Friday, November 19, 2010

Quarter End!!!

It's here - it's really here!! The end of our first quarter of school! I haven't been able to post because I've been too busy wrapping up final projects, essays, Greek & Latin root exams, dioramas and exploding volcanoes, Thanksgiving pumpkins and Indian Corn paintings... the list goes on and on and on. But today - it has ended (at least until Monday when we'll start Quarter 2).  HURRAY!!!

To celebrate I took the girls to see the newest Harry Potter movie. Yes, it's dark and violent, but since they've all read/listened to the book I decided it would be fine to delve into the visuals this one time. And they have been looking forward to seeing it since we finished the series. So after lunch I loaded 'em up, in full Hogwarts attire - robes and wands - to see the movie. I even let them get candy at the theater (this may not seem like a big deal, but I think my kids can count on one hand the number of times Mom has purchased candy for them). We had so much fun and can't wait for the 2nd half of the last movie to come out next year. Hopefully it will line up with another quarter end. =)

Now I'm off to bask in having finished 25 % of the school year...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fall Leaves

Our next few art projects focus on learning different techniques and creating rather than art history. This project, Leaf Stamping, involves finding a somewhat fresh leaf, painting it with white paint and stamping it by pressing it paint-side down on black paper and placing a scrap paper on top. You then rub to create an imprint of the veins, stem, etc. The result is a stamp which looks somewhat like a fossil, according to my girls. After the white paint is dry, sponge a few different colors into the negative space, and - VOILA! - instant (and inexpensive) fall decor.

Another fun project involves india ink and a dip pen, textured, colored paper, and conte crayons.  With pencil, lightly draw a small collection of leaves. Add details. Trace with ink, and when dry add highlights with the conte crayons. Finish by shading with ink. This example was done with and orange-brown paper and  ink, but to make it kid-friendly I recommend using markers and black pens as india ink is indelible (even on skin - at least for several days).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Allure of Delusion

Throughout my life, I have met and become well-acquainted with people whom I believe to be delusional. I'm not talking about Delusional with a capital-D. And to be honest, I believe we all have delusions about ourselves and our lives - for better or for worse. It's part of the human condition. We need a bit of delusion to remain happy and content.  No... I'm talking about people that take it too far. Not so far that they are considered Delusional by the medical community, but far enough that after you spend some time in a conversation you find that you're frowning to yourself and wondering what, in fact, the man (or woman) to whom you're speaking actually sees when he looks in the mirror. It's almost amusing. In fact, I'd be better off if I let myself be amused, but I'm not always such a good person and I usually end up being annoyed that someone actually thinks of himself in a way that is so obviously false.

But ... maybe the more delusional one is the more fun life becomes...

... or maybe not.

I have no problem day-dreaming, setting big goals, pretending and imagining, etc. But I cannot seem to delude myself into believing things about me that aren't true. I suppose one could argue that positive thinking is in its own way a bit of delusion. During a long run, I might allow myself to imagine that I feel wonderful, I'm not tired in the least, I've never felt better, etc.. And the more I focus on that, the better I feel and the longer I run. However, I still remain convinced that I am not actually a world-class athlete just months away from breaking an Olympic record even if I tell myself I am so I get moving. I don't actually believe it. I guess I'm basically a realist.

I don't know. Somehow the people that I've talked to really seem to believe the line they sell. I see the allure of believing - really believing - their delusions:  instant gratification.  Why work hard at something when I can just pretend I did (and get away with it)?

Oh well. I suppose it's like everything else people do in their private lives... it's none of my business. And if I think it is, I'm delusional.

Monday, November 8, 2010


"Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence."
~Robert Frost

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reality Check

This year I did something new and ordered a curriculum for language arts and social studies/science. There are some really good things about the program (well, programs as I'm doing three different levels) and I can appreciate that there are things I would not have covered or spent time on that are included. There are also things which I find simultaneously hilarious and annoying - this mostly comes in the form of the number of activities or assignments that are supposed to be covered in one day, or the directions for certain activities  - perhaps I should say "lack of directions" as I find instructions that say something like "Research North America and write a report" to be ridiculous.  Obviously as the parent, I have the ability to modify and change whatever I want with the program. So I do. And I recognize that no one thing will work for everyone. Whereas I find that asking my six-year-old to do a lesson on endangered and extinct animals, play a game of charades, create three puppets and put on a scripted puppet show with them, complete a worksheet with world problems involving endangered animals, make three more finger puppets and design her own puppet show may be overkill for one lesson, I'm sure there are other people that find it to be just the right amount of work or even not enough.

But I do feel that most homeschool parents probably do not appreciate programs that are written to the child and involve instructions like this: "Go into the kitchen and bake something, anything you like, and write about the experience." What! Wait a minute - don't they know that we have to leave for swim team in 15 minutes. Don't they know that my child will want to make the most involved and complicated recipe she can find? Don't they know that I am not in the mood to drop what I was doing with my three other kids and start on a major baking adventure? Don't get me wrong - I love to bake and cook with my kids. But it requires a bit of advance notice for me. We don't always have every ingredient. We don't always have the time. And now my kid is upset and disappointed at not being able to do something that is assigned to her that I didn't even see coming. She doesn't care that I tell her we can do it this weekend. Now I've got a sad kid, three other kids that are clamoring to bake something, and a headache. And I did read ahead to see what was coming up in her assignments - I just missed that teeny, tiny sentence in the 4 pages for that lesson. Silly me.

That's what I get for buying something ready-made. I want to add a little box to the list of required materials that says: "This program also requires a reality check."