Saturday, December 30, 2006
I hope you all had a great Christmas. We did our celebrating with a non-traditional Wigilia on Christmas Eve - about the only traditional thing we managed to have this year was the oplatek! *L* Even the turkey was done differently. No tourtierre this year, either. :-( Still need to save up for that mixer we're after. Not even going to *try* a lesser quality one. Not after breaking a brand new machine half way into the second batch of hot water dough! LOL
The kids seem really happy with their gifts. Youngest, our car nut, was so funny to see when she unwrapped the car book she got. I've never seen her so happy over a gift before! Eldest's favourite is the calligraphy set. Me, I got a quill set - with ambidextrous nibs, so I can actually use it. *L* Finding a lefty set seems to be a lot harder than I remember back when I used to do calligraphy a lot.
Christmas Day is when they get their stockings, which went over well, too. I was somewhat concerned about finding the right gifts this year, since we had to put things off so late. The new job and weird pays that have been coming in for the last few weeks left us not knowing what our budget would be until the thursday before Christmas. I've never had it so tight before.
We don't really have plans for New Years right now. Some plans we had were changed, as the people we were going to meet probably won't make in into town after all, due to illness. Most likely, we'll take in the fireworks like we did last year. They were fun. It was nice and mild last year, too, and it looks like it'll be mild again this year. We did have our cold snap, but it's been otherwise extremely warm for this time of year.
The new batch of triops we've started up are doing exceptionally well. We've got nine of them! We only used the one little tank that came with Youngest's kit, so it's looking pretty crowded in there. Amazingly, there's been no cannibalism, even though there's significant size difference between the biggest and smallest. I guess they have enough food that it's not an issue. Gosh, they're active, too. We thought we had less for the longest time, simply because they were moving around too fast to count.
Dh's new job is going well. He's having fun and learning new stuff, which is always good. With the time of year, though, it's been pretty slow. He had both monday and tuesday off, then when his manager commented on how glad she was he had found something to keep busy because she had nothing for him to do, he ended up making her day by going home for the afternoon. She didn't want to actually ask him to take the day off, since he's been there for such a short time. *L* He'll have to make up the time later, but it's not an issue. What a difference being on salary instead of billing! The office has also been pretty empty, since so many others are on holidays. Once New Years is over (he's got another 2 days off for that), things will be back to normal.
While we don't really do much formally for "schooling" in this household, we have taken a bit of a Holiday from some things, like the girls' French. That'll start up again after New Year's, too. We're not quite done with Christmas, though. There's still Three Kings Day to come. After that, the tree and decorations all come down for another year.
Things have been good, and I'm looking forward to 2007.
Wishing you all Happiness, Health and Prosperity in the coming year.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
In the video section:
Youngest chose HP: Prisoner of Azkabaan. We used to own the first HP movies, but lent them out before we moved. We never got them back, so we've only got the newest one. The hard part is listening to Eldest saying things like "but that didn't happen in the book!!" LOL
Miracle Planet; Episode 3: New Frontiers and Episode 5: Survival of the Fittest. Couldn't find episode 4. Will have to remember that for next time.
What the Bleep Do We Know. The girls have already seen this one, but I haven't.
Body Atlas; Disc 3: Skin, The Food Machine and Taste and Smell.
The Day the Earth Stood Still: Eldest chose that one.
In the books:
Youngest chose a couple of Calvin and Hobbes books, Revenge of the Babysat and The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, as well as The Far Side, Galler 5.
The Art & Elegance of Beadweaving: beadweaving is something I really enjoy. All you need is needle, thread and beads. No looms or frames or anything else. Some great ideas in this one, from the looks of it.
Digital Photography for Children's and Family Portraiture and Advanced Digital Camera Techniques: I picked those ones mostly for Dh, though I think we'll all get some good use out of them.
The Encyclopedia of Super Heroes: another choice from Eldest.
Latin/English dictionary: a repeat selection for Eldest. We need to buy one for her so she doesn't have to keep returning it to the library.
Jewels: I picked this one as much for the fabulour photography as for the content. *L*
Christmas Family Gatherings; recipes and ideas for celebrating with people you love: one of my picks - pretty self descriptive, there. LOL
Feast! Canadian Native Cuisine for All Seasons: Some very excellent looking recipes in here, as well as some great information, too.
People of The Stone Age; Hunter Gatherers and Early Hunters: my pick. I've long had a great interest in pre-history.
This should last for us this week. :-D
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
There's a bug that's been going around and we seem to have caught it. Dh has been home from work for the past two days, and Eldest has been hit fairly hard. Youngest and I seem to have escaped it - so far.
The only major accomplishment for the day is that I managed to lug 30 odd pounds of library books back - then lugged a bunch of new ones home. The girls didn't go with me, so they're stuck with my choices. LOL
I picked up some DVD's this time. Two are Miracle Planet, episodes 1 (The Violent Past) & 4 (Extinction and Rebirth). I also found a couple more from the Body Atlas series. Unfortunately, I forgot which ones we'd already borrowed. I knew we hadn't seen disc 1 (The Womb; Glands and Hormones), but the kids tell me we'd already borrowed disc 2 (Muscle and Bone; The Breath of Life). I don't remember it, though. Just for fun, I also picked up the first Superman movie. It is SO hokey by today's standards! Fun, though.
Metis Legacy: This one looks like it's going to be quite interesting. At least the first half, which is a "historiography." The second half is an annotated bibliography. In between it has a section of photographs. The book seeks to correct some of the rather large historical gaps in Canada's history (and the US) regarding the Metis. On the one hand, the gaps are largely because writers of history tended to be European men, so they recorded what had meaning to themselves. On the other hand, Metis history tended to be an oral tradition which, unfortunately, is easily lost in this day and age. It also seeks to correct some of the very prejudicial views of the few written histories that deal with the Metis, and show those same event from Metis eyes.
Creating Family Newsletters; Producing a First-Class Newsletter and How to Get Published Free and Make Money: Some time ago, I'd started writing a family newsletter. It was well recieved, but getting stories from family to include in it was like pulling teeth. *L* Only one newsletter was ever completed. Anyhow, the interest is still there, and I wouldn't mind doing something like that with the girls. Especially since we're living so far away again. The third book is there more for curiousity, though. Might find something useful in it for Eldest in connection with her online comic.
Gems; The World's Greatest Treasures and their Stories: Some pretty amazing photography in this one, as is the history behind so many stones.
A Celebration of Christmas: This one looks to be a fascinating and useful book. Along with telling the histories behind many Christmas traditions around the world, it has songs, crafts, recipes, games, and so much more. I like the "old time" stuff because they don't rely on mass produced or "convenience" items.
Ethnic Style; History an Fashion: Oh, the things we humans do to ourselves in the name of beauty!!! Skull shaping, foot binding, scarring, tattoos, piercings, neck stretching, tooth shaping, orifice modifying, and so much more. Interesting to read some of the histories behind these modifications.
That's it for this trip. Since the movies are only for 1 week, we can add to the list then, and the kids can laugh at me when I complain about how heavy lugging all those books around. *L*
Monday, December 04, 2006
Just a few of the things we've been doing lately.
Some of the other parents organized a movie afternoon. One of them has access to non-mainstream movies through his work, which is really cool. I hadn't paid too much attention to the organizing going on, as I figured we couldn't make it - for starters, it was on a wednesday, and we've got a regular "date" with a family on wednesdays, plus it's convoluted to get a but out to where it was being held. The family we get together with, however, were interested in checking it out, so they graciously offerred us a ride. Of course, we jumped at the opportunity. I'm so glad we did! The movies we saw were Microcosmos and Flatworld. They were both really great!
One of the neat things I noticed was just how much everyone got into the movies. There were a wide range of ages represented among the children, from "preschoolers" through teens. No one made any announcement that the movie was starting. The lights were already out while a couple of people wrangled with the projector, and they just started playing it. Within half a minute, everyone quieted down, found their seats and started watching. While there were kids moving about - going to the washroom, getting snacks or drinks of water, etc., they did so quietly without even being asked. Mostly, all we heard were a lot of oooo's, aaahhh's, Oh's! and Eeeewwww's!! LOL Microcosmos was absolutely fascinating, and I found myself constantly wondering just *how* they managed to film it. Flatworld was considerably noiser, since so many of us were laughing out loud. It was such a hoot! Absolutely great. As the group of us were leaving, we all agreed that if they have another one of these movie afternoons, we definately want to be there - and perhaps take part in the planning/organizing of it next time, too. That would be such fun.
Eldest has been able to got to another writing club, thanks to the kindness of the mom who was hosting it for coming to our place to give her a ride. We didn't even know it was on until her usual ride called to say their son was ill and wasn't going to make it, or where it was until their daughter emailed mine to ask if she was coming out. Eldest is talking to other members on MSN more often, though, so I'm pretty sure that sort of miscommunication won't happen again. On top of that, the teens in the writing club discovered that they all are into drawing as well, so they spontaneously started a drawing club, too. First meeting is this friday. With more things going on with Eldest, I made a point of getting a key card for her when we paid the rent this month, so she doesn't have to borrow mine. We've been meaning to for a while, but didn't have as much reason to until now. I'm glad she's getting involved with these. I like that we can give her a bit more freedom to go out on her own. Well, not really on her own, since she's usually with so many other people, including adults, but without me or her sister tagging along all the time.
Youngest isn't as involved with outside stuff like that, but at 10, I don't really expect her to quite yet. We've got enough going on to meet her getting-out-of-the-apartment needs for now. *L* Especially our wednesday get togethers, which she eagerly looks forward to. Meanwhile, Dh picked up some new darts the other night (we'd had a full board and darts set that got garage-sale'd before we moved, but there's a dart board available in our building). Youngest really enjoys darts, so they've been taking full advantage of that.
Dh has been trying to put together a digital photography group. One of the other parents had offerred to teach it, but when everyone got together, nothing happened. We're still not sure why, as she was there, but it just never came up. Dh and a couple others just started talking cameras and pictures on their own. He tried to organise another get together, sending out emails with three possible dates to see which would work best for people. Only one person answered to say they all were good days. The others that we weren't sure about never responded, including the person that had offerred to teach. So Dh just sent out an email saying it was going to happen during park day tomorrow. Either they show up, or they don't. We'll be there with our cameras, and we know for sure about one other person, but for the rest - other than one that is going to be out of town, we don't even know how if they're interested anymore due to the total lack of response. We'll see how that works out. Dh is getting pretty serious about photography again, and really wants to learn more, so any chance to get together with others and "talk shop" is welcome to him.
Other than that, things are on the quiet side. Dh is finished his project at work and just marking time for his last 2 weeks before starting the new job. Other than our usual get togethers, we become major home-bodies in the time before Christmas. I'm no lover of shopping in the first place, but as Christmas draws near, we try to avoid going out in general, but to any stores or malls in particular, as much as possible. Nothing kills the Christmas spirit for me faster than wrestling my way through crowds bad tempered people, and *everyone* seems to be bad tempered in stores this time of year. I feel for my sister, who works at a Walmart. It's going to be hell for her.
We've got plenty to keep us busy anyways, though. Sometime in the next while, we have to figure out when/how we'll be making tourtierre (I don't think we'll be getting the Artisan Mixer we want in time, which means we won't make as much as we normally would), Sw. Mikolaj is coming up, and of course, we have to prepare for Wigilia and Christmas itself. Unfortunately, we haven't done any of the Christmas shopping at all. With the job transition, we won't know what our budget it until he actually gets his next paycheck, since we're not sure what it'll come out to.
Ah, well. We'll figure it out.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
A few days later, Eldest picks up the book and gets...
The Dictionairy of Sacred and Magical Plants.
Turns out it's all about the rituals and such surrounding plants.
Not sure what the librarian thought she was looking for, but this ain't it!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Yesterday, the first of our expected Flat Travelers arrived in the mail. Percy the Penguin from Cheshire in the UK joins our two permanent guest, Flat Prince Mat from Southampton, UK, and Flat Kevin and Jason from Illinois. Percy will be staying with us over the Christmas season.
For those who don't know, flat traveling is when you exchange paper dolls with other families around the world. It's a project inspired by Flat Stanley, written by Jeff Brown. Flat Travelers, however, is almost entirely made up of home schooling families. Also, the paper dolls are all different. Some families print out paper doll templates from websites, others make them entirely from scratch. We've done both. The dolls have contact info written on the back, then they usually get laminated somehow (we just buy the rolls of clear ConTac paper) to protect them. Through the email list, we find families to exchange with, then send them off, sometimes with something the host family can use as a journal. Usually, the exchanges last for a week or so. The dolls would then be sent back with their journal and anything else the host family is able to send. Sometimes, it's just the journal of the visit (which is perfectly all right - the whole point is to learn how people live in different areas of the world), sometimes with postcards, pamphlets, fridge magnets, or anything else they can think of that will be easily mailed, and they can afford to send. We found the weekly visits to be too short, so we started hosting for a month or more, and I would do email journaling as close to daily as I could manage.
We started doing flat travelers quiet a few years ago, but have been on a long break from it. I was starting to wonder if we were going to stop entirely when Eldest asked if we could start up again. She and her sister both made new travelers, even though there are two in the binder I use for record keeping that have never gone out. Eldest even wants to do the journaling herself, too, which is great. I'll still journal, too, but I always do, so nothing changes there. *L*
We finally got the girls' travelers mailed out today, and as I was recording their destinations, as well as our guest's info, in the binder, I began to see just why we stopped exchanging for so long. Looking over the pages, we've got about 14 flatties that have gone missing over the years. Now, some I can understand. The very first flattie we sent out never came back, but the family we exchanged with was an another email list we were on, so I knew from there that they were experiencing some major tragedies. Some were sent back to us, but never arrived. What's discouraging is the number of families I've written to a few times - we're going back to 2002 with some of them - and it's as if they've dropped off the face of the earth. We can understand if the flatties got lost, if there was some sort of family emergancy, etc. Things happen. But when the people refuse to answer, not even to say "oops - we made a mistake" it's disheartening. What's interesting is that I've discovered on the group's account, there's a "recommended families" list - and a family that hasn't returned one of our most traveled of flatties is on it. We've made "passports" for each of our flatties. The host families fill in the "passport," and sometimes include stamps, stickers or drawings on the blank space provided. Some of our flatties have been to rather far-flung places, and it's always harder when those ones go missing.
Still, it's a worthwhile project, and one we've gained a lot from. After all, they're only paper dolls. We can always make more of them.
Here's some of the countries/provinces/states our flatties have gone to over the years, in no particular order.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Here's today's book list.
Latin Dictionary Plus Grammar: Eldest chose this one, as she wants to learn Latin.
Calligraphic Alphabets: I used to do a fair amount of calligraphy, in the days BK (Before Kids). LOL I recently picked up a small calligraphy kit that uses the dip method. Unfortunately, being left handed, it isn't much use to me. Both girls are right handed, though, so they can make use of it. Now, if we can just figure out how to assemble the pen...
Good Fairies: another choice of Eldest's. I think I'll be wanting to go through it, too - looks very interesting.
Maharajas' Jewels: Wow! Talk about ostentasious displays of wealth! The huge (heavy!) coffee table book has the most glorious photos.
The Art of Faberge andThe Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs: We'd borrowed a biography video on Faberge some time ago and found it fascinating. These books (more heavy coffee table books *L*) are a follow up on that.
Beadpoint; Beautiful Stitching on Canvas: I'm an arts and craftsy sort of person. I love embroidery, and really enjoy needleweaving types of beadworky. I think I'm going to really love this book!
Dilbert; When Body Language Goes Bad: I love Dilbert. Dilbert is my hero. LOL Youngest chose this one. She's at the reading stage where these sorts of books are just perfect. Graphic novels and comic books are a great way to inspire and encourage reading.
Calvin and Hobbes; Yukon Ho!: Another choice by Youngest. Calvin and Hobbes is a bit hit with all of us, too.
The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It: Having grown up an a largely self-sufficient farm and having since lived in both city and rural settings, I've come to really appreciate the importance of at least the knowledge of self-sufficiency. Dh and I have long talked about someday living in a completely self-sufficient manner, so we're always on the look out for more information.
How to Survive Anything, Anywhere: On the same note as the above book, I just couldn't resist taking this one out! Just the title made me lol. It's right up my alley! :-D
The Polish Kitchen: I haven't been able to find a copy of a certain Polish cookbook my mother had, but I'm still looking. :-D My parents rarely cooked from a recipe book. My dad worked as a cook in Germany after the war while my mother learned the bulk of her cooking skills - or should I say her bulk cooking skills - from the Grey Nuns while working at a hospital. Still, I grew up with many traditional Polish foods, and I still love them.
The hardest part of a library trip for me is paring down the number of books we take out. I'm terrible for that! We didn't even make it to the audio/visual section. LOL I would happily have taken out another dozen books or so.
I love our local library. I love *having* a local library again. LOL
You see for us, Christmas isn't just one day of commerically injected excess. In fact, for the past few years, our Christmas gift giving budget has been about $200. For all of us. Including stockings.
Like Easter, Christmas for us is a religious holiday. It's also a major cultural holiday, and over the years, we've been blending together our favourite parts of the two cultures my husband and I have grown up in.
For us, Christmas officially starts on Nov. 25, the Feast of St. Catherine. Traditionally, that's the day when Tire (pronounced tear) is made, a molasses based pull toffee. I learned to make it from my MIL. There's a whole long story behind that which I will post another day.
Something I started out many years ago was making new decorations for our tree every year, and I've got a good start on those this year. If we're near family, I make some for their trees as well. Our tree is comprised mostly of home made decorations. I've done this for many years, and I believe I started this because I needed child-safe decorations. At least I don't remember doing it earlier than that. I didn't want to be constantly on the watch for Eldest, a very mobile, almost walking 9 month old at the time, and keep her away from the tree. Unable to find child-safe decorations that actually looked good, I bought some crochet wool in Christmassy colours and made them. I've been keeping it up every since, and the girls each make a new decoration for the tree, too. While I appreciate the beauty of a catalog perfect tree, to me, a tree should reflect the people in the home, and an eclectic tree filled with home made decorations holds far more meaning than the most picture perfect work of art possibly could.
Some time around the end of Nov. or beginning of Dec., we make our Christmas tourierre, using a recipe my MIL developed herself and passed on to me. Before moving out here, the making of the tourtierre had moved completely over from us helping my MIL, to us doing it completely ourselves. We'd make as many as 38 tourtierre, which would be frozen, then passed out among family members and given out as gifts. This year, with only the 4 of us, we don't plan to make as many - if for no other reason than we need a powerful enough mixer with dough hook. When making triple recipes of hot water dough, several times in a row, doing it by hand is out of the question. Last year, we bought a Mixmaster - and it broke half way through the second batch! We only made 10 pies, finishing off the dough by hand, and never want to do that again! LOL
St. Nicholas Day - or more accurately, Swiety Mikolaj - on Dec. 6. is another day prominant on our calendar.
There is, of course, Christmas Day itself, though for us the bulk of events happen on Christmas Eve, with a many coursed meal followed by gift opening at midnight. We leave the stockings for the morning, and Christmas Day itself is more a quiet day of rest.
Our Christmas season finishes on Jan. 6, Three Kings Day. On the 7th, the tree and decorations come down and get put away for another year.
So for the next while, Christmas and our preperations will be prominant on this blog.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Some time between 11 pm on the 6th and 2 am of the 7th, our last triops finally gave it up. While sitting at my desk earlier, I could see her swimming around, but when I stopped to watch her after checking on the kids before going to bed, I found her dead. I was sort of expecting it. Triops are only supposed to live an average of 20 days. She made it to about 34 days.
Because she was so much larger than the others, I wanted to get some good pictures of her, so I fished her out into a styrofoam cup I used when cleaning her tank, along with a bit of water, and stuck her in the freezer. We now have a triops ice cube. LOL One of these days, when it's nice and sunny, we'll thaw her out and I'll try and get some good pics.
My kids think I'm weird. Why would that be, do you think? LOL
Today (or should I say yesterday - it's past 1 am as I type this), we had our weekly get together with another family. Unfortunately, one of the daughters wasn't feeling well and didn't make it. We missed her company. Hopefully, she'll be feeling better soon. At least we remembered to bring her birthday gifts; something to help cheer her up while she's stuck in bed. :-)
After we parted ways with our friends, Eldest, Younger and I wandered around a mall for a bit, stopping at a shop we haven't gone to in far too long. They sell rocks and fossils, many of which the owner collected himself from around the world, as well as items made from rocks and fossils.
Younger and I were looking around for quite a while (I ended up getting a rose quartz pendant for her), so Eldest decided to look at the pictures at the tattoo/body piercing shop next door. She plans to get a tattoo eventually, though she's still too young. My personal restriction is to wait at least until she's finished growing, to avoid the artwork being stretched out of shape during a growth spurt, which I expect she's still got at least one more to come. While she was looking, one of the staff members came to ask if she needed help. By law, a person needs to be at least 16 to get a tattoo here, though in some provinces the age is 18 (unless there's parental permission). Eldest is only 13 1/2. The staff member mistook her for being much older. Oops. I wonder if they ask for ID before they do any bodywork?
Tomorrow, I think we need to take Eldest to a walk in clinic. She's been coomplaining about a pain in her wrist off and on. She now suspects she must've fractured it somehow, and the pain isn't going away. We still don't have a family doctor out here, so a walk in is all we've got to turn to. Thankfully, there's a new one that's opened not too far away, and having had to go there myself already for a prescription, I was really impressed with it.
She'll need an Xray though, and I don't know how that's done in our new province. In other provinces, the service was provided in different ways (except for emergancies, which are always done right at the hospital, if needed). Hopefully, there's won't be much of a delay.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Both of them, of course, complained mightily about "having" to do it. We made them do it anyways. I suppose there are those who would say we aren't really unschoolers because I made them do it, but I'm a parent first, and I know my kids. This is something they wouldn't do on their own, and their dad and I aren't in any position to show them ourselves. It's an opportunity I don't want them to miss.
Eldest ended up finding it fun and youngest... well, she's not saying anything, which most likely means she enjoyed it, too, but doesn't want to admit it. *L*
The only down side is that I'd like for them to practise what they learned today two more times this week - but neither their dad nor I can accompany them. Some people shouldn't run, and that's us. We're simply too beat up and broken. ;-) I'm not quite sure how to work it out. Well, the first day we'll have available for it (besides tomorrow, and two days in a row is not good) won't be until thursday, so we should be able to figure something out by then.
One good thing about coming in so early and having all that empty space at the table was that I had plenty of time to work on a new temari ball. I finished off my fifth one today. I'm really pleased with how they're turning out.
The kids had a blast today, which they usually do. A Twister game had been brought and thoroughly enjoyed by many. It was a birthday celebration for one of their friends, too - I still can't believe we forgot the gift! - which made it extra exciting.
Tomorrow, I'm going to have to remember to get the kids to do their French. We missed last week completely. Meanwhile, I'm hoping to get an early night in for a change. I might actually get to bed before midnight! Oooo.... imagine that.... LOL
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Tonight is my last shift for my job. Although my husband ended up with a local position, his hours run later than before, which would impact which shifts I could take. It's also just a 3 month contract (yeah, they say extensions, but then he was supposed to be on his current contract until the end of March, 2007, too...), so we'll be doing it all over again in a short time. I'm going to miss it a bit, as I did enjoy the work, but I must admit the job was getting in the way. The girls and I will be more free to go out and about, which we are starting to do more often, anyways. We've long had our monday park day with the local hs'ers, now we've got wednesdays with another hs'ing family as a permanent thing. With all the stuff going on, our weekly library trip hasn't been happening. Leaving the job will also take away the biggest impediment to building my own business, as my schedule was never the same, making it difficult to plan anything around it.
Halloween is gone, and the kids had a blast. Both spent the day with friends. I was at work that evening (yes, I dressed up, too) and Dh got the fun job of trying to get done at least some of the dishes and laundry that has been piling up. I'd intended to catch up more today, but that didn't happen. I'm hoping to get some of it done soon, but we'll be out and about a fair amount tomorrow, plus on Saturday, Eldest and I are taking in a seminar. Home schooling is such a misnomer. We're hardly ever home at all!
Youngest and I had started off making a lap book I'd downloaded for free from a site I'd found. It's on spiders, which I felt was appropriate. My daughters had never had problems with spiders - loved them, actually - until we got to know another family closely before moving out here. The mom had a spider phobia, and suddenly Youngest doesn't like spiders. I thought that by doing this project, it might help move her back to finding them the fascinating creatures she once knew them as. We got the lap book about 1/2 done before we had to stop for the night, and haven't been able to get back to it since. Hopefully, things will quite down at least a little bit and we can get back on it.
Among the things we've slacked off on is the French lessons. This week's pretty much a write off, so I'll have to make sure we get back on it next week.
Our lone triops is still thriving. She's mostly being fed shrimp, though I sometimes use the food pellets for a change. The water and tank need a thorough cleaning, but I'm loath to do so. She's thriving right now, and I'm half afraid that if we do, she'll die like Eldest's betta fish did. He survived the trip out here, only to sicken and die right after we changed his water a couple of days after we arrived. Granted, we're using distilled water for this, so it should be fine, but maybe she likes grazing on the stuff growing on the side of her tank? She certainly seems to be digging into it a lot. So far, we're just using the pippette to suck out the big stuff with some of the diry water, then topping up with clean. Maybe we should just leave well enough alone. I'm watching her as I type this, and she really seems to be thriving and enjoying herself.
Well, time for me to get ready for work.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
You can actually see the eggs in the egg sacs at the base of her carapace, too!
By this morning, there was no sign of any of the shrimp pieces I'd dropped in, so I added a few more. She happened to be at the surface when I did so, and WOW is she fast! She snatched a piece so quickly, I couldn't believe it.
I think she's enjoying having the tank all to herself. We're going to have to remember to feed her more often. We still haven't tried the grated carrot yet. Gotta remember to do that.
Friday, October 27, 2006
As of today, we are down to one triops. The largest one of the pair in the living room tank died first. The one in the bedroom tank died just today. The remaining triops in the living room tank had a huge growth spurt after it's tank mate died, and is now about 2 inches long.
This is the first one that died. We're not sure why he died - triops are supposed to have a lifespan of 20 days or so. He seemed to be quite active and normal the night before. As for the one that died today, it's possible we left excess food in her tank for too long. Oh, and in case you're wondering about the gender assignments, two of the triops have what appear to be egg cases and one didn't, so that's what we're going by.
The bedroom tank is going to be washed out, then a new batch of eggs will be started. We'll need to buy more distilled water soon, though. I've been trying to keep their water clean, so we've been going through it rather quickly. There's enough to start a new batch, though.
The kids had a photographic heyday while I was away on the weekend. They got some really good shots. Dh is organising a get together with others interseted in photography, too. The biggest challange is getting to know just what can be done with the camera. There are so many features. Yeah, they come with instruction books, but those tend to make little sense.
I've been working on my Christmas decorations. Every year, I make new ones. If we're living near family, I'll make some for their trees, too. Over the years, I've made felt shapes stuffed with fibre fill, tiny cross stitched "pillows", felt mini stockings, Mexican God's eyes, beaded medallions, etc. This year, I'm a bit more ambitious and making temari balls. Enough people have shown in interest in them that during park days, I'll be showing people how to do them, too. Which is kind of funny, considering I'm making them for the first time myself.
I'm not sure the kids have decided what they want to make for the tree yet. I'd like them to decide fairly soon, so we can get the materials with plenty of time to actually make them.
Halloween plans are also being made. I'm working that night, but Eldest will be having a sleep over with friends, while Younger will be going out trick or treating with other friends. That leaves Dh with an evening to himself. Wow. He hasn't had one of those in a while.
At work, staff is being encouraged to dress up for Halloween, with prizes going to the three best costumers. I'd like to do something, but have no idea what. I'm thinking of something fantasy like, with make up done a la Cirque de Soliel, but have no clue what to do for hair or clothes. I might just skip it entirely. We'll see. Not that I'll have much chance to work on it. I'm working through sunday, monday is booked solid, and then it's Halloween. I've got a short shift tomorrow, though, so maybe we'll have a chance to hit a store somewhere after I'm done and look around for ideas.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Turns out the cab driver was correct. To get the ticket, I'm going to have to go to the international airport. With no car, it's a LOT more expensive to get out there. We didn't make it out today at all.
Dh ended up taking the afternoon off (a whole 'nother story there...). Before heading home, we swung by the library to pick up a book I'd put on hold, then while dh and the kids went for hot chocolate, I stood in line at the bank to get some US travellers checks for my trip.
Once at home, the kid did their French (though we tend toward unschooling, we are requiring them to do French every other weekday using Rosetta Stone), and I ended up heading out again to pick up some supplies.
One of the things we do for Christmas every year is make decorations. I usually make a bunch of something while the girls each make one of their own. This year, I'm making temari balls to hand on the tree. I did have a book on how to make them - it's sitting in a box in another province right now. So I got the local library's only copy today. It's the same book I own. LOL
I'd already wrapped the cores, 3 in black, 3 in red, and they were ready for stitching. Today, I picked up embroidery threads in bright jewel tones and Christmassy colours. I actually got one finished today! The pictures turned our horrible, though - bad lighting - but dh promised to get some goop pictures for me tomorrow, so I should be able to post something here soon. I'm going to have to adjust my original plans of doing pairs of patterns, one on each base colour, though. The size of balls I chose for the cores are much smaller than the patterns are designed for. I had to modify the size a bit, and it didn't quite turn out as it should've, simply from lack of space. Still turned our quite nice, though. Having to use pliers to pull the needle, though, is not something I want to keep up for another 5 of them! LOL So, the rest will be in simpler designs, I think.
I still have not been able to get good pictures of the triops lately. They're simply too active. The ones in the living room are getting to be so huge. The ones in on the girls' desk seem to be really enjoying their new accomodations and have grown quite a bit, too.
Tonight, I get to chop up a shrimp the girls set aside for triops food. Should be interesting to see how they enjoy it.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
What a difference between the triops in the two tanks. The two in the tank on my desk are much larger, and one of those is quite nearly 2 cm in length, with all its features fully visible. I could actually see the difference in its size throughout the day, as it constantly flits in and out of my view. We added the "glow beads" today (little pieces of glow in the dark plastic), but they weren't under the light long enough to make checking them out in the dark worthwhile. Meanwhile, the triops seem to be thoroughly exploring them. Tomorrow, for this tank, the nutrient bag is to be removed and the second one put in. Taking it out is going to be a challange, as the triops have been chewing holes in it, and particles are now loose.
The other kit didn't have a "tea bag" for the nutrients. As you can see in the picture, they were just loose. I'm hoping that, once they've been transferred to the new tank, the smaller triops will start to grow more. We'll also start supplementing their food with tiny pieces of shrimp and/or grated carrot, which is supposed to encourage increased growth.
Besides tending the triops, today was a library day. Last time, we'd only borrowed some movies. Eldest had wanted to borrow some Shakespeare. The only book we could find was a complete works of Shakespeare that was absolutely huge and, as far as I could tell, not actually available for borrowing, but just for reference. Instead, we took out 3 of the plays on DVD, but only got around to viewing one. It was The Taming of the Shrew (which the girls thought was hilarious) put out by the CBC and featuring a very young Colm Feore. How interesting to see the Lord Marshal of The Chronicles of Riddick in the role. Both girls, however, thinks he looks much handsomer now than when he was younger. ;-) Along with the Shakespeare, we'd borrowed a Before the Dinosaurs video from the Walking With... series by the BBC, plus a couple others for pure entertainment.
We had more time to check things out at the library today, so we wandered around a bit. My youngest chose a Lemony Snicket book on tape, along with a couple of Calvin and Hobbes comic books. She loves reading those. I grabbed an Asterix that we somehow managed to miss before (they and the Tin Tins are big hits, but we've read all the copies the library has many times). I tossed in the book Settling In, which is about the different types of housing people lived in as Canada was being settles. It should be interesting to go over with the girls, as the remains of a lot of these early structures still dotted my home province. Actually, I grew up in a house that had the original part made in those early days, and it's still very solid, as is the cabin my grandfather built 100 years ago.
We snagged more movies as well, and watched most of them today. I got My Fair Lady, which they'd never seen and which I hadn't seen for so long, I hardly remembered it. My girls were tickled when the recognised one of the songs from another favourite movie of theirs, The Birdcage. We all agreed, it sounded much better sung by "Agidore" in The Birdcage. LOL
We also picked up another dinosaur movie, this one called Dinosaur Secrets Revealed, from the History Channel. That one was really cool. It was so interesting to learn about all the "mistakes" people have been making about dinosaurs, how and why they made those mistakes, and how we've since learned differently. The thing I think I liked the most about it, though, was hearing one scientist simply say that, when it came to dinosaurs, we don't know. We believe what we do now because of how we can currently interpret what information we have, but unless a live dinosaur suddenly emerges, we'll probably never know exactly what they looked like and how they actually lived. I found that so refreshing compared to hearing so many scientists saying "this is how it is," as if we can ever say that for sure about anything.
Another interesting movie we picked up was a biography of Fabrege. It was fascinating! I'd popped it on as the girls were getting ready for bed, and we all ended up staying up to watch it. The art of Fabrege is just amazing. What we found most suprising to learn, however, was that Fabrege himself never actually made any of his pieces. He planned them, designed them, and ensured they met his exacting standards, but he never physically made a piece himself. Somehow, that never occurred to me. His grandson, however, continues to make Fabrege eggs in the style, though using materials his grandfather never used, and he physically makes them himself. From what we saw on the video, I think his grandfather would be proud. I think we'll be borrowing some books on Fabrege when we're back at the library next week.
I also picked up an instructional video on digital photography. It's somewhat older (though with how quickly the technology improves, I didn't expect any different) and focuses strictly on the basics, which is good. The girls are both enjoying photography, but it's time to learn more about the mechanics of photography if they're going to improve. Mind you, the younger isn't as interested in the photography as much. She's the one that wants to make movies when she grows up, so she's going to have to learn to use the video function until we can afford to get an actual digital camera. It sucks, but it's the best we can do right now.
Eldest also picked up a novel today, which she promptly finished within an hour of getting home. So, she's been working on her drawings some more. She's still working on her pages and characters for her comic book and stories, but today she also went back to some of her earlier permutations, which is something I think is good to do every now and then. Her drawing styles have evolved a great deal, and she moved away from some things that were very enjoyable, just different from where she's at now.
Well, those are the highlights of our day today. Until next time...
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
A very short article, but it confirms something I have believed for many years. A partial quote...
Many parents load their children's schedules with get-smart videos, enrichment activities and lots of classes in a bid to help them excel, and spontaneous, free play often is sacrificed in the shuffle, according to the report.
Children need blocks, dolls, books, physical play and, at all ages, "downtime," says report author Kenneth Ginsburg, a pediatrician of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
"A lot of pediatricians are seeing stress in children with this kind of schedule. It's not true for all kids, but it is a serious problem," Ginsburg says.
I am a firm believer in the importance of free, unscheduled, time - especially periods of relative isolation, where a person can be alone with their own thoughts and feelings. It's something I had when I was growing up, and I greatly appreciate it.
I have nothing against taking part in classes, events or sports at all, and feel that they are valuable contributions to a healthy lifestyle. What concerns me is that there is no balance.
I've noticed so many adults my own age, never mind children, who are incapable of being alone. They simply don't know what to do with themselves because they've never truly experienced it. A side effect of that is that many people don't truly know themselves. They've never had to time to get to know their inner thoughts and feelings, and to understand who they really are.
I took the value of having so much alone time as a child for granted for many years. It wasn't until, as an adult, I found myself with others about my own age who are making "discoveries" about various things that I'd deduced on my own so many years ago as, alone in my thoughts, I explored the bush and fields around our farm.
This free time, to explore, discover and learn, without someone hanging over you, judging you, trying to direct you, is something I want to give my children. I feel this time is more important to their growth as people than any external influence they could have.
Monday, October 09, 2006
We've actually got 2 triops "tanks" going. They came from different kits with slightly different instructions, so we're experimenting to see which works out better. They are also being kept in different rooms for the difference in natural and artificial light, as well as temperatures. The triops themselves have to have their water within certain temperatures, but it takes more to keep it there in one room than another.
The eggs were put in the prepared water on Oct. 3, and as of Oct. 8, the ones in this picture are about a centimetre in length, and have grown noticably just overnight. There's only 2 left in there. It started out with quite a lot more, but triops are cannibals and the larger ones will eat the smaller ones. Gravel from the kit was added to this tank shortly after the picture was taken (a mistake in the instructions - the gravel should've been put in at the start, but since we missed that detail, I waited until they were large enough to add without accidentally crushing one). One of the two triops is incredibly active, and proceeded to thoroughly explore the new additions, including the air bubbles stuck to them. I can see this tank and the triops within as I type this, and they're quite fun to watch.
The other "tank" is actually the bottom of a water bottle (as per instructions). Only a couple of eggs succeeded in hatching, and this morning, I could only see one triop in there. My daughter, who's desk it sits on, tells me there's actually two. The one I could see this morning is quite a lot smaller than the ones in the tank on my desk. After 8 days, that "tank" will be transferred to a 1 gallon tank.
Aside from how interesting triops are in general, there's a definate reason I've encouraged having these kits. As a child, I remember finding triops in one of the ponds on our farm. I had no idea what they were, but the youngest of my brothers and I would catch them and look at them before setting them free again, and I remember them quite clearly. Some 25 years later, a conversation with my sister happened to turn to these creatures, and she remembered them as well. Being 10 years older then me, her memories are more extensive, but the details we recalled of the creatures themselves matched exactly. Neither of us had any idea what they were, and the closest I could come to finding something like it was the horseshoe crab.
A couple of months later, I was exploring a store and found a triops kit. Seeing the photo on the box, I immediately recognized them. I promptly bought the kid and proceeded to do more research on them. How strange is seems that we had these creatures living wild on that pond. None of us recall seeing them anywhere else, nor have we seen them again since that short time period I remember.
So not only are the triops a fun thing to do with my kids, it's a wonderful way to share a part of my childhood with them.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Although I already have another blog, I've decided to dedicate one specifically to journaling our lives as a home based educating family. I'll try to post daily or close to it.
So right off the top, I'll introduce us somewhat. We've got two daughters - Eldest is 13 and Youngest is 10. Dh is a computer programmer while I am the stay at homer, though I currently am working part time as a cashier in a grocery store. We also have a cat, and currently two tanks of newly hatched triops.
Aside from being in Canada, I won't bother to mention where we live - partly for privacy, but also because we've moved so often, it's become rather irrelevant. We've travelled a great deal in this this great country of ours, but have lived in only 3 provinces. Truth is, I know longer know how long we will ever be at any one place. I'd thought our moving days were done, yet here we are in a new province and looking to move again (within the same city, at least) before the new year.
That's it for now, not because I don't have more to write about, but because dh and the girls are currently watching The Italian Job (for the 100th time), and the distraction makes it difficult to write.
Until next time, then...