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.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Does this make me a bad parent?

Eldest has been reading the parenting books, and we've been laughing our heads off. Does that make me a bad parent? *snort* They seem totally unconnected with our lives!

Earlier today, she read out a list of open ended questions from Raising a G-Rated Family in an X-rated World to determine how well you know your child. The idea is for the parent to answer the questions as the parent thinks the child would answer, while the child answers the questions for his/her self. Eldest read them out loud for all of us to enjoy. I was answering for Eldest, but Youngest added her own answers, too, mostly as I'm writing this.

1. My favorite tv show is:
Me: uhm... (we don't get tv. If we want to watch any, we go to the public lounge)... CSI?
Edlest: uhm... NCIS?
Youngest: CSI

2. What I like best about myself is:
Me to Eldest (laughing): your bodacious butt!
Eldest: I don't think they mean physical.
Me: oh, sorry...
Eldest: vivid imagination and curvaceous body
Me: laughs
Youngest: imagination

3. My favorite thing to eat for dinner is:
Me: Nothing (meaning she doesn't like to eat at all, as it's something we butt heads over)
Eldest (sheepishly grinning): uhm... nothing (see above)
Youngest: cheese pizza

4. My favorite color is:
Me: dark neutrals
Eldest: dark green, brown, black, some blues
Me: like I said, dark neutrals
Youngest: dark reds, blues and purples

5. Other kids think I am:
Me and Youngest in unison: Weird!
Eldest: hey!
Me: well?
Eldest: weird and creepy
Youngest: weird and chaotic neutral
(side note: at our hs group's park days, Eldest had some of the littlest kids come up to her and ask her if she was a witch, a vampire and, most recently, a fortune teller!)

6. My favorite song is:
Me: Lost Christmas Eve... and a whole bunch more
Eldest: Listen to my cd...
Youngest: several...

7. What I like best about my mother is:
Me: uhm...
Eldest: your undying exuberance to strangers and a saintly tolerance of stupid people.
Me: laughing out loud
Youngest: she's nice and cute.
Me: laughing harder

8. My best school subject is:
Me: anything that ends with "ology"
Eldest: Latin and herbology (she narrowed it down to only two)
Youngest: art

9. My favorite video game is:
Me: uhm... (Eldest doesn't usually play video games)
Eldest: uhm... Diablo II?
Me: close enough
Youngest: Invisible Wars (she plays more video games, but still not that often)

10. When I have to work around the house, I:
Me: uhm...
Eldest: uhm... I'm neutral; I don't mind work around the house...
Youngest: I don't like getting my hands slimy.

11. What I like best about my father is:
Me: starts laughing again
Eldest: his sense of humor is so much fun during movies!
Youngest: he's a big, cute, fluffy teddy bear.

12. I like my teacher when:
Me: teacher?
Eldest: when she shuts up
Me: What teacher?
Eldest: Me!
Me: oh, right... you sometimes tend to babble
Eldest: starts babbling to explain why she answered the way she did, then goes, see what I mean?
Youngest: she's so cute and fluffy (hugs the cat)

13. My favorite movie is:
Me: uhm... (thinking, does she even have a favorite?)
Eldest: military movies and spy movies, but not any one in particular
Youngest: V for Vendetta and many others (she's the movie nut)

14. I think my bedtime should be:
Me: what bedtime?
Eldest: 9:30
Me: What???
Eldest: bedtime is not the same as sleep time... I like to bed earlier, despite the fact that my sleep time is about 1 or 1:30, but you guys are loud.
Youngest: whenever I drop!

15. When I have free time, I like to:
Me: draw, paint, write, study...
Eldest: study and draw
Youngest: drawing and thinking

16. When I grow up, I want to:
Me: never really answered that, as we got to talking, instead. She is already a comic book artist, and that's what she wants to do.
Eldest: to be better at what I do than I am now.
Youngest: movie director!

17. I like people who:
Me: don't prejudge you.
Eldest: don't mind discussing philosophy
Youngest: *don't* discuss philosophy - especially in the middle of the night!

18. What I would like to change about me is:
Me: couldn't think of anything to answer
Eldest: I talk too much
Youngest: my height
Me: you're only 10 years old - you're going to get taller!
Youngest: smiles broadly

19. I do not like people who:
Me: uhm...
Eldest: uhm...
Youngest: uhm...

20. If I had lots of money, I would:
Me: World Domination! (it's an inside joke - on one of her Christmas wish lists, she'd written "World Domination Starter Pack with Inflatable Minions (available from Microsoft). LOL)
Eldest: bury it under a shed
Me: laughing
Youngest: I'd buy many pretty, shiny, streamlined cars!

There were a whole bunch of other things she had commented on that we found funny, simply because they are such non-issues.

Eldest: "Hey, Mom... Do I suffer from peer pressure and abuse?"
Me: "oh, yes!" laughing (peer pressure? WHAT peer pressure?)

What really got me was when the author described their Family Day as an example (not to mention the build up for it). Somehow, the idea of sitting around praying, meditating, singing and role playing just had us giggling. I can't even imagine how the author did it with a family of nine. It just seems so... artificial.

We're quite enjoying these books... ;-)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Today's library list

This time, we learned from experience; we all brought our own book bags. *L* The bus ride out wasn't as pleasant as it could've been - we got hit up by a panhandler again. The guy got on the bus, sat across from me and immediately asked me for some change. Then asked my kids (!!!), then started going from person to person, asking for change. I was pretty glad to look up and find the next stop was ours. Then, as we were walking, we got hit for change again. It would've been more often, but the other panhandlers were busy going after other people when we went by. It's getting to the point we can barely turn around without being hit up for change by somebody. :-P

We didn't quite return all our books - Eldest is hanging on to her Latin dictionary, which will probably be renewed before it has to be returned next week. I kept a couple of books, too, but everything else was lugged back.

Today, Eldest chose:

Essential Manners for Men: She tells me she looked through quite a few etiquette books for women, but they were all "how to be the perfect housekeeper" and "how to be the perfect wife" type stuff, so she chose a book aimed at men, instead. *L*
Raising a G-Rated Family in an X Rated World and The Unhappy Child; What Every Parent Needs to Know: apparently she wanted to see how other people raise their kids, since we do things so differently. LOL Nothing like being an "alternative lifestyle" family.
The Day After Tomorrow: we just finished watching this DVD, having never seen the movie before. We tend to avoid propaganda movies in general, but this is one we were curious about. I loved it! One of the funniest movies we've seen in a long time. The makers obviously knew little to nothing about how to live in cold weather! Seriously - these people are supposed to be trying to survive these insta-freeze temperatures, and they're walking around with exposed skin. Anyone who's lived in the prairies for even a single winter knows better. I won't even go into the other hilarious faux pas. We were all making snappy come-backs throughout the entire movie. Still, it was a good movie. The effects were good (silly, but good), and the story line was all right. The expected preaching wasn't as bad as we thought it would be, too.

Youngest chose:

Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons: a Calvin and Hobbes classic!
Far Side Gallery 2: Gary Larson is such a genius!

My choices:

Yeah, I overdid it again. *L*
Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy: two Little House on the Prairie books that I'm hoping the kids will show some interest in. I recently picked up a copy of Little House on the Prairie, having never read any of the series before. I used to watch the show regularly with my family growing up. It's interesting to read from the perspective of a child, and is a good stepping point for discussions.
Complete Earth Medicine Handbook: My interest in herbology goes back to when I first read Clan of the Cave Bear. As I read about the herbal medicines used by the main character, I was curious about how accurate the book was and started looking up stuff myself. That interest grew as I found that modern pharmaceuticals just didn't work the way they should on me, if they worked at all. I continue to find it a fascinating field.
Medieval Celebrations; How to Plan Holidays, Weddings, and Feasts with Recipes, Customs, Costumes, Decorations, Songs, Dances and Games: Another long titled book! *L* Medieval history is another long time interest of mine, with the day to day lives or ordinary people being my focus. I'm also looking for ideas for our next Medieval Days with our hs group. :-)
Chocolate; The Nature of Indulgence: Another book tracing the history of chocolate. I love chocolate. :-)
The Complete Pebble Mosaic Handbook: I have another book by this same author (sitting in a box in Manitoba, along with the rest of my library). I just love the look of pebble mosaics. When the time comes for us to build our own home, pebble mosaics are something I want to feature. The book I own is more of a how-to than this one. It does start with basic instructions on how to make pebble mosaics, but most of it seems to trace existing mosaics, both modern and historical.
The Complete Book of Spices; A practical guide to spices and aromatic seeds: I tend to use herbs quite a lot in my cooking, but I'm not as familiar - or daring - when it comes to spices. I like this one, as it includes how to blend different spice mixes, recipes to use them in, plus other ways to use spices.
Polish Holiday Cookery: a good selection of recipes, both familiar to me and completely new. The layout of the recipes is quite unique, with ingredients, quantities and instructions together in paragraphs, rather than the ingredients listed separately. Another cook book that is interesting reading, as well as full of recipes.
Don't Diet: one of very few books out there that point out the myths and fallacies that fuel the weight loss industry.
Jewels of the Nizams: a "catalog" of beautifully pictured pieces of Indian jewelry.

And finally, a couple more DVD's
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: a Miyazaki film we've never seen before. We're already big fans of Miyazaki's work.
Quest for Adventure; Discovering Our World's Mysteries: a 3 disc set with a total of 10 episodes, including Curse of the Mayan Temple, Vanishing Africa and The First Flight Over the North Pole. I think it'll take us a few days to go through this one. :-)

After we'd loaded ourselves down with books, the girls and I went out for a treat, heading to a cafe across the street for some hot chocolate and pastries. Good time of day to do it, too - the place was practically empty. It was nice to just sit, relax and chat with the girls. We're going to have to do that more often.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The book list

Today, we finally made it to the library. We haven't been since before Christmas - and it shows! Within half an hour, we made ourselves leave, having already overloaded ourselves. At least this time, I brought our backpack. They didn't quite all fit, but most did. Just out of curiosity, I weighed it when we got home. It was 25 pounds. *L*

So, this is today's book list. Eldest chose:

Costume and Fashion; A Concise History: ranging from ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian dress to 2001.
Fashion, Costume, and Culture; Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations and Footwear through the Ages Volumes 3 (European Culture from the Renaissance to the Modern Era), 4 (Modern World Part I, 1900 to 1945) & 5 (Modern World Part II, 1946 to 2003): These ones look a lot like text books.
Deadly Beautiful; The World's Most Poisonous Animals and Plants; Nature's killers and poisoners in all their glorious, but dangerous, beauty: What a long name for that one! A useful book, considering how common many of these are. Nice to know if you've got a poisonous plant growing in your garden or house.
Poisons; From Hemlock to Botox and the Killer Bean of Calabar: Eldest's interest lie in the area of botanical toxicology. Finding the information she's after seems to always be in books about poison. That could be taken the wrong way... [shiftily glancing over my shoulder... ;-) ]
Harper Collins Latin Concise Dictionary: a different one than she got before. Seems a bit more concise.
How to Draw and Sell Comics; 3rd Edition: A very practical, nuts and bolts kind of book, sprinkled with history and great examples of comic book art.

Youngest chose: 4 Calvin and Hobbes compendiums. *L* She had actually found some car books she'd planned to take out, but after sitting for a while and going through them, they turned out to not be what she was after. It's been harder to find the car books she likes in the library. The bookstores have them, but they're quite out of budget right now. :-P
My list:
Matsuri: Festival; Japanese American Celebrations and Activities: I'd actually been looking for Chinese New Year books, but didn't find anything but general books. This one, however, caught my attention instead.
Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts; Dining in Victorian America: The first section is more a history book, followed by typical menus and finally recipes from the period.
Artisanal Cooking; A Chef Shares his Passion for Handcrafting Great Meals at Home: What caught my attention with this book was that it had instructions to make flavored salts, compound butters, flavored oils, etc. That, and each of the main recipes are prefaced with a story of some sort. I love cookbooks that read almost like novels!
The Afternoon Tea Book and Having Tea; Recipes and Table Settings: *sigh* I do miss taking tea at the Crystal Gardens in Victoria! Since that's not possible anymore, I indulge in books about taking tea. *L*
The Canadian Housewife; An Affectionate History: This looks to be a fascinating glimpse into the everyday lives of women over the past 300 or so years. Most history books follow major events in the formation of countries - battles, political intrigue, exploration, trade, etc. These were more frequently the domain of men, written by men, and from a man's perspective. My personal interest lies in how people lived their ordinary lives; their food, clothing, living conditions, and so on. Not the sort of thing you'd find in a typical history book more interested in names and dates. Inevitably, I've been finding what I'm looking for in books that cover the history of women.

Ah, joy! Now to get some hot chocolate and curl up with some good reading!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


It's been far too long since I last posted, so this is just a catch up of the home-schooly stuff we've been doing. ;-)

We've just sent off the last of the flat travelers we've had as guests over Christmas. It's been interesting and fun, though I must admit to a slight disappointment. We were actually supposed to get one more flat guest over Christmas. The girls had both made new Flat Travelers (FT) for this exchange, as we haven't done it in a while. The family we sent Youngest's FT to never acknowledged if it got there - and we never got theirs. I hate it when that happens, and it's happened too often. It's part of why we take part in exchanges only sporadically. We've exchanged many FT all over the world and have made some wonderful friends in the process. Every now and then, though, they disappear. At least this one was a new flattie. It's a lot harder when it's a well traveled FT, with many countries stamped in its passport, that suddenly disappears. The whole thing is based on the honour system. You assume that if you exchange with someone, they'll send your FT back. It's always a disappointment when they don't, and the families don't get back to you. I understand that things happen - envelopes go missing in the mail, FTs get lost or misplaced, and life just takes over. The very first FT we ever sent out never came back, and I really don't care - that family had gone through yet another miscarriage and quite frankly, a little paper doll just doesn't rate on the priority list, y'know? I can understand that. It's when you just don't know, and they don't answer your emails or anything - or worse, they do answer, but are really rude about it, and still don't send the FT back (thankfully, that hasn't happened to me, but I know of others it's happened to). Still, it's a valuable and fun project, and we will continue. Just not as actively as when we first started doing it.

So what else have we been doing?

Eldest has finished a whole bunch of pages for her comic. She's still needing to find workable space she can use for her online comic, but now feels she has enough pages that she can actually get things going. Youngest has been drawing a lot, too, and there's a noticeable improvement in her skill level.

They've been doing a fair amount of stuff on their own - especially Eldest. Her interests are far ranging, and she enjoys studying. The process of studying itself is a big part of what she likes, and it's interesting to hear her tell us some of the things she's found. About the most I do with that is occasionally send her links to sites I think might interest her. I still get somewhat antsy, if you will, about unschooling, even though logically I know it's the best way to do things with them. It's hard to trust, when you can't always see anything tangible to show that they're learning. Particularly with being a product of the public school system to begin with. Then we start talking about something, or they show me things they've been working on, and I see they've somehow managed to go well beyond where I would've expected, without my seeing when or how they did it.

We still have our weekly get togethers with a large group of hs'ers, plus another weekly get together with another hs'ing family. I've also been incorporating a lot of my business training into their "curriculum." I have a lot of cd's we listen to, but there's also a book of the month club, plus dvd's and the like. They teach all the stuff I wish I'd learned far earlier in my life! How can you go wrong learning from people like the Kiyosaki's and Maxwell's of the world? I figure this way, the girls will have a huge head start when they get to the point that they're on their own, compared to when I did it. :-D

So things have been going well, I'd say.