Friday, July 24, 2009

Family Vacation

The Post
I've been lax in seeing to this blog and am hoping there is still someone out there to read it! I had planned to do a flight-themed post for June, but June and almost all of July have I'll do flight later. For now, I'm thinking of family and vacation (for some strange reason!) and I have some books in mind that cover both, so I'll focus on those instead.

Before I get to the family/vacation picks, I'll mention what we've been reading this summer. My 12- and 15-year-old have been devouring The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney. I read the first book, in which the lead starts his training as a "Spook," which protects society against witches, boggarts, etc., and found it intriguing but dark, maybe a bit too dark. I just finished The Mysterious Benedict Society, a NY Times bestseller by Trenton Lee Stewart about a group of orphans sent on a mission to save the world from a mind-controlling madman. It might be a bit long for kids who aren't avid readers, but it was a lot of fun. My 10-year-old is working on Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and if we're readling aloud everyone stops to listen.

The Books:
Picture Book: Arthur's Vacation, by Marc Brown.
Even my older kids still stop and listen if they hear me reading this to my five-year-old, and we all laugh at the tiny hotel pool and our favorite picture spread with everyone crammed into a green motel room on a rainy morning.

Middle Grade:
Fudge-a-Mania, by Judy Blume
I've only read pieces of this one, but my ten-year-old son loves the whole series. I just focused on Fudge-a-Mania because it takes place on a family vacation to Maine. Every time my son reads it, he sits and snickers through the whole thing.

The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall
I think I've mentioned this book before, but it's so much fun I had to put it in. A family of four girls and their widowed dad vacations at a cottage behind a mansion (somewhere in the east, but I can't remember the state, sorry), getting into all kinds of mischief.

The Etymology: "vacation"
I haven't looked this up before, so I'm curious. I imagine it has the same root as "vacate," although I can't help but wonder if it has something to do with cows, as in "vaccination" (vaca meaning cow, & the small pox vaccination discovery coming from immune milkmaids who had been exposed to the similar cowpox). Okay, here it goes:

From L. vacationem (nom. vacatio) "leisure, a being free from duty," from vacare "be empty, free, or at leisure" (see vain).

Okay, so it's similar to vacate, not vaccinate. And vain comes from the same root, too. I wouldn't have come up with that.

The PHP (Personal History Prompt):
What are some of your favorite vacation memories? You could start with childhood or most recent. Did your family have vacation traditions (we always had pastrami with cream cheese on onion roll sandwiches)?

OR What are some favorite summertime reads for you? How do you associate them with your summers? (For example, I always used to read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder to counteract long, hot Arizona summers.)