Monday, 24 June 2013


This spring all three kids participated in the Surrey Homeschool choir (a yearly highlight for them).  They just finished the semester with two concerts: one for parents and friends and the other for the residents at Magnolia Gardens in Langley.  As usual, they all had individual speaking parts and Matt opened up the first concert with prayer.

Swimming Lessons at Gold's Gym

This spring the kids have been swimming at Gold's Gym in Langley with their instructor, Maria.  Sarah has been continuing with her lessons but Matt & Bekah have been doing weekly fitness challenges in the pool.  Obviously they've been having a blast!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Sarah's Easter Song

This is a special song Sarah wrote to God at Easter.  Love it!

Armour of God

At small group last week the kids took a "hands on" approach to the armour of God (even the little ones got in on the fun).

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Sir John A. MacDonald: The Colourful Politician

Matthew's mini report on John A MacDonald ....

MacDonald stood up to speak to the House of Commons but seemed pale and started to choke.  He then threw up on his desk!  In response to the grumblings that he had been drinking too much, he retorted that his opponent was making him sick!  This is only one of the many incidents during Sir John A MacDonald’s life which made him one of Canada’s most colourful politicians.

Sir John A MacDonald had a quick-witted sense of humour and he wasn’t afraid to make fun of himself. For instance, George Brown’s newspaper accused him of having few lucid moments because he drank too much.  In his speech the next day Sir John made fun of himself and said “In one of my lucid moments, I am going to tell you that …..”

Sometimes, however, Sir John was a little bit too colourful! For instance, Hugh Allan wanted the job of building the railway so he was paying MacDonald huge amounts of money for the election.  In return for these payments he was given the job of building the Pacific Railway. After that MacDonald had to resign and disappeared for six months.  Even his wife didn’t know where he was. And then he returned and was re-elected!

From the beginning of his life right up to the very end, Sir John A MacDonald was a lively man. For instance, when he was seventy years old he and his wife rode on the very, very front of a train’s engine. What a man!

Sir John A MacDonald: The Persevering Politician

Bekah's report on Sir John A MacDonald...... 
Sir John bent over feeling nauseous, the effects of last night’s drinking starting to take their revenge on him. Everything started to whirl around him; he groaned; and then, threw up. Everyone stared! Sir John groaned for the second time. What was he, the Prime Minister, and the first (and probably only) man to throw up in the House of Commons, going to say to the reporters?
          Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, was a skilled lawyer and politician, but even more importantly, a persevering man. Unfortunately for him, however, he is also remembered for his drinking problem. Even though it was his many business, political and personal challenges that contributed to this problem.  Despite these significant obstacles, however, MacDonald persevered. He played a key role in bringing together Canada as a nation while serving as the country’s first prime minister.
Macdonald was a well-regarded politician, however, his political life had complications. In 1873, six years after becoming Canada’s first prime minister, he had to resign because of the Pacific Scandal.  He had accepted money for his electoral campaign from the company he awarded the much sought-after Pacific Railway contract. He was very upset and disappeared for six months. Not even his wife knew where he was. Upon his return, Macdonald’s party insisted that he stay their leader and he won the next election.  So, despite significant challenges, Macdonald’s stubbornness helped him succeed.
Macdonald also had business problems. Growing up, his family had always had money troubles but, as a successful lawyer and politician, he had managed to turn that around. Unfortunately however, while he was out of the country with his sick wife, his law partner, A.J. McDonnell, was not making sound business decisions.  When McDonnell died, he left Macdonald with over one million dollars in today’s money of business debts. However in his typical tireless fashion, Sir John rose to the occasion, assuming full responsibility for all of the debt.
As if his business and political trials were not enough, MacDonald also had a heartrending and difficult personal life.  His wife, Isabella Clarke, struggled with a psychosomatic disorder and alcohol addiction. In fact, she was so sick that they had to move to Georgia, USA.  Happily, Isabella started to improve there but after a few months John had to return to Canada to work, leaving her alone to recover. Sir John was extremely lonely without her and visited her whenever he could get away from his law practice and Parliament. During this same time, their first son also died in infancy.  This blow weakened Isabella even more and she died shortly after at the age of 48. John was grief stricken and sadly turned to drinking away his troubles. Throughout all of these hardships, however, Macdonald persisted and continued to advance his political career. 
Sir John Alexander Macdonald is now remembered for his great triumphs as Canada’s first prime minister. While leading Canada he was also overcoming all of his family issues, political messes, and business challenges. Now THIS was a persevering politician! 

Brown, Jacqueline. Sir John A. MacDonald: The Rascal Who Built Canada. Toronto: JackFruit Press, 2005.
Waite, P.B. The Canadians: John A. MacDonald. Markham: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2000.
 .... Please note that we know there should be hanging indentation here but blogger was having some technical issues and wouldn't allow us to format correctly.....

Monday, 3 June 2013

Culinary Creations!

Getting it done in the kitchen!

Natural Resources of BC Posters

Inspired by our printmaking workshop with the City of Surrey (, we created posters depicting the five major natural resources in BC today (agriculture, mining, fisheries, forestry and hydro). The kids began by creating a simple symbol for each of the resources and then traced each symbol onto a styrofoam plate.
They then inked their plates with printmaking ink and a brayer to transfer
the images to coloured paper.
That produced a lot of images!
Bekah's final poster:
Matt's final poster:
Sarah's final poster:

Natural Resources of BC Maps

In addition to exploring the importance of natural resources for BC's development, we also spent some time mapping out the major natural resources for BC today.

Centennial Museum (Fort Langley)

As part of our unit on BC's natural resources we took a field trip to Fort Langley's Centennial Museum.  During the two-hour program we had a guided tour of the museum where we learnt about the importance of resource industries (i.e. fur, forestry, fisheries, water) in the development of early British Columbia.
From there, we had the opportunity to design our own pieces of art (Salmon labels) using historical BC marketing symbols. Salmon (catching and processing) was a huge industry historically for BC and, due to the significant numbers of competing companies, the labelling of the cans became very important for business. 
Using original images and fonts, the kids designed their own salmon labels (transferred the images to their label, outlined with Sharpie markers and then used watercolour pencil crayons for colour).
Here are the kids' final salmon labels
(Bekah's is on top, Sarah's is in the middle, and Matthew's is on the bottom):

Simple Machines - Screws

Before we could experience how screws make life easier we had to figure out the screwdriver!

Simple Machines - Wedges

A delicious way to explore how wedges make life easier (it was much easier to push the wedge-shaped carrots compared to the circle shaped carrots into the apples).

Simple Machines - Levers

Exploring the effect of different fulcrum positions on ease of pushing down on the "teeter toter".  Closer to the load is the best!
This experiment was supposed to support the idea that a longer lever will ease the amount of perceived effort required.  What I didn't factor in, however, was the lack of skill in hammering!  The conclusion: all of the kids preferred to hold the hammer close to the head.
Playing around with third class levers.

Simple Machines - Pulleys

The assignment: creating a pulley system to lift the bucket easily.  Working as a team the kids quickly took on different jobs: Levi as designer, Bekah as string engineer, Matt as general helper, and Dane as supervisor (complete with gun???!!!).
As you can see by the amount of exertion required to lift the bucket the experiment wasn't completely successful.  Levi declared the design a "fail" but the consensus was that the equipment was faulty (the pulleys kept bending and breaking).

Simple Machines

The kids enjoyed putting together samples of each type of simple machine:
the wedge, pulley, wheel & axle, lever and inclined plane.
It was fascinating to then take a journey through a medieval castle and discover how simple machines were used in daily life and wartime.

Force & Motion

We started off our unit on Simple Machines by exploring force and motion using simple toys and equipment like straws & marbles.
The kids then designed and created a three story marble run down four staircases (I had envisioned a smaller scale run when I gave them their supplies but they thought outside the box!).  Micah and Sarah happily waited in the basement to collect the marbles.