Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Osiris and Set Narration

by Isabel, age five

(A summary of the myth of Osiris and Set can be seen here. We read a kid-friendly version.)

"Egyptians believed in lots of Gods, not just one. Miley Cyrus was the in-charge god. Miley Cyrus's brother was Set Up, like Scar in the Lion King. Set Up gave Miley Cyrus a coffin box as a trick, and Miley Cyrus drownded in the Nile. Miley Cyrus's wife, Ice, cried a lot. Then Miley Cyrus came back to life and went back to the prideland. The pharoah was a god, too, and sang very pretty with Joseph."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Say what?

Photograph by Matthew Rolston

So, yeah, yeah, I haven't updated in ages. First Isabel was sick, then I was sick, then Aidan was sick, blah, blah, blah. And I am apparently watching far too much television these days, judging by back-to-back opinions on reality TV stars. But I just can't not say something about this Adam Lambert business.

Isn't Adam Lambert being gay, like, the biggest NON-news story ever?

This was a "secret" like the owner of the deli where I worked as a teenager having an affair with his manager was a secret ("Uh, sorry! I can't see anything, I just need to refill the pickle jar!" [As did she. ba dum bum.]). Like Kathie Lee Gifford having a bizarre fixation on Cody, or how most moms co-sleep with their babies at some point. Like Citizen Kane not actually being a very interesting movie, or how diet Dr. Pepper actually does not taste like regular Dr. Pepper at all. These are things that aren't always talked about, but are generally known.

So, please, allow me to say... Yoo-hoo! Rolling Stone? EVERYBODY ALREADY KNEW ADAM LAMBERT WAS GAY.

I'm now off to work on the breaking news story that I'm certain will launch my reporting career: Andy Rooney Has Nightmare-Inducing Eyebrows.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I'm a guest blogger!

A friend, Tracy, owner of the wildly successful I Hate My Message Board weblog, has a piece of mine up as a guest post! To read my thoughts on the recent Jon and Kate Plus Eight controversies, follow this link:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Stupid Nature (a/k/a Close Encounters of the Wormed Kind)

This week we're learning about early Egypt: The Nile, Nile Delta, Upper Egypt, Lower Egypt, King Narmer, etc. Cue immediate confusion, as the map shows that "Upper Egypt" is, in fact, lower, and "Lower Egypt" is upper - a baffling conundrum to a 5 year old. After much poring over maps and talking about mountains vs. valleys, I decided that the thing to do was to make a model of the Nile. So we halted all further discussions about Egypt in order to construct the Nile in our dining room.

An old metal painting pan made the perfect container - it even had the built-in slope to represent Upper Egypt's mountains. I drilled a few holes in the deepest part, to allow water from our Nile to drain into the Mediterranean - otherwise known as a round cake tin - and set Isabel up with tin foil to line the pan and mold mountains. While she did that and Aidan napped, I jogged out to the farthest corner of the backyard, where we've been tearing out grass to construct a play area. This portion of the yard has dark, rich soil and since my initial, ambitious imaginings of the model included grass seeds, I thought it would be perfect. Working fast, lest Senor Crankypants wake from his nap earlier than expected, I filled a large mixing bowl with dirt and ran back in.

Referencing Isabel's map of the Nile, we got the model oriented in the right direction and dumped in the dirt. With spoons and fingers we smoothed the valley, mounded the mountains and dug out the Nile, its offshoots in the delta, and the sea. The dirt was imperfect, filled with grass clippings. That's the reason I didn't notice them sooner - they blended in with the grass clippings.

"Them" being the worms.

No, let me rephrase. Not just "the worms," but THE MOTHERF***ING WORMS! Scores of them. Thready white nasty little buggers, undulating and burrowing all through our model of the Nile. I think they might have been these, and am hoping like hell they weren't these.

Me: Oh my Gaaaawwwd!

Not out loud, though. I managed to keep a calm demeanor. But make no mistake - in my head, I was jumping around and screaming like a maniac as those horrid little things wriggled around on my dining table. Oh, Lord, on my table. Very, very calmly, I scooped them out, one at a time, and re-deposited them in my mixing bowl (which is now slated for destruction, as I will never ever evereverever eat anything that comes out of it again). One by one, until there was a nice, thick pile of those squirmy sonsabitches. I flushed them down the toilet, with much malice in my heart.

We filled our pitcher (the one we made in our recycling/gardening tool project a couple weeks ago) with water and rained down on the mountains. It worked! The water flowed through the mountains, into the Nile, through the delta and into the sea. It flooded and drained, just as it was supposed to. And as it drained, dozens more worms popped up out of the dirt and made a mad dash for higher ground. Popped their slimy white heads out of my Nile Delta and looked at me, I swear to God, they looked at me with evil in their microscopic eyes, or whatever equivalent to eyes worms have.

Unfortunately for me, Isabel was very taken with her Nile model and wanted to keep playing with it for a while. So I isolated the damned thing the best I could, with tin foil and a tray, and let her flood it a bit longer while I got to the urgent business of cleaning all the spilled dirt off of my table, chairs and floor. Because you know what was in my mind... bitty worms and worm eggs laying around, just waiting to be eaten by some unwitting child or house pet. Or, maybe, just maybe, lurking and waiting for the right moment to burrow into the bottom of my foot and lay eggs in my brain or some such fodder for a blockbuster horror film. Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it couldn't - someone has to be the first. It would be just my luck to be the first human invaded by some body-snatching alien worm creature from the Nile.

So I cleaned. And cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. I knew it was overboard even while I was doing it, but considering that what I really wanted to do was (1) blow the house up or (2) power-wash the entire dining room with undiluted bleach, I figured I was doing okay by settling for some obsessive-compulsive scrubbing with vinegar solution. I also enforced rigorous hand-washing by all Nile-flooding participants, but did it without screeching about intestinal parasites so, again, bring on the congratulatory self-back-pats. I invited Isabel to help with the cleaning but she was suddenly and tragically struck blind, as evidenced by her dark-tinted princess glasses. Remarkably coincidental, how she is always unexpectedly overcome by such afflictions just when I need her help with tidying up.

I managed to hold on until Nick got home. Isabel flooded the Nile for him and he was appropriately impressed. And then I smiled, pulled him to the side, and hissed, "There are worms in the model and you must get it out. of. my. house. NOW."

Which he did. Husbands are awesome.

Isabel had a blast, and she did eventually understand why Upper Egypt is Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt is Lower Egypt. So it was worth it in the end.

Naturally, there are pictures.

Isabel's map of the Nile.

Putting dirt in the model. Sweet, innocent times, before we'd looked closely at the soil.

Aidan's contribution. I'm not joking, either - this is the very best contribution he could have given us. I love it when he sleeps through the big projects!

Worm pie. Er... I mean, the Nile. It's partially flooded here.

Aidan woke up.

Isabel. She was blind here. As you can tell by the glasses. Her sight was miraculously restored when all the cleaning was done.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Know, Google Ads, Since Thou Art So Weird...

That I shall now commence to mock thee.

In the sidebar of my search results for "homeschool news":

Online Homeschooling
Fast & Easy. All info about online Homeschooling.

It just so happens that I used to have a contract with the other half of the company that operates EssayEdge. So I know firsthand that EssayEdge is an essay writing service. Not a tutoring service, an essay writing service. They're not lying - it truly is fast and easy homeschooling when you hire someone else to do your schoolwork for you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A less-than-stellar Mommy moment

8:00 am
Eating homemade waffles
Isabel: I wish we could have oatmeal for breakfast.
Me: We had oatmeal yesterday. Waffles today. They're good!
Isabel: Yeah. But I wish we could have oatmeal instead.
Me: I know you do. We'll have oatmeal tomorrow.

10:00 am
Doing schoolwork
Isabel: I wish I had my own computer.
Me: What would you do with your own computer?
Isabel: I could look up my own schoolwork by myself and it would be better.
Me: Okay. Well, how about if we look some things up on the computer in a little bit?
Isabel: But that's not my own computer. I wish I had my own computer.
Me: I understand you do. But we all share a computer for now.

12:00 pm
Eating lunch at the beach
Isabel: I wish we had McDonald's for lunch.
Me: Sorry, babe, I made you a turkey taco. You like them.
Isabel: Uh-huh. I still wish I had McDonald's.
Me: Sorry, Belle. No McDonald's today.
Isabel: *big sigh*

3:00 pm
Heading home from the beach
Isabel: I wish we had a van.
Me: Me, too.
Isabel: Then I could sit up high and see everything.
Me: Me, too.
Isabel: I really wish we had a van.
Me: *big sigh* Me, too.

Going upstairs to work
Isabel: I wish you didn't have to work.
Me: But I like to work.
Isabel: I wish you were a mommy who didn't work, though.
Me: Well, I do.

8:00 pm
Isabel: I wish I could stay up late. I wish I had a house with NO bedtime.
Me: Yes, Isabel, I hear you. I understand that you wish for many things and that our lives are lacking in every conceivable way. I apologize for falling short of your expectations on a regular basis and for delivering a socioeconomic experience that is less than you would hope. I promise to try harder to create a lifestyle more to your liking. How does that sound?
Isabel: .................
Me: *raises eyebrows*
Isabel: Never mind.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What we're doing this week, and some cave paintings

This week's material rundown:

Review numbers 1-100 with number chart
Review shapes
Horizons review worksheets: 6-10, 1-10, 10-19, 20-29
Horizons fill-in-the-number worksheets: 16-69, 30-100
Miquon Orange Book worksheets (with Cuisenaire rods): addition to 4, 5, 8 and 9

Spelling Workout A, Lessons 3 and 4: Beginning letters and sounds

First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Lessons 3 and 4: Common nouns, introduction to proper nouns, ongoing review/memorization of poem "The Caterpillar"

The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading: Consonant blends and digraphs
Readers of choice

Family History project *tie-in to History (interviewing family members and copying answers)
Create a plant diary *tie-in to Science (journaling garden progress)
Copywork: "The Caterpillar" *tie-in to Grammar

Oral Reading
McGuffey's Eclectic Reader 1, Lessons 1 and 2

History and Geography
The Story of the World, Chapter 1: The First Nomads, and, The First Nomads Become Farmers
Fertile Crescent map
Coloring page: Farmer with Shaduf
Activities: Cave painting, build a hut, *maybe* make a game bag

Flower dissection
Create an indoor garden and greenhouse
Seeds in a bag
Journal opening of dandelions in plant diary

Music Appreciation

Art Appreciation
The Children's Book of Art

Irish dancing (x2)
Homeschool group (x2)
General playing with kids in the neighborhood in the evenings

I'm in a quandary regarding our reading work. We've been making our way through Charlotte's Web but, frankly, Isabel hates it. It's just not holding her attention. So as much as I hate to do it, I think we're going to stop. She's not getting anything out of it and I don't want to turn her off of reading. I picked up a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit a while ago, and we might try that instead. We'll see.

We read through the first part of this week's history lesson today and learned about the earliest nomads. Isabel was fascinated and disgusted to learn that they ate lizards and snakes. I must try to find a book that talks more about what early peoples ate.

After all our other schoolwork was done for the day, and everyone had been lunched and played with, I fashioned a cave out of brown paper beneath our dining table. I stripped Aidan down, put out some paints, and the kids made cave paintings. This was a fun project!

Painting in the "cave."

Isabel hard at work.

Aidan a mess, as usual!

The finished product. The bottom right is Aidan's contribution. The rest is Isabel's... she has a pretty elaborate story of what's going on, too. It's people (nomads) dancing underneath the sun and then moving somewhere new to follow the animals.