Monday, October 27, 2008

There are libraries and then there are libraries

Where we live, there are libraries running under two separate library systems (i.e. no trading books back and forth). The big library downtown is under a different system from the library that's closer to us--the point being, we don't get to use that system as much because it's hard for us to get down there.

But when we do...we fully appreciate how much this library has held on to that other libraries either never had, or have discarded. (Even WITH the big booksales every year.) After the library sale yesterday, we went upstairs to the children's room and borrowed some of the books that we don't usually get to read.

The library closer to us has All of a Kind Family. The downtown library has all the sequels.

The library closer to us has The Moffats, Rufus M., and I think Ginger Pye (we just finished reading our own copy of that). (We're on an Eleanor Estes kick right now.) The downtown library has The Middle Moffat, The Moffat Museum, and Pinky Pye.

The downtown library has Rumer Godden's Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, and the sequel.

And so on.

How they've managed to hang onto all of this stuff, AND find room for The Tiara Club books (I'm not joking--I didn't even know there were such things), I don't know. But I'm grateful.

Library Sale

The big downtown library had its annual sale this weekend, and we brought home a box and a bagful of books, about forty in all. Some were Crayons' choices, some were mine, and a few The Apprentice picked out. Some we've read before, and some just looked interesting.

A Story of the Group of Seven (Hunkin--about a well-known group of Canadian artists)
Cornelius Krieghoff (Hugues de Jouvancourt) (one of our term's artists)
Adventures of Richard Wagner (Opal Wheeler)
Young Brahms (Sybil Deucher--same series as the Wheeler music bios)
Elisabeth & the Water Troll (Wangerin)
Meet the Malones (Weber)
Beany Malone (Weber)
The Glass Slipper (Eleanor Farjeon--her version of Cinderella)
Go With the Poem (Lillian Moore)
The Unbroken Web (Richard Adams)
The Cuckoo Clock (Mary Stolz)
The Story of Holly and Ivy (Christmas story by Rumer Godden; we already have a copy of this, but this edition has illustrations by Barbara Cooney)
The Coat-Hanger Christmas Tree (Eleanor Estes)
'Round the Christmas Tree (Corrin)
The Alley (Eleanor Estes)
Doctor on an Elephant (Kroll)
Diamond in the Window (Langton)
Harry's Mad (Dick King-Smith--about a parrot)
Ben and Me

Backyard Vacation: Outdoor Fun
Mountain Bluebird (Hirschi)
Thanksgiving Fun
An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving (Alcott)
Cat's Cradles, Owl's Eyes
Crystals and Crystal Gardens
Sugar Free Kids' Cookery
Make Clothes Fun!
Miss Patch's Learn to Sew Book
Dancing Is (Ancona)
Ballet Company
Have Fun with Magnifying
The Past of Pastimes (Bartlett)
World of Swans
Music for Very Little People
Winners! Super Champions of Ice Hockey (don't ask)
Not Much News: Ruby's Letters from Home (Edna Staebler)
These High Green Hills (Jan Karon)

Plans for this week's school (Grade Two)

This week's list of school work looks long but most of the lessons are very short--there's a lot of review going on right now. We're starting the last third of the term and there are some new things coming up--but I need to make sure we're finished with what we've been doing so far.

It may not look like we're reading that many different real books this week, either--actually we are, we just made a library trip and also went to a book sale (I'll post about that later), so there's other reading going on--it's just not all during school time.


Bible: 1 Samuel 14 & 15 (begin these chapters)
Hymn: Trust & Obey
Spelling: Create new list on Spelling City
Mr. Popper's Penguins, Chapter 4
Math: learn 2-dimensional geometric shapes (including rhombus etc.)
Memory work: work on Matthew 2:1-12
Singing: When I First Came to This Land; Leatherwing Bat
French: parts of a jack-o-lantern face, Alouette
Review parts of a Canadian dollar (some old flashcards we have)
An Island Story: Henry Plantagenet
Short nature study
40 Fun Ways (a list of physical activities--I'll post about this later)
Work with me on sewing nightgown


Bible: Matthew 12 (half)
Manners: phone manners, some Bible verses on manners
Printing book
Spelling practice
Canada Eh to Zed (alphabet book): I page
Review geometric shapes
The Little Duke
David Thompson geography workbook pages 34-37 (about salmon)
Telling time
Work on crocheting while I work on slippers
Map skills (in Miquon workbook)
Among the Forest People
40 Fun ways


Bible: finish Old Testament lesson from Monday
Manners: continue same as Tuesday
Memory work
Artist: finish Cornelius Krieghoff
Short keyboard lesson
Review geometric shpaes
Pilgrim's Progress
Fairy tales


Bible culture book: houses, women, children, family life
George Washington's book of manners (e-book)
Printing book
Short language lesson about words that sound almost the same
Composer: Stravinsky
Keyboard lesson
Review geometric shpaes
The Little Duke
Number Stories (e-book; we may not get to this)
Prime numbers, telling time
40 Fun Ways


Matthew 12 (finish)
Reformation Day Hymn: A Mighty Fortress
Uncommon Courtesy for Kids: review
Spelling test
Memory work
Review geometric shapes, parts of a dollar
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Prime numbers and begin Miquon review worksheets
Map skills
Child's History of the World: Knights and Chivalry
Nature study
40 Fun Ways
Get ready for some family time planned for this evening (make snacks)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yes, it's worth the trouble (memory work)

Crayons has memorized the 23rd Psalm this fall (she enjoyed watching the video of that cute little girl saying it) and most of Christina Rossetti's "Caterpillar, brown and furry." (For some reason she does better with Scripture than with poetry.) I've also started her working on Matthew 2:1-12 (the story of the Wise Men).

The poem "Indian Summer" that I posted here came to mind because my children's Sunday School teacher used it as part of a children's moment in church, and mentioned that she had memorized it (more years ago than she preferred to say) during elementary school.

And in this beautiful post, Queen Shenaynay reflects on what her lifetime accumulation of poetry and Scriptures has meant to her, especially over the past couple of years.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When there are no fairy godmothers

Someone at church loaned me a copy of Maeve Binchy's novel Whitethorn Woods. I'm only partway into it so I don't know how the rest of the book will be, but the first couple of chapters were worth a book in themselves. (Some adult situations, so not for young maidens below a certain age.)

The framework of the novel seems to be a contemporary (read poorly-attended?) Irish church, a curate, and a place called St. Ann's well which tourists and locals treat as a kind of wailing wall. The curate doesn't care much for this but can't seem to fight it. At the end of the introduction, he sends his own thoughts to St. Ann, asking that he would be able to "hear" what people are asking for at the well, so that he can help them better. Then the book picks up that thread and moves into pairs of short stories about the people of the town.

Twice within the introduction and the first set of stories there are characters who make the most of what they have, no matter what they have. To begin with, we have a pair of immigrants who thrive on doing what nobody else wants to do:

By the time he got back to the priests’ house, Josef, the Latvian caregiver, had arrived and got Canon Cassidy up, washed and dressed him and made his bed....Canon Cassidy liked soup for his lunch and sometimes Josef took him to a café but mainly he took the frail little figure back to his own house, where his wife, Anna, would produce a bowl of something homemade; and in return the canon would teach her more words and phrases in English....Josef had three other jobs: he cleaned Skunk Slattery’s shop, he took the towels from Fabian’s hairdressers to the Fresh as a Daisy Launderette and washed them there and three times a week he took a bus out to the Nolans’ place and helped Neddy Nolan look after his father.

Anna had many jobs too: she cleaned the brass on the doors of the bank, and on some of the office buildings that had big important-looking notices outside; she worked in the hotel kitchens at breakfast time doing the washing up; she opened the flowers that came from the market to the florists and put them in big buckets of water. Josef and Anna were astounded by the wealth and opportunities they’d found in Ireland. A couple could save a fortune here.
Josef and Anna have plans to open their own shop in a few years, and you have no doubt that they will do it.

The second example is the above-mentioned Neddy Nolan, who describes himself as "not the sharpest knife in the drawer." Someone online compared him to Forrest Gump; I think he's also like the Simple Jack, youngest-brother character in many fairy tales--the one who shares his loaf of bread and usually gets rewarded for it. He's honest and somewhat naïve, particularly when it comes to understanding that not everyone else is as honest and well-intentioned as he is--especially his older brother who tries to take advantage of him and ends up losing. There are no fairy godmothers in this story, and Neddy has to make his own luck, with the same kind of creativity and determination that got Forrest Gump his own shrimp boat.
"And cause I was a gazillionaire, and I liked doin it so much, I cut that grass for free."--Forrest Gump
When Neddy moves to the city and unintentionally exposes some kind of pilfering scam on the construction site where his brother has gotten him work, he is told to stay back at the flat from now on and "clean up or something." Taking his brother at his word, he goes out and swaps some cleanup work and painting for a box of paint and cleaning supplies, then comes back and starts fixing up the apartment for Older Brother and their roommates. He even manages to scrounge them a television. The guys agree that if he'll just stay away from their job site (I guess to keep him from exposing any more of their scams), they'll pay him a salary to "manage things." And this goes on for years--they spend, drink, and scam, but Neddy socks his money away and takes care of them all, makes friends all over the place, helps people out, and never seems to feel he's being taken advantage of.

Neddy's first payback comes when his old father can't take care of their house any more and needs a caregiver. The solution is simple: Neddy moves back to their hometown and buys the house, to the astonishment and fury of his always-broke brother (who eventually ends up in jail).

And unlike Forrest Gump, he ends up with a woman who, although she has her own issues, doesn't want to run away and be a folk singer; in fact, she wants to teach, and she's happy to let Neddy keep doing what he likes to do: taking care of stuff. He even manages to take care of his fiancee when she's being blackmailed--now that's real chivalry. She and he both agree that sharp knives can sometimes be too scary--the world needs more Neddys and fewer Older Brothers.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sounds too good not to pass on (Pumpkin Pie Dip)

A Year of Crockpotting posted this Pumpkin Pie Dip recipe--perfect if you have one of the Little Dipper mini-crockpots, and it's gluten-free too (depending on what you dip, of course).

I do have a mini-crock. I bought it at a yard sale awhile back but haven't used it, and I've been watching Steph's ongoing dip recipes and thinking I'd like to try some of them. This one might be fun for Thanksgiving weekend (yes, that's this weekend in Canada).

UPDATE: I made my own version this afternoon, and it's good too!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Crayons' Grade Two plans for this week

Still a bit sketchy, but this is the basic plan.


Bible: 1 Sam. 10: Samuel anoints Saul as ruler
Math, printing, spelling
A Pioneer Thanksgiving
Poems 225 and 226 from Come Hither
Composer: Mark O'Connor, Strings & Threads Suite
Canada Eh to Zed: F page (Fleur-de-lis, fiddlehead, [Terry] Fox, Fogo)
Owls in the Family (2 chapters)


Bible: half of Matthew 8 (Jesus heals a man, Jesus heals a Roman Officer's Servant, Jesus heals many people)
A Pioneer Thanksgiving; weaving a doll-sized basket
Math, printing, French, music, spelling, language page (word meanings)
An Island Story: William Rufus
Through the Year (nature reader), pages 20-23
Pilgrim's Progress, four pages
Nature notebook


French songs
Bible culture
A Pioneer Thanksgiving; play "Peach Stones" (Iroquois game)
Math, printing, French, music, spelling, language page (word meanings)
Among the Forest People: "The Bees and the Kingbird"
Poems of James Whitcomb Riley
Picture study: Cornelius Krieghoff, using a coffee-table book from the library
Cooking: read about pioneer breadmaking, make rolls


Bible: 1 Sam. 10: Saul is acclaimed as king
A Pioneer Thanksgiving
Understood Betsy
Math, printing, French, music, spelling
Night Prowlers, pages 41-45 (wildlife you might see at dawn)
Geography activity book: pages 24-27
Fall art projects


Bible: finish Matthew 8 (Jesus Calms a Storm, Jesus heals two men with demons)
A Pioneer Thanksgiving
The Old Nurse's Stocking Basket
Math, printing, French, music, spelling quiz
Poems from Peacock Pie, pages 13-15
Sewing (working on nightgown with Mom)
Go look to see if any chestnuts (conkers) are hard yet

Friday, October 03, 2008

New use for gravity boots

In Pilgrim's Progress, Christian visits The Interpreter's House, where he sees several strange things that are analogies for the Christian faith. One of the things he sees is a fire in a fireplace, with someone (said to be Satan) continually pouring water on it, yet the fire doesn't go out. It's revealed that there's someone (said to be Christ) standing on the reverse side of the fireplace, pouring oil on the fire to keep it going.

Crayons drew a picture of The Interpreter's House on the narration scroll she's making for the book. In the room with the fireplace, you see someone pouring the bucket of water, and another guy hanging upside down from the ceiling. When I asked her about it, that's what she said: he's wearing special boots so he can walk on the ceiling and pour oil on the fire.

John Bunyan might have enjoyed that idea.

I'll keep it in mind

Crayons' narration of the Sermon on the Mount:

"Watch out for false prophets wearing sheep costumes."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Crayons' Grade Two: Thursday and Friday plans

At first glance these might look like unusually long lists (for us, anyway). And they are...each one has about three hours' worth of things to do. I don't know if we'll get through everything.

But I really am trying to stick to the weekly schedules I made, and this is what needs to be finished to keep us on track this week. We're on the fifth week of school, and the plan really does seem to be working out--we're getting through most of what's planned for each week plus sometimes a little more. (Getting used to homeschooling just one has taken some adjustment!)


Bible--Matthew, on fasting
Pilgrim's Progress, four pages, draw narration on scroll
Math lesson
Poems from Peacock Pie, pages 6-10
Singing and music: Pumpkin Pie song, Canada songs, keyboard exercises
A Pioneer Story: Christmas chapter (I know it's out of season, I can't help that)
Printing page "C"
French lesson
Among the Forest People
Word puzzles book, puzzle on page 56
Work on weaving or choose an activity from A Pioneer Story
Read Rufus M. (our just-for-fun book)
Drawing--work on round things
Tea time


Bible--Matthew--on judging
Geography: work on David Thompson activity book and read the E page from Canada Eh to Zed
Math lesson
Poems from the James Whitcomb Riley book (special for fall)
Singing: Leatherwing Bat, other songs, keyboard exercises
A Pioneer Story: New Year's chapter (end of the book)
Printing page "D"
French lesson
Nature reading: Night Prowlers, pages about spiders (other spider books on hand to look at)
Scrabble spelling
Weaving or Pioneer activity
Read Rufus M.
Drawing challenge: Apples
Tea time