Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review, WiP, and VACA

Book Reviews:
OK, so here it is...I actually finished reading a few books this week.  But only one was on my FitG list.  The other two are books that I pre-read for my son's school library.  I'm helping them read through the new chapter books to help them determine which category they should go in.
For the school, I read Report to the Principal's Office! by Jerry Spinelli and Help! I'm Trapped in Obedience School" by Todd Strasser.  I'd have to say, they are both just ok books. Not page turners or anything, but both a fun read.  My husband is a principal, so I'm always curious how authors portray them. In this book, the principal is new at a brand new middle school.  He starts a lunch group with four very different personalities from the sixth grade class. You read as these four change and help each other out and eventually become friends.
Todd Strasser's book is not as well developed, I feel. Three guys hang out as friends, but you see them argue a lot. Jake takes them to see an experiment that their science teacher has been working on.  One of the boys hits the switch and causes the other boy to change places with the Lab puppy.  The other two have to hide this fact and get them changed back before his parents return.  It has some interesting twists that do keep you wondering at the end. These are definitely middle grade books and I think that kids of that age would have a quick fun read with them.
I read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane to my nine year old son.  I always read a chapter or two from a book before bed. He was a bit annoyed with me that I had chosen this "bunny kid book" to read. But, he loved it and so did I. If you want to read the rest of the review click here.

I'll start with the hard thing...rejection letter. Yep, got one for my magazine article. That's ok, I'm sending it onto the next magazine on my list and we'll see from there.  But this letter made me wonder if this story should be a picture book instead....time and other rejection letters will tell. I refuse to be down about it...will just try a different path.
As for good news...I got a good critique back from my synopsis outline. Did my instructor say it was wonderful and perfect? NO, (are you kidding?).  But, she did give me some really good and brilliant advise. And the best news is that it isn't a flop...my idea is good, just needs some fine tuning and character development. YEAH, I'm so ready to start the writing of it....this is my first, so here's for the long haul...

Ya, I know, we just had summer vacation. But here in Taiwan, we get a fall vacation over their National Day. And it's a week.
So, we are camping.
In a tent.
Two nights.
Two locations.
With three kids.
In the mountains.
Taking our bikes...
Here's to an adventure...(or maybe a nightmare...HAHA!)

So, with that, I won't be posting until we get back...and I won't be working on my WIP (well, maybe I'll take along the laptop)...but I will be reading, so hopefully, I'll be knocking out some more of my fitG list.
If you want a sneak preview of where we are going...here is one of the places....my favorite so far...Taroko Gorge.
Taken a few years ago.

Until next week...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blue, Potluck, and the Moon

Blue...Cub Scout Blue...
Well, I was suppose to go on a camp-out with my son and the rest of his Cub Scout troop, but due to the weather forecast and the campsite already flooded, it was postponed.

So, instead we had a potluck at the school.  Everyone brought their favorite foods, which is always fun in a multicultural setting. (I have to take pictures next time!) After clean up, the boys played a few relay games. Pics of The Boy doing some funny things below.  And by the way, yes, the sun was shining and beautiful..but remember the campsite was flooded...that is the main reason we did not go...flooded....

Football Waddle
Jump Rope
 And the Moon....
PK Chen
After the energy was zapped..if that is possible for boys.  They observed some slides from a famous Astra photographer, PK Chen.  He willingly came and brought his pictures to share with us. He also gave each boy a photo of the full moon and the southern star.  THE cool thing is that our next camp-out, which is set for next month, Mr. Chen is going with us to show the boys how to set up telescopes and how to use them.  Is that just not the coolest?  Oh, if you want to check out some of his work click here. He has some amazing photos!
Marcus getting an autograph and pic.

Spiritual Life Week

This week homeschool was a little hit and miss. We attended chapel everyday at my son's school.  They had Spiritual Life Week and the guest speaker was a family that runs a children's home in Nepal.  James' is Nepali. He grew up in a Christian Children's Home there until he was 17. At that time he was adopted by a family from the US. He moved to the US and attended college.  After he married, he and his wife Holly and their oldest child moved to Kathmandu, Nepal.  Today this "home" is not just a place for Nepali children who come from very poor homes to have a place to live, but it is also a school.  They teach the children, as well as take care of them.  It is an amazing project that this family has taken on.
So after seeing pictures and getting to know the family better, I was pleased to hear that this year the Christmas Project is going towards their home.  AND that my son's class is doing a reading program that will earn money towards buying books for their school. Although Matthea didn't understand all that was being said, she really enjoyed the singing...and Mr. James' balloon dog that he made for her.  I really enjoyed learning more about Nepal and the work that God is doing through this family.  They truly are an amazing family...very inspiring.

My water rat...
Cablish family joined us! YEAH!
We did make it to the waterpark one day. We had fun splashing around with our friends...old and new!  Yes, this was just a few days ago...remember I live on an island, so the pool doesn't close until Oct.  Love that part of island livin'.

Then Friday came and I spent time working on the cake that almost wasn't...go here if you didn't get to read about that.  And, Matthea got sick, so school was canceled for those two reasons.
The boy turned 9...where did time go?

And since this is Monday and I totally missed my Friday posting, this will be a two post day....so stay on the lookout for post 2 of the day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WIP, Book Review, and Contests

Ever have one of those days where what you planned just smashes to the ground into a million tiny pieces and then it cuts you in the finger? Had that kind of day...plus my pyrex cake pan did bust and I did cut my finger. Good news is that there was NO cake batter in the glass pan, so therefore my son's birthday cake was NOT ruined. It is baking safely right now...well, safely may not be accurate as I tend to burn things if I'm engrossed into writing...so I need to make this quick.

1. My WIP is going. In fact the synopsis is due tomorrow for my class and I have it completed...well, I have it resting for the day and will look at it tomorrow and send it off afterwards. So, yeah, I'm feeling ready for a Cub Scout campout with a load of boys and their families this weekend.

2. I read "Kira Kira" by Cynthia Kadohata...if you are interested, click here to read my review on FITG blog. 

3.  And a contest. Just up, Erica has 200 followers and is holding a giveaway, so if you are interested in her fun gifts....especially if you like candy from the 80's...Go Pop Rocks!...then click here for all the details on how to win.

Ok, I need to go and check the interesting smell coming from the kitchen. Told you I can't write and bake at the same time...girl has to have her priorities. 

Oh, and Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to you all!  Here's a moon cake just for you!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Princesses, Pink, and Ballet

Yes, those things sure describe a girl.
My girl.
My youngest girl.
But it didn't describe me as a girl, or at least one wouldn't have known. No, I was the tomboy/farm girl.  I did NOT like to wear dresses and ballet? NO Way!
But, my youngest is not like me. And. That. Is. Good.  I get to learn all about the girlie girl things in life.
So, a few weeks ago when she started her ballet class....I jumped in head first into the unknowns of proper dress code. Thank goodness for dear friends who had thought ahead for me and passed down ballet equipment a year ago when her daughter had outgrown them.  But, seriously, I was clueless with the bag of goodies. (You can ask any of the other moms as I asked each one what we should be wearing and how to put it all on!)
Anyway, Meg is LOVIN' it!  Here's a few pics of her all dollied up and looking cute as a button...okay, I'm a bit biased. =)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Homeschooling Fun: Creation and Body

The BIG First Grader! 
A few weeks ago I and a few other moms started a homeschool coop for our children with special needs. Each Friday I hope to post some pics and thoughts of the week. The last few weeks we have looked at creation and have worked on their own Creation Book.
I did not get pics of every page...in fact, I think I only got one. I kept forgetting to take the camera. So, I'll just explain.
Day 1: Separated light from dark...kids cut strips of yellow and black paper into cubes, then separated them by gluing light on top and dark on the bottom.
Day 2: God created the water and the sky...kids glued cotton balls onto blue paper.
Day 3: God created sun, moon, stars....kids took aluminum foil and made tiny balls...glued that onto black paper. I had cut out a moon from the foil and they glued that on, too.
Day 4: God created the flowers and trees...took kids outside and looked at nature. Picked up leaves that had fallen on the ground and had them do a leaf rubbing.
Day 5: God created the fish and the birds...finger painted blue water, then added fingerprint fish and other fun water animals.
Day 6: God created animals and man...used dltk craft and teaching site and had them glue together a dog.  For pattern we used go here.
Day 7: God took a rest...we just colored and cut out a page from dltk. Though I seriously thought about having us take a nap in the big room on the floor. HA!
Working on Day 3 putting on the *stars*.

Finished product...she's so excited she couldn't stop jumping!

Our theme of the week has been our body. I had the kids outline their body and color it.  We also read *The Gingerbread Boy* and used playdoh to practice rolling out and cutting out gingerbread men. Kids really liked this activity. *grin*.  This past week I've been working on the 5 senses. We read a story about popcorn, then made some together with an air popper.  Matthea LOVED that!  I'll try to be better at taking pictures next week of the different craft projects that we do.

Rolling out the dough for her gingerbread man.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bath: Part 12: Favorite Foods...

I couldn't end this mini-series without mentioning food.... so to end my mini-series on our trip to England....here are the foods that I so enjoyed and miss. My mouth waters as I look at the pictures right now.
Yes, I love cottage cheese and tomatoes. Cottage Cheese is
not an easy find here in the land of the tropics.

Natural yogurt with fresh RASPberries! YUM! I make my yogurt
here, but the fresh berries are hard to find. Thankful for Costco
and their frozen berry selection, though.

Frozen PIZZA! Yes, I love those things!

Ok, not a total favorite, but could not go to England and
NOT have the Fish 'n Chip, now could I? btw, I could totally
feel my arteries contract with every swallow! 

And the last is for my favorite! I love QUARK and
raspberry jelly on bread! My in-laws introduced me
to this wonderful breakfast treat many years ago and I was a happy
little tourist to find it in the stores of England as well.
Funny thing is I still can't tell you exactly what it is, except
it is a kind of cheese...between cottage cheese and cream cheese.

Well, that is all folks. No more pics of England. No more stories of England. No England...for me right now anyway.
I'm going to change up my posting a bit.  I would like to continue with my WIP Wednesdays, which I've not done in some time. *Shame* (Quote from my good South African friend)
But, I would like to add a Friday's post about what I'm doing with home schooling my special needs daughter. I hope to start tomorrow with some pics of her and her classmates...we have a home school coop going on.
So, until tomorrow....ciao!

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Bath-Part 11: The Cotswold

Stone walls are typical of this area.
On our drive back to the airport to return to Germany...we drove through the Cotswold area and stopped for a picnic in the village of Tetbury.  The Cotswold is what is coined as "The Heart of England".  I would have to agree. Tetbury is just a short drive from Bath right off the freeway, so it was a good choice for us, especially since one of the kids is prone to carsickness. I just wish we would have had more time to spend in this area...maybe another time...

This village reminded me of the town I grew up in...small little tourist town.

Market under the museum.

We took a little walk in the woods after lunch.

Marcus climbed the little hill with some local boys.

And then the picking off the stickies....
After our hike, we headed to the freeway and back towards London.  We stopped once along the way and look what we found...

But, the best part was that it was from our favorite donut place....
No joke...isn't THAT awesome!
Then a night at a hotel before our early flight. Kids loved that
the couch turned into a bed. Of course, they didn't all three sleep
in the same bed...that would have been torturous for us all. 

Bath: Part 10: Stonehenge

We took a drive in our little car to see Stonehenge.  The plan was to drive out there, have a picnic, drive a different route back and stop at other little villages and just be spontaneous. Hmm, rain shot those plans out the window.  But, it didn't stop us. We packed a picnic in hopes that the drizzle would just disappear. Well, it didn't...of course, it's England! And just like a dopey tourist, we didn't have umbrellas. That still didn't stop us...when we got there the drizzle had let up, so we jumped out and got our tickets. Free audios, again....Marcus loved those things (he is so much like me in that way).  About half way through the exhibit the drizzle turned into a heavier rain...we had to rush the last part so we wouldn't get drenched and sick.  But, we did get some fun pics....so enjoy.
Family Photo Op

Fact #1:
Each standing stone as a notch in it, so the top stones won't slip.
Fact #2:
About a third of each stone is buried underground.
Fact #3:
Those are my two favorite guys on the planet.
During the downpour we hid ourselves in a tunnel near the entrance. Then we ran to the car. I stopped and bought two coffees and Uwe got the kids some food.  We had our picnic in the car, and then headed home. We did go a different route, but due to the rain and already being wet, we didn't stop. We just kept on driving. 
And, of course, there had to be some artwork for the kids to do when we got back. So below is what the kids did to remember their time at Stonehenge...which btw, ended up being their favorite touristy thing they did. Go figure!
Matthea's Stonehenge
Megan's Stonehenge.

Marcus didn't want to draw, so I challenged him to build it.
We had a bookshelf full of books, so that was his medium.
Final product....Bookhenge
A final thought...no one knows for sure how these stones got moved to this area or why they were built. Some believe aliens, a place to worship/sacrifice, and others believe it was something to do with astronomy and the solstice.  What do you think?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bath- Part 9: Jane Austen

OK, I'm trying to whip through our summer a few months late, and I have a few more posts to go so hang with me. Now you just can't go to Bath, UK and not visit the Jane Austen Centre....well, I went and let me say this. Jane Austen fan or not this could be skipped. It just wasn't worth my time or my money. Maybe it was because it was my afternoon alone to walk the streets, read, write, or whatever else I fancied. Or maybe it was because I had already been to some really neat museums that were cheap and well done. I just didn't find this place worth it.  I'm not sure what I was expecting....maybe things about Jane herself? But, there wasn't that much. It was mainly about her books and that time period.  So, if you REALLY like that time period and are all caught up in all her books, then maybe you'd like this place. But, I doubt it. 

The doorman...he was "cute" and made a fun picture.

Nice display of her at the end of the tour.
Sally Lunn's famous buns. I went here for the afternoon tea
after visiting the Jane Austen Centre.

No joke, this is the very room I had my tea. It was just too funny
for me, especially since 1)I'd just been over there 2) had brought
Northhanger Abbey to read and 3)not a die hard fan, but do
appreciate her writing for the fact that people will always relate to
the many characters of each book. That is brilliant.
And for my dining experience I received a free
admission ticket to Sally Lunn's original kitchen
and museum.  It was just a room, but nice the same.

I had a scone at Sally Lunn's, not her famous bun.
But, I did buy one to share with the family. It is just
a big round loaf of white bread. Glad I had chosen
the scone with clotted cream. YUM!

Bath - Part 8: Roman Baths

Yes, we did finally go to the place where Bath got it's name...although we didn't step into the waters, a bit toxic now. Nor, did I get the chance to experience the Spa treatment at the modern day facility...kids....maybe next time we'll go without them. Anyway, this little trip was just Marcus and I. He was so pumped to go and see it all. (I know, history nerd like his dad).  The best part about this place was the kid friendly audio tours that came free with the ticket. (Ok, probably not "free", just included in the price of the ticket..but worth it).  
Marcus in front of the characters on his audio tour. I only had
one character..and he was just boring, so I switched to the kids'
version. So much better and the facts were more interesting.
Looking into the large outdoor bath. It was outlined with
statues of famous Romans. 

Marcus standing next to one of them.
Roman piping...looks better than what I've got
these days...no rust problems. But I guess, they
corrode and well rust is way easier to deal with then
flood waters, eh? and lighter.. 

Part of a statue...I thought she had on a funny
hair piece, but from the pic below I was wrong.

It was her hair! Glad I'm not taken by it, 'cause I
don't have time to do that everyday, nor the household
help to do it for me! HA!
More baths...there were actually many different rooms
underground. Walking around on top, you'd never know.

At "Spot This" from our Bath Book. It is King Bladud,
the prince with leprosy.

Natural springs still flowing in....
A cold bath. It is now has coins tossed into it.

They had actors dressed up walking around! 
I talked with this guy and he carves these figures out
of stone. He is an actor and a music teacher.