Archive for August, 2008

Week 2

Posted in books, Homeschooling, kids with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2008 by simpleheresy

Another week of school and all is well!

Keek has been reading book 5 in the Spiderwick Chronicles and truly loves the series.  (Just imagine her excitement about the movies!) She is plugging away at math and made the connection between multiplication and division.  Her math book had missing number problems and that helped her on the path to discovery. Instead of 24 / 4 = ?  Some were written 24 / ? = 6.  At first this change in format confused and frustrated her.  We made a skip counting sheet that helped tremendously.  She caught on quickly and solved the remaining problems: no muss, no fuss.

On Thursday Keek was bored with work and she asked if she could do her math in her room.  I am in no way opposed to independent study but something was questionable in the way she asked.  Then it hit me!  Just the other day she had discovered the answer section located in the back of her workbook.  She had been using it to check her own work.  I put two and two together then said it would be fine.  She could finish the math in her room but I needed to see her workbook first.  She brought me the workbook, positively beaming at her cleverness.  I turned to the back of the book and gently tore the perforated answer pages out.  Then handed the workbook back to her.  She was so mad she turned purple.  So not to give herself away she turned and stomped off to her room.  OH I was in so much trouble!!

Fish continued on his reading and math path.  He buzzes through the math but, on Wednesday, voiced his first complaint.  He was finished with his spelling page, math page and about to start his word puzzles page when he heaved a heavy sigh and sat flatly, “I hate word puzzles.”

“You do?”  I asked

“Yeah…”  He responded.  Then he opened the book and did the page without another word.  When he was finished he went about his business and said nothing more.  On Thursday he did his pages and seemed to be enjoying himself… he was rhyming and drumming his fingers and shaking his hair, back and forth, the way a puppy would shake himself dry.

Today Fish “missed” school.  He threw up three times this morning but seems fine tonight… weird!  Keek went on in her books but Fish sat, half dozing on the chaise, hugging a bowl.  Poor baby.  This afternoon, when he felt better, I suggested he do his school pages but he said he didn’t want to.  He suggested doing them tomorrow… so tomorrow it is!

We’ve read the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors a thousand times and this week we watched the Disney version 1000 more times.  It’s a good story but if I have to listen to it agin I’m going to lose my marbles!  The kids also watched a movie based on Anne of Green Gables and loved it, especially Keek.

We watched Mythbusters, Man vs. Wild and a National Geographic special about the Amazon this week.  The Amazonian animals were of much interest to Keek.  She enjoyed the funny dolphins and shiny piranha in the murky water.  She was surprised by the contrast of murky rapid water and clear slow water tributaries that ran into the Amazon. Fish liked the baby alligators and the way they rode in their mother’s mouth.  He also liked the manatees and the dance they did under the water.  We all love Man VS Wild and were most shocked, surprised and grossed out when Bear peed on his cut hand. Bear explained that the ammonia in the urine would prevent infection.  Keek and I were expressing our opinions of general disgust (“EEEWWWWW!”) while Charles and Fish laughed out loud.  The Mythbusters were debunking conspiracy theorists claims that the lunar landing never took place.  The most interesting tidbit of this episode was how topography affected the shadows cast in the photographs.  Pretty cool stuff!

So that’s my summation of the weeks scholarly events.  Hope you enjoyed it!

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Week 1

Posted in books, Homeschooling, kids, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 22, 2008 by simpleheresy

One week of recorded schooling under our belt and no complaining to speak of!  Yay!!!

After five days of ‘school’ I consider myself (and the kids) back in the swing of things.  I’m really glad I decided to go with the weekly piece of mind sheets and printed the first semester’s pages ahead of  time.  The daily block size is perfect for recording their activities.  It seems (so far) that I have more time for myself this year.  They are recording the weather daily and studying soil samples under the heading of Science.  We haven’t done any History anything so far!  Maybe next week.

Keek has really benefited from the math worbook.  She is in the middle of a third grade book and just starting simple division.  Her multiplication tables are not memorized (mine either, for that matter) but her figuring skills have gotten quicker.  She freezes up when asked an unexpected math question but how often does that happen in the real world?!

Fish learned more about reading this summer than I could have imagined. He can read most of the little kid books in his room, unassisted, on the first try.  He is eager to move on to the bigger books but gets easily frustrated by longer, compound, contraction or non-phonetic words. Beyond all that I am so impressed how much he picked up on his own.   That’s when kids really learn… when no one is watching!

Both of the kids have frequented brain pop dot com and enjoy the easy learning they do there. Keek was sucked into the land of atomic particles and Fish revisited Olympic history.  Both wanted to take the following quizzes, which surprised me.  I suppose when one hasn’t been exposed to the stigma of test taking the stigma doesn’t exist!  Keek opted for a graded test and Fish chose to take the review.  Both had fun and that’s the most important requirement for long term recall of information.

Keek read, “The Hundred Penny Box” by Sharon Bell Mathis then wrote her own book report.  She prefers to write on copy paper then transcribe over to lined paper.  She did great!

Fish and I read, “A Kitchen Knight” by Barbara Schiller together.  By far, his favorite place was, the Castle Dangerous! 🙂 He also read a (PD Eastman or Dr Seuss) book to me daily.  His favorite book at the moment is, “I Stink!” by Kate McMullan.  It’s an energetic story of a New York City dump truck told in first person narrative with one nasty alphabet soup recipe!

Hopefully the other 35 weeks will be just as fun and easy going as this one was!

Oil Man To The Rescue! Or Not

Posted in Green with tags , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2008 by simpleheresy

Just like everyone else, I’ve been watching the commercials and listening to the radio announcements put out by T. Boone Pickens.  Initially shocked and surprised that an oil man would jump on the green wagon so whole heartedly I was happy but with reservations.

It felt like some vital piece of information was left out of his oh so green plan.  Well… it turns out he’s not only switching into the wind business but he and his subsidiaries are moving into the water business as well.

Those of us that live in Oklahoma and Texas draw water from the Ogallala Aquifer located under both states panhandles.  Pickens, a shrewd business man quite familiar with oil drilling techniques, is buying up the land and ground rights to the entire area for the wind farm.  Once T. Boone Pickens has the land and ground rights in his possession he can charge for energy and water.  Even when the aquifer is mostly drained Pickens will be able to scoop the last drops from the earth.  Talk about a money making deal!

In Beijing, and elsewhere, the aquifers must be drilled to a depth of about 3000 feet before finding fresh water.  Are we headed in the same direction??

As water tables fall, well drillers are using modified oil-drilling technology to reach water, going as deep as 1,000 meters in some locations. In communities where underground water sources have dried up entirely, all agriculture is rain-fed and drinking water is trucked in. Tushaar Shah, who heads the International Water Management Institute’s groundwater station in Gujarat, says of India’s water situation: “When the balloon bursts, untold anarchy will be the lot of rural India.” (from http://www.eoearth.org/article/Aquifer_depletion)

Hmmm… T. Boone Pickens seems to be looking at a bigger picture than he lets on. Press play to see more on this story from one of my favorite, sometimes goofy, light hearted, entertaining, educational and environmental news channels… ZapRoot at http://www.viropop.com/.

Regardless of your political standing or how you feel about the human contribution to global warming, it seems to me, we’re not being given the whole truth.  Where there’s a little lie chances are a bigger lie lurks.

Talk the talk

Posted in kids, Uncategorized with tags , , on August 18, 2008 by simpleheresy

My Aunt had told me Fish had a unique name for omlettes but she couldn’t remember so I asked,  “Do you remember when you spent the night at the Hotel with your Aunt L?”

“Yes.”

“Do you remember what you had for breakfast?”

“I had a mallet and my own little box of loopy fruit cereal with the bird on it.”

***and then*** (another kid-ism I hear all the time!)

Today we were out in the rain, digging soil samples from the park and the yard.  As we were leaving the house Fish said, “Ohhh nnno, it’s raining.”  I responded, “It’s just drizzling honey… we’ll be ok.” On the way back in I said, “Let’s go inside.” He was enjoying the sprinkles and said, “It’s just dribbling mom!”

For those not fluent in kid speak:::  mallet = omelet and dribbling = drizzling

I love kid talk!

The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Posted in entertainment, Uncategorized, useless knowledge with tags , , , on August 14, 2008 by simpleheresy

I just finished watching “The Hogfather” based on the book by Terry Pratchett.   A friend of mine had lent me the book eons ago but I have yet to make it past page thirty.  I just can’t get into it… the writing style is just not for me.  When I saw the showing on TV, recorded it to my DVR and finally got around to watching it… I thoroughly enjoyed it!   This is my favorite scene.

Death: Humans need fantasy to *be* human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.
Susan: With tooth fairies? Hogfathers?
Death: Yes. As practice, you have to start out learning to believe the little lies.
Susan: So we can believe the big ones?
Death: Yes. Justice, mercy, duty. That sort of thing.
Susan: They’re not the same at all.
Death: You think so? Then take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder, and sieve it through the finest sieve, and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. And yet, you try to act as if there is some ideal order in the world. As if there is some, some rightness in the universe, by which it may be judged.
Susan: But people have got to believe that, or what’s the point?
Death: You need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become?

Susan is Death’s Grand Daughter so she is not afraid or intimidated by him.  It’s interesting to watch her attitude toward him change throughout the movie.  In the early scenes she is mistrusting, almost angry with him but by the end she understands more of where he is coming from.  But, as the above dialog suggests, she still has much to learn.

The movie was great in a “Nightmare Before Christmas” meets “Never Ending Story” with a bit of “Harry Potter” thrown in kind of way.  All movies I love!

Tattoos! only not really

Posted in Art, kids, Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 7, 2008 by simpleheresy

With the exposed summer skin comes the inevitable request for body art.  The kids have always been fans of face paint and temporary tattoos.  So as per their requests… tattoo’s were painstakingly drawn on the most perfect of canvases.  Even Uncle K got in on the action!

Amazing Ayumu

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 5, 2008 by simpleheresy

Ayumu, an amazing Chimpanzee has memory that blows humans out of the water! Why isn’t this news shouted from the mountain tops?? More evidence that animals are just as aware (if not more) than humans. No more animal testing!!!!!

From Natural News

(NaturalNews) A chimpanzee has performed three times as well on a memory test as one of the top-ranking human memory champions.

Ben Pridmore ranks in the number two spot for worldwide memory competitions, can memorize the order of a full deck of cards in only 30 seconds, and regularly memorizes numbers up to 400 digits long. But in a test performed by the British television program “Extraordinary Animals,” Pridmore’s performance fell far short of that of a seven-year-old male chimpanzee named Ayumu.

Imitating the format of a scientific study in which Ayumu had formerly participated, both human and chimpanzee watched a screen on which five numbers were displayed briefly before being replaced by white boxes. They then had to touch the blank boxes in the order of the numbers they had formerly displayed.

When the numbers were shown for only a fifth of a second, Ayumu still scored 90 percent correct; Pridmore’s score, on the other hand, was only 33 percent

“It is extremely impressive for anybody,” Pridmore said when asked about Ayumu’s performance. “He is doing something which I think is a really great performance even by human standards, so I’m sort of forgetting he is not a human being. When I bring that into the equation, it makes it overwhelmingly impressive.”

Ayumu was one of several chimpanzees to outperform human college students in a similar memory test conducted in 2007. Based on such research, scientists believe that young chimpanzees have photographic memories for patterns and sequences.

In contrast, Pridmore memorizes long sequences a little bit at a time. “I have a mental image of an object or a person for each pair of two playing cards pre-programmed in my brain,” he said. “I’d see a necklace hanging on a bouquet of flowers with an insect flying around it and then the insect would fly off to the next point of my journey so I’m making a story out of 26 different mental pictures.”

“People still believe that humans are superior to chimpanzees in any domain of intelligence,” said researcher Tetsuro Matsuzawa of Kyoto University. “That is [a] prejudice.”