Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘family

I follow the blog of pre-school teacher Jennie Fitkzee at A Teacher’s Reflections. Jennie is an amazing teacher who truly loves her job and shares her 30-year teaching experiences with her readers. In some of her posts, she talks about the importance of reading out loud and of reading chapter books to children who cannot yet read. Here is some of what she has to say.

Jennie and her students with a favourite chapter book

The Importance of Reading Chapter Books by Jennie

In order to read, and more importantly to want to read, it all starts with parents and family reading aloud to children, every day. The statistics on reading aloud and its link to academic success in all areas is profound. If reading is a pleasurable experience, then school work is by far easier. Every child begins school wanting to learn to read. In other words, we’ve got 100 percent of enthusiastic kindergarteners when they start school. The National Report Card found that among fourth-graders, only 54 percent read for pleasure. Among eighth graders, only 30 percent read for pleasure. By twelfth grade, only 19 percent read anything for pleasure daily. Yikes! What happened? The better question might be, what did not happen?

The seeds of not only learning to read but loving to read were not planted early. Reading aloud to children for 30 minutes every day, starting at birth and continuing after they have learned to read, is the single best thing a parent can do to build a reader. I know this. When I read aloud in my classroom, it’s the time that children are totally absorbed. Totally. A good story, read aloud, is the best learning and pleasure experience I give to children. It opens the door to questions and discovery.

People often ask why I chapter read.  After all, many of the children in my classroom are three-years-old.  When we chapter read, the children don’t have an image from a picture book.  They have to make the pictures in their head.  That requires language development.  The more they hear, the more they learn.  Even the youngest children benefit enormously.  For example, they may not ‘get’ the humor of the goose repeating everything three times in Charlotte’s Web, but they are still getting a huge dose of language.  And, that language is sparking their imagination.  No pictures; just words pouring into eager, young minds and creating their own images.

Jennie discussing a chapter book with a student

Chapter reading is one of our treasured moments of the day at school.  Books bring to life the imagination, the world, and the past.  The anticipation of ‘what happens next’ stirs excitement every day.  Children listen and talk.  They ask questions.  When I ask children, “At chapter reading where do you make the pictures?” they answer “In your head.”

Reading aloud is the best thing I do with, and for, children.  They are preschoolers.  Yes, I chapter read to four-year-olds.  It is marvelous.  After three decades of teaching, I know this is “it”.  Learning can happen unexpectedly, and reading aloud is often the catalyst.  Children don’t need to sit and listen to a book in silence.  Asking questions is a good thing!

Reading aloud is the gift of language, and language is the most important element in a child’s development and success in school.  Wow!  The number of words a child knows can be directly attributed to his or her success in school; not just in English, but in Math and Science as well.  Perhaps these are the most important words a parent can hear.  Reading aloud is a strong part of my classroom curriculum, and children love it!  The more you read aloud at home increases your child’s development!  The biggest bonus is bonding together.  Nothing beats snuggling with Mom or Dad, one-on-one, reading a book.  Life is good!

Jennie

I have often been asked why I don’t have my Amanda Travels books illustrated. This is why. I want my readers to create their own images. I also hesitate to categorize my books for 8 to 12-year-olds as many pre-schoolers enjoy my books being read to them by adults or older siblings. One grandmother read my books to her three-year-old granddaughter, who loved them and drew pictures of Ali Baba the camel from Amanda in Arabia. This young woman is now 12 and still enjoys reading, including the Amanda Travels series.

Follow Jennie’s blog with more meaningful reflections of an experienced teacher https://jenniefitzkee.com/

Check out my conversation with Colleen Chesebro, where I talk about libraries, my supportive family and upcoming projects.

Colleen M. Chesebro

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you a new author, at least to me, Darlene Foster. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions.

First, please meet my guest, Darlene Foster.

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends.

Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”. She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people.

She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul. “Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume…

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I have so many wonderful memories of my recent time in Canada including special school visits, Christmas with family, visits with good friends, snuggling with grandpets and fun with grandchildren. But the best memory of all is the valuable time I spent with mom. I saw her 17 days in a row, often more than once a day. We had some good laughs and a few tears as we reminisced. I usually sat with her during her meals, attended singalongs and quiz events with her, read to her and we looked at pictures together. We celebrated her 90th birthday by holding a party at the seniors home a couple of days before the actual birthday (which is Christmas day!)  48 friends and family came to wish her a Happy Birthday. She was so pleased, even though it was a bit overwhelming at times. I’d like to share a few mom pictures.

Mom with her siblings and their spouses

with a great-grandson

                                                                     

with her grandson (my son)

with a friend’s daughter

With my dad’s cousins

with longtime friends

with a niece and her family
with flowers from a son and a sister who couldn’t be there
with my brother and his girlfriend

with a great-grandson and a great-great-granddaughter
with a great-granddaughter, her hubby and great-great-granddaughter
with another great-granddaughter who added to the teddy bear collection

You can see she loves her teddy bears and was given quite a few for gifts. Many of them she won at Bingo!

4 generations of women, mom, daughter, great-granddaughter, great-great-granddaughter
with a great-great-granddaughter who loves her to bits

On her actual birthday, on Christmas day, the staff decorated her place in the dining room with balloons and streamers, sang to her and presented her with a cupcake and candle for her to blow out. She was made to feel very special. The staff at Valleyview Seniors Care are incredible. I am so grateful. 

Mom was showered with love. She is wheelchair bound, her hearing is failing, the words don’t always come out right and she is often confused, but she is happy and so well cared for. The more time I spent with her, the more alert she became. Her long term memory is very good. She remembers names of people I have forgotten.

It was time well spent and I am so glad I was able to be there for her 90th birthday!

Recently, a dear cousin happened to be in Barcelona for a day before she embarked on a cruise. I love to see family so took a quick trip to my favourite Spanish city to spend the day with her. We packed a lot in and had fun.

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Cousins at Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona

We managed to see quite a bit and catch up on family news. One place she really wanted to see was Gaudi’s Sagrada Família. Every time I visit this amazing work in progress, more parts of it have been completed. She was awestruck, as everyone is when they it.

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Happy to see La Sagrada Família

After a bus trip around the city and a delightful lunch on Passeig de Gràcia we visited another of Gaudi’s magical buildings, Casa Batlló, all decked out with roses.

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Casa Batlló dressed in roses

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Inside Casa Batlló

The roses were in honour of St. George’s Day or Día de San Jorge as it is known here in Spain. I loved all the references to roses and books scattered about the intriguing house.

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I found out later that Día de San Jorge is also known as the day of books and roses. A day where lovers exchange books and roses to honour the legend of St. George or San Jorge, who is the patron saint of Catalonia.

We ended the day by strolling along La Rambla and having dinner on this iconic street. This building covered in umbrellas with a dragon on the corner caught our attention.

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An umbrella building on La Rambla

I had the next morning to myself before flying back home so after a cafe con leche and a chocolate filled croissant across from Plaça Catalunya, I decided to walk to the Gothic Quarter which was nearby. I came upon the impressive Barcelona Cathedral built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona. Beside it is the Gaudi Exhibition Museum. Since this had been a very Gaudi trip,  I went into the museum and had a good look around. The displays depicted items from the great man’s life and things that influenced his work.  It was very informative and I got to know more about Antoni Gaudi and how he came up with his unique ideas.

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The legend of St. George slaying the dragon influenced Gaudi’s work. In fact, the roof of Casa Batllo is meant to look like the back of a dragon with a sword through it.

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Gaudi’s workbench

The building housing the exhibition was incredible. It was built in the 12th century as a hospital for the poor. Gaudi himself was a patron and would often visit the sick. Remains of the old walls and frescos added to the experience. It was well worth the visit.

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And when I went back outside, a bride and groom were preparing for a photo shoot by the cathedral. How special.

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And an orchestra played music on the steps of the cathedral

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People in the audience joined hands and danced to the music.

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The sun shone, music played, people danced and I was overflowing with happiness. A perfect little getaway to a city that never ceases to amaze me and a chance to see a family member.

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Don’t you just love this outfit made of fresh flowers?

We are off on a driving holiday to France so I may be offline for a few days, but will respond to your comments as soon as possible.

I am honoured to have my story about my inspiring great-grandmothers featured on Bernadette’s blog. Some of you may have read it before but if you haven’t, please pop over and have a read and leave a comment if you wish.

Haddon Musings

“We can have feminist icons, but the real heroines are just quietly doing what is needed.”  Osyth

The following post was written by Darlene Foster who writes at Darlenefoster.wordpress.com.  It is the tale of her two great-grandmothers who made a fulfilling life for themselves and their families while enduring great hardships.  What struck me about this story, of these two real heroines, was that Darlene said that because of the legacy of these women it has given her the confidence and courage to know that she can thrive under any circumstance.

A Tale of Two Katharinas, a Legacy of Strong Women

“People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.” Edmund Burke

I was fortunate to know both of my maternal great-grandmothers. They passed away when I was in my early teens but I remember them well. They were formidable women with hearts of gold. One…

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Stevie Turner has a new feature on her blog site called share your short story. I encourage you to submit a story   https://steviet3.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/new-category-share-your-short-story/     Here’s mine!

Prize Winner

By Darlene Foster

We were close to being a perfect family and we didn’t need anyone else to disrupt things. Mom, good at family planning, spaced the three of us out evenly. Three years apart seemed just right, as far as I was concerned. A sister would have been nice. But in spite of the fact that little brothers could be annoying, I felt happy with the way things turned out.

I was not happy when I heard another baby was about to join our family. At almost sixteen, I didn’t relish the idea of looking after a little kid and missing out on parties and fun stuff. Why did mom have to have another baby? Couldn’t she be more responsible and think of the rest of us? Besides, wasn’t she too old to be lugging around a small child? Angry at this turn of events, I decided not to speak to her ever again.

Mom explained that she hadn’t planned this and it disrupted her life too. “Things don’t always turn out the way we want but we have to accept them and make the best of the situation,” she said.

I didn’t care how Mom felt and refused to look up from my book as she spoke. My life was about to be ruined.

Mom looked awfully tired at times, and although I was not speaking to her, I tried to do as many of her chores as I could. I had a packed schedule with school, choir practice, drama club and Canadian Girls in Training. There’d be no time for the extra work a new baby in the house would entail. What if the child cried and I couldn’t do my homework or study for exams? Could we even afford another mouth to feed?

February arrived, soon time for the annual Valentines Day dance at school – and I had nothing to wear! Mom had a piece of burgundy baby-wide corduroy in her sewing chest and we bought a Chanel style suit pattern the last time we were in town. She promised to have the suit made for the dance. After doing all the farm chores and cooking meals, she was always too tired to start the project. I would die if I had to wear something old to the dance. We had no money for a store-bought dress.

Besides being a good seamstress, Mom was a great cook and baked mouth-watering desserts. She often entered her recipes in contests, attended the bake-offs and won prizes. That year she entered her Apple Cottage Cheese Pie recipe in the Medicine Hat News Recipe Contest. She passed her love of baking and cooking on to me and we enjoyed trying different recipes together. Once I entered a recipe contest and won a Five Roses Cook Book for honourable mention.

Mom also taught me to sew long before I took Home Economics in high school. I had already made a few things for myself: a shift dress, a couple of pop tops and a pair of shorts. By the time I took Home Economics, the obligatory pot holder and apron were a piece of cake for me. I ended up assisting the others with their sewing projects which was much appreciated by the overworked teacher.

The new baby was due mid-February. Mom finally cut the suit out of the corduroy and assured me it would be completed for the Valentine’s Dance. During the night of February 9, Dad woke us up to say he was taking Mom to the hospital as the baby was coming – and would I look after my brothers.

I mumbled, “Sure,” while I snuggled deeper under the warm quilt.

My third brother was born on February 10. Dad reported mother and baby doing well. The news didn’t have much effect on me except that mom would not be home until after the dance, and she had barely started on the suit.

I moved the sewing machine out of my parent’s bedroom into mine, studied the fabric pieces and sewing instructions, and with much care, made the A-line skirt. I admired the finished product in the mirror. It fit just right and actually looked store bought. I had never made anything as difficult as a jacket. I followed the instructions to a T and took my time. After a couple of frustrating hours fitting the sleeves so they were smooth, the jacket was finished – the night before the dance. Even the buttonholes looked good.

I felt like Jackie Kennedy in that suit. I received many compliments and didn’t sit out one dance. My town friends, in store-bought dresses, asked me if I could make them a suit just like it. It was my shining hour.

There was still the issue of a new person soon to inhabit our already crowded home, and I was not looking forward to it. They better not think I would babysit or help out in any way because I just wouldn’t. I had too much too much to do already. This baby wasn’t my concern.

I began to put things away in Mom’s sewing chest and considered sewing myself something else after the success of the suit. Mom had lots of pieces of material that she never got around to sewing. In my search through the fabric, I came across a large piece of canary yellow flannelette and a package of baby patterns.

An idea started to form. The sewing machine was still in my bedroom and it would be a couple more days until mom came home. I spent the entire weekend sewing a baby bunting bag for my new little brother. It turned out so cute. I looked forward to seeing him in it.

On Sunday I gave the house a good cleaning since Mom was coming home the next day. First, she had to go the Medicine Hat News office to collect her prize for the Apple Cottage Cheese Pie recipe and get her picture taken. Dad took the dress she requested when he went to pick her up from the hospital. He also took the bunting bag.
Dad, Mom, and baby arrived home soon after we got home from school. Mom beamed as she handed me a cute little person in a canary yellow, flannelette bunting bag. “Thanks for making this for your little brother.”

I held the precious bundle and fell in love. We had lots of room in our house and our hearts for this little guy. He would be fun to look after.
The following weekend Mom’s picture appeared in the Medicine Hat News. With a big smile, Mom held her prize-winning pie in front of her. No one could tell she had just had a baby and could not do up the zipper in the back of her dress.

Mom may have won an electric frying pan for her prize-winning recipe but I got the best prize – my wonderful little brother!

Featured in the anthology, In the Moment – Inspiring Hope 

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Dad and my three brothers.

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Lunch with my youngest brother and my awesome website designer.

After visiting six cities in BC and Alberta, travelling by car, train, metro, bus, large and small aircraft and ferry, I am back in Spain and back to blogging. It feels like such a long time since I wrote my last post. The trip was successful on so many levels. I was able to see many family members and friends. The time spent with my mom was precious and seeing my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren was wonderful. I was treated to many amazing meals, picnics, a Monet Exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, a remarkable production of Much Ado About Nothing at Bard on the Beach and a performance by my son’s new band who dedicated the first song to me! I launched Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind and sold out of books at a couple of the venues. Visiting schools, libraries, and bookstores is always a pleasure for me. A week as a workshop leader at the Vancouver Public Library´s Writers and Book Camp was a real treat as was presenting at the BC Association of Travel Writers.

It was a busy schedule and I am now catching up on sleep and chores but I wanted to share a few pictures with you. I’ll start with the most important, my family.

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Mom with me and my great-granddaughter, Emma.

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An Amanda Travel’s fan

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With my handsome musician son and his daughter

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Sharing Mexican food with grandson No. 1.

 

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His first car!

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Sharing Indian food with grandson No. 2

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Grandson at his youth group’s garden produce stand.

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Great granddaughter, Devin

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Another Amanda Travels fan with a matching Day of the Dead bowl.

They are all growing up and becoming amazing young folks. I enjoyed every minute I spent with them. Then it was off to Vancouver Island.

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Beautiful potter daughter showing off the skirt I brought her from Cordoba. I think she likes it!

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Best buds

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Cousins at the beach

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Typical fabulous family meal, with daughter and cousins. I am so lucky!!

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My new grand-puppy Petite Du Champs. Love him to bits.

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Enjoyable lunch in Calgary with the younger brother who is also my clever website designer.

More to come. I missed blogging and was pleased to see my posts continued to be read and commented on while I was away. You folks rock!!


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