Kids Books & Reading

Laurent turned 13 last week and we combined the celebration of that milestone with our bi-annual city trip.


Saint jean street Quebec

When you live in the sticks as we do (the sticks with good coffee shops, good neighbours, and the mountains) you need to make regular pilgrimages to larger centres to access goods and services that are just not available “in the woods” - comic book stores, “the mall”, and the Apple Store.

boy in store

With our hike now mere weeks away we used Laurent’s birthday as a good reason to drive the 7+ hours (one way) to Quebec City. We crammed the trip full of fun and necessaries. The aquarium, a stay at the hostel in the heart of the 400 year old city, and the crown jewel - an English comic book store - were the fun highlights.


Polar bears in aquarium

ice fish sculpture

A trip to MEC for the last gear purchases and a visit to Place Sainte Foy/Laurier mall complex for an iPad and clothes (not totally successful, we still need trail underwear for the boy, and running shorts for Celine and I) were the shopping parts of the trip.

Door comic book store

Shopping is not Laurent’s idea of a good time, neither is it mine. But sometimes it just has to be done. And if you have a new book along, well that does help.

Reading comic in car

If you go

The hostel downtown Quebec is a great place to stay. They treat families well there. Our kids love the social aspect of a hostel, probably because their parents do. In the course of our overnight stay, which involved cooking our own supper and buying the breakfast they served in the common kitchen area, we met two other families.

Quebec hostel

The hostel is easy walking distance from all the old city must-dos and must-sees. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time for that.

If you do go I recommend hitting a large grocery store on the way into the city (the IGA’s are nice) and arriving at the hostel with the food you’ll need for your stay. I didn’t have the foresight to do that. There is a grocery store nearby but it’s small, as are all downtown stores.

blue snowflake

Last week I re-published a bunch of posts from years past around the theme of winter inspiration and action. While in that frame of mind I wrote this newsletter. I liked it, so I'm sharing it here also.

kids drawing at table with tablets

A few years ago I read the book Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by Oliver DeMille. If you follow my blog at all you know this book has been instrumental in supporting and articulating our homeschool philosophy and practice.

One nugget of wisdom from this book that is especially applicable this time of year is the principle that evenings are for inspiring.

winter snow pile

Five years ago I read that phrase and underlined it in fluorescent blue.

Evenings are for inspiring.

It's a simple idea but its genius is in its simplicity. That phrase helped give structure to an otherwise unplanned, and probably wasted, part of our days. Instead of "crashing, rushing, veg-ing, facebooking", evenings are for inspiring.

marvel wasp

Last week on the blog I re-published blog posts from previous winters, around the theme of winter inspiration and dreams (and then making those dreams happen).

Winter is the time of the year to be inspired and to dream.

Making big things happen in our life, making changes so that our lives line up with our values, can be intimidating. It's hard to know where to start.

drawing Hawkeye

I could suggest a couple places - going for a hike in the winter woods or taking a winter backpacking trip with your family. But these aren't necessarily applicable nor accessible to everybody, are they?

So here's a place you can start: set aside your evenings to be inspired.

Canadian History Project

If you have babies, you can inspire yourself with good books (before you crash from exhaustion, right?). As your kids grow this can be a time for family reading and yes, watching, together. (Olympics anyone?)

Dara Howell Olympic Gold

As children become young adults, Oliver says this:

Youth very naturally long for the passion of being inspired...This is one of the reasons they so often want to be away every evening, to do something fun, to feel alive, passionate, real.

Why not make your home the hub of inspiration in their lives? Why not make it the hub of inspiration in your own life?

kids drawing at table

Building your evenings around inspiration is a simple and doable change you can make. You don't need special gear, you don't need to live in the woods. In fact, if you live in a city you'll have access to evening concerts and lectures, lucky you! (For the rest of us, there's TED talks.)

Hawkeye and Black Widow

Make time in your life to be inspired. This inspiration will give birth to dreams. It will also motivate learning and scholarship, personal growth and forward movement in your life.

When I wrote about our kids' current elementary homeschool curriculum I mentioned the fantastic program called Herb Fairies that Brienne is using for her science studies. (This is not a science "program" but it fits the bill in our house for exploring nature during the elementary years.)

Herb Fairies is a learning resource produced by The product was available for a limited time last summer, at which time I snagged it for Brienne. It will be available for purchase again next month.

Brienne really enjoyed the stories, learning how to identify plants, and how to make herbal remedies. The pairing of a fairy with a particular plant is genius if you ask me.

The folks at are running a video contest right now. No doubt, to generate some buzz around the upcoming release.

When Brienne found out about this contest she was very keen to produce a video. Video Production 101 (we use iMovie on my Mac) has been her homeschool curriculum for the last couple weeks. Herb Fairies has really facilitated a lot of learning around here. I love that. (pst. This is what interest-led, project-based learning looks like in our home.)

Brienne would be thrilled if you would "Like" her video on the Learning Herbs facebook page. This contest is over now.

Here's a little message written by her, about Herb Fairies and the video contest.


I made a video for a contest. The video is talking about Herb Fairies. Herb Fairies is a series of 13 books where you learn about different plants and herbs along with a fairy. I made a video about Herb Fairies for a contest by the company that publishes Herb Fairies.

The person who gets the most likes on their video has a chance of winning an iPad mini.

I was wondering if you could go to this site, find my video and "like" it.

The winner will be chosen by the 19th so if you're going to "like" my video it needs to be done by then.

You can also tell your friends I made a video so they could like it to, so I could have more chances of winning.



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