Monthly Archives: January 2009

Books and cookies

Today was one of those days which didn’t go to plan, it probably went better.  B8 has been coughing for days, not just a little scratchy cough, a big impressive, “that must hurt cough”. So this morning, just as I was about to start Maths with him I suggested instead that he hop back into bed.  He agreed straight away.  This is unusual for him, although he occasionally gets sick, he rarely stays in bed and even more rarely goes to the doctor.

I happened to have borrowed a book on cd, The Penderwicks which had been recommended by Semicolon, so I put it in the cd player and he started listening.  I wondered whether he might go off to sleep but he just kept listening, taking a break for  lunch and then going back for more.  Whenever I looked in on him he related an amusing line or incident.  Toward the end of the afternoon he emerged from his room disappointed that the last cd would not play anymore, in the last chapter of all places.  It ended up not being a problem as I had borrowed the book as well.  He thoroughly enjoyed it, and asked if there was more.  We will try and pick The Penderwicks on Gardam Street up at the library tomorrow.

He is also engrossed by the Mistmantle Chronicles, which I am reading to him.  We almost finished the second of three  this evening.  The characters are all  animals (usually not a big favourite with me) living in towers, fighting in battles, awaiting prophecies and always looking for adventure with a little bit of romance thrown in.  I am just as interested as he is, but don’t take quite as much notice of the battle details as he does.

While he was listening and resting, I caught up on marking and decided it was time to try a couple of gluten free recipes.  I have hardly baked at all since I started eating gluten free but I would like to have a a variety of quick recipes that I can rely on for snacks and treats.  The first were called Marshmallow Ooeys,  and the name says it all.  They are very sweet, too sweet, I think, but I really like the base without the melted marshmallow on top.  I think it would work as a base for other toppings.  The second mixture was for peanut butter cookies, which everyone liked.

I was able to browse through a few books for our Canadian History unit on WW2 also.  Too Young to Fight: Memories of our Youth During WW2 is a compilation of memoirs by some of the Canadian authors we have read before and gives the perspective of the children who watched their world change and made sacrifices on the home front. Canada Remembers is a magazine style book approaching WW2 with the intent of sharing with today’s students the impact of the war on Canada and Canada’s contribution to the war on so many fronts.  So my day of cookies and books was a nice change and hopefully my boy will be feeling quite a bit better tomorrow.

School notes

The temperatures have climbed a little since I last wrote.  It’s amazing how -10°C can seem so warm after a few days of -20°C!  We did not go skiing last week due to the temperatures, but everything else in our routine is happening again.  I think it is getting a little easier to get up in the mornings too.

Group of Four has met twice, first for a morning of snow fort building and tobogganing and then last Friday for the first lesson in our Stock Market unit.  We began with a game of Stock Ticker, actually two games running at the same time in the hope that each stock market would act differently.  It was a great way to start as the children really didn’t know much at all about the topic at the beginning.  After a brief introduction we played the game, which they really enjoyed, getting more involved the more they played.  It was interesting to watch the different approaches,  I was banker for one game and all four players were very cautious investers,  they didn’t buy when stock prices were low, in fear that they  would just go lower.    The winner by a large margin was one of the mothers who only  bought low and sold any time those stocks rose even a little.

After the game was finished we were able to explain many more terms as we now  had some “experience” to refer to.  We hope to be able to   play  a game using actual companies on an actual Stock Exchange, but we haven’t found one totally suitable for our purposes yet.

Last Sunday we attended the award ceremony for the gingerbread houses.  A12’s group won, with L 14’s group coming second.  When the gingerbread houses were picked up   yesterday they were found to be very fragile as well as  dusty and dried out;  I don’t thing there will be any eating of the wreckage this year.

L14 is putting in a lot of practice  at present as she is taking her Grade 8 violin exam on Friday.  She has been working towards this for months and will be very relieved when it is over.

The Bleak Midwinter

Canadians do like to talk about the weather and I can see why.   It is currently bleak.   We have several days this week where the temperature will not rise above -20°C and will drop to around -30°C each night.  Today we were warned that with the windchill the temperature was -39°C!   I tried to head out for a swim this morning but the it took  such a long time for the car to warm up (so the windows would defrost) I gave up.  I did head out at lunch time after running the car for 15 minutes first.   As soon as I stepped outside after my swim my damp hair froze stiff.  I still find this amusing even after eight winters.

Most of our Christmas decorations are now packed away, as the tree will be put out for collection tonight.  The wreaths on the front door and over the fire place will stay as long as they can survive.  And the candles will continue to light our table and rooms until the daylight lasts much longer.   The Christmas cards are not yet put away. The children and I reach for one each in the mornings when we have our devotions time.  Each day we pray for one of the families or friends who sent us cards, a practice I started a few years back after reading the idea somewhere.  I like to look at them a little longer and call to mind the dear friends who sent them.

The winter package

For  twelve days over Christmas  we  had friends visiting from Sydney, Australia.  We have known them since 1997 when we lived in Wollongong for a year.  They have three children, very close in age to our children and we had a ball.  So much so that there was not time to write about it on the blog, just time to enjoy it in real life.   When we have visitors there are certain things we like to do with them and places we like to take them.  If they are from Australia, and if they are here in winter, there are a few activities which are a “must”.

Thankfully the weather was all it needed to be.  We had a white Christmas, which we were all   hoping for.  The skating rink at the end of our street was in great shape and, towards the end of their stay, 2 km of the canal opened so our friends experienced some hockey and a canal skate.   Keen to try just about anything we suggested, they loved tobogganing and also  enjoyed cross country  skiing in Gatineau Park on two separate days.  Both times we packed food so we could ski to one of the huts,  warm up, eat up and then ski back again.


One place we always take visitors is the Museum of Civilization.  Our children have been there so many times, however, that the Canada Hall, which once intrigued them, does not hold their attention for very long anymore.  The six children raced through and then spent most of their time in the Children’s Museum, which continues to captivate them.  The parents did meander through the Canada Hall and then visit, with the older girls,  the special Tombs of Eternity exhibit.  Another place which we visit any time of year is Hog’s Back Falls.  When we were there it was extremely icy, which caused one or two  falls but also gave the four youngest and silliest children the chance to slide down the iced stairs on their behinds.  After they’d had enough of that we walked along a trail for a while and managed to lure chickadees on to our hands with bird seed.

I’ve never ventured into the Boxing Day sales before but this year we all headed out the day after Boxing Day, split into two groups, girls and boys and sought out the bargains.  All the girls came home with something new, and the boys might have bought a book or a video cable, I’m not really sure!

When we were back in our warm house we had plenty of time to catch up on the last few years over some delicious meals eaten by candlelight and followed by coffee, cheese and chocolate.

bear jigsaw

We persevered through two jigsaw puzzles and the children watched several movies together.  We fell into a routine of going to bed late and rising late.  B8 was thrilled to have M11 stay in his room and the two of them had to be told just about every night to stop talking and go to sleep!  It was wonderful to see the friendships rekindle and grow between all the children and for the adults to be able to slip back into easy conversation after years apart.

As you can imagine we didn’t want them to go,  we didn’t want to go back to getting up on time and we weren’t keen on the whole back to school thing either.