Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Gumm Street Girls and Basil`s Adventures

We've been having a lot of fun reading at our house lately! It's an interesting change for me. I've kind of let go of my lists and things I think I need to do (namely housework and other boring responsibilities in my life!). Somehow I'll figure out a balance in all of this. For now we're a little unbalanced with the heavy side being on reading....but que sera sera!! We're enjoying it!

Jill and I read reading The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls. It's a really crazy book - kind of a take off from the Wizard of Oz. I've found it to be quite clever! However, I seemed to impatiently wait and wonder when we were going to get into the point of the story - and it took more than 150 pages...but we're finally there. The good news though is that Jill didn't seem to mind the waiting. To her the book has been great from the beginning - so that's good. Today we had an interesting discussion from the book.

Two weeks passed, and soon all of Sherbet was buzzing about the glamorous new owner of #7 Gumm Street.
Have you ever noticed how we are most attracted to the worst things? We want cookies that make us fat and candy that rots our teeth; we want to stay up all night when we should rest, and we want to go out in the rain when we have a cold. Too all the folks in Sherbet (except for the Gumm Street Girls, of course) Cha cha represented drama, glamour, excitement - all the things that usually spell trouble - and for this reason she was a spectacular hit. (Chapter 18 Page 210)

In this book there are a lot of interesting topics that get touched on: friendship, body image, uniqueness, talents, etc. Like a lot of kid's books, the kids seem to have it together and the adults are the ones that are kind of messed up. Jill and I had an interesting discussion today about our own personal attractions to things that aren't good for us. It was interesting to hear the list of "demons" she fights and to share with her my list. These moments are the reasons why we spend hours reading together!! I loved having that discussion with her.

Peirce and I are reading The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil. Actually I can't say just Peirce and I are reading it. Jill spidey senses start tingling when Peirce and I go off and read and she often comes and listens in as well. This book has terrific illustrations (well, so does the Gumm Street Girls book actually)....we must be on a great illustrations vibe right now.

In the story Basil thinks his life is too boring - and although he was warned to be careful what he wishes for - he wishes for a great adventure...and of course it happens right away. Basil lives in a lighthouse and a flying boat suddenly appears outside his window. He of course decides to jump in (although he`s notably nervous about doing so) and they sail off.

The man let our a bellowing laugh so loud it shook the house. Àh,`he said with a twinkle in his eyes, À lady seeking and adventure, eh? Jolly good! Hop aboard, young man, and begin your adventure!``
Stepping up to the ledge of his window, Basil prepared to leap. Suddenly, the airship that looked so close before now seemed far away. This is the first step, he told himself. It`s nor or never...
With that, Basil made the highest leap of his life.
He quickly realized that he didn`t have anything to fear, for his right leg easily cleared the ship`s railing. But it wasn`t the leap he needed to worry about. It was the landing. As his left foot trailed behind, it clipped the edge of the rail. Basil was thrown off balance, and he plunged awkwardly into a neatly coiled pile of rope.
Despite Basil`s crash landing, the kind old man didn`t laugh. Instead he helped Basil to his feet, knowing the boy was embarrassed.
`Welcome aboard, Laddy,`` he said. ``We pilots know how difficult it is to make any leap at all.``
As the great airship slowly rose above the lighthouse, Basil peered over the edge of the stern. His home looked quite different from this angle, making him pause. As they sailed off, Basil felt an unexpected pang. He had never been away from his family before and he hadn`t even said good-bye. He wasn`t sure if he was scared or excited...or both. Soon the thrill of the unknown overshadowed his fear. `My wish came true, `` he said out loud. ``I`m going on an adventure!``

Peirce gave out a big sigh. He told me he would be scared if that was him. I asked him why he`d be scared and he said, ``well, I wouldn`t have been scared before but when I left and then the policeman brought me home I found out it is scary to go away from home.``

What a guy. I just wanted to hug him and give him a big kiss and tell him he`d NEVER have to leave home. :0)

Monday, 26 May 2008

A Thomas Jefferson Education (Oliver Van DeMille)

I've been given this book a few times to read. Each time I sort of browsed through it but never really get it thoroughly. I was given it again recently and decided maybe someone is trying to tell me something and decided to read it well once and for all. I'm so glad I did! I subscribe to a lot of his theories on education. He starts off the book talking about a little boy that goes to school. He's given a paper and asked to draw a picture. He draws and draws and draws. The teacher stops him and announces that today they're drawing flowers...so his mind races with different kinds of flowers: daisies, daffodils, roses, carnations, violets, lilacs, pansies, mixed bouquets, green gardens full of rainbows of colors...but the teacher stops him again and says today they'll be drawing a certain kind of flower. He dutifully copies each of the stops and produces a green stem, with two leaves and four identical pink petals just as she describes. His education continues this way. He becomes a very good student who learns to listen, obey instructions and get the right answers on tests. He does so well they enroll him in a gifted and talented program. Again he is asked to draw and he dutifully waits for instruction. When the teacher realizes he isn't drawing she says, "Don't you like to draw?" He said he does but that he is waiting for instruction. She tells him to just draw whatever she wants. He sits and thinks about what he should draw, but nothing comes to mind. Finally in a burst of creative inspiration he picks up his crayons and draws a green stem, with two leaves and four identical pink petals.

I've heard many different versions of that story - and it always makes me crazy!! School seems to specialize in creating atomatons.

Oliver Van DeMille says that if you read classics with kids and discuss them together they'll learn to think and become great leaders. It sounds to me like he leans towards unschooling a little and believes that if you trust the child and as he describes it, put the conveyor belt system of education behind you and get back to what it used to mean to be educated.

He als'o really believes in the power of role-modeling. He quotes Mortimer J Adler when he says: ....only when teachers realize that the principal cause of learning that occurs in a student is the activity of the studenbt's own mind do they assume the role of cooperative artists. While the activity of the learner's mind is the principal cause of all learning, it is not the sole cause. Here the teacher steps in as a secondary and cooperative cause. Like the farmer and he physician, the teacher must be sensitive to the natural process that hsi art should help bring to its fullest fruition - the natural process of learning. It is the nature of human learning that determines the strategy and tactics of teaching."

He says that if we'll study the classics we will maintain our freedom and our civilization...and also gives six other reasons to study it:

1. The classics teach us human nature
2. The classics bring us face-to-face with greatness.
3. The classics take us to the frontier to be conquered.
4. The classics force us to think
5. Classics connect us to those who share teh stories
6. Our cannon becomes our plot

He has a great list of books for adults, youth and children to read. I'd debate him on the list. I'm not sure I'm that interested in a number of books he lists, and there are a few I'd certainly add - but I think it's a good starting point. I think there are a number of GREAT books that he doesn't list in his classics and I really believe in the value of scouring the shelves of the public library and discovering something that grabs you and inspires you. We've read some books like that this year....and they're not on his list.

I also like that he says you can teach a child to be a great leader even if you send them to school. Phew! (He'd probably add a caveat though that one should really stay involved and keep tabs on what they're doing in school!) :0)

Anyway, it's a great book. I'd recommend it! I think it will be a good help as well in putting together out end of year visit about homeschooling this year!

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Another Tooth Fairy Visit

Peirce worked ALL weekend on getting that tooth out....and finally had success!!

Friday, 23 May 2008

What A Difference a Week Makes

Now that's a face of a kid that is having a good time!

What a difference a week makes. Look at him go now! I like how he bends over and rests on his knees like a cool guy now and then.

He can even do tricks! (In case you don't notice it, the trick is the little jump) :0)

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Misgivings about Going Back

I registered Jill for school again today back at her old school. Sometimes I wonder if that's the best thing! It's so crazy because when we started this homeschooling adventure I took a deep breath and figured I'd grit my teeth and do what I could to survive it. Well, now that we're almost through the school year I certainly have a new perspective on homeschooling. I'd do it all again. I read Dr Laura's blog today and she talked about the misconceptions people have about socialization and homeschooling. I'm glad to see there are some people doing research and coming up with studies to show the people who seem to always bring up the concern about socialization. It's just not an issue. Homeschooling hasn't been easy but I'm glad we did it. I have a new respect for those who choose this method of educating their children.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Snow White En Francais

Today we went to The Children's Festival. They have some GREAT productions for kids at The Children's Festival. I only wish we could buy tickets to them all! This year we bought tickets to Snow White. The production is in French and in English so we went to the French one. Peirce was really not looking forward to going because he said he doesn't know French. I think he was pleasantly surprised though! The puppeteer would say something and all the kids would yell, "Non, Blanc Neige!" (or whatever was appropriate) and Peirce was right in there participating with the conversation. I really didn't understand a lot of the French but I sure do get a kick out of seeing my kids catch the funny lines and enjoy it so much.
The puppets were so cool!! We just laughed and laughed at the dwarfs. It totally got some ideas buzzing in my head about ideas for a puppet show we could do as a family!
This is a close up of The Prince and Snow White. A still shot just doesn't do justice to how cool they were! Of course, maybe the magic is in the puppeteer. Not sure!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Swim Meet - year end

Well, another year of swimming is almost over....and so it was time for the semi-annual 'fun meet'. Poor Peirce is bored out of his head at these things....but he is a pretty good sport. He found some friends with computer games and was thick as thieves with them.

Jill swam 50M free, 25 M fly, 25M back and 25M breast....and she said she beat her record for each one. I tried to get videos of her swimming but I messed up a bit so I just have two of her races.

The boy ahead of her is about a foot taller and has 3 or 4 years on her. We told he it's always good to have someone like that to chase!

The Fly:

Breast Stroke - sorry these are so jumpy. I was trying to NOT slip on the deck or fall into the pool while video taping her swim. Not an easy feat!

You can hear Allen cheering here. He's always the loudest guy at the swim meets. Even the coach commented later that Jill has the best cheering squad. :0)

In-Line Skating

In Peirce's kindergarten class they're doing in-line skating in gym. These is really out of Peirce's comfort zone - we call him the Safety Man. Something like in-line skating is certainly on the edge of acceptable to the Safety Man. However, he was a trooper today and did a great job!! I volunteered to help in the class and it was a riot to watch all these kids learn to do this. The first thing they learn is how to fall properly.....Peirce has really got falling down pat. I did get in there and help the poor kid learn how to stand up....but ya, initially it was good for a laugh! (Poor kid...what do you do when you have a mother like me.....learn to laugh I guess!)

This is the video at the end of the class. He's able to get up now!! They taught him to keep his hands in front so that if he falls he falls properly. If there's one thing you can count on, if you teach Peirce the little things that you need to do to be successful at something he'll watch like a hawk and you can count on him to do it!

By the end of the class those kids were hot and sweaty and VERY worn out.

Monday, 19 May 2008

May Long Weekend

You can go ahead and slap some 'bad mother points' on me for this - but I have successfully convinced my children that camping is a special thing that dad's do with their kids. I've never been a fan of camping (blame my parents) and the rest of my family loves it. So they go camping and I don't go. It's wonderful. This weekend Allen took the kids to Livingston Falls. We were all so excited! The plan was that they'd go from Saturday afternoon until Monday. It got abbreviated a little. Apparently Jill and Peirce had gone for a walk and when they came back they told asked if they could go home because they really missed their mom. (Peirce has an especially hard time being away from home....little love bug of mine!) I guess Allen missed me too because he was all for packing up and coming home too. lol Even though it was a little shorter than I'd planned, I had a wonderful time too. First order of business was a nap. After that there was lots of house cleaning, yard work, and a number of good books to get caught up on. I did the house cleaning and yard work as fast as possible and got to what really mattered...the reading. Ahhhhhhhh!! It's been a long time since I sat and read for hours at a time....well, correction, it's been a long time since I have sat and read for hours at a time and not had to deal with the fall out of hours of neglect with housework, children's needs, meals, etc. :0) I think we may have to make this an annual tradition. I think the children need more fresh air. (This is all about what's best for them, you know!)

Friday, 16 May 2008

Another Day At the Science Center

We really should buy a pass to the Science Center. There are so many things to learn there and our kids seem to be a perfect age for it. It's interesting to watch them. They're a little neurotic about a few things. Today we watched Sea Creatures in the Discovery Dome and we had a big problem - we only had one notebook and so both couldn't draw pictures and take notes at the same time. I'm not sure how I got two kids like that (okay, kind of not sure - I have to admit, I'm the mother who used to make them stay in their rooms until 7 am and require them to write/draw every morning....I didn't know they'd become so obsessive about it. I was just trying to get more quiet time in the morning...or at least make it so the fun didn't start until 7 am!) but it sure is entertaining.
This picture just makes me laugh. Peirce is looking slightly crazed. lol

Usually I take a bazillion pictures and post them. Today I took a bazillion videos. LOL

This screen is in the center area at the Science Center. It's interactive and you can touch it and make it change. I joked that they were messing up the universe again.

There's another screen on the other side that must be attached to a heat sensitive camera. Peirce was the one that noticed it first. You can hear him trying to tell us about it in this video - and we keep ignoring the poor kid. In time we did clue in though. :0) After we took this video they watched themselves and talked about their different body parts for the longest time. It was interesting! When they lifted up their shirts you could see organs that weren't hot! You could also see their brain and how it is hot/red and the rest of their head wasn't. It was really cool!

WOW TOWN is a separate section in the Science Center. They have a real bee-hive there! That was really cool especially since we've been talking about bees around our house a lot lately with our purchase of honey for our food storage.

This microscope has some bees that you can examine at all the different stages.
Jill has been studying plants in her science class and they had some slides with different parts of flowers and other plants. She was thrilled to confirm that the things she'd learned in class were right.
This is a treehouse that Peirce loved playing in. He kept calling it his classroom. It was really cute.

They also have a store there. Peirce was ringing up those sales like crazy.

In WowTown there's a toddler section - but no one was there today so we played there for a while. This is just some random running around and chaotic fun. :0)

Next we went to the Creative Kids Museum. This is a section of the Science Center that I really love!! They have done a fabulous job of creating places where kids can create and explore and play in every area of the arts.

First the kids put together a play. In their theatre they have a back stage with a mirror and great lights and lots of costumes. There is a controllers desk out front with buttons that have different sound effects, and there are curtains and interesting propts. Recently they added a real organ too (with one broken key) and have some music there so you can play songs on it. Jill and Peirce had a TERRIFIC time playing here. I'm always amazed at how kids just organize themselves and recruit each other to get involved in this theatre. It's the perfect example of collaborative learning and play. We didn't have quite enough time to truly enjoy it all today though.

These pictures were all taken "back stage"

Next we go into sculpture making. This lovely piece of work is a sculpture that Jill made. They had a sculpture on display that had been built over time...and they took pictures of it every week or so. Jill has great plans to do something similar at her school in the fall this year. :0)

They have some young people they employ to go around and do experiements and demonstrations and such. We ran into a couple girls that had set up a craft table where they made stamps. Jill and Peirce worked on their crafts here for almost 45 minutes.
Next to the stamping table there was a newspaper sculpture area. Amazing what kids can do with newspapers and a LOT of masking tape. This is the butterfly that Peirce made. Jill made a girl....but I didn't get a picture of it. Oops!

Our real joy today was found in the music though! This is J&P creating their own music, Stomp style. If I hadn't gone to a performance of Stomp myself I might just think this was noise....but it is really cool when you've experienced Stomp!

However, the airband area was where they really hada a good time. We stayed here for more than an hour and I watched them sing and dance and have a GREAT time.

Michael Finnigan......

I don't really know why - but Peirce spends half his life pretending he's a cat....like he does in this video.

Toast and Jam!

Jill will, Jill will rock you!

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Friday Five on Thursday (??!) - Songs

List the last 5 songs you’ve listened to.

1. Opposites Attract (Paula Abdul)
2. Rasputin (Boney M)
3. Rasputin (Boney M)
4. Opposites Attract (Paula Abdul)
5. Rasputin (Boney M)

Why, you ask? Well, when I was exercising on the elliptical machine this morning I just kept going back to those two songs on my IPod. :0)

How about you? What are the last five songs you've listened to?

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

The Real Thief

Peirce came home with this book from the school library. I had a look and figured he wouldn't want to read it once we got into it - but surprisingly he stuck with it. I think he liked the fact that animals were the characters in the story, and also that it is a mystery. I've tried to read chapter books with him before and it just didn't fly. This book has quite advanced vocabulary - and surprisingly he seemed to get the story. Of course, there were lots of words he didn't understand, and along the way I'd simplify as I could while I read - but the difficulty didn't seem to bother him. Jill would sneak into the room too and listen while we read. The book is full of fodder for good discussions about honesty, trust, integrity, honor, and friendship.

Booklist's review: Honorable goose Gawain has only his king's best interests at heart but. as guard of the royal treasury, he is accused of theft after jewels and money disappear from the vault. His old friends turn against him on the basis of circumstantial evidence, and Gawain barely escapes imprisonment by flying through a courtroom window. Meanwhile the real thief, a humble mouse named Derek, who cannot live with his guilt any better than he could endure the envy that prompted him to steal in the first place, secretly returns the treasures, clearing Gawain and tracing down the goose in hiding. The two exchange tales of suffering and return to the penitent king and subjects. As usual Steig's captivating style and tongue-in-cheek humor bring to life an endearing set of animal characters with some extremely human foibles.
There are a lot of things that would make good fodder for a book club - for any age! Gawain takes the job as guardian of the treasury just because he likes the king. He finds it quite boring - but he sticks with it because of the King. Is it a good idea to in effect, sacrifice your own interests and spend your time doing something that doesn't quite reach your potential just to rub shoulders with someone you admire? Then there's the issue of being unjustly accused. What do you do when people have wrong ideas about you? And how do you figure out who to trust and who not to trust in life? Then what about when you're punished for something you didn't do? What do you do about that?! The real thief accidently discovered the passage way into the treasury. Is it okay to take something from someone that is so rich if you are very very poor? Is it okay for people like kings to be so rich? Why is it that having riches and possessions makes some people feel more important? I didn't really like it that in the end the real thief and Gawain decided that the real thief did not have to own up to what he did. They figured he'd fixed the problem, Gawain's name was cleared, and that he'd suffered enough.
Gee, it brings up so many good discussion starts it makes me think it might be a great book for our summer book club!
This is one book that intrigued me and made me want to go find out more about the author. Apparently he just died in 2003. There's a few interesting write ups about him on the net as well as a site dedicated to him and his books.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Iron Man

Styrofoam has become the craft material of choice around here lately. Peirce has created a number of interesting things with styroform. Today Jill decided to get into the action. Judging from the box in their garbage, our neighbors got a new computer. My kids have been knocking on their door every hour for the last 24 hours it seems trying to ask if they could take the styrofoam out of their garbage. They finally caught them at home and didn't waste any time in packing up their precious finds. This was Jill's creation.....a costume from Iron Man. Allen took them to Iron Man on the weekend it opened up - and we've had Iron Man talk around here ever since. There's got to be a way this fits in with our homeschooling goals.....I'll have to do some thinking on that. With all the time they've spent making this it must count for some kind of learning. lol

Hearing The Voice of the Lord (Gerald Lund)

Recently I observed something that bothered me. Someone that I care about had some things going on in life that I felt were a red flag. Others felt similarly concerned. However, she didn't seem to agree that it was a problem. A number of us were praying for this person and about the situation. Two people received seemingly opposite messages. I wondered how it could be that God could give two very different messages. When Allen came home with this book I was eager to get into it right away. I wasn't disappointed. Gerald Lund goes into great detail in this book of principles and patterns of personal revelation. It helped me resolve my issues with the revelation question regarding my friend, and provided an amazing framework of understanding on personal revelation. This is a book that will need to be read again and again. It will definitely find a long term home on our book shelves!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Funny People in Our Zoo

This reminded me of the page in I'll Love you Forever by Robert Munsch. She's listening to her Ipod shuffle here and dancing away without realizing I'm video taping her. In the book it says: The boy grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was a teenager. He had strange friends and he wore strange clothes and he listened to strange music. Sometimes the mother felt like she was in a zoo!

Little interesting fact that I didn't know prior to looking at the Robert Munsch website: he wrote the little song in the book after he and his wife had two stillborn children.

Friday, 9 May 2008

That time of the month.....

It's that time of the month again....I've emailed everyone, and called everyone, and there is still a handful of people who haven't let me know if they've done their visiting teaching or not. That has to be the worst part of this calling - the people who just won't respond. If you didn't do it fine. Could you just call me back and let me know so I don't have to guess? I have decided it's probably safe to assume they didn't do it if they haven't called back after two calls and an email. However, I still get frustrated with the fact that they just don't respond.

I read another blog about visiting teaching today. Home and visiting teaching is an interesting thing. It can be a really great thing....perhaps I'll be struck for this, but sometimes I think it's more pain in the neck than it is a blessing.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Quiet Mornings

I just had to snap a picture of these two playing checkers! I try to get up before everyone else in our house and have an hour or so to myself. Usually when Peirce comes downstairs before 7 am I remind him that he's supposed to stay in his room and play (it's family quiet time!) This morning for some unknown reason people around here were up a little earlier than usual. I decided not to kick them out when all they wanted to do was play checkers (well, really, Peirce was the one who wanted to play checkers and luckily Allen obliged and I could continue on with my own quiet time). I had to chuckle though at the comments coming from the corner. Peirce apparently is getting pretty good at checkers and gave Allen a good run for his money! Allen doesn't believe in letting kids win just because they're kids (translation, he hates to lose....even to kids!) and so Peirce has been motivated to whoop his dad. Keep working on it Peirce!!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

To Nap or Not to Nap

I've learned a few things about me lately.

* Getting up early and getting time to myself to read and pray and plan the day makes all the difference
* Exercising really does help me feel better. I'm alive, I'm awake, and I feel great!
* I tend to eat when I'm too tired (the container of homemade oreos is now empty. Oh dear!)
* Getting to bed early is one of the toughest things to do!

Last night I stayed up too late. I was having such a good time catching up on blogging, surfing, and other little things like that. I figured I'd be okay just this once. Man was I wrong. I felt terrible today. My kids were totally irritating. My husband was irritating. I just wanted to scream at everyone!! I took Peirce to school and when I got home I decided I'd lay down for a while. Well, a while turned into the whole afternoon....but I think it was time well spent. When I got up everyone had changed - they were much less irritating! Also, Jill had some a huge amount of work on her science project. I was totally amazed at how much she accomplished. She had written up paragraphs on how plants make our life better, how plants reproduce, planned an activity for the kids to do when she presents her report, and printed off a ton of interesting pictures about plants. Amazing!!

So, today I've learned a few things:

* Staying up late is just not worth it
* If you leave kid's to their own accord, cut the nagging and scheduling and planning and dictating, they accomplish much more and learn much more!
* Next time I'm tired, instead of eating, I'm going to make myself lay down for 20 minutes

I usually just fight through being tired. I try to bite my tongue and persevere. If I stepped back and looked at my day though I'd probably find I don't accomplish a lot when I just fight through it. I might try a test and see if a short nap each afternoon changes my life much. I've read a lot about the benefits of napping. I'd be interested in hearing from people who nap and find it improves life.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Dinner Entertainment

Tonight we had Kevin and his friend, Junko over for dinner. Kevin has always been one of our favorite people - but tonight the kids had the most fun with Junko! So much for a shy, quiet, reserved Japanese girl! They seem to be able to bring out the 'wacky' in most people. :0)

For some reason our kids seem to not have much in the way of inhibitions. I always like it when people just jump in and enjoy the craziness of our family. Thanks Junko!
I don't post many pictures of myself on this blog....so here are a couple token pictures. Enjoy.

Maybe the M is for Mom?? Not sure!

Weird. I know. What else can I say?!

Monday, 5 May 2008

Listening for Lions

This is a TERRIFIC book. Jill and I read this one together out loud. I can't say enough about how great it is to read a book out loud with your child. She loves it and I love it. We have a great time enjoying the adventure together...but something magical happens when we read together. I'll have to do some more thinking about just what the magic is and blog about that another time. The same thing happens when Peirce and I read together. We were reading stories in the van today while she was swimming and it was interesting to see how he wanted to snuggle - even though there was really not enough for him, me, the steering wheel, and a book about dinosaurs which seems to cause him to have to get up and roar and stomp around like a dinosaur in the middle of any given moment. I've made a commitment to myself that I'll spend time reading every day with Jill and with Peirce....so maybe in time I'll be able to put into words exactly what the 'magic' of it all is.

It was difficult at first for Jill to get into this book because the writing was a little difficult for her - but reading it aloud together really helped. The story has some surprising twists. It's a story about a girl that is left an orphan in Africa during the influenza epidemic of the early 1900's. She gets stuck in a plot of deception where she's used to help a nasty couple who is making people believe she is their deceased daughter so that they can secure a huge inheritance back in England. Her experiences leaving her beloved Africa and adjusting to live in England is really well-written. There's a ton to be learned about animals and the natural worlds of both Africa and England.

The story is a great one of integrity, courage, and winning even despite impossible situations. We were hooked on it early on. It's a book I would totally recommend. A great read-aloud!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

One Jam-Packed Saturday

Today our kids started Aikido classes. I was THRILLED to find a class they could take together. And they were thrilled to finally be a martial arts class. It was fun to watch them embark on this entirely new venture together.

They did all these weird races where they walked in many crazy different ways. By the end of the class Jill said her legs felt like jel-lo!

After the class was over we piled into Allen's new car and took off to Edmonton. We really enjoyed our first trip in his new car. It feels all the better too knowing that his car runs on propane. It's half the price!! Lovin' that!!

We went to Edmonton to go to Nathan Hawryluk's reception. They held it in an old school called the McKay Avenue School. It was so beautiful and such an interesting place to be! Inspired me a little to read up on some Alberta history! I wished we had Jill with us. She's quite interested in these kinds of things lately because of the book we're reading together. (Jill and Pierce hung out with Auntie Virginia and Uncle Andy instead). We had a great time at the reception anyway. Nathan and Jen looked wonderful and very happy....and we had a terrific time visiting and enjoying the building.

After the reception we went back over to Andy and Virginia's and had a great visit. Virginia had just run a 10K race and so she was tired and hungry. I only wish to look so great after a 10K run!

On the way home Peirce kept telling us he NEEDED to go to a playground. The best we could find was an oil rig on the outskirts of Edmonton at Leduc...the famous Leduc No. 1.

You can tell by this picture that Peirce clearly had some energy he needed to use up before a long sit in the car.

....the kind of poses a mother doesn't like. You can tell Allen took this picture. I'd never be having Jill sit on the ledge like that.

Chico always loves a road trip - and he gets pampered probably a little too much for his own good.

All in all it was a GREAT day. We had a fun time hanging out together. Our kids are a lot of fun (most days) and we really enjoyed hanging out with them this weekend.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Friday Five - The Books In Your To-Be-Read Pile

From challenge on a great blog I often read, here's today's post:

How many of you have a to-be-read pile a mile high next to your bed?
What are the top 5 books?
Here are mine (not counting the ones I’m in the middle of seriously reading...did you know there's a difference between what you're seriously read and not so seriously reading....well, there is my my life!):

1. A Thomas Jefferson Education - I read this one a while ago but Jenny Chan read it recently and said I really ought to read it. I figured it might be a good time in my life to read it again. I just might have a new perspective on the topic and gain some interesting things from the book.

2. Unusual Heroes: Canada's Prime Ministers and Fathers of Confederation - Jill's been reading about famous Canadians lately and it's been quite interesting. I snuck this book from her pile.

3. Busy But Balanced (Practical and Inspirations Ways to Create a Calmer, Closer Family) - this is one I've been glancing at now and then in preparation for the workshop I'm teaching next weekend/

4. Mothering With Spiritual Power - another book for the workshop I'm teaching

5. Bob Greene's Total Makeover - because I really need to read another diet book (sarcasm off) and maybe this one is the one that will do the trick and inspire me onto thinness!!