Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bookmaking; The final results

Without further ado, here are the completed books our children published during their recent “Monday Morning Learning Sessions”. They are so proud of their accomplishments and have these keepsakes ready at their fingertips for reading repeatedly, or for sharing with others.

Ready to be added into the family
library and our own;

"Bookmaking Hall of Fame"

Personally I found being an assistant in the class was a whirlwind experience, and I’ve come to the realization that eight one-hour weekly sessions were not long enough to get all the books completed with each having a pristine finish. It was a definite rush. In the future, we will know to take more time for this project in a group setting.

Some of the children from the younger
class display their books for all to see.

It's a wrap!

In years past, I have either taught bookmaking classes myself, or been an assistant during classes in session with large groups of children. It was interesting for me to note many significant differences in this recent bookmaking endeavor compared to all the variations I have taught or seen before, so unique in its production from start to finish. I loved it! The bookmaking format came from the compiled experience from one of the mothers, her unique style had evolved over the years from making books with her own children at home. Her oldest daughter taught the class, two mothers assisted. I was one of them.

Before this eight-week learning session even began, the children were given an assignment two weeks prior, the task of writing an entire story, or typing up a reference book of choice, not only preparing it, but having a draft copy printed and ready to bring to the first class. The mandate called for specific sized formats for each group of children, the younger group’s books would be 8 ½ x 11, and the older would use legal paper folded in half lengthwise to produce a smaller sized book.

The book format copied from the original mock-up

During the first session, they were orientated with the grand plan of taking their drafts to a final book publishing, also spending time intentionally to whet the their appetites, engulf them into the agenda ahead, by using a show and tell method of already completed books from the collection of the teacher’s family. A large wicker basket filled with books was the mainstay of the session to get the children excited with presented possibilities and ideas for their own bookmaking ahead of them. All were thrilled to see how their books would eventually come to fruition. Our first session also entailed much editing and the creation of a book mock-up format. From there, the children worked hard, reformatting their stories on their home computers to mimic their own unique mock-ups designed that day, and had them ready to go for the next session.

Placing the pages into the book covers

Holding the pages up while the
glue sets in the center of the book

(note; The blue contact will be covered and not show when complete)

Along the way, each child continued to complete the illustrations in class, and all of the pages required plenty of glue stick action, sewing, and assorted math skills for cutting the contact paper book covers, trimming as necessary. Systematically they worked hard and leaped into the wonderful world of bookmaking, becoming "published authors" by the end of the session. On the last day, they were all tickled with their final copies in hand, sharing amongst one another. They also presented a show and tell to the entire group at the end of the morning in front of everyone gathered in the gym, for all to see.

Lots of sewing to get the center secure

The most intricate part of the entire bookmaking was when it became time to use a sharp paper-piercing device to punch through all the pages, measuring and poking all the stitching holes down the center of all the page thicknesses. Whew, that was hard work, many muscles required and patience to get the holes in a straight line! With a spool of quilting thread and a strong needle the children were guided with specific instructions through their sewing assignments, that of securing all of the pages together, stitching their way up and down the center spine of their book pages and knotting the threads when done. Since the books for the older class of children were smaller, and due to the fact they inevitably wrote longer stories resulting in more pages overall, their pages split up into two sections. Then they were placed side-by-side together, and adhered to the center spine of the covers, during the final construction of the book’s completion phase.

The final detail; placing the clear
contact covering over all covers

Each book's cover was protected with a colorful or patterned contact paper. On the inside of the book covers, a colored page covered this area and a photo of the “author” and his/her biography graced the inside back cover over top of it. On the outside of the book covers, a title with photo or picture graced the front cover, and, the teacher of the class wrote a wee blurb about each book and author which was adhered and protected for all to read.

Admiring one another's books

The final stage of assembly was sizing a piece of clear contact paper to the exact measurements of each book, and carefully installing it over the entire book’s outer covers, and wrapping over into the insides of each cover directly over to the center spines. The supplies were many and the fast paced production ended up being something else.

The only thing I would change in supplies for any future bookmaking would be a different adhesive. Apparently the preferred choice is a spray adhesive, which wasn't allowed in our location, so the children substituted glue sticks for their work. We noticed most of the pages bubbled up a bit once dried from the type of glossy long sheets of watercolor paper pages used for sandwiching in between each of the pages to make them thicker. The overall effect would be much more presentable with a better adhesive.

Yes, truth be known, I would do it over again with a big group of children, and I hope to at the very least with my own children in the future.

Spring! Do you think it's really here?

Spring has sprung!

I've got mine, do you have yours?

Spring has sprung, but these daffodils surely can’t be from a local outdoor supplier.

In the sweet anticipation of warmer weather, it's special today to glance over towards these beauties ready to burst with their sunny greetings. I love flowers as you know, so for me it feels like a soothing balm to have them perched on my kitchen window ledge today, a definite reminder of things to come – many more flowers and clear blue skies!

How's your weather in the west today? Raining? LOL

Lots of Love to all of you across the miles.

Be happy in the moment - that's enough.

Each moment is all we need - not more.

~ Mother Teresa

Sending LOTS of LOVE to our family and friends out west, thanking you for everything, especially for your kind hospitality showered upon us with each opportunity we are able to travel your way and arrive on your doorsteps! Thinking of you all tonight!

As well, thinking of the four girls tonight, gathered together celebrating Emily's 16th birthday. Surprise Emily! Thank you to my "grown up girlfriends"; Karen, Louise and Theresa for making it all happen, and for allowing their friendships to bloom across the miles! Next time, it's our turn! :-)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sharing with those in the West

Welcome Spring

(...ah, I think?)

It came as quite a surprise yesterday when large white flakes of snow began to fall on the ground in the later afternoon, continuing into the evening, covering all the landscape as far as one could see with its warm woolen wintry white blanket. Knowing we have recently ushered in the spring season, one had to wonder what in the world was going on here.

Those in the west I happen to have conversations with yesterday (while the snow was falling to pay its chilly respects to us here in the east), seemed to snicker about the topic at hand. Never one to be too bold (wink), and just for all you "Westerners", I am gloating (sorry, rather grinning greatly!) and eager to share a few scenes from our simply stunning and splendid day today after the fact.

I have to tell you as I observed the sun climbing higher and higher this morning, the promise of a great day seemed to be upon us, and it was. Naturally as temperatures climbed above zero celsius, the children thought we had welcomed a wee bit of tropical weather outdoors, thinking it was time to remove their coats while playing in the fresh crisp air. I might add here; warm to the children turned out to be a mere 3-4 degrees C (upper 30s F), nothing more, so the sunshine really was fooling us all! Nevertheless, it felt fabulous and inviting to fling open the windows, allowing plenty of fresh air to circulate throughout the house. In addition, as the snow on the ground began to melt, we noticed the bulk of it had already disappeared by the early afternoon today. Best of all though, we were thrilled to have the sun's glow visit us indoors, offering to not only warm our home, but also our very souls.

It’s a funny thing really, (almost hysterically funny) because now I am beginning to brag a bit due to the fact we were informed the west was plummeted with their own snowy dusting today, accompanied by pleasant (brrrrr) winds and a chill factor to regress into wintry cold temperatures over there.

Now tell me. Come on, be honest (laugh), would you rather have your weather, or ours? (LOL)

Oh, and too bad you weren't here to sing along with all the birds near our open windows throughout the day today! hee hee

Is this you?

"Some people are making such thorough
preparations for a rainy day that they aren't
enjoying today's sunshine".

~ Unknown

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A lost art revived; Master Carvers

Master Carvers

With our recent focus on the Lenten season, I will be regressing here to place a few posts online from a few choice items to catch you all up with some of the “special happenings” (grin) here in our home. For instance, I have yet to update you on the conclusions to our Monday Morning Learning Sessions, the second of three 8-week courses, and the children are definitely eager for me to fill you in.

Tonight I will show you what happens when a young man is gifted with a set of knives, guided with the aged hands of a grandfatherly figure who spends each week volunteering to teach a class all about his beloved craft. He is a gentle leader with a soft-spoken voice offering extremely patient instruction, giving of his time to serve our group, all because he has a heart for young people, hoping to make an impact on their lives by using his skills and talents, passing along instruction to keep his craft alive through yet - another generation.

Whittling away, and slowly making
something from a block of wood.

In his fine wisdom, he committed to spending a few hours each week teaching his skills and talent for a craft almost long forgotten in this day and age of children preferring to find continual stimulation in front of a screen playing video games, and following idle youthful pursuits, rather than finding a purpose for using their hands to create masterpieces, while obtaining simple pleasures by slowly forming something from a mere unsatisfying block of wood. He has shown them all how to carve wonderful keepsakes, becoming relaxed while whittling and sculpting their projects. His is an art he hopes to revive in students taking his classes, and so far, all those partaking in his courses have walked away amazed at the possibilities held within a small wooden box of carving knives.

This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.

- Alan Watts (Work as Play)

He's so proud of his loon

Here's the complete and final product, a loon who graces our fireplace in the family room, on display for all to see. I've noticed that our son breaks out with a sweet grin on his face whenever he catches a glimpse of it, so very proud of his handicraft all compliments of a humble and gentle "Master Carver".

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Late posting a few of the children's "creations".

They had;
  • A few basic colors to choose from.
  • A little bit of lace to make a few speckled patterns, (note to leave them in the dyes longer next time...snicker)
  • Big eyes watching their eggs turn various shades of colors.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Flames take "Egg Cup" trophy.

Team crests

Today was the day! Today was the greatly anticipated “Egg Cup” hockey tournament, where many young men went face-to-face, team against team, to win the famous “Egg Cup” trophy.

“Egg Cup”

I kid you not! This is a highly anticipated event!

Captain and Assistant are thrilled!

This is a famous hockey tournament in our part of the country, and today was a grand day for our son and his winning team. Yes, they took first place, winning the honored trophy.

The "Flames" Team, less one player missing.

As each young man relished in the congratulatory announcement, and pretended to kiss their winning trophy, our son also was summoned forward to take the MVP award with seven goals and some assists during the same tournament.

Awarded MVP for the tournament and accepting his prize.

Newspaper reporter taking down information
after team photos were snapped.

As Easter landed extra early on the calendar this year, a rare occurrence we were told, the “Egg Cup” also arrived just shy of the spring season’s early beginnings. This morning we woke to a slight snowy dusting on the ground, and being that the tournament takes place mainly outdoors, it proved to be a strange beginning with snow brushing removal, and a rather chilly endeavor for all participating players. Warm winter woolens were mandatory to keep warm both on and off the makeshift arenas, however, the sun was glorious overhead giving the appearance of a summer’s day, and eventually everyone warmed up as the temperatures climbed to warmer conditions.

No doubt all the players will sleep well tonight!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter to you and yours.

Alleluia - He Is Risen!

" He is not here, for He is risen, as he said.
Come, see the place where the Lord lay."

~ Matthew 28:6

Sending you Happy and Holy Easter greetings this day, a day of absolute joy, a day filled with hope for all.

The sun is shining today, such a blessing even though we still have a great deal of icy packed snow remaining most places on the ground.

In the early morning hours when everyone paraded to our vehicle, preparing to leave home for Easter morning mass, all suddenly rejoiced when noting the temperature gage in the van, delighting in the balmy +3 C, finally up over the zero mark for this particular time of day. Hooray!

When entering the church, we couldn't help but notice wee gasps surrounding us when other parishioners entered, gazing forward and noticing how exquisitely the altar had been adorned, appearing directly before us in all its splendor with many white lilies and assorted flowers for all to see, such a lovely sight after last week’s shrouding of everything for a solemn entry into Holy Week.

The Paschal candle’s flame was flickering softly, appearing once more like an old friend coming to visit during the Easter season, and songs of the resurrection filled the air, lifting our hearts high. Sursum Corda!

Arriving home afterwards, the children concurred with us, that the anticipation of this day was so worth all the preparations, fasting and sacrifices, and the time was NOW to FEAST, to feel renewed and joyful, and of course - to eat chocolate! (grin) Here's a little glimpse into our morning feasting...

Happy Easter, from our home to yours.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday in Holy Week - Good Friday

Friday in Holy Week
"Good Friday"

The Crown of thorns was placed on Jesus' head by the Roman soldiers. This is the next step towards Calvary.

The Cross - The final step at the end of the road to Calvary where God's will be done.

The Cave - Jesus' tomb was probably a cave in a rocky hill. It was down the hill from the cross.

We adore Thee O' Christ
and bless Thee

Because by Thy Holy Cross,
Thou hast redeemed the world

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good versus Evil

Good versus Evil

The story of conflict between good and evil will always be a classic centered theme. It is deeply ingrained within everything I can think of, from children's cartoon shows, pop culture, classical literature, movies are loaded with situations to consider which side of the fence to hover upon, and certainly it appears in abundance in almost every capacity, accompanying us along our journeys through real life.

We know the focus of good and evil can appear in many forms, anything from personalities clashing, ideologies butting heads, philosophical and spiritual reasonings differing, and the list grows and grows. Good versus evil is a constant saga, often times challenging a heart to triumph over an inner area of deep moral conflict with oneself.

I see continued growing conflicts over good and evil appearing right before my very eyes, often brewing up a battle on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis when the children's imaginations run wild, when they hop on over to the dress up clothes and someone is always forced to become a distasteful warrior or simply - the "bad guy".

I remember when our daughter would come home crying because she was always told by the other two little girls down the road, she had to play the "Beast" and never "Beauty". (grin)

From very young ages, I noticed when reading the children fairy tales, there was always a plethora of good versus evil plots to unravel along with the youngsters. Aesop sure knew what he was doing when he wrote his "moral of the story" tales didn't he? With the main thrust of "good versus evil" story lines, one can't help but feel targeted with issues of morality continually venturing to the forefront, lessons are learned (we hope) when confronted with them.

J.R. Tolkien's games are loaded
with "Good versus Evil" plots.

I see this very topic permeating throughout my son's classic literature themed hobbies, where there are strong elements of good versus evil represented within all of J.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" games, those using mini figures and learning of their characters along the way. Such works of fantasy literature usually seem to present topics where the good always prevails, and the evil enemy is overcome by a higher force of good.

Painting in progress

As pesky as some of the toys are in children's meals from fast food restaurants, these "super ugly" monsters appearing of late from the movie "Spiderwick" came in handy with our son's vast growing collection of mini figures he's painted to date. He and his friends gather often to re-enact the games, so two of these green goblin creatures will come in handy.

In my opinion however, I only have to look at the guy to see "icky", and hopefully when it comes to the topic of good versus evil, our children will have enough ability over time to enable them to continue using discernment to see how "good versus evil" plots should always turns out.

This week is Holy Week and as we enter into the Octave of Easter, with the Last Supper appearing first in the Tridium this evening, let us remember the appearance of good versus evil is evident during Our Lord's entire walk to Calvary. However - lucky for us, we definitely do know the end of this triumphant story. Alleluia!

Thursday in Holy Week - Maundy Thursday

The Last Supper

The Twelve;

Simon ( St. Peter)
James (son of Zebedee)
James (son of Alphaeus)
Jude (Thaddaeus)
Simon (the Zealot)
Judas Iscariot

The First of the Easter Tridium

Spring has sprung!

Morning has broken!

Spring has sprung!

The snow is melting and the sun is shining!

Welcome Spring!

Wednesday in Holy Week

Wednesday in Holy Week

The Road to Calvary's next step today;

The Rooster - It crowed right after St. Peter
denied knowing Jesus...

Our Lenten food fare...

(Why Pretzels? Read about our Lenten traditions HERE)

A hot batch of pretzels, fresh from the oven.