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Friday, November 27, 2015

little man's book picks #1 - the kane chronicles

For approximately two years now the below picture is how we typically find Jack around the house.

In a corner with a book. Sometimes on his head, the book upside down with him. Walking through the house with a book. At the dinner table with a book. In the car with a book. And rather than expound on raising kids who love to read (other than um, read to them, let them see you love reading...that's all I got) I figured I'd let him tell you about some books he loves.

So, here you go.

Book Reviews with Little Man, #1 The Kane Chronicles

ME: First of all, who is the author?

"Rick R-I-O-R-D-A-N. He also wrote Percy Jackson and the Magnus Chase Books. Percy Jackson is about the Greek gods and the Magnus books are about the Norse gods."

ME: So you like books about mythology?

"Yes. The Kane Chronicles are about Egyptian mythology."

ME: So tell me about the books.

"Well, the two main characters are Carter and Sadie. They are what they call Magicians, they use divine words and a wand and staff as weapons. Divine words are like spells you can cast. I'll give you a few of them. "Ha-Di" the destroying spell. "Hapi-u-ha-ey-pwah" conjuring a clay warrior for attack. "Se-kebeb" is a spell for freezing.

There are three books in the series. I think they are good books. They are about Egyptian gods, Ra, Set, Bast and others.  Sadie has a cat named Muffin who later turns into the goddess Bast, personally one of my favorite characters. I also like their mysterious Uncle who comes to get them from the House of Life, named Amos, also a magician. If you are a fan of Greek or Roman mythology it would be a good series for you. If you know Greek mythology you might know Tartanus, Duat is the Egyptian version where everyone slowly reforms, there particles spread apart when they die and then slowly come back after 100 or 200 years in a different form. All magicians and gods do this. And there are Chaos snakes and others.

Now I'm going to tell about the storyline.

In Book 1 "The Red Pyramid", is how they are normal kids until the fire god Set imprisons their dad in a sarcophogus and then their mysterious Uncle Amos comes to take them to the House of Life to train them. Another person named Zia thinks they are summoning gods and magicians oppose the gods so later they encounter her but her master thinks they are innocent so she lets them escape and then they are trying to oppose Set and free their dad. And then..."

ME: Wait, stop there. You don't to give away the ending!

"Oh, right."

ME: Keep going.

"Okay, Book 2 "The Throne of Fire" storyline is how Set becomes half good and Apophis the Chaos snake and god of chaos are trying to stop him from swallowing the sun and turning the world into chaos. They have to find Ra who is the only one who can stop Apophis.

Book 3 "The Serpents Shadow" they found Ra, but he is kinda ga-ga, its kinda complicated how they are going to stop Apophis. His shadow is kind of disconnected, so if they destroy his shadow then they can destroy him.

I think you should read this series, its good. And other books by Rick Riordan. They are fun action mystery and drama books. Happy Reading!"

[Oh my gosh I love him. Yes, he put that Happy Reading bit in, not me. HA HA! So. We ordered these books last week. They arrived on Monday. And granted he had the week off of school and has been reading nonstop but is Friday and he is almost done with Book 3. Done. So. We are off to the library this morning. Ha. We'll do more reviews over the next few months. He liked it and likes to share good books with other kids, he says. I LOVE HIM.]
Tuesday, November 24, 2015

a Christmas miracle

Last week was hard. 

You know those weeks. School feels like such a chore. Money is stressful. The holidays are approaching and you're going um, how are we paying for all this this year?? Then after awhile, you stop asking. 

And we have no farm full of grandparents and aunties and uncles to look forward to, for thanksgiving or Christmas, and ticket prices are expensive so no one is coming our way. 

And I for some moronic reason got so exhausted digging through our storage unit right before we left that when we couldn't find the Christmas boxes I thought to myself "it's OK, who cares, we will get some new ones in Hawaii!"

Dumb dumb dumb. 

And things are really expensive here. You can't just go out and replace 15 years worth of Christmas decorations. 

So I tried to be like June. I decided to go on to Pinterest and pin 47 million ornaments to make. With the kids. We made one batch of cornstarch/baking soda ornaments and I found myself snapping at the kids because they were doing them wrong. WRONG. 

It was bad.

So I kind of gave up. We would get a tree get some lights put up our little ornaments and call it done. 

And my extended family is texting each other about the Christmas decorations they are getting out and plans for the holidays and I'm thinking about our sad tree and feeling sorrier and sorrier for myself. 

And then to top of this week dada is trying to repair a leaky pipe. In the wall. In the rain. And so he goes to the attic, which we've never been up to, to investigate. 

And there. Lo and behold. The miracle. 

Tubs and tubs of Christmas decor, left by previous tenants, up for anyone to use. 

Can I say, I cried?! 

I mean. A nativity and some lights and garlands and a ton of glass balls and ornaments. Even a cheesy Santa vase. 

Cried. Real tears. 

And I realize, okay so maybe God has a place for us here, so far from "home"  (wherever that is). And as I put up the fake pine garlands, complete with paper stars we folded together, and strings of lights, I have to accept that it's okay to need the little things, things that seem so small. In a week of horrible tragedy around the world, tragedy in our dear city we left behind in the frozen northlands, it's okay to cry tears of joy over lights and Christmas balls. We can't let tragedy - or hard weeks - steal that joy. That gratitude. Joy over the little moments in life give us our humanity. Keep us tender. Keep us connected. We need to keep seeing them. Keep that wonder. His eye is indeed on the sparrow. And this mama is ever so thankful. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

volcano study

So. School.

You know, its hard to juggle the working thing and the homeschool thing some weeks.But this week, for a few days at least, I feel like we got it.

A few weeks ago little man discovered something about making a model volcano. But of course, I say, seeing as we live on the side of a volcano, we absolutely must do this.

So we collected a bottle, some newspapers, and drew up designs and watched youtube videos. Meanwhile, we were at the library on campus the other day and little man says, out of the blue mind you, "I am going to look up a bunch of facts about volcanoes and then write a lecture for everyone and then do a presentation. So can you help me find volcano books?"


I need more of this self directed study in my life man. How can this happen??? This morning, trying to prompt a similar enthusiasm I say, "hey, what do you want to work on today?" He says, "um. Nothing?"

Maybe we arent quite there yet.

But we do. Cartooning is still a passion. He now has books of character ideas and the other day we signed him up for a Roman architecture course on Coursera (college level classes taught by Yale, Harvard, etc profs! EEK. I WANT TO TAKE A CLASS!)

He's got the bug. Its growing. Its just like fanning this tiny flame. Sometimes mama's enthusiasm can just extinguish it altogether.

So, I'm learning too I guess. Learning how to learn. Yes. Anyway.


Finally one day I said, okay guys, lets build.

We started with a bottle on a rusty old cookie sheet, then covered it with random bits of cardboard all taped together. This forms the base of the volcano.

Then I mixed a handful of flour with water to form a paste. We cut strips of newspaper.  

The girls refused to do the paste part. Too messy. Instead I put on a Magic School Bus episode about chemical reactions in baking. Baking soda! Vinegar! Bubbles! That is what we are going to do! See??

In the hot Hawaiian afternoon sun it took about a day to fully dry. After that we waited a few days. Needed to go buy paint, seeing as I left all my craft goodies in a storage unit in the frozen Northland.

Finally. Painting day. We added little streams of lava down the side for effect. Little man's idea.

So, this week, finally finally. Explosion day.

We watched a video about the Mt. St. Helen's explosion and the kids wrote up presentations (Little Green drawing a picture). They gave their presentations and then EXPLOSION.

We were not disappointed.

I liked doing it over the period of a few weeks and I am thinking we will continue science this way over the year. Next is ocean study, so I am thinking find an experiment to plan and research.Write up reports along the way, watch some videos on the topic, read some books, then on the big day we do our reports and the experiment.

Okay. Anyway. You've got to celebrate the minor accomplishments in motherhood and this felt like one. Science! Engaged! Learning! Fun!

it was a hot afternoon. ha

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

because, Tuesday

I tried to post this yesterday, but I couldnt get it done. Because, Tuesday.

You know. Tuesday. The weekend is far away. Pushing school onto the kiddos is like pulling teeth. I dont know why I bother some mornings. If I just kept little man supplied with Legos, paper for comic book drawings, frosted flakes, an afternoon swim, and a steady stream of books he could probably do just fine. I just sat talking with him about Greek gods and mythology. He rattled off the names of more than 20 gods, lesser gods and titans. And I'm like. Uh. Okay. Just, keep reading. HA HA.

So instead. I turn to fun mama. The girls and I douse ourselves with mosquito spray (they seem to have followed us to paradise) and go outside every few days to work on our fairy village. So far we have a lovely house, decorated with fresh plumeria flowers regularly, with cups made from the hulls of macadamia nuts scattered around the yard and walls of lava rock (the only kind of rock you can find here). Our recent addition was a lookout tower.

(Little man chooses to stay inside and read during these outings.)

Then we come in and read a Winnie the Pooh story. Giggling at Pooh and his escapades. (Little man chooses to listen from in his room whilst building Legos.)

Next, a Thankful tree, for November, we paint leaves the traditional fall colors and write messages on the back of gratitude, and tape them to a fallen branch I found in the yard. (Not from the plumeria trees, which drip toxic white sap when they break!)

(Little man is reading, again.)

In case you were wondering re leaves here. So. In the tropics leaves fall and regrow constantly. Which means no real "fall" but it also means raking. Constantly.

Our gratitude project complete we attempt a few math work book pages. Little green gets out the chalkboard and practices all the letter she knows, making me read her "word" after each new letter. (Example: ALFICOBPUVQ What does it say NOW mom??)

(I rein in little man. Yes. You MUST do some math. He whines at a tough page so I cave and let him do a couple pages with charts and graphs. He then concedes and even sticks around long enough to do a grammar page. Um. Predicates? I totally dont remember any of this. BAD WRITER HOMESCHOOL MOM!)

And then. Yes girls, I know, I promised. We bake cookies. For some reason my standard recipe falls to crumbly pieces. Not enough flour? Butter too soft? No idea. But they are happy. All I can think is crumbling up some on top of ice cream while watching Grey's Anatomy. Literally the ONLY TV show I watch now. What has happened to me??? Mostly though, I just want wine whilst watching. Alas. Baby fetus #4 prevents this.

My super mom morning* completed with minimal whining and tears dada texts up from his garage office. "Take kids swimming so you can work?" YES PLEASE. (Isn't he dreamy??)

Then I have a meeting on campus which goes amazingly encouragingly well.

And I think, a the end of the day, watching Grey's and eating grapes (trying to stay healthy. Grrr) and feeling kiddo #4 kick around in my belly.

Okay. This is, in fact, amazingly good and fulfilling on all fronts. As long as I can work past the grumpy moments of math page fights and picking up bedroom struggles and downcast mama who misses her oil paints and household knick knacks. Those things are pretty small, really.

And we're starting to figure this new life out. And, its going to be a good life for us. So long as boy-child gets his books and Legos and frosted flakes. (He just came up to me to inform me that he'd like to have fangs instead of his side front teeth one day. Um. Okay. Good to have life goals kiddo.)

Alright. Time for some school. And more coffee. Happy Wednesday lovely folk!

*Lest my super mom morning overly impress you. Today I have given kids cereal, had coffee, made an egg, and written this post. HA HA

So, this is what I am thankful for today. That, friends, is a coffee tree. 

And those, friends, are coffee berries. Pick when red. Dry. Hull. Roast. Grind. Drink. 

We will only have enough for a handful of grounds, most likely, but still. SO STINKING COOL. RIGHT???
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