Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sorry AFK

Yes, I've been away from the keyboard...for over two months. Lots has happened, life has happened. Sadly, I didn't write for NaNoWriMo, but there is always next year...and both Ginger & Momo were winners! Ginger got a NaNo T-Shirt for her 13th birthday, she still wears it at least once a week. We finished our 2nd semester & 2nd unit of Tapestry of Grace Year 1. We've been on "winter break" since Thanksgiving, and it is back-to-school on Thursday, January 3rd, 2008. So I've been planning-planning-planning. More on that in another post. Here are some pictures from the last few months:

An Athena owl I made of air-dry of the last hands-on projects we did while studying the Greeks. The kids all made them and I just couldn't keep my hands off so I made one too!

A Dragon-Worthy children collect jewelry and other shiny things -- to pile in their Dragon Hoard. This picture is dated, the hoard now takes up two shelves.

My 7yo son Tullius under the bridge -- the Natural Bridge, the world's largest naturally occurring travertine bridge, located north of Payson, AZ in Tonto National Forest. A wonderful place, especially when Grandpa leads the expedition and ever-cautious Mom & Grandma stay at the top!

Momo's 11th birthday pizza cakes -- thanks to the inspiring pictures and instructions from Smooth Stones Academy!

Gingerbread Nativity -- cute and oh, so crunchy!

2007 is coming to an end...I've been thinking about participating in a reading challenge called 888 . I've been thinking about playing World of Warcraft with my Harley Honey (two level 70 characters) and my 3 older kids (who all have characters in the low 60s). I've been thinking about how to *really* do school daily with my 2 younger kids.

And I've been thinking about being thankful. That is going to be my word for the year 2008: Gratitude. And I'm starting now, I'm grateful that you stopped by!!

Friday, October 26, 2007


I love using Google to search for things. However, I just found out about a new search engine called GoodSearch that donates to the charity of your choice! For all the searching this family does, we might as well be donating to a good cause! I chose "The Office of Letters and Light" as my charity, because that is the non-profit organization that operates NaNoWriMo free of charge! Goodbye Google, hello GoodSearch!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

NaNo & My Stick Family

November is fast approaching but it isn't too late to sign up for National Novel Writing Month! You've always wanted to write a novel one day, haven't you? Well, NaNoWriMo is the end of the One Day Novelist! Yes, that is you -- the one who is always keeps saying "One day, I'm going to write a novel."

This will be my second year participating (and finishing, I hope!). So far, I know two people writing this year -- my sister and Robin at My Two Blessings. If you're going to be writing (I know you want to!) and would like to be Writing Buddies, just go to my Author Info page and either send me a Nano Mail or add me as a buddy.

What is a Writing Buddy? Someone who is there to encourage you -- either via email, on the msg boards or just through the word count bar! Everyday you write you upload your word count and the little bar moves a little farther to the right, a little closer to victory!

Now, who are these cute stick families that I heard about at Pheasant Ridge Academy? My family!

This first one I made. That is my Harley Honey, myself, Ginger 12, Momo 10, Tullius 7, Zamakee 5 and Beanie 2.

This second one my daughters, Ginger & Momo, made (without having seen mine).

Funny how we didn't pick the same options! All the kids wanted to know why Daddy was bald in my picture! Well, I couldn't have the beard and hair, it wasn't an option. Nor did they have a motorcycle helmet. So I did the best I could! There is only one thing exactly the same in both pictures -- can you find it? If you make a Stick Family, I'd love to see it!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mathmagical Monday: Multiplying by 11

Tullius, who is using MUS Gamma, learned a neat trick for multiplying by 11 last week. Any two digit number (that adds up to 9 or less) multiplied by 11 is that number...okay, I'm not going to be able to explain this. But I think I can show it.
Take 34 x 11, for example. The answer is 374 -- you split the digits 34, like this: 3___4. Then add them together (3+4) and that number goes in the middle: 374. Try it, it really works!

In this same lesson (23), double digit times double digit multiplication was introduced. Tullius does not really "get it" -- this is the first mathematical concept that he hasn't instantly understood. Anyone have any special tips or tricks for this? I'm planning to watch the video with him and do some more block building this week, instead of moving on to the next lesson.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Week 13 Report -- Back-to-School

Last week was Back-to-School after a week off for Ginger's surgery/recovery. She still couldn't read on Monday, so I did all our TOG reading aloud -- Black Ships Before Troy, Story of the Greeks, Encyclopedia of the Ancient World, D'Alaure's Greek Myths, Spend the Day in Ancient Greece, and Classical Kids. By Wednesday she was wearing her glasses and reading Black Ships Before Troy on her own. I'm glad. Somehow I expected the book to be...happier. But no, not those Greeks and their gods!

By Wednesday, Ginger was able to do her own math -- nothing like attempting to describe a decimal addition problem orally! She is on Book 2 of Key to Decimals. Momo & Tullius continue through MUS Zeta and Gamma respectively. Zamakee continues to be left out. Although he now able to count/recognize/read numbers in the 20's and 30's. This is though no effort on my part, I'm still trying to remember to do the 1-5 pages in his Kumon Numbers book!

We are almost done with God's Design Science Plants! The kids are now reading and narrating the lessons to me. No one wanted to wait for me to do "class." I don't think I'll use the GDS Chemistry books in the spring. Now I'm thinking perhaps Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry would be a better choice. But maybe not...they like reading about science better then they like doing it with me, apparently.

Let's see, anything else of note last week? In Latin we skipped the history readings in Lively Latin -- I decided that we'd just save the "How the Roman Government Works" for when we study the Romans in the spring. My own Latin, using Latin Made Simple continues to go well, although I really need to make myself some flash cards. Its just there are so many words! Which is why I need the flash cards in the first place.

We did several projects -- Ginger made a dolphin Minoan Fresco, Tullius and Zamakee made Greek Stone Pendants and everyone made an Athena clay owl. Even me! I just couldn't keep my hands off the kids clay, so I did one of my own. Speaking of owls, Zamakee recognized that OWL and LOW have the same letters, just in a different order. Hooray! Oh, and he made up some sentences (pictured above), I dictated them to him one letter at a time and he wrote them down. That was during our poetry study of similes, another thing I'd already forgotten about already.

I really must write weekly reports the week they occur, not half way through the follow week! Oh, one last thing -- on Friday we went to a local dairy farm that has an open house/fair every fall. There was lots to see and do, including camel & pony rides and darling baby alpacas. I think I want this one!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Silly Name Tag

I read this fun tag at Light in the Shadows and since she tagged everyone who read it...I decided to try! I did make one small wording alteration so I could let my kids read it without having to explain certain career options. :)

1. Your rock star name: (first pet, current car) - Fifi Caravan
2. Your gangster name: (favorite ice cream, favorite cookie) - Mint Chocolate Chip Pecan Sandie
3. Your fly guy/girl name: (first initial first name, first 3 letters last name) - Land
4. Your detective name: (favorite color, favorite animal) - Blue Horse
5. Your soap opera name: (middle name, birth city) - Elnora Palatine
6. Your Star Wars name (first three letter last name, first 2 letter of first name) - AndLe (Ooh, I kind of like that!)
7. Superhero Name: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink and add "the") - The Purple Lemonade
8.Nascar name (first names of your grandfathers) - Carl Alvin
9. Dancer Name: (favorite perfume, favorite candy) - Chocolate (I don't know any perfume names, let alone have a favorite!)
10. Witness Protection Name: (mother's and father's middle name) Carlene Preston

Now, that was fun...who should I be today??

Better yet, who will you be? Tag, you're it!

Surgery & Snowflakes

Ginger's eye surgery went very well! To all who prayed and were thinking of us, THANK YOU! She is only a week out, but the surgeon is pleased with the results.

I enjoyed my time off of message boards and blogs, not because I found other delightful pursuits to fill the time, but because I was not wondering what everyone else was up to...and did I have an opinion to share?? :)

Last night, I did what seemed like a little blog reading for the first time in about 10 days -- my wrist hurt after using the mouse so much! I can't have that! I have NaNoWriMo coming up in three weeks! I've got my general plot and a few character ideas...

Speaking of writing, there is a very cool article about writing called The Snowflake Method. Even if you aren't contemplating writing a novel, the link he gives for The Koch Snowflake (made using fractals) is worth the visit!

And speaking of snowflakes, if you love paper snowflakes but don't enjoy sweeping up afterwards, have I got a website for you! Take a peek at SnowDays when you have a few minutes of free time. After the intro, you can create your own snowflake or even view one we've made. The kids have used different names, but if you search by Fuzzypretzel you'll see some they've done! And if you make some, I'd love to see them!

Oh, I updated our History Project Pictures with the things we've been working of these days, I'm going to update the whole website.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Week 12 Report & more Neopian Fables

We are one third of our way through 2nd quarter! We'll be taking next week off school -- Ginger (12) has eye surgery on Tuesday. In fact, I have decided to take the entire week off the internet. That way I'll be focused on being mom and nurse. I do plan to dedicate some time moving all my "stuff" from my old eMac to a newer, faster, better Mac...I think it is a G5. So, see you all in a week!

This week we finally mastered the days of the week in Latin! We all made flash cards. Ginger's are first with elves on every card, then mine, then Tullius's, then Momo's in pink -- written both in Dragon and in Latin.

And we studied the Ancient Maya people. They believed the world was flat with a giant tree growing in the middle. The root of the tree went into the underworld. Four jaguars in the four courners of the earth held up the sky. Ginger had fun creating this representation of their "compass." The white jaguar is in the north corner.

Our last week of re-writing Aesop's Neopian Fables! I tried to convice the kids they could use a different theme, but no...Neopia it is!
The Skree and the Bracelet, by Ginger (12)

The Lupe and the Miamouse, by Momo (10)

The Fighting Whoots and the Horus, by Tullius (7)

A few other notes for the record: Ginger finished Book 1 of Key to Decimals! She'll do Books 2 & 3 in the next 6 school weeks, Book 4 in January and then the Key to Percents series. We did not get to the cool leaf project I had planned from Masterpiece Art Instruction. Maybe tomorrow!

Hope you have a wonderful, wonderful week! Let the countdown to NaNoWriMo begin!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

ABC Muffins & Broccoli Soup recipes

I love Cream of Broccoli soup -- this is as good or better then what you can get as the soup of the day at a restaurant!
This recipe feeds our family of 7 with no left overs. And even the kids who don't liked cooked broccoli, love the soup.

I make these muffins once a week or so -- using up whatever slightly mushy apples or bananas I have. You can also add raisins or nuts. If I have apple sauce I'll substitute 1/2 cup oil for 1/2 cup applesauce. They're moister then.
I usually make these in a 9x9 pan & bread pan, I burn muffins too often.

Click on the recipes to see a larger copy. I hope they print out okay for those of you who want to try them!

Oh, to make popsicles, I use a can of pineapple and a banana or two. If we have orange juice, I'll use some of that also. Sometimes I put in a little Vitamin C powder also. I have a couple plastic popsicle molds I got at the grocery store. Mmmm!

Comment troubles

Are these cute checkboxes the cause of my comment troubles?
No, apparently not.

Maybe it was using a different browser to upload the kids' Neopian fables as pictures...

A Test Post

Are comments enabled?

Apparently on this post they are! But not on my Weekly Report below! Hmmm, could it be the checkboxes? Or are the blogger gods punishing me for the lateness of my report... Did you know that the Maya people of Mesoamerica had at least 166 gods? I can't wait to move on to the Ancient Greeks!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Week 11 Report & more Neopian Fables

Ah, the weekly report...the belated weekly report. I love the idea, but I'd rather read about what everyone else has been doing that write up my own.

Look at this great check box Local Homeschooler taught me!! Actually, it looks cute in Safari but not in Firefox. I'm not sure what it looks like in Internet Explorer.

Several of you have asked about the blender. It still works. It never occured to me that it might be ruined or the blades dulled. My blender doesn't get much use -- making bread crumbs, creaming cooked broccoli & potatoes to make my delicious broccoli soup, mixing bananas and a can of pineapple to freeze for popsicles...this is not strenuous use of a blender. But perhaps we won't make more paper until we come back to TOG Yr 1 again!

So what did we do last week...well, we studied Ancient China and um, did school, and the kids wrote their next fables. Click on them to see the text larger!
The Eizzil and the Turtum, by Momo (10):

The Beakadoodle and the Veespa, by Ginger (12):

Two Petpets and Balthazar, by Tullius (7):

Can you guess what the original fable for each of these was? Last weeks winners were: Lisa at Koninonia Academy and The Genie Bottle! I wish I had a prize for you...ummm, I could draw you a picture! :)

To see the kids first attempt at Fable writings, check out the previous blog entry: Aesop's Neopian Fables

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mathmagical Monday: How many seconds old are you?

I got a book at the library yesterday called Men of Mathematics: The Lives and Achievements of the Great Mathematicians from Zeno to Poincare, by E.T. Bell. I doubt I'll finish all 580 pages of it. However, I did start it...which is more than I can say for some books I spontaneously pick off the library shelf!

Here are some quotes I liked from the beginning of the book:

A mathematical truth is neither simple nor complicated in itself, it is. -- Emile Lemoine

It is easier to square the circle than to get round a mathematician. -- Augustus de Morgan

It is a safe rule to apply that, when a mathematical or philosophical author writes with a misty profundity, he is talking nonsense. -- A.N. Whitehead (1911)

I didn't understand all the quotes, and I probably should have looked up profundity before saying I liked the quote!

Now for a fun challenge for those learning to multiply large numbers: How many seconds old are you?
This is VERY approximate!

The formula is:
Age in years x 365 days x 24 hours x 60 minutes x 60 seconds

If you want to be a little more accuate, you can use a decimal after your age (for example 10.75) and 365.25 for the days in a year.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I'm approximately 1,072,224,000 seconds old. To me, that is a meaningless number. However, when I look at days and hours (12,410 and 297,840 respectively), I feel like I could
a) DO something in an hour...I have so many! and b) like I've wasted a lot of time!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Paper Making

This week's history study focused on Ancient China. In looking through some craft books from the library, the kids picked paper making for their project. I tried to dissuade looked difficult and messy. Turns out, it was fun and simple! And hardly messy at all!

This, of course, is not how the Ancient Chinese made paper. They used things such as old rags, mulberry bark, used hemp fishing line, and eventually, bamboo. We started with scraps of paper. We have lots of scraps of paper in this house.

1. Make a screen. Ours was a piece of old window screen, stapled to a styrofoam tray.

2. Put 1-2 cups of hot water in the blender. Add a large handful of small paper scraps.

3. Blend! Add more scraps if you think it looks too thin. Definitely a trial and error recipe.

4. Pour the mixture onto your screen. The screen must be over a container or in the sink. Lots of water runs out!

5. Press down on the mix with a spoon to remove more of the water. Fill in any holes. See all the paper scraps?

6. Flip the screen onto several folded paper towels.

7. Roll the paper to flatten it and remove more of the water.

8. Carefully transfer the paper to something for drying. We used parchement paper on a cookie sheet at first. After we filled that tray, we went to directly putting the paper onto the tray.

9. Wait. And wait some more. Even in the Arizona sun at 95 degrees, this still took over an hour for the thinnest pieces. I didn't get a picture of this step in the process, but I did come up with a new Chinese proverb: Watched paper never dries.

10. Marvel at your paper! The very white piece in the upper left is the first one we made. The others were made with a more colored scraps. The one in the lower right is supposed to be an ice cream cone...

We haven't attempted to paint Chinese characters onto the paper yet. If we get to that, I'll be sure to post a picture in our History Project Pictures!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mathmagical Monday: Random 5 from our shelves

We have lots of children's books about math. Well, lots is a relative term.
To put it mathematically here are two equations:

Math books > Poetry books

Math books < Dragon books

And since it is actually already Tuesday morning, I will simply give you 5 math-related books I grabbed this morning. The first two will appeal to the younger ones and the rest to older kids. Check your library! Oh, and if you have any fun math books to recommend, please share!

*More M&M's Math, Barbara Barbieri McGrath
*Millions to Measure, David M. Schwartz, pictures by Steven Kellogg
*The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat, Theoni Pappas
*Mathematicians are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians, by Luetta Reimer
*Math Trek 2: A Mathematical Space Odyssey, by Ivars Peterson

Friday, September 14, 2007

Aesop's Neopian Fables

Ever been to ? My kids love it! I even have an account...although I can't say I've played recently.

Writing this past week was done progymnasmata-style: Read a fable, write 3 or so key words per sentence and then re-write the fable in your own words. The kids all enjoyed this, especially the "own words" part. All the illustrations and the names too are Copyright 2000-2007 Neopets, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission.

Click on each story to read it! Can you guess what each original fable was called?

Illusen & the Xweetok, by Ginger

The Weewoo & the Vase, by Momo

The Gnorbu & the Load of Salt, by Tullius

I can't wait to see what they write this week!

Holy Day Slideshows

A few weeks ago, when we studied the Ancient Israelites with Tapestry of Grace, we learned about some of their Holy Days.

The kids made slideshows using Mac's awesome Keynote program.

Ginger's Passover slide show:

Momo's Feast of Tabernacles slideshow:

Tullius' Day of Atonement slideshow:

Latin Motto

Non scholae sed vitae discimus ~ Seneca. We learn not for school, but for life.