Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Marden's Find

Check out my Marden's find! I got these super cute Christmas gloves for $1.99 I keep them in my purse, and when the kids and I have to wait in the car or in line somewhere, I dig them out and do a puppet show.

There's Santa and Mrs Claus, a reindeer and even a little elf. Usually Mrs. Claus is trying to force-feed Santa because he's too skinny. The elf is freaking out because he is overworked and underpaid, and there's no elf-union, and Rudolph is dealing with some self-esteem issues of his own.

They're super warm. The only bad part is that Mrs. Claus' hair is too long and keeps getting caught in the door when I leave the house. Ah well. You can't have everything.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Our Nativity Scene

I looked all over for a nativity scene the kids and I could craft up. I wanted a simple, free, printable project and I couldn't find one! Then, 2 days before Christmas, I stumbled across one online.

Here it is, a very realistic (?) example of Jesus' humble birth.

Mary, Joseph and little Jesus.

The donkey that carried Mary over all those miles to Bethlehem. Poor donkey. It looks like I feel.

In Maddie's opinion, Mary should have ridden a cow to Bethlehem. According to Mad, cows are much faster because they can run. Hunh.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

You thought I'd forgotten about Christmas, right? Curiously, it's been absent from my blog. That wasn't on purpose. This year Christmas was a bit more tame than usual, and we went very simple in our partying.

We did decorate, put up a tree, bake a Birthday cake for Jesus, send out cards (well, okay, a handful), buy some presents and all that stuff, but it was noticeably less than the last few years. Perhaps it was lack of funds or energy, but, it was what it was.

Just to show you that we didn't totally skip out, the next few blogs will present some Patterson Christmas pics as proof.

We had our First Annual Stocking Race.

It quickly turned into our First Annual Stocking Tackle.

And our First Annual Stocking Meltdown.

'Tis the season!

Monday, December 21, 2009

'Round Town

Enjoy a few pics of downtown San Juan del Sur.

A view of palm trees lining the sidewalk by the beach.

The beach of San Juan del Sur. The water is so warm, and the sand is fine is beautiful, no pebbley like in NB. You can see the gigantic statue of Jesus on the hill overlooking the town.

Men repairing the roof on one of the beachside restaurants.

Fruit vendor on a bicycle.

Next to this Nicaraguan horse, our Canadian horses are lazy and overfed... he certainly earns his daily meal.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Putting the Kids to Work!

I'm a stay-at-home-mom, and because I'm a SAHM I often fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself and the mountain of housework I do everyday. The problem isn't even so much the amount I do, but that the kids go behind me and un-do all the work. After all, cleaning my house while the kids are small is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.

But then I realized that I was doing it wrong. I wasn't using all the natural resources I have in my home. What natural resources, you ask? My children! Children are, after all, our nation's most precious resource. So I'm learning to delegate.

For example, you don't have to be big to help around the house. My two year old is a fantastic picker-upper. Toddlers can easily handle throwing their toys into a basket, and all they need as a reward is lots of cheering and hand clapping.

They're also great at throwing things into the garbage....scraps of food, wrappers, cell phones, etc. Careful with this one!

Kids love to help in the kitchen. Depending on the age and maturity of your kids, you can show them how to peel veggies (with a peeler). If you trust your kid to be responsible, you can even show them how to use a paring knife. Obviously, some kids are ready for this and some aren't. If your 5 year old can't sit still and has a habit of waving his hands when he talks, then cutting veggies isn't the chore for him. In Maddie's case, she can handle that. Eva, not so much. Graedy, definetly NOT!!


If they aren't quite to the peeling and cutting chore, they will definetly enjoy stirring and cleaning up icing bowls.

Kids love this next chore. All you need is a sock and non-breakable items. Show them how to run your socked hand over tabletops, windowsills, TV screens and you'll have the dusting done in no time. You might have to do the higher furniture and photo frames but it keeps them busy and they'll gradually get taller.

I showed Maddie (almost 6) how to do laundry. She loves it! It's a multi-step chore, but fairly simple. The first step is explaining that you need to separate the clothes by colour. It helps if you have this kind of gadget:

Then, you show how to load the washer by colour, adjust the settings, pour in the soap and ta-da! Clean clothes! If you have a lot of delicates or dry-clean only clothing, then you'll need to be extra diligent.

Obviously, use your common sense. Some things kids can handle, and some things they can't.

Good kid chores = sock dusting, folding facecloths and towels, watering plants, clearing their spot at the table, feeding the cat, sweeping the deck, etc.

Bad kid chores = stocking the furnace, chopping wood, bathing the baby alone, changing the oil in the car, washing knives, etc.

Chores that need extra help and supervision (and you MUST USE YOUR JUDGEMENT DEPENDING ON THE KID) = cutting soft fruits and veggies, peeling veggies, loading dishwasher, doing dishes (glass, knives, food poisoning, etc), cooking, babysitting, etc.

Good luck and use those resources!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The H1N1 Primer for Pregnant Women

This is a very interesting and well-informed article about H1N1 and pregnant women.

Pelican Eyes Resort

Our villa...

View from the balcony off our bedroom...

The pool, overlooking the Pacific ocean and the village of San Juan del Sur...

Pelican Eyes has a program where they rescue hurt and stray animals. Here's one of their monkeys...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Leaving Managua

Here's the road leading away from Managua, Nicaragua. We were heading south toward San Juan del Sur. I wish I'd taken the video 10 minutes earlier. The scenery on the video doesn't really show what Managua is like. We were warned repeatedly not to leave our hotel in Managua. Supposedly, the streets are not safe to walk in, alone or otherwise. We were picked up by the hotel shuttle at the airport, for which we were very thankful! In Managua, the buildings are shacks made of old tin, pieces of wood, or cement. All the yards, windows and doors are gated and barred. The houses are stuck together. It's not a very pretty place, by our standards. Animals wander in and out of the street, and it's the quick or the dead when it comes to traffic. When we were picked up at the airport, there were other families there to pick up their loved ones. They all just piled into the back of pick up trucks and rode down the highway to home! I've never seen that in Canada, but it was pretty cool. Make do with what you have, right?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nicaragua Day 1 - We Arrive!

The two girls who went on the Nicaragua trip and I were going to pool our pictures together so that we'd have a more complete photo log of our voyage. However, I've been waiting a month and those pictures haven't shown up! So, you'll have to make do with my attempts at amateur photography...sorry!

We flew out of Boston on Halloween morning. Our stop-over was in Houston, TX. Nobody called me ma'am. I was disappointed. What didn't disappoint was the airport! It was huge, with a mall inside it bigger than the one in our hometown. We ate at a restaurant and were served by a waiter dressed up as Thin Lizzie, complete with zebra print pants and curly blonde wig.

Did you know they have plastic knives in airport restaurants? I'm thinking 9/11.

We flew into Managua late at night. It gets dark at 4:30 pm year-round in Nicaragua. Rather than have us travel the roads at night, our organizers put us up at the Camino Real. It was beautiful! First thing we did? Swim!! The water was just like bath water, but still refreshing, since the humidity hovered around 97% and the temp was in the mid-high 30s.

This hotel (and most buildings in Nicaragua, it would seem) was built semi-open. The rooms were enclosed, but the hallways from one part of the hotel to the next were breezeways. When we woke up the first morning, it was pouring! Thank God for the breezeways.

Our first breakfast was buffet. It was delicious. They had all the "normal" stuff, but the Nicaraguan stuff was a bit heavy. They had fried plantain, deep-fried cheese slices (yummy!), a sort of breakfast casserole with loads of cheese, tomatoe sauce, pasta, etc., whole milk, and lots of beans and rice.

I liked this statue. I think it's a Nicaraguan mama and her baby. I thought it was very breastfeeding friendly, don't you?

Foliage. I thought this was a vanilla tree, and the guard said, "Si, si!" when I asked him. I don't think he understood the question, though, because it turns out it's not a vanilla tree at all.

I'll have more pics soon - stay posted!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Being Still

It was early morning. Graedon and I were at the table and the girls were sleeping in, tired from a late night of visiting with Grammy and Grampy. It had snowed during the night, and the first rays of the sun were peeking through the curtains. Thoughts flitted through my mind, and I remembered an article (several, actually) about encouraging your child's speech and language development and raising his IQ by talking to him at all times about anything and everything. I thought about it, trying to figure out how to start a conversation about toast, blueberry jam, coffee, sunrises, my kitchen decor...but I said nothing.

Instead, I watched my son. I took in the way he used his spoon, brow furrowed in concentration as he very carefully brought his cereal to his mouth without dropping a single flake. I enjoyed the way he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. I loved his gaze out the window at the world waking up on the front lawn. I smiled at how his face brightened every time a vehicle went by on the road (especially the big trucks!). We sat in silence and enoyed each other's company.

It is important to speak to your children, but it's also important to respect their moods and encourage their individual thinking. Personally, I don't like conversation at breakfast. I like quiet. I wake up slowly. I am often mulling over my night's dreams, and the expectations I have of the day. I don't want to assume that my children want to listen to my bantering constantly. With quiet comes the opportunity to meditate - something we don't take the time to do nearly enough.

Sometimes, it's good to be still.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Friendly Beasts

1 month 'til Christmas!!

This Friday is the first of the Christmas parties. We'll be attending our homeschool group's Christmas potluck and this year we'll be "performing" a little something for the group. We nixed singing (collective sigh of relief) and I didn't think we could handle a skit (too much memorizing). I decided on reciting a poem and hiding behind face masks.

Here's the poem, along with pictures of the masks:

The Friendly Beasts
A 12th Century Carol

Jesus our brother, kind and good,
Was humbly born in a stable rude;
The friendly beasts around Him stood.
Jesus our brother, kind and good.

"I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown,
"I carried His mother up hill and down;
I carried her safely to Bethlehem town,
I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown.
"I," said the cow, all white and red,
"I gave Him my manger for His bed;
I gave Him my hay to pillow His head.
I," said the cow, all white and red.
"I," said the sheet with the curly horn,
"I gave Him my wool for a blanket warm.
He wore my coat on Christmas morn.
I," said the sheep with the curly horn.
"I," said the dowve from the rafters high,
"I cooed Him to sleep so He would not cry,
I cooed Him to sleep, my mate and I.
I," said the dove from the rafters high.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And Now I Pant for You

'Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!...

Created things kept me from you;

yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all.

You called, You shouted, and You broke through my deafness.

You flashed, You shone, and You dispelled my blindness.

You breathed Your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for You."

~St. Augustine, Confessions

*I'm loving I love the soundtrack, the poetry, the's a worthwhile visit to soothe the soul and stir the mind.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Baby!

Nope, we're not having a baby. My big brother R and his wife N had their first little bundle last night. I'm still waiting for pictures, but I'm sure she's gorgeous. Baby K (not to be confused with SIL K) was born November 20 in the evening, weighed in at 6 lbs 14 oz and is healthy and wonderful. Welcome Baby K!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Stable Birth

Jesus' birth. Have you ever really thought about it? I love this post by Avital at There Are No Ordinary Moments. Take a look-see by way of the link below. *warning - it talks very frankly about birth, so it might not be for everyone :)*
There Are No Ordinary Moments: WHERE'S THE SWEAT AND THE PLACENTA?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Drugs in Labour

I've had 3 babies, each in very different ways. My first was a c-section with all the pain meds available (almost). My last was all natural at home. I won't go into my own experiences as I don't think that this article needs any extra push. It says it all.

Women are incredibly powerful and strong. The problem isn't what our bodies can not do, but what our minds won't let our bodies do. I've seen labours stall and be "jumpstarted" through the use of pain meds. However, I think that if the women had not had their confidence tampered with in the first place, the pain meds could easily have been avoided to the benefit of mother and baby. The mind is a powerful tool, but must be trained to work for us and not against us.

I wish that women took the time and made the effort to properly prepare for childbirth. Even more, I wish that women took the time and made the effort to encourage other women, rather than spread horror stories about birth and motherhood. It can make all the difference in a woman's birth experience and, as these studies show, in a baby's health and well-being.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Little Shadow

My Maddie is so much like me. We get comments all the time when we are out; "My does she ever look like you!" and "We can all tell who's kid she is!". I've begun to notice just how much she is like me on the inside, though.

She is so curious. She loves to learn. She loves to read and listen to stories. She has a thirst to understand and she questions everything. She wants to know about other countries, and how people live in other cultures.

We watched Out of Africa together. During the lion scenes, she exclaimed, "Mom! I want to SEE lions for real. I don't want to see it on TV, I don't want to see a movie, I want to see it in Africa! I want to go to Africa, Mom!" This isn't the first time she's asked to go to Africa. I told her to save her pennies and maybe we could go together.

When I returned from Nicaragua, she was very certain that she wanted to go there, too. She still mentions it every once in a while. She wants to be able to see the ocean, and the volcanoes. She thought that if she kept all her pennies, she'd be able to afford to go to Nicaragua when she is 8 yrs old. After I told her how much it would cost, she decided to save up for a pet rabbit instead.

Pet rabbit or's a tough one!

Watching her is like watching a revelation. God gave me this child because I am the best mother for her. He could have given her to any of the other millions of women out there, but he chose me. I'm thankful for that.

Friday, November 13, 2009

All About Dogs

Our homeschool group had their Zoology Fair tonight. The girls and I had been working on our dog project for a couple weeks. They worked so hard on their poster. They coloured dog pictures (blue, because some dogs are circus dogs), printed titles using my "special" markers, read books about dogs and puppies, visited the pet store and even learned a poem. It was really awesome to be able to see them be so interested and driven to learn about their animal.

I was proud of them just for doing that part. I wasn't really expecting them to do the speech part, although I was hoping they would at least stand with me while I did their presentation. They surprised me, though! Not only did they come to the front with me, they also answered the questions I had prepared and even recited the poem for the crowd! My mama's heart just about burst with pride.

I love that homeschooling gives me the chance to see firsthand how much the girls are learning and developing. They are shy and quiet (sometimes!), but with encouragement and nurturing, they've really come out of their shells. One of the other moms and I were talking today and she mentionned how great it is that the children all play together, regardless of their ages. She had noticed, too, that none of the children has ever ostracized or made fun of her son who has a disability. I am so thankful that my children have the opportunity to socialize in an accepting environment such as this.

We are blessed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nicaragua Pre-Post

I've been home from Nicaragua since Sunday morning. I've been wanting to write an update on my vacation, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how! Do I write a post for every day of vacation? Do I write one big post for the whole trip? Do I write about only the highlights, only the facts, or my insights as well? Do people care that I don't have all my pictures organized yet?

Man, blogging about vacations is almost as stressful as packing...

Friday, October 30, 2009

I'm Le-e-eaving On a Jet Plane!

I haven't mentionned it on my blog yet (scared to jinx it?) but I'm leaving tonight for a week of R&R in Nicaragua! I'm not sure of internet access or my schedule, so I can't say whether I'll be updating before mid-November. Chances are I'll be way to busy sunning myself to write up a post.

On the home front I've been working on doula clientele, scheduling electrolysis clients around my week away and working like mad to make sure the kids and husband are all set for my week of absenteeism. I was ordered by a friend not to "dare make a single meal ahead! Let them fend for themselves and really miss you!". Hmmm...couldn't do it. I'm too scared that they'll have to survive on McDs and frozen pizzas. So, a grocery-shopping I will go this afternoon and the fridge will be stocked with quick meal ingredients and snacks.

I am looking forward to this week to refuel, slow down and take a breather. Home is busy, busy, BUSY and I need a rest! The girls are generally good, except for the occasional meltdown, but Graedon! Oh, Graedon, you little firecracker, you!

But, that's a post for another time...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Eva Turns 4!

Eva turns 4 on October 30th! Since I'll be leaving on the 30th (on vacation!!) we celebrated this weekend instead of next. We decided on a Rainbow theme to cheer up the otherwise dull and dreary October.

I painted rainbows on the windows with homemade window paints.

Eva and her guests made a rainbow craft.

Here's the finished product - stained glass rainbows!

Then, we sang Happy Birthday. I think my singing wasn't a big hit from the look on Eva's face!

The cloud cake turned out to really be a rainbow in disguise!

I had Rainbow Brite colouring books and candy sheshkabobs to hand out as favours, but I forgot them in my bedroom where I'd put them for safekeeping. Oops! K, come and get 'em before I eat them all!

Happy Early Birthday, Eva!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fire Station Tour

One of the things I like about homeschooling is that you can go on all the field trips! Today we had a tour of the Fire Station. It was interesting! At least, I think it was. I spent most of the time running after Graedon who was very excited to be missing his nap. He loved all the big trucks, but his favourite thing was the Pepsi machine. Boys!

I took lots of pictures, but none of them really turned out. Way too many reflecting things in a Fire Station! This is the best one of the lot:

Join the Fight to End Breast Cancer...

...with a pink Poop Scoop.

It's not quite as classy as buying a ribbon or a pink frosted cookie at the local doughnut shop, but it is much more practical.

Thanks for the giggle, Pets Unlimited!

It's Winter!

I woke up this morning to Maddie jumping in my bed.

"Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! (each one an octave higher) Quick, come downstairs to see what there is outside!" then, not waiting long enough for me to push back the covers "SNOW!!!"

Maddie shoved on her boots, her winter coat, her mittens and all her gear and then paused. "Mom? I forgot to put on my panties."

Welcome to the winter season!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Zoology Fair

Our homeschool group is holding a Zoology Fair in November. I am leaving on a trip the first week of that month, and I had been hoping to start our exhibit when I returned. Then, it was moved up a week!

We're starting to work on it today, then. The girls had to pick an animal and make a presentation on it to show in front of the group. The presentation can be as short or as long as they like. Since Mad and Eva are only 5 & 4 (Eva's b-day is in less than 2 weeks!!) it will probably be really, really short. Really short.

At first, they picked cats. Then, last minute, they switched it to dogs. I really hope the dogs idea sticks because I've already printed off a bunch of canine pictures!

So, I need your help. I'm looking for cute, fun little dog poems that can be easily memorized by my little ones. So far I have:

Cold Nose

Little Dog's cold nose
is better than any

alarm clock.

Leave me some suggestions! If yours gets chosen, it will get featured in our homeschool Zoology project!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Amish Amies

When I was invited to visit with the Amish midwife, I wasn't sure what to expect. I very carefully picked out my outfit. I wanted to look proper and modest, but not too Amish. I didn't want them to think I was trying to hard, and I didn't want to look like someone I wasn't, either. What a dilemma! I finally settled on my favourite skirt (thankfully long and gray) and a turtleneck. Decent, but cute enough not to stand out at the store when I popped in for last minute supplies on the way home.

Then, I started thinking about what I was supposed to say and do. Was I supposed to have a list of questions? Should I be in job interview mode? Should I write down all my references and credentials so I don't forget them? What if I say something stupid like "crap" or get a memory blank (happens a lot....)?

Well, I shouldn't have worried. They were very very nice. The midwife was welcoming and she kept the conversation flowing. We spoke about birth, pregnancy, experience, learning opportunities, legal issues, peanut butter frosting and learning new languages. Her assistant was great, too. I don't think I messed up too badly, and I don't think I said "crap" once. :)

I met the pregnant mother that the midwife thought I could help. She seems sweet, very quiet. It will be a very different experience than hospital birth, but I'm sure that there's plenty we can teach each other!

It was a good day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Busy January?

I haven't blogged about doula-ing in quite some time. Like anything in life, being a doula has it's slow times and it's busy times. Something new has come up, though!

I've been keeping in touch with a couple midwives around here in hopes of being able to help them out at births. I've offered them my assistance doing anything from cleaning up the mess, making tea and even sitting in the corner with my mouth shut, but nothing much came of it. In the last week, though, I've had a call from an expectant mother hoping for a homebirth, a midwife with a client due in January, and a second midwife with a client due in January and another in February!

Nothing is for sure as of yet. The moms still have to give their okay for me to be present. However, it's a huge step in the right direction. To even be considered for a birth is an honour. I really hope I am able to sit in on births with the midwives. It would give me some experience seeing natural birth, and also give me an opportunity to learn from them. So far my births have all been in hospital, so homebirth will be new territory for me. A welcome territory, to be sure!

So, Friday I will meet with one of the midwives. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Baby Sock Sushi

Bro R and SIL N are expecting their baby in 6 weeks. 6 weeks! That's hardly enough time to blink! My mom, sister, Maddie, Eva and I were able to make a very quick trip to Qu├ębec for the shower.

I tried really hard to think of something for the baby that would really suit my bro and SIL. And then, I saw it on Little Bit Funky. Baby Sock Sushi! Perfect!

I got together a little take-out container, 2 chopsticks, little white baby socks, black felt, black hair elastics and little squares of orange felt. I'm not going to give a tutorial because I'll let Little Bit Funky do that.

In no time, I had Baby Sock Sushi!

Then, because he's my brother and she's my sister-in-law, I didn't feel that 4 pairs of socks were quite a big enough gift. So, I taped together some bills to make a square and I origamied a crane! Depending on how cheap you are, you could do this with 5 dollar bills, 10s, 20s or even 50s. If it's my shower, try to go for 100 dollar bills, though.

It was fun, different, and it was a great conversation prompter. Try it sometime!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thank You For...

With Thanksgiving just around the corner (for us Canucks, that is), this week will be filled with turkeys, pumpkins, pilgrims and thankfulness. Our first Thanksgiving craft was a Thank You wreath.

For this craft, you need:

A circle, about 12 inches across. I used a cake bottom from the store. That was very handy since it had a tab in which to poke a pushpin through for a hanger.

Leaf cutouts, done ahead of time for little ones, or un-cut if your kids are handy with the scissors.



A banner that says "Thank You For..."

On half the leaves you will want to write something for which you are thankful. My girls were especially thankful for their animal friends.

Glue a layer of blank leaves on the wreath. Then, glue the leaves with the words on top, leaving a spot to paste the banner. If you have older kids, or craftier mamas, then you could spiff the wreath up with nuts or berry garlands, or anything you want!

Be sure to hang it where everyone will see it unless you forgot to put someone's name on there, and then you should hang it where that person won't see it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Making Reading Relevant

We've worked on readers. We've done the whole "See Spot run" thing. It was a bit, shall we say, Yawn! In the end, though, Maddie especially enjoys stories in which she is the hero. And, so, being the sneaky Mom that I am, I've started making our own stories! Lately, we've been reading about us... The Patterson Family!

I have to remember to use all words that Maddie can spell out. We haven't done the weird phonics, yet, so silent "B"s and "ph" sounds are out. With the practice we've had, though, Maddie can read the story above.

My trick, though, is to leave the top of the page blank. Then, as she reads each sentence correctly, I draw in part of the story. She gets really excited to see what the story will look like at the end. Check out the cute jumper I'm wearing at the campground! Blue really brings out the colour in my cheeks.

No matter what, though, there is always a Mommy cat and her kittens in the drawing. It has nothing to do with the story, but if that's what it takes, then I'll do it!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why I Haven't Blogged

I feel like I must apologize for not keeping up with this blog like I did in it's beginning. It's the usual excuses - busy, no time, bla bla bla...

Wait, no, I take that back. I don't apologize. I have been busy. I haven't had the time. But, there are no excuses to be made. I've been spending my time...

~riding bikes with my girls, Graedon in the baby seat smacking my back to make me pedal harder.

~reading ridiculously good books.

~putting away applesauce, pickles and veggies.

~baking pumpkin pie, cheesecakes and muffins.

~snuggling with my eldest who has been desperate for Mommy attention.

~watching my little guy grow up so fast, I can hardly believe it.

I'd apologize, but I'm not sorry.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Winnie the Pooh, by A. A. Milne

I mentionned Charlotte Mason a few posts back, and here's an example of how we're incorporating her approach into our homeschooling.

Charlotte Mason is all about "living books". In laymen's terms, that means books that are well written, imaginative, use big words, and encourage moral/intellectual and character development. You know, books that don't suck.

I like books that don't suck.

I found a reading list of books, and joy of joys! We had one of them in our bookshelf. I present to you: Winnie the Pooh!

Please excuse the dog-eared look of the book. It is well-loved and voraciously read. Show me a new-looking book, and I'll show you an unloved book :(

This isn't your watered down, pop-cultured Disney version. This is the real deal. The book is filled with big words like "indeed", "wedged", "bonhommy" and "expedition". At first I thought the kids wouldn't understand the vocabulary, but they did! I like that about living books - they treat children as intelligent mini adults, not as little idiots.

The way the words are printed add so much to the story. Here, you can see the chapter where Pooh uses a balloon to float up to the hive. The words follow Pooh up the page. Ingenious! Artistic! Fascinating!

And the pictures! It's so nice to read a book to the kids that doesn't rely on flashy cartoons to keep their interest. The story itself is enough to cause them to ask for an extra chapter at bedtime.

As I said earlier, this isn't your watered-down Disney version. The author goes into the animals' characters in depth, and it's subtle enough for the kids, yet absolutely captivating for the adult reader. Remember what I said about treating the kids as intelligent little adults? It turns out that in the original Winnie-the-Pooh, Kanga and Roo are not native of the 100 Acre Wood. Actually, they just show up one day and Rabbit, Pooh and Piglet hatch a plan to get rid of them by - are you ready for this - kidnapping Roo!

There go all my fuzzy childhood memories. I love it!

Friday, September 25, 2009

First Field Trip

Our first field trip of the year with the Homeschool Group - Apple Picking! We bundled up against the wind, rain and cold, and drove to the orchard.

Some of the apples were nearly as big as Graedon's head...and he has a BIG head!

Eva practiced the proper way to pick an apple. You see, you must grasp the apple with the palm of your hand. If you use your fingers, you might bruise it. Then, twist ever so slightly to the left and upend the apple so that it is upside down. It should snap right off, causing little or no damage to the bud that is next year's apple. Whatever you do, don't just twist and yank!!

This apple picking stuff is complicated and serious business!

Back at the apple house, the tour guide showed us their set up. This is a machine that washes the apples, coaxes them up a conveyor belt, feeds them into a sizer and gets rid of all the smallish apples. The small ones are sold at rock bottom prices, or for deer and pig apples.

And, speaking of apples - we picked potatoes this week! Was that too subtle? French for apples is pommes. Potatoes are pommes de terre (earth apples)....I'll give you a minute for that one.

My lovely mother digging the potatoes up. Those branches in the ground are dead potato plants. That's how you know they're ready, I guess.

Each plant will give 6-8 potatoes. Considering it only takes about 1/4 to 1/2 a potato to make a plant, that's a pretty good turnout.

Mmmm...Jems! Eva was very into the potato picking. There was much squealing, clapping and pouncing on the spuds. Every once in a while, there would be a shriek, "Worm!!" and a stomping of feet.

She's so like her mother!