For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Moving On, and see what else has been going on.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hungry girl!

Last night, I dropped a bit of finely chopped cooked shrimp into the tank of our loan triops. What a hungry girl she turned out to be! She immediately swam up and grabbed a chunk, then spent quite a bit of time swimming upside down at the surface, allowing me to take some pictures. Only one turned out well, though.

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

I'm back

I've been away on a trip, and our days have been really full in the last while, so I'm a touch behind on posting.

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

Another day...

Today was a bit of an exercise in frustration. One of our errands for the day was to get to a custom's office to get a ticket for my digital camera. I'm heading into the US next weekend, and I don't want any border hassles. Well, according to the government website, plus a phone call dh made for me, I should've been able to do it at the smaller, closer airport. The kids and were going to cab it, but when I told the driver where we were doing, he told me there was no custom's office there, as it's just an industrial airport. ??? So, we instead went to my husband's office, as he was on lunch break and could look it up for me.

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

Library day, and triops update

The triops are now a week old and, for the Eldest's pair, tomorrow they will be transferred to their new "tank" - a 1 gallon pickle jar. LOL Here, the new tank is set up and the temperature strip has been transfered over to make sure it's ready by morning (which, as you can see, it already is).

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


Good, old fashioned play just what American children need.

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.

One of the things that bothers me so much about families today is how little free time people have, and how deliberately people keep it that way. In particular, I am rather alarmed by how busy children are at ever younger ages. Their days are filled with organized hours, either in daycares, preschools or school, then when they get home, there's even more sheduled events. Parents, in their well meaning desire to give their kids every advantage they can, instead create unnecessary stress both for themselves and for their children.

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


Last night, I tried to get some pictures of our triops. Rather difficult, considering how active they are. That and focusing the camera on something that's in water is a bit of a challenge. This picture shows one of them reflected agains the side of the tank.

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


Greetings and Salutations!

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...