Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chess Club

The spring chess club for our homeschool group has wrapped up. It was the first time we'd participated, and we had a great time! The club is taught by Mr. E. who explains different chess ideas, and gives a lot of time to play and practice. The final two weeks were devoted to a tournament that Emmi and Tim played in.

Even though they didn't play in the tournament, Pip and Ben were part of the chess club too. Both can set up the board, and know how to move all the pieces. Ben can even catch you in a wicked "double rook" checkmate if you're not careful!

Chess can require a lot of thought! Emmi said that was the most important thing she learned in the club - to think through a move before you make it! Tim said he had learned so many things, he couldn't pick just one important thing!

Mr. E. encouraged everyone to play different people, so you got a lot of experience with different styles of play. At the end, trophies were handed out to the top three players in the tournament. I think Tim was the most surprized to find out he won first place! Congratulations Tim!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Drummond Hill Cemetery

Grandma and Grandpa came down recently, and we thought it would be fun to visit a War of 1812 historic site. We picked the Drummond Hill Cemetery - somewhere we'd driven by a lot, but never stopped in at.

The cemetery is on the site of a huge battle in the War of 1812 - the Battle of Lundy's Lane. It happens to be the highest point in Niagara Falls, and so was a key place to control back in 1814, which is when the battle actually took place. In 1895, the monument was build to remember the battle. The monument appeals to all ages - whether it be the cannon on either side, the cannon balls on the monument, the steps that are fun to climb up, or the interesting facts on the informative plaque - there is something there for everyone!

Laura Secord also rests in this cemetery, you can see her monument too.

We picked one of the coldest and windiest days in May to visit. Shortly before we got there, one of the big trees had suffered a lot of wind damage.

There are other interesting graves and markers to visit. There is a professional stuntman who died in a barrell roll (but not when he went over the falls), and in another corner there is a young, visiting Australian who has a kangaroo on his headstone.

We thought the tree growing over the headstone was another interesting touch to this interesting grave. The kangaroo is right at the top, in almost a starburst. We enjoyed our visit, but the weather along with the solemn feel of the cemetery made us quite ready to get in the van to return home for tea and doughnuts!

Friday, May 14, 2010


Time for another history adventure! Together with our friends, we tried our hand at papermaking, which is something the Ancient Chinese first perfected. It is so much fun - and so much (wet) mess! Next time we'll try to order better weather (it was drizzly and cool) so we can work outdoors!

Before the fun of papermaking, we needed a few supplies. If you are ever interested in making your own paper, there are some good websites with directions like here, but we got hooked at the Ontario Science Centre. We were able to make paper there, and they sent us home with good directions (the link to the Science Centre will take you to their papermaking directions). We purchased a blender at Goodwill, and some old picture frames at another second-hand store. I bought some screen (like you'd use on your screen door) and we cut pieces to fit the frames, and stapled it on - this was to make the mould and deckle - the thing you drag through the pulp to form the paper. We took a stack of cloth diapers (the rectangular variety), and our friends provided some towels because you generate a lot of water with this activity! A couple of tubs to hold the pulp, and some paper out of the recycling bin (including some colourful tissue and construction paper) and we were ready to go! Here's what we did:

The first step was to rip up our scrap paper into little pieces - keep your colours separate!

Then paper bits go in the blender with water and get blended up into a pulp. The pulp goes into a tub, with more water for a nice, soupy, pulpy mess. We also added glitter to the pulp to make our paper fancy!

Emmi is forming a piece of paper with our mould and deckle. You push the mould and deckle to the bottom of the tub, swirl the pulp around evenly, and slowly lift up the mould and deckle, letting the water drain away. A pulpy sheet of paper is left behind.

Then you turn the pulpy mess (still on the deckle) over and squish out as much water as you can onto the cloth (diapers in our case). Lift up the deckle, and hopefully your wet paper remains behind on the cloth.

To get out even more water, the wet paper is sandwiched in cloth diapers and then between two books (or pieces of wood), and a weight (in this case, Pip, jumping up and down) is applied.

Very carefully, transfer the damp paper to a clean cloth to dry. As you can see, we made orange and green paper. The orange paper was thinner, and we tried some cool effects on it, like making green shapes in it (lower left, you can see a piece of orange paper with the top of a green tree in it - very cool!).
By the time we'd cleaned up, and had a recovery cup of tea, the damp paper was dry enough to handle and take home.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Springtime Ramblings

These photos are actually from last month, but I thought I'd put them up now. We went for a ramble with Granny and Granddad in the Shorthills Provincial Park, and saw a good display of these bloodroot right about where we turned around to head back to the van.

As it is Mother's Day, here is a great photo of my mother and me! Happy Mother's Day all you mums!

We heard a good sermon in church today about a faithful mother in the Bible. This mother trained her son (with the help of her mother - the son's grandma) in the faith so well that when the Apostle Paul came through their town, he took the young man along with him to help minister on his travels. Later this young fellow got 2 letters written to him by Paul - his name.. Timothy! The faithful mother was Eunice - my own faithful mother's name!

Here's a gang of us just wandering along - somehow neither of the 2 men on the outing made it into the photo (of course, one was behind the lense of the camera!).