Thursday, April 28, 2011

Philippians 2:5-11

Pastel... With Instruction

The day after we broke open the box of pastels, Serena started her art class with Mr. Tony at the Richmond Arts Centre. Her first project? Pastel with watercolour!

The kids were introduced to the works of Austrian painter and architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser. He favoured the abstract, the decorative, vibrant colours, spirals, and organic forms.

When I saw Serena's painting at the end of her class, I really appreciate the value of a good art teacher!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


We inherited a beautiful box of pastels and drawing papers from friends who've recently moved here from Europe. Serena fell in love with the soft pigments and started creating, one picture after another, and another, and another, and another...

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!

Holy week came to a glorious climax. We hung our last ornament on our passion tree. Our fresh cut tulips from our garden, as if on cue, all blossomed on this resurrection day. Appropriately Serena and I finished our BSF study of Isaiah on Easter Sunday -

"As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the Lord, "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the Lord. (Isaiah 66:22-23)

We broke bread and shared communion together at Capella House on Good Friday, commemorating Jesus' body broken and his blood shed for us. We made Easter egg ornaments on Silent Saturday, representing new life to come. We celebrated our housemate Brenda's baptism on Easter Sunday service, witnessing the transforming work of the risen King.

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him" -
1 Corinthians 2:9

He is alive!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beach Explorer

"It's the BEST field trip EVER! It's SPLENDORRIFIC!! Can you sign me up again??"

I have to agree with Serena that our YNC field trip yesterday was the best yet. Run by the Stanley Park Ecology Society, kids become "Beach Explorers" exploring the living wonders of tidepools. We were blessed with a fantastic display of beach ecology with an abundance of creatures strewn all over the seashores for the kids to discover. Check out what we found!

The kids were given magnifying glasses so they could examine all sorts of barnacles and sea shells patterns up close:

Maree, our guide, said it was extraordinary that we found 3 different kinds of sea stars including a Bat Star in the same day:

We learned about "holdfast", the root-like tangles that the seaweed uses to anchor onto rocks, and "floats", the bubble air pockets that help the seaweed float so the leaves can get some sun!

The kids paired up to build a "crabitat", then searched under rocks for little crabs to put in the crabitat to see how they scurry and hide. We learned to tell boy crabs from girl crabs - boy crabs have a lighthouse shape on the bottom. Serena & I stumbled upon a large shore crab who was upside down. We flipped it back right side up but the crab was very... crabby! It tried to pinch us and started blowing bubbles - Maree said it's a sign that it's MAD!

Serena was thrilled to be the only person who found an isopod (the little green crustacean) and a red ribbon worm. Other kids found a turkish towel seaweed and a small sea urchin. To top it off, a great blue heron stopped by to say hello!

It was indeed a "splendorrific" day!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Call me old school - I think cursive writing is a good skill to cultivate. I remember having separate "Penmanship" classes in primary school in Hong Kong. I don't remember if I liked those classes, but I'm surely thankful to have decent handwriting! I enjoy writing and journaling in cursive. It is an art form in a way; I like the fluidity, the flair, the loops and circles. Some people say that cursive writing is obsolete in our computerized world. I don't think computer fonts can ever replace the uniqueness and beauty of each person's handwriting. It'd be a shame if our children never learned the joy and pleasure of writing "organically".

(What I'm really trying to say is: this mother is NOT going to have a child with terrible handwriting...)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Whipping Boy

A Book Review
By Serena Ippel

The Whipping Boy is about a naughty prince named Prince Horace, nicknamed "Prince Brat", and his whipping boy named Jemmy. A whipping boy is someone who gets whipped when the Prince is naughty because you're not allowed to spank or whip a prince. The story is about their adventure involving two thieves named Hold-Your-Nose Billy and Cutwater, a potato man named Captain Nips, a dancing bear named Petunia and her owner Betsy.

Prince Brat wanted to run away because he was not happy at the castle. He forced Jemmy to come with him. They were chased by Hold-Your-Nose Billy and Cutwater. Jemmy tried to trick them by saying that he was the prince and the prince was the whipping boy. They finally escaped and went back to the castle.

Prince Brat has changed throughout this adventure. He was very naughty and selfish at first. Then he became more obedient and thankful. His whipping boy Jemmy did not like Prince Brat at first. Eventually he started to make friends with him. They learned to be helpful with each other and trust each other. At the end the King talked to them and said, "If you run away again, take me with you!"

I like this book because it is fun and exciting. My favourite part of the book is when Hold-Your-Nose Billy and Cutwater got bitten all over by rats in the sewer!


Bobette is taking up temporary residence with us while her owner is away for a couple of weeks. I will let you decide how well Bobette and Serena are getting along...

By Serena Ippel

Bobette is brown like chocolate,
Black like licorice,
And gold like ginger.

Bobette eats like a mouse,
Sleeps like a dog,
And jumps like a caracal.

Bobette is soft like a blanket,
Cute like a bunny,
and thin like a pencil.

Bobette is as wonderful as can be!

Mommy's note:
Upon inquiry, I discovered that "A caracal is a cat that leaps and eats wild falcons. I learned it from the Wild Kratts." Just in case you share my ignorance.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Thank you Teacher Pippa for the reminder to post our learning regularly!

Our "school work" lately has been leaning toward science. We had fun learning all about food chains & food webs and figuring out who gets eaten by who. Serena did all the fact sheets below based on the Bill Nye videos on insects, amphibians, and reptiles. She loves doing the quiz at the end of each video, especially when she gets them all correct! We've also discovered National Geographic Kids - they have great video clips on the different animal groups we've been studying. Serena definitely enjoys the more interactive way of digital learning. Her current favourite science show and online games? Wild Kratts on PBS!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Burns Bog

Praise God for a beautiful sunny day as we ventured out to Burns Bog for a field trip. Rain would make this already muddy exploration really messy! Highlights from our day of adventure:

We saw a beaver den (our guide said there's a family in there), an old fox den, and an old bear den:

We checked out different plants - salmonberry, salal, skunk cabbages (also called swamp lanterns), collected some labrador tea, squeezed water out of sphagnum moss (the natives used them as bandages and diapers!), and learned about the bug-eating sundews:

We listened to the story of the sunken tractor (it was stolen in 1979 and driven into the bog by a thief who clearly needed a lesson on wetlands), and saw pictures of a well pickled 500-year old bog mummy found in Finland:

Burns Bog like all bogs is low in nutrients, it is great for trapping carbon, it has peat soil that is highly flammable, and the bog water is very acidic. We also found out that Burns Bog is 10 times bigger than Stanley Park - WOW!

The best part? Watching the kids (not mine of course...) sinking and losing their boots in the mud!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recipe for Joy

Take a fresh crisp spring day...

Sprinkle with children...

Add water...

Mix in plenty of sand...

And savour the joy...

And don't think about not having a change of clothes or the inevitable sand dune in the car or the wet car seat or the mountain of laundry or the sandy grimy bathtub or...

For now we simply savour the joy as Heaven smiles upon us!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Trail to the Tree

Thank you to Ann Voskamp for her Easter devotional guide, Trail to the Tree. With eagerness, we collected a bunch of fallen twigs and branches around our neighbourhood and readied our Easter Passion Tree. We take a step on the Trail each day, reading Scripture together, praying, and hanging up classic art ornament as we journey toward Easter.

I suggested giving up something for the Lenten season to Serena, just for 2 days as a start for her. Without skipping a beat, she replied with pure unfiltered childish honesty: "I know! I know! I won't play with my Barbies for 2 days. Because that's eeeeeasy!" (She has indeed lost interest in her Barbies lately.) I shall let you imagine my exasperated response and the lecture on the meaning of sacrifice that followed.

But then I thought, isn't that exactly why we need and celebrate Easter? Did she not just succinctly illustrate the condition of our heart as a result of the Fall? Did she not unabashedly reveal our need for a Saviour, our need to be passed over, to be rescued?

"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:6

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy 125th!

Vancouver is 125 years old today! We were blessed with gorgeous weather for the big celebration in downtown Vancouver. We took in all the festivities and performances, sang "O Canada" with the Bach Choir, cheered with the crowd when the mayor lit up the big birthday candle (the Olympic cauldron), and we even managed to get a piece of birthday cake without getting completely squashed by the sea of people who swamped the tents when they heard "FREE CAKE"!

Monday, April 4, 2011


Thank you to Ann Voskamp for her 7 Gifts: Good & Perfect Booklet in her inspirational blog, A Holy Experience.

"Mommy, you said there'll be no tears in heaven. What about happy tears?"

I am thankful for this little girl who teaches me how to cry freely and laugh heartily.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18