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!