Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Off to the Dentist We Go…Again

Every tooth in a man's head is more valuable than a diamond.  ~Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, 1605

And the cost of a dental visit proves it.

Teeth Cartoon_4Poor Kyle just has no luck when it comes to his teeth. They are either being knocked out by a good buddy leaving his gums streaming blood or they are rotting right out of his mouth. Neither of the other boys have had these kinds of tooth care problems so I really wish I knew why he is so prone to tooth decay. And to top it off, he is plagued with mouth sores. Has been for as long as I can remember.

Today I took him in because the filling covering his root canal had broken causing him pain while chewing. If it happens again, they will have to put a silver band around it. He also has to go back in 2 weeks to get the other root canal filling redone. Thank goodness for dental insurance. I only wish their coverage was a good as medical insurance and we would only have to make a co-pay. Pretty soon Kyle’s teeth really will be worth the value of diamonds.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Odyssey Discussion Guide

OdisguideNow that we are moving on to Homer’s Odyssey, I wanted something to go along with the Elizabeth Vandiver’s Teaching Company lectures to enrich our study. While browsing through Lulu, I discovered a discussion guide by David Bruce. Love it! The author has put a lot of thought and work into this guide and I love that it goes along with the Fagles translation that I had already chosen. It also works with the Johnston translation by including quotes by both works.

You can download the file for free or buy a copy for $15. I went the free route. However, now I wish I had purchased a hard copy instead because the guide is so big that it probably cost that much in ink and paper by the time it finished printing. Whichever way you go, I think you’ll find this guide well worth it. Just browsing through the pages already has me excited to start to digging in.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Couple of Deals

This is the time of year where a lot of us are on the look out for great deals. Here are a couple I stumbled across today.

Vocabulary Bridges: This is a freebie being offered by Trivium Pursuit and today is the last day so hurry if this is something you find interesting for your homeschool student. According to their website, “Vocabulary Bridges teaches 50 Latin prefixes and 60 Latin roots; 50 Greek prefixes and 80 Greek roots. All of the major prepositions of Latin and Greek are covered. 2,000 English vocabulary words are examined.”

The Heir Chronicles: If you are looking for something for your young adult to read, especially as a Christmas gift, Amazon has a spectacular deal on the Heir Chronicles. All three books in the trilogy for only $12.50 and Kyle and I highly recommend them. We both enjoyed this trilogy immensely and suggest buying all three since they are addictive. According to Amazon, “Three boys, three talismans, one destiny.  In this page-turning trilogy, Cinda Williams Chima explores what it means to be different, what’s worth fighting for, and what’s worth dying for…” How we do love a great epic!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Harry & the Perfect Day

deathly-hallows-symbol-harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-564456_1422_1545I love the freedom that goes along with homeschooling. We choose our curriculum, our extra curriculars and all the whens, whats, and hows that go along with that. Today we used a bit of our freedom to play a bit of hooky and headed to the movies. Somehow it seems a little more enjoyable when we use a school day as a fun day. And seeing part 1 of the Deathly Hallows early on a Monday morning definitely ranked right up there on the fun scale.

I was quite impressed with how well the script stayed true to the book. It really caught that sense of hopelessness and loss the children felt as they try to discover the way to save the world. I love the lesson that heroes don’t always know what they are doing but they do it anyway. They never stop fighting. They never stop trying. And even as Ron proved, you can always find your way back if you lose your way. All good stuff and a great way to spend a day. To all you fellow HP fans, it’s well worth the cost of the ticket. I can’t wait for part 2!

Tomorrow we put our noses back to the grindstone.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekly Report

paneraWe ended the week on a high note with an unexpected school day at Paneras. I love doing home school away from home and, somehow, we always manage to be extra productive when we do. I suppose it’s because we have nothing else to do but focus on the work. I love the opportunity for him to concentrate in a busy, noisy environment instead of the normal calm, quiet one we have at home. Hopefully, it will help prepare him for the time when he goes on to dual enroll.

Algebra: he continues to rock this subject with another A on his weekly test

enzyme labBiology: this week we tried a virtual lab which worked out quite nicely since we were working at Paneras. I was a little anxious about how well a virtual lab would teach a concept but I can truthfully say that the anxiety was completely unfounded. If anything, I think he learned even better because we didn’t have to deal with the usual frustrations and mistakes that go into doing hands-on labs. There is no way I would give up on hands-on labs because those mistakes and frustrations are lessons all on their own; however, it was nice to have a change of pace and we will certainly implement more into our study. Here is the enzyme lab we did today and I highly recommend it, especially since it allows the student to print the results, graphs and answers to the follow up questions.

NaNoWriMo (this month’s all inclusive language arts): He did it! He’s already reached his word count goal. Way to go, Kiddo! I am so darn proud of you and I can’t wait to read your novel.

History/Lit: Sadly we finished the Iliad. I really do mean sadly. We both enjoyed enjoyed that classic so much that we are sad to say goodbye to it, even though we are looking forward to the start of the Odyssey. Since it took us so long to finish the book, I had considered skipping the Odyssey and moving on to other materials but he is so excited about that story that I feel it will be well worth the time it takes to read it. I’ve decided to go with the Fagles translation since it has a fairly good audio version to go along with it.

Spanish: at last we finished the chapter on irregular verbs but I’m not real happy with our grasp of them. We’ve tried all sorts of memorization techniques and yet we still need to take a peek whenever working with them. Over the weekend, I’m going to have to decide whether or not to find some extra materials to continue that study or continue on despite them. I really don’t want to get bogged down but I also don’t want to regret later not having those down pat.

So, we wrapped up a lot of material this week. I had originally planned to take all of next week off and it does seem like a good time to do that but we’ve had too many unexpected days off to do so. We need to play a little catch up and working 3 days next week should help with that. Thursday and Friday are definite days off. I’ll need them! I hope everyone has a great holiday next week.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It’s an Addiction

The Kindle has opened a whole new world of books for me; books that I would not have read otherwise. If you visit the Kindle Boards, you will find link after link for free or low cost books and from here I have read books that I would never have chose otherwise. My latest addiction, and it is an addiction, is the series of William Monk mysteries by Anne Perry. From Amazon, I downloaded the first three books for $10 and I was hooked from the first.

Mystery is not a genre I usually read. When reading for pleasure, I don’t want to have to work at it. I don’t want to have to pay enough attention to the clues so I can figure out the ending before actually getting there; but if I don’t, I feel like somehow I have let my intelligence down. Strange, I know. However I was desperate for something to read and gave the Monk mysteries a try and now I can’t stop reading them. I finally had to start requesting them from the library because I couldn’t afford to keep buying them from Amazon. And I couldn’t wait because I *had* to know what happened next. I am so completely wrapped up in these books!

I’ve also found I am addicted to my Kindle. Going back to books is strange. I’ve tried to turn the pages of a book by clicking the non-existent button on the side of the book.  You’d think I’d only make that mistake once but I’ve continued to do it over and over again. It’s so embarrassing. I’ve even tried to turn the book off at the bottom. How I miss my Kindle! I love the ease of use, the ability to enlarge the type when my eyes get tired, and only having to push a button to turn the page. I don’t have to readjust my book to compensate for which page I’m reading. If only digital books were cheaper. And why aren’t they? It’s not as if they have to pay to have it printed or shipped. Sigh, how I do love that little device.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sick Day

All I really want is to get in a full week of school. Why is that so hard? Groan. Sniffle. Cough. Blech. Sick smile

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crow on the Menu

EatCrowOne of the downsides to not using a text book approach to high school studies is being assured that they are learning the necessary material for their level. For biology, we use a mixture of websites, videos (both lectures and demonstrations), labs and books to explore each topic, but sometimes I worry that he isn’t retaining the material. And part of me thinks, “why should he?” Because of this approach, there are no tests to force him to memorize the material. It’s pretty much learning for learning’s sake; while that is an important concept for me to impart to him, it is doubtful whether he has both the maturity and the wherewithal to pursue it. So last week I put together several ways to test his knowledge on the things we have been studying in biology, including some diagrams to label. And you know what? He passed with flying colors. I feel a little ashamed of myself for having doubted him and he was more than thrilled to rub in his mastery over the subject. At least I can put my nagging worries to rest and feel assured that I am on the right track on what works best for Kyle and his learning style, even if I do have to eat a little crow in the meantime.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week in Review

We had an unplanned abbreviated week. Here the public school included the Friday after Veteran’s Day as a holiday and one of Kyle’s friends asked if he could spend that day with him. I originally said no because we really needed to get a lot of school work done but after some thought I decided to go ahead and let him spend the day with his friend. He hasn’t had a lot of opportunities lately to hang out with friends so ultimately I decided being with friends was a better use of his time than spending time with his books (and me). He came home happy and refreshed and hopefully geared up for a fruitful new week.

Math: 95 on his test last week so all’s good in that department

NaNoWriMo (includes all his language arts): didn’t go very well last week. He went to a midnight release Monday night and was too tired to be very productive on Tuesday, which then carried on through the week. No more midnight releases for that boy.

History/Lit: He still hasn’t finished reading Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea so that is a priority for the new week. I hope then to move into The Greek Way. We are on schedule to finish the Iliad and depending on how long his essay takes, we will move into the Odyssey. I’m really disappointed that I can’t find an audio version of the Lattimore translation so we will probably take turns reading it to each other.

Biology: Until losing the entire day of Friday, we were doing really well last week. I may have him make that up for it this week but I haven’t decided for sure yet. I hate losing time in this subject since we only work on it 2 days a week as it is.

Spanish: we were on schedule to finish those irregular verbs last week; that is until we lost Friday. I was so looking forward to that! But that is definitely going to happen this week.

I’ve spent the weekend at the used bookstore picking up our new history/lit books and preparing for our new unit on the Odyssey. Both of us are excited to get started on that. I bought the Kolbe Academy study guide for The Histories which I hope will help Kyle pull out the important facts from that classic.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Time to Remember

We’ve never been the family to go out to honor Veteran’s Day but instead we spend that time with family. However, I do like to take the time to reflect on the sacrifice many men and women have made throughout our history to preserve our freedoms, our rights and to fight for those of others. Fred Phelps and his ilk anger and repulse me to the core every time they protest the funeral of one of our fallen soldiers. So I would also like to take this time to thank those who stand up to that poor excuse of a human being such as those of Weston, Missouri. Nearly half the town showed up take every available parking space and to line the roads and sidewalks with people and flags so that the protesters would have no place to set up and protest the funeral of Sgt. First Class C.J. Sadell, allowing his family and friends to grieve him with the respect and honor they are due. Regardless of political affiliation, we all need to respect those fighting on the front lines, who every day, put their lives at risk so that we don’t have to.



Kyle’s idea for a good way to spend Veteran’s Day is to try and take out Fidel Castro in the video game, Black Ops. He did do a full day of school work before playing. I’m proud of him because it can be hard to get up early and work while everyone has the day off and is sleeping in. Way to go, Kiddo.


PS I would like to add this to my blog for a friend who is a wife of a wonderful man who is also a wonderful Marine:

“We are asking everyone to say a prayer for "Darkhorse" 3rd Battalion 5th Marines and their families. They are fighting it out in Afghanistan and have
lost 9 Marines in 4 days.”

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Fall weather = outdoors reading
Attending midnight release = afternoon nap

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stylish Blogger Award!

Wow, thank you so much to Maureen at Homeschool Mo for passing on the Stylish Blogger Award. What a great way to start my day! Smile


The Rules for accepting the award are:

  • Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Pass this on to 15 other great bloggers you recently discovered.
  • Contact the selected bloggers and tell them about their awards.

Seven things about myself:

  1. I have one brother
  2. My brother has 3 girls and I have 3 boys
  3. I love to create: scrapbook, photography, quilt, crochet. You name it, I love to make it.
  4. For the last 12 years, I have worked for a scrapbooking magazine
  5. I love the beach and one day I hope to retire to a beachfront home
  6. I met my husband while working at a movie theater
  7. I just got my first pair of glasses. I’m officially old now.

I am paying this award forward to some of my favorite blogs:

  1. The Homefront Lines
  2. Golden Grasses
  3. A Work in Progress
  4. Snowflakes in the Valley
  5. Learners at Home
  6. Sage Parnassus
  7. Life of the Gilbert Gang
  8. Feathers in my Nest
  9. Scattered Seeds
  10. Homeschool Ninjas
  11. Follow the Tumbleweed Road
  12. Majorchange Academy
  13. This Real Life
  14. Lavender’s Blue
  15. Savoring the Circus

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mad Science at Work

Mad_Science_by_JediMSieer (2)
Many times it feels that science at the high school level falls into the “mad science” category. It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s frustrating and sometimes downright maddening. There are too many times that no matter how closely we study or how closely we follow the directions the results are completely a “off the wall” departure from what we expected. So today as Kyle and I worked on his photosynthesis lab and things kept falling into place, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Surely something this involved and taking this much time can’t possibly continue to go right. Yet trail after trial continued to bear out exactly what we thought was going to happen. I think we were both completely blown away by it. His graph of the results and the answers to the follow up questions all came up exactly on the nose. In the end, we were both still frustrated but that was simply a result of the length of the lab and its involvement. It took hours to complete; most of our day. But the fact that it worked, WOW, what a great feeling. I think we might be actually getting the hang of this science thing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Week in Review

To summarize this week in one word, that word would be "boring". This week's work was simply an extension of last week's lessons with the exception of NaNoWriMo. Even though I'm not writing my own novel (though many adults are committed to that daunting work), I am thoroughly enjoying watch the excitement and joy Kyle has when writing his and am so grateful that he has this opportunity to participate. I seriously doubt we would have thought to tackle such a project on our own.

Math: good work continues to march on even though he only got an 85 on this week's test. Simple mistakes that he easily recognized so he will keep moving forward.

Language Arts (writing/spelling/vocab/grammar): NaNoWriMo is everything for this month's language art lessons. He is learning a lot about playing with words and especially dialog. I can't wait to see the final result. He shouldn't have any problems reaching his word count.

Spanish: we are extremely bogged down with irregular verbs. I need to find a way to move us along a little faster before we find ourselves behind; even though getting this nailed down now would be better than moving forward without them.

Biology: I started mixing things up by adding in CK12 Biology. I really like the mixture of textbook type learning with the whiteboard lectures. My only worry is finding a way to make sure he is understanding what he is being taught. There are no ready tests and I'm not quite sure what to ask of him from an essay so that's my homework for this weekend. There must be a way to find out what he knows, what he doesn't know and what he absolutely needs to know.

The Iliad Section of my Commonplace Book
History/Lit: We are still reading the Iliad and we have finally reached the death of Patrokolos. The blood, guts and gore are so amazingly vivid that Kyle and I often groan in sympathy. Great stuff! I am so glad we are doing this together because something this wonderful should be experienced with someone else. We continue to work in our commonplace books and listen to the Teaching Company's lectures that add a whole new wonderful layer to this book. For Ancient Greece background information, he is still reading Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea and, for next week, I hope to add in A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage.

Did you know dogs will crack open acorns to eat the centers? Neither did I. The weather turned gorgeous today with bright sunshine and cool, fall like temperatures. Finally! So I took a chair and my Kindle and went outside to enjoy it and while out there discovered Daisy cracking nuts. Strange little creature.

Daisy: note the bit of acorn on her mouth and the leaves in her hair

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What's for Dinner?

With school under way and autumn trying to make its way here, the crock pot is getting a heavy workout. I use it almost every day whether it be for soups, stews, chilies, or some other main course. Unfortunately, there is a huge drawback to using a crock pot, the smell. It kills me to wait until dinner before I can dig into whatever is cooking and right now our favorite is simmering away and I'm starving. This Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken from allrecipes.com is honestly making my mouth water and causing me to go continuously into the kitchen just so I can get a better whiff. I don't know if I'm going make it until dinner time. I really don't. I may just have to sneak me a thigh when nobody is looking. But then again, waiting for the rice and Asian veggies just might make the suffering worth it. Mmmm, mmmm, good!

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup lite soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 (20 ounce) can pineapple tidbits, drained with juice reserved
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook chicken thighs just until evenly browned on all sides. Place thighs in a slow cooker.
  2. In a bowl, mix honey, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, ginger, and reserved pineapple juice. Pour into the slow cooker.
  3. Cover, and cook 4 hours on High. Stir in pineapple tidbits just before serving.
  4. Mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Remove thighs from slow cooker. Blend the cornstarch mixture into remaining sauce in the slow cooker to thicken. Serve sauce over the chicken. 
Serves 10

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Writing Surprises

Percy Jackson, Pendragon, The Lost Hero, Ranger's Apprentice. Those are a few of Kyle's all time favorite books/stories and the ones he's pulling heavily from for his own novel. It's fun to see how he can take the traits from the characters and plots and twist them into something entirely new and entirely his own.

I was nervous when I first conceived the plan for Kyle to participate in NaNoWriMo this year and to say he felt daunted would be an understatement. Instead, what we both are finding is that he has a rich imagination that has been fed for years by great authors and their writings. As a child, I used to sit down and write stories for fun. I went through stages of wanting to be a writer, then an artist and then back to being a writer again but Kyle has never even come close to those stages. Writing in any form was for school work only.

So NaNoWriMo has been a gift for him. For the first time, he can see himself as an author. It has opened windows to sides of himself that he had no idea were there. Being allowed to write freely is fun and something that has taken him completely by surprise. He works on his book several times throughout the day even if it's only to stop something else he is doing, run and write down a few sentences of an idea that popped into his head, then head right back to what he was doing before. And now he wants to give everyone in the family copies of his book for Christmas. I think he's finally realizing that he has his own gifts to offer the world.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Civic Duty

I really didn't want to vote this year. One candidate just seemed worse than the other candidate but Evan convinced me I should do my civic duty and so we went to vote together. I'm almost dreading finding out the results of this election but at least I won't have to feel guilty for not doing my part. Thanks, Evan.

Teen Humor

"Humor is mankind's greatest blessing." -Mark Twain

One of the benefits of homeschooling (some days I would call it a drawback) is being subject to my son's sense of humor. Here are just a couple of examples from today:

1. Iliad Speak: O' Mother of the great aegis, I beg you to remove the pizza of the hot, searing stone and divide it into portions equal for I and my brothers, workers of the Best Buy, and place them on the platters shining while I bathe under the drops of cooling water.

Translated: Mom will you take out the pizza and put it on a plate while I take a shower.

2. Old Spice Speak: I am sitting in a chair, now I am picking up a pencil, now I am writing in my book, now I am reading, now I am sitting on a bed (and it goes on and on and on...)

Update from yesterday's NaNoWriMo post: by the time Kyle went to bed, he had over 2600 words written for his novel. Great first day!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Let the Insanity Begin

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo: a fun, seat-of-your-pants novel writing event where the challenge is to write an entire novel in just 30 day. Kyle has been working on his characters and plot for the last few weeks but today he was finally able to start writing and already he has 1100 words under his belt. He couldn't be more proud, excited, thrilled and ready for more. I set his goal at 14000, which is the minimum he should be able to do for his age, because I was worried he would have a tough time since writing is not one of his favorite things to do. Today he surprised both of us with his accomplishment and hopefully he'll be able to keep up the momentum. If not, he got one heck of a jump on his goal. But he is so wrapped up in his story, I think he'll make his word count with no problems. Good job, Kiddo, and keep up the good work!