Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Visit To Victoria

At the beginning of June, we went out to Victoria to visit Dan's mom.

Anthony protested the picture-taking at first.

Anne, Catherine, Dominic, Joseph, Grandma, Anthony, and I in front of Grandma's house.



On Sunday afternoon we all went to see the...

...buffalo!  (I should say bison.)  See the baby ones?

Talking to Grandma.

Saying hi to Grandpa.  We wish he was here so the kids could know him.

Next up:  All about the Sand Plum Nature Trail!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: Prairie Skies Series

There are three books in the Prairie Skies Series by Deborah Hopkinson, a series about life in Kansas in the mid 1850s.  In the first book, Pioneer Summer, 8-year old Charlie and his family move from Massachusetts to Kansas when his abolitionist parents hear that soon to be made a state Kansas has not been declared a free state or a slave state, but that it's status will be decided by the people who live there.  They move to a farm near Lawrence, Kansas, even though Charlie does not want to leave Massachusetts, his grandpa, and his dog. 

In the second book, Cabin in the Snow, Charlie must grow up and show that he can help take care of his family, when his father stays behind in Lawrence to help defend the town from pro-slavery brigands.  Charlie must get the supplies home to the family and help keep them safe through a blizzard.

The third book is called Our Kansas Home, and the Keller family has survived the winter, but now Charlie's father is in danger for his involvement in the free-state movement and must go into hiding.  Once again, Charlie must take care of his family, as well as Lizzie, a runaway slave he finds hiding in the grass. 

I plan to use these books whenever we study this period in Kansas history.  They show realistic experiences a family might have had during this turbulent time period. The three books are each about 13-14 chapters, about 70-80 pages long.  They deal with serious topics, and speak of violence, though there is nothing graphic.  They are suspenseful in parts, but not overly so, and they do not advocate violence as a solution.  Much of the story focuses on Charlie as he grows and matures, and we see the historic events through his eyes.  I would not have a problem with Catherine reading them, as long as we had discussion to go along with them. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Joseph's Creation

One day, Joseph spent a long time building this Play-Doh creation.   I finally got him to put it away after I took pictures.  The orange thing to the right is a volcano and the red is the lava, of course.  The other is the land around and a lake at the bottom of the flow. 

A funny story about Joseph:  Probably close to a month ago now, he made up a game.  He took two decks of cards and hid about half of each one all over the main floor of our house.  Then Dominic was supposed to find them all.  He found some, but for a long time, I kept finding cards in the oddest places.  There was a card in about half of my dresser drawers.  There were cards between the books in a stack on my nightstand.  I would pick something up off my dresser or the floor and there would be a card.  Cards on the closet floors.  Cards in the bathroom cabinets.  I wonder if we will ever find all of the cards!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lots of Cousins!

Several weeks ago, I took Catherine, Dominic, and Anne up to my parents' house near Kansas City for the weekend.  My brother and his family were in town from Iowa and my sister brought over her kids for a day.  So on Saturday, there were lots of cousins running around, and it was fun to see how they have all grown.

Anne, Isabella, and Catherine

Daniel, Dominic, and Thomas

My sweet little goddaughter, Emily.
My godson, Patrick.

Play ball!

Dom was ready to field the ball.

Even Grandma got in on the action!

Catherine took a break.

Grandpa with most of the kids. 

Cutie-pie Elizabeth.

Dominic and Daniel pretended they were brothers for the weekend.  Daniel will be getting a new baby brother come August, which is exciting!

We had a great time visiting everyone and the kids really enjoyed getting to spend time with their cousins.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review: The Great Cake Mystery

I should do a whole post on the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series, by Alexander McCall Smith, which is a delightful series about a woman named Precious Ramotswe, in Botswana, Africa, who opens the first (and only) detective agency in her town of Gabarone.   While having no formal detective training, she possesses oodles of common sense combined with excellent observational skills and thus solves all sorts of cases.  It is a fun series currently with 13 titles. 

The book shown above is about Precious as a young schoolgirl, and contains the story of her first case as she solves the mystery of who has been stealing the childrens' snacks.  She does this to help a classmate who has been falsely accused and the way she goes about solving the case is very unique.  While the books in the series mentioned above are written for adults, this book is geared toward young readers.  There are eight short chapters which offer an interesting look at everyday life in Africa.  In the back of the book, there is some information about Botswana, as well as discussion questions and some ideas of ways to incorporate other subjects such as science and geography into the reading of this book.  The last page even has a recipe for Precious's Sponge Cake Worth Stealing.  What a great book!

I received nothing for the review of this book, but if you follow the link to Amazon and purchase anything, I will receive a small commission.

Book Review: Akimbo and the Snakes

This is a story of Akimbo, who lives in Africa.  One summer he goes to visit his uncle, who runs a snake preserve.  He learns all about the snakes of Africa, and gets the job of feeding some of them.  His uncle does not have a green mamba in his preserve, however, and he has been looking for one for a long time.  The green mamba is very dangerous and elusive.  When a village sends word that a green mamba has been spotted and has killed some animals, Akimbo and his uncle set out to capture the snake and bring it back to the snake preserve.  Read the story to find out what happens when Akimbo has a very close encounter with the green mamba snake!

Catherine and I both enjoyed this book by Alexander McCall Smith.  It is a longer chapter book, but short enough that Catherine could finish it in one sitting.  It fit in great with our study of Africa.  There is also Akimbo and the Lions, which she enjoyed, as well as a few other Akimbo books that our library did not have. 

I received nothing for this review, but if you click on the link and buy something from Amazon, I will receive a small commission.

Snow Peas

We got quite a few snow peas this year.  Not enough that I put any in the freezer, but we ate a lot of them!  We ate them in salads and stir fries, steamed as a side dish, and just plain raw.

I gave the kids containers so they could help pick the peas.

However, Anthony and Anne got distracted by a ladybug, which Anne found and put in the container.

Dominic and Joseph hunt for snow peas.  I think Catherine must be back there eating some!

Some lovely steamed snow peas. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Another Snake Post

We don't often see snakes close to the house, but one evening a few weeks ago, Dan spotted this one right on the front porch.   I took this picture through the window, so it is blurry, but you can see it is not a garter snake.  It was much bigger than the usual garter snakes we see.  After looking at pictures in a book, we think it might be some kind of a rat snake.  When I opened the door to take a better picture, it took off around the corner of the house. 

Cherry Cobbler

We have a cherry tree that Dan planted during the first year we were here. (The other cherry tree was destroyed by deer.)  This is the first year we've really gotten any cherries, so there weren't very many.  Still, there were enough for me to blog about them.  :)

Our cherry haul came to one cup of pitted cherries.

Just enough to get by with for a half-pan of cherry cobbler.