Sunday, May 31, 2009

Louisville Feis

On the road again. Sigh. Don't you hate all these car trips?

But this time, instead of only having our family for entertainment, we have friends to keep us company:

We stayed overnight at a Holiday Inn Express south of Louisville Not the swankiest hotel ever, not the worst. Clean, nice breakfast in the morning, skimpy on the towels. Eh, pretty neutral rating in my mind.

The feis is held at the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center, which looks like this when filled with Irish dancers:

Six Flags is next door, and there was much discussion about running over to ride a rollercoaster before/during/after the feis. The weather was gorgeous, and it was really tempting. Great venue. The feis info said parking would cost $5, but it was free.

We arrived at the feis early Saturday morning and settled in to put on wigs and makeup.

Our "camp" (blanket where we dumped all of our stuff) looked puny and disorganized compared to the one right next to ours.

Check it out -- camp chairs, ground cloths, all sorts of wheeled luggage, a fold out picnic table. At one point there was a reclining camp chair in the mix, complete with a reclining feis dad.

We saw a lot of the same people we saw a few days ago in Memphis. This is something that fascinates me about feis culture -- we travel all over the place to see the same people over and over again, sort of like a roving reunion. Instead of driving all of the way to Louisville to hang out with someone who lives right down the street and we see practically every day

you'd think we could all stay home, right?

But,no, we must slog all over competing.

This was a well run feis from our stand point. Love how they posted results -- the bright green papers listing the various dances gradually replaced by the white results sheets -- very easy to keep track of which results had been posted so far. I wish every feis did this. And the stages were pretty equitably divided insofar as number of competitions and competitors. Last year at every single feis we attended it seemed like Annabeth was constantly on the Stage From Hell that dragged on and on and on. This time Annabeth was finished and changed back into street clothes way before Thalia was done.

Thalia's stage started dragging in the afternoon. They were using one musician for 2 stages, so her stage had to wait for the other stage to complete each competition before changing to a new dance. So, that was a hitch. We finally got out of there around 4:30, which was about when Treble Reel started.

Our travelling companion got a great photo of the 3 dancers in their coveted pink Louisville Feis "Showhorse" t-shirts (sold out by afternoon), wearing their various medals. (The feis volunteers had t-shirts that said "Workhorse". Clever.) She said she'd try to send it to me, and I'll add it to this post. Thalia and Annabeth didn't get any 1st place medals, but got 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th in practically everything they danced. Not bad for a larger feis with 20+ competitors in most dances. We were all satisfied. (Well, okay, we would have been more satisfied with a 1st place medal ... or 2 or 3 1st place medals ... but you know what I mean.)

The trip home was like a rolling slumber party. Have you ever been stuck in a van for several hours with a bunch of tired girls set on "giggle" mode? A memorable experience.

We plan to be back to this feis next year!


The results were sent out via email a week later. I'm impressed with the amount and type of judges comments! The Memphis feis gave us practically no comments, but this time we've got comments on every single dance. And they're things like "lovely but time is inconsistent" -- something you can work with to improve for the next feis.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Scattered Thoughts

We're getting ready to leave for Louisville tomorrow for a feis. So, lots of laundry, sorting out of shoes, buying of snacks for the road trip and for the feis, etc.

Plus, I'm trying to finish a pair of capris in stretch denim. I'm not feelin' the love for these pants. The stretch denim keeps stretching and stretching ... I lined the yoke, and still had to whack a bunch off the sides. They're taking way longer to make than expected.

Plus, Rick is having people over while we're gone, so I can't leave the place a pit with little strands of thread all over the house. So, cleaning like crazy.

Plus, the big kitchen re-do is probably starting next week. Which is why I'm trying to finish the sewing NOW instead of later next week. And am trying to move stuff out of the kitchen and laundry room into other places. Well, not other places where people will be this weekend while we're gone, so I can't start wildly pitching boxes of food and dishes all over the house. And at the moment I should be throwing stuff out from the freezer, come to think of it.

So far this week Annabeth has been sick with a stomach bug. She spent Monday puking, starting at the moment we arrived at the piano teacher's house. We re-scheduled the lesson for Wednesday, since they have a recital Sunday afternoon. In other words, we're going out of town, competing in dance, getting back late Saturday night, getting up and doing church, etc., then doing a recital.

Except tonight Thalia commented that her stomach wasn't feeling too good. I'm not sure if that's bad news (we'll miss the feis!) or good news (we can stay home and get other stuff done).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

L is for Lemon

Annabeth is so excited to see this finally sprout. We planted the seeds several weeks ago.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memphis Feis

We headed down to Memphis on Saturday. It's an easy trip from here to there, and it was a gorgeous day.

We stayed at Southaven, Mississippi. The feis is in Olive Branch, Mississippi, which is about 15 minutes east of Southaven. Rick had been down in the area a few weeks ago, and saw that this town had loads of nice hotels, shopping, and restaurants. We ended up staying at the Holiday Inn, which was built last year -- very clean, very quiet, very pleasant. We had an early supper at Jim Neely's Interstate Barbecue, then back to the hotel to swim in the indoor pool (small, but nice) and generally relax.

The next morning we checked out and headed over to Olive Branch. We checked into the feis at about 9:30, verified that the kids wouldn't be competing until about noon, and then headed back out to get something for breakfast. We ended up in downtown Olive Branch at Hazel's Family Restaurant.

Then back to the feis to put on wigs and makeup. Sheesh, we're such a train wreck with the makeup that we draw a crowd. After we managed to remove extraneous mascara and lipstick from Annabeth's face, on with the dresses, and we still had time for pictures with friends.

The champions had competed in the morning, followed by the figures. The stage is elevated -- used as one large stage during the championship rounds, divided into 3 parts for the grades. We watched the championship awards, then there was a long pause during which lots of kids got up on stage to see what it was like up there.

Along with the single/triple stage, they had 3 judges, and 2 musicians. One of the musicians was the ever-popular Pat King, who woke the audience up during single jig by segueing from typical Irish feis music into Pop Goes the Weasel, followed by the Mexican Hat Dance. Gotta love a musician who can do stuff like that so effortlessly.

Our personal results were sort of blah -- a couple of medals, a couple of ribbons. The whole thing was over fairly quickly -- I think we started about 1pm and were leaving by 4:30.

On the way home we were watching the ominous clouds to the west, then realized that there were people on the overpasses (the highest points in that flat landscape) also watching the somewhat greenish clouds, pointing and talking on phones. Tornado spotters! Yikes! We zipped on north, and arrived home without incident. When we looked up the tornado reports the next morning, apparently it had formed over farmland and had done no damage.

Overall, a fun weekend. We had fun with the trip to Southaven, and then being able to compete in a relatively short, small feis with some friends was just the icing on the cake.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Kitchen!

Some assembly required.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

K is for Kitchen Floor

If you're going to be ripping it up all the way down to the sub-floor, should you bother to mop it?

What if you're not ripping it up until next week?

What's the cutoff point for cleaning things you know are going to be destroyed?

(Actually, it's more than 2 weeks away, but I'm anticipating that Last Mop Job. I really dislike this floor. It's cheap peel-and-stick.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


We decided to do standardized testing again this year. We like to do testing because it's a chance to practice how to take a test, it's a chance to see if we have any huge gaps and then decide whether or not we care about them, and, who knows, maybe something on the test will spark a new interest in a new subject.

I had sort of mentally planned this for the first part of June. But the tests arrived over the weekend and the kids wanted to move up the testing to the end of May. Okay. But then they saw me looking over the material to see what all it was going to involve (how long it would take, could they do it at the same time, etc. etc.), and they decided to start TODAY.

They CAN do the tests at the same time -- they happen to be on 2 levels that have the same time frames for the various sections. So we sit at the kitchen table, I read the directions for the section, I say how long they'll have, Annabeth goes into a meltdown because she's panicked that she'll never get it done in time (I was sympathetic the first couple of times, but it's getting old), I start the stopwatch, they start, Thalia starts laughing at some of the questions, Annabeth gets annoyed at her for making noise, Annabeth finishes in about half the time alloted or less (which is why the panicking is getting old -- you'd think she'd figure out that she has ample time), they beg me to stop the timer because they're both already done and don't feel like sitting there for several more minutes waiting (I'm trying to give them the true testing experience, you know). Repeat.

The directions from the testing company and from the company from which we got the tests are pretty good -- fairly complete in covering various situations. They don't mention how to handle large cats deciding to participate

so we had to just figure that out for ourselves. Hope that doesn't violate some testing rule. To my knowledge he didn't whisper any answers to her.

Monday, May 18, 2009

And the Rest of the Weekend

My family really, really, really likes jigsaw puzzles.

This was the second one they put together this weekend. The first was on the dining room table, but I had commandeered the table for activities like EATING. And also, give me a break, I didn't clear away all of my sewing from the table just so everyone could muck it up with jigsaw puzzles.

So they were reduced to using drawing boards on the floor, while Sound of Music was playing on the DVD in the background. My family also really likes musicals. But not quite so obsessively as the puzzles.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday Morning


Grandparents came to visit for the occasion:

Friday Night

We finished up a t-shirt for Thalia on Friday afternoon. And if your blog nickname is "Thalia", there's really only one choice:

A "Death to Barbie" t-shirt that has a picture of Barbie with an arrow sticking through her head.

Oddly, I couldn't find any online images of Barbie with an arrow stuck through her head. So Thalia stuck toothpicks through one of her dolls, photographed it, and we printed it out on sticker project paper. By the way, sticker project paper doesn't adhere to t-shirts well, but we were making do with what we had. There's lots of Fray-check holding that image on the shirt. Cheap black t-shirt from Walmart. Cheap pink iron-on letters from Walmart. Go forth and make your own.

Later that evening it occurred to me how to make the silver camo pants -- use grey camo fabric and fabric paint. Oh well. If we ever need to do this again, we'll have an even better outfit.

The schedule: the library closes at 5pm. The doors open again at 6pm, and Rick Riordan speaks at 7pm.

The kids and Rick loaded up and left at 5:20, intent on getting there early. I thought that was a little nuts -- why get there sooooo early?. But, they weren't sure what traffic would be like, plus they were picking up a friend.

Rick called me at 6 to say they were at the library, and they were LATE

because at least 500 to 700 people were already there

and ahead of them in line.

Precisely 653 people were ahead of them. The first 650 were admitted to the main auditorium. They were directed into overflow area #1, where they watched on a big screen. Others were in overflow #2. I don't know how many overflows there were.

But, hey, at least they got in the building -- plenty of people didn't. Which meant that those people were outside waiting when a big thunderstorm rolled in suddenly (which sort of goes with part of the book, if you ask me -- the storms in the Midwest? I totally would've been talking about a Titan going through the area.)

(Links to Rick Riordan's blog saying the crowd was 1,500, and the Post-Dispatch book blog, which put the crowd at 1,700.)

Rick Riordan was a fun speaker. They said his talk wasn't really long. Perhaps he was anticipating signing his name about a thousand times later that evening. Although he seemed like he was enjoying meeting so many fans. Check it out -- about 600 books into this marathon, and he's still smiling and gracious. And he's been doing this for days and days in various cities. Amazing.

He did talk about some of the next books he'll be writing. The kids were pretty excited about that. Some of it we'd read about on his blog.

A memorable evening!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Weekly Report -- May 15


Thalia has moved ahead of me in Latin Alive, but I still have the weekend to catch up. We're both enjoying this program so far (first 5 chapters). It has more zip than Henle -- we get to use verbs! Woohoo! It has more oomph than Latin for Children. Of course, so far it's mostly been review for Thalia, so that adds to its charm. We're looking forward to the DVD release at the end of this month.

In the meantime, Annabeth continues to work steadily in Latin for Children, having reached chapter 10. Sometimes she is peeved by some of the grammar concepts (like, what would possess anyone to come up with a language that has declensions?), but we have soldiered through.


I may die from math. So. Boring.

Actually, Annabeth is in sort of a fun spot in RightStart D, in the midst of patterns.

Other than that I try not to dwell on it too much.

Moving on ...

Language Arts

Thalia continued work in Classical Writing Homer, using the Face That Launched 1,000 Ships as a model, which was coincidentally also the Latin reading for this week. I thought it would be cool for her to try doing her rewrite in Latin, but she seemed to think that wasn't a good idea.

I am so impressed with her grasp of grammar when she works on this stuff. She gives all of the credit to Analytical Grammar.

She's up to doing 5 steps of the 6 step shuffle. She suffers mightily with it, though. Well, except the 5th step, which is making a passage more verbose. We all seem to have a talent for going on and on and on about nothing in particular, and it comes in handy on that 5th step.

Annabeth has been doing copywork and dictation from a botany book we're reading together, The Living World of Plants by Gerbert Grohmann. The book is written for 5th graders in Waldorf schools, and the writing, translated from the original German, has some passages worthy of copywork.

Today she decided to paint a picture to illustrate Steiner's verse about The Secret of Nature:

Behold the plant!
It is the butterfly bound fast to the earth.
Behold the butterfly!
It is the plant set free by the universe.

The flower is growing along the edge of a stream, in case you were wondering about that blue stripe.

If you happen to look through a copy of Donna Simmons Christopherus Unit Studies: Botany you'll see a similar picture done in crayon by an older student.

Annabeth has also been participating in the discussion Thalia and I have been having as Thalia begins her botany unit. So far the discussion have been pretty general -- what is botany, why are plants important, what are some careers in botany. Thalia will be working on her Plants Interest Patch while we do this unit.


Supposedly we're studying Greece via Famous Men of Greece right now, but I think we all know that mostly we discuss Percy Jackson. The Percy-mania should peak during the next week, when Rick Riordan visits, and then Thalia and Annabeth attend a Camp Half-blood mini-session at a library branch. In the meantime, whenever the FMoG book mentions the Oracle I picture her as having green light in her eyes and mist billowing around.

Actually, whenever FMoG mentions any of the gods and goddesses I'm mostly annoyed because they give the Roman names (yoohoo, it's supposed to be a book about Greece, not Rome), so I have to translate them all on the fly while reading aloud or else suffer the consequences.

Other Read Alouds

Speaking of read alouds, we're also currently reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and also Little Pilgrim's Progress.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More Books We're Using for Botany, Parent Version

First, let me relate the traumatic news that I can't find my copy of Salisbury and Ross's Plant Physiology. I know it was around for years and years because it was my favorite college textbook. But, alas, I can't find it now. (I did find some really surprising books and magazines while looking for it, though, but that's another story.) I remember throwing out my notes for Hort 217 when we moved from Ohio to here, figuring I hadn't used them for about 20 years, and was unlikely to develop a sudden urgent need for them. Maybe I tossed other plant/college related material at the same time.

Anyway, I keep finding more and more plant-related things on our shelves. For example, the other day I realized that we have a copy of Donna Simmons Botany Unit Study. I really enjoy Donna Simmon's books. She explains Waldorf concepts in a way that I can grasp. The Botany Main Lesson is typically taught in 5th grade in Waldorf curriculum, and neither of our kids are actually in fifth, but I'm still finding this a useful booklet. I like her ideas for lessons, although I'll adapt them mightily for our own uses. And I LOVE her bibliography (possibly because I already own the majority of the books, ahem ... great minds think alike and all of that). It's a small unit study -- only 32 pages -- and seems sort of expensive for the size, but I can use much of the information in it to organize my thoughts.

Since Thalia has decided to study Botany also, I got a copy of Kym Wright's Botany Adventure. This is such a different product than the Donna Simmons unit study. Where Donna gently nudges you in a direction (although you can just pick it up and go practically seat-of-the-pants, she expects you to make it your own), Kym Wright gives you a fairly precise map of how to teach a middle school/high school level unit on botany. Wowza. We're talking microscope slides of onion tips (sheesh, I remember those from the ancient days of studying this stuff myself), we're talking vocabulary like "stomata", "guard cells", and "mesophyll". Not a lot of writing assignments that I've noticed so far, but oodles of lab activities. Also, lots of little boxes to check off as you complete each days work, which is something Thalia really, really likes. It will be interesting to see how we feel about this as we move through it. We will not be using the suggested ABeka biology text, by the way. I wonder if it would be helpful to keep track of what books we liked using with it and what books we didn't, for the sake of other homeschoolers contemplating using this unit study.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

So far this weekend ...

Annabeth went to a Percy Party at Central Library.

The brochure said you could come as your favorite character, so:

We couldn't find any orange t-shirts at Michaels, which was a shame -- they had all sorts of colored t-shirts for $2.50 each, but no orange.

We came home and found a HUGE old orange t-shirt with a company logo on it in a drawer. I cut up the side of it, and cut out a new body and sleeves using Jalie 2805, avoiding the logo. I should've used a larger size in the Jalie (I used size K) since the pattern is for very stretchy knit, and an old t-shirt isn't what they had in mind. I kept the hems of the body and sleeves, cut off the neckband and reused it (should've shortened it, but didn't). Then slapped a bunch of iron-on letters on it to spell out "Camp Half-blood". Which started to peel back off, so we stuck them back on with Fray Check.

In the meantime, Annabeth found a black cap, stuck black felt over the logo on it, then a red felt Y over that, taping the whole thing together with double stick tape.

This all took less than an hour.

When we got to the library a girl said, "Hey, you look like Annabeth!'' Yay us!

At the party they made ocean-in-a-bottle (involved glitter and oil in a bottle), painted camp beads, made pictures with scratch-off paper, drank blue punch, and ate blue corn chips.

The down side was that not too many people were there. The weather has been GORGEOUS today, so that was one issue. Thalia didn't go since her choir was doing a mini-tour today. Had she gone she would've needed a black t-shirt that said "Death to Barbie" ... plus skull earrings, time to color her hair black, and maybe needed a silver jacket. We might still do the t-shirt before Rick Riordan's appearance here next Friday.

We apologize for the lack of lava pouring down the climbing wall, which we realize takes away from the realism of the photo.

Girls' Night Out

One of those banquet thingies at church:

They used to call them Mother-Daughter Banquets, but that sounded like you needed matched sets of Mothers and Daughters. So now they give them names like "Celebration of Women" or something equally weird, so women who don't have kids feel more welcome.

My mom used to take us to these. My memories of them? They were boring, and you got a little cup of mints at your place setting.

You know what? They're still a little dull. And they still have mints, although the mints were tied up in a little tulle bag. The other kids at the table took the bags apart and were wearing them on their heads, or else making little creatures out of them. By the end of the evening, bored little girls were all over the place -- sprawled out on the floor, running through the lobby.

It was still the same after all of these years. Somewhere out there a little girl is storing up memories of being having barely survived the tedium of the evening, just like I did years ago.

Friday, May 8, 2009

This Week in Science

AnnaBeth and Rick have planted several trees this week -- 2 bare rooted evergreens from the Conservation Service, a couple of birch from Lowes, a redbud that they transplanted from one place to another in our backyard, and an althea that they transplanted.

There have been a variety of encounters with roots, what with all of the digging around and planting. So it seemed an appropriate time to read the book What Do Roots Do? by Kathleen Kudlinski. Nice illustrations and straight forward text gave us a chance to talk about the things she'd seen in the ground and attached to the plants.

I thought a great follow up would be to re-pot the pothos in the kitchen -- it's root bound and needs a new home. And we could take some cuttings while we were at it, which would be fun.

But instead, AnnaBeth produced a pinecone:

which she laid out on paper, watching the scales open and various stuff come out. Cool! I suggested she either take some photos or else make some drawings. Suddenly, our study of plants careened in a new direction -- conifers! I pulled out our copy of Keepers of Life by Caduto and Bruchac, and flipped to the section on conifers. We read and chatted, pondering sequoias, the 2-year development cycle of pine cones, and Fibonacci numbers. I think we're going to read some more books about sequoias once I can find some.

AnnaBeth has also spent time reading our copy of Garden Wizardry for Kids, which is a fun, fun book of information about common plants as well as simple projects and experiments.

In the meantime, Thalia has asked to also learn about Botany. She's finished up her latest Prentice-Hall Science Explorer, and has asked that we not use those again (no offense to anyone who likes them, but they seemed too elementary to her at this point -- she's ready for something with more oomph). We had planned on heading a different direction for her science, but she's been looking over what AnnaBeth has been doing and thought this would be a good time to learn more about this plants. Her study will be more disciplined -- I plan to actually figure out a logical sequence of study rather than flitting from seeds to roots to conifers.

We've wrapped up the week by watching a Bill Nye DVD on plants -- perfect for a rainy day.

Scout Stuff

This week the Brownie troop worked on the Eco-explorer Try-It.

They met at a park. They made bird feeders out of milk jugs:

They immediately hung them up in trees around the area they were working. I don't know if any birds showed up while we were at the park -- with 19 Brownies, 8 moms, and assorted siblings (many of whom were climbing trees) I think our area wasn't too inviting for wildlife. At the end of the meeting everyone retrieved their bird feeder and took it home.

Next, a quick word scramble taken from the Try-It book. The person in charge had printed these out 4 to a page and cut them up, so the kids just had a small piece of paper to deal with. This was a smart idea, especially outdoors. (The meetings are handed around to various moms and occasional dads. We have a troop leader, but everyone is expected to volunteer to lead a meeting and/or provide snacks. Hence, "person in charge" instead of "troop leader" when I'm talking about who organized this stuff.)

Then, making a food chain. Each girl was given 4 strips of construction paper. They discussed food chains, then drew pictures, wrote words, or both, to make their own chain. These ran the gamut from algae/shrimp/fish/squid (I'm guessing that family has been studying this in science) to AnnaBeth's more imaginative version that ended with a python eating a rabbit. The kids put them together with glue stick ... I hate glue stick for projects like this. It never works well. If you decide to do this project, use staples or tape and save everyone the frustration.

Finally, 5 adults were handed a scavenger hunt list and took off through the park with 4 scouts each. Again, the mom in charge had printed out the list from the Try-It book, but on smaller sheets of paper. She provided each group with a pencil and a list.

Another thing the person in charge did was to wheel everything -- craft supplies and all -- to the main site using a wheeled suitcase. The alternative would've been to lug it all over to the picnic tables. Smart woman.

Overall, I felt the highlight was giving a ride to the park to AnnaBeth and a couple of her friends. There's nothing quite like listening to a group of 8 and 9 year olds chatter in the back of a car.

In the meantime, Thalia's Cadette troop met at their usual location. They worked some on Silver Badge requirements. Six of the Cadettes are still in the preliminary stages of working on the Silver Award. Several weeks ago they got together to figure out what all to do for Step 2, Earn the Leadership Award. The part in question was the charm for focus Uniquely Me! The Real Deal.

"Okay, you're supposed to set and achieve goals for this booklet ... what are your goals for this booklet girls?"

Blank stares. It was pretty obvious that the REAL goal was to get through the silly thing so they could earn the Silver Award, and they really didn't actually give a flying flip about anything in the booklet. They haven't yet learned to pretend that what they really want to do somehow fits the agenda of the Powers That Be. I think schools do a better job of teaching this than homeschools -- this ability to pretend that you're really interested in a subject and can parrot the things the PTB want to hear -- but I could be wrong. But I can guarantee that's where *I* learned to tell authority figures what they wanted to hear. (Of course, I'm seeing all of this through my own cynical streak, which infers that GSUSA feels that the ability to spout a bunch of BS is a leadership skill. But, ahem, I could be way off base there.)

Seeing the blank stares, the mom in charge suggested they come up with some topics the booklet covered and write them on the board. They came up with: attitudes, anger, peer pressure, self esteem, decision-making, stress. Each girl was assigned a topic by lottery, and was to come up with a short presentation on the topic. Thalia got self esteem. She wrote up a paper on the subject, which she read to the group at the meeting. Honestly, I thought her paper was pretty good (I helped type up a rough draft since I'm a faster typist than she). She used examples from the Chronicles of Narnia movies and books -- Edmund had low self esteem so he ended up in a heap of trouble in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, while Peter had too big of an ego in Prince Caspian and also ended up in a mess. Also, she said her presentation was helped by the fact that she can read aloud well -- she goes at a moderate pace and speaks clearly and confidently. I thought it was sort of cool that she decided to analyze what worked and what didn't work about how the various girls gave their presentations.

So, in summary, that's the goal they set for the booklet and how they worked through it -- divvied up the concepts, wrote up presentations at home, and gave the presentation at a meeting. This meant that they could work individually. Another avenue would've been to simply read through the booklet with an adult, discussing as they went along; this would've taken more time as a group.

The rest of the Cadette meeting time was spent scrapbooking. I don't think this related to any badge work, but one of the moms teaches scrapbooking classes and the girls thought it would be fun. Thalia was talking to someone at dance the other night about Scouts -- the other girl was complaining that all their troop does is work on badges, "and I swear they pick the most boring ones." Thalia replied that her troop just sort of does what it wants ... some badge work, some just plain ol' hanging out. At the meeting they also ordered pizza, since they still have money from cookies, fall product sales, and various other fund raisers. It really has been a great experience to be involved in this troop.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hit the Pause Button

The fifth Percy Jackson book was released today.

Our copy, pre-ordered from, arrived right before lunch.

So far we've read 2 chapters aloud, mostly to mitigate arguments over who gets to read it first (cheaper than buying 2 copies, plus no arguments about who is skimming instead of really reading, etc.). When I'm not reading it aloud I've been reduced to carrying it around so no one peeks at the last chapter. Except me, of course. Heh.

Life will resume after we make it through 21 more chapters.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weekend So Far

After finishing up the John Carey workshop, we went to see Riverdance.

It was a different experience. The kids spent much of the show critiquing the dancers, commenting on what John would yell at the professionals about. I have it on good authority that one of the girls in the opening number was off time, that one of the guys didn't kick his bum properly, etc., etc. ... it was like a Monday morning quarterback session, but with dance.

Our seats were in the Fox Club

which is the level between the floor and the mezzanine. It has its own entrance and restroom. Except the restroom was all the way at the other end of the building. So when we suddenly had to go to the restroom at the end of the show (probably due to all of the pink lemonade) it took approximately For. Ever. So we were some of the last ones out of the area.

BUT, the Fox Club entrance is right next to the performers entrance/exit. And by the time we left, the performers were coming out and getting on the bus. I sort of wanted to jump out of the car (we parked right next to the entrance) and ask for autographs, but just couldn't do it. Sigh. I kept thinking, "If Trish were here she'd be jumping out and having everyone get together for some photos. Next time we need to bring her along."

(Trish, if you were there last night taking pictures outside as the performers were getting on the bus, I really don't want to know. But if you're going tonight it's okay, because, well, I'm not there AT ALL so it's not like I'm missing out by being stuck in the restroom.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Today in Science

The "farm" as of this morning:

Various beans, some vining up knitting needles (I got out a set of Susan Bates needles to knit a gauge swatch the other night, and the tip of one was bent at about a 45 degree angle, so I figured it was best used as a plant stake). AnnaBeth measures them every day and records her observations.

Lemon seeds that still haven't done anything observable.

Flower sprouts that started this whole thing.

Also, leftover poinsettias. A couple of evergreen seedlings from the conservation department, casually stuck in an old plastic container until we get around to planting them. An aloe plant that doesn't have anywhere else to go. AnnaBeth's plant observation notebook and a maple samara that we're thinking about planting are also on the table.

Today we decided to add an avocado to our seed-growing extravaganza:

This page has nice pictures on how to plant one in a glass, but I was disappointed that it said nothing, absolutely nothing, about the need to pinch back the seedling.

"Why do you need to pinch back the seedling?"

"I'm so glad you asked that. It has to do with apical dominance, and I've been waiting for the moment to explain apical dominance to you."

I grab a nearby ink pen to use as a makeshift prop, using the tip of the pen as the growing tip. I carefully avoid words such as "meristem" or "auxin", using instead phrases like "tip" and "growy-stuff hormones".

AnnaBeth's eyes start to glaze over.

I switch to recalling how we always pinched back the coleus (back when we could grow coleus, which was back in Ohio -- the deer here are mighty fond of coleus, it seems). Remember that? How it made the plant more bushy? And if we didn't do it the plant would grow straight up without dividing ... ?

AnnaBeth's eyes still seem slightly glazed.

Finally, during a pause she comments, "Okay, Mom, you've had your moment. You got to talk about apical dominance. Now could you get me the SoilMoist?"

You know, I was reading the other day that Charlotte Mason advocated using the correct terms for all of this stuff (cotyledon, plumule, radical, sepal, and surely she meant to include phrases like apical dominance, don't you think?). I thought I was getting the hang of using the correct nomenclature without spouting out too much of a barrage. But maybe not.

At least I didn't try to hand out worksheets on it.

But, OH! BRAINSTORM! A vocabulary list in her notebook! That way it could count as language arts, too, and be fashionably cross-curricular.