Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Mother Nature is being kind

Mother nature is being very kind in our current study of reptiles. Blue-tailed skinks are very common around our home. We daily see the juveniles around but rarely the adult males who are very different in color. I am guessing it is mating season as we have recently come across two different adult males in our yard with what I am guessing are females. Today we finally managed to take a picture before he disappeared.

Juvenile and female blue-tailed skinks (or five-lined skinks) are generally dark in color with several yellowish lines running down their backs and ultra-blue tails. The younger they are the brighter the tail will be. But adult males turn brown with these reddish-orange heads. Very scary looking when you come across it unexpectedly.

Upon reading on them I found that it says that they do well in captivity for studying. But I don't know if I am quite ready to go that far. Plus they are quick little things.

Tomorrow we go on our HS nature study around one of local lakes. It looks like the rain is going to hold off long enough, yeah! I am looking forward to it.



Picture of Moth

Here is a picture of our moth before we release him/her to the wild.

This has been a wonderful experience and we are looking forward to studying the cocoon later.



My daughter has expensive taste

On our way home from being grocery shopping today I pulled into a fast food drive-thru (so they could eat while I put away the food) and in front of us was a beautiful red convertible porsche. MB pipes up with "Mom, that's a hot car. I am going to have one like that."

This morning MB and I sat down and made up a menu for the rest of the week. I also had her tell me some of the meals that she would like to have later in the month. I printed off the new food pyramid and talked to her about why we can't have alternating chicken nuggets and hot dogs every night. Then she helped me make a list for our bi-weekly shopping trip.

This afternoon she is going to help me separate the bulk packages down to meal-size packages and prepare the vegetables for the freezer.

I found a neat sausage at the store: chicken, asiago cheese and spinach. My mouth is watering. I believe we will try it tomorrow night with corn on-the-cob.

Tonights menu:

Spinach Salad, Grilled Shrimp & Veggie Kabobs over roasted potatoes (mom & Dad)

Reg. Salad, Fish Sticks, Grilled Veggies and Fruit Kabobs (Girls)

I just love this time of year with all the fresh fruit and veggies, not to mention it is wonderful to be able to use the grill almost every night so I do not have to heat up the kitchen.



The Moth emerged!!

I came into the room this morning where we have been keeping the coccoon and the moth came out sometime in the night!! It did it. and I didn't kill the poor thing!!

MB will be so excited when she wakes up!!



Monday, May 30, 2005

Nice Holiday

We enjoyed a nice holiday, although we did not do too much holiday stuff and a whole lot of normal stuff.

Little EM started off the day at 5:30 am by rolling over on her tummy in her sleep and realizing that she did not like that. I managed to get her back to sleep for a little while longer, but it was a restless sleep.

Dh did find a place to play golf today so when he left I decided to make it just another day for the girls. We started off by talking about what Memorial Day is. As MB is at that age that is preoccupied by death it became a long discussion about death (always my favorite). Then we started Cursive handwriting. MB's handwriting is horrible. This is due in part to the fact that she races through everything she does, but also because in her preschools she has had very little good handwriting instruction. Very rarely have they done any instruction in lowercase letters. I have been trying to work on it with her and she is getting better but I noticed that she would often lose her place when she was writing and had to pick up her pencil. So when she expressed an interest in cursive writing recently I decided to give it a try with her. Today we started with A and B, upper and lowercase. I told her that I wasn't concerned with how fast or how many she did, but how well she tried. If she did not do them well we would erase them and keep trying until they were correct. This she took surprisingly well and did give it a really good try and only had to do over two or three. We will keep working on these two letters until I am satisfied.

After that we moved into her new science unit - Reptiles. This she asked for so it was easy. We hung the Reptile poster I had picked up last week and had her dictate back to me the characteristics of reptiles that we had talked about last night. I had her copy the list over as her copy work for the day and we will include that in her reptile book. I had her choose which reptile we would start discussing first and she chose snakes. So we pulled out the reptile identification book and read about snakes then she chose to draw and color a green snake.

While we were working together, K played with the pattern blocks. K is becoming really good with them and can almost fill in a pattern by herself. Mainly, though she likes to bring them to me to name the colors and shapes. Then she played with her little people for awhile.

After MB and I finished up the reptile work, MB wanted to play with the pattern blocks herself so while she did that I read to them "The Ch'i Lin Purse" a chinese folk tale with a moral ening similar to Aesop's.

We ended about 12:30, which wasn't too bad considering we did not start until 10:00. MB wanted to go out and play after lunch, and since school is now out for the public schools she had playmates around to play with. She played for a couple of hours while I spent some time with K and little EM.

Around 2:00 she came back with a blue jay feather she had foun and wanted to try writing with it like the 'old people' did. So we pulled out the paints so she could try. It worked, somewhat, so that she could see how they did it. Of course that moved into a creative painting fest for her and K. They had a wonderful time. MB talking about the colors she was mixing and what colors she was getting. K just having fun painting her 'shapes.'

Then they headed out to clean-up in the wading pool. An spent the rest of the afternoon outside.

It was really a wonderful day. We had almost no blow-ups and the shifting from one thing to another went very easy. I am really trying to remember to use the techniques I have learned recently in working with them. Mainly to not come right out talking about what MB is doing wrong, but reminding her the correct way to act, or talk. Then giving her a choice to either change her behavior to the correct way or to do something different. Discipline isn't tied so much to a certain punishment (ie timeout) but inside is directly related to whatever she is doing at the time. I am also working on keeping my tone of voice steadier and not moving into yelling as much as I used to. Just be firm. I am finding that as long as I act certain and sure, MB is not arguing back as much with me. All of this is more of a change in my behavior and it really seems to be making an improvement over the last four-five days. Each day the pushing the boundaries gets a little less. I am also finding that as MB improves, K is also more willing to listen and obey which is great because she is going through that whole 2 yrs old I am independent phase.

I feel good about today. We didn't push too hard, had a lot of fun and still got things accomplished.



Reptile Food Day

For our current reptile unit I want to do a reptile food day with MB and K. I do not actually want to eat alligator or snake :). I would like to have kid-friendly, easy dishes that could look like various reptiles. I have looked online, but I may not have been looking in the right places.

Has anyone ever done anything like this or are there any creative folks out there that might share an idea with me? I am all ears.



A quick peek of our reading pile

I noticed today that the pile of books on top of the worktable in the family room was becoming quite unstable. Although we read many books thoughout the day and week, this is the spot where books go when they are in the process of being read or are re-reads. So here is a quick snapshot of what is in our pile this week.

Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child, Robert J. MacKenzie, Ed.D (mom)
In The Time of The Dinosaurs, William Wise (MB)
Grandmas At Bat, Emily Arnold McCully (MB & K)
Elizabeti's School, Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen (MB & K)
Henry and Mudge And The Long Weekend, Cynthia Rylant (MB&K)
The Butterfly Seeds, Mary Watson (MB)
Curious George, H.A. Rey (MB & K)
Black Bears, Marcia S. Freeman (K)
A Kiss for Little Bear, Else Holmelund Minarik (MB & K)
Nate The Great and The Pillowcase, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Rosalind Weinman (MB)
Mr. Putter and Tabby Fly the Plane, Cynthia Rylant(MB & K)
Sally, Dick and Jane, First pre-primer (MB Read Aloud - Completed in one night)
Turtle and Snake at Work, Kate Spohn (K)
By The Shores of Silver Lake, Laura Ingalls Wilder (Family Read)
The Ch'i Lin Purse; A Collection of Ancient Chinese Stories, Linda Fang (MB)
The Grape Jelly Mystery, Olive Blake (MB)
Little Toot (Board Book Adaptation), Linda Gramatky-Smith (K)
Little People Cars, Trucks, Planes and Trains Pop-Up, Nancy L. Rindone (K)
A Generous Orthodoxy, Brian D. McLaren (mom)
The Fellowship of The Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien (mom)

There it is a quick look at the books we have read and/or handled in the last two days.



Sunday, May 29, 2005

Unrelated Things

We have been having a nice weekend back at home. Trying to get settled in again with MB being home, although she leaves again either Friday or Saturday. Both girls have gotten summer haircuts this weekend. MB's mainly to try and fix the self-imposed mullet that she cut and K because she looks so cute with a little 'dutch boy' style cut. As much as I like long-hair I have to say that they do look better with the shorter hair and so much easier to take care of.

Here is a picture of the girls that I took last week. This is at a beach on the sound. MB and K had found a piece of seaweed and were showing it to my mother and myself.

This next visit that MB is going on she will actually be attending a daycamp for 5yr olds and studying the sealife in the area.

With MB's success at RV camping with my dad last week it got me to thinking that it is about time for us to start doing some camping. My family actually only went on one long camp trip growing up. It was a car trip from NC to Maine to take my step-brother and step-sister to a summer camp up there and visit my step-father's parents in Maine. This was 22 years ago this summer. I can remember the miserableness (not a word - but really describes the trip in some parts) of setting up camp in pouring down rain, tire blow-outs in the middle of nowhere, heat and bugs. But it was also a wonderful trip. I had an opportunity to visit places and do things that I have never had since. It was a long time ago and many would have thought that I was too young to enjoy the experience. Unfortunately that was the only time my family ever camped out. My step-father was too busy with his business in the summer and I spent most summers at summer camps. I am glad that I have that memory.

My husband on the other hand, camped his entire young life. His family criss-crossed the US a few times. He has a lot of memories. Some of which have not gotten better with time. But we agree that camping is something that we want the girls to experience.

Where we live now we have several wonderful and inexpensive state parks within 30 minutes of our house. And we have decided that we are ready to start camping. So this weekend we picked up this:

Tents have become so much more since I camped. This thing is huge. Large enough for dh to stretch out his 6'5" frame in. In a few weeks we hope to go on our first 'expedition'.


DH is off tomorrow! This is the first Memorial Day he has had off in something like 15 years. We are trying to decide what we want to do. He wants to play golf (snicker, snicker) like he can find an affordable, decent tee time at this point.

Wednesday I want to take the girls to a nature hike at a local lake with the HS group. That is the only thing planned at this point. I might actually get all her clothes washed and put away before it is time to pack them again.

I believe our Moth is getting close to emerging from the coccoon. Keep hearing it bounce every now and then. Will have pictures if anything happens.

Off to do bedtime.



Friday, May 27, 2005

We're Back

We have returned from our mini-vacation. It was very nice and we are all glad to have MB back. The one who is happiest is our dog. We were afraid that she was very, very sick while MB was gone because she just kept moping around and would not eat. DH and I were really afraid that we were going to have to take her into the vet. As soon as we walked in the house and she heard MB, she began to wag her tail and has been peppier than anytime during the last week. I don't know what we are going to do with her when MB is gone for 2 weeks later this summer.

MB's trip went extremely well. She had a lot of fun and has caught the camping bug. I am hoping that we can do at least a couple quick camping trips to our local parks this summer to aquaint the girls with camping. I have been wanting to do it, but have been waiting for MB to become older and then to not be pregnant during the summer. So I believe we are good to go, at least to the campgrounds that are only about 30 minutes from home.

K's potty training is going very well and we even made it down to the beach on Wednesday without an accident. Since MB has returned to the family unit we have had a few more accidents, but K is still trying and I refuse to give up.

All is good. Now I just need to catch up on my reading.



Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I had a lot of hits yesterday, of course on a day with a negative post.

Today I am feeling better about everything and I have to step up and say that part of the issues are on my side of the fence. MB is my daughter in oh so many ways. I can become just as intense and locked-in as she can which I believe cause part of our stress. So the first thing I need to remember is for me to step back when things get tense. I need to work on my reactions and understand better that what she does are not done to aggravate me (although it feels that way sometimes) but because it is her temperament. When I don't let it become a her vs. me personal thing, then I can focus easier on how to reach and teach her.

It has been easier for me to sit down and think through new strategies while she is gone. And I have some plans. First of all MB and I are going to sit down and create some Family Rules. I have been wanting to develop this for a long time, now I think is the time. She can understand right versus wrong and this gives her a chance to be actively involved in creation of a document that both of us can refer too. Not to mention it will help to reinforce the rules rather than just posting them one day.

Second I want to do more inclusion of MB and K in preparing meals. Both the girls love to help in the kitchen and while I am preparing dinner can sometimes be the most stressful time of the day. Unfortunately with a kitchen the size of a walk-in-closet it can be difficult and stressful for all of us to try and work in there. I need to be more proactive and really keep up with a family menu. I tend to do this for a few weeks then drop off the menu for awhile and then try again. But with a family menu I can schedule meals that the girls can easily help with and know ahead of time what needs to be done and decide who is able to do it. I have also thought that I can schedule K and MB each days to be kitchen helper. Granted K is all of 2 1/2, but she gets in there anyway and I tend to have to find ways for her to help - so if I plan for it I can prepare myself better and not become so annoyed when she is in there anyway. Last night K totally helped me with dinner. We made Sloppy Joe Casserole. She helped me mix up the beef and sauce, pat down the biscuits and spread the cheese. There is no reason I could not find other ways she could help. And of course MB already does well in the kitchen. They want to help, so I need to find the way for it to happen without them squabbling and possibly getting hurt or driving me nuts.

I know that some sort of schedule needs to be incorporated into our day. It will make homeschooling and life in general easier. I am just leery of schedules. We have never seemed to find one that focuses us without getting in the way, or one that will reflect our day in a general way, day-after-day. Sometime they lead to more stress, at least on my part. We have always been irregular people - all of us. And we are gradually adding in more regularity, especially with night activities. I just need to do the same thing for the rest of the day.

The last thing I need to do is just remember the positive things and be more positive in general. This is easier for me in the beginning of the day, but by evening my energy and tolerance levels have dropped and I can handle a lot less button pushing then.

I leave tomorrow to get MB. I am looking forward to having her back. I miss seeing her and talking to her. We will spend some time with family before we come back.



Monday, May 23, 2005

Musings and Guilty Feelings

I will start off with the guilty feelings. The last few days have been really nice without MB here. I feel guilty thinking and writing that, but I also feel if I acknowledge it then maybe I can get back on track working with her temperment. I do miss her, she is so very alive in everything that she does. Her excitement over learning something new. There have been times I have turned to show or tell her something and realized that she is not here.

What has been nice has been the peace in the house, has been the lack of stress that I seem to daily carry around on my shoulders waiting for the explosion or breakdown. I have enjoyed being able to spend time with both K and little EM without MB hovering. I have enjoyed K relax and play by herself with her trains or little people knowing that she is not suddenly going to be interrupted by MB.

OK, so now that our dirty laundry is out on the table it is time that I clean it. I first heard the term "Spirited Child" when MB was about 3 years old. Not only did the description fit her it also fit me. I began trying to work with the temperament so that she could be successful and we weren't constantly struggling. Along the way life started to intrude and although some methods remained in our daily activities, others seemed to be forgotten before they really had a chance to try and work. I am also finding that of course some of the methods that worked for a preschooler no longer seem to fit. So I am off to try and find new techniques to employ. Unfortunately MB has struggled for so long with self-control that I am starting to see signs of it in the way she views herself and I know how very damaging this can be, even at 5 years of age.

It is frustrating, every time I feel like I am making forward strides in working with MB and I can let up a little bit an spend some time concentrating on the girls' that are not as high need as she is, another brick tumbles out of MB's foundation.I know that she struggled at my mom's house for the three days she was there. She was so excited that she forgot the rules over and over. She could not sleep and she fought with my mom over simple normal activities that my mom purposefully did. And although I have not heard from my Dad I am pretty sure that MB is probably struggling there as she is camping for the first time and spending 3 days with a step-cousin that she can normally deal with being around for 3 hours.

I want her to be happy with the special person that God created. The one that is full of energy and can accomplish so much in one day. The one that is so perceptive that she can see things that none of the rest of us in the family can. The one that is very creative and verbal who could be a wonderful writer some day. The person who is so flexible in her routine it does not freak her out to have surprises or to change plans on a dime. The person who is persistant enough to find a way to do something even if the rest of us think it cannot be done.

So I am musing over new ways to reach into MB and help her to understand why she sometimes feels as though she can't stop jumping, why she feels like she can't calm down once she has brokendown and help teach me ways to watch out for the triggers.

But while she is not here I am enjoying the time with K and little EM.

Little Em is 5 months old now and has such a wonderful personality. She will sit and talk for so long and when she feels she needs attention she doesn't cry, but instead starts to jabber until someone responds. She is rolling over and is really trying to sit up on her own. Her food consumption is so great that we have started on solids and she is loving it. She knows that the spoon brings food and as soon as she sees it her mouth is wide open. I couldn't ask for a better sleeping child. She goes to bed between 8:30 and 9 pm and sleeps until 7:30 am. No night wakings no fussiness. She just falls asleep wherever she is at that time and is out all night. I am totally spoiled by this little girl.

K and I are having a great time. While MB was 2-4 yrs old I told everybody that it was an age that I just struggled with. The development they go through during that time period and all the other things, I just did not enjoy being around a toddler. But K and I are having soo much fun. We are painting and talking about colors and shapes. We dance. We build train tracks and take them apart and build them again. I can sit down and read to her.

The only thing is that I picked this week to really concentrate on potty training with K. I refuse to put a diaper back on her (except at bedtime). The first two days went very well and she was starting to tell us when she needed to go. But yesterday and today have been zeros on the success scale. She does not want to go, when we ask where she is supposed to go she says "pants" instead of "potty" or "toilet." I have been using a timer to remind me to take her in to at least sit on the potty, she is to the point that she goes when she hears it beep, before I can get her to the bathroom. Just wherever she is. And last night she woke up at 1:30 in the morning and refused to go back to sleep for a couple of hours. I don't know if the two things are related, but I know that K often has sleep problems when she is going through development times. But I have two more days before MB comes back and I am going to keep working at it.

Anyway this is a pretty horrible post I know. But I decided when I started this blog it was going to be my journal through being home with the girls and homeschooling them and this is all part of the fun. What I learn now I can use later.



Friday, May 20, 2005

A body at rest...

I have been spending most of today studying the laws of motion, primarily inertia. I was planning on spending the day cleaning, but that idea went down the toilet along with my dinner at 2:00 this morning. I was up sick for three hours, then boom I felt fine again though without a lot of energy.
And without my hyper energetic, talkative child here to force me into motion I have remained a fairly unenergetic blob. My other two combined do not equal a force upon my mass as great as she does.

With one less child around I have decided to tackle potty training K. She does not mind using the toilet, but has no initiative to do it herself. So we are going to the bathroom every hour and so far today she has only had one accident and that was because I got sidetracked when it was time. So we will do the same tomorrow and then on Sunday she how she does with a little more autonomy.

Today was basically K's day. We started doing some tactile play with grits in a tin pan (the grits were old and I was getting ready to throw them out). She had a blast making her handprint and 'irkles' (circles). I introduced the letter B and we practiced writing B's in the grits. Then we painted a couple of printouts of "B" and then she played with the frig magnets while I fixed lunch.

She helped me do a load of laundry after lunch and then I let her choose a movie because it is Friday and of course it is raining. She chose The Little Mermaid, this month's favorite. So K, little EM and I cuddled for awhile watching the movie until little EM went down for her nap.

I balanced the checkbook and payed some bills because DH got paid and we can't really just let the money sit in the bank can we :) Then I joined K in veg-world until it was time to pick up the van. I do now have a car that doesn't complain every time I hit the brakes and that makes me very happy.

What I did not get done: Mop Kitchen and Eating area, Move kitchen table back into its normal place, actually change out my clothes for the seasons instead of living out of a box, organize and purge girls' bedroom. "I have four more days to tackle those projects" the procrastinator in me says.

On the good side I have one more child that much closer to a diaperless existence, same child now points out all the B's that she sees in addition to A's, she got to paint, little EM and I had wonderful conversations, and my phone/internet service will not be cut off this month.

I do miss MB. I have talked with her and she is having a wonderful time and being very spoiled. I have spent some time thinking though some focuses for us over the next month-six weeks when she is actually home. I would like to tackle Money. She is interested and I am always explaining it to her when she asks, but I think it woul be good for her if we sat down and pulled it all together. Does anyone have any good games for reinforcing coins/equivalents that is not playing store?

I am hoping this weekend that we might actually get out some and go to a couple of community activities that I saw in the paper today. Unfortunately they would be right up MB's alley, but I think all of us will have fun at them anyway.



Thursday, May 19, 2005

Hamster Wheel

The past two days I have felt like I have been on a hamster wheel. Running, running and running without really getting anywhere.

My mother came into town Tuesday afternoon which creates enough mayhem alone. It is nice to have her, but she loves to go from on activity to another and does not know the meaning of relax. So after she got here we spent most of the afternoon running around and trying to get some of her errands run.

Wednesday I dropped MB off for preschool then took my van in to have the brake pads replaced, or at least I thought I did. Mom, picked me up and we ran more errands with K and little EM. Then picked MB up from school. That afternoon MB and I baked cupcakes for MB's last day of school party. At 4:30 I realized that I had not heard from the mechanic yet so I called to see when I could get the car as we needed it to transport the whole family to MB's preschool graduation that night.

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond the mechanic's control (we have used him for several years and know that yesterday is not normal) he had just checked my car to see what needed to be done. If he began the work on it I would not have my car until today. So I had to ask him to put everything back together so we could pick up the van to use last night and today and reschedule for friday. This means that I am also racing around today trying to find people to help me with the drop off and pick up of my van.

MB is now a preschool graduate. Aren't I proud. I know, I know sarcasm doesn't really suit here, but geez does it have to be made into such a big deal? Last night I again had to explain to her that she would not be going to Kindergarten next year, that we were going to have school at home and that in fact she had already completed her K year a few weeks ago.

Today I had my last day of my bible study. That is a little sad as we have really grown as a group. We may do something else again in the future, but right now we all feel that we need a little break. We all have so much going on between our families and other committments that we just need to break for a little while.

I had to leave the bible study early so that I could make it to MB's school for their last day program and picnic. Better program than the night before. It was nice and I know that MB had much more fun. We had lunch and let the girls play for a little while. After that we came home to pack MB's suitcase.

MB is gone for a week. She will be spending part of that time with my mom and part of it with my dad. I will go down next week to pick her up. This is the first of 6 trips she already has planned for this summer. I am going to miss her, it will be real quiet around here. I already have some plans to clean up and out the girls' bedroom. This will be the time to weed out some of the toys that are only wanted when I am ready to get rid of them.

So I am going to sit and relax in my quiet house this afternoon. I will clean tomorrow since I will have no car.



Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A new path?

I have wanted to return to school for a long time and work towards a Masters Degree. I just have never really been able to pinpoint what I would even want to study. The problem is that I generally just want to learn for the sake of learning. I have never been able to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

For the past six months or so I have been working in my church to develop additional bible studies and education programs along with a team. I have really, really enjoyed this work. It speaks to me and it is something that I feel strongly about in our church. So I have been thinking about returning to school somehow to study Theology and Christian Education. So far I have really been able to get past the fact that it will require more of my time and the whole $$ issue for me to just study something for the sake of studying it. I had no idea what I could do with it.

So, today I was asked by the pastor if I would have an interest in joining the church ministry team as the Christian Education Director. To serve as the person to coordinate and develop the many and varied programs that our small church offers and wants to offer. I am interested, really interested. I just have all the normal concerns about family, time, etc. I know that the position will not be full-time to start and we are a very family-centered church so small children are not a deterrent to the position. It is something that I will pray about.

I just feel that this is a calling for me, the way that it has come about, step-by-step. Whatever my decision I know that I want to remain in christian education in some way. This would be a way to justify the education and the education could help me grow in the position as the position grows.

It is something that I will be considering.



Sunday, May 15, 2005

I am back

Hello all. I am back from a relaxing 24 hour retreat with my bible study group. It was a wonderful and interesting time. Yesterday morning we spent in quiet reflective time. I sat out on the dock overlooking the lake and wrote in my journal and just picked through various bible passages that caught my attention. We spent about 4 hours in quiet time and it was really something that I needed that I wasn't aware that I needed.

Other than that we played a few board games, ate and talked. Yesterday evening before we began to pack up we sat on the deck and were rocking and I felt so strange. Nothing to do, nothing to worry and fret over. It was a wonderful get away.

I got back to the house about 11 last night. The girls were all in bed, the house was still somewhat clean and my husband was happy. I believe that it was a good weekend for all of us.

On to other things. I have been tagged by Millenium Hippies. I am supposed to pick five out of the list below and respond.

If I could be a scientist
If I could be a farmer
If I could be a musician
If I could be a doctor
If I could be a painter
If I could be a gardener
If I could be a missionary
If I could be a chef
If I could be an architect
If I could be a linguist
If I could be a psychologist
If I could be a librarian
If I could be an athlete
If I could be a lawyer
If I could be an inn-keeper
If I could be a professor
If I could be a writer
If I could be a llama-rider
If I could be a bonnie pirate
If I could be an astronaut
If I could be a world famous blogger
If I could be a justice on any one court in the world
If I could be married to any current famous political figure

Okay here are my answers:

1. If I could be a scientist I would develop staple crops that could be grown in the extreme regions of the world so that farmers in the arid countries could provide the food needs for their fellow people, while also increasing the employment in the areas around the farms. Thereby reducing some of the economic-created strife that cripples those areas of the world.

2. If I could be a farmer I would raise organic vegetables and herbs (for various food and medicinal uses). I would also raise sheep. I would learn how to treat and dye the wool using natural dyes.

3. If I could be a librarian I would probably be fired for reading on the job too much.

4. If I could be a professor I would want to teach sociology or cultural anthropology. I would teach the students that it isn't important how much of the information I teach you that you learn, but the important thing is to learn how to learn.

5. If I could be an inn-keeper I would create a retreat B&B with no electronics allowed (tv, radio, cell phones, computers, etc.) This would be located on a lake or river near the mountains with plenty of hiking trails or it would be located on an insland that is deserted and only accessible by boat. I would have no planned activities and a kitchen available for guests to use at any time. The main point would be to get away and relax and let your body's natural rhythms take over.

That was cool. Thank you Millenium Hippies.

I don't really have any idea who to tag at this time, or who has not been tagged yet. Let me get back on that.

I am going to go and teach the girls how to weed a garden :)



Friday, May 13, 2005


I am just popping in quickly to let ya'll know that I will be gone for a couple of days. I am off to a women's retreat for the bible study I have participated in this past year. I have been looking forward to this for a long time and finally it is here. If you could send up a few prayers for my husband as this is the first time he will have all three for a long length of time.

We spent most of yesterday trying to get all the errands and chores completed for the week so I will not have those to come home to. Then we sat back and enjoyed our first 'summer' thunderstorm. They are relaxing when they are not severe.

I will catch back up with everyone next week.

Have a wonderful weekend all.



Wednesday, May 11, 2005

We have had a really good Wednesday. MB had a field trip this morning with her preschool to an organic farm. I dropped K off at my sister-in-law's new house and went on the field trip with MB and little EM.

It was a blast. The kids got a hay ride around the farm. And we talked about how organic farming is different than traditional farming. They got to pick strawberries. Prime strawberries. The manager said that it has been a wonderful spring for the strawberry crop and they were really just hitting their ripeness.

Then we saw the beehives that are out there for pollination and honey.

The kids got to plant seeds and bring home, so we will be adding snap peas to our garden.

Then we headed over to the horse barn where the children got to bush down the pony and then ride her in the ring.

After that we had lunch. I really had a lot of fun and enjoyed talking to the owner afterwards about how he got into organic farming after a career in sales.

Then we headed back to my sister-in-law's and hung out there for the afternoon. I got a tour of the new place. Right now I have a little house envy. I really like new houses, it is kind of like that new car feeling. You know that no one else has had time to mess it up and you are the first to do anything in the house. Not to mention it is really a wonderful layout and they have this whole unfinished bonus space - What I could do with that.

On the way home MB wrote me a story. This is a new thing with her. When she is in the car over the past couple of days she has been writing short little stories. They are only a line or two, but boy is her confidence in doing it increasing.

Now we are home, and I am looking around at all the things that I didn't get done today that I normally do. But that is okay because I think we all got a lot out of today.

Oh yeah, our little caterpillar friend is undergoing his transformation. What makes this so interesting is that he never really finished his cocoon, so we can see through into where he is. So every now and then we sit down an just stare at what is happening. I am afraid to take a picture or do anything that may startle him, because I would hate to overtax his nervous system. But maybe I can get a picture if the natural light is right.

Have an interesting day.



Five Questions

This is a a little game going around right now. It is really fun learning more about the other bloggers out there. If you would like to participate and have me do five questions for you leave me a note in the comments section.

TexasBlu asked me the following questions:

1. Women make sacrifices for their families every day. What was the greatest sacrifice you've ever made for your family?
There are times that I may begin to feel like I am making a sacrifice for my family but normally I end up with the greater benefit. When I left work to be home with the girls I thought it was a sacrifice of 'my' time and family income. But it really wasn't a sacrifice because I believe that I have benefitted so much more than anyone.

In general the sacrifice I would say happens the most often is of private time. I am a person that needs downtime from other people, alone time, quiet time and at this stage of my childrens' lives it just isn't possible all that often.

2. The good fairy has granted you 3 wishes - no strings attached. What do you wish for?
One more bedroom and a playroom in our house.

A new minivan with lifetime maintenance and a self-cleaning feature so I don't have to worry anymore about the transmission going out and all those other little naggling repairs that have to be made, and so those messes the girls make in it will just go away.

A free trip for my family once a year to anywhere in the world

3. If money was not an object, where would you go and who would you take with you?
The place I have always wanted to visit are the British Isles. My entire heritage is from there and I have always felt drawn to the countryside of Ireland. I would like to take my family and especially my mother as this is a place that she has always wanted to visit.

4. Who would you pick in history to be your mentor? And why?
This is a very tough question. The only person that pops into my mind is Jesus. I would really love one-on-one, face-to-face mentoring on how He wants us to understand His parables and His life.

The other person might be my great-grandmother so that she could tell me how she raised 13 children, sewed clothes for the community, helped run a family farm all without the normal, hi-tech appliances we have now.

5. I have a huge phobia of fish and tornados - what are your phobias?
I don't have many but tornados are also my biggy! I had a nightmare about them when I was eight and have been terrified since. Up until I was in high school i would take a pillow and blanket to my bathroom when a storm would come through. Now I just pull the covers over my head.

The other big one is heights. I cannot go abouve the third step on a step ladder without starting to shake. Forget about riding roller coasters or bungee jumping because I get sick just thinking about it.

This was a lot of fun. Thank you texasblu for the great questions.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Classical CO-OP

I am trying to contain my excitement. I went to a informational homeschooling group meeting last night discussing various approaches and techniques. As you know I am trying to figure out what would be the best ways to begin a more structured approach next year as MB begins '1st grade.' I heard about a co-op in this area that I had never heard of before. It is Classical Conversations. It is a K-12 Enrichment program for Classical Education.

The pluses for me is that it would provide a group education for MB once a week that we can build on during the rest of the week, and also do our own thing in other areas if we want to. MB would be with other children, seeing them learn the same things she is. There is also mother-run nursery and preschool for K and EM, so that they would be entertained and in a group setting while I work with MB in the class. Something like this could also help sway some of the doubters in the family.

It does have a cost, but not something that I believe is unreasonable.

There is a specific informational meeting next week for the local group so I will know more then. But right now I am pretty excited to find something like this for her.

Another exciting note is that through the HS support group that I just recently joined in the area I found a friend from eons ago who is homeschooling. We have promised to get together soon and catch up. Her oldest is only a year older than MB.

I feel really blessed that God is definitly putting programs and people in my path so that DH and I can be comforted in our path of homeschooling.

Peace to all,


Monday, May 09, 2005

Nice Days

Mother's Day was a lot of fun! This was the first year that my girls got into it, and the first Mother's Day that my husband did not have to work for most of the day. After feeding little EM I was able to go back to bed while dh took care of the morning duties.

I woke up to pancakes and sausages cooking for me. The big girls were a little disappointed that I really did not want to eat in bed, but ewww.

Everyone happily and graciously got ready for church. We were on time and it was a very good service.

When we got home I made phone calls to all the other mothers in our lives and I only had to recharge my phone twice. Then was able to just relax and play with the girls for a little bit before DH took them out with him and left me with little EM for a couple of hours. I finished reading a book on the Trinity that I had been trying to work through in the evening.

The weather has been wonderful this weekend and into today. It has been warm and not humid. Today we went to the park and then came home and picked up the books I had forgotten that were due at the library. Instead of hopping back into the car we decided to walk the mile or so to the library. MB rode her bicycle and I pushed the two younger ones in the stroller. By the time we got back I was exhausted.

I am really enjoying these days before the humidity sets in and we become more or less trapped in the house due to the heat factor and mosquitoes.

Today MB comes running back into the house and grabs her "Dick and Jane" book and tells me that she is going next door to read to our neighbor's mother who is wheelchair bound and really enjoys watching the girls play out her window. I think it is great that one, MB is gaining so much confidence that she wants to read to someone other than her Dad and I, and two that she really does enjoy visiting with our elderly neighbor.

I am off to enjoy a little more.

Peace to all,

Here is an article for all you you have found yourselves blank-brained standing in a room and cannot remember why you are in there. Mommy Brain, "No I am not forgetful I am just in the process of growing new neurons."



Saturday, May 07, 2005

Happy Mother's Day

The husband takes the girls and I...

end up trying to think through some approaches to MBs schooling and making a shape bag for K.

It is sad that when my husband gives me time alone I always spend that time doing something related to my girls. But sometimes I just can't get my supplies and things together with them all jockeying for attention. So I take whatever time I can get.

I spent some of the time creating a tactile shape bag for K. This has various shapes (circle, square, rectangle, etc.) cut out of different materials and colors. The only two shapes she can name on sight are star and circle. This is one of our main topics along with colors right now.

As far as my approach to schooling MB, I have really tried to spend the last two weeks just observing her. It has helped me to pick up on somethings and to start formulating an approach to at least start with in the Fall when we start more formal lessons.
1. MB likes worksheets, when they are her idea to do. They do serve some purpose in reinforcing topics. I have also found that she enjoys reading the directions and sentences that are included (go figure).
2. MB likes interactive lessons, when she can become involved and write on the white board.
3. She really likes when science and history are presented with a craft project.
4. We have a lot of teaching moments throughout the day that really do seem to leave an impression on her. These often catch me changing gears in mid-day to refocus on what has caught her attention.
5. She enjoys being involved in doing activities with K, and when I can coordinate the lessons so that both she and K can be learning at their own levels while doing similar activities - bonus.
6. MB really, really likes feedback (grades). She got this from older cousins, I don't see the need for it, but even stars, smiley faces and stickers seem to urge her forward.
7. She likes to have some road map or list to go by, even if she suddenly decides in the middle of the day to abandon it. She likes to 'mark off' a to do list.
8. She is, and has always been an autonomous person. She needs some control over her day or she falls apart.
9. Her attention span is still fairly short and can only spend a limited amount of time concentrating before she needs to go burn off some physical energy.

I know most are looking at this list going "duh," and for the most part I already knew these things . But I needed to get them organized out of my brain so that I can start thinking about how to use this information.

I have also been thinking about what are my goals for educating the girls. I am wise enough to know that I will not be able to teach them everything, so what I want to give them in the first years are the basics. Then I want to mainly teach them how to learn. Education does not stop at high school or even college graduation. I know that I am constantly learning new things as I need to. I want them to be able to do that for themselves. I want them to love the process of learning, to love reading and be interested in a wide variety of things. So I don't want to push so hard now that it turns them off, nor do I want it to be so easy that they become lax. There are things that I as an adult and their mother think is very important that they learn. And part of that is that sometimes one has to do things that they don't necessarily want to do.

I guess what I am saying is that I am looking to create an atmosphere in which a certain amount of organized, mom-led learning takes place along with child-led, interest focused learning supported by me takes place.

So what I am thinking is to have a weekly list with a goal/topic for each week in each subject and then incorporate a folder system for the work/projects. I am trying to decide whether the folders should be daily or weekly, with MB deciding when she will do the work in them as long as they are done either by the end of the day or week. Then she will have a copy of the to do list and will be able to mark off herself when the work was completed. If at the end of the week everything is done she will get a star for the subjects she completes all the work.

If anyone has any experience/suggestions I would be very open to hearing them. I am well aware that any plan I start off with now will be tweaked to fit as we move along, but I am hoping to not start off scaring MB off and causing more discord.

Subjects to cover include:
Language Arts: Reading, Phonics, Writing, Dictation and Comprehension
Math: Addition/Subtraction, Basic Geometry, Time and Money
Science: Life Science - with maybe some break-offs into other interests
History: SOTW I
Music: Ongoing introduction to various music forms/beginning piano lessons
PE: Gymnastics/Soccer/Basketball - and her various outside activities anyway
Faith: catechism (Haven't Decided exactly which one yet), Ongoing bible reading

Gosh, it seems like a lot when I have it all down. If I keep it flexible we may not complete everything by the end of the year, but probably enough that I will not worry.

Peace to all,


Friday, May 06, 2005


I have been really good today about my computer time. Except for hopping on this morning to make sure a deposit had been made so I could go grocery shopping this is the first I have been on the computer. (Patting myself on back)

Today, was dark, cold and rainy. It is Friday after all. I of course expected the big girls to sleep in. Boy was I surprised when they woke with me for little EM's morning feeding. Oh well, it was a dream to get a few more hours of sleep.

After all were fed we headed out grocery shopping as I heard that the weather might even become worse in the afternoon. We did our monthly thing at BJ's. While we were there I had MB pick out something for her since I had to buy something for the other two on this trip. I was happy to see that she chose a magnet science kit over the Princess book with make-up.

The Park Day was cancelled due to the weather so we came back home and made chocolate chip cookies. You will notice that I tend to do baking on Fridays, especially when the weather is ugh. While the cookies baked K and little EM took a nap, so MB and I pulled on the magnet kit and had a lot of fun just exploring it. There are a lot of experiements that will be fun to do when the kitchen table is not so trashed from other things.

MB and I also went over her a few math problems I had given her last night. Then she read another story to me. About that time K and little EM woke up. So they are supposed to be watching Mulan which I rented through Blockbuster, but instead are thoroughly irritating each other. But they do look pretty cute in their mid-summer sundresses (it is 50 degrees top outside) while begging for popsicles. It is May after all even if the weather doesn't act like it. Trust me, in a few weeks I will probably be complaining about the heat and humidity.

So while they listen to Mulan and irritate each other, I decided to hop on the computer for a little break.

So, break time is over.

Peace to all,


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Weekly Ramblings

It is Thursday and another one of our 'weeks' is over. Beyond driving back and forth the 10 miles to MB's preschool we have been playing and I hope learning.

The week has been filled with Teacherettes, short little teaching moments that you have to reach out and grab that instant because otherwise they will be off running on another tangent. Our attention span has been a little off this week :).

K has really been into naming colors and counting things. She and I have had a lot of fun building with bloacks and playing silly games while MB is at school or outside playing.

Math has come and gone in little spurts all week. For a little while she will pull out one of her math workbooks and spend time in it. Other times she and I will go back and forth asking each other simple addition problems.

Reading aloud has been a constant. She is reading a lot out of the Dick and Jane collection that I have and is reading the stories in progression of difficulty. We are also just about finished with On The Banks of Plum Creek.

Science - The caterpillar we caught earlier this week is in the progress of making his coccon. It truly is amazing to watch and much slower than I imagined for some reason. We have spent a lot of time observing him.

Faith - we have continued our discussion about the soul. Today I took one of the more realistic baby dolls that she and K have and asked her to compare the baby doll to little EM. Then we talked about how even though the doll really looked like little EM it wasn't. And then I had her pretend that the baby doll had a heart and lungs, muscles, skin (the basic biology of a human) and asked her if it would be little EM. Little EM is little EM because of her soul. It is what makes us different, it is what makes us human. It is our personality. Then we talked about personalities and how we can use personality traits for good or bad things.

MB has also brought up being a servant recently. Earlier this week while we were over at a neighbor's house we overhead the mother tell her son when he shoved a piece of paper in her hand and told her to throw it away that she was not his servant and he could do it himself. This started a discussion between MB and I about the difference between a servant like in fairy tales and a christian servant.

This exchange also struck a chord with me because I wondered how many times I have been guilty myself of degrading the word servant with MB by making the same remarks. If I say this to MB (which unfortunately I have in the past) I am telling her that being a servant is a bad thing. That I don't want to be a servant. But I am a servant, I am called to be a servant to not only her but everyone else. Being a servant is a wonderful thing.

Now, I believe that my children should not be able to run over me with demands. They also should learn to clean up after themselves. And they also need to learn how to be a servant to others.

In bible study today we talked about moderation in all things. I really got to thinking about beyond the general concrete food, money, alcohol, tv, computer, etc. that we often think about when moderation is discussed. I thought about my spiritual gifts an how if I get out of whack using them I can set myself up for a trap there. For example, I am an introvert, generally thought of a personality type, but I also look at it as a gift. The Lord has given me gift to think through things, weigh options before I 'leap' and so on. But if I become introverted to the extreme and spend all my time saying I need to be alone, I have to think, then I am not longer truly participating in the world and using my gift as it was intended. I have become caught up in the gift and not how I can use the gift for others.

Another example would be to become caught up in say planning a worship event. A wonderful event, and worthy event. But I become so focused on the event itself that everything else in my life takes a backseat or becomes a mere interruption. I believe at that point I am focused on that event to an extreme and no longer in moderation. I have forgotten the true reason for it, but instead am totally focused on the details.

That discussion today was an eye-opener today for some reason. I am sure I have probably heard it all before, but it stuck today.

So those are my ramblings about the last three days.

Peace to all,


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Another Book Review - "Humphrey, Albert, and the Flying Machine

Here is a really good children's picture book that my 21/2 year old happened to find in the library. I think she liked the bright orange cover. It has become a favorite read of ours for the 3+ weeks we have had it checked out. "Humphrey, Albert, and the Flying Machine" by Kathryn Lasky is loosely based on the tale of Sleeping Beauty, only from a boys point of view. Daniel Bernoulli saves the day with his amazing flying machine and a little lesson on how 'lift' occurs. In this story it is not looks but smarts that saves the day.

I highly recommend it. Even my girls enjoyed although I probably woul have considered it a 'boy' book. MB really picked up on the parallel to Sleeping Beauty. It moved on to us making paper airplanes and discussing wind flow and how planes vs. helicopters fly.



Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Book Review: City of Ember

I read The City of Ember this past fall while I was impatiently awaiting the arrival of little EM. City of Ember is actual juvenile/young adult fiction, but I will read anything if it stands still long enough. In this case my mother was one of the judges for Battle of the Books competition in her county and needed to read/re-read many of the books. This was one that she happened to have with her.

This book was an excellent and very thought provoking read. I would recommend it for advanced 10-year-olds to 14/15 yrs of age. It, in my opinion would make a great discussion book concerning societal development (think Ayn Rand Anthem only for younger readers).

This popped up now because Sunday night I purchased The People of Sparks, a follow-up to The City of Ember and it looks to be every bit as enthralling. I have a feeling that these two books will make it to my shelf for future use with the girls.

Peace to all,


Update: I just finished reading The People of Sparks. It is excellent and all I could think about as I read it was what great conversations and discussions that could occur concerning cooperation, mercy, charity, anger, revenge and gifts of individuals. Like I said it is for older children, but even adults could really get a lot out of both of these books. This would be a great family read.


Monday, May 02, 2005

Wonderful Man

I just want to say that today is the anniversary of my marriage to my best friend. Seven years later I am happy to say that he is still my best friend. Last night we went out to dinner and then he took me to (drum roll please) a bookstore to let me look at books as long as I wanted.

I love you honey.


Catocala Micronympha

I have to say that I am enjoying sitting back and watching MB and K in motion. But, I personally would go crazy with an unschooling approach. I keep constantly wanting to check a schedule or sit them down to work on something. At the same time, even though it has only been for a week, I am really starting to see some things.

First of all we have done no phonics lessons out of the 100 Easy Lessons, yet every day or night MB has picked up a story to read to us. Yesterday she even cornered her grandmother and made her sit and listen to her read a couple of stories. The stories have come from childrens' magazines and from a "Dick and Jane" collection that I had. She loves it and has even been reading some of the sentences to me from On the Banks of Plum Creek. These are things that she never did when we had lessons.

I have also found that MB really likes Math workbooks. I thought that she would enjoy Rightstart Math because it woul appeal to her kinesthetic learning, yet she has been very bored with most of it except the fun geometry activities. Several nights she has asked for her math workbook (a cheapie from somewhere) to do before she goes to sleep.

Without some invented schedule to try and keep to I have found that we have more time for science and art activities. Some of which MB has enjoyed inventing on her own.

I don't know what this will mean for our future plan and schedule. But, I feel very optomistic with the observation study so far. I still plan to just 'hang out' until the end of the month. I think there is something healing in it for all of us.

I have been reading The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child and Homeschooling the Early Years Child by Linda Dobson, which has really been reaffirming some of these ideas for me.

Okay, now for those of you that are really into insects or scientific names you may of recognized the title of the post as being "Little Nymph Underwing." This would be the name of our newly found pet/science project.

This morning MB and I found this guy hanging out on our back deck.

Through the wonderful world of the internet we have been able to deduce that it is the caterpillar of the Little Nymph Underwing Moth

So we are going to try to keep it and see what happens. Based on the write-up the timing should be good as it will probably form its cocoon sometime in the next month. It eats oak leaves and was found directly under our White Oak Tree, so we have and available food source. Keep your fingers crossed.

Here it is in its temporary habitat, MB took this picture.

We really are having a lot of fun. I hope your day was also.



Sunday, May 01, 2005

What is a Soul?

"What is a soul?"

Oh No, how am I going to be able to explain this one in the three minutes before I want you in bed? Or better yet, how am I going to be able to explain this at all?

"Well it is your essence. It is what makes you, you." There, that is the answer.

"Where is it in the body?"

"Umm, it isn't a body part. You can't see it in a picture."

"Then how do you know it is there?"

My little scientist strikes again, "because someone else can look exactly like you, but that doesn't make them you because they have a different soul. Do you understand what I am saying?"

"Okay," with a look in her eye that I know this conversation is long from over.

All I can think is "man I flubbed that."

I will admit that one of the places I fall short is sharing The Lord's message and love with the girls. We read the stories and discuss, yet MB always has some question about the abstract feeling or some other realm that I find nearly impossible to quantify in words. As adults we understand that there are things that are so great and powerful that words really cannot describe or explain. Yet, with her questions, which I love the fact that she thinks in a questioning way, blow me out of the water. I am often left stumbling and mumbling and wondering if I am totally failing at my primary duty.

She has a scientific mind and a mind that quickly sorts through information and discards that which she sees as fallacy (she is going to have a lot of fun with Logic one day), therefore I can see that it will be a struggle telling her "Just believe."

I say this because it is like looking in a mirror at this regard. I questioned and studied everything I could find on faith and religion from the time I was 11 or so. My faith began to grow when I was at the bottom of my life. It was the night of my last drunk and as I lay there wondering if there was any hope for me, The Lord came to me. No, I did not see him, but His love and His comfort were there and words raced through my being "Have you had enough? Are you ready to come to me? I am here for you. I am waiting for you." My desire to drink did not go away permanently that night and I still struggled with things. I didn't even really go to Him from that night on. It still took me several more years of growing for that. But from that night on I knew that He was there and that He cared about me.

My faith, my belief has grown out of that night. But how to explain that type of belief to a child who does not accept the answer "because I know it is true." Who instead wants to go out and test everything herself to find out it is true. I don't want her journey to resemble my journey. I want to give her and her sisters the gift of belief straight on from childhood.

So I struggle to find answers to her questions. Because so often the answer is "Just Believe and you will see."

Anyway this whole scene began because we are reading On the Banks of Plum Creek and today we read the chapter in which Laura and Mary pray the children's prayer "Now I lay myself down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake. I pray the Lord my soul to take." I do not like this poem/prayer. For years I fell asleep staring at a needlepoint of this hung across from my bed and all I could think was "Lord, I don't want to die." I realize that when the poem was written life was a struggle and even young children understood about death. Death wasn't special, it happened. But the last thing I want my children to imagine before they fall asleep is the thought that they might die in their sleep.

Okay, on to other things. Last night before I fell asleep I was flipping through the Old Testament just seeing what would catch my eye. Last night it was something in Job that I ha unerlined before. But I continued reading and further on I found the following verses. They caught my eye and I really don't have much to say about them. I just wanted to share.

Job 33:27-30
Then he comes to men and says,
I sinned, and perverted what was right,
but I did not get what I deserved.
He redeemed my soul from going
down to the pit,
and I will live to enjoy the light.
God does all these things to a
man -
twice, even three times -
to turn back his soul from the pit,
that the light of life may shine
on him.

Job 35:5-8
Look up at the heavens and see;
gaze at the clouds so high above
If you sin, how does that affect Him?
If your sins are many, what does
that do to Him?
If you are righteous, what do you
give to Him,
or what does He receive from
your hand?
Your wickedness affects only a man
like yourself,
and your righteousness only the
sons of men.

Have a blessed and happy Sunday.

A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.