Friday, February 27, 2009

Weekly Report -- Feb. 27

This week we had a 2 hour meeting about the Girl Scout Silver Award, a 2 hour parents meeting about Brownies (Thalia helped babysit the kids that got dragged along), and a Cadette skating party. Sheesh, it seems like it's been All Scouts All the Time. We've also fit in dance, archery, choir, piano, and a church council meeting (Rick took Thalia as part of her confirmation requirements). And somewhere in the little bits of time left over, we fit in school.

History continues to focus on the Greeks. We're reading Famous Men of Greece, and also Gueber's Story of the Greeks aloud. We've used selections from these for AnnaBeth's writing assignments -- she has narrated, done copywork and dictation out of them. Thalia's model this week for Classical Writing Homer has been about Xenophon's march to the sea -- this was one of the sample passages in the CW Homer book. And we watched a DVD that Tara recommended, MacGillivray Freeman's Greece: Secrets of the Past.

AnnaBeth's science continues a tour of the human body, this week looking at skin. Thalia continues to learn how scientists work in Prentice Hall Science Explorer's The Nature of Science and Technology.

Both kids completed another chapter of Latin for Children, AnnaBeth learning the first declension (offended that so many cases share endings, since then you can't tell them apart so what's the point of having all of these pesky endings to memorize) and Thalia learning 3rd conjugation verbs.

Thalia is wrestling adjective clauses in Analytical Grammar, drawing increasingly complex structures in the sentence diagrams.

In math AnnaBeth is working on various algorithms for subtraciton. Thalia continues to graph simple functions in Algebra. Rick stayed home with a bad cold one day (in lieu of going into work and sneezing all over everyone -- really, his co-workers should thank him) and watched the DVD of this series with us, which was certainly a memorable experience. Let's just say that the DVD goes at a pace appropriate for a 7th grader (or early high school student), and he tends to like the pace of a college course better.

Today we'll finish up odds and ends, pick up Girl Scout cookies to deliver this weekend (ick -- have I mentioned how much I hate Girl Scout cookies? We already have 110 of the 220 boxes we need to deliver), and try to wrap up the week.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday

Talia from, knit in KnitPicks Andean Silk on #9 Addi circ.

This is supposedly for Poppin's Vest-uary. But I didn't get a start on it until last Friday because I had to take care of various other things first, then suddenly decided that I didn't like the yarn and pattern I had selected for my vest and thus had to come up with something new.

I'm still not sure about this.

The lace pattern is hard to see in the black yarn, which makes it hard to "read" my knitting (my preferred way to keep track of lace -- I keep losing my place), the lace pattern doesn't interest me that much (so I keep forgetting what I'm supposed to do with it, since I don't much care -- it's hard to care about lace in worsted yarn on size 9 needles), plus the whole thing keeps sliding right off the Addis since the yarn and the needles are both rather slick.

I think I'll like the finished product, but if I weren't doing this for a KAL (knit along) I wouldn't work on it right now. But that's an advantage of a KAL -- it keeps you on task.

Not sure if I'll get it done by the end of February. I just finished the waist, and am ready to start increasing again. I'd hoped to get a bunch done last night while sitting liker a lump watching Star Trek re-runs (favorite thing to do on Tuesday night), but a contractor was over discussing our kitchen, and just stayed and stayed and stayed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dumping more Irish Dance information for my future reference

More link storage so I have a place to find this stuff later. This goes along with my post on sore knees

Reducing Injuries for Irish and Ballet Dancers in Motion Capture Lab. I found this while looking for something else (I was looking around for info on Laban/Bartenieff, and this sort of leapt out at me in a sidebar). Link to article cited in the blog post , Link to video (I'm copying the links here in case the first blog post disappears.)

I wonder how long this stuff (information on safe practices in dance) will take to trickle down to the local level. We're not dancing at a level to worry much about injuries -- dance is just one thing we do among many -- but still, one wonders how this information is disseminated through Irish Dance-dom. Perhaps if we WERE more heavily involved we'd already know about it, since we'd be cruising the dance forums for tidbits such as this.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Weekly Report -- Feb. 20


AnnaBeth is still excited about using Latin for Children A. We watch the DVD together early in the week, then she spends time on worksheets as the week progresses.

Action shot of the Activities book. Note the pajamas and uncombed hair. This is what homeschool looks like, folks.

(Comatose cat in the sun is an optional homeschool accessory.)

We have the old version of the DVD -- I think they re-did it and made it more professional. We like the quirkiness of this version.

In the meantime, Thalia continues to work through Latin for Children B. The end of the book is in sight!


Thalia continues to watch Teaching Company Algebra DVDs. This week she entered the realm of the graphing calculator. We ended up purchasing a Casio instead of the TI81 the instructor is demonstrating -- we tend to like Casios. And it's a good thing Rick is okay with the Casio, since when the instructor started discussing "the f of x" my eyes started rolling back in my head ... wow, I haven't heard that phrase for years and years, and have a very dim memory of having a clue about this. It may be time to hand Algebra over to Rick. I'm sure I could revive my knowledge, but Rick is a little fresher on this stuff since he has actually used it since learning it in high school.

In the meantime, AnnaBeth forged ahead in RightStart D, learning about using check numbers. I'm not really sure what application check numbers have outside of the realm of RightStart -- it's interesting, to be sure, but does it come up again later? Is it just some quirky little math thing that no one other than math majors cares about?


Classical Writing Homer Do-Your-Own-Thing-Version is working well for Thalia. Each day I look over what the various lessons and skill levels are, and then come up with lessons that suit her abilities. I think this is how the program was originally intended to be used. I have the Instructor's Guide for the Student Workbook, and I use it for the models, as well as the Theon chart (the Theon charts are foreign territory for me, so it's nice to have a guide). We had tried Classical Writing Aesop a year or 2 ago with the workbooks, and it was annoying; using CW without the workbooks really suits us better.

Thalia also continues Analytical Grammar (another reason not to use the CW workbooks -- they're tied to a different grammar program working at a different level).

AnnaBeth has done Writing With Ease-style work using a passage from The Story of the Greeks, handily combining history with writing. I plan to also use Famous Men of Greece in these projects.

Other Stuff

We watched a video on the Ancient Aegean that we borrowed from the library, and read more in Gombrich's A Little History of the World.

Thalia continues with Prentice-Hall Science Explorers. The closest AnnaBeth got to a science lesson this week was during Brownies, which was the Movers Try-It (which she'd already done on her own, but still had fun re-visiting).

In music we listened to Grieg (Thalia is working on "Morning" from the Peer Gynt Suite on the piano), attended piano lessons and choir.

Thalia finished up work on Kenya. Both girls attended dance and a scout meeting. AnnaBeth continues to be enamored of Mavis Beacon typing.

And more. There's always more; no matter how carefully I check over my notes from the week I leave stuff out. Sometimes I do it purposefully because I doubt that anyone wants to know every knitpicking detail of our week. Mostly I want to be able to pull up all of these posts myself and see what the general tenor of our homeschooling has been.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

J is for Jalie 2804

The other day we pulled out a bunch of fabric to see what would be appropriate to use for various items the kids like in the latest Ottobre.

They didn't like this fabric at all:

They said it looked too "old". I'm not sure how old it looked, given their ages. There's a huge range there, from "old enough to drive" to "old enough to check into a nursing home, and have your driver's license taken away".

(It's a cotton fabric with some lycra in it, with 4-way stretch, by the way. It's from The Fabric Fairy.)

Anyway, I decided it was just right for my age, and for making a test garment of Jalie 2804 "Women's Empire Crossover Top in sizes 2 (Toddler) to 22(Women's)":

I did the version with the 3/4 sleeves. For the future, I need to shorten the body, learn to do better hems (I know I've done blind hems with the serger before, but it just wasn't working out on this fabric -- partly because I was slapping it together quickly between Latin and math worksheets -- so I need to actually sit down and play around with super stretchy fabric until I understand this), and figure out how to do whatever is the opposite of a FBA (full bust adjustment). I made the upper sleeves a wee bit larger, based on reviews that Jalie tends to have tight sleeves.

But it's still wearable.

Actually, I'm pretty pleased with it.

I didn't put in the modesty panel. I'd read reviews that it pulls in the fabric of the upper chest too much, so I thought I'd wait and try that on version 2, after I see how much width I actually need. So I'm wearing a white cami under it. And did you know that Jalie makes a pattern for camisoles? I'm so addicted to these Jalie patterns.

In the meantime, Thalia has put together an AMAZING wish list at Fabric Fairy. She came home from the mall the other day and announced that she wants to start making all of her clothes.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I is for Irish Dance Competition

We spent Valentine's Day at a feis.

But I won't go on and on about it, because I know you're jealous because your dream in life is to spend an entire day in a crowded hotel ballroom with a splitting headache, listening to an accordion and fiddle play reels and jigs.

Afterwards, time to collapse on the couch with slices of pizza.

Friday, February 13, 2009

H is for Hearts

Valentine cookies! These were a fundraiser at our dance studio. I think they're so cute!

Weekly Report -- Feb. 13

I keep presenting this in different formats because there's not a single good way to capture a homeschooling week. Having presented our previous weeks by subject or by highlight, this week we'll look at how our homeschooling worked sequentially.

From my notes:

Monday -- Thalia was sick with a cold. She still did Latin, Analytical Grammar, and watched the Algebra 1 DVD. She felt well enough to practice piano and attend a lesson, but not well enough to go to dance. Instead she worked on Perfect Pointe exercises at home, and also played chess, although she decided she was too stuffy for a "live" chess game with Rick and opted to play on the computer while Rick coached her.

AnnaBeth and I did RightStart math Level D, read about the sense of touch in science, read and narrated a chapter on the Minoans for Writing With Ease/Story of the World History.

Read aloud was E. Nesbit's The Story of the Amulet.

Tuesday -- 70F and sunny. The windows are open, and I'm shooing the kids out the door as much as possible to soak up the fresh air.

Thalia did Analytical Grammar, Algebra workbook, and began working on Classical Writing: Homer using the model for first week/older students of Aesop's The Sun and the Wind.; she read aloud, narrated and we discussed Theon's chart. She also read a book about Ancient Greece and worked on Latin for Children Level B.

AnnaBeth and I worked on RightStart D (doing a lot with subtraction this week, as well as drilling multiplication tables), copywork from Story of the World (still Minoans). We began Latin for Children Level A, much to her delight.

Both practiced piano. We visited the public library. We had an outdoors tea during which we read poetry, read about St. Valentine, read more history. We also read more of Nesbit's Amulet. Both girls worked on Perfect Pointe exercises. In the evening, they played chess against each other, then Thalia retired to her room to read a few chapters of 1 Samuel. (Both girls read quite a bit -- more than I can keep track of -- I'm leaving out virtually all of the "fun" reading and simply mentioning the assigned reading.)


AnnaBeth has decided she wants to learn to type so Thalia showed her how to pull up the Mavis Beacon typing program on the computer. We read more about ancient Greece -- the Mycenaeans -- using Story of the World and another book on Ancient Greece. We also pulled out our DK Geography book and looked at the globe to find out more about the area. We worked on RightStart D, still subtracting. We watched the Latin for Children DVD (should've done this the first day of the week instead of the 2nd), after which AnnaBeth spent 2 days wondering around the house chanting "In principio erat verbum" as a military call-and-reply (if you've seen the videos you know exactly what I'm talking about; also, does it strike you as a little incongruous to be quoting Latin scripture in Classical vs. Ecclesiastical pronunciation?). She also completed the first worksheet in Latin for Children. She also made a model (from a Scholastic book on the human body) of the nerve endings in the various layers of skin.

Thalia worked on Analytical Grammar, more Algebra workbook, read and answered questions in Prentice Hall Science, did the dictation exercise in Classical Writing, worked on Latin, read the DK geography book about Kenya (preparing for an International Fair next week), and read Facing the Lion, Joseph Lemasolai-Lekuton's book about his Maasai childhood in Kenya. Thalia also decided she wanted to do spelling, so we pulled out Spelling Power and started working were we had left off a few months ago.

More piano practice. More dance class. More read alouds: Nesbit's Amulet, and DAulaire's Norse Myths's..


More Latin for Children for AnnaBeth -- we review all the chants, then she works on the 3 pages of games (crossword puzzles, word searches, etc). More typing. We work on 4-digit subtraction, using an algorithm that works from left to right (there are at least 5 algorithms for multi-digit subtraction, and RightStart likes to explore all of them). We do an experiment involving hot, cold, and tepid water, moving our hands from bowl to bowl (AnnaBeth points out that we've done this same thing at a museum, but using poles that were heated and cooled).

Thalia starts the day with her beloved Analytical Grammar -- she's working on infinitive phrases. In Classical Writing she is supposed to diagram sentences, and searches the model for signs of infinitive phrases. Alas, real-life models are somewhat harder to diagram than the canned sentences in her grammar book, but she still has fun (I, of course, have not a clue, since I never learned to diagram -- frankly, my English grammar instruction was pretty lousy, but that's a tirade for a different day). She also works on re-writing sentences using word substitutions. (She isn't doing the writing project for this lesson because I thought it was sort of redundant, given how short the passage is.) Another episode of the Algebra DVD, explaining in tedious detail the difference between a monomial and binomial. We also zip through the next lesson on a hyper-speed to see what graphing calculator the lecturer will be using -- do we need the same one? The instructor is using a TI82. Thalia and I agree we'd rather use Casio, since we're used to Casio and it seems sort of intuitive. Latin is also completed, and we work on spelling together. She finishes up the chapter of the Prentice-Hall Science Explorer that she's studying, other than an experiment.

Our read aloud for the day is Amulet. More dance. More piano practice. Thalia works on Perfect Pointe.


This will be finish-up-the-week day, where we complete odds and ends. Latin isn't done for the week. We have one more chapter to read in Amulet, then the book is done, as is the series (the series starts with FIve Children and It, then continues in The Phoenix and the Carpet). We may go skating. We may read more about Greece or Kenya. Both girls need to finish their writing programs. Frankly, the piano tuner just started working on our piano, and I'm sort of sitting here with a fairly blank mind while he tunes (gah, what is it about randomly played out-of-tune notes that stops all thought functions?), so this would be a good time to stop typing even though I know I'm leaving some things out ....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Work in Progress

Okay, I'm out of the swing of "Work in Progress Wednesday". I'm blaming the fact that our leader, MrsH, went on a cruise and left us all home in the cold and dark.

Also, not much work here to show, but I'd rather shift the blame to someone else, so let's not dwell on my shortcomings.


KM is having a fingerless mitts Knit ALong (KAL in knit-speak) that ends February 14th. What a great idea! I thought I'd use the Pastaza left over from my super-warm hat:

and make a pair of mitts to match the hat that would fit over my favorite black gloves.

That way my hands could be as warm as my head, and it would all be matchy-matchy, using the same yarn and stitch pattern.

Except I lost one of the knitting needles at someone else's house. I've looked for it a couple of times, but I've discovered that there's a limit to how many times you can go to someone's house and start taking apart their furniture, even if the person IS a knitter and understands about double point needles dropping into cushions. Whoops.

Another group I've joined is Poppins Vest-uary, which involves knitting/crocheting/sewing a vest during the month of February.

This is how far I've gotten with that.

I have a pattern in mind, but I don't currently own that pattern. Maybe I should sew something instead -- it's faster.

And, speaking of sewing, we have actually honest-to-goodness work in progress in that field.


The kids have a feis on Saturday, and when Thalia tried on her dress a few days ago (for the first time since November) we discovered that the bodice is too small. In particular, it's too short, giving the dress a bit of an Empire waistline. So, after discussing it with the school dressmaker, last night I took it apart:

I took off the collar, cuffs and cape so I could throw the main part of the bodice in the washing machine -- these dresses aren't washable when there's stiffening in them, but if you remove the stiffening you can FINALLY get them in a washing machine. We use underarm shields and Febreeze, but the dresses are so hot that the girls sweat all over, and it's sort of ... funky ... to have all of that old sweat in the polyester fabric.

Lengthening the bodice is just a matter of sewing it back together with a smaller seam allowance at the waist. But, the question is, should I try to alter the underarm dimension, which is a little snug? That will involve messing around with the armscye, and that can be perilous -- I'll end up taking apart the sleeve. I have just enough experience with this blue fabric to know that it crawls all over the place when you try to sew it. I'm not sure I'm up to whipping this together in the next 2 days.

On the other hand, think of how much I'd learn about fitting a dress. Hmmm, it's tempting....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday Tea Time

The temperature is currently 70F.

The books are:

St. Valentine by Robert Sabuda
A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich
Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages by Harold Bloom,
All Year Round by Ann Druitt (mostly to flip through and look at craft ideas).

The menu is:

Trader Joe's "Blueberry Estate" blueberry juice, and
Trader Joe's Vanilla Bean mini-cupcakes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

G is for Glorious

After weeks of temperatures in the teens, we're having record highs.

Of course, this article in the newspaper yesterday sucked some of the fun out of the glorious weather. (Synopsis: Feb.9-10 1959 had much the same weather pattern as we're having now, and ended up with a major tornado -- the newspaper article had more pictures than the online version, so less was left to the imagination.)

Also, G is for Geometry Panels:

AnnaBeth was messing around with the Geometry Panels from RightStart, for no particular reason. She then had an extensive photo shoot involving and old tablecloth. We've come to the conclusion that our camera doesn't do purple, by the way -- those panels that look blue are actually purple.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Suzuki Piano Recital

AnnaBeth had her Suzuki Level One graduation recital today.

Uncle Mark got a few pictures on his iPhone:

Originally uploaded by GailV

I was reading the story. If you've been to one of these recitals you know what I'm talking about, but if you haven't, then here's how it goes: someone reads a story that incorporates all the titles of all of the piano pieces, and whenever a title is mentioned the student plays that piece. All of the pieces are played from memory.

She did a decent job. I had forgotten to have the piano tuned -- we usually have it tuned the end of February, so it needs it mightily right now. So that was too bad.

Also, perhaps someday I will catch on to how to blog from Flickr -- I usually take photos from my camera to my hard drive to Blogger. This one came from Mark's phone to my email to Flickr to here, and didn't land exactly where I wanted with the title I wanted, plus it could've used a pass through an editor to straighten it ... but, hey, life could be worse. Note the skirt she's wearing-- yeah, it's that one. Definitely a hit.

Oh, and we had our "It's a Small World" moment of the week at the recital. AnnaBeth had invited a friend from Scouts. When the mom brought the girl in she saw Aunt Linda (also at the recital) and said, "You look familiar...." It turned out that they were friends 20 years ago, and had lost touch with each other. The mom also knew our piano teacher. Sheesh, you think you'll be introducing all these people to each other for the first time, then it turns out everyone knows each other way before you ever even lived here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Weekly Report -- Feb. 6


As noted Thursday, AnnaBeth finished FLL 3 this week. Our Writing With Ease lessons continued this week by using Story of the World passages, for that double whammy of accomplishing 2 subjects at one time.

Thalia continues to fly through Analytical Grammar, learning about gerund phrases and participial phrases (I have a very loose grasp on what the heck these are, but she seems to think it's pretty easy). She has decided to ditch LIghtning Lit 7, and we will forge ahead with literature suggestions from Latin Centered Curriculum. Also, I found our copies of Classical Writing Homer, and visions of starting that back up dance in my head.

In other language news, Thalia has decided that Spanish for Children is just too simple -- it assumes you don't necessarily know parts of speech (see above comment about participial phrases -- this is not a child who needs to review the definition of a noun or verb). She wants to go back to Rosetta Stone. I have a vague memory of the Rosetta Stone discs being wonky, so this may involve hours on the phone with RS tech support. Sigh.

Latin for Children is fine with Thalia, though, and continued smoothly for her this week. AnnaBeth hasn't started a new Latin program. As for me, I decided the weather wasn't quite right for Latin study, since Rome was typically much warmer than St. Louis has been this past week. My conclusion: Latin should only be spoken at temperatures above freezing. I'm pretty sure history bears this out.


Life of Fred is in hiatus while Thalia has started watching Teaching Company Algebra 1. And, yes, you ARE seeing a theme this week in regards to ditching old curriculum and trying something new. Maybe it's the February doldrums. But we've got all of these alternatives around the house, so why not use them.

In RightStart D (which I want to ditch almost daily, having used the program now for several years) AnnaBeth's comment of the week was, "We get to use the calculator and the chalk board on the SAME DAY? I love math!" So now I know how to entice her when she's reluctant -- chalk and a calculator.


Thalia continues to work on Prentice Hall Science Explorers.

AnnaBeth didn't do any science. Well, not formal science studies -- we're always making new discoveries around here.

Other Stuff:

The kids each prepared supper one night this week:


A pasta dish that involved marinara, pesto, and lots of cheese

Scouts, dance, piano, choir, skating. No archery, though -- Thalia wasn't up to it this week.


Today AnnaBeth and I finished First Language Lessons Level 3:

We enjoyed this book and workbook. Having done First Language Lessons Levels 1 and 2 twice over (one time per child) I was fairly familiar with how the series works, and FLL3 was easy peasy lemon squeezy. I just grabbed the book and workbook and did it with pretty much no prep. AnnaBeth and I both loved the convenience of the workbook. My only regret is that this wasn't around when Thalia was at this level.

We worked on this about 4 times per week, since that's what fit our life. The book suggests using it 3 times per week.

AnnaBeth is ready to forge ahead with First Language Lessons Level 4, delighted with the prospect of working on 4th grade material NOW. But I'd sort of like to fill in the time with other things -- spend more time reading books, writing things, explore other subjects.

Also finished today -- a new skirt for AnnaBeth:

Ottobre 1/2009 #19 "Hertta" skirt.

When AnnaBeth saw the heart shape pockets she thought it would be really cool to have this for the Girl Scout Valentine's party today. I got some fabric earlier this week and started it.

Then last night I was in the fabric store and saw the lighter color dotted fabric, and decided it was waaay better than my original choice. So I bought some, quickly pre-treated it (wash/dry -- always pre-treat your fabric before sewing!), and started over.

I added length to the skirt. I carefully traced it out as 110 in width and 128 in length, which should perfectly fit AnnaBeth, but it seemed very short when I held the pattern pieces up to her. I added about 1.5 inches to the main body of the skirt, and about a centimeter to the lower ruffle. Also, I changed some of the trim options.

I really like this issue of Ottobre, and am already plotting my next project. I think AnnaBeth and I will be visiting the fabric store during Thalia's dance class tonight.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

F is for Flyshooter

F was going to be something artsy craftsy, like Fabric or Finished Sock or something of that sort, in hopes that y'all would think I was one of those cool bloggers whose life is filled with creative moments.

But we went to Cabella's this morning to get a new arrow rest for Thalia's bow, since she'd been using the cheapy plastic stick-on one, and the adhesive has pretty much given up on life (by the way, the crowd at Cabella's on a weekday morning is interesting, to say the least). And while we were waiting to check out I noticed a display of Flyshooters!

Whoa, I haven't seen one of these for years! I used to have a blue one.

Have you ever seen one? You use it like a gun:

Squeeze the trigger,

and the little white thingy flies off and hits the insect:

Make sure to retrieve the little white thingy, or else you'll just be left with a flat plastic piece that looks like a child's drawing of a gun. And you'll spend years trying to explain to people that it's a Fly Shooter, and trying to describe how it works, and how cool it is.

I can't wait until warmer weather. Look out, flying insects! This spring I'm prepared for you!

Monday, February 2, 2009

E is for Eyes

AnnaBeth's science book says that if you took people's eyeballs out of their heads, the eyes would all look pretty much the same.

What is so memorable about eyes, they say, is really what surrounds them, not the eyes themselves.

I wonder.

(Also, Chris, I never did A, which is why you couldn't find it. It seemed trite to start with A. Didn't Hilda warn us against being trite?)