Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Learning about money

Jake has always had an interest in money. For as long as I can remember, he's always been fascinated. Initially, when he was quite young it was all the colours and how come they were different, followed by the different numbers on each bill. What did all of this mean?

Then came questions and comments about how each bill had a different scene.

From there he moved onto, "Who are those men on each bill?"

His interest in who 'those men' were, led to lots of discussions and learning opportunities. He sat wide-eyed and very attentive as he listened to us answer his many questions. First of all we discussed who each man was -- their names, their position, which political party they represented, when they were in power etc.

A few days later I stumbled across a poster showing each Prime Minister of Canada since Confederation. There was a picture of each one, along with their complete name, the year(s) in power and either a red or blue maple leaf underneath each one. He was ecstatic with this find and could hardly believe his eyes. "Oh thank you, soooo much!!", he yelled excitedly as he disappeared off to his room with it. After studying it for awhile, he emerged to find out why some of them had a blue maple leaf underneath their name, while others had a red one. That led to a lot more discussion about the various political parties in Canada and a bit of what each one stands for. At this point, he was the ripe old age of seven.

But most of all, he was excited to learn which Prime Minister was on each bill. Quite often he will refer to a bill by who is on it, "I got an old Laurier here, would you like to see it?" (Instead of, "Would you like to see my old five dollar bill?") He is quite shocked when he comes across a person who does not know who is on each bill. "Can you believe it, they don't know who's on the five?"

He continues on in this vein. Today I came into the living room to find him reading the latest issue of Money Sense magazine. Initially, the picture of a house sitting on a stack of bills had caught his attention. Upon further investigation, he found a picture of a house literally made of money --- he could hardly contain himself with that one. He sat for quite awhile, flipping through the pages and stopping to read here and there. When he'd made his way through to the back of the magazine, he set it on the coffee table with a simple....."Hmmmmm....very interesting."

Interesting, indeed. Not your everyday, run-of-the-mill reading material for most 10year old boys.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Demise of an Iceberg...

It's been a foggy, rainy few days here. I don't like these kinds of days at the best of times, but like them even less when there are icebergs to see. At some points, it's been so foggy, I couldn't even see the ocean, let alone 'my' iceberg. The first picture above is what I've been able to see from my house for the last couple of days.

But....lo and behold today, the fog sort of lifted, rather briefly at that (second picture)....kind of like a curtain going up....long enough for me to see 'my' iceberg (I've even named him..Iqbald the iceberg....the kids think I've lost it....but that's ok....I'm having fun playing it up with them). It was so interesting to see the way it has changed over the last couple of days. The warmer weather, rain, waves etc. are certainly changing the way it looks --- as you can see by the difference between the last two pictures. Hmmm...I wonder how much longer he will be with us. That's ok on-line friend from Australia sent me this link (click here) and if this story is true....our first spring here should be an amazing one that we'll never forget!

Glad I've got my bench ready....bring on the icebergs and the whales!

A reminder...

Just a reminder....the third edition of the Carnival of Canadian Home Educators will be up on May 5. Submissions are due May 2....find out more details here

So...if you're a Canadian Home Educator.....don't forget to get your submissions in.

Looking forward to reading!

Monday, April 28, 2008

More Icebergs (Click to enlarge)

More Icebergs !

There are so many icebergs floating around out there in the north Atlantic Ocean. There are a lot within eye shot of our house, I wonder how many are out there that we can't see. They're simply amazing and breath taking to watch.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It stopped by for a visit! (Click to enlarge pics)

Finally, (well I guess it's only been two days, but it *seems* like a long time) an iceberg floated in by our house. We watched and watched all day as it got closer and closer. We were all excited but disappointed at the same time because as it got closer it was also getting darker.

At night, even though it is pitch black here, the stars and moon are so bright (when it's not cloudy) that it looks like there are outside lights on. (I've gotten up more than once to check and make sure the outside lights were in fact off.) That, together with the bright whiteness of the iceberg was amazing --- almost like it glowed in the dark --- we could see it from our house in the darkness of the night.

I was afraid it would be gone by this morning. I was like a kid at Christmas and just couldn't get to sleep. I checked a few times through the night and finally at 5:30 I got up and even though it had moved away from our was still in our little bay! I didn't want to go down there though because I didn't want to run into a moose.....I'm not sure how they react to people at close range. Finally at 6:00, I couldn't wait any longer so away I went. Above, are some pics I took early this morning. It was still kind of dark and it's cloudy here today (figures) so they're a bit dark. I think too it's getting smaller, so it's not a huge iceberg like some.

Oh was good enough for *this* mainlander.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Iceberg Pics (Click on pic to enlarge)

Well, today there was another iceberg. This one a lot closer but somewhat smaller. Really, the picture doesn't do it justice.....the iceberg is much larger than it appears.

I got my new bench down by the ocean just in time for iceberg watching season! Woohoo!!!

I'm still hoping more icebergs will come our way, bigger ones would be better. And...hopefully, they'll get stuck in our little bay here, so we can have a close up view!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


We saw icebergs today!!! Woohoo!!!

I've been keeping close watch every day for the last little while. Sometimes I see things floating way off in the distance but they've always turned out to be boats. But....not today!! We had headed off for piano lessons and stopped for the mail. As I waited for Brittney to return from the post office, I noticed these 'things' that seemed to be too lopsided to be boats, floating way off on the horizon. I made Larry return home so I could check through the binoculars and sure enough.....they were ICEBERGS!!!

There were lots of them and we not only saw them here, but all along the coast on our way into town. By the time we returned home, there were 5 or 6 floating around and we could see them from our back yard.

I tried to take some pics, but they were just too far away. They ended up looking like small dots on the screen. I'm hopeful though, one (or maybe even two) will make it's way into our little bay here (in which case, I'll be snapping lots of pics!)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Benefits of living (and breathing) in Newfoundland

I love living in Newfoundland!!! (I betcha didn't know that though, did ya?)

There are so many things we love about our new provincial home, but two have been in the forefront recently.

Crab season opened last week and our friend Paul (who used to be a full-time fisherman before the moratorium) went crab fishing today. We benefited from his hard work as he brought us some fresh crab. Caught from the Atlantic Ocean today --- can't get much fresher than that!

Mmmmmm......I can hardly wait to sink my teeth into it.

We had all kinds of questions for him, about how fishing on a large scale is done, quotas and how they work, when the different seasons opened and for how long they were open for......we just had so many questions. It was really interesting to learn, but I'm sure our questions seemed a little odd to him. (We keep reminding him we're mainlanders and all this ocean stuff is really new to us).


I *still* love our weather too.

Saturday saw Toronto with summer-like conditions. Their temps. were in the mid to high 20s, while we were down around 4 degrees with some wet snow flurries thrown in. Brittney was quite disgusted that while her friend in Ontario had worn shorts to school, she still had to wear long pants and a coat.

A quick check of Environment Canada's website though, soon changed her mind. We saw the air quality health index for Toronto, that night (April 19), was 7. Wow - 7! (Anything from 7 - 10 is in the high range). Now, we're not talking a hot afternoon in the middle of July or August. No....we're talking an evening rating....and an evening in mid April nonetheless. Amazing.

Another check of The Toronto Star's website, noted Toronto had issued it's first smog alert of the year --- in April ---- Wow! I shudder to think what it will be like come July and August.

The above pictures were taken around our area, most of them outside our home. Three were in, March, the other in August. Whether it's March or August, the sky is very blue!

For me.....I'll take our clear, clean, fresh air (even if it is cooler). No question!

Friday, April 18, 2008

A poem Catherine and Jake

Jake has never been a sit down and work kind of a guy. He's very hands on and learns by doing. I have a friend, who is also a homeschooling mom with a daughter fairly close in age and personality to Jake. So, us moms came up with an idea and our kids seemed quite happy to go along with it all.

One of them would start a poem by making up a line. That would then be emailed to the other for that one to make up a line and add it. Back and forth it went until a poem was created. Catherine and Jake are sure, it will be worth millions (they're hoping anyway ;0) ), it's really just a matter of time

So, without further is their poem....

My name is Jake and I checked my clock
To see if it was bedtime
When upon my door I heard a knock
And found there was a dinosaur

He was so strong, he knocked out his teeth
And they scattered all over the floor
He exclaimed, "Oh my! look underneath ...
Me, my teeth are everywhere!"

He shovelled them up into his mouth
To see if they would fit again
Nope! So off to the tooth store down south
"I need new teeth," said the dinosaur

The cashier had some teeth on the shelf
He took them to see if they would fit
Then he said, "Oh my, you have bad health!"
You should go to the dentist!

Good job, Catherine and Jake!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Living in the Country and by the Ocean....

what a winning combination!

It was piano lesson day today, so the kids and I all headed into 'town' (well, we call it The City but that brings some strange looks and I think identifies us as strangers to this land. Everyone here calls it 'Town', even though it is a city). We never tire of the beautiful drive into 'town', along the windy coast line, looking at the ocean. It never looks the same any two days --- simply amazing.

We've had many people question our wanting to live all the way out here in Pouch Cove, but we absolutely love it! Sometimes (maybe most times?) they become even more baffled when they find out we moved from Ontario and actually chose to live in Pouch Cove.

Some of the things we like....

Being so near the ocean --- the sound of the waves lull us to sleep at night. Some times, when the ocean is really tempestuous we can even feel the vibrations in the house. What power!

The stars at night are absolutely gorgeous --- so clear, bright and oh so many of them! When the moon shines across the ocean.....well....there's just not enough words to adequately describe it. This summer, we're looking forward to camping out, under the stars and down by the ocean.

So much wildlife. Last fall there were more than a few moose in our yard. One of the first nights we were here, I just happened to look out in the back yard. I intended to look at the ocean but got more than I had bargained for. Imagine my shock when I saw a moose -- 10 feet from my house! He watched me, while I watched him. He continued to eat off of the tree as he watched me. He wasn't frightened at all of me. When he finished, he slowly walked away.

Ohh...and I can't forget the icebergs! I heard on the news tonight, there are over 500 active icebergs making their way here! I so hope they make it by our place on their journey.

There are countless other things.....the wild blueberries and raspberries that grow behind our house. The beautiful birds I can see from our front window. The quietness of it all. The list goes on.....

For us, we just can't imagine why anybody would want to live in the city (errr...I mean town) when they can have the beauty of the country and still be close enough to the city (I mean town) when needed.


After piano, we had some errands to run (we try to combine town errands into one trip). The drive home is equally as beautiful but we were all certainly glad to return to our little piece of The Rock.

Ahhhh...home sweet home.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Making friends....Jake style

Jake had one of his new friends over today. They laughed and laughed and laughed together as they engaged in various activities. As I watched them play and listened to them, I couldn't help but smile to myself. I was remembering the way Jake went about meeting new friends when we first arrived here in Newfoundland.

It was one of our first days here and he wasn't about to wait for people to come to us. No. He set out to meet the people of our new neighbourhood. He went up and down our street, talking to people who were out in their yards. If there was nobody around, he went to the door and knocked. He knew exactly what he was going to say and it went something like this, "Hi, I'm Jake, I'm 9 years old and I've just moved here from Ontario. I'm looking for some friends and was wondering if you have any children around my age I could play with?"

He came home, pleased to find out there were at least a couple of children in our new neighbourhood.

A few months later, Larry started tutoring a high school girl who happened to have a younger brother. The first night he came home and told us there was a boy about Jake's age there and he reminded Larry alot of Jake. They were similar in personality and he thought they'd get along well. So, Jake was determined to meet this boy and thought it would be a great idea to go with his Dad the next week for the tutoring session. Hesitant at first, we were unsure how this would appear and if it would be too many distractions for Larry, trying to keep an eye on Jake while he was supposed to be tutoring.

We told Jake, we'd think about it though and see if we could come up with a way for the two boys to meet.

Jake didn't need any of our ideas. No. He had his own, thank you very much.

He knew the boy's mother worked at our little general store here in town. One afternoon, on his way home from the library, he decided to stop in and have a talk with her. The conversation went something like this:

Jake: Hi....are you L.......M's mother?

L: Well....yes I am

Jake: Oh ok.....I'm dad is Larry and he tutors your daughter. My dad told me you had a son about my age and I just wanted you and him to know, if he's looking for a new friend,....... I'm available. I could come to your house with my Dad when he tutors.

L: Ummm....sure that would be fine.

Then Jake handed her a piece of paper with all of his 'stats' written on them. Important things like, where he was born, his birthday, his favourite colour, his grade (kind of like one would see in a magazine about a movie star). He asked the boy's mother if she could give that to her son.

Soooo....with that, Jake went with Larry. The two boys hit it off, really well. Jake has been going every week now. The last time he had Larry stop at the store first. Using some of his birthday money, he bought a chocolate bar for his friend, one for his sister that Larry tutors and two for me (he knows how much I love chocolate ;0) ).

Jake thought it would be a good idea to invite the boy to our house today and had planned on asking him last week. With all the excitement though, he forgot. So, this morning Jake got up and patiently waited and watched the clock for a "reasonable hour to call his friend." He gladly accepted the invitation and Jake was beside himself with excitement. It's been awhile since we've heard Jake laugh as hard as he did today.

I'm glad he has a new friend.....especially since he found him with his own unique method.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Unscheduled Time

It continues to amaze me, what the kids pick up on their own, simply because

a) they are interested in it
b) they're given enough free, non-scheduled time to try these new-to-them things out

Many times, well actually most times, these are pursuits that seem to come out of nowhere. I have no idea where they get their ideas from......certainly not Larry or I making a suggestion for them to try this or that.

Some examples off the top of my head

~~ selling marshmallows at the side of the road
~~ all of his entrepreneurial pursuits in general
~~ creating games
~~ drawing pictures

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~~ researching cartooning
~~ creating cartoons
~~ music
~~ exploring
~~ geography, maps, flags of the world
~~ travelling

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~~ taking a shirt and stitching her own pattern onto it.
~~ taking complete charge of her nutrition -- making sure she's getting enough from ~~ each food group by keeping track of what she's eating. It's common place for her to ask for more vegetables or another glass of milk or to say no to junk food because she's already had some today. Now don't get me wrong, she *loves* her junk food too, but seems to know when to draw the line
taking charge of her physical fitness -- roller blading, bike riding, walking (when ~~ it's too nasty to do the other two). She loves the way exercise makes her feel and gets outside most days.
~~ doing laundry (I tell her this is a good one to have as mom doesn't much care for it ;0) )

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There are more but these are the ones that come to right to mind.

I often hear the notion of providing the right 'opportunities' for children, whether it be the right school or the best instructor or the best activities etc. We believe one of the best opportunities to offer our children is the opportunity of time --- time for them to explore their own interests, develop new ones or expand and/or alter already existing ones. So, while they do have some structured type activities (Piano lessons, youth group, gym class/swimming with the homeschooling group etc.), we try to reach a balance between scheduled and unscheduled time.

Hmmm...I wonder what new things tomorrow will bring.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Gorgeous Day on The Rock

It was simply beautiful here today (sorry, no pictures, you'll just have to take my word). The sun was shining brightly, not a cloud in the sky and wow.....was the sky ever blue!!! We're just not used of that shade of blue....the sky we're used of is more a shade of .......ummmm..... hazy brown (even on the good days).

It felt much warmer than the 2 degrees the thermometer said but...who are we to argue with a thermometer??? Larry and I walked back behind our house, down to the ocean. The ocean was sooo blue too and quite calm. It looked like a nice summer day on a a beach (except there was more rock ;-)). We walked to the lower spot and then up to the higher spot. Most days, we still have to pinch ourselves that we're actually on the ocean (the local people here call it "the water" and I think they think we're a bit strange for calling it "the ocean" however....when I hear them call it "the water" I have to fight the urge to not jump up and down exclaiming like an excited child, "BUT IT'S THE OCEAN.....THE ATLANTIC OCEAN...")

Oh....and we're still keeping watch for an iceberg. We all seem to get pretty excited over the odd chunk of sea ice floating around.....I'm not sure we'll be able to handle actually seeing a real iceberg......but I've got my camera ready. Hopefully, we won't be disappointed.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Field Trips...Homeschooling Style

I quite often get asked what our next homeschooling field trip is going to be. While we have a couple of ideas in the discussion stage, we have no concrete plans just yet.

Our last one, which was our ultimate field trip, was one we all enjoyed. We embarked on a cross-Canada trip and while it involved a lot of relaxation and enjoyment, it was also very educational. It was amazing, even for us adults, how much more we learned about our great country by doing this than what we had learned (or could learn) from a text book.

It began in the summer of 2006 and we were living in Ontario at the time. In July, we left from Ontario and drove to British Columbia and then back to Ontario. We were home long enough to do some laundry, sort mail and then back on the road heading to the east coast of Canada. Our trip concluded with living in a small fishing village in Newfoundland for two months before returning to real life in Ontario.

I love the flexibility homeschooling offers. Although the western part of our trip took place over the summer months, the two months we spent in Newfoundland did not. We were able to bring our books and work here. We were also able to meet up with the active homeschooling group here and take part in some of their activities. The kids were able to make some more friends, from a different province, which they would not have had opportunity to do if they were in a regular school.

We were able to meet homeschooling families from across Canada, which was a blast!

We were able to see the differences in weather, culture (way of life, food etc.) and landscape of this great country. Even though we are the same country, each province was unique. It was amazing and breathtaking.

Hmmm......I wonder what we can do next.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

More Cartoons (click to enlarge)

Here is one of his political cartoons and his attempts at using the computer to colour.

Cartoons, anyone? (click to enlarge)

I know many homeschoolers, who are unschoolers (which means they are homeschoolers that don't follow a 'boxed' curriculum). They are child-led, or they follow their children's interests and go from there. Although we are not unschoolers, we do have some unschooling tendencies.

One of these areas would be Tyler and his cartooning. A couple of years ago, he developed a deep interest in this. Each day, after his book work was complete, he'd stash himself away, in some corner of the house and cartoon. Completely on his own and of his own accord, he taught himself. No help from Mom or Dad, totally on his own (mom has trouble drawing a stick man. :\)

He had his work looked at by a couple of accomplished cartoonists and a professional commercial artist. They all commented positively on his work as each asked or commented something to the effect of "Art must be his favourite subject in school" or "He must get really good marks in Art" or "His Art Teacher must be pleased with these." They were even more shocked when they found out there was no teacher nor had there ever been. ;-)

They were able to offer encouragement to him along with a glimpse into the way the industry operates. They advised him to put together a portfolio and what steps he could take next in his pursuit.

At age 14, he approached a couple of our local newspapers. One of them ran his cartoons on their website.

A friend of ours, who ran the site for his son's bike club, also put some of Tyler's cartoons on that site (Thanks, Rick!)

He is hoping to pursue cartooning, in one form or another, as a career. He continues to read and work on improving his technique. He's been experimenting with drawing cartoons, scanning them into the computer and then using the computer to colour them. He's even tried his hand a a couple of political cartoons. He reads biographies of famous cartoonists and gains encouragement and knowledge from them.

He continues in this unschooling vein to become a cartoonist.

Who day....he may just be.

(These are just a few of his earlier ones --- he's done many different types but haven't been able to scan a lot of them in yet)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Time flies

A while back, Jake asked me if he could use my computer to check his emails. (I guess the budding tycoon that he is, he always has emails to answer?). When he'd finished, he told me, "I've left something for you on the computer, Mom." When I returned, he had typed "I love you Mom" into Google and the above picture is what came up. The other picture is taken of him and I figuring out how the web cam works.

Wow....I can hardly believe he is going to be 10 already.....where has the time gone?