October 23, 2007

We Now Interrupt This Broadcast

To inform you regular blogging will resume in a bit after the grandparents visit ends and I recover from a trip to sunny california and family here for a spell after that. In the interim let me bore you with this....

Your Vocabulary Score: A

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.

October 15, 2007

Pumpkin Carving

Serona's Sirah's Rhiannon's Ciaran's

October 9, 2007

Top Ten

Okay so they are not all the funniest but some of them really made me actually laugh out loud because they hit home.

Random Moments

We have these moments that pass and I think - I should blog this and then I forget maybe sometimes that is for the best. Still some of them came back to me today and I thought I would add them here.

In the car today Ciaran asked me what a building was and I said it was an apartment. I asked if he knew what that meant and he said "Yep April lives in an apartment in Ninja turtles"

At the school table today I shared with the kids that they would need to help Serona out since he will be teaching them for the next few days. Ciaran's eyes grew wide and he said "Really? He's going to let me play alot of video games!"

While trying out voice chatting with a friend who is new to IM she was excited and said this would be perfect with a webcam. I looked around at the scene - the huge mound of laundry on my couch and Ciaran climbing over the couch to the ledge that overhangs our staircase and I thought thank goodness this is not on video!

The dinner discussion about the fact that yes meat in the packages on the grocery store does in fact still come from animals and it does not just appear there magically. Somewhere along the way Ciaran got a bit confused about this.

The first words to Serona from Ciaran each day generally describing his latest progress in video game of choice, currently MonkeyBall. Sigh - could he maybe mention the fact that he read two books today and learned the capital of Vermont?

The laps ran up and and down the stairs to burn off the energy preventing us from focusing or making good choices.

We did have some moments that made me proud today along with those that made me smile and groan

Like Ciaran doing alphabet flashcards with Sirah and creating a game to keep her interested. The image of her sitting on the floor in a circle of flashcards that she got right and the two of them smiling at each other and actually getting along.

The excitement in Rhiannon when she arrived home after a day spent at a friends house and horseback riding. The smile and excited way she described even little details of her day.

Sirah's demanding to do "real school" and working so hard to try to trace her letters right on the little workbook page she choose. The look of satisfaction at a job well done when she was done and had achieved what she set out to do.

Ciaran teaching Sirah how to make a clay pot and her calling him master and him saying "Stop just call me Ciaran"

The little tea party Sirah and her friend had all dressed up as princesses complete with English accents.

The wonderful show Sirah created and performed for me with play silks, dress up and odds and ends around the house.

Rhiannon's final personal narrative about how she came to love horses. The joy of her finishing it and a job well done.

Pulling together a lesson plan about Vermont on the fly. Complete with printed out maps, and images of the state bird, flower, tree and flag for them to glue to their state page. Watching them draw the pictures that represent the things we read about - some mountains, trees, lakes, sap buckets, and covered bridges. Sharing with the kids how many states I have been too and how many they have already been to themselves, much more than many their age.

The contentment I felt when Ciaran asked himself to read first thing this morning and his request to read a second book. The realization at how well he is reading now compared to just a month ago.

Teaching Ciaran numbers that add up to 10 and watching the light bulb go on. There are few moments I treasure as much as watching those light bulb moments.

These are just some of the moments that made up my day today and made me smile. These are the moments I hold on to and am thankful make up my day. Tonight at dinner I realized Rhiannon had been away about 6 hours and it felt long - and then I realized that is less time then she would be at school each day if she went to our local school. It made me so thankful just for the time I have with them each day.

Yes I have 5 loads of laundry to fold and another bunch to do tomorrow. Yes I have chalk all over my carpet right after I vacuumed. Yes I just decorated with world and state maps and a lunar moon model. Yes I got excited when I finished up our history curriculum for last year (yes I am aware it is next October). Yes I crave coffee in the morning when I never did before since college. Yes I started cooking dinner at 7pm tonight after being home all day. Yes I ran out to the store to get toilet paper at 8:30pm because we realized then we would not make it through the night without some. Yes my kids are listening to skip count cd's to fall asleep, competing with my own Pink Floyd to and my husband is downstairs lost in Halo land.

But tonight for just this moment I am going to soak in all those beautiful memories and moments that made up this simple ordinary chilly October day. For it is in those ordinary moments that I find contentment and joy and I remember the reasons we do this to ourselves each day and that yes we really do like it and love one another and the life we have chosen.

Kiss your babies,

Now playing: Pink Floyd - Us And Them
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: Pink Floyd - Coming Back To Life
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: Pink Floyd - Welcome To The Machine
via FoxyTunes
Now playing: Pink Floyd - The Final Cut
via FoxyTunesof above.

Now playing: Pink Floyd - The Gunner's Dream
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: Pink Floyd - Eclipse
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: Pink Floyd - When The Tigers Broke Free
via FoxyTunes

Now playing: Pink Floyd - Two Suns In The Sunset
via FoxyTunes


October 8, 2007

Nature Walks

One of the reason blogging is so light in the fall is that it is one of the best times to live in Minnesota. This year our fall has been odd - though I don't know what I am really comparing it to when I say that. Still we have had cool crisp fall weather and hot 80 degree weather, lots of rain and lots of sunshine. So you never can tell. Well we grab on to those great moments and get outside as much as we can.

We go on nature hikes a few times a week in the fall. We pick a local park and go for a good walk, draw nature sketches, catch wildlife, or geocache. Some days we do all of these things and others we just end up strolling and enjoying the view. I love being outside with the kids, I love it even more when Serona can join us in the evenings or weekends but we just enjoy being out as a family.

The kids have learned to be flexible and we told Sirah the other day that she will have a strong constitution for all the walking she has to do for a child her age. I would say the minimum time we spend walking is about an hour. Sometimes we walk one mile in that time somedays we walk three in that time or just a little longer and majority of the time she has to walk on her own. \

Yes more than once I have to remind her that we do not speak "whinese" in our family but for the most part she really is great about it. Unless she sees another child in a stroller then she will pitch a fit that she needs a stroller or backpack or to be carried - otherwise she is content to walk and be one of the big kids. Besides our accidental 7 mile walk at the beginning of the summer kind of set the bar unreachable and we can always use that to remind the kids that they in fact can walk a mile back to the car themselves. Usually though our walks are pleasant, relatively short and filled with lots of nature stops.

Lately Rhiannon has begun classifying our walks. "Does today have to be a weight watchers walk?" or "Can we just have an explore and appreciate God's creation walk?" or "Can we go geocaching while we walk?" Often our walks overlap all these kinds of walks but it is interesting to listen to her describe the different kinds of walks we typically take with her bent on which she likes better.

We had a great walk last week just the kids and I at a favorite Nature Center. We saw an osprey, leopard frog, red-tailed hawk, bald eagle, ducks, chipmunks, squirrels, and caught a garter snake. We stopped to examine many different types of fungus including a puffball which was larger than a softball. We stopped for a rest and listened to the wind in the trees and appreciated the perfect 70 degree and sunny day we were having. The kids asked if we could pray and sing, so we did. It was not contrived at all it was simply from their heart as they had spent the day in God's creation they wanted to thank Him in their own way. It really was a special moment to be a part of.

We returned to this nature center a few days later to take Serona on a walk. We walked different trails but eventually came across the spot where we stopped for that special moment. The kids remembered and talked about it as we passed through the space. This time at the end of a longer and hot humid walk with temperatures in the 80's and the sticky heaviness right before a big thunderstorm you know needs to come. Serona caught a garter snake on this walk too and we enjoyed the fall leaves and the kids found some fun trees to climb. As we held hands and walked along the path with the kids running ahead of us I was so thankful that this is part of who we are as a family and I love this part. I can even deal with the "whinese" and the need to go to the bathroom at the precise moment we are atleast 2 miles away from any sort of bathroom option because to see us as a family outdoors is worth it.

Nature walks are easy to build into your day. They don't have to be long or complicated. They are a nice way to pass an afternoon, a morning or even just an hour in the middle of your day. Often you don't need to go very far to have a place you can get out walk around and appreciate nature. Some days we bring our sketch books and enjoy that time. Other days we bring a field guide or our GPS. Still so many days we just walk with a bottle of water and see what we see making snapshots without a camera as we build those memories into the lives of our kids and ourselves. So if you haven't taken a nature walk lately I encourage you to do it and have fun with it.

Travelling Mom

We are beginning our US geography studies and I started with a printed out map that I colored in all the states I have been to. I realized there are only 8 states in our country I have yet to visit ~ a great majority of these were visited before I was 30.

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

I have spent a variety of time in each state sometimes just stopping for a day or two, some for full vacations, some to work in and a few I have lived in. I would not claim that I have a grasp on each of these states simply by visiting them. In many cases most of what I visited included hotels, restaurants, and college campuses. Still a great majority of them I have driven through which you do get a feel for a place as you drive through it. I feel a pretty strong understanding of Illinois as I have traveled nearly every direction within it.

I have been to every state east of the Mississippi, the entire west coast and desire to see the rest that I have missed. There are things I love about many states and it would be hard for me to pick a favorite. I have lived in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Oregon, Georgia and Minnesota. With inter-collegiate debate I visited so many states and cities I stop keeping track along the way. It is fun to sit down and see what I still have left to see - some of the best are left! That is good because it encourages me to go. Ok I can't say I am excited for Idaho but maybe it will surprise me. The rest of them I really want to get to and I won't leave Idaho out. Maybe I can acheive this before I am 40? Okay maybe that is optomistic and I should shoot for 40 but getting to all those before I was 30 I have a pretty good start.

I am looking forward to studying US geography with the kids this year!

It will be fun to

October 6, 2007

High of 75

A perfect theme song for life in Minnesota when my body desires the weather of Southern California!

High of 75 by Reliant K

We were talking together
I said, "What's up with this weather?"
Don't know whether or not
How sad I just got
Was of my own volition
Or if I'm just missing the sun
And tomorrow, I know
Will be rainy at best
And the forecast, I know
Is that I'll be depressed
But I'll wait outside
Hoping that I'll catch sight of the sun
Because on and off
The clouds have fought for control over the sky
And lately, the weather has been so bi-polar
And consequently, so have I

But now I'm sunny with a high of 75
Since You took my heavy heart, and made it light
And it's funny how you find you enjoy your life
When you're happy to be alive

And the temprature's freezing
And then, after dark
There's a cold front sweeping
In over my heart
And we might break up
If I don't wake up to the sun

Because on and off
The clouds have fought for control over the sky
And lately, the weather has been so bi-polar
And consequently, so have I

And now I'm sunny with a high of 75
Since You took my heavy heart, and made it light
And it's funny how you find you enjoy your life
When you're happy to be alive

Sunny with a high of 75
Since You took my heavy heart, and made it light (Made it light)
And it's funny how you find you enjoy your life
When you're happy to be alive

October 4, 2007

Prayer and Encouragement Group

For the past nearly three years I have been part of a wonderful prayer and book group that has recently come to an end. I have missed the support and fellowship of those wonderful ladies even though we still talk frequently - it is not quite the same as meeting each week before the sun is up.

Another prayer and encouragement group is starting at a perfect time for me. A wonderful mix of ladies and we will be working through the book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie O'Martian. I am looking forward to our time together, to the support, encouragement and developing friendships.

If you have never had an opportunity to be a part of a group like this I encourage you to consider joining or starting one on your own. The rewards are so plentiful. It is so easy to organize. Pick a book you want to study. Along with the one we are doing a few other past favorites for me have been: The Power of a Praying Parent, A Woman After God's Own Heart, and Blue Like Jazz. But pick something you like and want to read together. Then pick a date and time (ours is very early in the am before dads head out to work) and then open it up to others, from your neighborhood, your homeschool support group, your church, whoever you want to spend more time with.

Then start meeting and talk about the book you read and open up a part of the time to share prayer requests and pray together as a group. Be available to each other in between meeting to talk, share and pray. This knits your hearts and friendships together and offers you a special place of prayer coverage and the opportunity to support and pray for others.

I have been blessed to be part of a wonderful support group and also our homeschool cooperative. We have many opportunities to build relationships and receive encouragement and we do in each of those places. However I get that much more support by seeing the same group of women each week in a very intentional way and praying for them and knowing they are praying for me and my family. There is something very special about that time and the relationships built there. The amount of answered prayers and support that I have seen over the past few years is amazing! I encourage you to try something like that (maybe at a more sane hour) and enjoy.
Now playing: Relient K - High Of 75
via FoxyTunes
Now playing: Watermark - More Than You'll Ever Know
via FoxyTunes
Now playing: Relient K - Must Have Done Something Right
via FoxyTunes
Now playing: Sara Groves - Know My Heart
via FoxyTunes
Now playing: Relient K - Sadie Hawkins Dance
via FoxyTunes
Now playing: Sara Groves - This Journey Is My Own
via FoxyTunes

Letting Go

To "let go" does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can't do it for someone else.

To "let go" is not to cut myself off,
it's the realization I can't control another.

To "let go" is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.

To "let go" is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To "let go" is not to try to change or blame another,
it's to make the most of myself.

To "let go" is not to care for,
but to care about.

To "let go" is not to fix,
but to be supportive.

To "let go" is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.

To "let go" is not to be in the middle arranging the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own destinies.

To "let go" is not to be protective,
it's to permit another to face reality.

To "let go" is not to deny,
but to accept.

To "let go" it not to nag, scold or argue,
but instead to search out my own shortcomings, and correct them.

To "let go" is not to adjust everything to my desires
but to take each day as it comes,
and cherish myself in it.

To "let go" is not to criticize and regulate anybody
but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To "let go" is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.

To "let go" is to fear less,
and love more.

-- Author Unknown

October 2, 2007

New Reading Lists

Well hard to believe the month of September is over and it would seem we spent the month reading from our lists this month. This year I will attempt to keep three seperate monthly lists. The first list is our family read alouds and storybooks. Anything I read aloud to any or all of the kids. In addition I will keep a list of all the books Ciaran reads and all the chapter books or assigned reading books Rhiannon reads (it is impossible to keep track of everything she reads).

All together for the month of September these three lists total 168 books read in the month of September! This does not include any books Serona or I read for ourselves nor does it include the multiple times we read some of these favorite stories. Let's say our library card got a lot of great use this past month! Hopefully you can find some new book ideas with these lists. Feel free to email or leave a comment with a specific question about a book if you have one. Enjoy!

On the way to work

We drive Serona to work most mornings - we are a one car family so if we want or need the car for the day we drive him into the office. This has been routine for majority of our 10 years of marriage. Sometimes interesting things happen along the way.

Today Serona was lamenting the fact that he taught the kids the "jinx" game and wondering why he did it. I gave a half sort of smile and I raised my eyebrows as if to say "you reap what you sow". Of course I also reap what he sowed.

I will be honest I have banned the punch bug game, the jinx game and other annoying car games because my patience has worn thin and I can't take another round of arguing over who has more punch bugs than the other. He got a knowing grin and smile and I knew I was in trouble.

He then says to Ciaran

"inch and Pinch me are on a wall - inch fell off who was left"
"pinch me" says Ciaran in innocent thoughtless reaction
Serona turns and pinches him.

It was an instant hit with the kids of course and I groaned inside. Well it took all of about 45 seconds before Rhiannon pipes up:

"Flap and Slap Me are on a wall. Flap falls off who was left" and Ciaran received a slap to the head. _Sigh_

I watched as Serona tried to navigate this one and explain why pinching someone was funny and okay but slapping someone was not. I just stayed out of it all together.

Right before Serona got out of the car he said "That is it, no more fun for the day. You are not allowed to have any more fun." To his defense the point he was trying to make was that they needed to settle down and not be so silly but that is not quite how it came out.

So you could sum it up by saying that on the way to work dad encouraged pinching and slapping and forbidded fun for the day. Then he got out of the car and wished us a good day and headed into the office. I said maybe it was the day to change places and let me go into the office and he have fun schooling the kids after that start to the morning.

I suppose at least he did not feed them donuts and candy (known to the kids as "morning medicine" after grandparents visit this summer)and then hand them over. As school was winding down and we were approaching lunchtime today Ciaran tried it again on me. "Bunch and lunch were on a wall...."

How many days until I leave for California????