Friday, 29 February 2008

Happy Leap Day!

What do you call the day that makes the year a Leap Year? Leap Day of course!! Happy Leap Day to you!

Do you know why there are leap years?? Here's a little interesting info for you!

Leap! Leap! Leap!

Thursday, 28 February 2008

A Perfect Storm

I haven't written about why we decided to homeschool.

It all started the second week of school when our daughter came to us and said that her teacher called her a bitch. We weren't quite sure how to respond. Surely he wouldn't do that. We said that she must have misunderstood.

But then she continued to complain that he swore in class. She didn't know what the words meant (he swore in French) but she could tell from how he used them that he was swearing. Finally we asked her to write the words down and we took the list to a few people we know that speak French. They were appalled. The words were definitely ones not to be used in a classroom.

The teacher's response? She must have misunderstood. He would never say those things.

Ya right. Where did my kid learn those words then? The swear words weren't even ones that translate to anything offensive in English....they're all quite unique to the French culture. We weren't offended at all by the translation....but our French friends sure were wide-eyed when we brough the list to them!

The second concern was that he runs a very strict classrom. That is okay - except the methods he uses (intimidation, threat, etc.) just don't work for us. Stories of him railing children for their mistakes, of rattling desks, and of him grabbing and tearing up children's work began to haunt me. Jill was never the victim of one of his tirades - but she worried about when it would be her turn, and about the torture her friends were enduring. It was important to me that she knew that this kind of domination/abuse/rule isn't acceptable and that she did not have to stay in a place where this kind of abuse was occuring - even if it was school.

The last thing was that the teacher was rough with kids. He'd grab a kid by the arm, yank him our of his desk and drag him across the room. One day he apparently slapped a kid. Everyone in the room except the teacher and the kid says it happened (makes me worry about that kid).

I don't know how in this day and age this can be tolerated. I guess the problem is you have to either catch the guy in the act, or else the administration needs to believe the kids when they tell these stories. Neither of which has happened.

I do believe my kid though. She's always loved school. However, this year we were having to make her go to school after much crying and carrying on and complaining and emotional outbursts. I'm sure the teacher and the principal would have just labelled her as being an emotional pre-teen or problem child. I don't think she's either. My analysis is that her reaction is a normal reaction to a situation where she is intimidated and abused.

I read a blog entry today that really got under my skin and set me on a soap box. Apprently we're not alone in this idiotic situation.

The trouble in Jill's class continues. I rarely go to the school without someone approaching me to ruminate with me on the odd behaviors of this teacher (although now and then it seems like some like to embark on a lecture of sorts about how despite one bad class, how wonderful the school is...I have found those quite entertaining. I have to wonder who they're trying to convince). One child has been moved to another class. That child has a parent not afraid to question things....interesting story. Then there is the parent who is concerned about the frustration her child is feeling having to be in the classroom every day. He demonstrating rage that is cause for concern. There is also a child that is having trouble with incontinence because she is afraid. Who knows what else is going on in those children's lives.

....and they stay

Why? Why would anyone continue to have their kid go through that?? I guess some don't realize the choices they have.

There are options. Maybe people are just afraid of change. Maybe they're intimidated by the teacher...or by the principal. I don't know. Maybe they just feel like they can't make the change for whatever reason.

I don't know. I really don't know. All I know is with the heartache we've had over losing Destiny and with the emotional stress she's going thruogh with this teacher - we're making a change.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Anyone Need an RSP?

Maybe not everyone knows - but this is RSP season. January and February, in our family, are known as the months that Daddy gets very little sleep and is working ALL the time. I have been so impressed with Allen lately and the things he's accomplishing in his business. He's really in his element and I love to see him enjoy his success.

So if you need an RRSP do let us know!! He's travelled far and wide to help people get those tax shelters set up. As a matter of fact for the past three days he's driven to Red Deer and back every day. Crazy!

He can help you too!

Eat My Dust

I thought this was kind of fun. Did you know that in High School I went to the provincial typing competition?? Yup. My claim to fame.

113 words

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Don't tell anyone....but I think this works!

You know, I did a LOT of reading about homeschooling before Jill started kindergarten. I was all set to homeschool...but it just didn't feel like the right decision. I talked it over with Allen and we decided to re-visit our options. Once we zeroed in on French Immersion all the little things that were making me squirm vanished. We took that as a sign that French Immersion was the right decision. And in many ways it was. I sure have been pleasantly surprised the past month or so with how things have gone since we've decided to give homeschooling a try.

I read many people's comments about how their children were closer to each other as a result of homeschooling. I didn't quite buy that that would work in our life because I've always found our kids, while mostly they get along, they do need a regular break from each other. However, I've found that our kids ARE becoming closer. They still have their spats - but they seem to be able to work through the problems a little more effectively. It's a wonderful thing as a parent to see happen.

She really seems to enjoy learning! I've tried to lean more towards a child-led learning approach. I can't quite get myself to jump into unschooling - but I've tried hard to find a gentle approach to laying out the requirements for Grade 4 and encouraging her to take the bull by the horns. This picture is her working on her math. I sent her upstairs at 8:00 tonight. I thought she had gone to bed and at 9:00 I walked by her room and see this. She was working on math! I wouldn't have been surprised if I had found her reading....that's pretty normal in our life...but doing math?!!She's decided she wants to show me that she understands Grade 4 math so that she can start on some Grade 5 math. This is quite a change from the complaining and whining over math that I`ve heard in the past! I was able to stand in her doorway for a while unnoticed, grab my camera, and walk in and get a good shot unnoticed because she was totally absorbed in math. Weird!

Since we're kind of non-traditional in our choices of work, homeschooling seems to work quite well. Last night Jill wanted to go with Allen on a road trip to Red Deer. I figured what the off they went. She's really quite content to sit in the car and read - so while he goes on an appointment that's what she does. She came home happy and just right with the world. I could just tell that it was good for her soul. We used to live life like this before she started school. She napped for longer than most kids because I would usually let her stay up until 10:00 or later so that she could play a bit with Allen when he got home from appointments. Worked for us...and she loved it. It sure seems to work well in our homeschooling life too.

Which brings me to another thing....the kid doesn't seem to need as much sleep! She can stay up until 10:30 watching American Idol with me - and get up at her regular time and do just fine the next day - whereas when she's in school if she has a late night she's a bear the next day.

We just have plain ol' feeling of peace in our lives. When Jill would come home from school she'd often be really wired and crazy....or upset about something that had happened with a friend...or mad about something her teacher said or did and she`d take it out on us. We just don't have that anymore. When she goes to classes on Mondays and Thursdays she comes home calm and peaceful. We have a great discussion on the way home usually where she fills me in on all the cool things she learned that day....and there's always a long list of things she tells me were really cool!

One thing people always seem to bring up is the `socialization`concern. I have to say, the more we do this the more I think it`s got to be the dumbest concern. I have found her to appreciate her friends more, have fewer problems with them. (She sees her friends at school usually two or three days of the week at lunch time recess when we take Peirce to kindergarten.) Most importantly though we have had far fewer conversations about things she`s adopted that her friends do that we don`t find appropriate.

Honestly, if she wanted to do this again, I would...especially when she gets into Junior High. It`s been a sacrifice for me because it seems to take force it`s way into most of my other interests and responsibilities and steal time away from all those things - but interestingly enough I don`t feel bitter or frustrated with that. This homeschooling thing seems to work so well that having to figure out how to use my time more effectively hardly seems like a sacrifice at all.

Maybe I should change the title of this list. All this makes me want to go tell the world about how great homeschooling is. Unfortunately, though, most people already have an opinion about homeschooling - most of which are not that favorable. Most people view the idea with their noses scrunched up and their lips pursed as though they`ve just tasted something really bitter. My experience has been is that it`s best to just leave those folks with their opinions in tact: `I have my mind made up! Don`t confuse me with the facts!` Even in the short time we've been homeschooling I've learned that one of the cons of homeschooling is having to endure the questions and disapproval from others on the decision we've made. It takes a long time to convince people that it's okay that we've not sending our child to school. The one thing I am sure of is that that is NOT the best use of my time. Bottom line is that I think there are a lot of pros and a lot of cons to homeschooling life, and to regular public school life. One thing I do know is life will never be "perfect". As Tammy Takahashi says: The hardest thing about homeschooling is choosing between the million and one options, million and one workbooks, projects and learning opportunities. The biggest benefit of homeschooling is also the biggest con of all - freedom.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Night Terrors

Peirce has been waking up quite regularly with night terrors the past month or so. If he makes it past the first hour or two then he usually doesn't wake up at all. However, when he does he wakes up and groggily comes and finds us....then he starts to freak out. I sit and hold him and it's like he sees something in the distance that freaks him out. The look of terror on his face breaks my heart. I'm not sure why it's happening. But I sure hope it doesn't last too long....poor kid. This morning I asked him if he remembered beign scared last night and he sheepishly said he did. He doesn't always remember it - but last night I sat him up and gave him some milk to drink and I think that helped him come around a little better. For quite a while he didn't want to go to sleep in his room because he was scared. He thought it was a stalling tactic and for a while just made him go to bed anyway. However, after a bit of prayerful contemplation on this issue I started to wonder if he needed a little extra snuggling time. I'm going to try to keep track of what goes on during his days and see if it correlates at all with the days that he has his night terrors. I have a feeling that he's a kid that needs a calm, predictable and stable lifestyle.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Singing Time

I got a phone call this morning about an hour before church started. The person that is in charge of music in primary was sick and so she asked me if I`d fill in for her.

Happy to help!

Honestly, I`m really in my element in front of a bunch of kids like that. I really loved it. One of the gals in the primary presidency told me that I should be careful or I`d get myself a calling in primary before I knew it. That`d be fine with me.

The thing is, I really like a lot of callings. I love the calling I have. I love being in Relief Society. I would enjoy being in primary....and heck, I think I`ve grown up enough that I might even be able to enjoy young women`s! LOL

I really believe too that if you really put your heart into a calling you can learn to love any calling. (If I ever get called to Cubs, that`ll be the real test of that statement!)

Friday, 22 February 2008

The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

This was the selection for our book club this month...and I quite enjoyed it!

It's a Science Fiction story about a woman training to be a Fairy Godmother. While sometimes I found myself thinking the fantasy and the reference to fairy tales kind of silly - it had a spell on me. It took about 100 pages before I really got into the story - but after that I was pretty much hooked and wanted to keep reading. I quite enjoyed escaping to the fantasy world Lackey creates!

A couple great spring boards for discussion (and there were plenty in this book!) were:

1. The first is the topic of whether or not you are satisfied with life. I`ve had some interesting discussions with friends lately about being satisfied with what life has dealt us. It was interesting to me to hear how some are very dissatisfied and I was a little mystified about how to help them find peace in that matter.

(from page 148) "She couldn't say it wasn't fair - first of all, what was fair? Arachnia had endured a horrible childhood, much worse than Elena's, if Madame was to be believed. Maybe she'd done a deal of harm, but not as much as she could have, and anyway, she was making up for it now - so who was to say she hadn't earned her happy ending at last? Not The Tradition, and not Elena, and anyway, it was a Godmother's job to make the happy endings, not take them away from someone. Plenty of people got happy endings that some might say they didn't deserve.

"Oh, but -

"But what? asked a ruthless, inner voice. Are you going to try to claim that what you have now is not a happy ending Look at you! Fed, housed, clothed beautifully, with work in front of you that means something -

"Yes, but -

"And that isn`t enough for you? the voice continued, as her throat thickened and her eyes stung, and the moon blurred a little from the unshed tears of loneliness. Oh, well, aren`t we a selfish little bitch! We want it all, do we? And just what have we done to earn it, hmmm?

"Nothing, but -

"Exactly right. Not even to earn as much as we`ve gotten! The inner voice was not going to go away. And it wasn`t going to be less truthful either. Think about the Rosalindas, before you start feeling too sorry for yourself. Think about the other ugly turns The Tradition can take. Then think about how lucky you are that Madame Bella came along, and stop being like the spoiled child who cries herself to sleep because she can`t have the moon."

2. The next topic is that of faith. In the book I think you could equate magic with faith. Faith, I believe, is key to life. On page 318 it says:

"That was yet another change that had been badly needed here; from what Elena had learned from Alexander and her own readings, Kohlstania had been rapidly on its way to banishing magic altogether. And that would have had a very serious effect on the very soul of the country, for a country whose people ceased to believe in magic soon lost much of their ability to imagine and dream, and before long, they ceased to believe - or hope - for anything. This was one of the fundamental truths of the Five Hundred Kingdoms. Even the lowest of swineherds could believe that he, or his son, or his son`s son could one day be a Prince - because all it took was magic, and being the right person in the right place. And the highest of Kings could know that at any moment, an act of dishonor or cruelty could send him tumbling out of his throne - because all it took was magic, and doing the wrong thing to the wrong person. In this way, The Tradition could be a blessing, and the magic by which it operated certainly was...."

All in all, I`d totally recommend this book. I quite enjoyed it!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

My Name

Here's an interesting website!

There are 306,513 people in the U.S. with the first name Dawn.
Statistically the 206th most popular first name.
More than 99.9 percent of people with the first name Dawn are female.

There are 516 people in the U.S. with the last name Ackroyd.
Statistically the 48525th most popular last name.

Logo There is
person with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Field Trip to the Mountains and the Moon

Today Allen had a personal finance presentation to do in Canmore at a CES convention. We dropped him off and then headed off to Banff for a great day. Jill and Peirce decided should call it a field trip since there was a lot of cool learning that happened through it all.

First we stopped at the Visitors Center in Canmore to decide if we should stay in Canmore or continue on to Banff. Jill enjoyed watching some of the videos they have there about Alberta. And true to form, she had a notebook handy so she could write down new and interesting facts.

Peirce and Nova were especially fond of the dinosaur displays. Ouch! That dinosaur bites!
The kids loved all the wild life we saw today. This deer was standing right beside our car having a little bit of breakfast when we first arrived.

Our first stop was the Banff Springs hotel. We explored all the many many nooks and crannies and hallways and everything else. I'm sure we were in many areas that we aren't supposed to go into - but we sure had a good time!! Oh, and most of the time Peirce pretended he was a cat (Meow!)
Our next stop was the springs. It was REALLY cool going down into the cave and seeing all the gems in there. The springs were really amazing too! It was Jill and Peirce's first experience in a CAVE! Jill and Peirce have a great appreciation for gems after all the time they've spent on Webkinz!

The springs come from Sulphur Mountain...and there's a real strong sulphur smell there. Nothing like going to a beautiful spring that has amazing healing powers...that stinks to high heaven! LOL

They had a theatre at the Cave and Basin that tells the story of how the springs were discovered and how Banff came to be. Quite interesting! We didn't know that Banff was the first National Park in Canada!
After the Cave and Basin we had some lunch, then it was time to pick Allen up. We had a a couple more fun things in Canmore, or get the kids back to Calgary for kindergarten and drama class. We said, "NAH! Let's hit the chocolate factory!" LOL

Tonight there was a lunar eclipse. We headed out to Turner Valley to visit the RAO. We were a little early so we decided to stop at the library and do a little reading about the moon.

We thought it was such a cool idea to go check out this observatory. Unfortunately so did hundreds of other people! It was really crowded and the cars were lined up forever....but we bit the bullet and joined the madness. It was a lot of fun.
We found an inside place where we could watch the moon change. This is Peirce showing us how the moon was almost covered by shadow. There was also a really cool HUGE telescope that we got to look through and see Saturn. You could even see the rings! Of course, the telescope was about the size of our livingroom. Apparently it is one of the two biggest telescopes in Canada. Quite cool! I didn't take this picture (stole it from the RAO website actually). Apparently flash photography can damage some of the equipment on the telescope. It's really sensitive!

If you missed the Lunar Eclipse tonight, no worries. You'll have another chance December 2010.

In the was all just too much fun for such a little guy. LOL

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Homeschooling Happiness

We're really loving' homeschooling in our house these days. I'm thrilled at the quality of life it is for Jill. She spent almost all day today reading Harry Potter. There was still time to read the Book of Mormon, practise the piano, do some math, and play with her brother a lot. I've been impressed at how Jill and Peirce truly are becoming closer. They seem to love spending time together and Jill is learning to be more patient with a little brother. I had read that these things would happen...but I didn't quite believe it. I have to say though, I think it's a pretty good way of life!

Monday, 18 February 2008

Rats! Forgot my camera....

Today was Family Day. Jill and Peirce and I went for a L-O-N-G walk in Nose Creek Park. Jill is a real fitness fanatic lately - so she loved it. And Peirce just thinks Nose Creek Park is the best time all the he was thrilled. We walked for more than an hour. I really wondered if Peirce would make it all the way back...but he did. It was a great time. I just wish I had brought my camera!!

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Due Date....

Today was the day that our little Destiny was due. It's been an interesting week. The tender mercies of the Lord were at work in my life. I was asked to teach the RS lesson today. The lesson was about The Savior, the atonement, and the resurrection. It was really a good thing to have that to focus on rather than just the sadness I feel from not having a baby to hold. Back in November when people would say the things they say (things like, 'aren't you grateful for the makes these things easier', and 'aren't you grateful that she'll always be a part of your familiy') I wondered about myself. I didn't think I found much comfort in the gospel teachings that we'd have her a part of our family forever (what I really wanted was to have her here and now!). However, as time has gone by, I've realized that perhaps I was carried by the testimony I have of those things. When I look at others and the ways they deal with the loss of a baby through stillbirth I realize that there is a difference. I'm so grateful that I had that lesson to focus on this week. It gave me a lot of comfort....and it helped me to focus on the right thing. I pondered and prayed over whether or not I should share the things I've learned about myself from this experience - and in the end I did. I hope it made a difference in someone else's life.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Applying the memorized stuff.....

Tonight I was driving home from a night out with Jill and Peirce. On the radio they were debating whether or not the Lord's Prayer should be repeated in schools. I didn't realize Jill was even listening...suddenly she starts repeating a motto they repeat in primary every Sunday:

....I am a child of God.
I love Heavenly Father and I know that he loves me.
I can pray to him any time, anywhere.

...then she goes...hmmm...that's dumb. Who cares about saying the Lord's prayer...anyone can pray to him anytime anywhere.

I just smiled....and enjoyed the fact that sometimes the things these kids are taught DOES stick..and they seem to even get it!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

We're just full of love at our house today! Allen gave me a present first thing this morning - a new crock pot that I've been wanting. Then there was this pile of laundry that was folded. There was a note on it that said it was courtesy of the Secret Service (a.k.a. Jill) :0) Peirce and I made the Valentine's Day craft in The Friend this month...and Allen's present was new floor mats (romantic eh?!) Tonight we had heart-shaped pancakes for dinner....with sprinkles on them! Sounds gross to me...but the kids sure like them!

Today was also a GREAT snow day. We have a new friend in our back yard......

...he even has feet. :0)

So much fun! Jill was at a art class all day today. Peirce missed her terribly! He waited all day for 4:00 so we could go pick her up and they could play together. It's sure wonderful to see our kids enjoy being together so much.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

I Hate Homework

Yesterday I went to the School Council meeting for our school (more commonly known as PAC) and the topic of homework has been gnawing at me ever since.

I must confess: I don't believe in homework.

Perhaps when my kids are a little older I'll feel differently - but for now I think it's more important that they run and play and draw and relax and snuggle and roll around after they get home from school.

Jill had a teacher that assigned HOARDS of homework. I didn't see any educational value in it. It was full of crossword puzzles, math games, fill in the blank stuff....just things that had been photocopied. I didn't make her do it. I was surprised at the stressed out parents who would corner me and ask how we were handling all the homework. I'd simply respond that we don't do it and they'd look at me with wide-eyed wonder. Apparently in the homes of her classmates there was fighting and crying and threatening of life and limb over homework. No one was allowed to go to sleepovers on weekends because there was too much homework. They were reconsidering registering in soccer because there was so much time required for homework. Give me a break!!

I figured life's too short. My kids does just fine in school and we don't really need 'time-fillers' to keep us busy in the evenings and on weekends. We have enough other stuff to do. And I'm certainly not willing to sacrifice my relationship with my child to get into a big fight over wehther or not they should do a crossword puzzle that was sent home.

The big concern most parents expressed was that they'd get a bad mark on the report card if they didn't do it. Sure enough we did get that bad mark. Jill got all 1's and 2's (1 is the highest mark and the lowest is 5) and she got a 3 in 'completing assignments'. Guess what....who cares?! If she gets 'performing above expectations' on all the academic sections....why does she need to do crossword puzzles and the rest after school? Just doesn't make any sense to me! Then again, I always seem to be getting in trouble for questioning systems and authority....that's just how our life goes.

Well, at our School Council meeting the other day one of the parents brings up a problem of her kid not understanding what he needs to do for homework that is brought home. The teacher representative jumps into the conversation and gives all the parents ideas on things kids can do for their required homework time each day. "Required home work time?" I say. "Why yes, of course required homework time." I scoffed and said that I ask my kids when they come home if they have homework (well, in my regular life I do....right now we're homeschooling Jill so that's a whole different story). If there's no homework assignments then it's on to the long list of other things that need to be accomplished and addressed that evening. The teacher was aghast with me and said that all children should do some homework each and every night. I told her I think she's off her rocker. I guess I'm just another one of those crazy parents that get talked about in the staff room.

Here's my reasoning:

1. How many people would continue working at a job where the boss said that every night you must spend 20 minutes if you've been here for one year, 30 minutes if you've been here for 2 years, and 45 minutes if you've been here for four or more years doing a little work at home from the day. I don't think it would happen! Now, if you have a major career going on and you work more than 8 hours a day and you're happy with your life - well great. I just don't think children need to live life like that.

2. These days we hear so much about kids being too fat, spending too much time at computers, in front of the TV, sitting on a bus instead of walking home, etc. We have a limited amount of time after school. My kids generally get home at 4 pm and go to bed at 8 pm. In that time there's dinner, church activities, scripture reading, journals, swim club, soccer, family activities, oh, and a little down time. Where exactly do we fit in more school work? Especially 'busy work' that has little educational value? They are at school from 9 am until 3:30 pm. Surely there's enough time in there to get the educational priorities in....if not, what the heck are they doing all day?!

3. Which brings me to the next thing...98% of the homework I've seen brought home is 'busy work'. There's nothing educationally stimulating or challenging. It's just something to do. Most of the time it has been something the teacher has photocopied. I figure if the teacher is just photocopying something out of a book it's optional in our life. If we were seeing assignments that provided some real educational value I might reconsider. So far it hasn't happened. I've never been told my child is having trouble with any of the things that have been brought home...just that this is a good way to fill the required homework time. Sorry. I don't buy in to that thinking.

The interesting thing is that my kids do do things that are educationally stimulating. They find things they're interested in and try as I might (okay, I don't try that hard) I cannot tear them away from it. The other day Jill was making a clay diorama of Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump for one of her homeschooling projects for Social Studies. Peirce caught on and decided he wanted to do something. He created a sunset that was quite like what you might see in one of Barbara Reid's books. I mentioned that to him and he was quite excited to see a couple books we have that show plasticine illustrations. He even asked if the next time we go to the library if we could get some more Barbara Reid stories. He also took his sunset to kindergarten the next day to show his class. I love that! That is learning! In a perfect world the teacher would grab that moment and read some Barbara Reid books. I think they call that passion learning. I don't even expect that (I'd be pleasantly surprised if it DID happen). In most classrooms it never would though....because the teacher already has a list of things she's photocopied for that day for the kids to work on. "Never mind what you're excited about learning! We have some worksheets to get through!"

...and we wonder why kids tire of school. They don't tire of learning...they just need an opportunity to do it. I believe learning is much more indelible when you can let go of the plans and follow the child. It's hard for adults though to trust kids and let go of the system. There's lots of ideas being put forward that move in that direction though:

Regio Approach
Differentiation's another one

I'm sure there are more...those are 3 approaches that come to mind right off the bat.

I've always felt a moderate approach is best in most situations. I don't think I'd ever totally jump into the unschooling arena - but their argument certainly has some merit and should give one reason to pause and consider the overly structured lives many children are leading. Some children don't even know how to just play anymore...they just go from one structured activity to antoher where they're told what to do. Gone are the days of street hockey, neighborhood soccer games, and the good ol' kick the can! I think we need a return to that way of life.

Luckily I ran into a book last year by Alfie Kohn that supports my theory. The book is called The Homework Myth. I think I might buy it as a present for the Principal and a few teacher's. :0) Not sure they'll read it though....they might be too busy marking homework., time to go run in the field and build a snowman or make snow angels...or whatever strikes our fancy!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Martha, On Trial, In Jail and On a Comeback (Robert Slater)

I'm always intrigued by women that are successful in business. Martha has to be one of the richest self-made women today. For that I admire her. I was interested in reading this book to find out more about her comeback. Most of the book, however, is focused on her trial. There is just one chapter at the end that talks about her comeback. Then again, maybe it's too soon to know if Martha will really have a strong comeback. However, my gut says she'll do just fine.
The book portrays her story in an interesting way. At first when I was reading I thought the lesson one could take from the book is that one never wins when they're arrogant and generally unkind to people. However, even if she's worked hard to get rid of that image, it's hard to really believe that those tendancies don't run quite deep in her personality and that her work to portray a gentler, kinder image is merely a PR campaign.
Martha truly seems to believe that she didn't do anything wrong. I think she and the other guilty parties conjured up a story in their own minds and they even believed it. I found myself believing the made up story at times....and then I'd have to remind myself that it was all a cover-up. Did she deserve to go to jail? Perhaps not. I think if she weren't quiet as arrogant and egotistical she honestly might not have gone to jail. I'm not even sure that the book is an entirely accurate representation as the author has been criticized for using secondary sources. And truthfully, I found his writing hard to follow because it's quite repetitive and seems to be pumped up with details that don't really matter that much.
However, all that aside, I have to admire a woman that turned a catering business into a billion dollar enterprise. It seems that that is her life...and she's certainly maxed out on the possibilities in the business world!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Jack and the Beanstalk

I took the kids to a Loose Moose play called Jack and the Beanstalk. We even brought a cousin who hadn't been to a play before. I've taken my kids to a ton of plays - none of which were scary. Unfortunately this one had something scary in it! Not sure if our dear cousin will be interested in coming again. They even tried to pre-empt the scariness. Before the play started the actor that was to play the giant came out and talked about the character he'd be playing. He showed us his wig and talked about the scary voice he'd use. He had all the kids use a scary voice. However, when the giant was woken up by Jack stealing his gold....eesh! There were kids crying, kids under chairs, and kids sitting firmly on their parents laps. I guess a warning on the programs might have been in order. We had great seats (second row!) Maybe being a little further back might have made the giant not quite so scary.

Even though it was a little scary - we had fun. We LOVE going to plays! Peirce's new year's resolutions this year were to get better at swimming, make cookies and be in a real play, so he does have a love for theatre started!
Gleeful anticipation....

Notice Nova (the stuffed dog)? He goes everywhere with us these days! Well, as long as he behaves well he gets to go everywhere. He even goes to school with Peirce (but he stays in his backpack because Peirce says Mme Gover doesn't like dogs in school)

Jill devours the program whenever we go to a play. Afterwards she likes to get the actors autographs. I think she has a program from every play we've gone to.

See how big that giant is?! He made a grand entrance after the play. The boys were OUT OF THERE!! I had to fight through the crowd to catch up to them and hope they hadn't taken off outside. They were not interested in meeting the giant at all. He was on stilts and his feet were HUGE!

This is Jill getting Jack's autograph

Jill getting the giant's autograph. She said she asked him if he was on stilts and he motioned for her to come close. He said, "I do wear stilts...but don't tell anyone...cause then they won't be as scared of me."
The girl in the white with black sleeve is the harp. Next to her is Jack's mother (in can hardly see her) On the other side of the harp is Stella, the girl that was a slave to the giant. Jack saved her (they even kissed in the play! SICK!)

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Paid Companion

Would I recommend this book? Nah! Truthfully, I'm a little embarrassed that I even finished reading it. I was looking for a romance since it is February and all. The romance in this book is, shall we say, a tad corny. Maybe I shouldn't read romances. I'm too cynical about them, I think.
This book is set in London perhaps a hundred years ago, so I had to cut the author a little slack. But I sure didn't agree with a lot of the reviews that I read that it was a spine tingling page turning thriller.

Blech. Mostly it was silly. The romance was over the top and the mystery involved wasn't that gripping.
That being said, I did finish it - so I must have been compelled in one way or another. Would I go looking for another book by this author though? Nah.
A summary of the book I found said it like this:
Arthur Lancaster, Earl of St. Merryn’s, has a reputation for being a logical and cold man with more interest in finance than emotions that is sealed when he refuses to chase after a runaway fiancée. He openly proclaims that next time around he would prefer to hire a paid companion from an agency, but no one truly believes him. But he is dead serious and luckily is able to find and hire the outspoken Miss Elenora Lodge to play the part of his fiancée, thus distracting society while he conducts important business.
Intelligent and capable Elenora joined the paid companion profession because her step-father ran through her inheritance. Intrigued by Arthur’s generous but eccentric offer, Elenora accepts - although she doubts his professed reasons for doing so. With wit and confidence, Elenora plays her role so smoothly that no on suspects the deception, even as in Arthur she finds a kindred spirit. Meanwhile, Arthur is secretly investigating his great-uncle’s murder and believes an ancient alchemist’s discovery has something to do with it. As the killer grows bolder, Elenora’s life is threatened ,and Arthur finds that his feelings for his pretend fiancée are far deeper than he had imagined.
Once again writing under the pseudonym Amanda Quick, author Jayne Ann Krentz enthralls her readers with an unusual but tension-filled historical whodunit. The central characters of Arthur and Elenora outwardly spar and spiritedly try to influence each other even as their differences conceals a growing passion and similarity in natures. The mystery centers around the ancient art of alchemy, and Quick realistically captures its mythical beliefs and the air of occult surrounding it. Historical ambiance is blended beautifully with the story and becomes an integral part of it. Overall, this riveting historical mystery is guaranteed to entertain.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Happy Birthday ME!

Well, today I'm 41. Doesn't feel too different from 40. Well, not too different from 39, or 35 for that matter. I still feel the same...but the old bod' seems to be complaining a little the past little while. Maybe I am getting old.

I started out today by going swimming with Jill. Aqua-cize classes are interesting. It feels like I'm hardly doing a thing while I'm in it - but when it's over I realize I'm really tired and I spend the rest of today thinking I really should go back to bed. However, I stuck it out and didn't go to bed. I did my usual drive Jill here and drive Peirce there, then turn around and pick them each up. While they were gone I went and got my hair cut. Becky was kind enough to offer to have Peirce over so I could have some time to myself this afternoon - so I took advantage of that time to go get my hair cut. I LOVE getting my hair cut. The girl I usually go to wasn't in and so I had another girl cut my hair. Usually I can't get them to cut my hair short enough. This time it is much shorter! I'm pretty happy with it. Afterwards we went out for dinner. That was great too. Love going out for dinner!

Oh, and of course, there were the phone calls. One thing I sure appreciate about my family is how everyone calls on your birthday....without fail! It's nice to know there are lots of people that love me. :0) What more could a girl ask for?!

Saturday, 2 February 2008

A Prophet's Funeral

As I listened to the funeral for President Hinckley today I had to wonder what funeral for other prophets were like. I wonder if people traveled for days. I wonder if they were huge gatherings like today's, or were they small and quiet. I wonder who spoke. I wonder what people focused on about their lives as they shared memories. It sure would be nice to view a few of those on You Tube or something like that.

I felt really inspired by the things that were said. I was impressed with how he always was a leader. He didn't worry about what the minimum standard was or what was enough - he did all he could. He had endless energy and dedication and really was a perfect example of enduring to the end. When they talked about how the building of small temples around the world, the perpetual education fund, the building of the conference center, etc. were all his ideas. Imagine what life in the church were like if President Hinckley fulfilled his calling like some of us do? Eeek! He was always optimistic and smiling and had a treat sense of humor. I was especially touched by how they talked of how his heart was broken and how he mourned his wife over the past two years. It made me feel a little better to think that even a prophet of God felt sadness over a loss. Perhaps having an amazing testimony doesn't mean that you are obligated to stop talking about loss or to 'get on with life'. Perhaps it's okay that I still cry over Destiny. It is really comforting to know that a prophet of God was so human. He makes me want to stand a little taller, be a little kinder, and do a little better.

I never used to care much for cemetaries. I like them now. I look forward to planting a little flower garden at Destiny's grave this spring. Hopefully someone will do that for the prophet at his grave.