Friday, September 12, 2008

Issue 16

My Family by Ellie age 3

Janey taught Ellie how to draw stick figures this week, and Ellie promptly made dozens of family portraits. It impresses me that she not only has the right number of people in our family, but she proportionally represents their heights. I love to see her little brain at work!

Knights' Summit by Daniel

(Note by Mom: Knights of Freedom is a club for boys, similar to Janey's Liberty Girls. They read books about famous American Men who are worthy of emulating. They meet twice a month and do lots of fun activities. Once a year there is a two day summit where a hundred boys from Knights clubs from all over Utah, come together and learn the virtues of knighthood and have simulated battles to save their kingdom. The event is so much fun! It takes dozens of people months of work to pull off, and they do it with style. Steve (Dad) got to spend the day on Saturday with the boys and was a villain in the Final Battle. I think the greatest thing about the summit, is realizing how many families have come together, donating their time and talents to make such a memorable experience for their boys.)

The Knight’s summit was really fun. We played lots of games and made our shields and they gave us swords. We went for two days and at the end of two days we had a big battle against the Green Knight.

To become a knight we had to do lots of tasks, like learn the knightly virtues, make our weapons, and go on a quest. I was knighted Daniel the Knight of Honor. I really liked the summit and I had fun. I wish they did it more than once a year!

Neverland by Steve L.

I got a part in Peter Pan! It’s a community theater production and you’re all invited. I’m playing the part of a lost boy (twin #2), one of the 6 lost boys with lines. There are roughly 33 other lost boys without lines. Daniel gets to be one of them. Janey also got a part as a Neverland Animal.

First we went for tryouts. We had to memorize a monologue before hand and then recite it to the directors. Then I waited a couple of days to see if I was called back. (Please, please, please pick me!) I got called back with a bunch of other kids. They asked us to act out lines from the play and then put the best actors in the play. We also had to sing part of a solo. Ugh. Then I had to wait almost a week to see if I got in the play. (Please, please, please pick me!) I got picked. I’m so happy!

High School by Whitney

This week I started high school!!! I am going to a newer charter school. It is based on Thomas Jefferson Education. (What our home school is based on.) And it is really cool! The first week is “jump start” week. We were split into different groups and do three work shops each day for the first three days. The work shops tell about the different things about our school that make it unique. In one class we did different outdoor relay races, in the gym we learn the swing for the school dance on Friday, in a classroom, we were each handed a planner the school has bought for us so we can be more organized, ect. It is really awesome. They really encourage you to take charge of your education. Teaching you “how” to think not “what” to think. For the highest grade possible, you have to come up with and complete a project worthy of the grade, by yourself,! There aren’t “senior”, and “freshman” classes. All the students are in the classes according to their level. I’m so excited!!!

(Note by Mom: Whitney tried out and made the school’s audition choir Bel Conte. Thanks for the voice lessons Aunt Emily!)

A Bouquet of Freshly Sharpened Pencils by Noreen

Fall is my favorite season! Maybe it's because it means my birthday is around the corner, or maybe it's the comfortable temperature. I love pulling the fall clothes out of their Rubbermaid totes. I especially love finding a favorite shirt or sweater that I had forgotten I had. I love the promise of a fresh start, the return to a routine that will help me reach my goals. I love the smells of fall and the apples and the pumpkins and the leaves, especially the leaves.

We moved to Minnesota in the fall and the trees had just changed colors. I have never seen anything so stunning as the drive to the grocery store in October in MN. Steve was very nearly in a head-on collision on his first commute to St. Paul. He was so captured by the trees that he drifted into the other lane of traffic!

But even more than my favorite brilliant red maple leaves, I love new school supplies! Fresh boxes of perfect crayons, blank note books begging to be filled, glue sticks that have yet to be smashed, markers that still own all their lids, and above all a "bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils!"

First day of our new school year, complete with lots of brand new school supplies. Janey says "They're just like presents, only their not wrapped!"

Liberty Girls by Janey

For Liberty Girls this week we read the book Meet Addy. Addy and her family were slaves for Master Stevens during the Civil War. Her brother and dad were sold to another white guy and Addy and her mom escaped, but they couldn’t bring her baby sister Ester. They came to this river. They tried to cross, but her mom couldn’t swim and the current took her down river and Addy had to rescue her mom.

In Liberty girls we sewed a doll like Addy’s doll in the book. Addie’s doll is named Janie in the book. Then we had a snack of corn bread. Then we showed each other pictures of our families so we could get to know each other. We made sea shell necklaces, because in the book Addy’s mom gave her a sea shell necklace that belonged to her great-grandma. It was really fun.

Whale Watching by Noreen

From Queenstown we drove to Lake Te Kapo, where we spent a couple of days camped next to the lovely turquoise lake. We drove to a lookout point to see the majestic Mount Cook, but it was shrouded in clouds that day, so we satisfied ourselves with a post card.

There are busloads of Japanese tourists at the major sightseeing venues, and the women are quite taken with Janey and Ellie. I imagine they are the first American children many have seen, as we did not meet any others in our travels. They are always patting them, pinching their cheeks, and saying how cute they were. At Mount Cook Janey was quite the celebrity. Maybe it was because there was no visible mountain to photograph, but a young adult asked if she could get her picture with Janey. Janey was happy to oblige, and then tourist after tourist lined up to have their picture taken with her. It was so fun to watch, and I only wish I had gotten a picture of everyone taking a picture with her!

What we saw.

Post card of what we could have seen.

We were able to tour ¾ of the South Island in the 3 ½ weeks we were there. It looks so compact on the map, but it entailed a lot of driving and pulling out to a new camp every one or two days to get it all in. The drive time went fast, as we read together most of the time. We got through J.M. Berry's, Peter Pan (interesting), George MacDonald's, The Princess and the Goblin (delightful), and The Princess and Curdie (fascinating) and Robin Hood (adventurous!)

After Te Kapo we spent the night in Keakoura. This was a highlight of our trip south as we took the chance to go wale watching the next day. Ellie was too young to go on the boat, so Steve took the boys at 6:45 in the morning and I took the older girls at 10:45. The boys saw a sperm whale 3 times and the girls saw them four times. The technology they used to know where and when the whales would emerge for about ten minutes at a time was fascinating, but being so close to an animal so large in the wild was breath taking. I think it was an experience the children will never forget!

Photo by Whitney

Photo by Whitney

To see a map of the places we traveled so far in this series, click on this link: <,172.875366&spn=8.067848,12.128906&z=6&msid=116765397961150020384.000451b63510a46db34d4>


I revamped the chore system in August, and divided all the daily chores into 3 groups and the three middle children rotate through them, changing responsibilities weekly. Before we had stewardships (Steve L. did all the dishes, Whitney did the laundry etc.), but with Whitney going to school and Janey getting old enough to take more responsibility, it was time to make a change.

Janey has really stepped up to the challenge. Her morning chores this week included straightening the kid's bathroom, taking out the recyclables, doing the dishes and she even fed the dog for Whitney. While scrubbing the dishes she said to me with a great deal of satisfaction, "I feel like Cinderella, doing all of these chores!"

I'm glad she feels like a princess. The Hard Working kind!

End of Issue 16