007
Perhaps my favorite to play is Tetris. We have it for our game systems but I don't play it as much on the Gamecube (no we don't have a Wii yet) as I play on my computer. I of course learned on the original Nintendo along with Mario Brothers and Zelda. Still I play n-blox more than Tetris lately. I can't come close to the high scores but it is very relaxing to me. Except of course when Serona decides to comment on every move I make. I play tetris risky I build high and almost always want to go for the tetris even to the point where I will let myself lose. I still go for tetris on level 20 and up when the pieces are actually coming quick. Serona thinks it is a foolish and prideful approach and I suppose he is right but it is the only way I can let myself play and have fun. I like the way my brain has to work when I play tetris and I can be competitive against myself easily here.
I also play Suduko, hearts on the computer (my favorite card game when we can find four people to play), solitaire - though lately I have been playing 10-20-30 solitaire and I like that better. I also play WordCraft and TextTwist when I want letters instead of numbers. Recently I have gotten into GridWorks which Serona likes to call glorified tic tac toe although it is much more than that. I also just discovered online Blokus which should be fun.
I am sure you can see the pattern of what kind of games I like. I know they are still time wasters but I feel better about them because I feel like they are sharpening my mind even if not giving me new skills and I still feel productive when I play. Which of course is dangerous because I can waste a lot of time on them.
What games do you like to play to relax or pass time? I am always looking for good recommendations. The only one I have never gotten into is minesweeper - someone want to explain why this is fun to me?
Shoveling out the driveway was done in layers but Serona and I managed to finish it in a little under an hour with some help from Ciaran. We had a few several foot high drifts from all the blowing and of course a HUGE mound from where the plow put all street snow that was about waist high to shovel across our 2 car driveway - still the shoveling is worth it - for all the fun snow now!!!
We used the shoveled snow to make two snow forts across the driveway from each other and had a family snowball fight for awhile. I even made a snow angel. Sadly it is now snow sculpture snow that would have been fun to do but now the kids are sledding and just enjoying the snow.
Best part the weather is going to be nice this week - potentially more snow but at least it will stay warm - high 20's and low 30's - which will allow us to enjoy the snow, yay!
Only downside to the timing of the snowfall was Serona and I had to waste our tickets to see Gooogle the Musical as it was snowing too much to drive into the city to see the play. We could not even give the tickets away so sadly they were wasted. Even sadder we missed our opportunity to see the show as that was the last performance in the Twin Cities.
Still I am thankful for the snow - makes the cold worthwhile and makes winter so much more beautiful and fun. Now the kids will want to play outside and burn off all that winter pent up energy. Seems a lot of the country will be seeing this storm so enjoy your snow!!!!
February 24, 2007
The conference was very encouraging and enjoyable. There were many funny skits, songs sung, good speakers and great messages. Rhia's favorites were the "chalk talk", the wisdom-folly skit, and the art dealer skits. During the chalk talk a woman drew a picture with chalk while she and others told stories that in the end related to the picture she was drawing. Rhia enjoyed watching the picture come to life and the talent of the artist. What started with a few lines and colored chalk swirls ended up as a beautiful waterfall and mountain scene with a robin being held in the palm of God's hand. It was beautiful and the whole process was powerful.
The skits were funny and had meaningful messages at the same time. They drew home the points of the chats and lessons well. Rhia's favorite was the story of Wisdom and Folly and the lives they chose, the paths they walked and the results and consequences of those choices. It was funny and well done while powerfully driving the lessons home. The second skit had to do with honesty and making choices for the right reasons and was set in a pink panther detective style.
The weekend was a great time of drawing closer to Rhiannon and spending time together. We spent a night at a hotel with friends of ours and enjoyed a nice sit down dinner together and the girls had an evening in the pool before we retired to our own rooms for some time to talk and pray together. Rhia and I read Philippians 4:1-10 together and talked about it for sometime.
Rhia was on the younger side for this conference and at times got squirmy for the longer sessions but overall she did a great job and I think she really got a lot out of the conference and especially out of the special time away with me. There were several other families from our homeschool support group there and it was enjoyable to spend some time with them as well.
Rhia made a new friend who lives in Iowa and the story of how she did is quite interesting but she would like to blog about that tomorrow so I will leave it to her. One of the most encouraging things about the conference was all the great models and examples of older girls that were training the younger ones. At the end of the conference these girls all came up to stage and I was overcome by these young ladies who are making such good choices with their lives and encouraging others to do the same despite all the pressures to do otherwise that they face. That image is one I hope really sticks with all the girls who attended the conference today.
It was a blessing to spend some time away with Rhia and on topics like we talked about. Thanks to Serona and the kids for letting us get away even during our first real storm in Minnesota. It is still snowing and while I do not believe the predictions of 15 inches I am encouraged and glad it is snowing now that we are all safe and sound at home.
February 22, 2007
Even worse I read science and technology blogs nearly every day. I might consider philosophy blogs but I think my head would explode. So there you go - suppose that is part of who makes me who I am. Random fact of the day.
February 21, 2007
February 20, 2007
She is not being forced to blog - she asked if she could do her posts herself. She sat at the computer and typed it herself and picked her topic and what she would say. So there you go.
Today I went to the police station. And here is what I did. First we went through the police offices. Then we went to the jail! After that he showed us his police car. And my that siren was LOUD! Anyway I was done before I knew I was. So anyway it was fun but I gotta go. Rhiannon.
I find I need to take time to keep up with news through the day it is my sort of connection with the adult world during the day. I also like keeping my mind thinking about things and it is easier to find the time to read an article or two, skim headlines and check email then to sit down and read a book. Once I start a book I do not generally want to put it down where the news is easy for me to walk away from.
Anyone have any great blogs or news sources they enjoy reading with regularity? Leave it in the comments and I will check it out and maybe subscribe to it.
February 19, 2007
Since it seems my real life friends have really been enjoying my more down to earth posts as of late I was inspired to share another one with you, a fact I don't often share here on the blog or in real life - I am terrible at laundry.
I want to pre-empt anyone here by saying my mother taught me right, even my MIL has shared all the good tips for me when I asked her. This is truly an area of my life where I know there is a better way to do things but I still can't seem to master it. Here are 10 reasons I am lousy at laundry.
1. I don't keep up with it so it grows into big piles on my laundry floor
2. I don't sort - honestly. It all gets washed together with VERY few exceptions
3. I forget to check pockets. So crayons, chapstick, gum, you name it it's been through my washer and sometimes dryer.
4. I forget about laundry and can leave it in the washer and dryer overnight and in the winter sometimes even longer.
5. I don't iron. Period. It is not because my mom did not teach me to. She irons everything and very well, she did teach me how and make me iron when I lived with her. She even still encourages me when we are together to iron though in some things I think she knows I am a lost cause. I even had lessons again as an adult by my FIL an expert ironer and I just can't bring myself to do it - poor Serona. At least he knew it when he married me - I don't iron and that is not changing.
6. Since I don't iron I dry everything. The only exception was when we did cloth diapers I actually line dried those to preserve them longer but not clothes - it is too much for me to remember what needs to be hung up. So I have been known on occasion to shrink family members clothes. If you buy us anything 100% cotton please make sure it is two sizes too big then it should fit :)
7. I prefer to fold all at once rather than when the comes out of the dryer, even though I know it is better to fold as they come out. Since I forget about my clothes in the dryer they get wrinkled. Then I dump them in a basket to fold upstairs. Only then the basket sits because I want to fold all at once and I always seem to have clothes in the washer. Then they get more and more wrinkled and eventually we reach the point where we are digging through baskets for clean clothes.
8. I hate matching socks and therefore don't do it until I absolutely have to leading my family to go digging through big bucket of unmatched socks for a pair. So if you see my kids in unmatched socks - it is completely my fault and they probably did try their best to find something that matched.
9. I fold clothes on my bed - I know I should not every wise source tells you not to but I do - at least if I fold them there I really need to make it through otherwise I can't sleep or I have piles of clean clothes on my bedroom floor which is really not good - so I guess it is a motivator for me.
10. Last dirty little laundry secret - I don't use stain stick or stain remover or anything like that. Once it is truly stained in our home all hope is lost. I have tried in the past and simply can't do it well so I have stopped trying. So yep you will probably seem some stains on my kids favorite shirts that a better laundry mom could have gotten out.
So the long and short of it - we buy easy to maintain clothes and much of Serona's nicer work clothes now go to the dry cleaners as I have ruined one too many nice shirts! I spend at least one whole afternoon folding and folding and did I say folding. Today is that day for me so don't be looking for any creative President's Day Lesson plans. Best I can do is point you to Enchanted Learning and the White House Kids page.
February 18, 2007
So I guess all in all that is just a little over one post a day, which is strange since I don't post every day. Still other times like today I post a whole bunch at once. Of course I doubt any of you other than direct family members (and probably not even them) have read all my posts. If you did you would be bored to tears by now :P
Anyway thanks for reading and encouraging me as I write. It has been a lot of fun and I plan to continue doing it for awhile more at least. Any guesses when I will hit 2000 posts? Anyone want to throw out a date?
This past week was a fun class. We have 15 kids in this class both girls and boys and 2nd through 4th grade. We began the class by teaching the kids Oh Susanna - okay honesty here - I did not teach them I tried hard not to sing at all since I can't carry a tune in a bucket. But my co-teacher did a fabulous job.
Then I talked to them about the book - we were discussing chapters 7-12 this week and I engaged them in discussion about a few stories and lessons we could learn from this chapters. First we talked about Laura and Mary sliding down the haystack and the importance of full obedience and not making false distinctions with the rules. We also talked about leading others astray since Laura led Mary in a way she did not at first want to go. We read some bible verses that applied here and made the point of listening to our parents true rules and not making nit picky distinctions and about how we teach our friends and siblings.
Next we talked about when Laura and Mary had to run the cattle away from the haystack. We discussed their initial reactions of staying still and running to help and talked about the fight or flight instinct and being brave even when it is hard.
Then we discussed the Christmas horses and how the girls chose to put their own desires second for Pa's sake and the unselfishness of that. We also read some bible verses here and talked about how Laura prayed for help because it was hard for her. We applied it to their lives and this moved into a natural discussion of how the pioneers depending on God so much.
Other topics we talked about were how the pioneers reused everything they could and wasted nothing. The kids pulled out examples from the book and this was a natural transition into our craft of making a 9 patch quilt pillow.
Before they started the pillow we had a snack of plum jam and bread. We talked about picking plums and how to make jam and read a cute story from the Little House Cookbook as well.
We ended the class with time to work on their 9 patch quilt pillows. The kids had selected their 9 patches from pre-cut quilt squares and laid them out the way they wanted the week before. This week we taught them to make short seams and sew the first three squares together.
Okay another moment of honesty. I don't sew. I mean it, not really at all. I have in the past used a sewing matching to make straight seams (sort of) for my kids diaper wipes when we used cloth diapers. Only because it really did not matter what they looked like. I can put together pieces of a sweater but I hate doing it and the fact that yarn is thicker makes it tolerable to me. However needle and thread and actual sewing and I do not get along.
I warned my co-teacher of this when she had the idea to make the quilts. She realized how honest I was when she discovered I could not thread a needle and tie off the end the right way. Nor did I know whether stitches were too far apart or too close. I was not much help to any of the students and was thankful for the two other moms I had there. It made her laugh and she said "You really weren't kidding" and I assured her that was correct.
Anyway they all managed just fine despite me :) The other women were wonderful and the kids caught on quickly. While they sewed we played a CD called Laura Ingalls Wilder's Songs from Home that I purchased in DeSmet on a Little House Field Trip we did years ago. The CD was filled with fiddle music, songs from the time, short stories about the book and Laura's life as well as some actual voice recording clips of Laura herself.
All in all the class was a success and fun. While I typically print my entire lesson plans in their entirety here I feel I can not as I am often using resources from The Prairie Primer by Margie Gray for this class and I would not want to violate any copyright or her hard work. It is an excellent resource for teaching any Little House class. I have also put together a list of some free Little House Lesson Plan resources.
Look for more updates every few weeks as we teach more classes.
Who Am I – Lifelong learner, special passion for research, communication and argument. Specialized in grad school in this area, competitive debate and coaching, continued research approach to nearly everything in life.
Expectations for students
Respect for me – in class and in work
Respect for each other
Respect for themselves – do their work and get the skills they came to the class to obtain
Assignments will be neat and preferably typed
Take care of things like spelling and punctuation
Assignments must be turned in on time and be complete
What is research?
What is the value of it? Why is it necessary?
Systematic process of inquiry aimed at discovering, interpreting, and revising facts.
intellectual investigation that produces a greater knowledge
The term research is also used to describe an entire collection of information about a particular subject
Derives from French recherche, from rechercher, to search closely
its literal meaning is 'to investigate thoroughly'.
Re- search what has been discovered before – looking for new details
Make it Personal
Have you ever researched for pure joy or curiosity?
To prove a point?
To prove someone wrong?
To understand something better?
Use examples from my life of research for interest
-politics, news stories, etc
Difference between knowledge and wisdom and link to research
-knowledge versus wisdom
importance of knowledge – always with you
wisdom in being able to find research
capability within all of us a skill to learn and practice (become second nature)
while we may not know everything we can learn how to research and discover anything therby having the power to gain the knowledge we need over time.
Albert Einstein example
Different Types of Resources – Where to Find Research
-Internet (variety here)
-Library vs Internet
Primary/secondary sources – “quotes from books”
Keeping Track of It – Staying Organized
Ipod – phone – pda
-most commonly used in the humanities
- in high school and college
- review basic structure
Using your assigned pre-approved topic begin your research process. Keep a file of your research in one central place. For next class you must bring five pieces of research from different resources into class. Bring the ACTUAL resources (the book, the article, etc) as well as a Works Cited page to be handed in.
Possible resources include books, newspapers, magazines, journal articles, encyclopedias, etc. Only two resources can be internet resources and at least one must be a book unless you have prior approval.
The Works Cited page should be typed or written neatly in MLA format. Please consult the handout from class as a guideline for more detailed instructions (only if you wish) consult the MLA Handbook 6th edition. Your handed in assignment will look like the works cited reference sheet (without all the color coding) and you will have with you a stack of resources (articles, books, etc) to present in class.
As always if you have any questions feel free to email me or call me. Remember to start early as research can take more time than you expect.
For samples of MLA Citations please visit http://www.mla.org/style and
and refer to your handout.
Book Catalog Search
Start General with subject
May need to use Keyword Search
Browsing Through the Nearby Books - sometimes find your best books this way
Encyclopedias or World Book in Juvenile section
-should be used a a starting off point if you need names or ideas for your topic
-often dated and limited information - can offer only a general summary
-limit to full text documents for full article results
-Best one to use (in recommended order)
InfoTrac Student Edition: Designed for high school students, InfoTrac® Student Edition provides indexed and full-text magazines, newspapers, and reference books about current events, the arts, science, popular culture, health, people, government, history, sports and more.
Proquest Newstand Complete: Read the full-text articles of over 350 newspapers. Search the latest news from around the world. Access a wide range of articles – news, arts, sports, and entertainment.
MasterFILE Premier: Read full text articles from more than 1,900 popular and general reference, business, consumer health, general science, and multi-cultural periodicals. It offers indexing and abstracts for an additional 2,510 periodicals. The database also contains full-text articles from book reviews, reference works, travel books, biographies, primary source documents, and an image collection of photos, maps, and flags.
Junior Reference Collection: Nearly 12,000 documents, 8,500 photographs and illustrations, 50 video and audio clips, and significant reference book content are included. Search by subject area–People, Places, Subjects, Authors, Books, and Timeline.
II. Online Research
This should ALWAYS be your first place to look
Try to be narrow in your search terms
-use keywords from useful links
-re-search and get narrower each time
In general stick to first two pages of results and re-search with new terms
Pay attention to URL's - tell you about credibility and usefulness
Skim about 5 entries at a time BEFORE choosing one to click on
Skim the first few paragraphs to determine if useful
Notice any keywords or useful phrases and re-search those terms in google to pull up similar items
REMEMBER: There is safety in numbers if most of the research is pointing one way it is probably the truth and best way.
A commercial web site. Companies or profitable organizations have this type of URL.
Internet Service Providers have this ending to their URL.
Educational Organizations such as schools or colleges have this ending to their URL.
Nonprofit organizations have this ending to their URL.
Government organizations have this ending.
Blog written by individuals can have wide variety of credentials, legitimacy and purpose.
Exploratory versus Focused Research
-what are the differences
-advatages and disadvantages to both
Discussion of Research Paper versus a Report
What are warning signs to indicate a resource is not likely reliable?
-poor spelling, grammar and writing style
-blog or individually published website
-no link or qualifications of person to topic
-conclusions are completely off from the rest of the topics research
What are indicators that it is reliable?
-more research backing it up
-published in a peer reviewed journal
-qualifications of writer
-quality of writing - language conclusions etc
What are some signs of bias?
-hostile or loaded conclusions and word choices
-no counter opinions shown
-research only comes from those with a vested interest
-straw man arguments and misrepresentation of the opposition used as main strategies.
Discussion of next assignment
Part 1: Continued Research on Your Topic
Find 5 more resources for your topic. Add them to your MLA citation sheet. Your 10 references total (last weeks and this weeks) need to include the following:
-1 book (more is always good but sometimes hard to find)
-3 magazine/journal/or newspaper references
-2 online references
-The remaining 4 resources can be any of the other or various other resources.
Part 2: Pulling Research from Articles
Read articles on Digital Rights Management through once completely. Go back through the articles and highlight/underline or write out quotes from the articles to support a thesis statement for a potential paper. You are NOT writing the paper - just a thesis statement for your position. You will hand back in your written out thesis statement (the point you would prove or demonstrate in your potential paper) and all 7 pages with your notes and highlighting on them.
February 17, 2007
So today we decided to work on it with him. I decided he just needed to practice saying 13, 14, 15 over and over again and printed him out the numbers on a sheet with a picture of a frog his favorite. But it was Serona who came up with the idea that worked. Walking up and down steps saying one number on each step over and over again. Whenever he got one wrong he had to start the whole staircase again and then it was suddenly a game and something he wanted to win. A few times and he got it. It really worked for him!
Then we had him walk the stairs and do all the numbers between 1-20 and again he had to start over if he messed up - he never messed up 13-15 but did get confused occasionally with other numbers. Serona walked up and down with him with the promise of playing his new GameCube game if he got it right. Yes we reward (okay some might say bribe) Ciaran with video games. But he did his numbers 1-20 and is playing Cars with daddy now. We will practice a few more times over the next few days until I am sure it is stuck in his mind.
Sometimes a little creativity is all we need. Thanks Serona for being the creative one!
Over the years I have taken a variety of personality tests with few representative results. This one is interesting and often very accurate. You can read the full description and take it yourself here.
Serona took this one too and his results were very accurate as well. He came up as a Genuine Inventor.
February 15, 2007
Anyway I stepped in and asked why Rhiannon loved to read and draw pictures? While she was thinking and Sirah was singing loudly still Ciaran pipes up from the backseat. "Everyone has different talents. Rhia's talent is reading so much and drawing pictures. Sirah's talent is singing. And my talent is playing video games."
Out of the mouths of babes. I tried to redirect the conversation by stating that we all had different things we enjoyed and liked a lot, different hobbies or passions. Hoping I could shift Ciaran from believing video games was his main talent to his main interest (still not something I am thrilled with). But when I explained the difference and asked him again what his talent was he informed me "Climbing walls. I do that way better than my sisters. Everyone else falls when they try but I am good at it."
So apparently my nearly 6 year old son believes his God given talents are to play video games and climb walls. Yes it is winter here in Minnesota and yes he climbs the walls every day. Yes he loves video games and they are an incentive for him. I have never seen someone do all their chores and more and all school work so fast so he can get to the games early in the day.
What can I say he is good at climbing walls and playing video games and also catching frogs which would be a natural answer in the summer for him. Come to think of it those aren't bad talents for a 5 year old boy to be proud of. Maybe I should get a bumper sticker for my car that says "My son made the Honor Roll for wall climbing and video game playing"
Anything growing in your fridge that needs to be liberated today?
February 14, 2007
But it is the little every day things that make our marriage so strong. It is when he makes time for me in the middle of a busy day at work just so I can talk. It is when he calls on his way home every day to see if there is anything he can stop to get or we need. It is the way he rubs my back at the end of a long day. The way he lets me read the new Harry Potter first. The way he supports and encourages my newest crazy hobby. The way he puts up with the fact that I just simply don't see cobwebs or some messes in corners. The way he lets me have 6 bags, one for each different activity and several for knitting. It is the fact that he works really crazy hours in an intense job and then gives us 100% at home. The way he adjusted to not watching television. The way he accepts "The little kid lived in look" as our home decorating style right now.
It is the fact that he lets me sleep in without complaint. It is the way he nurses me when I am sick. The way he argues with me when I am wrong. The way he helps me improve the person I am (even when I don't think I need to). It is the way he leads our home spiritually. It is the way he keeps me up to date technologically. It is the way he reads bedtime stories to the kids (I will never be able to compete with the voices). It is the way he wrestles with Ciaran and gives all three kids camel rides on the floor. It is the way he embraces the Mall of America as a fun family day. The fact that he eats the same simple convenient meals over and over again and then again as leftovers.
The way he accepts that I listen to country music and he listens to heavy music I can't even classify. It is the way he sings Fireflies in the car with the kids. The way he takes the kids on dates. The way he keeps me as a priority. The way he has kept loving me through all my downs and temper tantrums. The way he cleans the house when I am away or behind. The fact that he really does completely take care of the dogs. It is the way we got married to argue more conveniently.
There are simply too many reasons to list. Sure we have our downs and our fights and our battles too. That is when our Irish make-up bell comes in. What is that you ask? It is essential to any stubborn couple. When we are both unwilling to bend or break first (think George and Christina in Grey's Anatomy) it settles the battle for us. When we are too angry or frustrated or sure we are right to give in but really just want to stop arguing and have it all be over, we ring our little bell.
This is a china bell we got for our wedding (actually it has been replaced once due to kids) and it is our make-up bell. Whenever one of us rings it somewhere in the house the other person needs to come right away to where they are. The bell signifies a truce I suppose, but it is much more than that. It is an automatic apology on both sides and an agreement that we have now reached the stupid point in arguing/discussing and we need to move on. It is a concession of our wrongs and a forgiveness of the other persons. It is an automatic get out of jail free card. However you want to look at it or put it - it means the argument is over no more question or discussion. Neither person won, but we have both agreed to not make our marriage be the loser.
It may sound crazy or trivial but it really works for us. At least it has for almost 10 years so far. And we have had some stubborn moments and fights that do not want to end. Sometimes it takes a lot of strength to ring that bell and sometimes we are so thankful the other person did it first but overall we are just thankful that our marriage is strong enough and we love each other so much that the little sound of a bell can remind us what it is all about.
So yes to be sure I love Serona's romantic side and all the wonderful creative and sweet things he thinks up to do for me to show his love. But mostly I just love him, the good, the bad and yes even the ugly moments of our fights. I am so thankful to be his wife and to be parents together and to be walking along this path of life together holding hands still as best friends.
February 13, 2007
Well imagine my surprise when he shared with me a very BIG gift for both this Valentines and our upcoming 10 year anniversary. We are going to Ireland! I have never traveled to Europe and being Irish have always wanted to go to Ireland. I can hardly believe that we are going!
So there you go - we are going to Ireland and I am so excited I can hardly wait....
So I read my daily feeds and if something is interesting then I can essentially auto add a link to it on my blog. You can check this feature out on my right sidebar under Tenn's Recent Reads. You can also add one to your own blog very easily using Google Reader.
If you actually know us in real life and want to borrow a movie from us sometime check out our Movie Collection.
February 12, 2007
Still when you live that far from family you need to knit together your own sort of a family, a support group that will love and hold you up and be there for you in times of need like your family wishes they could be but are limited by distance.
While reading one of my favorite blogs recently I came across this post about families and friends. It inspired me to post the quote here and share what it means to me. It is from the movie Finding Forrester:
Losing family obliges us to find our family, not always the family that is our blood; but,the family that can become our blood. And, should we have the wisdom to open our door to this new family, we will find that the wishes we once had…
At the end of the reading, he looks at his young audience and says,
Most of you are too young to know what your wishes will be. But, when I read these words, words of hopes, dreams, I realized that the one wish that was granted to me, so late in life, was the gift of friendship.
We have had to find family that can "become our blood" so to speak and we have been blessed in this area. While friendship is different from family it is still a wonderful gift. You choose your friends and you choose to keep making it work even when it is hard not because you have to but because you want to (hopefully this applies to family as well) the gift of friendship is one to not be under appreciated. It is one to be thankful for, one to recognize the blessings of. This week say thank you to your friends for they are a blessing to you. Don't forget your family as well :)
Peace in Him,
February 11, 2007
January 2007 Reading List
Rhiannon's Second Grade Reading List
I really like this new format - it is clean to read and easy for me to maintain and upkeep. I really want to give my kids a record of all the books we read for when they are older but I found I simply will not keep up with writing all the titles down so this is my best way to organize it.
February 10, 2007
They learned about homemade butter and made some by pouring heavy cream into a glass jar and shaking it for the whole class time so in the end they could try homemade butter on crackers. It was sweeter than we expected. This is something they want to repeat at home sometime soon.
They learned about spinning wool and had an opportunity to comb wool and then spin it into a bracelet for themselves. Ciaran really enjoyed this and told dad all about it last night as he showed off his bracelet.
They talked about the different chores of the time and spent particular time on laundry. Each child had an opportunity to scrub a washcloth against the washboard in the washtub.
Then they learned about games and toys of the time and got to see and try several of the games. This was most of the kids favorite part of the class. They had a variety of wooden toys for them to try and talked about how little free time kids had.
Many of the little girls in the class came all dressed up in pioneer clothing including Rhia and Sirah who love any opportunity to dress up. It always makes me smile to see little girls dress up.
Sirah drifted in and out of activities and spent some time playing with their little puppet theater and her own doll that she brought with her. By the end of the class she found a willingly lap in one of her friends, a dear 9 year old girl who loves to spend time with her.
It was a fun class and the kids seemed to enjoy it. I love offering opportunities for living history as I think they really bring lessons home. The kids enjoy the hands on experiences.
February 9, 2007
However while I will not carry a small purse I am happy to carry around a large tote bag, the bigger the better in this case. As if that was not bad enough I like to have several different bags for different purposes. I have a knitting bag (ok I have several of these), two library bags (one for to read books and one for returns), a church bag, a homeschool coop bag, a gym bag, and my computer bag! Sometimes I have another bag kicking around for a specefic task or collecting random items that need to be put away around the house (often the result of cleaning out the car or school room, etc).
While this keeps me organized it is also a fault of my laziness - I would rather keep it all together and just grab a bag then have one bag that I pack each day depending on what I am doing. In addition my bags have a tendency to fill up and I go awhile before I empty the random things from them.
The other downside is occasionally my entryway looks like a bag convention. I should take a picture to show you (not that I can get it onto my computer as I have lost my camera wire to my computer) so you can have sympathy for my patient husband. Today it overwhelmed even me as I walked into my landing and was overcome by bags so some narrowing and cleaning was in order.
Even though I know the downsides I still think the conveinance outweighs for me. I will keep having many bags so it is easy to just grab one and go. Call me the bag lady.
February 8, 2007
Some of the hidden work I have focused on this week is paperwork, filing, organizing book shelves, and our taxes. I am one of those people who is annoyed that I have not yet received all my tax forms from places because I am done except for plugging in those numbers. I had been putting off the 2006-2007 paperwork switch for our family. Which is silly because the main part of it is not really a lot of work. You see my main filing system uses one 31 pocket accordian folder per year for majority of our filing. I tape a piece of paper to the front and label what I will put in each pocket. This includes all our bills, taxes, utilities, medical records, homeschool records, basically any mail or paperwork that I receive and need to do something with.
This is a very easy filing system. I keep the accordion on our kitchen counter under our phone and computer monitor. It works well. Then at the end of the year I move it to our filing cabinet and start a new one, with only moving a few things from the previous year to the current year. This is much easier than the old system where I kept a folder for each thing in the filing cabinet and always had big stacks of paper to deal with and nothing ever where it belonged. It is all in one place and easy to get my mail, deal with the bills or calendar dates and then file immediately.
So if this is so easy why did I procrastinate and what made this hard work? Well my filing cabinet was full and had not been cleaned out in three years or more! Worse I knew majority of the files were no longer necessary but I had been avoiding them for years because I still had room in the cabinet. I knew in order to fit last years file in the cabinet I would need to clean out the filing cabinet - not pleasant or quick work and when you are all done no one has a clue it took you hours to get it done and everything.
Well today I decided to undertake it and went through all the old papers - we are talking about over a decade worth of papers - many of which I no longer needed or wanted but they were mixed in with ones I did need and want. Since I only started this new system back in 2004 I still had a lot of old files to deal with. Then of course you are also walking down memory lane as you clean it and it is hard to ignore the baby files from the hospital for each child or the letters Serona wrote me before we were married. And it gets much messier before it gets cleaner. But when you are all said and done you close the cabinet and no one really know you made a difference.
Early this week I began a major overhaul of our bookshelves in our home library. This is big work as well. We have outgrown our bookshelves again even though we have an entire room of just shelves and shelves in nearly every other room in the house as well. What can I say books are one of our major downfalls. Since I do not want to buy more shelves that meant parting with books. Very sad and very difficult for me. Then I need to reorganize some of the books. We are very geeky and have our home library roughly following the Dewey Decimal system, gross I know but it works for us. I however attempt no real organization at the children's books as it is worthless because they all get mixed up.
However now we have a lot more kids chapter books and it was time to let some of the picture books go, even though I hate to do it. Before you worry for Sirah have no fear we have LOTS of picture storybooks that I simply will not part with, probably even after they grow up. Still Rhiannon's book collection is outpacing our bookshelves and they were mixed in so I needed to give the kids books and our homeschool books (which are ever growing) some sort of structure. This meant moving books from room to room, shelf to shelf and deciding what to let go of and how best to utilize our book shelf space. Again at the end of this weeklong (or I am afraid more time) project few people would notice the difference of the work I did.
Why I am rambling and ranting about this on my blog? Why are you still reading it if you got this far? Who knows but I think some of you can relate to the frustrations and rewards involved in work like that. How much of our work is like that? How much of our work is hidden with no apparent results to those around us? Still it is rewarding in its own way. You may come to my home and not see any difference in my bookshelf than a day before but I know that there are no longer two rows deep of books on each shelf and books piled on the top of a row. I know that I am donating four big boxes of books much to my pain. I know because I feel better when it is organized.
I am not an organized household managers when it comes to housework. truthfully I stink at it. I have tried a variety of systems and failed over the years. But I have fallen into a pattern that at least keeps things organized and picked up, if not dusted, mopped and such with regularity. Yet I am when it comes to paperwork and filing and homeschool materials, books and the like. I need order to those things. Like Serona needs a well organized home to feel peaceful and comfort I need well organized hidden places even if I can cope with the chaos in the rest of my life. Silly I know but it does make me feel better.
To all of you who have done some hidden work today I am proud of you. Nice job! Enjoy the knowledge that you accomplished something even if no one else knows it. Now back to my bookshelves.
But I am taking a chance on these CD's everyone is raving about to help with multiplication tables. But they are really annonying to me as a mom. Can someone give me hope that this is worth it and they will help or should I save my hair?
February 7, 2007
1. I don’t scrapbook. Period. I truly have no desire to do so either. We also don't have professional pictures done for the kids, Rhia is 7 now and she has had her photos done a total of 3 times and twice because grandma brought her! I figured we would have a few kids and knowing I would get worse with each one I did not even bother that way dear Sirah can't say I loved her less because I did less. At least that is my excuse, the reality is I simply don't enjoy it or have the time. I write this blog and keep journals for them and take lots of digital pictures (that I never printout by the way). I am more of a written person and not really a sentimentalist, I rented my wedding dress if that tells you anything about me.
2. I HATE glue, sparkles, paint, etc. Big problem for a homeschool mom. I don't like arts and crafts supplies. Not because it bothers me to make a mess in my home but because it makes a huge mess all over them and it is lots of work to clean up and then I have more "projects" I have to find homes for. Sirah told her homeschool cooperative teachers last week "My mom FINALLY will let me use this!" when they pulled out glitter glue. The emphasis was hers and two different people stopped to tell me this so she must have made an impression. Can you tell I deprive her of arts and crafts supplies?
3. I don't like playing on the floor with my kids. While I enjoy playing board games and reading to my kids I am not good at imaginary play with them. I was never one to like sitting on the floor and playing trains, cars, dolls, blocks or whatever else they are into at the time. I foster this with supplies, encouragement, other friends, requiring siblings to play, and when I have to sitting down and initiating play but I can't stick with it too long. I have at times made myself set a timer for 15 minutes or so in order to not fool myself into believing I had played with them for 2 hours when indeed it was just 10 minutes.
4. I am a field trip mom. At first blush this doesn't sound like a bad thing, but then again you are not my kid. I really love "activities" and planning and going places with my kids. I love giving them experiences sometimes ones people think they are too young for. We always have some place to go or something to do. I can over schedule our lives and have someplace or something for us to do all the time and can over look the signs of just needing to stay home and snuggle from my kids.
5. I dislike the cold and the snow. For some this is not an issue for a homeschool mom in Minnesota it sure it. I don't like playing in the snow, sledding, skiing, building snowmen, snowball fights or really any of it. I do however like shoveling, go figure! I am not the lets go play in the snow mom - I am however the "You go play in the snow" mom. Hypocrite I know! Even worse in the summer we spend more time outside then they may like, including me making them take long nature hikes and bike rides. They can't win
6. I am really impatient at bedtime. By the end of the day I am ready to be done and my patience is really low. I want them to go right to sleep and I get impatient when they don't. We read bedtime stories and have our normal routines but I have little tolerance for the "milking" it that is inevitable with young children. By the end of the day I simply want the time for me, so I am selfish and impatient at night.
7. I like to sleep in. I am not a morning person at all. I really like to stay up late and sleep in the morning. This is not a successful habit for any person, least of all a mom of small children who like to get up early in the morning. We even placed the cereal and bowls on a low shelf so they can get themselves cereal in the morning if they want. Try as I might to get my kids to sleep in (even when I let them stay up late) I can't - especially Ciaran. Though I have thankfully at least convinced him that 7am is better than 6am.
8. I read all the time. Now an initial impression is how can this be a bad thing for my kids? Well I will admit I do it to a fault. I would rather read aloud or quietly with a child then do anything else. It is the first thing I suggest we do and sometimes the only thing I will do with my kids. I also make them listen to older books then their age. We started reading Narnia to them when they were 2 and 4. We have already read The Hobbit, and many classics to them before Ciaran was 5 and Rhia was 6. I do read lots of picture books but ones I choose - I have little tolerance for TV in a book. So not only do I make them listen to me read A LOT but I choose the books.
9. I am lazy. Plain and simple there is the truth. I know that may come as a surprise to regular readers but I really am - it is a character flaw and I know it. I don't like housework, yardwork, really any work that requires me to move around a lot. I don't enjoy it and I will try to avoid it. I enjoy sedentary work, blogging, writing, researching, teaching, communicating - etc. I am lazy on the day to day things I need to do and interested in all the extras which I somehow manage to find time for.
10. I use the computer WAY too much. When it comes time to fast or give something up I know without a doubt my computer is what it should be for me. I check it compulsively to the point that there is no new news or email since the last time I checked! I can also think I am on for 5 minutes and it has really been a half hour. I really enjoy the computer, blogging, IMing Serona, checking news, email, etc. It is my adult interaction for the day. My kids know I use it too much and they ask me why. What am I setting myself up for with them, as I try to impose "screen time" limits on them. Hypocrite again I know.
One More That Happens Every Day...
Just One More Minute Which is never a minute. I am always putting my kids on hold while I finish one more thing. One more conversation, one more email, one more thing. My kids are going to grow up with a crazy sense of time because 10 more minutes nearly always means 30 more minutes at a playdate and one more minute means atleast 10 on phone call. Bad mom and frustrated kid.
There you go a glimpse into the other side. This once again is not a definitive list just some that jumped out at me tonight while writing this. Remember when you look at someone else, you are only seeing a "glimpse" into the moment or into the part of their life they are showing you at the time. We catch one another on good days and bad days, in good moments and bad moments but we are all more than we see and we show. Thanks to all my friends who love me warts and all! And thanks to my kids and Serona who put up with me on a day to day basis!
Anyone else want to share their dark side... don't leave me here alone.
February 6, 2007
"Yesterday morning, the first thing we started on was a simple math review of the 9 times table. My son put his head on the desk and said, "My brain is full." I asked, "How can it be full when we haven't learned anything yet?" He replied, "I don't know. It just is."
Anyway nice to "meet" you Phil and look forward to reading more of your blog.
Can you tell it is still negative weather here? Can you tell it is February stir crazy time? It snowed today - but it is too cold to enjoy. Also the moment the phone rings it becomes a full three ring circus here. Do you feel better now?
Off for baths, quiet music and hopefully early bedtimes!
It is Ciaran that will ask to play a game every day and I should play more often then I do. Some of the games we have been playing recently are Blokus, Zooreeka, Zingo, Stratego, Balloon Lagoon, Heroscape, Mr. Mouth, Magic Kingdom, Candyland DVD, Bible DVD Game, Operation, Disney Trivia Pursuit, Sleeping Queens, and Guess Who.
These are just a few that we have played recently. We have ALOT of board games and we play them together as a family, as siblings or one on one. I was raised playing board games and still enjoy them to this day. Thanks Mom and Dad! It is fun to be able to share them with my kids now. Rhiannon is not as much into them as Ciaran is though she has really taken a liking to Gin Rummy thanks to Grandma and DaVinci Challenge. Sirah loves to be on our team and there are a few games she really enjoys such as Letter Factory Game, Lucky Ducks, EleFun, Chutes and Ladders, Don't Break the Ice and one of our new favorite family games Zitternix.
Given the ages of our kids it can be hard to find games we can all play together and all enjoy. But we try and find ways to make it work. I look forward to teaching them games like Risk and Monopoly (not the kids version) as I still enjoy playing these games. We enjoy playing Sorry too but somehow we currently do not have a version of this in our home - though we do have Parchessi which is very similar.
This past weekend I realized that poor Ciaran has my personality when it comes to games - he loves them and he is competitive to a fault. Just like his mom. There have been times in our marriage when Serona and I have had to agree to not play certain games for awhile because we were getting too competitive. Okay lets be honest, I was too competitive. Also Serona and I have different approaches to games and he plays more for fun and I play to win, not a great combination sometimes.
Watching Ciaran play Blokus with us made me realize that Rhiannon and Serona share a similar approach to games and Ciaran and I have a similar approach. Poor kid to already have a love for the competition at such a young age. Hopefully Serona can be a positive influence on him and help him tone that competitive nature some. I like that the kids are getting old enough to play games together and we can begin to move from kids games that we play as a family to true family games.
What are some of your favorite games to play with your kids?
February 5, 2007
As you know it is cold (ok frigid) here and a friend called me and asked if she could pick anything up for me so I would not need to take the kids out in the cold. She came by with bags full of groceries and beautiful tulips! She made our night and kept us warm while warming our hearts. What a blessing she is to me and my family!
Just in the past two days I have felt the love and support of friends in very real ways. Friends calling just to check in, friends praying for me and just calling to talk because they somehow knew that is exactly what I needed right now. Just a word of encouragement, something to make me laugh or smile, or an ear to listen.
Minnesota winters can be challenging for parents of young children, especially us homeschoolers. It is simply too cold to be outside at all, it is dangerous at times, but that does not stop the energy from needing to be expended! So we get creative and we have a tendency to get isolated and cocoon ourselves in. Sometimes that is just what we need and sometimes we need to remember to get out or at least connect with one another. Fellow homeschool moms reaching out to one another is a great cure for that. I am thankful to have friends who do that for me.
On this chilly night I look at the beautiful purple tulips and smile. Tulips truly are a happy flower - they lift your spirits and making you think of happy things, at least they do for me. They are in my top 3 flowers along with sunflowers and roses. Amazing how some flowers can lift our spirits. Of course Ciaran summed it up when he helped me unload the groceries and said "Those tulips are a sign of love because you did not ask for them" and I understood exactly what he meant. They brightened our day and lifted our spirits in an unexpected way.
The love, prayers and support of all my friends and family has done that for me today. So thank you my friends and family for brightening and warming this chilly Minnesota night. May you be abundantly blessed!
February 4, 2007
Until she is old enough for the babies to move into her tummy God is keeping them safe in her heart where she loves them all. Just a memory I had to share.