Pimp my ride Bella Swan!
You’re looking at the two biggest attractions in Forks, WA. For some reason, a couple of old trucks parked in front of the visitor center are calling to people from all over the world. I even met a family from Holland.
Kudos to Stephenie Meyer for turning the sleepy little town of Forks into a place that is on the map.
But the real reason Forks should be remembered is because it is right next to Olympic National Park, which is quite simply awesome.
Olympic National Park has it all. Mountains, glaciers, beaches, hot springs, rain forests, wildlife and lakes. My only regret is that I don’t have a picture of Hurricane Ridge to share.
For those of you who are a bit hazy on Washington geography, Olympic National Park is on the Olympic Peninsula, which means Pacific Ocean beaches. From Edmonds, we take the Edmonds/Kingston ferry over to the Peninsula, and then start driving. The Pacific Ocean is about four hours from home.
Want to go arm-chair camping with us? Grab your bug spray and let’s go!
Do you ever get tired of reading mommy blogs that make life seem too perfect? I hope my blog isn’t like that!
I would guess that most bloggers are like me, they clean things up before they take a picture.
Of course, some people are naturally very tidy. Probably nobody would ever say that about my kids and me.
So for the sake of truth in blogging, here’s a picture of what the playroom floor currently looks like:
My kids constantly leaving random things all over the house was the inspiration for my “I Brake for Moms” column that came out on Sunday in The Everett Daily Herald. Here’s the link:
Now to tackle the mess…
If you are a fan of Black Like Me or Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, then I have a book that you will love. It’s called Homeless at Harvard: Finding Faith and Friendship on the Streets of Harvard Square and it’s by John Christopher Frame.
While Frame was a divinity student at Harvard, he spent a summer living with the homeless community of Harvard Square, so that he could better understand their circumstances. Unlike John Howard Griffin or Barbara Ehrenreich, Frame was upfront about his identity. He didn’t try to trick anyone. (Although I totally give Griffin and Ehrenreich a pass for their deceptions.)
“Homeless at Harvard” is a small book and very readable. Moms and Dads, you can find time to read this. It would also be a great piece of literature to discuss with your teens.
Frame addresses all the big issues you think about when you consider homelessness: addiction, abuse, gender issues, religion, mental health, and learned helplessness. Frame doesn’t offer any definitive answers. There’s nothing neat and tidy about the ending.
While reading this book I found myself really thinking a lot about Ayn Rand. I don’t like Objectivism at all. (I even wrote a column about it.) I think that Jesus stands for everything Ayn Rand is against.
But…if giving a panhandler money means helping them feed their cocaine addiction, then that’s not what I want to do. But how do you help? How do you know whom to help?
Near the end of “Homeless Harvard” Frame talks about relationships. You can offer a homeless person your smile and conversation. You can acknowledge their personhood. That’s important too. Frame really made me think about that in a new way.
After I finished “Homeless at Harvard” I found the author’s website. I feel like I know every person pictured. John Christopher Frame should be commended for giving them a voice.
P.S. I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest opinion and review.
Do you know what sweetness is? Were you born knowing what sweetness is, or did you have to experience sweetness to understand?
That’s the question we were asking today as we learned about John Locke.
In case you were wondering, yes, this is another part of our summer adventure listening to Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Vol. 3: Early Modern Times, 2nd Edition (9 CDs).
The John Locke experiment comes from page 99 of The Story of the World Activity Book Three: Early Modern Times. Parents read actual exerpts from John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, while kids eat the sweet stuff.
Then you have a discussion about how John Locke believed people were born as a “blank slate”, or “tabula rasa”.
As activities go, this one only took about five minutes. But hey, how many 8-year-olds and 4-year-olds are out there learning about John Locke this summer?
You might even say that my kids were born blank slates with ultimate potential, but their mommy is turning them into nerds, one summer day at a time…
This summer the kids and I have been listening to Susan Wise Bauer‘s epic book The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Vol. 3: Early Modern Times, 2nd Edition (9 CDs).
My eight-year-old son Bruce has also been reading the text version, and we’ve been trying to do some of the projects from the activity guide, which I’ve shared on the SOTW Pinterest board I’m creating with Mrs. Warde from Sceleratus Classical Academy.
But with Alaska, camping, swimming lessons and sleeping in, we haven’t done as much with SOTW III as I had hoped.
Yesterday however, was a lot of fun. That’s because we played the guerilla warfare game from page 71 of the Activity Guide. This was a tie-in to the story of Aurangzeb, “World Seizer” of India.
(On a side note, since we are listening to the audio version of SOTW, I thought the name was “World Caesar”. Ooops!)
Here’s a brief quote from the Activity Guide: “Aurangzeb spent twenty-six years in the Deccan, fighting off guerilla warriors. Guerilla warriors are soldiers who fight in sneak attacks and from under cover.” (p 71)
Susan Wise Bauer’s idea is to have kids try to hide under furniture around the house, and sneak attack their parents, grabbing ribbons which are close-pinned to mom and dad’s back. If they pull this off unnoticed, the kids get a point. If the children are caught, the point goes to mom and dad.
Granted, there is a moral issue to be considered when you are turning something as horribly serious as guerilla warfare into a game. This isn’t a subject to be taken lightly.
But I think the point is to teach children that in many wars, weaker fighters are successful combating stronger troops by not following the traditional rules of warfare. This also becomes important when understanding America’s Revolutionary War, which is also covered in SOTW III.
So a “game” like this is only one part of a larger discussion about power, control, and the heartbreak of war.
Stay tuned for more of our SOTW adventures this summer…
So here’s some teacher training for moms:
- The differences between Whole Language, Phonics, and Balanced Literacy Instruction.
- Independent Reading, Guided Reading, and Read Aloud.
- Learning to Read vs. Reading to Learn.
The reasoning behind my bizaro library is that organizing books in categories makes book selection less intimidating for young readers. This is a trick that teachers use in classrooms all the time.
I get my book boxes from Ikea. They are supposed to be used for dresser drawer organization. They aren’t very sturdy, but they are super cheap and you can write right on them.
Our book collection continues to grow, and here is what our middle grade library looks like right now:
This summer I’ve added a twist to our organization system and it’s something that you could only do in a home setting, as opposed to a classroom. I bought a pack of stickers for my eight-year-old son Bruce, and am letting him put a gold star on every book he’s read.
This is a very long process! We are working through the library a couple of boxes a day. So far, Bruce has used up 200 stickers. He’s probably read 80% of our books.
The stickers system has a lot of benefits:
- I can keep better track of what my son reads.
- We can move unread books to the front of boxes.
- My son can quickly find new reading material.
- In the future, there will be a slight “oomph” to my daughter to read as widely as her big brother.
The wicked part of my library?
I keep running out of room!!!
When I first started reading Dragonwitch I was really confused. Stengl throws so many other-worldly terms at you that it’s easy for your mind to shut down.
So I skipped the prologue and started fresh on Chapter One, which was a lot easier to manage. Then later when my brain was accustomed to all of the fantasy terms, I looped back and read the prologue again and it all made sense. By the time I was halfway into the novel, I was hooked!
Dragonwitch is complex in the way that Tolkien is complex. Every character has two, three, or even four different names. The narrative arc cuts across different worlds and different histories.
But Stengl manages to pull it all off.
I should note too, that Dragonwitch isn’t the first book in her series. So perhaps if I had first read Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood), I would have jumped into the storyline quicker.
What is that storyline you ask? Whoa… that’s a difficult question. But if I was to try to write an elevator pitch for Dragonwitch it would be this: “When a faerie queen’s love gets rejected, she smolders an entire world. Only the unlikeliest of heroes and his hodgepodge of brethren can stop her.”
P.S. I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest opinions and review.
Here’s my “I Brake for Moms column from this week. Check me out on page two of The Good Life section in The Everett Daily Herald.
No, I’m not pregnant! (That ship has sailed.) But I’m still of the age where I have lots of pregnant friends. I have my go-to baby gifts. I have my stock set up congratulations cards and sentiments.
All those things seem a big haggard after reading Bliss: A guide to unique gift giving for the expectant mom, by Hava Skovron.
Skovron has created a new tradition for expectant mothers which she calls BLISS. The idea is to start in month three, and then celebrate pregnancy with a new gift every month. Each month gets a new theme; kind of like wedding anniversaries.
Month 3 = Paper
Month 4 = Lotion
Month 5 = Cotton
Month 6 = Photo
Month 7 = Wood
Month 8 = Silver
Month 9 = Food
The BLISS gifts can be as humble or expensive as your budget dictates. A paper gift could be a homemade gift card or a spa certificate. A wood gift could be a simple picture frame or a brand new crib.
Cool idea, right? The book contains hundreds of ideas for each month. There are also suggestions for how to organize a BLISS giving group, and how to deal with adoption.
Here’s the sad part. I read this book today while still grieving over my friends’ loss of their newborn baby. So all of Skovron’s ideas had added meaning for me.
A pregnancy after miscarriage or infant loss is/would be very scary. BLISS gifts could be a great way to help a hopeful mom through her fear. Instead of having a baby shower, you could follow BLISS and send comforting gifts for the mother instead.
Paper could be a note of encouragement. Lotion could be hand cream. Cotton could be a set of soft pillowcases for a good night’s sleep. All the gifts could offer encouragement and understanding.
I really love this idea of BLISS. Thank you Hava Skorvorn for your creativity, and for giving me a complimentary copy of your book so that I could review it.
Here’s an idea that totally failed this summer. Not only that, but on my new WP blog I can’t figure out how to enlarge pictures, so I’m striking out on that point too. You probably can’t even see what this is a picture of!
The backstory is that I found a really cheap reading poster kit at the craft store for about $3. I put it up in our family room the first day of summer. I also found some notepads shaped like books. The plan was to write down every single book we read this summer, and hang the papers below the respected genre chart.
The problem is that Bruce(8) reads a ton of books but isn’t interested at all in recording what he reads. Jenna(4) can’t read a book all on her own yet, plus she doesn’t write, so it was all up to me to use the system. I get an “F”.
Sigh… At least I’m only out $5 for the whole endeavor.
Note! This is not a how-to on how to make real perfume. That’s the reason behind the ironic question mark in the title. My son Bruce(8) was interested in trying to make perfume, so this post is sharing the results of our experiment.
I added the peppermint schnapps at the last minute because I thought that might help add a little bit of preservative to the mix.
Our final results? It smells like we created rose water. The liquid actually has a really nice, extremely mild fragrance. It’s weak enough that kids can spray it all over themselves and still not actually smell bad.
I think our next step is to check out some books from the library, so that we can explore the science behind making perfume for real.
I’ve never read any of Cron’s work before, but he is also the author of Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts. He is an Episcopal priest and a doctoral candidate studying Christian spirituality at Fordham University.
Chasing Francis is a hybrid of sorts. It’s the fictional story of a big-box evangelical pastor in the middle of a spiritual crisis. Woven into the pastor’s narrative, is the true story of St. Francis of Assisi, as well as some fun arm-chair touring of Italy.
This is a VERY funny book. Cron is extremely witty, but he’s also a deep thinker. I also view him as a “peace maker” as opposed to a “peace lover” because Chasing Francis builds a very strong bridge between evangelical protestants and Catholics.
I’m giving this book five stars on Amazon because I really loved it. But I thought I’d close my review with my own thoughts about Assisi.
When I went to Italy as a 19-year-old, I was truly shocked. Assisi blew me away with it’s consumerism and decadence. Everyone seemed to be trying to make some $ off of St. Francis.
Here’s a picture from my album:
I remember thinking, “Would St. Francis really want this gigantic cathedral?” It seemed to me as a young 19-year-old, to be everything St. Francis was against.
My trip was back before the days of normal people owning digital cameras, so I don’t have any more pictures; just memories. But as I recall, inside the cathedral there was a lot of painted gold.
Yeah, because St. Francis loved gold. (Not!)
I was hoping that Cron would address some of that sentiment in Chasing Francis, but he really didn’t. I understand why, because it’s not really kosher for a Protestant to criticize a Catholic in a book that’s trying to mend fences.
But even after so many years later, I’m still wondering what St. Francis would say if he could see the cathedral that’s named after him.
Or actually, I wonder what St. Francis would do…
Remember when my daughter and I started our fairy-house village? (It has since expanded, btw.)
Another thing we did that day was make sunprints. That was one of my favorite types of art to do when I was little. The only problem back then was, acquiring the sunprint paper.
Now of course, Amazon makes everything easy:
My son is itching to try making sunprints with negatives. Good luck finding those! So we’re waiting on Auntie to mail us some when she gets the film in her old fashioned camera developed.
I actually had a very funny conversation with my 8-year-old explaining to him what negatives were. I feel old…
My “I Brake for Moms” column from today. Check me out on page 2 of the Good Life Section in The Everett Daily Herald.
In Skagway my family went on The Big Nugget Tour which included meeting Matt Hayashida (a veteran Iditarod Musher), seeing sled dogs get harnessed to a summer sled, holding puppies, learning to pan for real gold, going into a room that was 40 degrees below zero, touring a brewery, seeing a huge piece of mining equipment, and lunch.
We chose to do The Big Nugget tour instead of riding the White Pass train because I thought a 3 hour train ride would be boring for my very active family. It turns out, we made a great choice! The Big Nugget Tour was “touristy” but a whole lot of fun, and my kids learned a lot about Alaskan history.
Here are some pictures:
To me, it seemed like the whole town of Skagway was a tourist trap. Most people don’t live there in the winter, and all of our tour guides were from Utah, New York, or other places besides Alaska.
But sometimes tourist traps are really fun. Our day in Skagway made a big impact on my kids, and was one of their favorite parts of the trip.