Archive for November 2010

Fall Semester Wrap-Up 2010/Spring 2011 Plans

November 28, 2010

Well, in this post I broke down all of our homeschooling expenses so far in 2010.  I really did not anticipate buying anything else during 2010, but the need arose.  I knew that I needed to get an instruction booklet for the recorder flute (as well as a new recorder or two or three) for the upcoming spring semester.  I didn’t really care for the grammar/vocabulary program we tried out this fall, and I decided to try something else (Wordly Wise 3000).  And I realized that Singapore Math 2B isn’t quite as intense as 2A, and we will probably finish it up before the spring semester is over.  Therefore, I need to have some time to prep for level 3A.  I also needed to pick up the next volume of Sequential Spelling.  So, after placing an order with the Rainbow Resource Center, my total amount spent on homeschooling supplies for 2010 is up to $427.08.

As we start the last three weeks of the fall semester, Bailey is almost finished with Singapore Math 2A, Mindbenders A1, Grammar Practice 1, and Ready to Read Music.  With the music (as with most of our subjects) I haven’t really been concerned with mastery, but Bailey has had a nice introduction to musical symbols and definitions.  When we start working on the recorder flute come January, the abstract of it should become more concrete.  What we’re looking at for the spring semester is math and spelling five days a week.  History, music, vocabulary (Worldly Wise 3000 level 2), and Brain Quest workbook will each be covered two days a week, and logic will continue being once a week.

With the start of our spring semester in January, Piper will start a mandatory pre-K session.  Up until now all of her schoolwork as been optional.  My goal is to keep it at about 15-30 minutes of mostly math and reading.  Basically we’ll work towards finishing the assortment of unfinished phonics and numbers workbooks that she already has.  The point of the session is less academic and more about all of us (but especially me) getting into the groove of incorporating a new student to our formal homeschooling.

I’m hoping that we can arrange Bailey’s school work where she can do a portion of it independently while I work with Piper, who will need more hands-on instruction.  Obviously, Bailey will still need more hands-on from me for history and music.  I did decide to grab an extra recorder flute for Piper in case she wanted to join in on those lessons.  So, things should be very interesting as I wade into the waters of multi-level teaching.

Of course, I’ve mainly been talking about the things that have been formally studied.  Bailey has been investigating sites like Wikipedia and YouTube (with lots of supervision and parental advisory) for information she wants.  She’s also been experimenting with Microsoft Word to write stories and make signs. And there are a billion other little things that Bailey and her sisters have been absorbing from their environment, the computer games and television shows they enjoy, and using their imaginations.  I have no doubt that this will continue no matter what else happens in the spring semester.


7 Things I Love About Bailey…

November 20, 2010

1.  Bailey is a really good friend.  She always is there to help and encourage her friends to reach their full potential.  When they hurt, she is the first one there offering consolation.  I’ve never seen her say mean or hurtful things to a playmate without being insulted first.

2.  Bailey  is so athletic.  Whether she is winning the hand-stand competition in gymnastics, being the most consistent hitter on her co-ed coach pitch baseball team, or throwing the batter out at first with her “Rocket Arm”, she is awesome.  As someone with little-to-no athletic ability, I enjoy watching her go.

3.  Bailey is really good with toddlers and preschoolers.  She likes to watch over them and take care of them and teach them things.  I could totally see her becoming a teacher of some sort someday.

4.  Bailey is so smart.  Even when I think she’s not paying attention, she soaks in information and sometimes astounds me with the profound connections that she makes.  She’s also a pretty good critical thinker for her age; she’s always trying to figure at the scam in every advertisement.

5.  Bailey is an idea person.  She is constantly coming up with projects to make or games to play with her sisters.  Sometimes she’s running a variety of stores.  Sometimes she’s publishing her own selection of magazines.  But she’s always got something cooking in her brain.

6.  Bailey is a budding song-writer.  She composed her first songs when she was about three, and in the past five years she’s put together a little repertoire of simple but catchy tunes.  We can’t wait to see what happens once she starts learning how play instruments and read and notate music.

7.  Bailey has a great sense of humor.  She can often spot the ridiculous in the world around her.  She sees right through it when her dad is teasing her.  And sometimes she’s even able to laugh at herself.

Happy Birthday to my big 8-year-old girl!!!

7 Fiction Authors Most-Read by Me

November 9, 2010

I got to thinking one morning about some of my favorite fiction authors and wondering which ones I had read the most.  My first thought was Anne McCaffrey since I own most of the Dragonriders of Pern Series and reread them at least once a year, but I was surprised to realize that I had read an equal number of Meg Cabot books even though I don’t own a single one.

I should note that I gave Meg Cabot the number one spot, because she is still prolifically writing while Anne McCaffrey is retired.  In the course, of my research I discovered books by each author that I had previously overlooked, so in the future some of the numbers might change.  But for now, here are the 7 Fiction Authors Most-Read by Me:

1.  Meg Cabot (32):  Cabot’s works are easy and fun.  While you do find common themes of  harried heroines who unexpectedly fall in love while drinking Diet Coke, each series has it’s own quirky take on the formula from a nerd who has her brain transplanted into the body of a super model (Airhead trilogy) or an over-weight former pop star who solves mysteries (Heather Wells Mysteries) to a soap opera writer who gets tangled up in a vampire war (her latest book Insatiable).

2.  Anne McCaffrey (32):  I’ve read all of the Dragonriders of Pern series (with the exception of those recently written by her son) at least twice.  The same goes for the Tower and the Hive series.  McCaffrey just has a way of creating interesting alternative universes and societies.  And I still say that she is the original inventor of the idea of name smashing.  She was combining names like Gemma and Fax to name their son Jaxom when Renesmee‘s creator was still a baby.

3.  Anne Rice (14):  The upcoming release of movie version of Interview with a Vampire had my friends and I scurrying to read the book in 1994.  That led me to read most of the sequels (my favorite being Queen of the Damned) and her Mayfair Witches series.  I was really excited when the two universes  collided in a crossover series as well as the book Merrick.

4.  Lucy Maude Montgomery (11):  I fell in love with  Anne with an E when I was about 15.  I loved reading her adventures and mishaps from being a lonely orphan to college-educated school principal to a married mom of six living children.  After I re-read Anne, I always find myself thinking in Anne’s tone and cadence for a few days.  (Yes, I know I am crazy.)

5.  C.S. Lewis (11):  I almost forgot about C.S. Lewis, even though the Chronicles of Narnia are classic (and inspired my favorite SNL digital short “Lazy Sunday“).  I remember reading The Screwtape Letters while on vacation to Disney World, but I never really enjoyed the Space Trilogy books when I read them.  Maybe I’ll give them another chance some day.

6.  Madeline L’Engle (9):  When I was in fourth grade, my homeroom teacher read A Wrinkle in Time out loud.  I went on to read most of the sequels in this series, until they started getting less sci-fi/fantasy.

7.  J.K. Rowling (8):  Two words–Harry Potter.

Honorable Mention:  Timothy Zahn (8):  Timothy Zahn basically jump-started what is now known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe in 1991 when the first book of his Thrawn trilogy was released.  Not only are his eight novels the best written of all of the Star Wars sequel/prequel books (in my humble opinion), but I will be forever grateful that he created my favorite expanded universe character, Mara Jade (aka Mrs. Luke Skywalker).

7 Things: Jurassic Park

November 4, 2010

I first read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park around 1993 when the movie came out.  It was one of those books that ended up being passed around my house.  I was around 16, and it made a big impression on me.  I’m not sure that it’s the greatest work of literature (its themes are about as subtle as a sledgehammer), but I often find myself coming back to aspects of it that completely changed my worldview.

My favorite character in the book is the mathematician Ian Malcolm.  Maybe it’s because I like to imagine Jeff Goldblum when I’m reading the book (or even when I’m not).  Maybe it’s because Malcolm only wears black and gray, so that he doesn’t have to think about if his clothes match.  Or maybe it’s because he’s the insufferable know-it-all of the group, and obnoxious characters like me, Ian Malcolm, and Hermione Granger have to stick together.

I recently reread my copy of Jurassic Park and noticed that every passage that I had underlined during previous perusals were quotes from Ian Malcolm.  And for some reason I felt the need to share 7 Things I Learned from Ian Malcolm:

1.  Because the history of evolution is that life escapes all barriers.  Life breaks free.  Life expands into new territories.  Painfully, perhaps even dangerously.  But life finds a way. -p. 159  [I think of this whenever Dr. Who marvels over the tenacity of the human race.]

2.  Fractals are a kind of geometry, associated with a man named Mandelbrot…Well, Mandelbrot found a remarkable thing with his geometric tools.  He found that things look almost identical at different scales.  -p. 170 [The existence of fractals is one of those things that makes me believe that there must be a God.  The world is too complex and interdependent to have just have been created by random forces.]

3.  Chaos Theory:  Real life isn’t a series of interconnected events occurring one after another like beads strung in a necklace.  Life is actually a series of encounters in which one event may change those that follow in a wholly unpredictable, even devastating way.  -p. 171  [This is basically the underlying premise of Dr. Who.]

4.  Scientists are actually preoccupied with accomplishment.  So they are focused on whether they can do something.  They never stop to think if they should do something.  -p. 284  [Can we say human cloning, in vitro fertilization, embryonic stem cell research, and the atomic bomb?]

5.  Most kinds of power require a substantial sacrifice by whoever wants the power…The discipline of getting the power changes you so that you won’t abuse it. -p. 306

6.  Let’s be clear.  The planet is not in jeopardy.  We are in jeopardy.  We haven’t go the power to destroy the planet–or to save it.  But we might have the power to save ourselves.  -p. 369

7.   Don’t try to outrun a Tyrannosaurus Rex.



P.S.  How do you like the visuals??

October 2010 Reading List

November 3, 2010

I basically went on a bender of re-reading the sub-stories of  Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series.  I don’t feel like linking to all the books, though.

1.  Dragon Song by Anne McCaffrey

2.  Dragon Singer by Anne McCaffrey

3.  Dragon Drums by Anne McCaffrey

4.  Nerilka’s Story by Anne McCaffrey

6.  Dragonseye by Anne McCaffrey