Saturday, March 31, 2012

Screen-Free Week 2012

Screen-Free Week is April 30 - May 6 this year. I'm seriously considering doing it. Normally, we don't participate in Screen-Free Week, because I generally don't feel that we need to. When the kids are getting a bit too dependent on tv & computer, I limit their screen time more or take it away for a few days. That generally does the trick, and they get back to doing other stuff and not begging to watch tv or use the computer. They don't often get too obnoxious about screen time anyway, as they enjoy playing board games, card games, playing outside, riding bikes, reading, etc. However, occasionally, the screen becomes a problem.

I don't know why it is a problem right now, but it is. Jay has spent all day asking to watch tv & play games on my Nook. He is even putting up a fight about doing his required hour of free reading, which he usually does without question & generally spends more than an hour. The kids haven't really been outside today. I sent them out to play, but they claimed it was too cold & came right back inside. I don't know if he's just being irritating because my niece is over for the weekend & I'm not allowing him to hog her attention, since she is here for Dea's b-day. He is feeling a bit left out, even though I have made sure that they spend some time playing with him. They are teenage girls, though, and he is an eight year old boy. They don't want to spend the whole weekend playing with him. They want girl time - to paint their nails & talk about boys, movies, books, music, etc. So, maybe it's just because of feeling left out, but he's really annoying me with his whiny behavior, refusal to read, and constant asking to use a screen.

Then, when I mentioned that I was considering actually doing Screen-Free Week this year, he nearly fell apart and Dea asked if we could reschedule it until later in the year. Plus, my husband has been using his computer quite a lot in the evenings. I seem to be the only one who is getting bored with screens. I'm getting restless and wanting to do something else. However, I'm not going to be outside playing catch, doing chores around the house, going for hikes, etc. alone, while the rest of my family sit on their butts watching tv or playing on Facebook. So, I think maybe we will participate this year. Either that or I'm just going to put stricter limits on screens for the kids and up their daily outside time, since the weather is warming up. They all enjoy doing screen-free things.  Apparently, I need to remind them of that.

Recent Project

I cook & bake a lot. Over the years, I have collected a ton of stuff for the kitchen - gadgets, small appliances, cookware/bakeware. This can lead to some clutter issues. I recently purchased new non-stick cookware. The old set was pretty old & not exactly high quality. My hubby got a bonus and wanted us to spend it on frivolous stuff, since we don't often buy unnecessary items (especially expensive ones). So, I decided to buy some beautiful, non-stick, Calphalon cookware.

Once I got the new pots & pans, I made sure to speed up the project we were working on - hanging peg boards for the pots & pans and reorganizing the cabinet that previously held the several sets of cookware I own. Not all the pots & pans can hang on the peg board. The cast iron casserole dishes & skillet are simply too cumbersome & heavy. The large stockpot & cooking cauldron wouldn't fit, either. However, my new non-stick pots & pans, my 2 stainless steel sets, and the miscellaneous pieces (a grill pan, a large non-stick that's not part of a set, and my non-stick wok) all fit.

Once those were hanging, I bought a Rubbermaid tote to hold the lids and keep them from taking over the cabinet. Then, I was able to organize the cabinet and put a few more things in it.

Here is the wall before the peg boards:

Here is that corner, with the new peg boards:

This is the cabinet that used to hold all the pots, pans, & their lids:
                In the above picture: the lids for the pots & pans on the bottom shelf; top shelf has red enameled cast iron casserole dishes & small skillet, cooking cauldron topped with steamer baskets                        

Pictured below: the crockpot on the top shelf; my meat slicer, stockpot, rice cooker, and cast iron tea pot on bottom shelf

Earth Hour 2012

Tonight, we'll be participating in Earth Hour. At 8:30pm, we'll shut off all non-essential lights, including the computers & tv, for one hour (maybe longer). If it's not too cold, we'll spend the time outside. Otherwise, we'll light some candles and play a board game. All three kids (my two kids & my niece) are looking forward to it & were thrilled with the idea of doing it.

To learn more about Earth Hour, visit their site.

Will you be participating?

Week in Review 3/30/12

This was another short week for us. Dea's birthday was this week. My husband took Monday off and we spent the morning hiking at a state park. We took a picnic lunch with us, but came home to eat it due to the cold and strong winds. Then, my hubby & Dea spent the afternoon doing the breaks on my in-laws' vehicle. We also had a few appointments this week. One of the appointments was for hubby & Dea, at an animal sanctuary where they will be volunteering every week. Another reason for the week being short was Jay's drum set finally getting here. The excitement over it & getting it set up disrupted things a bit. On top of all of that, my niece is spending the weekend with us, for Dea's b-day. So, here is the little bit of work we got done this week:

Alg: 2 assignments & 1 test finished, 1 assignment not yet finished (will finish tomorrow morning)
Writing: 3 lessons
Grammar: 6 days from EG10
She also did some Logic puzzles, research for History, and read Myths for English.

Logic: Word Winks, Logic Safari bk2 less 1, Fun With Logic, and other Logic puzzles
Math: DD p. 82 - 85, Metric Measurement bk1 p. 2 - 6
Language Arts: AAS2 step 24 & 25 (he is now finished with level 2), type chapter 4 of book, discussed Personification & Hyperbole, EG2 day 167-170, Vocab - surreptitious, anesthetic, elite, pretentious
Latin: LFCA chap 17
ASL: ST vol 7 Leah's Farm
Geography: Map Corner - Scale
Music: Drums & N.A. Flute
Science: Watch Benjamin Franklin: Citizen of the World

We seemed to have some trouble getting to History & Science this week. We're also having problems with the main computer, again. This newest issue should be fixed this weekend. It did, however, prevent use of the computer much of the time. However, since Spanish & Logo are both optional for Jay, I'm not concerned if he doesn't get to them. It will be nice to have the computer working properly again, though. That way, he can do them, if he chooses.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Exploring Genres: Our March Reads: Mystery

I got a little busy and forgot to post for each week. Here's what we read for March:

Sammy Keyes and the Hollywood Mummy
Sammy Keyes and the Night of Skulls
Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway
Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes

Arctic Chill

Dea started Deja Dead, but never finished. She had a bunch of other books she was working on and did not read a whole book for h=this month's genre.

Emily Dickinson

March's Poet of the Month was Emily Dickinson. The kids and I really enjoyed reading her poetry.

The poetry books we read from this month are:
A Brighter Garden
The Blackbirch Treasury of American Poetry - this has a whole section of poems by Emily Dickinson, as well as several other poets
The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry - this has poems by several poets, including a few by Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jay's Drums

Jay's drum set finally came in. He wanted the blue, but they were out of stock & not sure when (or if) they'd be getting more. So, he went with the red. He is so excited! He's been playing them since my husband finished setting them up, with a break dinner. They were originally set up in the school room, so I could get pics. They've now been moved to their permanent home (not in the middle of the school room). He's currently getting his first lesson.
He has decided to drop the recorder to focus on drums and Native American flute. He'll also be doing Music Theory once a week, in addition to Music Appreciation.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pics for the Week in Review

Earlier today, I posted the Week in Review for last week. I hadn't yet put these pics on my computer, so they didn't make it into the post. Now that I have them on the computer, I decided to share them with you.

Here is the kitten. We named him Midnight. He really loved his stuffed animals.

These are from Jay's Science Experiments. He tested the conductivity of different metals & different fruits. He also tested which combinations of metals & fruit produce the highest voltage.

Here are the pics from History.

Week in Review 3/26/12

I'm a few days late with this, since it's already Monday. Last week was a difficult week for us, though. On Thursday, we took in an adorable, sweet, gorgeous, orphaned, newborn kitten. He was maybe 2 days old. Unfortunately, he wasn't in great shape - his breathing sometimes became erratic & labored. We spent Saturday morning at the vet's office, because his breathing problems became severe, but they said there was nothing they could do for him. He died later that morning. He may have only been with us for a few days, but it has been a difficult loss for us.

Dea's week:
She did 4 lessons in her Writing class, and currently has an overall grade of 83.4% in that class. She did 10 days of Easy Grammar 10. She also did her 4 lessons of Algebra. Thursday night, she spent the night at her aunt's house & went to the midnight showing of The Hunger games. She came home Friday morning just to get ready to leave again. She spent much of Friday doing volunteer work with her other aunt. After she got home Friday afternoon, we went to do the kids' clothes shopping.

Jay's Week:
Math: DD p. 78 - 81, Khan Academy, Math games, Key to Metric Measurement book 1 p.1
Language Arts: EG2 day 163 - 166; AAS2 step 21 - 23; Vocab - irrational, morbid, erupt; Writing - typed, revised, and edited chap 1-3 of his book on Giganotosaurus; discussed foreshadowing & flashbacks
Logic - Word Winks, Fun with Logic
Geography - Geography games, state study Illinois
Latin - LFC A chap 16
Science - experiments with conductivity of different metals & fruits
History - made rune stones, label longship diagram, raiding word search, visited several History sites
Music - Recorder & N.A. flute practice

He had a headache on Wed, and got no work done that day. He didn't have full days of schoolwork on Thur & Fri, due to the baby kitten. He also had a fun time shopping for clothes on Fri.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Cleaning

With Spring officially here now, and Spring weather having been here for weeks, I'm ready to start my Spring Cleaning. Yesterday, I sat down and wrote out a list of all the things I need to do for Spring Cleaning this year. I tried to leave out most of the stuff that we'd be doing anyway, but made sure to add the things I plan to do regularly that just don't always get done (as well as a few new things that have recently come to our attention). It's actually a fairly short list.

I know that a lot of people focus on one room at a time, and do a deep clean before moving onto the next room. However, that just doesn't always work for us. I organized the list by room. It really will just be a checklist, though, with us doing whichever items we have time for, when we have the time. I'm not concerned with making sure that one room is completely finished before doing the next. I just want it all to get done.

So, here's my Spring Cleaning list:

Clean & reorganize drawers
Clean & reorganize pantry
Vacuum Fridge coils
Wash outside of all appliances
Clean the pot cabinet & organize the pot lids - this is actually part of a project we're doing, we just hung up peg boards to hold most of the pots & pans, and now need to reorganize the cabinet

Remove all clutter from floor
Dust high shelves
Find way to keep power strip off floor & more accessible

School Room:
Scrub floor
Purge unused school materials
Rip up carpet in closet

Living Room:
Scrub floor
Find new home for the vinyl
Dust high shelves

Replace shower curtain liner
Replace shower head
Scrub shower/tub area
Purge drawers & shelves
Replace candle

The Kids' Rooms & Hallway:
Purge clothes

Dea's Schooling

This year is an experiment for us, in regards to Dea's schooling. She knows all the work she needs to do for each course, and gets to pretty much decide for herself what gets done when. We had agreed that she would show me her work at the end of each week. However, she has had some issues with actually showing her work each week. So, starting this week, she has to show me daily.

Now, when I do post about what she's been doing for school, I don't usually post much. I generally just post her Writing, Grammar, and Math work. The truth is, though, that most of her school time each day is spent on History & Science. There aren't many assignments for those courses, though. I don't really post about what she's doing for them, unless she finished and handed in an assignment. The same is true for the Literature portion of her English course. This year, the focus is on Mythology & Legends. She has some books to read, as well as myths & legends from various civilizations, and a few assignments to do. I don't post much about it because I guess I just don't see the point in posting things like: She's reading mythology for X civilization, but I have no idea when to expect the assignment, or She is still reading (fill in book title here). Just like I don't see the point of posting: She took notes for a History assignment or She read 2 chapters in her Anatomy & Physiology textbook.

Also, she's really bad about getting everything she does written down in her notebook. So, I don't always know everything she's been doing. I don't necessarily know if she did Spanish, Logo, or worked in the free online ASL or Latin courses she's added to her schooling. When she practices her recorder, and now her flute, she does it upstairs, in her bedroom. Since there is always so much noise on the main floor, I don't always hear her practicing.

So, my posts about what she does for school each week are unfortunately & consistently incomplete. I'm thinking about just posting about what Jay does for school each week and having her do guest posts about her work. That way, the posts would be more accurate and complete.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Geography - Illinois


Capital: Springfield
Tour of the Capital
Date & order of statehood: December 3, 1818; 21st state
State Bird: Cardinal
Agriculture & Industry: corn, swine, wheat, cows & dairy products, soybeans, apples, manufacturing, mining
Flower: Violet
License Plates
Motto: State Sovereignty - National Union
Nicknames: Land of Lincoln, The Prairie State
State Parks
Tree: White Oak  (Quercus Alba)
Insect: Monarch Butterfly
Fish: Bluegill
Reptile: Eastern Painted Turtle
Amphibian: Eastern Tiger Salamander
Mineral: Fluorite
Fossil: Tully Monster
Snack Food: popcorn
Dance: Square Dance
Illinois History online magazine for kids
Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Rockford Peaches
Home of the Sock Monkey - I really hate these things!

Famous/Important People:
Please remember that this is in way intended to be a comprehensive list of people from Illinois. This list is mostly people that my kids know of already & people I want them to know.

Jane Addams
Ray Bradbury
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Miles Davis
Walt Disney
Harrison Ford
Benny Goodman
George E. Hale
Ernest Hemingway
Richard Pryor
Ronald Reagan
Carl Sandburg
Lewis Hastings Sarett
Arnold Beckman
Charles Rudolph Walgreen
Harriet Monroe
Betty Friedan
Chicago (the band)
Cheap Trick
Robin Williams
Miles Davis
John Cusack
Michael Clarke Duncan
George Ferris
John Malkovich
Sam Shepard
Shel Silverstein
Gary Sinise
Jane Trahey
Eddie Vedder
Frank Lloyd Wright
Abraham Adrian Albert
Samuel King Allison
Al Capone
John Dillinger
Baby Face Nelson
Eliot Ness
Bo Diddley
Wyatt Earp
H.H. Holmes
John Wayne Gacy
Buddy Guy
Mae Jemison
Alison Krauss
Ray Manzarek
Edgar Lee Masters
Barack Obama
Mandy Patinkin
Aidan Quinn
Muddy Waters
Warren Zevon

Tribes native to Illinois:
Dakota Sioux
Ho-Chunk (Winnebago)

Museums, Zoos, etc.:
The Art Institute of Chicago
Shedd Aquarium
Adler Planetarium
Children's Museum
Jane Addams Hull House Museum
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Tinker Swiss Cottage
Field Museum of Natural History
Museum of Science & Industry
Lincoln Park Zoo
Brookfield Zoo
Burpee Museum of Natural History
Discovery Center
Anderson Japanese Gardens

This is, of course, not a comprehensive list.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Week in Review 3/18/12

I think I missed last week. So, this will be two weeks of work.

Dea - We're still having trouble getting Dea to actually show me her work each week. I see her working on stuff during the seek, but she really has trouble getting it to me come the week's end. She has been doing some work on History projects, and I've seen her doing some Math. She has also been doing some work on Anatomy & Physiology. However, she still hasn't shown me her work. So, I'm not sure exactly what she's done.

AAS 2 - step 16 - 20
Vocab - Commutator, Encounter, Ally, Sanitary, Order, Insanity, Antipathy, Transmutation
EG 2 - day 153 - 162
discussed Symbolism & Allegory

DD. - p.69 - 76
Key to Meas. bk1 - p.39 - 41, p.42-43 practice test - he took this week off, having finished book1 last week, will start next book on Monday

LFC A - chap. 14 & 15

Art Auction Mystery Book

Latin games, Logic games, Geography games, Math games, Khan Academy, visit some sites for History & Science

ST - vol 7 Leah's Farm

Native American Flute practice & reading about the history of the Native American Flute

He read several books for Science & History, including the books I had planned for next week. So, we'll likely focus on experiments & activities next week.

We've been having some problems with the main computer, which is the one Jay generally uses. So, he hasn't been able to work on his Writing assignment (he's already started typing the chapters for his book, bust had to wait until computer issues were solved to finish), his computer programming (Logo is only installed on that computer), or Spanish (TMM is only installed on that computer). We've been having issues for weeks, but think we finally have them taken fixed. We needed a new hard drive & now have the new one in & everything on it. Hopefully, that means he can get back to doing those subjects on Monday.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Changes for 3rd Grade

I know that I've already posted about our plans for Jay's 3rd grade year. This post is specifically about the things that are changing in 3rd grade. It's not so much about material changes, but about the changes to the way we do things.

He has kind of flown through his Spelling this year, having finished All About Spelling Level 1 and finishing Level 2 in the next few weeks (he's only got 5 steps left). We haven't done Spelling every week, but the in weeks we have done it we usually finish 2-3 steps. In 3rd grade, we'll be slowing down a bit, doing just one lesson a week. This is for a few reasons. 1) Levels 3 & 4 introduce some additional work into the steps, such as the Silent E Book, Writing Station, and Homophone List. This extra work will require extra time. 2) In 2nd grade, he's been writing his words & sentences on the whiteboard, but will be doing it on paper in 3rd. Doing the written portion on paper will take a bit longer.

Math will be broken up into multiple sessions each day. This is mainly do to the jump in amount of work for 3rd grade. He'll be doing 1 page from Mastering Mathematics each day. He will be doing 1 page of story problems each day. He will be doing 1 page of Key to Measurement or Metric Measurement each day. He will also be doing Life of Fred Fractions and Life of Fred Decimals & Percents, probably at a rate or 2 - 4 chapters a week. So, we'll be alternating Math with Language Arts. So, it will look something like this: Mastering Mathematics, Spelling, Measurement, Grammar, Life of Fred, Vocab, Story Problems, Writing. That way, he gets breaks from both Math & Language Arts, preventing meltdowns and him tiring of either subject.

The changes in use will be minimal. Really, there are just some minor changes due to the set-up of the book. As I have said, we only got the teacher books for Easy Grammar. The format of the teacher books for 3rd & 4th grade is quite different from the format for 2nd, 8th, 9th, and 10th. Due to the different format, I can't just pull out the pages and give him the pages that need to be done each week or let him work straight out of the book. We'll still be doing one page/lesson per day. There are teacher pages, though, for each topic, which will require some teaching time. The answers are on the opposite page, so he'll have to get the page on the day he is to do it, not pages for the whole week at once.

In Check the Deck and Flip the Deck, each unit ends with a written assignment. This is a bit different from Discover the Deck. So, it seems that Writing will be a bit more structured and require more written work from him. This also means that he'll likely be using the computer more, because he'll be typing his unit end assignments.

The big change in Music is that we'll be adding in a 3rd instrument. He'll continue with recorder 2 days a week and Native American flute 2 days a week. He'll also be adding in drums, though I'm not sure how many days he'll be practicing. I think we have Alfred's Essentials of Music Theory software, which I hope to get him working on.

I'm thinking of watching the DVDs twice a week, instead of once a week. We practice the signs, whenever possible, all week long. I think that an additional viewing of the DVD each week will help.

Dea's Flute

Dea's flute is here. She's so excited! It is a crystal flute. She has a metal allergy. I did some research and found tons of stuff about people with metal allergies having problems with flutes - lips swelling up, rashes on their face, etc. These are simply not things I want to deal with. The only other option was going with a solid silver flute, which are simply not in the price range I am willing to spend on an instrument for a child who may or may not play for more than a month. Here is her flute...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

He can tie his shoes!

Jay can finally tie his shoes! Yeah, he's 8, and most kids have learned to tie their shoes long before age 8. He has never wanted to, though, and I didn't see it as important enough to push. He has always refused to get shoes that tie, looking for ones with velcro. We had bought him snow boots last year & no regular shoes for winter, figuring that he'd need the boots more. Well, we have hardly gotten any snow, especially for a Midwest winter. So, over the weekend, we bought him some new shoes.

He picked out 2 pairs that he liked, both had velcro. Both were size 3 (the pair he'd gotten rid of when we bought him the snow boots were a 2). We tried on pair A. His foot barely fit inside it. We tried on pair B. That one fit a little better, but he still would have outgrown it in a month. So, I went back to look for the next size up in each. Pair A did not have a next size up, 3 was the largest. Pair B had larger sizes, including 4, but they all tied instead of having velcro. So, he ended up with shoes that tie.

I showed him how to tie his shoe, once. Then, I helped him with it twice. By the end of the day, he had it down pat. He can now tie his own shoes. It's one of those skills that is basic & everyone expects kids to learn young. It's not a very important skill, though. So, I never felt obligated to push him to learn it. I knew that once he decided to do it he'd learn fast. He just had no interest in wasting his time on learning something so trivial. I understand that and support him in his decisions.

When he was 2, a doctor told us that he was 'too self-directed' and that it would cause problems with his education. Of course, he meant that it would cause problems in a classroom of 30 other kids who were willing to sit and do the lesson the teacher provided, when Jay would instead insist on doing something else. Being homeschooled means that he doesn't have to sit still & quiet and do some ridiculous lesson that is too easy for him or is just busywork. Homeschooling means he gets a say in what he does. Homeschooling allows that self-directedness to co-exist with parent/teacher guidance. I have no problem with having a child who is self-directed. He knows who he is, what he wants, & how to get it. That's more than many much older people can say.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


The other day, I posted about ordering some Mythbusters DVDs. They have arrived! Yay! We're kind of big fans of the show. We don't  really have cable, so have never really been able to watch new episodes. There have been a few times that the cable company accidentally gave us channels, and we caught a few episodes then. I also managed to catch an episode or two during hospital stays. For the most part, though, it's always been what was available from Netflix or at our library. Neither of those places carry full seasons, just the collections (irritatingly, collection 1, 2, 3, etc. aren't the same as season 1, 2, 3, etc.). I think our first introduction to the show was the pirate special. Some friends recorded it when it was on originally and brought it over for us to watch. We don't always agree with their methodology, but it's always entertaining to watch. Plus, we have learned some cool stuff. The kids get to see the Scientific Method in use and see how to design an experiment. That's not something you get from all 'Science' shows. It's also a good lesson in not believing everything you hear/read. Skepticism & questioning are things that I encourage in my kids. I want them to think for themselves, using analytical reasoning & logic to decide for themselves, instead of just being sheep who believe whatever they're told. The kids adore the show and wait, rather impatiently, for the next collection to be available at the library or Netflix. Now, we'll have some new episodes to watch. Unfortunately, I was only able to get seasons 1-7, as that's all the Discovery Channel store has available. There was plenty of excitement when they arrived, though. I have a feeling that we'll be watching a lot of Mythbusters for a little while.

PhysicsQuest 2011

Months ago, I signed up to receive the PhysicsQuest 2011 kit. Then, I promptly forgot about it. Last week, I received an email from UPS about my shipment. I had no idea what it was talking about. Since this is box season (the time of year when several boxes show up each week), I had to run down the list of everything I've recently ordered, what had already come, what hadn't come, and what I had already received shipping info for. I still had no clue what shipment that email was referring to. Well, it showed up today. When I opened it, I finally figured out what it was. It was (and I'll bet you've already figured this out) our PhysicsQuest 2011 kit.

The kit comes with a manual/comic book and most of the required items for 4 Physics activities. The comic book/manual has a story (in comic book format, obviously) about some strange goings-on at Tesla Junior High. Interspersed throughout the comic book are teacher's guides and student guides for each of the 4 activities.

The kit is meant for Jr High students. However, after reading through the comic book/manual and reviewing the activities, I see no reason for Jay not to do it, too. It doesn't seem too advanced for him or over his head. So, I will be having both kids do it. They'll have fun with it and learn a little. I'm not yet sure if we'll be entering the competition, submitting our answers for a certificate of completion and entrance in a prize drawing. I think I'll let the kids decide that. I'll be sure to post about the activities, when we do them, and our answers.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

She's Going to Get Hit, by the cat

Yesterday, we bought Dea's birthday present. Her birthday is later this month, but she knew what she was getting & was there when we bought it. So, we gave it to her early. Her present was a new camera. She really loves photography and has some natural talent with it. We want to encourage that. A few years ago, she asked for a camera for Christmas and got 4 of them. One was tiny, keychain digital that has no flash & no features. One was a kids' digital that came with software to edit the photos, but had no flash. The other two were 35mm, one a Disney Princess and the other a Bratz. We returned those two & used the money toward an Olympus. It's  a nice camera, but it's a 35mm & she still didn't have a good digital. Plus, we seem to have misplaced the container that holds the cameras.

The camera we bought her isn't great. It's a cheapy Vivitar. I basically just want to make sure she's going to stick with it, though. It does have some features, so she can learn how to utilize different features (remember, her last digital didn't even have flash, there were no features). If she sticks with it, next year or the year after, I'll get her a good camera.

She's been walking around the house taking pictures of everything & everyone. However, the female cat is not appreciating having the camera shoved in her face. Each time Dea takes the cat's picture, I see the cat get angrier & angrier. She's going to hit Dea if she keeps shoving that camera in her face, and she's got claws so it will hurt.

I'm glad that Dea is so happy about her present, though. I really hope that her interest in photography lasts. After her "I want to play guitar" for well over a year, trying to play her dad's guitar, til we finally got her a guitar of her own, when she decided approximately a month later that she no longer wanted to play guitar, I really hope this interest stays. She has a tendency to want to do something, until she has the means to do it. Once she has her own materials or tools for whatever it is, her interest sometimes wanes. Though, sometimes, the interest does persist & she really sticks with it. There's no telling which way it will turn out. This is the reason we didn't get her a good camera. I was not going to spend over a $100 on a camera that she would use for a few weeks, then put away and never pick up again. Hopefully, getting beat up by the cat, for repeatedly shoving the camera in her face, won't deter her from this hobby.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Anyone who has been in our house can tell you that our tv is on pretty much constantly. What they may not realize, though, is that we often aren't really watching it. It is usually on for background noise. I have a serious aversion to silence. Having the tv on means it's not silent. It also gives my brain something to focus on, at all times. My brain has to multi-task. I need to have more than one thing to focus on. If I don't, the obsessive part of my personality takes over. Plus, I concentrate better when focusing on more than one thing. The tv provides that secondary focal point for my brain. So, it is almost always on.

That said, we don't watch too much tv. We have some shows that we enjoy, but don't really watch a lot. Now that we have Netflix, we don't really watch regular tv anymore, except sometimes putting on one of our PBS channels. We watch all of our regular shows on Netflix instant or on DVD. We also don't really have cable (and we definitely don't have satellite), so Netflix & DVDs allow us to watch shows we wouldn't otherwise be able to watch. Yes, I realize that some of the shows are available to watch on various sites, so we could watch some on our computers. I really don't enjoy watching tv on a computer, though. Partially because I'm generally using my computer while watching tv, partially because I prefer the larger screen of the tv, and partially just because I don't enjoy having us all crammed right next to each other to watch something. I like my personal space & having all 4 of us crowded around a computer to watch a show would drive me nuts. We use a Roku to stream our Netflix instant to our tv. Life is so much simpler this way, at least for us.

Anyway, watching our shows only on Netflix instant & DVDs means that we are at least one season behind in all of our shows. We're cool with that. Watching this way also means that we don't miss episodes. We don't have to worry about recording episodes or dealing with multiple shows being on at the same time. When my hubby worked nights, I recorded all of our shows, so he could stay current. Just to make it difficult, they had two of our shows on at the same time on two different nights. We didn't (and still don't) have TiVo or any other DVR. That meant recording on our VCRs and (when we had one) our dvd recorder. It was a pain in the neck to get it all set up several days a week, to record whichever show(s) was on that night.

Ok, this was a long way to get to my point. We love Mythbusters. However, without cable, our only way to watch is on DVD or Netflix. The problem is that Netflix only carries the 'collections' not the seasons. The same for our library. So, we've only seen the episodes that are on the collections. We've seen collections 1-7 (which are not full seasons) and some of the special collections (like the Big Blast Collection). There are a lot of episodes that we haven't seen, though. So, I finally bought seasons 1-7 and some of the special collections. They were on sale at the Discovery Channel site, and we had a little play money form taxes. So, I went ahead and ordered them. Now, we just have to wait until they get here. This is one of the few shows we will actually buy on DVD. Most shows, we will borrow from the library or Netflix & watch once. Then, if we want to watch them again, we'll borrow them again. The reason is because most shows aren't ones we want to watch again & again. You don't want to watch the same crimes get solved over & over again, or listen to the same jokes repeatedly. Knowing exactly what season this couple gets together, that couple breaks up, that character dies, those characters move away, etc., etc., makes it less enjoyable. So, you don't watch the same show over & over. You watch it once through, then put it away for months or years before you put it in again. At least, that's how we are. Shows that get played more than that are usually more for background noise than to actually watch. So, we don't buy a lot of tv shows on DVD. We borrow or watch on Netflix instead. Mythbusters, though, is one of those shows that we can watch again and again. Plus, the DVDs should have quite a few episodes that we have never seen.

Between waiting for the things that haven't arrived yet and going through all the boxes that have arrived lately, it's like Christmas or Halloween here (I mean the level of excitement, we never get this much stuff for Christmas). Most of the school stuff is here. We're picking up the basics (paper, pens, etc.) this weekend, and the Joy of Signing DVDs (the only backordered item form our RR order) are on their way. We bought Jay's b-day presents (a book & monocular). We bought books & some household things. We still have some stuff to buy, much of it should be purchased this weekend. So, there have been several boxes showing up at the door, and there are several more to come. Within a few weeks, things will be back to normal, no more boxes, no more excited waiting. Hopefully, back to normal will also mean no more 7.5 hour melt-downs over school or asking 40 times a day to use the newest thing we opened. Yes, the excitement does have its downside. So, while I'm enjoying the air of excitement in the house & love seeing the kids' faces light up when we open the boxes of various things (like school materials & a rice cooker), I'll be happy when it is over and we can go back to normal.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ninth Grade Plans

With the materials for next year here, I'm finishing up the fine detailed plans. I just did a post about Jay's 3rd grade year, with more of the specifics about what he'll be doing & what materials he'll be using. So, I thought I'd do a similar post for Dea's 9th grade year. I'm not sure exactly when she'll be starting her 9th grade year, but at least I've got it planned.

She'll be doing Geometry: Seeing, Doing, Understanding (Jacob's Math). We picked up The Geometer's Sketchpad (software), as well. She will continue to use Khan Academy as a supplement, and may use Life of Fred Geometry as a supplement also (since we already have it). I'm not thrilled with the organization of the Teacher's Manual for Geometry: Seeing, Doing, Understanding. I would prefer it be organized by chapter, but it's not. The first section is the answers. The second section is lesson plans. The third section is Notes, and the fourth section is projects to do with The Geometer's Sketchpad related to lessons in the book. It's just not intuitive at all.

Accounting: online course supplemented with LIFEPAC Accounting. After looking through (not scouring, but scanning) LIFEPAC Accounting, I'm actually rather impressed. I didn't notice any religious references or Bible passages. Plus, it seems fairly comprehensive.

Easy Grammar Ultimate grade 11
Writing: online classes, at least one at all times, not sure exactly which ones she'll choose
Vocab: she chooses 2 words per day as her vocabulary words
Literature: 12 books, do a project on each, watch a movie version (or more) of each book (when possible)
book choices - Lord of the Flies, Three Sisters, Dracula, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Poseidon Adventure, The Time Machine, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Life of Pi, The Lovely Bones, Pet Sematary

Geology online class, supplemented with books from library, documentaries, and any other needed materials.

Middle Ages & Renaissance, a course designed by Dea & me. Various specific topics covered, a project for each topic.

online course, supplemented with books from library, internet, documentaries, etc.

online course, supplemented with books from library, internet, etc.

She'll be focusing on photography, we're getting her a new camera for her birthday.

She'll be learning to play the flute

Finishing Oxford Latin (she hasn't gotten as far in it as she should have), also using free online course

She'll continue with Tell Me More Spanish.

She'll mainly be using The Joy of Signing (we're waiting on the DVDs for it, they're on backorder).

World Geography:
The Power of Place, free online materials

Informal studies:
Sewing using Sew Fast, Sew Easy
Logic using online logic games, online analogy games, logic puzzles from various logic puzzle books, we also have a few Analogy workbooks that she hasn't finished yet (she actually hid them because she didn't want to do them)
Computer Programming using Logo Works & Logo Adventures

Third Grade Plans

Now that we have pretty much everything we need for 3rd grade, I thought I'd do a post giving some of the details about what we'll be doing. I'm including pictures of our materials, since they just got here (and so did my new camera). April 16th will technically be Jay's first day of 3rd grade. He chose April 15th as the start date for each school year, so he always knows what grade he's in (for when everybody asks). Of course, what grade he's in is a meaningless number when it comes to what he's actually doing for school. Without further ado, here is a more detailed explanation of what we have planned for 3rd grade.

This will be a busy subject for Jay in 3rd grade. He has been working through Mastering Mathematics, a mastery program with 6 books covering 1st - 6th grade Math. He has already finished Attacking Addition, Subduing Subtraction, and Mastering Multiplication. He is currently in Defeating Division, and will be finishing in the next few weeks. So, for 3rd grade, he will be doing Perfecting the Point (decimals & percents) and Finishing Fractions (fractions, obviously). He will also be doing the Life of Fred Fractions book and the Life of Fred Decimals & Percents book with the Mastering Mathematics books. This will let us know if Life of Fred will be a good fit for him & (hopefully) provide a smooth transition into the Life of Fred series, if it does work for him. I have removed the pages from the Mastering Mathematics books & currently have them in a binder. It just seems easier to deal with the pages separately instead of in workbook form. The plan is to start with the beginning section of Perfecting the point, which focuses on place value. Then, we'll do Fractions. After Fractions are done, we'll do Decimals & Percents.

He has also been doing Key to Measurement. He's just finished the first book. He will continue to work through the series at his own pace. We also have Key to Metric Measurement. I'm not sure if he plans to alternate Measurement & Metric Measurement or work through one series completely before starting the other. He will be continuing until both are finished, though.

He enjoys story problems and requested to have more of them. So, I purchased a few workbooks of just story problems. I feel it's important for kids to understand how to do story problems, and was always amazed at kids in my high school who had no understanding of them at all. So, I'm glad that he enjoys doing them and is good at them. The plan is to do 1 page from the workbooks each day. He'll get to choose which book to do each day.

He'll also continue using Khan Academy as a supplement, as well as playing fun Math games.

Language Arts:
2nd grade was the first year he did Grammar formally. He has done quite well with it and enjoys using Easy Grammar. So, we will be continuing with Easy Grammar. We got Easy Grammar grade 3 and grade 4. He will continue to do 1 page a day (though he sometimes chooses to do 2). We only got the teacher book for each. The teacher books are different from the ones we've used so far. There are teacher pages instead of just a copy of the student books with answers in the back. There are also sections dedicated to writing. We'll likely skip the writing sections, since we have the Stack the Deck program for writing. I won't throw the pages out, just in case we decide to do them. I don't think we'll do them, though, unless he seems to need the review. I've pulled all the pages out of grade 3 & put them in a binder & will do the same with grade 4 as we get close to using it. The answers are on the opposite page, instead of the back of the book, so having him do the pages in the workbook is not an option.

2nd grade was also the first year we introduced formal Spelling. He loves All About Spelling and has made great progress so far with Levels 1 & 2. We got Levels 3 & 4 for 3rd grade. He will work through them doing 1 step a week, spending more time if needed.

We did not start formal Writing until 2nd grade, either. He has really enjoyed using Discover the Deck. So, we picked up the next two levels - Check the Deck & Flip the Deck. We will work through these at his pace.

We do a word - a - day thing for Vocab. He chooses a word, each day, to be his vocab word. Sometimes, it comes from the Roots & Fruits book. Other times, it is a word he has come across in his day, that he doesn't understand.

He's been working through Latin for Children Primer A. He's almost halfway through it. We spend extra time on some chapters and have skipped Latin some weeks, which is why he's not further into it. Our goal, with languages, is to become fluent in reading, writing, and speaking the language. This is why we spend extra time on some chapters. If he needs review or re-enforcement, we will take the time to do that. Mastery can't be achieved if you rush to stick to a timetable. We have bought Primer B, so we can start on that as soon as we are done with Primer A. We get the Mastery Bundles, which have the student text, activity book, history reader, answer key, DVDs & CDs.

He will be continuing with Tell Me More Spanish. He enjoys working with this program, though I think it will be quite awhile before he attains mastery of the language (due to how often he does it, not any issue with the program). Since we bought the 5-level package last year, we did not buy anything for this language this year.

ASL: He will be continuing through the Signing Time DVDs. We usually spend at least a few weeks on each disc. Again, our goal is mastery. If he's ready for it, he will also have access to The Joy of Signing (DVDs & Book).

The areas of focus for 3rd grade are Water, Weather, and Rocks. We do not use anything as a spine, no textbooks or formal curricula for this subject. We will be using a lot of books (both from our personal collection & the public library), documentaries (from the library & Netflix), and a few kits (for fun hands-on experience).

Much like Science, we don't use a textbook or formal curricula for this subject. 3rd grade topics will be the Middle Ages & Renaissance and Explorers & Pirates. We will use lots of books (ours & from the library), documentaries (library & Netflix), and some fun hands-on projects.

Geography/Cultural Studies:
The main focus will be U.S. Geography and continuing with Map Corner. Though, he will still have plenty of time to follow his own interests in this subject. For U.S. Geography, we have stickers and blank maps. He'll continue playing Geography games. We also have a tentative plan to fill scrapbooks with the maps, info, stickers, etc. Of course, there's also our Geography in Literature project, which we intend to continue.

Computer Programming:
We're continuing with Logo. He's really been enjoying Logo Adventures, so I bought Logo Works. He will work with both of them, plus play around with the program, through 3rd grade. There is some overlap between Logo Adventures & Logo Works, so my plan was to combine them. However, Jay wants to finish Logo Adventures and follow that with Logo Works.

He'll be doing Logic Safari Book 2. He will also continue doing fun online Logic games, online analogy games, and puzzles from the various Logic Puzzle books we own. He also will continue playing Chess, which is great for logic & strategy.

We'll continue to expose him to different genres, styles, and artists. He wants to continue with playing the recorder & Native American flute. So, I am picking up a few song books for Native American flute. He also wants to take up drums, so we're going to be buying him a drum set.

He really enjoyed the leather work that he did during his study of Native Americans. So, I bought him more supplies for that. I also picked up some more charcoal, so we can do more work with that (something else he really enjoyed). I still haven't started him on wood burning. If I don't get to that this year, we'll do it next year. We also bought The Louvre: All the Paintings. I am hoping to use this to some extent in our Art, as well. I think it will be a great starting point for a study of artists & their work.