Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bridge to Terabithia (plus a few other thoughts)

This book! I read it as a child and it made big impact on me. Now that I have a child the age of the two main characters I couldn't wait to read it with her. E brought it home from school and we read it together. Special moments, snuggled on the couch together reading about two awkward 10-year olds who created a friendship with each other when there was nobody else that would give them the time of day.

Fantasy. Family. Faith. Fears. Failure. And ultimately, Friendship.

When we got to the chapter where Leslie Burke dies, I cried. I was reading it out loud at this point and my daughter was surprised, but I could see that the story was affecting her, too. The day after we finished reading it, E went to a friend's for a sleepover and they watched the movie created from this book. That was part of the plan - we just HAD to finish the book by Thursday night because she was going to the sleepover on Friday night.

On Saturday when I picked E up, I asked her about the movie. She said, "Well, I may have shed a tear!" Be still my heart - she takes after her mama!

Other Literature

I love being able to share literature that I enjoyed as a child or teen with my children. But some of the stories that my boys have been bringing home from Middle School, lately, don't interest me at all. They are the Dystopian genre and I think it is too much for some kids. I have recently told my 14-year old that if he is assigned something that he starts reading and decides it is not something he feels comfortable with, then he doesn't have to read it. Plain and simple, if he can give me a reason, then he does not have to read it. I think parents sometimes forget that we can do this!! My parents did it in school, and I wouldn't hesitate, either. I have put timers on for homework and shut screens off mid-sentence. If the assignment takes too long and your brain doesn't have enough time to rest before bed, then the assignment gets put on hold. Same with books, if it is not good for your brain or your mood, then don't read it.

Philippians 4:8-9

And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.
There are a couple books that I did not read in High School. Oh, I did the assignments and the teachers thought I read them, but I didn't read more than the first 5 or so pages and the last 5 pages because they were too much for me. One was Lord of the Flies. Later, once I became a teacher, I read the book The Giver. I hated it! This year my other son (13) had to read that. I wish I had had the conversation about the book with him before he read it. He could have had the option of reading something else. It really disturbed him and he said he wished he hadn't read it. It upset him while he was reading it and he had trouble sleeping. I didn't put it together until he had finished his book because a lot of the reading had happened at school. There are so many great books out there, that have a good message, in a positive setting, why not expose our young children to these instead.

From Google: Dystopian literature is a genre of fictional writing used to explore social and political structures in 'a dark, nightmare world.' The term dystopia is defined as a society characterized by poverty, squalor or oppression and the theme is most commonly used in science fiction and speculative fiction genres.

I say that there is plenty of time in a child's life for discovering the bad. Why escalate the rise of anxiety in our kids? Why feed them "a dark nightmare world" in literature when that is happening in parts of the world in real life, already. Books have the power to change you for the good, to transport you to a better place, to help you dream and to give you much hope. They have this power, but not all books use this power for good.

My oldest loved the book The Outsiders. He says he likes books that have a bit of suspense in them but that don't have such a far-fetched reality. I am going to explore some other novels for my teen boys to read. I think we are pretty much done with the dystopian phenomenon around here! (at least when it is what the majority of their assigned novels seem to be lately... and I realize that this is the curriculum, and often the teachers' hands are tied... but mine aren't!!).

Edit: Since posting this I have had the opportunity to have some discussions with other parents and teachers. Discussion is good! I have learned that this genre being introduced in MS is fairly new, and that it is typically a HS genre. I think that fits more and there is value in reading many different genres, but the kids have to be ready. From a parent's experience, kids' brains are not ready for this abstract thinking at 13 years old.  My boys (and I think they are pretty typical) are still mainly concrete thinkers at this age. This is not a put down to any teacher, it is a post about MY opinions and observations and I am talking about a specific genre and when it is appropriate for MY kids to read it. Each parent needs to do what is right for their own child. 

I would LOVE to know some suggestions from other parents of teen boys of good books for them to read.

Here's a link to try: Good Reads - Books for Teens

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Granny and Grumpa

On our way home from camping last weekend we found a little surprise jewel along the road. An antique collection to match none other. A stop in your travels (or even make a special trip just for them) at Granny and Grumpa's is definitely worth your time. I suggest you give yourself at least 2 hours if you bring your kids, and more hours if you go without kids.

Here are some of the treasures we saw at Granny and Grumpa's. Don't worry - I have given only a small fraction of it away. There are HOURS of things to see.

So much history represented in these old wagons. Who did they carry, did they get into a gun fight, did they ever carry royalty... someone else's reality is now a piece in a museum.

A giant Potato Head. My class would sure love this!

Pianos everywhere!!

The kids loved these mall rides. They didn't even need to put in a quarter!!

Clever boy!!

An old float from the parade. Steve taught Scott how to hitchhike for this picture. I hope he never puts it into practice!

So... Much... Stuff!!!

And MORE stuff...

I think I could lose this boy there because there were so many fascinating corners full of interesting things to distract him! It is like the VV  Boutique, MCC, BFM and Storage Wars all rolled into one amazing treasure hunt!

As we drove up the driveway Elise said she had seen this on Canadian Pickers when she was watching TV with Papa. Sure enough, there was a sign that said they had been on that show.

Scott bought a rip stick there... so not all the treasures are old!!

Elise wanted this... I said no. But she had fun on it while we were there!

This is identical to the lunch pail I had growing up. I loved it because it was like a quilt. I even included it on a page in My Important Book that we wrote in grade 1.

Found some relatives, too!

You just never know what kind of treasure you will find around the next corner!

And just when we thought we had seen everything, Scott said there was another building. Wow! What a collection. Scott said that this little stop made his whole trip. He liked it way better than camping. I think it filled his love tank because he has the makings of a hoarder, too... or should I say collector!! haha!

Fun for everyone!

The most special moment came when Grumpa was wandering through a building and I asked him if his bells were for sale. He said some were. So I showed him this bell and I said I would like to buy it for my classroom. He said, ok, you can have that one. I asked how much. He said, I SAID you can have it! Thank you, Grumpa! You made my day :) My class is going to love it!

There you have it... I hope to go back to visit Granny and Grumpa again soon!! They have new treasures arriving every day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Camping. The Good, the bad and the ugly!

Our youngest wanted to go away for a night before school goes back in. She had this idea that summer, at least part of it, should be spent away from our perfectly good and comfortable beds. We thought of renting a cabin somewhere, or going away for a night in a hotel. But she chose camping. Fun. Most of it was, but some of it was a bit painful. Most of it was fun.

Here are a few pictures from our one night away this past weekend.

Three of us fit in this "5-person" tent. Steve said it was more like a one-man tent!

Campfires are always fun. I have heard that there will be a campfire ban imposed this coming weekend, so I suppose we got away just in time. I grew up on a farm where we burned a lot of stuff! and then when Steve and I got married we had 10 acres, so bonfires and campfires have always been appealing to me. Steve and Scott scored on this free wood that was being given away on a job site. We didn't use it all so we gave the leftovers to our camping neighbours.

This stump was a highlight of our campsite for the kids!

The boys slept in  the back of the van.

Todd and I were the only ones that brought books along. Next time the others will, too. But we were hardly there long enough to find time to read.

Elise and I explored a little bit. The kids went off a couple times on their own, too. That was a new experience for us at a campground - to let the kids explore alone. (within the boundaries of the park, and always sticking together, but still... a new feeling!)

We had a blow up boat... felt like it almost gave us permission to use the boat launch area! We swam down shore from there, but this was the closest path from our campsite.

My little fish. She balked at the life jacket, but I didn't want to have to do a rescue mission.

We were in shadows for the most part, but if we swam out just beyond where we could touch then it was beautiful sunshine!

I bought this tent at Costco long before Steve and I were even a thing. Took it to the back country a couple times, and it has been down the West coast to California. Steve and I stayed in it when we went to the Calgary Stampede in 2002. We did more camping before kids... funny how that goes! But the last time it saw daylight was a few years ago when we went camping with friends at Duffy Lake. It still works great! Good investment for 100 bucks!

Picnics and campfire food...

Roasting potatoes and carrots from my garden.

By starlight. Evenings by the fire are one of my favourite things.

Breakfast of champions made over the open flame.

My sweet girl at breakfast.

How many years have we passed by this ice cream place in Cultus Lake... well, not this time. Stopped and got double scoops on waffle cones on our way home. Yum!

On our way home we came across another great surprise... but that post will have to wait until another day.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Apple Pie

I have lost track of what day of summer we are on. But I have basically a full week left, and then I will start home visits with my new Kindergarten kids. The kids have 3 1/2 weeks left before school starts for them. We have been working hard on our house, cleaning carpets, swapping rooms around, sorting through S.T.U.F.F... So much stuff! But it is good to get that done. Once everything is tickety-boo I will do a post about our house.

Today my boys and I baked some pies. Elise was at a friend's house and she actually came home with some yummy brownies that the 2 of them (and her friend's mom!) baked. Delicious. When I left to get Elise, my pies were in the oven and thankfully the boys remembered to take them out when the timer went or else we would have a scene like in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" when the cakes for the Ladies Aid function caught on fire and the fire department was called. So glad that didn't happen!

First, the boys washed up a bunch of apples from my parents' tree. We got a big box from them when we were over on the island. Scott helped pick them. Earlier this week Todd helped me peel and cut some to make apple sauce and apple crisps for the freezer.

Todd is the expert peeler :)

Love this corer that came with the apple peeler.

Then, I pulled out my old scrapbook from the year 2000 for my Auntie Judy's crust recipe. Next year I will have rhubarb to make some delicious rhubarb pies, but this year my rhubarb is still too young since I just planted it this year and the best thing for rhubarb is to wait a year before harvesting it off.

I got Scott to mix this recipe together for the perfect pie crust!

Happy boy (this was not the first photo attempt... he was not feeling super photogenic today, so I had to say something to make him laugh and do a few takes!) And my go-to spices are Epicure's Apple Pie spice, and then sometimes some Cinnamon and Poudre Douce. All of these jars are almost done so I will add some more on with my next order. Epicure has changed the shape of its jars and now they are round instead of hexagon.

And, here you go...

A friend of mine posted a pie she made a few weeks ago with a sweet little heart on it. I thought that was cute so I added one, too!