July Reading 2022

Windblown by Éduoard Manceau

Bluebird by Lindsey Yankey

Gabby Wonder Girl by Joyce Grant

Magical Creatures by Aimee Chapman, Alice-May Bermingham & Amy Oliver

Treasury of Norse Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli

Ballet Cat: What’s Your Favourite Favourite by Bob Shea

Make Me Giggle: Writing Your Own Silly Story by Nancy Lowen

Wild for Winnie by Laura Max Fitzgerald

Camilla Cartographer by Julie Dillemuth

Sweetest July by Celina Kalluk

Sing With Me by Jose-Luis Orozco

Tales of a Traveler Book One Hemlock by N.J. Layouni

Pig In Love by Vivian French & Tim Archbold

London a Book of Opposites by Ashley Evanston

Perfect Snow by Barbara Reid

Flo by Kyo Maclear

I’m Big by Kate & Jim McMullan

Baby Feminists by Libby Babbott-Klein

Snow Globe Wishes by Erin Dealy

The Boss Baby by Marla Frazer

The Very Last Castle by Tavis Jonker

Again! by Emily Gravett

Fireboat by Maira Kalman

My Little Ponies: Meet the Ponies of Ponyville by Olivia London

My Little Ponies: Hearts and Hooves by Olivia London

My Little Ponies: Holly, Jolly, Harmony by Olivia London

My Little Ponies: Ponies Love Pets by Olivia London

My Little Ponies: Meet the Princess of Friendship by Olivia London

My Little Ponies: Power Ponies to the Rescue! by Olivia London

Be Brave Little Penguin by Giles Andreae

Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal

How to Catch a Yeti by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton

Harold’s Treasure Hunt by Crockett Johnson

A Day for Sandcastles by Jon Arno Lawson

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best

Elephant in the Bathtub by Kristina Andres

Mermaid Tales: The Lost Princess by Debbie Dadey

Bedroom Makeover Crafts by Kathy Ross

Pete the Cat Making New Friends by Kimberly and James Dean

Goodbye Grandpa by Jelleke Rijken and Mack Van Gageldonk

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titans Curse by Rick Riordan


The Crates (part 2)

Maizel didn’t like coming to Droca, the city gave him creepy vibes. The black and grey walls hewn from heavy stone stood ahead of him at least eight river boat lengths in height, and although still far away he swore he could see bones jutting out from the walls as though their owners had long ago been entombed there, their flesh long since rotted away. It gave him chills as the road wound closer to the gates and all sunlight was lost to the wall’s shadow. The far side of the city didn’t have walls, but it was far too dangerous to attempt entry through the torrential currents of Reaper Brooke, especially with the horses and buggy.

The velvety finish of the finely crafted solid wood crates made guessing the contents more interesting to Maizel. More interesting than any other journey in which he had not already known the contents of his wagon in advance. The crates were both long and tall yet relatively narrow in comparison. The weary-looking cart driver had already discarded the idea that anyone would waste such nice containers on bodies or parts, and anything that valuable and dangerous would have a more experienced escort, especially when going through a war zone.

The ride out of Port Enoth and towards Bitura had been uneventful. As instructed by the Duke who had hired him, Maizel avoided large communities and cities along the route, only stopping at small villages to gather provisions. It was a lonely trip, having expected one of the identically faced clerics to come along with him. When the two had left the ship without a word to him the idea that he had a guarantee of company evaporated.

Leaving Bitura was a bit more hazardous. Droca had been at war with the Dwarven kingdom for so long that the Biturians no longer felt the need to destroy the undead forces that marched through their land on the way to battle. This led to there being more highwaymen, and vigilantes in these parts. Also, Maizel had been warned that there were people who would do everything in their power to stop these boxes from arriving.

The need to avoid large communities became less and less of a concern for Maizel as most Biturians had no interest in living anywhere near their Necromantic neighbors. One evening, a day or so before he crossed the river border, Maizel treated himself to a stay at an inn with a real bed. He did not sleep well that night as he was plagued with a sensation of being watched or followed.

After a hearty breakfast of mystery meat and over-cooked grains, the humble traveler returned his load to his cart and double-checked it was secure before preparing his horses to continue the journey. He was interrupted before he could begin to hitch his cart and fought the urge to take a step backward as he looked up, much further than usual, to meet the eyes of the newcomer.

From behind the crimson-haired giant a chipper voice called out, “Excuse me, sir! We are a little bit stranded. My good friend here and I are looking for a way to Pulabuta. Could you help us?”

It took Maizel a few moments to calm his horses before he spoke, “Pulabuta is a dangerous route unless you want to go by boat. I’m currently on the road to Droca but I believe I can help you if you are willing to make the detour with me. However, ma’am, your friend who is scaring my horses is a bit too large for a seat on my cart.”

“Oh, sorry.” The giant said stepping backward out of the barn. “Many creatures seem to be afraid of my size but I promise I’m gentle. I only kill what I eat.”

“That is an honourable philosophy,” Mazel replied. Turning to see the other traveler for the first time, Maizel jumped in surprise. “You’re a cat-folk?”

“Why, yes, I am,” she gasped, ” I do hope that will not alter your offer of aid. I am aware that my people are not well-liked since The Cat-astrophe.”

“I hold no prejudices based on a person’s parentage, I’ve just never seen a living cat-folk outside their refuge of Meowntain Town”

Together they finished hitching the cart to the horses and began the trek towards Droca. It was comforting having conversation partners, even if they could pose a risk to his cargo. The giant walked behind the cart to keep from spooking the horses while playing with a leather band on his arm. Sithik claimed it brought him luck during his travels around the mainland. The cat-folk, Miao Cat, didn’t say much during the days, preferring to nap in the sun, but as the shade from the city-state fell over them she became alert and kept looking behind them. “I do believe we have company,” she purred.

June Reading 2022

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr & John Archanbault

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel

Rocky’s Mighty Words by Tad Hills

Ten Shiny Snails by Ruth Galloway

Seasons and Weather by Linda Bruce

Peppa Pig: La Sortie Scolaire (translation of ‘Class Trip’) by Neville Ashley

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca

Clifford Goes to Hollywood by Norman Bridwell

The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

Mookie is Missing! by Carol Ghiglieri

The Basketball Game by Lorraine Adams

Mr. Bounce by Rodger Hargreaves

The Very Impatient Caterpillar by Ross Burach

The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith

Oh Tucker! by Steven Kroll

Tsunami by Kimiko Kajikawa

A Piece of Home by Jeri Watts

I Am Canada by Heather Patterson

Stowaway on Noah’s Arc by Charles Santore

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Fairie Fruit by Charlotte E. English

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard

Little Critter : Just For You by Mercer Mayer

Barbie’s Favourite Stories: The New Counselor by Diane Muldrow

Barbie’s Favourite Stories: Loves Her Sisters by Diane Muldrow

The Crates

A man dressed in the finest of business attire stood beside three narrow but long boxes, waiting for the captain to show his people where they could stow the precious cargo. Behind the boxes dressed in their clerical vestments stood two individuals who could not be more different even though their faces were identical. The first was short in the torso but long in appendages, his hair was dark like oil, brushed fastidiously. The other was a rotund gentleman with scraggly auburn hair that would have reached his knees if not so tangled and hastily thrown back, he stood barely to his companion’s navel.

A muscular exotic man wearing well-crafted yet very worn breeches of the darkest green suddenly stood in front of the group. “Ah! Kael’ven, this is the shipment we discussed. ” Behind him, the two clerics looked up in surprise, this man appeared to come out of thin air in front of them.

“The clerics must confirm the driver is correct before you let these three beauties go.” The businessman trailed off for a moment focusing all of his attention on the boxes.

“Sir?” asked Kael’ven drawing back the businessman’s attention.

“Ah. yes, sorry I was daydreaming again. These gifts really will do the trick this time. I must have her I don’t care what mother says.”

“I wish you the best of luck du– Um I mean, uhh… Sir. My ma used to hate my girl too. I’ll make sure these packages are delivered to the driver in perfect condition.”

The Captain, a baby elephant grub race enthusiast, had been out late the night before betting on a greedy grub named Nurpip, the same grub that he had named his latest ship after. As he walked up to the group surrounding the mysterious boxes, he was irritable and tired. “Everything else is boarded, yer might wanna get yer fancy wooden boxes into the hold.”

Both of the clerics and Kael’ven carefully picked up a box each. They were much lighter than they looked. The velvet brushed gently against their skin as they followed the businessman and captain into the cargo hold, where a special cell had been prepared for the lucrative load. Having placed the boxes down the men all left the room to discuss payments.

It was dark, humid, and mostly quiet down in the ship’s cargo hold. Daily the chef would send the scullery maid down to collect items for the crew’s next meal. Over time she became friendly with the Guard of the beautiful boxes and he with her. They would sit away in the dimly lit area, eating their dinner and imagining all the places the other boxes could have come from. Some of their more interesting theories included an exceedingly large oak crate being filled with the toenails of an emperor from across the oceans, a padded case of ceramic dinner wears containing smuggled goods, and they made wagers about how many ransom notes could be contained in the mail bags.

Thrice daily the clerics, Jörd and Skrawl, would come down to cast spells upon the boxes to ensure the delicate contents remained intact and fresh. They would then spend hours cleansing the space, and then go to rest before coming back to do the spells again.

On the day they made port things went as normal until lunch was brought to the guard by the smitten scullery maid, they ate together but were disheartened by the fact that they would soon have to part ways. So instead of laughter things were sullen. Suddenly Kael’ven grabbed his stomach and groaned. He asked his friend if she could watch the compartment for a moment as he ran up the stairs to relieve his sudden urge to defecate.

While he was taking care of his sudden issue at the bow of the ship, items began to be offloaded from the cargo bay by the working hands of the ship. The scullery maid stayed inside the confines of the cage that was built for the beautifully carved, velvet-laid boxes. By the time the last of the regular load was gone the guard Kael’ven had still not returned. The girl left the gate wide open to find two of her friends, inviting them back to grab the boxes and run, as this was their chance to complete their job.

Jörd and Skawl walked down the ramps and into the storage area to find it completely deserted. Knowing that Kael’ven took his job very seriously they suspected that something strange was going on, and they quickly decided to only have one of them do the spells while the other cleaned the space. They hoped that Kael’ven was just hidden but needed to be prepared for any attack. Skawl began to recite the spells to protect the box and its contents while Jörd began sweeping the space in counter-clockwise strokes.

It didn’t take long for there to be noise coming down the ramps again. Immediately Skawl was on high alert, his skin changing from its pale flesh to a silver gleam as though it had become made of iron. As he looked up he saw the scullery maid and two muscled men behind her. The one slightly to her left looked familiar even in the dim light. He had a slight hunch and a scar across his face from temple to chin. This man was a hired enforcer for Skawl’s boss’s mother.

The group looked surprised to see the clerics in the room and Skawl decided it was best to take that advantage. “You will not take these boxes without my permission” he called as he waved his hand in the air.

The girl turned to her companions, “Take care of our little problem, we need to get these boxes destroyed for our lady!”

The unknown man stepped forward to rush at the clerics, but the scar-faced man was hesitant. “I’m not sure we should attack him.”

Jörd, recognizing the voice, looked up from his task of securing the boxes and said “Fog” instantly a dense fog encompassed the entire room making it impossible to see even five steps ahead. The unknown man came to a halt unsure of where his targets had gone.

Skawl quickly tried to find a shadow and called out for god’s help to contact Kael’ven letting him know of the three people attempting to steal the crates.

The next few grains were passed in confusion. The fog made it difficult to see. A yelp of surprise emerged from the scullery maid as she tripped over a beam that was left on the floor. A moment later a flash of light came through the fog as the doors to the cargo hold were ripped open by Kael’ven, who was attempting to pull up his pants, and a merchantman who entered the still dense fog. Just as quickly the light disappeared.

The scullery maid crawled her way to a wall and listened with all her might. Her breath caught when she heard the door close, but continued to be silent. The deep breaths of the men around her, people yelling in the port outside, and her own heart beating erratically with the thoughts of being outnumbered had her senses working overtime.

The unknown man lunged at a shadow he thought could be a cleric and fatally struck a curtain instead, which fell straight upon his head causing him to gasp, “Stupid spider webs!” Meanwhile, his scared companion spent this time getting himself collected.

While the long-armed Skawl took steps towards the clatter and voice of the unknown thief, Jörd continued to pray to his god, murmuring in his attempt to complete his tasks without being located. Skawl swung out his arm, solid as iron, and felt a clang. His enemy was wearing armor under his clothes.

Kael’ven tells the merchant, Maizel, to guard the door, pulls out his sword, and began swinging his sword to and fro.

Feeling as though she could now tell where the fighting would be happening the scullery maid made her way in what she figured should be the direction of the boxes. The floor was rough and continually caught upon her clothing as she crawled.

The unknown man was struggling mightily to remove the curtain from around his head when he was struck in the chest. In his anger he struck out wildly towards the space he correctly believed the enemy to be, he missed and instead spun completely around losing his bearings and all sense of where his enemy might be.

The scar-faced enemy was in a panic, the spell that was cast upon him by the cleric Skawl had worked its way into a frenzy. “There are too many of them!” he shouted aloud to his companions before running blindly towards the door.

Jörd having finished his essential work excitedly turned towards the battle, rarely did he get to partake in this part of the adventure. Ready to face the enemy he spread his arms and said “Disperse.” As he did this the fog slowly began to clear as a fresh breeze flowed into the room.

Skawl, knowing he had one of the thieves right in front of him pressed his attack, knocking the unidentified thief to the floor. He may have proceeded to inflict pain on the man if they had not begged to surrender at that point. A disappointed groan left Jörd’s mouth.

With the man that seemed to actually value his life running full speed at him, Maizel stepped into the charge and struck the man square in the chest with an open palm, before stepping aside to avoid the anticipated reaction. The man with the scar on his face began to groan and vomit.

As the last of the fog disappeared Kael’ven turned to the monks with identical faces and said, “This is Maizel a traveling merchant who claims he is supposed to pick up three boxes for our lord. Is he the correct person to pass the boxes to?”

Jörd took a long look at the man blocking the door to the room and asked for the passcode. From inside his jacket, the merchantman took out a wand, tapped it on the side of the door, and stepped out of the way. Smoke billowed for a moment and when it cleared a symbol had been etched into the wood. Skawl gave a curt nod and looked to Jörd who in return gave two nods. They then pushed past the man, through the door, and off the ship. They had a maid to find. When the door closed behind them the symbol was gone.

“Strange pair, them. Eh?” stated the merchantman before going to pick up two of the three large boxes. Although Kael’ven agreed, he knew better than to say anything ill about his companions. Instead, he quickly tied up his enemies to a mast and then grabbed the third box carrying it to Maizel’s cart.

May Reading 2022

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

Raindrop Plop by Wendy Cheyette Lewiston

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Say Hello by Rachel Isadora

The Littlest Bunny in Canada by May Joe

Bunnies Are For Kissing by Allia Zobel Nolan

Zen Happiness by Jon J Muth

Day at the Beach by Tom Booth

Super Peppa Pig by Lauren Holoway & Cala Spinner

A New School For Megan by Jenny Giles

The Treasure Hunt by Angela Shelf Medearis

The Seat Belt Song by Jenny Giles

Disney Princess Phonics Tunnel Run

Mickey’s Christmas Carol a Golden Book

Mickey’s Clubhouse Play with Minnie by Susan Rich Brooke

Lift and Learn In the Jungle by Maurice Pledger’s Animal World

April Reading 2022

The Little Ballerina by Sue Harris

Annie the Apple Pie Fairy by Lara Ede & Tim Bugbird

Mickey and the Big Storm by Mary Packard

The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter

One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root

Puppies Are Coming by Ruth Lerner Perle

Curious You by H.A. Rey

Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimon

Pinkalicious: The Pinkerrific Playdate by Victoria Kann

Pinkalicious: The Royal Tea Party by Victoria Kann

Under the Water by Harriet Ziefert

Inuit Still by Jeanne Bushey

Brown Bears by Beverley Randell

Happy Pig Day! by Mo Willems

Don’t Let Pidgeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems

Treetop Twins Wilderness Adventures: The Twins Run After a Rhino by Cressida Cowell

Hope’s Necklace by Lorraine Adams

A Potty for Me by Karen Katz

Emergency Vehicles by Geoff Thompson

I Love You Too, I Love You Three by Wendy Tugwood

Goodnight Selfie by Scott Menchin

The Berenstain Bears and the Shaggy Little Pony by Jan and Mike Berenstain

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

Easter 2022

For the first time in years, I did not go to church for Easter. Instead, my family decided to have a relaxing weekend at home – for the most part. I worked at least one shift every day except for Sunday.

I think the highlights of the weekend for me were:

  1. Our weekend began on Thursday evening with a birthday party at Scandia. Zen won enough tickets in one game that she was able to get a large Llama-corn prize, which meant that with the saved up Scandia dollars we had both girls could get a fun item to take home,
  2. Watching my kids enjoy their easter treats and play date. Kevin and I set up a string path throughout the house on Sunday for the girls to find their treats from the bunny. Later, we met up at a park with the family of a girl my kids are friends with. There they had an egg hunt, used liquid chalk, attempted to fly a kite, and played on the structure.
  3. I got to enjoy the presence of two cats this weekend. Atticus successfully made it onto his catwalk without help multiple times this weekend. We also got to meet our future kitten, Cloudette. The one-month-old kitten came to visit on Sunday afternoon as we wanted to ensure that she and Atticus would get along, as well as get to meet her ourselves.
  4. Sanura has been requesting our family stream our Minecraft sessions, so we spent the weekend playing with game plug-ins and streaming software. We started a new map on survival mode and had a lot of fun making a home in a cave.

Turning Seven

My eldest daughter celebrated her birthday recently. It went fantastically well and my house still has some of the decor up.

We used the opportunity to help Sanura learn about stretching money by making and following a budget prior to the day(s) of the celebration. (This is something we do every year but this year Sanura was much more active in choosing what she wanted). Kevin and I gave her a total dollar amount that she had and let her know it was for everything she wanted to do for her birthday including her gifts from myself and her father. As a child, she of course had many grandiose ideas, so we wrote them down and figured out the cost of each thing and added them up so she could see how out of budget her ideas took her, and then discussed how we could still do most of what she wanted with some tweaks.

Her master plan was to invite her entire class, plus a few close friends, to a Minecraft-themed party at someplace that held events. Depending on which place she chose it would take her well outside of her budget. For a gift, she really wanted her own tower garden, plus toys and make-up and other things that set a nearly seven-year-old’s heart to joy. (Regarding the tower we told her that if she could save up half the cost of the tower we would pay the other half for her. )There were to be decorations and cake and goody-bags and pizza and so on and so forth.

The first thing we changed was her location and amount of people she was inviting. Instead of paying for a location, we discussed having the party at a park or at home. As strangers could randomly join us at a park, Sanura decided to bring it to our home. Next, we brought the list down from 34 people to 7, there was no way we could have everyone plus their parents and possibly a few siblings at our house at such a large number. Instead of paper invites, we sent text messages to the parents of those invited. As there were fewer people coming we were able to add more to the good bag cost.

We talked about making the decor but decided to purchase a Minecraft party pack online instead. It contained a banner, cake toppers/decorations, balloons, and bracelets. We went to a local dollar store to get themed plates, cups, and cutlery. We lucked out on one of our shopping trips and found goody bags that looked like chests and a plastic table cloth that looked like blocks of grass. Inside the gift bags, we used the bracelets that came with the decorations, bought some playdough, and got some bulk candy.

Sanura originally wanted to go to a bakery to get both a cake and cupcakes. We tend to eat gluten-free (for multiple health reasons) and getting her cakes at a bakery was going to be expensive. After seeing how much of her budget the cake would eat up she decided we would make the cakes instead. We made an eight inch round for the day of her birthday, using white and red icing to create a minecraft cake. We were happy with the brownie consistency of the cake and used the same mixture to make cupcakes for her party, which we decorated to look like grass blocks. Sanura loved that we were able to sneak some veggies into the cake, no one believed her when she told them.

The day of her actual birthday we opened gifts and cards from family, ordered pizza and had the round cake. Sanura used the remaining balance of her birthday money to choose out a small lego set and a doll for gifts from Kevin and I. Zen had gotten her a book set and a stuffy for her owl collection. Over all it was a low-key evening.

The day of Sanura’s party was great. She had spent the evening with her best friend at a hotel the evening before (to celebrate her friend’s birthday) so we had the entire morning to set up decoration and prep the snacks for when guests arrived. All of the guests that Sanura invited came to the party so we had a full house for a whirl wind two hour span. They ate snacks, played games, searched for bracelet, played with playdough and just overall had a good time.

Just Add a Little Sparkle

Prior to lockdowns, I had intended to celebrate my 31st birthday with three friends at Sparkling Hills – a wellness resort and spa located on Royce Mountain, just outside of Vernon, BC. We decided to put our trip on hold as we couldn’t actually use the spa or saunas. It took two years but the saunas were finally re-opened! So my friend and I decided that we were going. We left on Saturday afternoon and stayed until Monday.

It was built in 2010 for $75 million and boasts over 3.5 million Swarovski crystal elements throughout the resort. It feels a bit like a maze after pulling off the highway. You drive through a golf community on the way up to the resort to find yourself at a building that has a lot of angles and glass. The lobby has high ceilings accented by gigantic crystal chandeliers, modern artwork and a beautiful view of the Okanagan Lake.

After signing in we went to our room, which had almost no straight angles. The headboards were higher on one end than the other, the shelving that separated the shower and sinks from the bed area was angled, the bathtub that sat in front of a large window was similar to a trapezoid in shape. The usage of mirrors enhanced the space not only to make it feel larger but to add to the elegance.

We utilized the seven different saunas, the hot tub and infinity pool, walking paths, and our room for the most part. But I made a point to walk around the rest of the resort to get an idea of what else was there. I would have loved to have used the tea room more, but as our room didn’t have a coffee maker and the tea bar wasn’t stocked I didn’t really get the chance – something to look forward to next time.

For breakfast, we ate at PeakFine a restaurant located on the first floor of the hotel. It had a chandelier the same shape as the lake it overlooks, as well as a large fireplace. The complimentary breakfast was given to us as a menu to choose from, instead of the regular buffet style that most hotels offer. I tried the goat cheese omelet and the tofu scramble, both of which were delicious.

For dinner, we drove down the hill a bit to eat at Range Lounge and Grill on the first night (where I got the Guinness battered halibut and chips). We intended to go our second evening as well but found they were closed even though it was a Sunday. Instead, we ordered salad and a pizza from Pallino’s. Both places made delicious food.

Overall it was a fantastic visit and I would love to go again.

March Reading 2022

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Theif by Rick Riordan

Teamwork by Robert Munsch

Pete the Cat: Play Ball by James Dean

Bear in a Square by Stella Blackstone

Wheels on the Bus by Kate Tom’s

Tyler’s New Friends by Anne Patton

Am I Small by Phillip Winterberg

When Dinosaurs Go To School by Linda Martin

Roar by Todd H. Doodler

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel

Trucks by Richard Scarry

The New Potty by Gina and Mercer Mayer

The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon

Christopher Gives Pooh a Party by A.A. Milne

Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester

The Three Billy Goats Gruff retold by Annette Smith

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willem

Wild Horses Couldn’t Keep Me Away by Jeanne Bushey

The Belgariad: Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings

Getting the News by Robert Lee

The Berenstain Bears Are Superbears! by Mike Berenstain

You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey

Festival of Colors by Vashi Harrison

Nelson the Baby Elephant by Beverley Randell