Sunday, December 19, 2010

December giveaway at

Head on over and check it out!  A Blogging 101 course is the December giveaway on, one of my favorite places to visit online.

Merriest of winters holidays to you all.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Book Sharing Monday - some favorite Christmas reads

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, by L. Frank Baum.  The author of The Wizard of Oz has written a fantastical story about a baby raised by wood-nymphs and elves in the Forest of Burzee--that baby eventually grows up to be the jolly man in red.  We have two versions, one with Baum's original text and one with the tale somewhat abbreviated and lushly illustrated by Charles Santore.  Both are worth reading.  The text is available as a free Kindle book at Amazon and in many different electronic formats at Project Gutenberg.

One that I've bought but haven't brought out yet (it's going "in" tomorrow's advent calendar, not that it will actually fit!) is Richard Scarry's Best Christmas Book Ever!  My two youngest are big Richard Scarry fans, and have enjoyed Watch Your Step, Mr. Rabbit! to Cars and Trucks and Things that Go and many others.  Jazz was a big fan when he was younger, too, and can still be caught hanging around when a Richard Scarry book is being read aloud.
And finally, a book that I haven't yet bought but am sorely tempted to include when ordering Christmas presents is Fletcher and the Snowflake Christmas, by Julia Rawlinson.  Fletcher and the Falling Leaves is an all-time favorite autumn book in our house, and this latest tale of a little fox and his experiences with the seasons looks equally charming.

Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Canadian Home Learning.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Favorite Holiday Music No. 15 - Irving Berlin

Still waiting for our snow to arrive.

For those of you who, like me, can't get enough holiday music, Amazon is giving out free mp3s of one holiday song per day until Christmas.  Yesterday's (Dec. 2--there are a couple of hours left for those of you that are west of here) was by the Indigo Girls.  For some reason December 1st's freebie is still available, though I've never heard of the band (though that's not saying a lot, as I mostly listen to Sting and classical music).

Friday, November 26, 2010

Poetry Friday: Mary Oliver, again

White Eyes
by Mary Oliver

In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees
             where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
    shoves and pushes
         among the branches.
             Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
    but he's restless—
         he has an idea,
             and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
    as long as he stays awake.
         But his big, round music, after all,
             is too breathy to last.

Read the rest here.

Poetry Friday is being hosted today at Check It Out.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Sharing Monday - Too Many Turkeys

As big fans of Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White and Megan Lloyd, we were thrilled to learn that the same author/illustrator pair had a new book out in time for Thanksgiving!  Too Many Turkeys is just as captivating a story, and one of my children declared she liked it even more than Too Many Pumpkins.

Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Canadian Home Learning.  Stop by to see some great selections from children's books, or post about a book that caught your eye and join the fun!

Friday, November 19, 2010

My weekend looks like this--

--dress rehearsal for this:

then rush home for a birthday party for my baby who will be SIX, and then back out the next day for the actual concert.

The music is the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610, an amazing piece of choral music that I am so jazzed to have had the opportunity to sing.  Above is one of my favorite movements of the lengthy work, and below is one of my other favorites.  Sung here by the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists under the baton of Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Book Sharing Monday - Where's the Dragon?

Where's the Dragon? by Jason Hook and illustrated by Richard Hook

J.J. picked this one up at one of the (four) libraries we visit.  A charming book with the added challenge of finding all of the hidden dragons at the end, this title will delight young squires of both genders.  My almost-six-year-old and nine-year-old were both enthralled from start to finish while reading, and then from finish while dragon "hunting"!

Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Canadian Home Learning.  Stop by and see what's caught the eye of discriminating families worldwide!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween fun

It's dark and dreary here today, and we're taking it easy as one of the kiddos is under-the-weather.  Some of the holiday-related things we've got on hand for the week are coming out today:

One book I forgot to mention in my Book Sharing Monday post--another great title from Barefoot Books: Tales of Mystery and Magic (book and audio cd), retold and narrated by Hugh Lupton and illustrated by Agnese Baruzzi.  We're listening to this one as I type.

Classics for Kids October shows from years past (and this year, though this last podcast has another episode to be released before it is complete).   Mussorgsky (2008)Grieg (2009), and Stravinsky (2010) are the featured composers.

Halloween Shrinky Dinks: my younger two love these!  This set comes with a halloween tree from which to hang the shrunken ornaments, once finished.  

Spooky Doodles: great for the artistically inhibited, or kids that just wanna have fun.  The black pages require metallic gel pens or other such drawing implements.

Spooky Classics for Children, as told by Jim Weiss, which includes abbreviated versions of Oscar Wilde's "The Canterville Ghost," Hawthorne's "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment," and Kipling's "The Sending of Dana Da."  We are big fans of this storyteller.

I'm also tempted by this unabridged version of "The Canterville Ghost," narrated by Rupert Degas, which is also available on iTunes.

And then there are also the movie versions of the tale!  I grew up watching the 1944 version starring Robert Young (Father Knows Best, Marcus Welby) and Margaret O'Brien, but have also enjoyed both the 1986 movie featuring Sir John Gielgud and Alyssa Milano and the 1995 made-for-tv version with Patrick Stewart.  Neither of these latter two versions appears to be available in DVD or streaming format, but there is a 1985 version that is bargain priced at Amazon and might be worth checking out.

Because I can't let go of homeschooling completely, even on a "sick" day, I put together a few pages of copywork (for this year and next) with a spooky theme.  Charles Dickens predominates, but Conan Doyle and Poe make appearances, too, as does childhood favorite L.M. Montgomery.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Sharing Monday - Halloween books!

Here are some spooky and not-so-spooky titles that are either new or new to us.  We're enjoying them this week as we count down to that orange-and-blackest of all holidays.

Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth.  The author of Zen Ties and Zen Shorts has a charming Halloween story to share.

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Rick Allen.  While not strictly speaking a Halloween book, this title appealed to us because of another by Sidman that we've enjoyed--Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow--a great spring read!

Gobbolino The Witch's Cat, written by Ursula Moray Williams and illustrated by Paul Howard.  This shortish chapter book was a read-aloud at the homeschooling co-op we used to attend a few years ago, but two of my three were not present to hear the story at the time, so we're giving it a go here at home this week.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury.  Unbeknownst to me, this haunted space-time adventure has also been made into a movie, which doesn't appear to be available on DVD (though Amazon sells the VHS for $12 or so), but it is available on YouTube (in parts).  As with any video recommendations, I highly suggest parental pre-watching to determine appropriateness for your own kiddos!  

Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Canadian Home Learning.  Happy reading!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Five questions, in which I play a round of tag.

Alex at Canadian Home Learning tagged me, let's see now, three weeks ago!  Yikes.  Evidently there is a black hole in my house that is sucking all the time into it.  Not to mention socks.  And my sanity.  If only The Doctor was here to save me.

Anyhoo, the game goes something like this--another blogger tags you with a number of questions to answer.  You write up a post answering them and tag another set of bloggers to answer a new set of questions you've made up.  Both Alex and Barb (Harmony Art Mom) used five questions, so I'm going to go ahead and see if I can come up with that number, as well.

Here are Alex's questions (centered around the theme of "favorites"), and my answers--

1. I have been looking for some simple but interesting halloween crafts/decorations, what is your favourite one to do with your children? please include a link if you have one. 
It's a good thing I didn't wait too much longer to answer!  Hmm.  I'm not the most crafty of people and have been wanting to try the shrunken apple heads my friend Lynne did a year or so ago, but if we're talking Halloween crafts the kids and I have actually done together, I'd guess I'd say salt dough ghosts like these.
2. What is your favourite way to spend a rainy day with your children?
Cozying up on the sofa, reading (aloud or separately) and watching movies.   If I can tie in an enjoyable movie to something we're studying, that's nearing perfection for me.

3. What is your favourite fall food? 
Apples, apples, and apples.  Apple pie, apple crisp, apple-carrot-ginger juice, mulled cider, or just plain, raw, in-their-own-skin apples.  Though that pumpkin spice latte at the corner coffee shop is awfully tasty, too.  I'm working on creating my own non-dairy version at home, but without success as of yet.
4. What is your current favourite read aloud book?
That's a tough one.  We did just finish up The Phantom Tollbooth, narrated by David Hyde Pierce, and it was excellent.  If I had to pick one that *I* enjoyed reading aloud the most, I think it would be Charlotte's Web.  Our current read-aloud is The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson, but we're not far into it enough to know whether or not it will be a favorite.

5. Last one just for Mom..what is your favourite novel? 
That's an easy one.  Pride and Prejudice wins, every time.  And it was even my favorite before Colin Firth was Mr. Darcy.

Now on to the most difficult part of the assignment game: coming up with my own questions!

1. What book from your childhood do you remember the most, and why?
2. What type of music do you enjoy the most?  Please include examples!
3. What subject do you find most challenging (to teach or to learn)?
4. What is your favorite hot drink?  Bonus points for including the recipe!
5. About what new book, movie, or tv series do you want to let others know?

And now for the tagees, in reverse alphabetical order, as that is how my brain is working these days:

Suji at Funschooling
Sheila at Greenridge Chronicles 
Renee at Days with My Daughter
Lynne at 3-Ring-Binder
Cori at Wonder in the Woods

Have fun!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Sharing Monday - books from Australia and New Zealand

We're spending an extra week on Australia and New Zealand in our study of the Eastern Hemisphere, as that area is of high interest to the kids, and there are so many resources that we wanted to get through but haven't yet.  Here are some of the books we are using either to substitute in or supplement Sonlight Core 5.

Storm Boy, by Colin Thiele.  Becky over at Farm School recommended this title to me, and we are using it as a read-aloud instead of Island of the Blue Dolphins, which we'd already read.

Stories from the Billabong, by James Vance Marshall and Francis Firebrace.  Interesting artwork and a paragraph of corresponding information accompanies ten Aboriginal plant and animal tales.

"Koala" from Magical Tales from Many Lands, retold by Margaret Mayo and illustrated by Jane Ray.  Other countries represented in this title include China, Russia, India, Peru, France, the Caribbean, Scotland,  South Africa, Japan, and more.

Are We There Yet? A Journey around Australia, by Alison Lester.  A picture book my younger two are enjoying, with a look at many different places around the smallest continent.

Whale Rider, by Witi Ihimaera.  Jazz is having a bit of trouble "getting into" this book (its lyrical style is not his cup of tea), but I know we'll watch the movie (again) this week, anyway.  He's also reading The Boy Who Spoke Dog, by Clay Morgan, which he seems to be enjoying.

Whale's Canoe, a Folk Tale from Australia, retold and illustrated by Joanna Troughton.  An amusing story about a bunch of animals that want to get to a land across the sea.

"The Dreamtime," an Aboriginal creation myth in The Illustrated Book of Myths, retold by Neil Philip and illustrated by Nilesh Mistry.  A DK book with tales from many of the countries we'll be studying this year.

Land of the Long White Cloud: Maori Myths, Tales, and Legends, retold by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and illustrated by Michael Foreman.

River Song, by Belinda Hollyer.  JaneG. is following up Sonlight's reader, Red Sand Blue Sky, with this story of a girl who lives with her Nana in a Maori village until her mother convinces her to move to the city for a time.

Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Canadian Home Learning.  Come share a title or two that you've enjoyed!