Saturday, 28 February 2009

Friday, 27 February 2009

Secret # 6 ~ Conquering saboteurs

I am a little behind in my reading of the 12 Secrets of Highly Effective Women, but still enjoying the book. I just finished reading the sixth secret and the main message I received from it is how important it is to value our own natural talents and try to recognize those little internal negative voices many of us have, that try to sabotage our accomplishments. There are also external voices that we need to be aware of, comments other people might make that could affect us.
As a parent, I was reminded how careful we need to be with what we say to our children about their talents and creativity, to make sure we nurture them.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

just for fun on a tuesday afternoon

You Are An INFP

The Idealist

You are a creative person with a great imagination. You enjoy living in your own inner world.

Open minded and accepting, you strive for harmony in your important relationships.

It takes a long time for people to get to know you. You are hesitant to let people get close to you.

But once you care for someone, you do everything you can to help them grow and develop.

In love, you tend to have high (and often unrealistic) standards.

You are very sensitive. You tend to have intense feelings.

At work, you need to do something that expresses your personal values.

You would make an excellent writer, psychologist, or artist.

How you see yourself: Unselfish, empathetic, and spiritual

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Unrealistic, naive, and weak

Monday, 23 February 2009

Book Sharing Monday: Black History Month

For our last book sharing of this Black History Month, I chose a non-fiction book about Rosa Parks. "Rosa Parks, Don't Give In!" is written by Cathy East Dubowski and has many photographs. This book tells the life story of Rosa Parks "the mother of the civil rights movement" who is known for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in December 1955 and being arrested for it. That was a defining moment in history for the black community. Her refusal started a boycott of the buses by the black people in her town of Montgomery, Alabama. As the news of the boycott spread, other cities participated. These events helped changed the law on segregation in buses. This book continues to tell the rest of Rosa's influential life as well.

"When Rosa refused to give up her seat, the driver called the police. One officer asked her why she didn't obey the driver. Rosa said, "Why do you all push us around?"

"I don't know," the policeman said, "but the law is the law and you're under arrest."

Here are a few links to read more on Rosa Parks:
Rosa Louise Parks Biography
Wikipedia page on Rosa Parks
The Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan
**In March, we will be reading books that relate "loosely" to the Iditarod, the sled dog race in Alaska. We followed the race last year and will be doing that again this year. Books could be on Alaska, its culture, on the Iditarod itself, or on sled dogs...If you would like to join me, please feel free to share your favourite books on that theme, or continue on with other themes!

Happy Birthday Andre!


My baby boy is 10 years old today!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Homeschooling decisions...

We have been talking about decisions a lot for the past couple of weeks in our house. If you are new to this blog, let me recap a bit.

Up until this past September, we were a homeschooling family. After moving to a different area of Ontario, we found ourselves without a support group, and unable to make real connections with the few homeschoolers in our area. At the same time, the local public school seemed to catch the interest of the kids, so we all decided to give the school system another try.
It has worked better than I could have imagined. Andre and Celeste both enjoy going to school, and are doing well there. Adrienne is also doing very well in school. But. Yes, there is a But! She is bored. She finds school boring, and she doesn't relate to the other students in certain ways. For example, how she loves her family and wants to spend as much time as possible with us. Another point is how she enjoys learning about new things, and the school kids, from what I hear, don't. They just want to be done with their school work and have time to chat online, go on dates with their boyfriends, etc...
The plan, back in September, was that we would do "after school". I thought we could continue on with the projects that we enjoyed from our home schooling days. I even had a list in a post (here). We have tried, but both Andre and Adrienne are tired when they come back from school. Physically and mentally. They want to relax or go outside to play. We have continued to read, either they read or I read aloud to them. We do more reading, art, or playing on the weekends. We are doing the Journey North Mystery Class right now and enjoying that...just little projects here and there.

So, back to the decisions...

My husband and I have been talking with Adrienne about the next school year. She has said many times that she wants to be home schooled again. That she misses learning and that she misses everything about home schooling!
We had all agreed that all 3 children would complete the school year at the public school, so that means she will be staying until June. She is fine with that (she is much more patient that I am!). We all agreed also that we would take the next 4 months to think about this decision.
Homeschooling just one child, a 12 year old, grade 7... while sending the other 2 to public school. Part of me is so excited, and part of me is feeling guilty. Is it fair to just home school 1 and not all 3 of my children?

Eating Clean - part two!

We have been continuing our challenge this month and are really enjoying the recipes from Tosca Reno. You can see my last post here. Here are a few more reviews of recipes that we have tried from the two eating clean cookbooks.

We are continuing to enjoy the hot cereal mix and the granola that I mentioned in my previous eat clean post.

My husband asked me to make the Spilt Pea Soup (cookbook p.44) to take to work. Split pea soup wasn't on my list of recipes to try! I was pleasantly surprised, while cooking this soup, I thought it smelled nice and after we pureed it (it doesn't mention to do that in the recipe), this soup turned out to be delicious.

Orzo Primavera (cookbook p. 81) was another lunch item that I thought would be perfect for the kids to have at school. The kids had never had orzo before or edamame. They all liked the orzo and the simple dressing in this salad, with its subtle dill taste, but not the edamame. I will try it next time with baby peas instead. I think this salad would be great during the summer, nice and fresh tasting.

The Wild Rice Summer Salad (cookbook p. 88) was delicious! I had never made dressing with toasted sesame oil before, and it gave this rice and chicken cold salad an interesting taste. The kids liked it, but again with picking out the edamame! We all said it could use more vegetables, less rice, but it was still very nice.

We love soup here, so I tried the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (cookbook p. 52). With the garlic and sweet onion roasting along side the squash, the house smelled wonderful! The soup turned out delicious as well (and inexpensive to make).

For a nice Sunday dinner, we tried the Roast Stuffed Port Tenderloin (cookbook p. 207) with Smashed Sweet Potatoes (family cookbook p.267). This meal was a big hit with everyone. Celeste loved the pork tenderloin, but not the stuffing. She even asked me to give her some, cold, for her school lunch the next day, with some apple sauce to dip! The sweet potatoes were a perfect sweet side dish for this meal. I do not normally like stuffing, or stuffed meat dishes, but this filling was very tasty, maybe it was the apricots...

Another favourite of the kids was the Sweet Potato Oven Fries (family cookbook p.272) and the Turkey Meatballs (family cookbook p.293). I had made the sweet potato fries before and knew to not add the dried oregano or rosemary to them. Celeste in particular loves these fries, but not with the "crunchy little bits on top". Just garlic, salt and pepper, and these fries are gone in no time! The meatballs were also a hit with Celeste. She kept on going for more. They are full of good things for her too, wheat germ, flax seeds, oat bran, so I was very pleased!

If you would like more information on the books or eating clean, make sure to visit my last post for all the links!

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

A perfect afternoon

I just love these photos of my girls and my boy's arm yesterday. In Canada, yesterday was "Family Day" and there were special activities offered in various places. We chose to go skating at the arena near our house. It was free, and we could walk there. There was also free hot chocolate, free face painting, free cake...lots of free things! The skating lasted two hours, and we took a break for about half an hour or so to do the face painting and share some fries.

A perfect afternoon!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Book Sharing Monday: Black History Month

Black History Month continues with "The Last Safe House: a Story of the Underground Railroad" by Barbara Greenwood and illustrated by Heather Collins.

This book has two parts that mix together as you go through the book. For a few pages at a time, you follow the story two families, the Jacksons and the Reids, in 1856. The Jacksons are runaway slaves. The other part of the book explains more about the Underground Railroad, but also how slaves came to be slaves, the work they did on plantations, and even illustrated a cotton plantation, explaining the purpose of each building on it. Activities can be found throughout the book too.

Here is a small part of Eliza's story, the young slave that ran away with her family. This part explains the type of work she did when she was on the plantation, in the laundry building:

"Eliza helped by spreading handkerchiefs and collars on the grass to dry and bleach in the sun. She stretched damp stockings over foot-shaped boards to keep them from shrinking."

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Bushfire Quilt Project

Adrienne and I are taking part of the Bushfire Project, helping in a very tiny way the victims of the horrible fires that have taken the lives of many Australian men, women, and children. We are making quilts blocks and will be sending those to Tia Curtis in Australia. Those will be made into quilts and given to the survivors. The project can be followed at her blog Camp Follower Bags and Quilts and on flickr (click on the button).

Mystery Class Update #2

Journey North Mystery Class sunrise/sunset data for February 9, 2009

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day has been bittersweet for me for many years. It was my father's birthday and he would have been 68 years old today. Joyeux anniversaire, papa.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Secret # 5 ~ Committing to Self Focus

I feel like I am repeating myself, but! This 5th secret and chapter was so important and relevant for me. The 5th secret is committing to self focus. I understand how difficult it can be to commit. As women, we might have to break down some obstacles. The author explained for example how artists need to sink themselves into their work completely, but that, as much as it is accepted for men, it isn't as much for women. She also talked about the possible effects on mothers that come from not allowing ourselves a little bit of time and space to commit to our creativity. I have experienced this first hand. I always "feel" better after having spent a little time creating something. It doesn't have to be a long time, and it can be anything. Sewing, quilting, photography, and even cooking, these are all things that I can do to express my creativity.

"Self-fulfilled people have more positive energy available for the challenges of parenting."

How true that last quote is!

The interview with Christine Mason Miller (listen here) had such a clear message for me...JUST DO IT! That was my advice to myself during NaNoWriMo, just sit there and start typing. And it worked! I will follow the same advice for sewing, quilting, taking pictures, anything creative that I like doing.

Journey North Mystery Class #1 ~ First Week!

Adrienne and I completed the 10 charts for each mystery class location on Saturday morning. You can still join at Journey North .

Book Sharing Monday: Black History Month

Black History Month continues for us here with a new book called "Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad" written by Ellen Levine and illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

We decided to focus on the Underground Railroad since we live in an area that was part of it. Our library had several children books on the subject. You can see the selection that we chose and are reading just underneath Serendipity, my blog name.

Henry's Freedom Box is based on the true story of a slave named Henry Brown who mailed himself to freedom. In March 1849, he traveled 350 miles in a box that measured three feet by two feet only.
Here is a small part:

"But the master said, "You are a good worker, Henry. I am giving you to my son. You must obey him and never tell a lie." Henry nodded, but he didn't say thank you. That would have been a lie."

You can read more about Henry "Box" Brown at Wikipedia.
There is also a narrative written by Henry Brown himself available to read online here (I haven't read it myself, so not sure about the content).

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Eating Clean

I have had these two cookbooks on my shelf for a few months, and we have tried some of the recipes. They are both by Tosca Reno and follow the Eat Clean philosophy. I don't like calling them diet, because really I think it's just about eating healthy. You can visit her site at Eat Clean Diet and also read her blog here.
This month, I gave ourselves a little challenge (I love challenges if you haven't noticed already) to eat clean for the entire month, following the recipes in these books. I also want to reduce our grocery spending.

I thought it might be nice to share our reviews from the recipes we tried, along with a few pictures. We started this past weekend!


I made a batch of Morning Hot Cereal Mix (family book p.207) and this will become a staple in our house. I am not a big fan of hot cereal, but this one has a texture that I like, even a bit of crunchy goodness with the slivered almonds! Because we didn't add the dried fruit, our mix isn't sweet at all. Adrienne added a bit of honey to her portion.

I had decided a few weeks ago to stop buying boxed cereal. Instead I have been making granola and Andre loves this! The recipe I use is Crunchy Granola from More-with-Less cookbook, but there are many recipes that can be found on the internet, and some also in the eat clean books. It's very easy to make, and you know exactly what you put in it! We like to add hazelnuts or almonds in ours. Andre has it with almond milk, but I prefer with plain yogurt. My husband also likes this as a snack with strawberry yogurt.

We tried the Loaded Oats (cookbook p.29) also and it received mixed reviews. We might try it again, but with reducing the liquid part. It was too mushy for most of us...and Adrienne added maple syrup.

I don't have a picture of it, but I made the Eat-Clean Egg Salad (family book p.232 and online here). Adrienne and Celeste took it to school in a multi-grain wrap and I also had it for lunch on Monday. I didn't add the green onions because none of us like them, but it was still good. I was surprised how good, since it has no mayonnaise!

I also made the Turkey Waldorf Salad (cookbook p.189) without the green onions. The yogurt cheese was easy to make and added a nice flavour to this salad. Adrienne and Andre really liked this one. I put it in a wrap as well. Celeste tells me she doesn't like it, but she is my picky eater, so I am not surprised.

I made the Loaded Turkey Burrito (family p.236), we will have it for dinner but I wanted to try it first so had a portion of it for my lunch. Yum! I had made the hummus (family p.240) 2 days ago. I put some of the turkey mixture on top of it, on a wrap, and added some broccoli sprouts.


Sunday night, we had a roast chicken with Stuffed Peppers (cookbook p. 220). Only we forgot to get the red peppers ready so we just had the stuffing with our chicken! On Tuesday night, we had the stuffing again, this time with the peppers. The recipe is great, the only issue we had is that it made so much stuffing, compared to how many peppers it calls for (4).

I made chicken stock using the carcass and left over chicken from the roast and then made the Chicken Soup - Humble but Divine (family p.244). This soup turned out amazing!

The Turkey Burritos were a big success for dinner, even with Celeste. We added shredded carrots, zucchini, and broccoli sprouts. Adrienne and Celeste added some yogurt cheese to their wraps, along with the hummus.
We will be trying a few more recipes over the next few days and will post again.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Book Sharing Monday ~ Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and I thought it would be interesting to explore what our library has to offer on the subject over the next four weeks.

The first book I would like to share is called The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom written by Bettye Stroud and illustrated by Erin Bennett. The book tells the story of a young girl and her father running for their freedom and the special quilt and its hidden code that helped them along the Underground Railroad.

You can learn more about the Underground Railroad at these sites:
and last link for this week, you could watch Historica Minute on Underground Railroad.

Secret # 4 ~ Surrendering to creative cycles

This week the chapter talked about cycles, and how to remember to embrace those times of our lives that we might not feel the creativity flowing. I do understand that creativity comes in cycles. I can look back on my experiences and see different periods in my life when I have been more creative than others.
I could also relate to certain parts of the chapter, and understood more why I felt the need to be creative a few weeks after I hung up my "homeschool mom" hat. It was difficult at first to listen to my inner voice who was telling me to start doing things for myself, to pick up my quilting, to grab a paint brush and play, to take the camera and just start shooting, or even to cook and bake. I felt at that time like I was being selfish, and that it was almost wrong. It took me some time to listen to that little voice and follow it, but when I did, it felt so good!
In my reading notebook I copied a quote from this chapter because it was exactly me:

"As we release an old identity and move into a sense of being lost, purposeless, undefined, or confused, we must encounter the darkness in ourselves." (page 63)

I had an identity when I homeschooled my children, I was the homeschool mom. That was my passion, my "job", where I put all my energy. Even when I wasn't actually teaching my kids, I was busy researching what we would be doing next, or reading up on a different learning/teaching philosophy, or preparing for the next lessons at the library or on the internet, etc... I loved it, so it never felt like work. When we stopped, even though we all agreed on trying out the public school system, it was a difficult transition, for me mostly, the kids did fine! When Gail McMeekin wrote that sentence that I copied above, talking about being purposeless, undefined, lost, that is exactly how I felt. The darkness in me wasn't pretty either. But now that I am out of the darkness, the world is a beautiful place again, and I am excited to discover it.


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