Monday, December 13, 2010


Christmas recital Friday night. Thalia sang a duet. Uncle Mark S. snapped a pic with his phone:

Afterwards we all went out for ice cream.

Saturday spent running errands, putting gas in the car before the weather got bad, Christmas shopping, changing family Christmas plans repeatedly.

Sunday morning we awoke to SNOW! Not much, but enough to need a snowplow. Also, COLD! Wasn't it about 57 or 60F just a couple of days ago? And now it's 4F.

Sunday morning Thalia sang again at church, this time with her choir. And Sunday night was the church's Youth Christmas Concert. No pics because by this time I had lost track of the camera.

Then early to bed because we got up at about 4am so Rick could catch a flight to Mexico. Where it's about 80F -- how do you dress for that business of going from single digits to 80s, then back down to low temps when he gets back later this week?

Right now I should be: checking the pressure on my car tires (I'm sure it's low with the temperature drop) OR finishing sewing pants for Annabeth so she has a warm pair for today OR bringing the Christmas plates upstairs OR some other form of Christmas preparedness OR at least doing yoga ... but mostly I'm sitting here being cold.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Weekend

Friday night: and evening at home, possibly the only one in December. Watched Elf and ate homemade pizza.


Annabeth to choir performance at a Breakfast With Santa, then rehearsal for Christmas musical.

I messed around with Girl Scout Nut Sales, organizing stuff to take to various people. Then took Thalia to dance class.

Pick up Annabeth, pick up Thalia, lunch at about 1:30pm, then organize next outing: and Elf Hunt in St. Charles.

Take kids to St. Charles Christmas Traditions. Wow, it was cold and windy! But we quickly located an Elf:

as well as several other characters, including Jack Frost (my camera froze up, so I didn't get a shot of their hug)

St. Lucia

and a Scottish Santa wearing a kilt (oh, his poor frozen knees):

Then a stop at Walgreens on the way home to visit the hair coloring section, supper, and the girls went upstairs to giggle in the bathroom and do what teenage girls do when they have a Saturday night and a bottle of hair dye. But I think I'm sworn to secrecy about this, so I'm not going to say anything else except this: red.

And somewhere in there I went to the Peanut Pantry to get more Girl Scout nuts.


Sunday morning was the Chidlren's Christmas Musical at church. They performed Angel's Aware, which turned out to be quite entertaining. Annabeth played Gabriel, and as such kicked off the program by belting out a solo and delivering a monologue.

Chorus shot. Annabeth is to the far left, bottom row. Thalia commented that with the big white sunglasses and the way she was over-enunciating her words with a deadpan expression she looked like Lady Gaga.

She wrapped it up with another monologue and solo. She wasn't the lead, but had the big monologues -- Archangel Michael was the lead, but had smaller speaking roles, and Gabriel was the second biggest part. To my knowledge, she never worked on memorizing any of this -- apparently ever since Shakespeare-in-a-week she hasn't needed to really work at memorization. She was totally in her element up on stage.

After that, home to set up the tree. Not decorated, but set up. I was under the impression that Thalia was supposed to wrap gifts at Borders (a Girl Scout fund raiser), but that's actually next week, as we discovered after driving there. I should've spent the evening organizing the Nut Sale paperwork to turn in today, but instead spent the evening trying to figure out what's gone wrong with our computer's ability to open pdf files. Sheesh. So, here it is Monday morning, and I'm already behind. Ack.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Homeschool Update -- what we're doing


Thalia is working on Jacob's Geometry. We're using the syllabus at Ask Dr. Callahan (I think -- actually, when I try to open the pdf from the website now all I get is a blank page, so it's either disappeared from the internet or I printed out something else from somewhere else, but either way I can't link it. Or maybe my pdf reader is messed up. Which I'm beginning to think is the case). At one point she was severely behind on the semester, at which time smoke started pouring out of my ears and DRAMA OCCURRED. But, lo, she has worked hard for the past couple of weeks, and is actually a bit ahead of schedule now. Which has given her the idea that she could keep up this pace and finish early. Possible, but I'm thinking not probable, since now that she's caught up she's allowed to use Facebook, etc., again, and that's apparently more interesting than whipping through Geometry assignments.

Anyway, this course is like a walk down memory lane -- I loved Geometry, and still remember quite a bit of it.

In th meantime, Annabeth has been alternating RightStart Geometry with Life of Fred Fractions. Things were going well for her until she hit one of "those" spots -- and if you're familiar with LIfe of Fred, you know what I'm talking about -- the spots where they expect the student to pick a concept up out of the ether. Life of Fred, if you're not familiar with it, is written directly to the student. But, alas, occasionally they give the student the questions without explaining how to figure it out. Some kids will thrive in this sort of challenge. Others will start screaming and throw the book down the stairway, declaring that they'll never use this stupid curriculum again. I imagine there are those that fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, but we were solidly in the latter extreme. Thankfully we're alternating curriculum, so it was just a matter of using the OTHER program while cooling off about Life of Fred.


When we're all home and have time, I read Story of the World vol.4: the Modern Age at lunch, then we discuss the questions in the study guide. Our current schedule allows this to happen once or twice a week -- very slow going. Vietnam was just divided into north and south, and I think next we're going to divvy up Korea. And we shall all remember Ho Chi Minh's admonition to not take live chickens into houses in the mountains (why? why did he say this?).

Thalia is also working through Susan Wise Bauer's History of the Ancient World. She reads 3 chapters per week; she selects one of them to summarize on paper. She's quite charmed with this so far. SWB likened the planned cities of some ancient culture to the Borg (of Star Trek), and Thalia was totally smitten. We're going to start going through the Iliad -- we have The Teaching Company's 12 lecture series by Elizabeth Vandiver, of which we've listened to lecture #1, we have the Fagle's translation, we have CDs of Derek Jocobi reading the Fagles version. I think we'll just listen to the lectures and CDs, and might not do much more with it. Thalia's interest in the Iliad is fairly minimal, but she considered it the lead-in to the Odyssey, and she likes to read things IN ORDER. So we'll zip through it.


Annabeth is taking a creative writing class at a co-op. I need to come up with something more for her, but I'm still not sure if she'd do better with MCT, Killgallon, or Junior Analytical Grammar.

Thalia is taking a composition class at a learning center. It's worth a credit by itself, but I'd like a quick grammar review for her to keep the skills sharp. She went through all of Analytical Grammar (it's supposed to last for years and years, but she likes grammar so she did it all). I just figured out that they have review books that cover Homer, and also that cover Shakespeare (next June they'll be doing Comedy of Errors for Shakespeare camp). Very, very cool.


Thalia is in a co-op art class. To bring it up to a half-credit class we're using the Well Trained Mind suggestions of Annotated Mona Lisa and Sister Wendy's Story of Painting to give us some art history.

Annabeth does random art from the Junior Girls Scout badge book, along with various projects from her co-op classes.


Thalia continues with Apologia science, using the Biology text at a learning center. She really likes her teacher, who seems quite knowledgeable about biology (possibly because she has a PhD in Microbiology); she still thinks the writing in Apologia books is abysmal, and continues to write commentary in the margins when she comes to parts she finds particularly poorly written.

Annabeth is doing a Zoology course in co-op, loosely based on the Apologia Land Animals book for upper elementary. We've been beefing that up with, yes, the Girl Scout Junior Badge Book. Love that book! It's so perfect for girls this age looking for things to do and things to learn about.


Annabeth is also taking geography and a Prairie Primer class based on the Little House books. These are both through the homeschool co-op.

Thalia takes a computer class through the co-op also, learning about Word, Power Point, and Excel (which is handy since these days she's typing up all of her papers for composition, and her biology lab reports on a laptop).

Musical theatre classes, piano, dance (down to only one day per week), voice lessons ... and other stuff I've undoubtably forgotten ... round out our current homeschool experience.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Co-op Open House

The co-op in which I teach knitting had an open house this week. The various classes put on performances or displayed some of their work. I set up boxes and fabric on our table, and then the kids in the class arranged things and made signs. And also, apparently, left a roll of blue tape (everyone proclaimed cluelessness about where that came from, along with extreme vagueness about who made the "do not touch" sign). If you click on the picture you can enlarge it.

This isn't everything everyone made. Some things weren't put on the table because they're unfinished (although other UnFinished Objects were put on display). The pumpkin hat is the one I made Annabeth, which she stuck on the table. The hats to the right were made on a knitting loom -- the girl who made them couldn't find any of the stuff she'd made during class, organization not being her strong point (nor is focussing, nor finishing what she starts ... but she's learned several new techniques, so that's nice). And not everyone made cards to "sign" their work, preferring to remain anonymous.

The purple scarf to the lower left is by a student who struggled and struggled to learn knitting. She managed to learn knit stitch, purl stitch, casting on and binding off during this semester; she then went out and bought a skein of Homespun and knit this amazing garter stitch scarf.

And the alligator scarf to the lower right was knit by a girl who knew solely how to form a knit stitch. A close up:

As you can see, eyelash yarn scarves were popular. We also have some knitting with cut up plastic bags going on.

Overall, the kids have really stretched themselves, learned new things, and had fun. One of the coolest things about the class is that some of the really shy, quiet girls are now part of the crowd, so to speak, at social events like this -- they sit in class chattering away, and it's carrying over into other venues.

One more class this semester, and then on to spring semester and crochet. I'm still not sure how to approach the crochet portion of the class, sigh.