Thursday, September 21, 2017

Day 177--Ramblings

We were looking through some free photo websites today to find a picture for Rachel's next book cover. We found one possibility. I don't know if she'll decide to use it, but I like it.

She still has to write the synopsis for the back. She always waits til the editing is finished, in case anything changes about the story. We're about a third of the way through the editing. The story's pretty exciting so far.

In our church we're each asked to visit a few people each month to get to know them and see how they're doing. It's called Visit Teaching because we also usually give a little spiritual thought while we're visiting. So I have a new visiting teacher and she came today and brought me sunflowers.

Aren't they cute? 

One more picture from today.

It's bean cake. Sounds gross doesn't it? I don't love beans, but my family likes to eat a lot of them. So a few weeks ago, we decided to make "bean cobbler" which was beans on the bottom of the pan with cake cooked over the top. People say our cakes taste like cornbread because of using spelt flour instead of wheat, so we make cake with beans since we can't eat corn. Anyway, we thought it would be easy to cook them together. It's really yummy! Even to a semi bean-hater.

I'm thinking Sam would like geometry better than algebra this year. He doesn't seem to want to change what he's doing though. He's afraid he'll forget the algebra that he has learned. I say it wouldn't hurt.

See you next time!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Day 176--Real Life Day

I ordered Rachel a Happy Light! I'm excited to see if it helps her. It's also supposed to help you sleep better (reset your circadian rhythm) so I'm hoping it will help Jeff sleep too. 

We couldn't do too much in the way of academics today because we had a lot of real life instead. The missionaries from our church came over for a little bit after lunch, which meant cleaning up the house. I don't usually keep the house in such good shape that I want someone coming over without doing a little work first. Or sometimes a lot of work.

After they left, we had to plan for helping out with an activity for some families that are spending the night in a shelter. We talked about how everyone's important and how Heavenly Father wants each of us to feel good about ourselves and about others. We also taught a few of the kids a song that kids in our church sing called We Are Different. Here are the words:

I know you, and you know me. 
We are as different as the sun and the sea.
I know you, and you know me, and that’s the way it is  
     supposed to be.

I help you, and you help me.
We learn from problems, and we’re starting to see.
I help you, and you help me, and that’s the way it is 
     supposed to be.

I love you, and you love me.
We reach together for the best we can be.
I love you, and you love me, and that’s the way it is
     supposed to be.

It's pretty bouncy and I love the words. So there was a mom there that had been having a hard time not getting frustrated with her kids; but while we were singing, she came up and gave one of them a little snuggle on the cheek. I know that good music can make a huge difference in the way we feel and act. I guess she couldn't help but feel better about her kids while someone was singing "I love you and you love me" with them. It was a nice change. Here's a link to the music if you want to hear the tune. It's just a music player, so it doesn't have much feeling; but you can see what it sounds like. 

We had to do several things to get ready for the activity. We cut out circles from stiff paper and punched holes in them for necklaces that said, "__________ is important" and we put their names in the blank. We took markers and stickers to decorate them and yarn to put them around their necks. We also made a beanbag to throw around and have each person talk about what or who is important to them. It was like craft day, even though crafts aren't really our thing!

Sarah drove in the dark for the first time tonight. She said she felt like it was the first time she had ever driven at all. It's so different driving in the dark. Rachel gave her helpful things to think about. I hadn't even thought of some of those things since I'm used to it. Like your depth perception is a little different and you have to remember not to stare at the headlights coming at you. She did fine, but she said her shoulders were all bunched up.

See you next time!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Day 175--Shooting Guns

Sam had a young men's activity tonight. And it was shooting guns! He had so much fun. He said he hit the target 17 out of 25 times! Impressive! He used a pistol and a shot gun. Also there was some kind of ridiculously huge gun that sounded like of cannon or something. He could feel it in the ground and all through his body, even when he wasn't the one shooting.

We got to go see my niece Rebekah and her new baby today. They named her Ansley Jayne. Jayne with a "y" is a family middle name. My mom is Carole Jayne, my sister is Amanda Jayne, Her daughter is Rebekah Jayne (Ansley is Bekah's daughter), my Sarah is Sarah Jayne and my granddaughter is Eliza Jayne. It started with my great grandmother. Wait! I just looked up on my family history chart and saw that my great grandmother's middle name didn't have a "y" in it! It was Amanda Jane. I guess my grandparents added the "y" when they had my mom.

We watched another baking Great Course class today. It was about pie crust. They used so much butter! We love to eat butter, and we probably buy more of it that most people; but even we thought it was way too much. I'm sure it was extremely delicious though. And the texture. I could tell just by watching that the texture was perfect.

I miss real baking sometimes. I used to make some pretty incredible treats, but since we can't eat sugar or regular flour, we've had to change our expectations of how things are going to taste. We're pretty satisfied, but once in a while I just want some chewy cookies! Sometimes I make carmel out of pure maple syrup and put that in my cookies and they're pretty chewy. But if I don't eat them right away, they get hard. And it's a ton of syrup for just 4 cookies. Oh well.

See you next time!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Day 174

Some funny things happened today and I thought, "I have to remember that for my blog." Bad plan. I can't think of a thing now. Let's see. . . We folded every stitch of laundry in the house today. Go ahead and be impressed. I can't even tell you how many loads it was; and if any of you are looking for socks, they're here. I don't see how any socks are left in the universe.

We took a walk. Not very exciting, but the weather was nice. I can't take credit for this, but my niece had a baby yesterday. Total cuteness! I get to go see her tomorrow. Don't you love babies?

More reading, more math, more science. We watched a Great Courses class on baking. It made us all want dessert. We're easily influenced.

I got out an English textbook and opened it to a random page so we could learn some grammar thing nobody ever uses. It was about predicate nominatives. Do you know what they are? You should look it up. I told the kids they didn't have to remember it or worry about it at all. Bad homeschool mom! Really, I'm a writer, and I didn't know what it was. I bet English teachers have to look it up before they teach the lesson because of how little it matters.

I guess you'll never know about my funny stuff from today. I'll have to go back to taking notes!

See you next time!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Day 173--Stuff for Texas

I've spent the last 2 weeks sick. My sore throat turned on me. I spent some days with a terrible cough and that gave me a migraine. It's just about over (the cough and the migraine) after a week. I used some amazing essential oils for the cough, and it improved so much. I know it was going to be way worse and for longer. Everyone of us got sick. That never happens, and boy am I glad!

I ended up collecting a table full of stuff to send to Texas for some hurricane victims. Four or five people brought stuff to send. They were so nice. Some of them bought a bunch of kids clothes or giant packs of diapers. We even had some tools that'll be used in the cleanup.

We had a nice full school day today. It was refreshing after the last 2 weeks. We're doing a bunch of graphing of functions for math. It's kind of fun change of pace. The kids like using the graph paper because everything looks so tidy.

We've been reading Hattie Big Sky, and I think there's going to be some crying as we get further into the story. Sarah told me there are some parts that are going to upset me or make me emotional. I don't like crying while I'm trying to read aloud, you know?

We read about Devils Tower in Wyoming today. It's kind of crazy, just sticking up 865 feet in the middle of nowhere. I'd love to see it in person. The Natural Wonders of the World book is a fun way to study geography.

I've had to take a huge break from editing Rachel's book because of the migraine. I'm totally excited to get back to work on it tomorrow!

See you next time!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Day 172--Pity Party

Do you want to come to my pity party? No? Neither do I! But here I am.

Some of us have had some kind of virus for almost a week now. Today it hurts in a whole new way inside my throat. And I spent the day coughing and sniffling, which was new.

I'm trying to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, and I have a way to get some things to several families that have lost everything. I'm so excited about it! So I told over 50 people about it and said to bring stuff to my house this week and I'd get it to Texas. And only one person has brought some things so far. It really doesn't look like anyone else will be bringing anything.

So I'm having a bit of a self esteem crash. It feels like more people would have donated if someone more noticeable had been organizing it. People just don't seem interested in what I do. That's not generally too important to me, but once in a while it just gets me down.

Also, we're having a hard time getting Sam and Sarah to Seminary every morning. We've never had the kids go because of my fatigue and Jeff's job schedule and his inability to sleep. But this year, Rachel has her license and can take them. Except not. She had Lyme disease not long ago, and we got her cleared of it; but I'm wondering if she's having some kind of fatigue or something from it. Also, she has Seasonal Affective Disorder and she's starting to feel "wintery" already for some reason. I think I'm going to get her a happy light this year.

We did get to have school today, and we actually got some things done. We started the graphing chapter in Algebra. Fun. We did science, read a couple chapters of Hattie Big Sky,  Sam studied his architecture stuff and looked for info on a little report I'm having them do. Sam's been working steadily on his Danish, but Sarah's not too interested in a foreign language. I say don't do it then. Find something more interesting. Like piano. That's definitely more interesting to her.

See you next time!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Day 171--Volvox under a microscope

Today Sarah had to look at several bacteria and algae under the microscope, and Rachel got a very cool picture of our favorite one with her phone! Looks like it's right out of the textbook, doesn't it? It's called Volvox. Sounds like a Dr. Suess thing, and it looks like one too. These are actually colonies. They also call them Globe Algae.

Sam has to get information about all the kids in Seminary (the early morning scripture class) so he can do a spotlight every Friday. He emailed all the parents with a list of questions about the kids. It was a pretty good writing assignment for yesterday. He's so funny though, because he wouldn't even let me read it before he sent it. I guess he doesn't mind the other parents reading it. I think he figures I'll edit him. I didn't think I always did that. I'll have to pay more attention.

Sarah and Rachel and I did some editing on Rachel's sequel, Sencra's Fate tonight. I think I'm going to have to read it through once before I can really do it justice. There are too many questions for editing on the first read through. I think non-fiction is easier to do without reading first. With fiction, I need to know the personality of the character before I can know what they're trying to convey. I keep having to ask her, which is fine; but I think she'd like it better if she didn't have to explain things that are going to happen in the future so I can figure out what a person should say that will keep them in character.

See you next time!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Day 170--Solar Eclipse!

Today all we did was watch the eclipse. It was very cool. We didn't have any viewing glasses, so we used the telescope. We aimed it at the sun and put a piece of paper by the eyepiece to project the image.

And the shadows were totally fun. I'm not sure the kids believed me when I told them they were going to be crescent-shaped. 

The shadow of my hair was crazy--all feathered out on the sides. Looked a little 70's to me!

I think Eliza Jayne liked the shadows too. I snatched this picture off Kamille's blog!

The kids also started going to Seminary today. That's an early-morning scripture study class for the high school kids in our church. I think I've mentioned it before. We have a really hard time with things early in the morning, but they're trying it. It starts at 6:00am so it can be before school for everyone. They got out of the house without waking us up, so that's a plus.

See you next time!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Day 169--Legos!

We've had a couple sick days this week. My headache didn't go away after falling asleep on the couch Monday, and Sam ended up with a fever by Tuesday evening. Today was really the first school day this week because of it all. Why is it so hard to do anything constructive after lying around feeling terrible?

Jeff started reading a book with the kids called Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, I think. It's about an Antarctic explorer. It didn't start out as interesting to them as I had hoped, but I'm sure Jeff can make it better. I think if he just reads it to himself and talks about it like he likes to do, they'll want to at least look at it. Lead; don't push, right?

Sam bought himself a big Lego set from the Ninjago movie. It's a Mech Dragon. Of course it was almost impossible to concentrate on math because we interrupted the building of it. I could only hold him for so long. Good thing it was a review day and he didn't have to learn anything new. I think I would have had to changed plans if that had been the case.

We edited a pamphlet that we got from a company we bought some bulk food from. I was surprised how uncomfortable it was to read. I hope my teaching them to edit by using written material from companies doesn't cause them to be judgmental of others, but it really did need some work. I'm always looking for ways that labels and advertisements could be more clear. That'll come in handy soon, because I think we're going to try to make a product to sell and I'm going to have to write the label. I'll tell you about it a little later.

See you next time!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Day 168--Helping Others

We got up at five this morning! We drove an hour and a half to put together some groceries for some people that don't have enough food. We didn't love getting up that early, but it was fun to do the work. We were at a food storehouse that our church owns. We worked in pairs, but since there are five of us I got to work with a fun girl and get to know her a little bit. She's planning on coming every Monday for a while.

We've all been pretty tired from it. I even fell asleep on the couch, which immediately gave me a headache. It's not too painful so hopefully it'll go away over night. But that never happens. My head is ridiculous.

The only thing academic we did today was read a couple chapters of A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. We decided to read another one we know we like. We watched old episodes of My Favorite Martian too. We'll call that history and maybe science. Jeff's still on vacation this week, and we need to figure out something fun to do. I don't know that we'll try to go back to that gorge to get some pictures this week or not. It's kind of a long drive.

The other day, we practiced framing photographs. Here are some where we tried to make sure there was something interesting going on in certain parts of the frame. If you draw a tic tac toe board on the picture, you should have something at the intersections instead of centering everything.
This is Sam's with a couple of the bushes placed properly. I love the sidewalk.
Sarah took this one with Jeff's head at one of the intersections.
Jeff took this one with everything centered and then...
he took this one for comparison. See how much more interesting it is not centered?
On to another lesson tomorrow. See you next time!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Day 167

Another "vacation" day. We were going to go hiking today and take some amazing nature pictures, but we got lost! We were going to a place we've been several times, but we've only been there from our old house. We have to take a different way from here, and we never could find it. It was kind of ridiculous. So we ended up just going over near our old place to pick our car up from the shop. We have an honest and inexpensive mechanic there that we like, so it's worth the half-hour drive sometimes. Anyway, no pictures.

When we got home, we finished reading Frankenstein. It wasn't the most satisfying ending to a book that I've ever read, but it was ok. It was definitely well-written, though. After we got done, I looked for some words that were totally new to us and had the kids try to spell them. There were several words in the book that I've never seen before, so that was fun. I should go through it and make a list for us to look up.

We didn't do a lot of other things today. The kids took a walk or maybe they rode their bikes. Well, Rachel rides a scooter. The one we got for Wilson the first year he went away to college. It's the kind you stand on like a skateboard--not like a moped! It's fun.

We watched Arsenic and Old Lace before bed tonight. It's so funny, but I hope Jeff doesn't wake up thinking about it. He's so sensitive. Kind of like a little kid. He was awake thinking about a Hallmark murder mystery the other night. It wasn't even the most creepy one. Poor guy.

I asked for stories for my homeschool book today on a moms' forum I like. I'm looking for stories about just sitting there next to your child like I talked about the other day (Day 160). I think it's such a great concept. If you have any stories about modeling or just quietly being with your kids and it helped them get through a task, please put them in the comments or tell me you have a story and I'll get together with you to get it.

See you next time!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Day 166-New Bike

Today was non-academic. We read Frankinstein first thing (the monster killed again) and then we had to get ready to go. We went to the funeral of someone we knew years ago. Then when we got home we worked on putting together a new bike. Jeff has worked at the same company for over 25 years so they gave him this gift award thing where he got to choose what he wanted. There were some pretty nice, expensive things on the list; and we chose the bike. We got a women's for Sarah. We finally got it put together today and she tried it out. It was much better than the tiny one she's been riding with her knees hitting her in the chin!

It was a little tall for Rachel's comfort though. I told her that when I can't reach the ground on a bike, I feel like I can't reach the bottom of the pool. That scares me pretty badly. Our legs are much shorter than Sarah's.

We're making Jeff try this procedure for sleeping better that we heard on one of the Great Courses. You set your alarm and get up at that time no matter what, then you go to bed a little later than the amount of sleep you want--like half an hour--and get up at that same time the next day and then back up your going to bed time by 15 minutes until you have a day that you're not tired. Also, you can't take naps. And I told him he can't lie around in the recliner moaning and half asleep. I'm probably keeping him awake typing this in bed though!

Tomorrow morning we're off on a hike to take pictures.

See you next time!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Day 165--Locking the keys in the car!

Rachel locked the keys in the car tonight. Of course it had to be on the night when the other car is in the shop. She went to a young adult religion class about 25 minutes away and I like her to text us that she's gotten there. So she put her keys down and texted; then she got out and shut the door. Of course we always lock the car. She called us, and we called my niece who lives a few minutes away. But she didn't answer, so we called my parents who live 20 minutes away.

My dad said he'd come and let us use his car to go to where Rachel was, and my mom said we should make Rachel a spare set of keys for her purse. But guess what? We did! We all had forgotten that she has a spare with her all the time. So silly. We texted her in her class and told her to check her purse for the spare and go get the keys out of the car. Yay for planning ahead! I guess she won't be as likely to lock the keys in again; and if she does, she'll remember the spare.

We tried to organize our sticky notes today for our writing project, but I'm not sure it went well. I had put my opinion on one, like I said yesterday, but my opposing viewpoint one wasn't really opposing the thing I said. I had said that I think people should have porch swings because they are relaxing and the opposing point was that they're in the way, could get messed up by birds, and the weather wears them out. Rachel said it's ok because they were just reasons to have a swing or not to have one. I don't know. I'll have to think about it.

Sarah had to make a biological key today. She's learning how to classify organisms. She's studying Kingdom Protista. I think that's like algae. It was not easy! I told her she didn't have to do it this time (she had done one for bacteria in the last module), but she told me I discourage things that are hard. Can you imagine? I said that actually she does that because she complains so much that sometimes I just don't want to have her do it. I guess we both have something to work on! She did a pretty good job of making the key though. You have to come up with all these questions and depending on the answer you go to this or that question until you've figured out what phylum (or class, order, species, etc.) the organism is in.

We played tennis today. Sam and Jeff have gone a couple times without us, so Sam's getting better faster than me. It didn't work out too well for me today anyway, because I hurt my arm right away. It's been kind of hurting when I play lately. I'm not sure what I did, but it's a bummer. Also, there was a dead baby bird or something on the court and we were afraid the balls were going to hit it. It was incredibly nasty. Jeff found a piece of bark and a stick to get it with, and he threw it in the woods. I'm going to have to take some kind of disinfectant next time we go. It was just too gross.

See you next time!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Day 164

Today we used an idea I've heard Julie Bogart and Rita Cevasco talk about. It was sticky notes. We started working on some opinion papers we're going to write this week by putting one thing each on sticky notes. We put the topic on one and then answered some questions from Help for High School to get ourselves thinking. We put our opinion, in brief, on one and then we put what the opposing opinion would be on another one. We drew a little too. It was fun. Tomorrow we'll have to decide what order to put them in for our papers and start coming up with sentences.

We read some more of Frankenstein today. I'm getting to the point that I just want to read it until it's finished. It seems like I get to that point in every book. I get more and more impatient for the outcome. Today, Frankenstein agreed to make a female for the monster in order to save his family from being killed by him. I never expected the monster to be able to speak so eloquently or so convincingly. It's a little creepy.

Sarah's reading Shakespeare Stealer right now, and she was saying she doesn't remember a lot of things from when we read it aloud together. I don't know how long it's been since we read it, but we must have done it fast. Whenever we read a book too fast, we can't remember details about it later. I guess Charlotte Mason was right. She said to read a book slowly so you can mull it over in between readings. I guess our brains must think about it even when we don't realize it.

Sam's making his way through The Scarlet Letter. He didn't want to read it at first because it's by Nathaniel Hawthorne. That's who wrote The House of Seven Gables, and he didn't care for that. He says nothing ever happened in it. That it was about the family sitting around breathing. He's kind of right, but I liked it anyway. He's finding The Scarlet Letter quite a bit more interesting though.

I started editing Rachel's sequel this weekend. Ooh it's going to be good! I told her she should try sending Becoming Sencra's Queen to an actual publisher and see what happens. I think she's going to look into that. So exciting!

See you next time!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Day 163--Books are "Other Teachers"

I was having a nice chat tonight with a lady who was saying that she thinks it's important to have different people teach kids and to have a structured day like you get with an online charter school. She has some family members that have used one in the past but are now going to "do it themselves." She was perfectly lovely, and I just smiled and nodded and said, "Uh-huh." I didn't want to sound like I disagreed, because I don't completely; so I didn't say anything else.

Really all I wanted to say was, "All the books we read are written by someone besides me." Every author of every book is like a teacher for my kids. I think it's great to have an outside source occasionally (like the Brave Writer class I just registered Sam for); but I guess I feel like as long as I can explain what the kids need to learn, why wouldn't I? When there are things I can't help them learn, I can always get someone else to help. But what makes it automatically better to have a variety of teachers? Sometimes it is better, but that's not guaranteed just because they aren't me.

It was a perfectly pleasant conversation. It just got me thinking, and I love the idea that all the experts that have written the books my kids read are their teachers--and mine. I like that better than just my having a "stand-in" to teach math or grammar or whatever, because I truly don't need that most of the time.

Sometimes I do need someone else to be encouraging or to be a cheerleader for my kids. Like when Rachel took a writing class, got a terrific grade and some praise, and gained the confidence to write books. I love that, and it was very valuable. I suspect that will affect her for the rest of her life, since I don't see her slowing down on her writing at all. But I think if they had a constant stream of other teachers in their lives, it would not have the same effect.

See you next time!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Day 162--Waterfalls and What Else?

I have an old Natural Wonders of the World book and decided to include it as part of our World Geography credit this year. We'll just look up things that are located on the continent we're studying as we go. We looked at waterfalls today. One was Iguassu Falls at the border of Brazil and Argentina. It was just huge. We read about it and then looked at it on google maps. It let us see it on street view, and they have this pier thing you walk out on and get right above the falls. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't do that, although it would make the trip worth taking.

The other one was Angel Falls in Venezuela. We looked at that one because Sam remembered there was one that was 3000 feet high, he had read about in the encyclopedia. Mr. Statistics! It was crazy tall (the tallest in the world), but it didn't fall down into the usual kind of river. It was so narrow that it  seemed to dissipate into mist and ran down a strip of rocks into a stream that was lower down a hill. Then it joined a river a ways away.

I decided we wouldn't use the computer until after school today. It was so nice. I think we'll do that more often. The girls thought it was kind of funny not to even look up things we wanted to find out about until after school, like the waterfalls; but I needed to have a day off. I know I said just yesterday that I love being able to look up things when we want. So I'm fickle! Anyway, it was good.

I tried taking some pictures for the writing project book I'm working on. I'd love for each project to show samples of what we did for it. I think it would make the book more interesting. I was hoping to just take pictures of our stuff, but they looked awful. I think I'll have to try scanning them and inserting them into the file. I hope it works. I want to finish it this year. That way, in January, when everyone is feeling like they need something more for their homeschools; it'll be ready. Isn't January always like that?

We did some copywork today. I know how good it is for them; and even though they're teenagers, it's still so valuable. But I just never have them do it. I think I need to be more intentional about the passages, or teach more about them. Probably before would be better than after for the teaching. Then when they do it, they see what they're supposed to get out of it. Maybe I've just been doing it backward and haven't seen the benefits. I'll have to turn it around.

See you next time!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Day 161--Rabbit Trails

This morning Sam was reading about the history or architecture and he said, "The library has Doric columns."

"Oh, what's that?"

"Columns that widen out at the bottom so they don't look like they're collapsing."

"Wow, let's look at the library on street view."

So we looked, and sure enough, the columns were fatter near the bottom. Then we wondered how old the library was, so we looked that up. And there was a newspaper article about when it was built--1907, for $9,000! As he was reading the article, he asked, "Who is Carnegie Hall named after?"

"I don't know. Why?"

"Andrew Carnegie donated some money for the building of the library."

"Look him up and see if it's the same man."

Don't you love just letting yourself wonder about things and just going ahead and finding out? Now I don't advocate sitting on the internet all day or even jumping to search everything we wonder about. Sometimes we need to stay on task, but sometimes we don't. He's likely to remember those things, even if they're not supremely important. I'm very opinionated about wondering and how questions lead to learning. There's going to be a section in my homeschool book about it.

I got him signed up for the Brave Writer Comic Strip Capers class today! I'm totally excited. I just wish we didn't have to wait til October.

Sam was looking at the Lego website and found a big set with some kind of car thing that runs down the outside of the building on smooth tracks. So he looked up the building instructions to see how they did it and replicated it. It was pretty cool. Bubby like it too. He likes to watch Sam when his legos are in motion. See the car? It's the blur at the bottom.

We watched another photography lesson after lunch. This one will be easier to practice. It was about composition. How to place your subjects in the frame. No messing with camera settings. Hey, I think the picture above follows some of the rules he gave! Even though I did take it with photo booth on the computer, and I was just trying to make sure the lego creation and the cat were both in the picture. But it worked anyway.

Math was torture today. I'm not even telling you about it. You can thank me.

See you next time!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Day 160--Just sit there.

Yesterday, Sarah was working on her Biology and she was having to classify some bacteria. It's a little tedious, and she was working on it by herself. She usually works alone and asks me any questions she has. She kept walking in to the room I was in every few minutes and then going back to the table. She looked like she wanted something, but didn't say much. One time, she said it was kind of a pain; so I just went in and sat by her. I didn't say anything; I just sat there. She went back to classifying and did fine.

I was thinking about how I didn't have to do anything or explain what she was supposed to do. I just needed to be there. I love being there. Even when I don't have to do any teaching. I guess she felt more confident or it gave her more stamina or she just knew I could answer questions right away because I was sitting there. I also wasn't doing my own thing at the table. I was watching her work. I was with her, not simply next to her. Sometimes being next to them is the thing, though. Like when we're all reading silently. I don't sit and watch them; I read. My homeschool isn't about just getting them to do everything alone. It actually takes time, and that's exactly where I want my time to be.

I especially like editing with Rachel. We each read silently from the same computer screen and stop when we notice something. We usually notice the same things (I love that). Then we talk about it briefly and we always agree on how it should be in the end. Maybe it's genetics, because not everyone I edit for wants to do what I suggest. Editing together is fun, because I might suggest something to Rachel that sparks something better in her mind. So when we do it as a team, it's always the best we can make it.

here's the auto setting
I practiced taking some photos for our "assignment" from the Great Courses photography course. I tried several different settings to get more light or softer color or whatever, and the auto setting is always the best one! that may be because I can't keep straight which settings let in more light or how that works. I'd love to be able to change things to make more interesting pictures.
fast shutter speed
slower shutter speed
large aperture or slow shutter--I forget

I can't ever get the photos to go where I want them on this page! It's a little frustrating. If anyone knows how to do that, I'd love for you to tell me!

Last night, Rachel and I went to an activity for the women at our church, and we got to ride horses!! We loved it. A couple years ago, we spent the day riding in the Smokey Mountains. It was the first time we had ever done it. We were staying at a horse ranch and we got a little lesson and had a several hour ride. Last night was a similar kind of trail, but we only had about 20 minutes each. It was so fun though. We're definitely going to have to find a way to do more of that.

See you next time!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day 159

We just did not feel like having school today. I don't like that feeling; it means I'm too tired. Jeff's been getting home from work at 3 am all month, and we are so ready for that to stop. He's got vacation for 2 weeks in August, so hopefully we can all catch up on sleep. We keep staying up late no matter how much we know we shouldn't.

So we did about 5 minutes of math today, a tiny bit of science, and I read Frankenstein aloud. Oh, and we played tennis. It was hot, though, and my arm felt like a limp noodle. Sarah and I pretty much stood off to the side in the shade, while the rest of them played. I can't wait until fall. I don't like summer too much. I've never really thought about that before, but I'd rather stay in the air conditioning all summer. And I generally do. Fall is my favorite. Spring's good too. Not winter though. I don't like being cold, or hot. Wow am I picky! I don't think I cared when I was young, but those days are gone.

I finished helping someone edit their book for self-publication tonight. I don't know if I mentioned that I was doing that. It's not easy to edit a book that is a little bit outside of what I would normally read. This is the first time I've done that. It was an experience. I guess the editing wasn't harder, just being excited to read the story as a reader. Plus I didn't have time to read it twice. I like to read through as a reader first and then go back and do the editing. Well, that may be a lie. I do like to make suggestions as I'm having my first impression too.

I think I'm going to have Sam take the Brave Writer class, Comic Strip Capers this fall. It would be perfect for him. He would hate taking a regular writing class. I think comic strips are similar to stop action videos, so he ought to be interested enough. And his drawing is amazing. Also, I'd like to have him accountable to another teacher for something. It's good for them. They can get another person's opinion, and not just think I'm always saying they're great because I'm Mom. Even if it is true.

See you next time!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Day 158

First thing this morning, I was reading one of my Peter Elbow writing books; and he was talking about how most people don't put their full attention on what they're writing. We're usually thinking about whether the grammar is right or spelling or punctuation. I know I make changes all the time as I write. So I had us all write about something familiar, like cutting the grass or what Bubby does in the mornings.

We were supposed to focus on the content of what we were saying and not make changes or worry about it being right the first time. It was impossible for me. For Sarah and Rachel too. Sam said he never worries about that stuff anyway! I knew he was good at it, since he doesn't care much about mechanics--or writing in general. I think Jeff worries too much about it as he writes and that makes him sound stiff.

So we all read them aloud and everyone else had to say what they liked about it or what they noticed. With Jeff's we all noticed the same part--the one part where he let his voice come through. After that, I asked everyone if they changed anything as they read it to us. Some did and some didn't. Then we marked anything we thought we'd change and traded and let each other mark them. It was fun.

I love that the whole world can be our curriculum! Any book I read or anything that interests us can teach us something.

We got to the chapter in Frankenstein today where the monster comes to life. But the guy gets scared and runs away, then it's months later and no mention of the monster! Isn't he responsible for anything that creature does? Isn't he worried he's out killing people or something? We couldn't believe it.

We didn't do too much else today. Math, individual reading, mowing the lawn, feeding my niece's dog and cat since they're out of town, trying to figure out the next season of the Lego Ninjaga show (we saw a snippet and it left us wondering), editing a book for someone. The usual.

See you next time!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Day 157

Yesterday Sam did a very cool experiment for science. He was supposed to make oxygen from peroxide and yeast, and catch it in a balloon. Then he had to light a candle and put it under a jar; of course it would go out soon. So he had to take the balloon with the oxygen in it and put the mouth of it under the edge of the jar to see if it would sustain the candle. It totally worked! The joke around here is that experiments don't work, but it really did. And then we held the bottle (that had the peroxide and yeast in it) up to the candle for an oxygen boost, and it got so bright. Look how cool that is.

We watched a photography lesson yesterday. It was about finding color and how to use light with color and how light sometimes looks like it's coming from the color. We haven't done our assignment yet, but Rachel found a new setting on the camera the teacher talked about it. It's "white balance" or something like that. It makes the light a little more blue so it looks white and there are some other differences it can make. I hope we can learn some ways to take amazing pictures.

Of course it helps if you're taking pictures of amazing things like this:

That's all I got. It's late and I honestly can't remember what else we did that's interesting enough to tell you about. Haha!

See you next time!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Day 156--It's Hard to Start a New Book

We were looking for a book for Sarah to read independently, and she and I decided it's hard to start a new book. First, you're not sure if you'll like it (we didn't have much luck liking the books we were reading last year). Then, you don't know the characters yet. It's hard to care much about them when you first meet them, so it's not that easy to pay attention. It feels like an emotional trauma to try to get into a new story.

Last night, I started reading The Pickwick Papers by Dickens. I've never read it before, and it was almost impossible to focus on the first few pages. I kept thinking if I could just get into it, I would be interested in the characters. Of course it didn't help that I was very tired and I only read two or three pages. I like to read at least two chapters when I start a book so I can have some idea what it's about.

So I was starting to tell Rachel about the conversation Sarah and I had had about it, and I said, "It's hard to start a new book." I was getting ready to tell her all that stuff I just told you, and she said, "Reading a book or writing one?" Haha! She reads all the time, but she's definitely got writing on the brain.

She decided to drop the online classes she was signed up for. She had been feeling like college isn't for her, but she also felt like she was expected to do it. Everyone does, you know. Really? No. I had wanted to tell her she didn't have to take classes now, because I had gotten the feeling she might be not wanting to do it. I think she wants to focus on writing right now, but she hasn't decided yet. Isn't it fun to have the entire world open to you? Everything is up for grabs. Maybe I need to remember that that's probably more true for us all than we think.

The girls were playing around with the camera the other day, and here are the fun action shots they took.

We need to watch some more of those photography lessons from The Great Courses. I'd love to learn what all those settings on the camera do. I got a tripod so I could have a better chance at the camera not moving when I take a picture. I must have shaky hands or something.

See you next time!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Day 155

This week has been so long! I have had a headache all week, and it's been hard to do much. Yesterday, Rachel taught Algebra. I'm not sure how it went, but they didn't finish the assignment. I didn't have any energy to help them with it today, so it'll have to wait. Maybe we should actually do it tomorrow. We never do school on Saturday. Not anything that feels like school anyway. But you know--life is school.

Jeff's been working a pretty late shift this week, and we've all been going to bed later and later. Of course, I never want go to bed at all when I have a headache since it feels better at night than any other time. It's been raining all week too, which drains my energy. Well, I guess next week can be a do over. I need that too often. Especially when school starts each year--seems like I get a headache within the first two weeks. But I guess it would seem that way since I don't go much longer than that without one anyway.

We started reading Frankenstein. I've never read it, but the back of the book talks like it's a terrifying horror story. That's hard to imagine since books like that take an inordinate amount of time describing anything. It's hard to be that scared when it's that slow.

Rachel's been looking into participating in a Civil War Reenactment next month. It sounds like fun, but I don't know if she can because it's at least a few hours from here and we don't know Jeff's schedule yet. They said we could sleep in a "period tent" the night before. That's really nice of them, but I haven't slept in a tent for over 30 years! It's not exactly my thing. I think we could just stay in a hotel. They have a dress for her to wear and everything. She was actually looking for a play she could audition for and found this.

All the plays are either on Sunday or they have swearing in them or they're for homeschooled kids that are actually still homeschooled. I told her she just needs to start a theater group herself and she can decide all that stuff. We met the perfect lady to help her with it last month. She directed a little skit thing at the Youth Conference the kids went to. She wrote it (including songs), auditioned kids, and directed it. And it was so good too! Rachel's wanted to do that since she was like 7 years old. Maybe now's the time.

See you next week!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Day 154--My Kids Are SO Cool!

Ok, so I opened up Facebook tonight and found this!

Then after all my thank you's, someone else said they bought it and told her librarian about it who is going to introduce it to the teen writing group! And that she can't wait for the sequel--which is coming! It was very fun to have someone outside our family saying how great Rachel's book is. I loved seeing her face when she read this!

Here's a fabulous new picture of Wilson, Kamille and Eliza. So sweet. It's getting harder to be away from them. Oh how I hope they come to graduate school on our half of the country.

Sarah did an activity to learn how to use the microscope today with her Biology book. She was supposed to get some of her cheek cells on a slide and find them on each magnification. We had to try three times to actually get cells. I love how she keeps trying when things don't work out the first time. I just realized that! Sometimes I have the feeling that she gives up or gets upset easily when things don't work, but I think I've been wrong about that. I'll need to apologize to her for that!

Sam and Jeff measured the kitchen table in "cubits" and "fingers" (according to Sam's arm).


He had some huge number of fingers (the distance from your first knuckle to the end of your index finger) like 26 in the cubit (the distance from your elbow to the tip of your fingers). That's crazy. I bet mine's not even 20. He's got such long arms!

I have to say I'm so excited to write my homeschool book and set up a forum or Facebook page for people to talk about homeschooling. I would love to be able to let homeschool moms talk about whatever they need to in order to get and give support to each other. I know groups need rules, but it's exhausting to me to be in this certain group online that has so many restrictions. Maybe that's why I blog about homeschool. I can just talk about my experience and it's all good. Or at least it's all ok with you. Thank you for that!

See you next time!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Day 153--Much Better Day!

Today was so much better than yesterday. Algebra went very smoothly for Sarah and Sam, and science was a breeze too. We finished Jane Eyre yesterday, so I decided to read a quick and easy book before starting on The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Don't laugh, but I started reading Harriet the Spy. None of us have ever read it. It's not our usual, but hopefully we'll get a giggle out of it. Harriet is 11 and she has a spy notebook where she writes all kinds of things about the people around her. Sounds pretty silly.

Rachel edited again most of the day. She thinks it's nice to not have school to do yet. She did look at some degree programs at BYU-I (Brigham Young University-Idaho) where she's taking online classes starting on the 25th. She's interested in International Studies, but she isn't sure how she would actually use that degree. So she found that they have a degree called Interdisciplinary Studies where you study two or three areas of emphasis. She was looking at some international stuff, but also some writing and psychology. It sounds perfect for her. I think she's pretty excited. She's planning to continue writing books, and she would love to travel around and write about it.

Considering how much Rachel has learned about writing by my editing her book with her, I thought that would be a great way to teach Sam and Sarah more about writing too. I'm not sure how to do it. I could have them practice on some of Rachel's writing. I thought it might be more fun for them if it wasn't there own. Or I could have them help me do parts of a book I'm editing for a young writer from a Facebook group Rachel and I joined. I could write something for them to edit, but I think that would be harder. I sort of self-edit as I go most of the time, so I don't think that would work too well. I think it would feel contrived.

I know you're not really supposed to edit as you go, but it drives me crazy to not like the way something sounds and then leave it to fix later. I think it would distract me more than changing it. I'm not saying I don't do plenty of editing after I write, but I do like to fix the glaring things right away. In fact, the longer I wait in between writing and editing, the more I see that needs fixing. That's why I like the style of this blog; it's out there before I can get any distance from it, so I can't change it. I also don't read it over later very often.

I just have to include another picture of Eliza Jayne. She loves the baby dolls!

Have a great weekend!
See you next time!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Day 152--It's Hard to Start

Why is it so hard? We always look forward to starting school each year, but it's never easy to do. I have this dream of how it will go when we start, but what we do doesn't look like that very often. This is my 20th year of homeschool, and I'm still figuring it out. But at least I AM still figuring it out.

I was explaining unit conversions to Sam today, and I realized that I knew just what to say. That's the first time ever! When Wilson did it, I had no idea at all; when Rachel did it, it started to make sense to me; when Sarah did it, I could help her figure it out but had to be reminded how each time. Finally today I remembered it and explained it clearly! I guess sometimes it takes years.

We got to have a short video chat with Wilson and Kamille tonight. They came and spent 10 days with us a couple weeks ago, and then they went to spend a week with her parents. So I had to have a little Eliza tonight. We had so much fun with them here.

That baby is the life of the party. She dances every time she hears any kind of music. Here they all are playing Clue. They're addicted to it when they're together. So much fun to have them all together. Jeff's got vacation in another month, and hopefully we can go see them. It's so nice to visit at their place. Totally relaxing.

I'm going to be really short today. It honestly wasn't that great of a day. But there's always tomorrow.

See you next time!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Day 151--First Day of School

Well, my plan of doing several blogs during summer break didn't really work out did it? We were so busy the whole time, which is unusual for our break. We went to Jeff's parents twice, Wilson and Kamille and Eliza came for 10 days, the kids and I went to a Youth Conference for a few days (I came and went, but they stayed at night), and we're probably going to see Wilson and Kamille again in August when Jeff has two weeks off. We're used to just sitting around getting bored during break.

So today when school started, it was almost surprising. I'm glad I don't feel the need to overplan. They started a new math book and new science books, but the rest will pretty much continue on like before with some new twists. It was strange to have Rachel not working on school with us. Her classes start July 25th, so she has a few more weeks. She's got plenty to do though. She spent the day editing the sequel to Becoming Sencra's Queen. Wait! You don't know she finally published it! We are totally excited! I have to say I'm jealous. I've been wanting to publish a book for so many years (way before she was ever born), and she got it done first. Here's the Amazon link if you want to read it.

Anyway, today she also did a lot of research for a historical fiction novel she's writing. I told her she's going to have to be the lunch lady. She can just cook lunch while we're working each day. She says she already does that! I guess she does. She's always the first one to think of even having lunch.

Sarah's so excited to be doing Biology this year. She loves science, and she loves the way the science books are written.

Sam got to start out with an experiment first thing this morning. He got to corrode a copper wire in baking soda water. And they both seemed to like Jacob's Algebra. I'm just going to use it for two years with them and call it Algebra 1 and 2.

I've been thinking about starting a writing workshop or group, but I'm not sure how to go about it. I'm not sure I know that many people that would be interested in coming. I might try it out with the kids first to sort of experiment with how to run it. We could just do it in the evening once a week and act like it's not school.

I've been doing a little editing for someone (other than Rachel) and I remembered why I love it so much. I don't have to make any decisions. With Rachel's book, we made the decisions and changes together. But with other people, I just suggest things and they do what they want. I love it!!

See you next time!