Monday, June 23, 2014

Have You Met Them?

Shakespeare Moths
Today I met two Shakespeare Moths
Who spoke with lots of thy's and doth's
And dressed in swaths of purple cloths
Their names were Eliza and Jonathan Joths.

Blue Nuthatch
Today I met a Blue Nuthatch
That wore a frilly little hat to match
Whose house was built of twine and thatch
And yet had nothing to attach.

Housewife Hawk
Today I met a Housewife Hawk
Who wore a lacey purple smock
And though the other hawks did mock
She dusted clock upon teetering clock
And cleaned nothing else
Not even a lock.

Poems & Artwork ("Jellyfish") by Serena

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Macbeth Video Clips

Lady Macbeth

Led by the talented and inspiring actor Mike Stack, Serena and her 14 friends at South Delta Homelearners put on a presentation of Macbeth after a month-long intensive workshop. Mike has a way of making the whole process so much fun that all the kids had an absolute blast. Serena loved it so much that she's already planning on doing it again in the fall!

* See our next posting for some video clips of Serena performing as Lady Macbeth.

Right before her own performance, Serena got extra inspiration at Bard on the Beach, our annual Shakespearean treat. We went to see The Tempest this year and it did not disappoint!

This Bard production cleverly swapped Trinculo and Stephano, the king's jester and butler in Shakespeare's original, with Trincula and Stephana, two ladies of the court. Serena & I loved the humour they added on stage, but we both think the sparkling Ariel was simply outstanding. She has a beautiful voice and her songs gave that magical touch to a fantastical story!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Westing Game

The Westing Game Wordle by Serena

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin is the last book that I read for this school year's book club. It is mystery where 16 unexpecting heirs come to the funeral of a man called Sam Westing. The will instructs the heirs to pair up and play a mysterious Westing Game.

I highly recommend this book as a good mystery and a fast read. I enjoy the fact that at the beginning of the book all the heirs were unhappy and dissatisfied with their life. But by the end of the game, all the pairs have found what they were missing before. Even though it seems cruel for Sam Westing to make everyone play this game, I think overall he's a good man because he made peace with his friends and enemies.

My favourite character is Turtle Wexler. She was rejected by her mother but ultimately found a new mother in her partner Flora Baumbach. I like how she is very ambitious and clever, and in the end she found a new path for herself.

Because my mom & I enjoyed The Westing Game so much, we borrowed another book by Ellen Raskin - The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues. I hope it's a good mystery too!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Behold! A Real Placenta

Warning: This blog post is high on the eeeww factor, so stop reading now if you're about to eat.

You may have noticed that Serena has been doing her own blog posts lately. Now that she's at double-digit age, she's starting to take ownership of her blog. However this particular post is quite unusual. I figured it's best that mom writes this one, since we're talking about MY placenta afterall...

Just over 10 years ago, with hubby, midwife and doula in attendance, I gave birth at home to a little swinging monkey. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the kind doula has "saved" my placenta in a ziplog bag in the freezer. I had no idea what to do with such an odd frozen item, so I did nothing. For 10 years.

The best part about homeschooling is that literally everything can be a teaching tool and a learning moment. Since Serena started asking questions recently about puberty and babies, why not defrost a placenta for a little show & tell?? Brilliant idea!

A few BrainPOP videos gave us a good introduction on reproductive organs and fetal development, but nothing beats seeing the real thing! I have to admit, while it was thoroughly disgusting to be handling my bloody goopy placenta, it was really cool for Serena to see the sac where she resided for 9 months. And how many people can say they have seen & touched their own umbilical cord??

Here's Serena's comment about this whole traumatic experience:
"It is very gross. But also very interesting besides the blood dripping from it... I read that some people actually dehydrate and eat their own placenta because it's supposed to be good for you. YUCK!!! It's really neat to be able to touch my own umbilical cord. I also have a thought once I learned that your belly button is the remains of your umbilical cord: Adam & Eve must have no belly buttons!!!"

A Musical Weekend

Last year I joined a homeschool band taught by Ms. Brenda Khoo. The band practices every Monday and it is a beginners band. Most musicians in the band have just started learning their instruments, but I've been playing my flute for 2 years now. Flute is a very tricky instrument - 3 people who started with flute found it too hard so they switched instruments, leaving only me and Julie as the 2 remaining flutists! At our year-end concert, we played with the adult band and the Brass, Wind & Wire band. It was a grand spectacle, there's even a tuba!

After performing at an amateur concert, I went to a performance by the professional VSO - "Holst's The Planets". The concert featured a flute soloist and the Elektra Women's Choir. Gustav Holst wrote a series of music based on the Solar System in his time. The music really describes each planet, e.g. "Mercury, the Winged Messenger" was fast and light; "Mars, the Bringer of War" was dramatic, dark, and loud; "Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age" was slow and gave you the feeling when you've climbed too many sets of stairs!

I met a friend, Malka, in our homeschool band. She plays percussion. I found out that she was performing in a production of "Singin' in the Rain"! So I went to watch the show which was performed by kids 14 and under.  A very talented 11-year old played Cosmo Brown, a very funny character who sings and dances in one of the lead roles. I enjoyed how they used lots of tap dancing and real umbrellas in the production! It's also fun to spot Malka in the ensemble!

Friday, June 6, 2014


A tangram is a Chinese puzzle that includes 7 pieces: a parallelogram, a square, and 5 triangles. According to legend, during the Tang dynasty, an artist made a beautiful blue tile for a famous warlord. But he dropped the tile and it broke into the 7 pieces of a tangram! You can read about this story in "The Warlord's Puzzle" by Virginia Walton Pilegard.

At first the tangram puzzle was hard for me. But I practiced and I learned a trick: always try and find the 2 big triangles first. Now it's easier and more fun for me. I can solve all the puzzles without trouble!