Wednesday, November 30, 2011


We watched a show on basilisk - what funny creature!  Serena and I went on Popplet for the first time and made this little flow chart. She got hooked and went on making a popplet for cheetah all on her own. (She loves cheetahs and got all sorts of facts in her little head already.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


'Tis the season of Advent (from the Latin word adventus, meaning "arrival" or "coming").

We painted our Jesse tree stump with a shoot coming up.  Each day we come to read His word that points toward the Branch, and we hang an ornament on that fruit-bearing Branch.

The Lord Jesus Christ is coming.  Are you ready?

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Saw Ma Lau"

With my family in Asia and Keith's family in Ontario, Serena loves it whenever there's a relative in town to call her own.  Her flight attendant aunt paid us a surprise visit when she flew in for work.  Serena had a blast spending a day and a half with her Yee-Yee who, without my consent, taught her niece all sorts of silly phrases in Chinese.

You'll have to ask Serena yourself what "saw ma lau" means.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Punctuation Fun

Panda eats shoots and leaves.
Panda eats, shoots and leaves.

The student, said the teacher, is crazy.
The student said the teacher is crazy.
Girl's like spaghetti.
Girls like spaghetti.

Those smelly things are my brother's.
Those smelly things are my brothers.
Twenty-odd ducks.
Twenty odd ducks.

Our ancient-history teacher went to Egypt.
Our ancient history teacher went to Egypt.

Serena loves the humour of Lynnne Truss' books and the hilarious results of placing that little comma, apostrophe, or hyphen in the wrong spot. This is no comprehensive grammar guide, but what a fun way to introduce the concept of punctuation and the important job of one little squiggle.  For our more "serious" school work, Serena hunts for errors and edits sentences in "Editor In Chief Beginning - Grammar Disasters and Punctuation Faux Pas" by The Critical Thinking Co.

Related Reading:
"Greedy Apostrophe: A Cautionary Tale" by Jan Carr
"Punctuation Celebration" by Elsa Knight Bruno

Monday, November 21, 2011

Laura Ingalls Wilder

It took no time for Serena to decide who she was going to pick for her Biography Fair project this year. We're currently on the 8th book in the Little House series, The Happy Golden Years. We feel like we know Laura so well that it's tricky to narrow down all our ideas.  Mapping her family's frequent move was fun since we were curious ourselves as to where and how far they had traveled over the years. Serena enjoyed putting the family tree together, tracing Laura and Almanzo's families back to their grandparents. Coming up with trivia questions was also entertaining - Serena amazingly recalls every detail of every book no matter how hard I tried to stump her.

The Biography Fair hosted annually by the South Delta Home Learners (SDHL) was held this past Saturday. There were about 50 homeschoolers participating with some fascinating biographies. We spent time wandering from project to project, reading different bios, checking out creative display ideas, leaving comments, and hunting answers to the Detective Questions related to the bios. About half the kids went on stage and made presentations, including Serena in her Laura Ingalls Wilder persona being interviewed by the inquisitive Times Magazine reporter Keith. It was all great fun and great learning!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Penderwicks

We love this book by Jeanne Birdsall! Serena & I devoured it as we are still waiting for the next Little House book from the library.

After we got to the very satisfying end of the story today, Serena said, "You know what The Penderwicks reminds me of? Little Women."  Lo and behold, this is what the author said about her inspiration: "I also borrow from other books, especially the ones I loved best when I was young. The idea of four sisters came from Little Women." Serena never fails to amaze me.

Who are the Penderwicks, Serena?
Father, Rosalind, Skye, Jane, Batty, and Hound.

Which character is your favourite?
Skye!  Because she is sarcastic and always arguing.  I also like Mr. Penderwick when he speaks Latin, so funny!

Which sister is most like yourself?
Jane.  Because she has brown eyes and brown hair, and she has a good imagination and she loves books.

If you had met any of the Penderwick sisters, do you think you would have become fast friends?
Yes!  Hound, Batty, and Jane would probably be my first friends.  Then Skye and Rosalind because they're older.

What do you think will happen to Jeffrey?
I think he's going to become a famous musician, and he will stay in touch with the Penderwick sisters.  I think Skye is his best friend even though she conked his head in the beginning!

What do you think of Mrs. Tifton?
She is a disgraceful mother!  She is very rude, boastful, and doesn't listen to what you want to say.

Would you like to explore Arundel?
Yes, yes, yes!  The garden, the big house, the secret passage, the cottage, the passage through Batty's closet, everything!

Which scene in the book is most memorable to you?
I like the end of the story when after Jeffrey said he'll visit the Penderwicks in Cameron, Skye said, "Just remember, if you don't, I'll kill you"!  Skye is so sarcastic.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Britannia Mine Museum

On our way home from Whistler, we stopped to check out the Britannia Mine Museum just south of Squamish.  Britannia was once the largest copper mine in the British Empire, producing more than 50 million tons of ore during its operation from 1904 to 1974.  There are over 210 km of tunnel around Britiannia.  We rode a mine train into a historical tunnel to see where and how miners worked back in the day...

"Man Car" 

Up to 12 men would cramp in a man car and travel up to 45 minutes to get to work.  It also served as the lunch room if the work location was very wet.
"Mucking Machine"

Muck was rock that was blasted free. This machine could move 16 to 20 tons of rock an hour.  Before it came to Britannia in the early 1920's, two miners could move the same amount of muck using "muck sticks", i.e. shovels, in a 12-hour shift.
"Widow Maker"

This super heavy Wood Drill was the first drill to run on compressed air.  It made an aweful noise that caused miners to go deaf, and the rock dust it produced could scar the lungs and lead to silicosis, a fatal disease.  Hence the apt nickname.
"Honey Wagon"

How would you like to roll this lovely wagon to every miner twice during each 8-hour shift? No doors, no toilet paper. Well, at least it was dark in the mine. A surely quick way to get the new workers assigned to the job to meet everyone and figure out the mine layout!
After we emerged from the tunnel, we were taken to the 20-storey high historical Mill No.3. A big bucket called "the Skip" rode like an elevator up and down carrying supplies & equipments. The Skip had no brakes so workers were not allowed to ride it, leaving them to take the stairs - all 375 steps from bottom to top.
Our tour guide gave us an introduction to the "concentrating" process of separating minerals from the waste rock or "tailings". This pioneering system was developed at Britannia and gave a very high metal recovery rate.
Serena's favourite part of the tour - Gold Panning! "Scoop it, shake it, dip it, and fill it".  Serena took home a few bits of souvenirs which made the trip all the more memorable!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Whistler, B.C.

Thanks to Serena's godparents, we spent this past week vacationing in Whistler!

Apart from lounging around in our beautiful cabin and hot-tubbing in the snow, we also spent time playing in the tree house in the village, reading at the fancy new Whistler library, and swimming at Meadow Park Sports Centre.

The Whistler Museum in the village is a treasure trove.  We learned about the pioneer history of Alta Lake, the prominence of Rainbow Lodge as a fishing resort before the development of Whistler into a ski resort in the 1960s, the natural history and habitat of Whistler, and of course, Whistler's journey to the Olympic Games. There're lots of fun trivia to discover throughout the museum - you may already know that Whistler is named after the hoary marmot, but do you know what animal Blackcomb is named after?

[Answer: the black rooster]