September 24, 2008

My new phone

Yes I am drinking the Google Kool-Aid a bit. I thought a was going to jump ship and finally cave and buy an iphone, now that my Blackberry is dying. But I decided my life is a bit more tied to Google than to Apple and I am excited to try the G1 and see what Android and the community of developers has to offer. Sadly I have to wait a month to receive my new G1 phone.

September 23, 2008

Those tender hearts

My children have the sweetest most generous hearts on some days - today was one of them. We went to see a production of Madeline at our Children's Theater. It was well done - it included a very exciting circus type performance which the kid really enjoyed. However sitting for over three hours with just short breaks in between threw my back into a tailspin and by the time we got home I was in quite a bit of pain.

Overall my back has been doing better. I have resumed physical therapy and yesterday I had a full appointment including trigger point massage, intense stretching, manipulation and ultrasound - so to say I was sore today is mildly describing it. Add to that three hours of sitting (my least comfortable position after about 15 minutes) and I had to spend the remainder of the day horizontal.

My kids were really sweet though. Ciaran cooked dinner, making Black Bean nachos. Sirah, not a huge fan of black beans, convinced Rhiannon to make her an alternate plate of nachos with refried beans. After dinner the kids did all the dishes and wiped the counters then went away into Rhia's room and were quietly cooperating on something. They came out shortly after with an hour long performance designed to cheer me up. They had prepared dancing, singing, guitar playing, acrobatic performances and other fun little acts. I held my breath when Ciaran nearly launched Sirah over an exercise ball and prayed we were not heading to the emergency room. All is well and they are all tucked safely and soundly in beds sleeping now.

The entire purpose of the show was to make me forget about my pain and to smile. They really have sweet spirits and when they decide to they can play so nicely together. After the performance was completed they even willingly cleaned up. There was much discussion about who would sleep where tonight and Rhiannon even offered to let Sirah sleep in her bed, a true treat for Sirah and truly an act of service for Rhiannon. Ciaran has placed himself on our bedroom floor and everyone is now asleep.

I love my kids, and on days like this, even when I am in a lot of pain I really realize how truly blessed I am with special children. They love me so much and it has been a hard year on them seeing mom in chronic pain but still they do all they can to make my day a little brighter or easier. Multiple times through the day either Ciaran or Sirah would just come up to me and wrap their arms around me in a big hug or give me a kiss. Rhiannon would check in and see if I needed anything and I am pretty sure she organized the after dinner performances.

Sometimes I struggle with mommy guilt over the limitations my pain has put on me and I want to be "old mommy" as the kids sometimes refer to. At other times though I see the growth this year has led to in all members of our family and I am thankful for that. Days like this make me so thankful for my children and their tender hearts. Tomorrow will be a better day when I can cook and clean and shower them with the love and attention they need to - but I am thankful that in my time of need their responses were to be generous and tender with me.

Kiss those babies,

Grains of Salt and other random moments

We often have moments that we say - we need to blog that or we need to remember that and then I never seem to get back to them. Having a few random moments now I thought I would record some I can remember instead of just frittering (my word of the day) away my time on Facebook or twittering.

Driving in the car the other day the kids were literally arguing over grains of salt. They were fighting over who took more grains of salt from the bottom of a cup that once held pretzel nuggets. They were having, and dragging us into, an argument over the actual count of grains of salt. One of those moment you only seem to have as a parent of young children.

Rhiannon in trying to get her way in a discussion we were having told me "I am not arguing with you, I am only presenting a strong argument, being a good debater like you are telling me you want me to be one day."

I got an email at 11pm from my neighbor asking me if it was possible that her 6 year old daughter drank Red Bull at my house around 6pm that night (her daughter still couldn't sleep)? I had just earlier had Sirah inform me that Ciaran drank Vault soda that evening (right before I left him with a babysitter lucky her). So I had to say Yes, yes she did drink not Red Bull but Vault(just shy of a double shot of espresso) and she wasn't making it up. My neighbor thankfully said "Atleast it wasn't beer or wine like in Anne of Green Gables."

My personal favorite recent bloggable moment:

Sirah was trying to remember something and she kept knocking against the side of her head saying "Knock knock head. Hello head. I need to remember head"

September 16, 2008

Rhiannons Story

My First Trail Ride Ever by Rhiannon

I received a great birthday present for my 9th birthday, a special day with my dad. When my dad woke me up Saturday morning he said "Get dressed, we're going on a trail ride!" I said Yippee and ran down the hall to get ready. We took an incredibly long car ride and my dad got lost. When we finally got there we met a woman with a clipboard and she directed us to where the horses were waiting. I got to ride Kassie, my dad got to ride a very fat horse named Dolly. Our trail guides name was Elise. She said everybody saddle up and volunteers came along to help us get up on the horses.
The trail ride was 2 hours. We saw butterflies, ducks and turtles. We walked, trotted and cantered the horses, dad and I even broke into a gallop (even though we weren't supposed to). We had to go up a steep hill and Dolly almost slipped. When we were finally at the top I said "Anyone who runs down that hill would be an idiot." The trail guide told us that she had mountain boarded down that hill. "I told her she was nuts."
When we finally got back to the barn I dismounted Kassie and my knees were as weak as Jello. We said thank you to Elise and got into the car and drove off. On the way home we got lost again. When we got home I unlaced my boots, got into bed and said I am not getting out again for the day! The End.

September 11, 2008

The Unsaid Thank-Yous

There are many who I never think to thank. Many I take for granted. Many who make my life better in tremendous ways. I'd like to take a minute to say thank you to some of those who make our lives better. The kids and I spent the day making cookies and thank yous and delivering some to some people on this list - to others we could not get to we just want to say Thank You.

Thank you to the police who keep my neighborhood safe and will put themselves between my family and danger.

Thank you to the fire departments who are so brave they can run into buildings on fire to save those innocents who are stuck there. The bravery of these heroes is beyond me.

Thank you to the military who put themselves on the front lines facing dangerous situations and enemies to protect our country and innocent citizens of other countries too.

Thank you to the federal agents in the FBI, CIA, and all the abbreviations I don't even know exist. Thank you for taking care of things known and unknown to me so I don't need to fear and can rest assured.

Thank you to the wives, husbands, children and parents of these heroes who give up so much time with their loved ones and know the risks they are taking but are still proud of them for what they day. Thank you for the sacrifices you make for the rest of us in the world.

Thank you to the doctors, nurses, surgeons, interns, and all those who help in emergency rooms around the world. Especially to those who do so through the middle of the night so we can always have life saving and critical health care no matter the day of the year or time of night. Thank you to their patient families as well.

Thank you to the construction road workers who provide us with safe well cared for roads to get us from place to place.

Thank you to the pastors, rabbis and leaders of churches throughout the world. To those who provide counsel, love and wisdom to all who need it and who give so freely of themselves to help others through their trails. Thank you to the wives and children who share their time and parents so much

Thank you to the airline pilots, train and bus drivers who get us from place to place safely. Thanks to the security teams that help insure problems don't arise along the way.

Thank you to the sanitation workers and cleaners who make sure we live in a safe and disease free environment.

Thanks to the doctors and health care providers who diagnosis and prevent the spreading of more illnesses keeping us all healthy while sometimes putting themselves at risk.

Thanks to the politicians, yes I am thanking them and you should to! Thanks for taking often thankless and criticized jobs because you want to improve the country and world for the people. Thank you for sticking with it and helping manage and improve a wonderful country we are so blessed to live in.

Thank you to the plumbers and repair people of the world who let their lives and schedules sometimes be dictated by our "emergencies" so we can be comfortable.

Thanks to the rescue workers who run into the areas being evacuated to get more people out and help those who are stranded even though they put themselves at risk.

To all those who work thankless and often unappreciated jobs I say thank you!!!! Thank you for all you do for me, a random stranger. Thank you for truly making this world a better place each day by going to your job, by helping others and doing things some can only fear.

Thank you for facing that fire, standing between me and a criminal, healing the wounded, cleaning the trash and bathroom filth, providing guidance and love to the seemingly unlovable, giving of yourself to better others every day of your life. You truly are inspiring and represent the best of what this country represents. I am proud of you and I am thankful for you and may you truly be blessed today.

Our little family of five in Minnesota

September 10, 2008

Those Precious Beginnings

Sirah is starting Kindergarten this year and she could not possibly be more excited. I tend to just follow their lead at this age letting their interest be our guide with a main focus on learning to write letters, numbers, simple math sense and learning to read. She is very excited to do all these things and even though I said we were not starting school for a few more weeks she could not wait - so we have begun.

Simple beginnings just a very little bit each day. Her favorite so far has been math. She seems to love numbers and has enjoyed the abacus the most. Today she asked if we could just count together to 100 using the beads. We have also introduced cuissenaire rods and using her fingers to count and add. She is really having fun with it and also wants to learn how to write her numbers correctly. Watching the enthusiasm is inspiring, though it does not seem to rub off on the older two who are quite content to wait until I drag them literally back into the swing of the school year.

That love of learning, those bright eyes and the sheer joy when you master a new skill is such a powerful thing to see. It is such a great reminder of why we do what we do. A great motivator to keep going even when it gets tough. So let me say this when it is late January here in Minnesota and we are all crawling up the walls and not liking schooling anymore - lets try to remember the bright eyes and enthusiasm of those young learners who are just so pleased to be learning and mastering things.


September 9, 2008

Election Study

Four year ago we did a unit study during the election. It was a points based study to learn about America's governing system and work to get a candidate elected. We will begin our elections lessons and campaigning next week. I thought I would share some of the activities.

Campaigning and Political Action Hands on Activities

10 points

Pray daily for President, Vice president, senators running and for the election process - 10 points per day

Literature Drops - distribute literature, brochures, etc through neighborhood - 10 points per piece

Phone calling reminding people to vote or participate in phone bank - 10 points per call

25 points

Wear your campaign t-shirt, hat or button supporting your candidate - 25 points per day

Send out cards encouraging people to vote for your candidate - 25 points per card

Make cookies, wrap them individually and pass them out with a tag remining people to vote for your candidate - 25 per cookie

50 points
Encourage your parents and friends to volunteer for a campaign and receive email updates

Get permission and place campaign signs or bumper stickets in yards or windows - 50 points per piece

Draw a political cartoon about the presidential race

Watch and record the presidential and vice-presidential debates - 50 points each

Invite friends to watch the debate with you - 50 per friend who joins you

Ask friends/family who they thought won the debate and who they will vote for - compare the results

100 points

Make campaign posters for use at rallies or in windows or to sign wave with - 100 per sign

Visit the childhood home or presidential library of a president - 100 points each

Conduct a survey of 10 people (10 points per person interviewed) ask two questions "What three things do you think are most important about a Presidential candidate? and Which presidential candidate do you intend to vote for? Compare and graph results of questions - 100 points for graph of results

Attend a prayer support evening at local church for the presidents or conduct your own in your home

Go to the polls with someone who is voting

200 points

Visit your local campaign headquarters

Volunteer at local headquarts (stamping, envelopes, signs, copies, phone calling, etc) 200 per hour points double last 72 hours

Door knocking, canvassing, sign waving, voter ID, etc - 200 per hour points double last 72 hours

Make your own campaigning t-shirt - 200 points each

Set up a voter registration booth at a local mall, neighborhood or other event

Register voters and hand deliver registrations - 200 per registration

Call a local talk radio station, share your age and why you think people should vote for a candidate or just vote in general

Write and film a 30 second commercial explaining why you believe your candidate should be elected

Write and submit a letter to the editor why you think people should support your candidate - 200 for letter 200 more if published

Draw and submit to your local newspaper a political cartoon representing the presidential race - 200 for cartoon 200 more if published

Color a map with your predictions of electoral college results (blue and red)

300 points

Take pictures and make a scrapbook of your experience doing this

Hold a mock debate on issues

Host a mock election

Watch the results as they come in on the evening news, mark a map by coloring the states with red or blue as called - 300 for completed map

500 points
Attend a candidate rally where the president, vice president or senate candidate is campaigning

Reading and Writing Assignments

50 points
Make a list of your government officials: national, state and local. Remember to pray for them by name daily

Read the US Constitution Bill of Rights, write what you understand them to mean in your life - 50 points per right

Memorize and recite the Bill of rights - 50 points per right

Draw a picture of the American flag - label the parts

Draw a picture of the White House

Play and sing patriotic music - 50 points per hour

Read your local newspaper and clip articles detaling current issues addressed by the current campaign - 50 points per article

Read and compare candidates positions on major political issues such as: economy, education, war in Iraq, homeland security, environment, energy, etc - 50 points per issue researched and discussed or written on

Discover the various Political Action Groups and endorsements supporting the candidates and discuss what that might show or mean about the candidates positions on issues - 50 each

Explain why each vote is important and how one vote can change an election

100 Points
List and explain ten changes you would make if you were president

Write and mail a letter to President George W Bush thanking him for the job he has done over the past 8 years as president

Write and mail a letter to Senator McCain, Senator Obama, Governor Palin or Senator Biden thanking them for their service to our country - 100 each

Write a report about what the US constitution says about the eligibility requirements to run for US President

Memorize and recite the Preamble to the Consitution

Research and list 10 reasons Americans should vote

List 10 ways the political parties differ - 10 points each

Take a current political issue and explain your viewpoint on it - compare or contrast to candidates

Read and explain the basic biographical background of the candidates - 100 each

200 points
Write a poem or song about what you hope America will be like when you are an adult

Discuss the election process from state primaries and caucuses through the conventions and election. Include specefics about your states caucus or primary

Learn about the history and present to an adult or write about and current platform of the main political parties (DNC, RNC, etc) - 200 per party

300 points

Research the history of the Electoral College then explain (orally or in writing) how it works, how it differs from popular vote, and why it was established

Read a biography of a past president, first lady, or out country;s founders. Non-readers: have parents or older sinling read aloud to you.

Read a book about the Secret Service and how the president and his family are protected

Read a book about the White House

Read a book written by each of the candidates - 300 per book

Memorize and recite the names of the Presidents in order of service to America

Memorize and recite the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Indepenedence

Research and explain the history and importance of third party candidates and parties and how they affect elections

Special points
Write an essay about "How the Outcome of the 2008 Presidential Election Could impact my life" - 1 point per word

By hand, coppy George Washingtong's "Rules of Civility" - 1o points for each rule written neatly

Write a summary of current articles found in the newspaper or online news source having to do with the election, issues or candidates - 1 point per word written

Write a list of: When your state joined the US, what the population of your state is, how many Congressional districts it has, the name of your Governor, US Senators and US Representatives - 10 points each

Watch School House rock - I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to College, I'm Just a Bill and The Shot that was Heard around the world - 20 points each

Discover which Presidents have been homeschooled for some or all of their education - 20 points for each president found

*Material is based on material developed by Fran Eaten.

September 3, 2008

Waving to the School Buses

Yesterday the school buses started in our neighborhood. Sirah was sitting next to me when the first one arrived - I was thankful we homeschool. She would be getting on a bus for the first time this year heading off to Kindergarten.

Sirah is very excited for school this year, the other two - not as much. Once we start I know they will be fine but so far when people ask them about school Sirah is very enthusiastic and the others are not excited.

We are ramping in slowly. This week and next we begin with activities, field trips and purchasing supplies. I always find it best to wait until everyone has gone back to school and the clearance starts. The first two weeks of school are the best time here in Minnesota to do field trips as the places are all empty. One year we had the entire history museum to ourselves! We will likely include the zoo, art museum and some other favorites.

Next week we add in our rock climbing, Wednesday night programs, swimming lessons and other fall based activities. We will also start up math and writing and incorporate some nature days and hikes. The next week starts our homeschool cooperative and the civics/elections class I am teaching. By the last week of September we should be fully ramped up with history, science, language arts, art, music, latin and other misc subjects.

Looking forward to a great year and to enjoying the rest of the beautiful season in Minnesota!