Family Vacation: Saturday May 19 - Thomas the Tank Engine

We packed up the car and headed out for Williams. We stopped off on Route 66 at Seligman for lunch at Westside Lilo’s Café, which was right across the street from Roadkill Café. As we turned into town, there were 3 wooden teepee’s, an old fire truck and other sights that were very reminiscent of the town from the Car’s movie. Lilo’s had pictures of old cowboys, plus stuffed boar, deer, bison, and other animals.

We arrived at the Grand Canyon Railway hotel in Williams which was in the midst of a kid-o-rama with Day out with Thomas. We checked in and met the Marshall.

After meeting a "real live" Marshall, Deputy James was ready to go. The first thing James wanted to do was go in the bouncy houses, so off came the shoes and in he climbed. He got knocked over and banged a few times by the kamikaze kids flying through the air, but seemed to love every minute of if. Then, he just had to meet “Sir Topham Hat.

It was time to go for a ride on Thomas. We all (including my parents) hopped on Thomas and went for a 30 minute ride.

This is the GP7 that help Thomas pull the train. At the end of the ride, James informed me “I am no longer a train fan, I am a Godzilla fan.” So, I guess that is the end of Day out with Thomas. My little boy is growing up and moving on. We had dinner at Max and Thelma’s, then went to bed early. For some reason, we were all extremely tired!

Family Vacation: Thursday May 17 - Oatman, Arizona

We headed up to Oatman, an old mining town on Route 66 and home to “wild” burros that wander the town. The burros’ are the descendants of burro's brought here by miners and when no longer needed were turned loose. There were a couple baby burros which you are asked not to feed.

The rest of the burros are rather greedy however and will practically knock you over or follow you up on the porch to get a carrot.

The Ghost Rider Gunslingers hanging out by the Oatman hotel were very interesting. One “Cowboy” told us about his experiences as a wrangler on trail drives. When James expressed interest in their guns, one handed a gun to James, at which both Father and I started stuttering, talking and gesturing at the same time. They quickly assured us it was a prop gun and not to worry. James received a lesson about gun safety after this picture.

We had lunch at the historic Oatman Hotel where they have thousands of dollar bills (many signed) tacked to the walls. Supposedly, there is approximately $60,000 worth of bills handing on the walls.

We had fun feeding the burros and exploring the town. Father bought himself a sexy black cowboy hat.

Friday, we took it easy. Grandpa, Father and James went fishing but unfortunately didn't catch anything. Then we all went shopping at wally world to get supplies for our trip to Williams and the Grand Canyon.

Arizona Vacation: May 16 - Travel day

My parents live in Bull Head City Arizona, just across the Colorado River from Laughlin, NV. In order to get to Bull Head, you have to fly into Las Vegas, rent a car and drive two hours. We spent more time at the airport waiting for our flight, rather than flying. Security was interesting….Shoes off, even sandals. Put everything in the bins to send through the x-ray machine. James’ cowboy hat set off the metal detector just by waving it in front of the thing. Turned out it has a metal strip in the hat band. So, that went through the x-ray machine. I neglected to take my laptop out of my carryall and TSA took it to a special machine where they remove it from the bag and swiped it for chemical explosives.

“Do you have anything in this bag that will stick me ma’am?” he asks.

“No sir!” I reply in my best manners voice.

“All clear, move along” he says gruffly. Oh goodie, I passed the test…I am not a terrorist.

Father was fascinated by the machine and had to be dragged away.

The flight was quick and uneventful. We reached Las Vegas, hopped on the rental car center bus and picked up our rental car. We rented through Hertz which has the Neverlost GPS system. I love neverlost: it is so easy to program. You have the option of viewing a map or a list of turns and it politely tells you where to go, with advanced warning of lane changes and exits. We once made the mistake of renting a car from Avis along with their supposed GPS system. It turned out to be a cell phone and you called an operator who provided you with verbal directions….once.

We arrived in record time at my parents’ house. The only problem with the rental car was that the windshield wiper vibrated when you went faster than 80. Was this Hertz’s version of a governor so you couldn’t speed…. Hmmm!

This is their backyard at sunset. It backs up on a overflow gully

Wild cottontail bunnies, quails, chipmunks and other various birds visit my folks backyard daily for munchies.

Grand Canyon Vacation: Planes, Trains and Automobiles!!!

We are back from our vacation—exhausted, but happy. We have had a very busy, fun filled, packed exodus. We traveled to Arizona to visit my parents, drove route 66 to Oatman to feed to burros, went for a ride on Thomas and shook Sir Topham Hat’s hand at Day out for Thomas, took the train to and from the Grand Canyon, wondered the trails around the rim, and experienced being robbed by “Mean Jim” the train robber (special make a wish event) on the return train ride.

As we wondered up one of the rim trails, James hand “firmly” clasped in mine, we realized that no matter how many pictures you take, it just won’t match the majesty of the place. As I sat there taking it all in, I couldn’t help but feel awed. It was absolutely amazing!!! Time went by so quickly and we barely scratched the surface of the place. We most certainly will return some day and spend more time exploring all aspects of the Canyon. Over the next few days I will tell you more about our adventures. For now, here is our first glimpse of the Canyon.

News of the Day: Grand Canyon trip

We are going here!!!


What a combination! Thomas is going to be at the Williams depot this weekend.
We are visiting my parents in Arizona, doing a Day out with Thomas and taking the train into the Grand Canyon for an overnight stay. We will have lots of pictures to share when we get back.

And in the words of Tigger: TTFN

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, sisters, sisters in laws and every mom in the world.

Being a mother has been such a blessing. You suddenly see the world and get to experience it through new, unbiased, innocent eyes. What an awesome experience that is. Everything we take for granted is embraced, unwrapped, mulled over and absorbed by a child. I don't know if you have a child like mine, but James takes it in, analyzes, questions and questions until he has it figured out. Or he may get what we call "the Winston Churchill" look on his face and go away to mull it over and ask questions later. You can "see" the wheels turning, trying to wrap his mind around something. Through the eyes of a child, you learn to experience life and not just walk through it blindly.

What was my mother's day like? It was very relaxing and I didn't have to do any dishes. Hee Hee. I went to Gottschalks and bought some shorts and a nice new wallet. I decided instead of Father cooking a roast and yorkshire pudding, which we seem to have every special occasion, I wanted Chinese food. My guys are meat and potato lovers and will rarely eat anything mexican or chinese, which I love. So I stopped by Bel Air's Hot Wok while grocery shopping and picked up some Honey BBQ Ribs, pot stickers, shrimp won ton, and broccolli beef. Dad fixed some rice, which turned out perfect. My guys gamely ate some of everything...James even tried the shrimp won ton and liked it. It was all delicious and we all said "YEEHAW"

My Education: Literature for Children and Young Adults Midterm

And now for your reading pleasure!  or would that be torture?

I got a 100 on my midterm and just had to share it with you. I did amend it a little for easier reading such as deleting all the footnotes. Kick off your shoes, put on your reading glasses, grab a drink and have a seat. Oh, you are sitting! The only down side of an online course is that you don't get to read the other students papers. I always enjoyed that back in junior college, getting to read everyone's stuff.

ENG360: Literature for Children and Young Adults
Midterm Examination

1) Describe the importance of literature for children and young adults that both informs and instructs.

It is very important to expose children and young adults to books that are both informational and educational such as historical, biographical, religious, or conceptual. Through the Eyes of A Child by Donna Norton discusses how "Informational books relay new knowledge about virtually every topic imaginable. Biographies and autobiographies tell about people who gained knowledge or made discoveries."

Photographs and Illustrations show the wonders of nature and depict the processes required to master new hobbies. Realistic stories from a specific time bring history to life. Historical books teach children about past events and people and gives insight on what it was like living in the past. "Snowflake Bentley" is an excellent example of an informational book that is historical and biographical. Wilson Bentley was a farm boy in Vermont who became fascinated by snow flakes and studied them. Through the use of a Photomicrograph, he captured pictures of snow flakes. Though the people of the town were very negative about his work, he pursued his passion.“But in those days no one cared. Neighbors laughed at the idea of photographing snow. "Snow in Vermont is as common as dirt, they said. We don’t need pictures.” He wrote a book called “Snow Crystals" which has over 2,000 photographs of snow, ice and hail. Children learn about the study of snow flakes and how to handle insensitivity of other people, scientific observation, perseverance, and dedication to a life time of study.

Another type of informational book is one that teaches about religious history. "The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica" is biographical and teaches about religious history. It is illustrated by Tomie DePaola who spent time with the benediction monks in his early adulthood. The illustrations are detailed, beautiful and incorporate many religious symbols. The story follows the life of twins born in Italy. Scholastica becomes a nun, and Benedict founds a monastery. He writes rules for monks to follow which eventually became known as the Rules of St. Benedict which the Benedictine monks of today follow. The story teaches children about love and devotion and exposes them to religious life. Besides historical or biographical stories, concept books are important in cognitive development As stated by Norton, “The use of concept books that illustrate colors, numbers, shapes and size may stimulate the cognitive development of even very young children.” Concept books, such as “ABC Book" and "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" help children learn their ABC’s. Other concept books teach children about shapes, colors, sizes and the senses. Books can be used to teach children just about anything. Through the use of historical, biographical and concepts books, children are exposed to new ideas and apply them to their life.

2) List the five elements of emotional intelligence as developed by Daniel Golman. Chose 3 of the elements and identify them in the readings we have covered in this course so far.

Daniel Golman (1995) identifies 5 basic elements of emotional intelligence that children need: Self Awareness, managing awareness, handling anxiety in appropriate ways, motivating oneself, and sensitivity towards others.

Self awareness, managing awareness and being sensitive towards others will benefit children throughout their lives. It is very important to teach children how to recognize and manage their emotions as well as recognize and be sensitive to the emotions of others. Literature plays a big part by exposing children to many different types of characters and settings. “A believable, enjoyable story needs main characters who seem lifelike and who develop throughout the story.” Stories in which the characters are well developed help children learn from their experiences as they read how the characters confront problems and grow through out the story.

In “Madeline” the children are exposed to different characters and learn to recognize whether someone is good or bad or sad. They learn how to show compassion when they visit Madeline in the hospital. In "Storm in the Night" children learn about relationships and how to handle fear. Thomas lives with his grandfather and one night the power goes out during a thunderstorm. Thomas’s grandfather teaches him how to overcome fears and that sometimes is it okay to admit it when you are scared. “Owl Moon” is about a young boy and his father going owling. As they go in search of an owl, the boy learns about self control: “But I never called out. If you go owling you have to be quiet, that’s what pa always says.” The little boy overcomes his fear as he walks through the woods: “I didn’t ask what kinds of things hide behind black trees in the middle of the night When you go owling, you have to be brave.” If used wisely by parents and teachers good literature can be used to expose children to different experiences which teach them how to recognize and handle their emotions, plus how to treat other people.

3) Describe some of the historical milestone moments in the development of literature for children and young adults beginning with the oral tradition of tale telling; explain how they changed the values and times of literature of this genre.

Some of the historical milestones moments in literature started with the oral traditions, the development of the printing press, the influences of the puritans and reading for enjoyment. Oral tales were being told on every continent around the globe. Ancient people were developing folktales and mythologies that speculated about human beginnings and attempting to explain the origins of the universe, and other natural phenomenon and transmitting history from one generation to the next These stories became the basis of myths, fables and fairy tales that would later be written down. In the middle ages, storytellers told stories about knights and noble warriors, creating epic tales such as King Arthur and the legend of the Round Table. Bards would travel from castle to castle spreading tales throughout the country.

Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of movable type printing made possible the printing of books and William Caxton invented the first printing press. The invention of the printing press led to the creation of horn books and chap books. The earliest book that became popular with children was Aesop Fables which is still popular today.

The puritans were influential in creating books that involved moral character. The most influential piece of literature written during this period was John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrims Progress.” It is an allegorical story about one man’s journey to heaven and the difficulties he meets on the way. It exposed many children and adults to a religious pilgrimage in a thoughtful and entertaining manner.

John Locke, an English philosopher was influential in changing people’s mind about children and reading for pleasure. This resulted in the publishing of Charles Perrault’s The Tales of Mother Goose. Perrault did not create these tales; he retold stories from the French oral tradition that had entranced children and provided entertainment in the elegant salons of the Parisian aristocracy for generations. People were beginning to recognize that fact that children needed to be entertained, as well as educated. By the mid 1800’s children literature had become more entertaining. The past influence of the puritan and Victorian age had changed and the influences of the age believed children should value and enjoy reading, rather than reading for educational purposes only.

Fantasy stories like Alice in Wonderland or adventure stories such as Treasure Island were opening up a whole new world to children. The fantasy and adventure stories helped stimulate children creativity and imagination. The oral traditions of the past have influenced the stories of the present. Through the invention of the printing press, more people had access to books. Writers turned to using books not only for entertainment value, but used them to teach moral values, new skills and how to handle just about everything possible from peer pressure to death.

4) Choose one particular developmental stage of a child and explain what type of literature is most likely to appeal to that audience and why.

Cognitive development is an important developmental stage for children. According to David Shaffer (1989) cognitive development refers to the changes that occur in children’s mental skills and abilities over time. Shaffer states "we are constantly attending to objects and events, interpreting them, comparing them with past experiences, placing them in categories, and encoding them into memory." Concept books teach children the names of objects and how to recognize them in real life. They are exposed to colors, shapes, numbers and letters. “Goodnight Moon" is an excellent book that is fascinating to young children because of all the colors and shapes. I started reading “Goodnight Moon” to my son when he was 6 months old. He would stare at the pages intently. When you read to a child and expose them to different picture and work books, their brains are absorbing and comparing the information. They are storing the date away into their memories to recall at a later time. When my son got older and we read “The Runaway Bunny”, he recognized that the picture of the cowing jumping over the moon was from “Goodnight Moon”.

Word books stimulate them mentally and as they get older, they start to understand how different things relate. By exposing children to good books, it stimulates the desire to read and learn. Children are like sponges when they are young and absorb everything they read. According to “Well Trained Mind, A Guide to Classical Education at Home," young children are described as sponges because they soak up knowledge. Through reading they are expanding their knowledge, and vocabulary, learning new things, creating building blocks for the future. As children become young adults and leave that sponge stage, they will be able to apply these building blocks of knowledge and analyze how things relate and fit together.

5) Explain what Bruno Bettelheim believes traditional literature has to offer young readers.

Bruno Bettelheim was a child psychologist and writer. In his book “In the Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales," Bruno Bettelheim (1976) provides strong rational for using traditional tales with children. Bettelheim believes that traditional literature helps children learn about life and problem solving, proper behavior and good versus bad. Traditional fairy tales such as “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” teaches children to respect other people’s property and what happens if you don’t. My son was always asking why we lock our doors and what bad people we are trying to keep out. After reading "Goldilocks and the Three Bears” he was able to comprehend why; we didn’t want someone like Goldilocks coming into our home and messing with our belongings. We discussed respecting other people’s property and what Goldilocks parent may have done when they found out about her being in the Bears Home.

Children also learn from characters how to solve problems."The Empty Pot” is an excellent example of children learning through conflict. Children empathize with honorable characters and their struggles, learning that although they may experience difficulty or rejection, they too will be given help and guidance when needed. In “The Empty Pot” the emperor makes up a test to choose his successor. He calls all the children of the land before him and hands out seeds saying that the child who raises the best flower in one year’s time will become the emperor. The main character named Ping has always been able to grow anything, but for some reason his seed won’t sprout. He keeps tending and replanting it but is unsuccessful. His friends all have big, beautiful flowers and plants they have grown. They laugh and tease him, but his father tells him "you did your best, and your best is good enough to bring to the emperor". Ping goes to the presentation with an empty pot and the emperor chooses him. “I admire Ping’s great courage to appear before me with the empty truth, and now I reward him with my entire kingdom and make him Emperor of all the land”. The emperor had cooked all the seeds and was testing the children. The other children had chosen to use other seeds and not the one given to them by the emperor. I think it is a perfect example of perseverance, truthfulness, and peer pressure. When my son and I read this together, we had some interesting discussions about choices and being truthful.

Used wisely, traditional literature not only stimulates young readers’ imaginations, but provides simple lessons about life which will stay with young children for a very long time.

Did you make it through the whole thing? Did you learn something new? Congratulations, I applaud your efforts.

Homeschool: James Virtual Store!

Announcing the Grand Opening of

James Godzilla Film, Toy, and Book Store

James is pleased to announce the opening of his virtual store today. The store has Godzilla films as well as Mothra, Gamera and miscellaneous scary 50's movies. It also has books and film posters. Please drop by and visit his store.

Question of the Day: What are you doing today?

10 things I should be doing right now!

Oh, any number of things. I should be fixing dinner, but set the timer for 30 minutes. Then will cook some French fries for James and heat up left over from the barbecue from yesterday. J loaded me up with food when we left, so I don’t have to actually fix dinner tonight.

Reading Chapter 9 about realistic fiction for my literature class, but uh uh!
Researching The Giver and analytical theory. Wait! I printed off a bunch of information. Does that count.

Cutting James hair but that can wait until tomorrow.

Cutting my hair but that can also wait until tomorrow and I will only have one hairy mess to clean up.
Reviewing James 2nd grade curriculum and putting together schedules.

Outside sanding down the eucalyptus bench so we can stain it, but the bees decided they wanted to use it more than me.
I could continue to read “The Island of Lost Maps” but taking a break from cartographic history.

Putting a forgotten load of laundry in the dryer. Just now remembered putting it in a couple hours ago.

Cleaning up my front Garden area and getting rid of the dormant plants.

So what should you be doing right now?

Sunday Salon: BBQ and reading

As we are sitting around Sunday morning making our plans for the day, the phone rings. It is Father’s good friend calling to “remind” us about the bbq they are having that afternoon to celebrate his and his two son’s birthdays. He had told Father about it a few nights back during a late night jam session at a friend studio and Father had forgotten to tell me. Whoops! I had planned on doing multiple errands all by my lonesome, then work on my literary analysis paper while James and Father watched a movie.
So, I dashed out to Target to get Tolkien’s new book “The Children of Hurrin”, which only Target had, dropped by Petsmart to get tadpole food, and got the grocery shopping done. Barnes and Noble didn’t have the book and why not? “They only stocked a few because they really hadn’t expected it to be that popular.” Amazing, a regular bookstore misjudges and Target does their homework and anticipated that a Tolkien book would probably be selling like hot cakes. Then I wrote checks for the boys instead of gifts, because I didn’t have a clue what to get and we headed over to “J’s” house.
We had a very enjoyable afternoon and evening relaxing, eating, playing and talking. James feel asleep as soon as we finished reading a bedtime story. I headed off to bed shortly after that, happy, content and not at all upset about the change in plans for the day. It pays to be flexible and go with the flow.

Homeschool: Lions, tigers and bears.. OH MY!!!

James and I went out and bought some crickets for the the frogs, then "I" had to put them in the cricket keeper. They gave me the heebie jeebies at first, but I finally got over that itchy feeling you get when seeing a bunch of insects. You know, that skin crawling feeling like a bunch of ants are crawling all over you. (by the way, that's an experience you never want to repeat). We had a few run aways or should I say hop aways, but managed to catch them all. Now, besides the care and feeding of frogs, it also involves the care and feeding of crickets. Who, by the way, seem to like fresh carrots. The crickets hide all the time in a toilet paper roll, coming out to get water, eat, or investigate things when you pick up the cricket keeper.

Godzilla stays hidden in the little cave in planet frog, coming out long enough to gulp a cricket, then back in he goes. Herbie's back legs have popped out and she is slowly morphing. In about another week or so, we should have two little froggies hopping about. We are thinking of putting them in a small terrarium and have an opaque type of cave, so if they decide to hide in the cave all day, we can at least see the little buggers.

Oh! We are getting a kitty. A gal who works at the coffee shop next to our business offered one to Father yesterday. Of course, I said yes. Do you know how difficult it has become to get kittens. Soap Box Moment: May I say the spaying and neutering program is working a little too well. Plus, now they are trying to pass a law that if you don't get your animal spayed or neutered by the time it is 4 months old, you will be fined. Ridiculous! Anyway, we weren't really willing to pay $1000 for a pure bred or accept a several month old feral kitty. I had put the word out to all our friends several months ago, but nothing came of it. I prayed about it and left in God's hands. I have to say Thank You God! The kittens are 4 weeks old right now; we will go see them next week and pick out the one we want. She showed pictures to Father and he was smitten. Of course, James has already decided on a name: "Burlington" (after the train) which Father immediately vetoed. So, when we get back from vacation, looks like we will be taking on another "family" member. Yeah!

Poetry: Cinquains

Have you ever heard of a Cinquain? Me neither.

A cinquain is a form of poetry which has specific structural requirements.

Line 1: One word for the title
Line 2: Two words that describe the title
Line 3: Three words that express action related to the title.
Line 4: Four words that express a feeling about the title.
Line 5: One word that either repeats the title or expresses a word closely related to the title.

My Attempt: (ahem)

Cute, Cuddly
eating, burping, changing
His smile is delightful


talented, sweet,
burping, yodeling, emulating
Her talent is incomparable

My Education: Life in motion!

Hey! I got a 100 on my midterm essays........ yeehaw! I am so proud of myself.
This week's chapter is on Poetry as you can probably tell by the Haiku from a couple days ago. I never really appreciated poetry. The one experience I remember with poetry was an English class in my first year of college (way back when). My professor seemed to make everything revolve around the subject of sex. We had to analysis a poem (forgot the name) about a tree being cut down in the forest and the feelings it experienced. Well, initially I wrote a juicy essay about it being symbolic of a woman's first time, blah, blah, blah... because I knew that would be right up the professors alley. However, didn't have the courage to turn it in. Wrote something mundane and got a B. He ended up making everyone read their essays out loud to the class. Oh my lucky stars, how embarrassing would that have been!!!

I have been reading up on literary theory and decided to go with a Marxist reading of "The Giver" by Lois Lowry for my English Lit project. It is an about a 11 year old boy living in a so called perfect society, controlled by the elders and there is no pain, fear, war or hatred. Everyone is given a job at the age of 12 based on his or her interests. Every family has one boy and one girl. New born babies who are weak or handicapped, anyone who refuses the follow the rules and the old folk are "released" (euthanized) from the community. It is a scary, interesting book and written for ages 12 - 14. It has been banned in some schools and embraced in others as mandatory reading.

I just registered for another class "Introduction to Oceanography". I have 6 units to finish for undergraduate math and science classes, so this fulfills half of that. I chose to go with the cdrom self study version this time. I can work at my own pace and keep up with finishing my literature class. There is a 4 week overlap with classes, so trying to pace myself. I really wanted to take "Educational Psychology" but couldn't see handling that right now with my Literature class. So, that will be the next one which is available in September.

And you know what... I am enjoying every minute.

Poetry: Haiku

He is my true love
His Love Transcends Time and Space
My one and Only


Little Boy Kisses
Splurbits all over the belly
breathless laughter, and tickling


Wait! Do you hear that?
What is coming over here?
Could it be? Mothra!

I can Haiku, can you?

How to Haiku

3 non rhyming lines
1st line has 5 syllables
2nd line has 7 syllables
3rd line has 5 syllables

Go on, get silly
I dare you to imagine
Try it, try it, now!