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.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Not quite what she's looking for...

When we were last at the library, Eldest was trying to find books on one of her current great interests, herbology. Unable to find much beyond gardening books, she asked a librarian. After searching for a while, the librarian recommended a book and put an order in, since it wasn't at our branch.

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


You know, since I left the job, things have been busier than ever. We just haven't been home all that much, lately, and when we are home, I'm usually too occupied with other things to sit down and write. I'm going to have to work on that.

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.

British Columbia
New York
New Hampshire
New England
South Korea
South Carolina
Nova Scotia
South Dakota
New Zealand
West Virginia
New Hampshire
Rhode Island

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Library Day

I try to get to the library about once a week, but we've missed the last few. I really ought to put a weight limit on library books. LOL

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

That time of year...

Once Remembrance Day has come and gone, my thoughts turn to what is a major season of activity in our household.


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

no more triops

Oct. 3-Nov.6/7, 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

Park day

Today was park day. Every monday we meet with a large number of other home schooling families at a local park for the afternoon. It was an earlier one for us, as a friend is teaching her kids to run and was gracious enough to let my kids join in.

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

slacking off

I don' t know what's with me today - I think perhaps the last couple of weeks are finally catching up to me. We've been going almost non-stop since I came back from my trip. The apartment is a disaster, and I'm just so tired! I was reading the girls' Shel Silverstein book of poems (hilarious - I love the humour he wrote with) and could barely keep my eyes open. I fell asleep on the couch. Dh was home from work today, having called in sick. At this point in the game, he really doesn't care much - tomorrow is his last day in this position. Monday, he starts the new position. We're still shaking our heads over which job he ended up taking, and the fact that it's on the same floor as where he's working now. This after expecting him to live in another town for 5 months.

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.