Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Santa ate his cookies and drank his milk, and the reindeer had their fill of carrots.

The star, the final ornament, went on our Jesse branch.

Our family shared communion and rejoiced for "... she gave birth to her first son" (Luke 2:7), "... Immanuel, which means 'God with us'" (Matthew 1:23).

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Night Before Christmas

Wrote it...

Mailed it...

'Twas the night before Christmas,
   when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
   not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung
   by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon
   would be there...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Warp, Weft, What??

Needle-craft was my worst subject in school. I don't sew, I don't knit, and I certainly don't weave. A seasoned homeschool mom who makes her own clothes and rugs and curtains has kindly spent an afternoon to enlighten us. She taught the kids to use the spinning wheel; she demonstrated how to work the loom; she quizzed us on the different possible materials for yarn: wool from animals, cotton, flax, and hemp from plants. And then there're all these foreign terms like warp, weft, flying shuttle, reed, spindles, bobbins...

Thankfully Serena & I were not completely ignorant on the subject. "The Story Book of Science" by Jean-Henri Fabre sits at our breakfast table and we enjoy reading a chapter here & there. Coincidentally the last few chapters we read were "The Fleece", "Flax and Hemp", and "Cotton" - I couldn't have timed it better. It's always exciting to be able to see the words we read in books come alive!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

O Tannenbaum

The ever green branches, a symbol of everlasting life; its triangular shape, a symbol of the Holy Trinity; its branches and top, pointing toward heaven. At least that's one of the legends about the first Christmas tree: around the 8th century Saint Boniface, a missionary in Germany, told Christian converts to bring evergreen trees into their homes to honour Christ's birth.

We picked ourselves a 6' fraser fir from our favourite tree farm, Serena's very happy place with its irresistable fragrance, hot dogs by the fire, and hot apple cider.

We were hesitant to bring a tree home to two kittens who might view it as a great big toy. We even contemplated (ever so briefly) a plastic tree, or a Lego tree. But our annual trek to the Christmas tree farm and Serena picking out a tree and decorating it has become too precious a family tradition to give up. Thankfully Jack & Jill are behaving (so far), and we sing:

"O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!
Thou hast a wonderous message.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!
Thou hast a wonderous message.
Thou dost proclaim the Saviour's birth,
Goodwill to men and peace on earth.
O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!
Thou hast a wonderous message."

Related Reading:
"Christmas Tree Farm" by Ann Purmell
"O Christmas Tree: Its History and Holiday Traditions" by Jacqueline Farmer

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Gift of Music

It's been 50 years since The Sound of Music made its stage debut in London and New York. Serena has seen the 1965 movie and saw a stage production by Lyric Light Opera two years ago. We had the chance to watch another great production today at the Gateway Theatre.

Before the show, Serena sang some songs herself - she and a group of homeschoolers from SDHL sang Christmas carols and delivered some holiday cheer to the extended care patients at the Ladner Hospital:

Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; 
  let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, 
  for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.
(Isaiah 12:5-6)

Friday, December 9, 2011

George Shannon

We first discovered this great author when we were at the Whistler library. Serena spotted "More True Lies: 18 Tales For You To Judge" and we read through the whole book immediately because Serena couldn't stop. When we returned home, I located similar books by Shannon:

"True Lies: 18 Tales For You To Judge"
"Stories To Solve: Folktales From Around the World"
"More Stories To Solve: 15 Folktales From Around the World"

They're all brain-teasers and anecdotes drawn from different folk traditions. Shannon defines "true lies" as statements that are "technically truthful yet basically a lie". Serena loves the humour and wit and enjoys figuring out all the riddles. She loves them so much that before I knew it she's already finished reading them all on her own...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mele Kalikimaka

This month's Wed Club topic was "Christmas Around the World". Serena's choice? Hawaii. Why?  I don't know.

If you strip away all the commercialization, there's unfortunately not much left of Christmas in Hawaii. We did learn that it was the protestant missionaries from New England who formally introduced Christmas to the Hawaiian people in 1820.  The locals had trouble saying "Merry Christmas", so the missionaries made a phonetic translation - "Mele Kalikimaka".
Serena did a hula dance number with the song "Mele Kalikimaka" by Bing Crosby. We made a Hawaiian coconut pudding called haupia, a popular dessert served at luaus and all sorts of festivities including Christmas.

Mele Kalikimaka!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Serena has been taking weekly taekwondo lessons for 2 years now.  She's worked her way up from Tiny Tigers to white belt to orange belt; now she's working toward her yellow belt.  The Extravaganza on Saturday was her first time at a martial arts exhibition, and her first time breaking a board successfully!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pioneer Holiday Traditions

To kick off this Christmas season, we went to the Delta Museum and Archives to learn how Delta's early pioneers celebrated the holidays. The scavenger hunt took the kids through different rooms in a pioneer home, with particular focus on the parlour where the family would gather to play music, read stories, and perhaps look through a stereoscope.

The kids made pomanders out of mandarin oranges and cloves. Pomanders gave a nice fragrance in a pioneer kitchen, and it was a very special decoration since oranges only came at Christmas time. Serena's favourite part was making hand-dipped beeswax candles. (Wonder if she'd still think it's fun if she had to do it for hours like the pioneer children did...)

Reading the Little House series, doing our own Pioneer Thanksgiving, and the Biography Fair project have taught us so much about pioneer life. This trip to the Delta Museum added more hands-on experience for Serena and confirmed how much we've learnt about pioneers!