Things We’ve Done This Week

May 7, 2009 @ 8:24 pm | Filed under: ,

• Watched a NOVA special on bees, and watched bees outside on our sunflowers and scabiosa. I am so happy to see them buzzing around, filling those nifty leg pouches with golden pollen. Rilla stands beside me, peering so closely. Rose prefers to stay a safe distance away.

• Played lots of Harvest Moon. Such a relaxing game, I find. Planting crops, befriending forest animals, fishing. As virtual lives go, this one is quite appealing.

• Played, with lots of whooping and hollering, several exciting games of Mario Kart with my husband as the children cheered us on. We’re like a Wii commercial.

* Watched the Benjamin Button movie, which I loved, and which had almost nothing in common with the Fitzgerald short story except of course for the central conceit.

• Watched Adam’s American Idol performance three times. Fast forwarded through Danny Gokey’s, so now you know where I stand.

• Watched LOST with my heart in my throat, as I do every week.

• Watched Castle with a big silly grin on my face the whole time, as I do every week.

• Watched House through my fingers, because MOST HORRIFYING ILLNESS EVER, SKIN COMING OFF!!!

• Found an Asian grocery store that sells Taiwanese sun cakes. We were so excited. “City famous for sun cakes” was one of the clues for Jane’s Journey North Mystery Class, which (I can reveal, now that the project is over) was Taichung, Taiwan. We went to Ranch 99 hoping to find something like sun cakes to bring to end-of-project party and were dazzled and delighted by the array of freshbaked cakes in the store’s bakery counter. It was like walking into a Dunkin Donuts: so many varieties! I asked for two dozen and the clerk’s eyes got big. She asked me when I needed them. “Now,” I said, and her eyebrows went higher. “Two thousand?” she asked, obviously thinking I was crazy. “No, two dozen!” I clarified. “Twenty-four cakes!” We shared a laugh over it. She packed us an assortment including mung bean, red bean, taro, green tea, lotus, and wax gourd. The green tea filling tasted just like, um, green tea. Rilla tried a mung bean one and I’m afraid it came right back up. The taro seemed to be the favorite at the party, but “favorite” is a relative term. I think we probably came home with about 18 of the 24 cakes. The “frog cakes” from the family who had an Australian city were much more popular. Sponge cake with green sugar icing: yum.

Books I’ve seen being read this week:


Catherine Called Birdy

Fruitless Fall (again, parts)

Chocolate Unwrapped (by the author of Fruitless Fall)

a book on Louis Braille

Babe the Very Important Pig

Either Galen something something Medicine or Archimedes something something Science, I saw from across the room and can’t remember which it was. But you know the books I mean, right? If you are homeschooling you do because they’re in every catalog everywhere. Very engaging books, even if I’m muddy on the titles right now.


the Borrowers books

Stolen by Vivian Vande Velde (third time—guess she likes it!)

All-of-a-Kind Family (warms my heart just to type it)


The Princess and the Goblin

(drawing a complete blank on what else I saw her with)


has discovered Bob Books. “Go, Bus!” she ‘reads’ on the cover of one of them, with authority, to anyone in her path. She is also delighting in pointing to all the Sam-I-Ams in Green Eggs and Ham.


Still reading Gilead

Also George and Sam by Charlotte Moore, which I’m finding hard to put down. Fascinating account by the mother of two boys with autism and one without.

Also a whole bunch of blogs about beekeeping. Talk about fascinating!

Also the first pages of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, because it came in from the library and I couldn’t resist a peek. It looks like great fun. Another Semicolon recommendation, I think? Sherry, am I right?

I know I should clean up the formatting up there, put in italics, and such, but I just don’t feel like it. Got a baby sleeping on my lap and his sweet enormous head is cutting off the circulation in my right arm.

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21 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Sarah says:

    I love it when you post what you’ve all been up to. 🙂 I think I wanna come play Mario Kart. Or maybe just watch. It sounds entertaining either way. 😉

  2. Joy says:

    Those of us here at class number eight wish we could have joined us for your party but we are…in Mukdahan, Thailand, as you now know. Thanks for introducing us to Journey North so we could be a mystery class this year!

  3. sarah says:

    It all sounds like so much fun (except the House episode – ick, I’m not looking forward to that!)

    I wish we could do something interesting like your Journey North Mystery class – can’t you and your local homeschoolers all just come and live here? Really? I NEED you!!

    And now I’m off to find out about Harvest Moon.

  4. Sarah N. says:

    Sounds like you had a great week! I’m going to have to check out Chocolate Unwrapped and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society has been on my TBR list since it came out. I will get to it one day. If Jane is enjoying science-y reading at the moment, she might like From Archimedes to Hawkins: Laws of Science and the Great Minds behind them which I just saw in our library’s new book section. I wrote it down to pick up for myself later since I already had waaaaay more books that I could read in any reasonable amount of time.

  5. Sarah N. says:

    Archimedes to Hawking that was supposed to be 🙂

  6. Charlotte (Matilda) says:

    “I know. I’m like a Jedi like that!” He cracks me up!

  7. Jennifer says:

    With ya on the bees! We watch our salvia, fascinated at how quickly they dart into one bloom before zooming on to the next. And also – Adam? Really? I cannot even look at him with the super tan and eyeliner. Eyeliner! Come on now! Oh and that awful haircut!

  8. Lisa says:

    Galen and The Gateway of Medicine? By Ruth Be—-chick [not sure the real name] My daughter LOVED this–first science book she’s wanted to finish. I’ve got “ernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” requested, too! [Here we go again!] Our copy of “Daughter in Time” for AO Year 7 came while we were gone and, after reading about it on your blog, I can’t wait to start it by myself!

  9. Emily says:

    I loved “Guernsey” and I hope you do too! Wonderful characters.

  10. Sherry Early says:

    Guernsey is good. Yes, I recommend it.

    I may have said this before, but I think we’re kindred spirits. The only TV shows I watch are LOST and House, and you’re right, House was rather horrifying this week. I find House, the character, fascinating, probably for the same reasons that everyone else does. I’m going to post some ruminations on House on the blog soon, just so that I can get them written down and out of my brain.

    Do you also think in writing?

  11. nina says:

    Lissa, I just started reading The Secret of the Ruby Ring last night. 50 pages even though I was sick and miserable. It is really good and something I am sure you and your girls would enjoy. Have you read it? Have you ever reviewed it on your blog? I’m will probably write excitedly about it very soon and figure your endorsement would make it even more appealing. You can ansswer here, I’ll check back but no rush. Thanks.

    Sleeping boy on your harms sound lovely but painful. 🙂

  12. Melissa Wiley says:

    Joy—you were one of the mystery classes??!! Oh please do tell us more about it! How exciting!! I would love to hear more. What was it like from inside the mystery? 🙂

    Sarah Patience—Journey North would be fun even with just one or two other families. Or just by yourselves! This was, I think, our 4th year doing it. (I should check my archives—how did I remember anything pre-blog?) The first year, maybe the first two years (if we’ve done it five times), it was just Jane and me, with the younger girls drifting in and out, and we had fun.

    Oh! now I’m remembering–three years ago we had a virtual group of friends from the 4Real message boards!

    Then our first year here, two years ago, we partnered with one other family, my good friend Erica here and her oldest daughter. And that was delightful too. Once again we were working with other families, online friends from 4Real. We had a special blog for the purpose.

    Last year I roped my Shakespeare Club kids into participating. We had 10 or 11 kids in Shaxspr, so that was perfect for JN: each kid or a pair of kids took one Mystery Class to track.

    This year, same group of kids. Another mom very kindly offered to be the leader this year since I was expecting Sean very shortly before the project was to start. And she really ran with it, added in all sorts of fun geography games, really did a fabulous job. The kids had a blast. It has been a highlight of Jane’s year every year, it all these different forms.

  13. Melissa Wiley says:

    Sarah N.—the science rec sounds right up Jane’s alley; will look it up at library, thanks!!

    And Nina—NO! We haven’t read Ruby Ring! Hurrah, something new for the TBR pile! Thanks!!

    Jenn—about Adam. Ah, yes, here’s the thing. I was a diehard Duran Duran fan at age fifteen. (Scott’s lucky my plan to marry John Taylor didn’t come off. Um, make that *I’M* the lucky one. LOL.) So the eyeliner doesn’t faze me a bit. 😉 I’m betting the supertan is heavy pancake to hide bad skin. What grips me about this kid is that range, that killer falsetto, and the fun showmanship.

    Lisa—ROFL on our twin tastes yet again!! I’m loving Guernsey so far. What a delight. Can’t wait to hear what you think about Daughter of Time.

    Sherry—I greatly enjoy your LOST posts and you always put me in the mood to write some myself. But then I never get around it it. And YES I think in writing too! I do! I once told my friend Elizabeth Foss, another writer, ‘the thing is, you’re like me, we both think in narrative.’ Sometimes it drives me half crazy—I’m hearing, even seeing (in my mind’s eye), the words telling about an experience AT THE EXACT MOMENT that I’m experiencing it. I have to work, sometimes, to get out of my own head and just BE. So you do it too, huh? 🙂

  14. Beth says:

    That exact thing happens to me too. I don’t know any other way of being. All of life filters though my head in words that I can read, a rolling essay on the page in my mind. Writing it out helps (I began keeping a daily journal and writing daily stories when I was seven). And when it is fictional characters who invade my head? I must write, just to get rid of them. People ask, ‘how do you know what’s going to happen next?’ (in a story) and I explain that I simply follow the people around in my head, writing down what happens.

    I suppose it sounds a bit odd! But I also know people who ‘think’ and ‘see’ in numbers.

    Anne Morrow Lindbergh (have you ever read any of her diaries? Oh, my. Now there was a woman who could journal an experience). Anyway, she once said something along the lines of feeling that she hadn’t truly experienced a thing until she’d got home and written it all out.

  15. Jennifer says:

    Lissa, that’s what my husband keeps pointing out – everybody looked like that in the 80s. He’s also mentioned something about it being a singing competition not a “Oh he’s such a nice guy” competition. And though I love Danny, I concur that this week’s performance was bad. Very bad.

  16. keri says:

    I have no idea what any of those games or shows are!
    My daughter LOVES The Little House books and is rereading them.
    She especially likes the Martha series.

  17. Jane says:

    Mom, the books you are thinking of are called ‘Galen and the gateway to medicine’, and ‘Archimedes and the door of science’. However, the book I was actually reading is called ‘The Mystery of the Periodic Table’.


  18. Joy says:

    Yes, we are mystery class mumber eight. (Did your class find us?) We participated last year after reading about it from you and in the evaluation we asked about being one of the mystery classes…and here we are! We had to submit 15 or so clues back a few months ago and Julie, from Journey North, rewrote and combined several of them to make the final clues. We are looking forward to introductions this week, look for us there!

  19. Lisa says:

    Follow up–I just finished Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s delightful–you must read it! 🙂

  20. Melissa Wiley says:

    Lisa, read it I did! And LOVED it. One of the best I’ve read this year. Post to come, of course. 🙂