News of the Day: I have a theory and my theory is this!

"Presenter (Graham Chapman): Good Evening. I have with me tonight Anne Elk. Mrs Anne Elk.

Miss Elk: (John Cleese, as a very prim lady) Miss.

Presenter: You have a new theory about the brontosaurus.

Miss Elk: Can I just say here Chris for one moment that I have a new theory about the brontosaurus?

Presenter: Er... exactly. (he gestures but she does not say anything) What is it?

Miss Elk: Where? (looks round)

Presenter: No, no. Your new theory.

Miss Elk: Oh, what is my theory?

Presenter: Yes.

Miss Elk: Oh what is my theory that it is. Well Chris you may well ask me what is my theory.

Presenter: I am asking.

Miss Elk: Good for you. My word yes. Well Chris, what is it that it is - this theory of mine. Well, this is what it is - my theory that I have, that is to say, which is mine, is mine

Presenter: (beginning to show signs of exasperation) Yes, I know it's yours, what is it?

Miss Elk: Where? Oh, what is my theory? This is it. (clears throat at some length)
My theory that belongs to me is as follows. (clears throat at great length)
This is how it goes. The next thing I"m going to say is my theory. Ready?

Presenter: Yes!

Miss Elk: My theory by A. Elk. Brackets Miss, brackets.
This theory goes as follows and begins now. All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much thicker in the middle and then thin again at the far end. That is my theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it, and what it is too.

Presenter: That's it, is it?

Miss Elk: Spot on, Chris.

Presenter: Well, er, this theory of yours appears to have hit the nail on the head.

Miss Elk: And it's mine.

Presenter: Yes, thank you very much for coming along to the studio. Thank you.

Miss Elk: My pleasure, Chris ....

Presenter: Next week Britain's newist wasp farm ...

Miss Elk: It's been a lot of fun.

Presenter: Yes, thank you very much.

Miss Elk: Saying what my theory is.

Presenter: Yes, thank you.

Miss Elk: And whose it is.

Presenter: Yes, thank you - that's all - thank you... opens next week.

Miss Elk: I have another theory.

Presenter: Yes.

Miss Elk: Called my second theory, or my theory number two.

Presenter: Thank you. Britain's newest wasp farm...

Miss Elk: This second theory which was the one that I had said...

Presenter: the phone rings; he answers)
Yes, no I'm trying...

Miss Elk:
Which I could expound without doubt. This second theory which, with the one which I just said, forms the brace of theories which I own and which belong to me, goes like this..."

Do you all remember this Monty Python skit? I remember that we went around for days saying "I have a theory and my theory is this" in a prim and proper voice.

Well I just read a book "Literary Theory" by Jonathan culler for my literature class that totally reminded me of this skit. I have to do a literary analysis of a children or young adult book using a literary theory such as Russian Formalism, Phenomenology, structuralism, deconstruction, feminist theory, psychoanalysis or queer theory. No, I am not making that last one up, there is a such a thing as queer theory. The book is clear as mud as reads pretty much like the Monty python skit above.

Father says pick a book and figure out what theory you want to use after reading it. My thinking is pick out what theory I want to use and use the book that will best support that theory. Wish me luck!

Homeschool: Bird thoughts!

This Mandarin Duck is far from home. We discovered him at our local fishing hole. Of course, we didn't know it was a Mandarin. Upon getting home, we pulled out the bird books to find out what type it was.

We discovered that the Mandarin Duck breeds in eastern Siberia, China and Japan and winters in Southern China and Japan. There is a small free flying population in Britain stemming from the release of captive bred ducks. Also they are held in high esteem by the Japanese and the Chinese. In these countries, they serve as a symbol of happiness and marital fidelity.

Hmmm! So, what was it doing in a California pond?

Edited: I stand corrected -- this is a wood duck, common to California, but one I have never seen before. It really looks like a mandarin though because the wood duck and the mandarin are close relatives. They are the only members of the genus Aix and belong to the perching duck tribe Cairinini.

Thank you to the ladies of WTM. :)

These two love birds just couldn't figure out the bird feeder. I watched for 15 minutes while they walked around and around it. Mrs. tried perching on the top, but couldn't lean over to get the food out of the hole. Then she tried getting up on the perch, but couldn't balance on it. I decided to have pity on them and laid the feeder on its side. They are neat eaters. The blue jays come along and food flies everywhere.

Yes, the bird feeder is on the patio table....if I place it anywhere else in the yard, it is ignored.

The sparrows have built their nests in a tree close by and all the eggs have hatched. We can hear a chorus of tiny voices peeping for their moms and for food. Pretty soon we will have the joy of watching them learn to fly as they flit from bush to bush. It is an amazing site to see.

I love my yard.

Homeschool Writing Project: Bob the Builder

James recently wrote two short stories about “Bob the Builder” and wanted to send it to the writers of the show.

The first one he wrote so it ended up being much shorter than what he originally intended. He told me this wonderful long story and then when we told him to write it down, lost half of it because he can’t think and write at the same time. Father has the same problem. I end up taking lots of dictation for business letters, etc. but that is another story.

The story ended up as this:

"Bob the builder and the fast steam train:

It was a Halloween night and I was helping out with Bob and the can do crew. Build a new train station. Just then a fast train went by. The End.”

The next one I wrote down as he dictated the story to me. He does quite well with telling a story and pausing for me to write stuff down. He tells me long stories everyday and then says "did you get that". Ha! Then he repeats it slowly for me to write down. Anyhow, the second story was a combination of several bob the builder episodes

“Bob the Builder, the snake and the Giant Spider!

One Halloween night I was returning home to the yard. Bob the builder, Wendy and the can do crew were waiting for me. I had just rebuilt the wooden railroad bridge. Just then a giant spider arrived. I was so surprised I ran back to the yard and told everyone. Just then Packer came by. He caught the giant spider, packed it up, and took it home to the Wild West. Then a giant snake came along. Jackaroo came along just in time. He swung it around and around and threw it into the Wild West with the giant spider.

The end”

He wanted to send it to Hit Entertainment but they don’t accept stories ideas if you don’t have an agent. So, I found the address for the creator of “Bob” and we sent him copies of the stories, plus a letter.

James said “I would like to make a suggestion for two episode of Bob the Builder. Enclosed are two stories I made up. I would appreciate your thinking about making a Halloween show. I love Bob the Builder. Thank you. James (7 years old)

I wrote a nice cover letter and sent them off. We received this yesterday.

An autographed picture

and a very nice letter from "Bob" that said

" Dear James,

Thank you for your letter and your stories. I think you are going to be a great writer when you grow up. Or maybe a builder like me. A Halloween show would be a very good idea. Instead of a pumpkin, perhaps we could use Spud instead. Bye for now.

Love, Bob"

James was quite happy, Father was quite impressed and we will be framing the picture.

Question of the Day: Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? I recently read “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World” by Marti Laney. Very enlightening book…

I used to wonder why I would get so cranky and tired after spending time with people or at a function or work. According to Introvert Advantage “Introverts feel drained by having their physical space intruded upon. It takes energy for them to be around people even if they aren’t interacting with them. Children also need extra breaks during highly stimulating activities. In our Western Culture, where extroversion is valued and many activities for children are group experiences, it is extra important for introverted children to have time alone. Being in a bad mood is often a sign they need time out.” Not only children, but adults as well (like me!) I have noticed the need for time outs for me more as I get older.

I noticed this about James that when ever we went to a friend’s house, the park, or anywhere, after an hour or so, James would wonder off for some alone time. Once we were at a birthday party and he needed alone time, so he asked the mom if he could go in the back room and play. She didn’t understand and said he had to stay. A few minutes later he starts acting out, picking on the other kids, so we went home. So, now when we go to home school functions or other outings, we plan for being there only a certain period of time and leave before we get cranky.

Actually James has been like this from day one, he has never like noisy, crowded gatherings. His first Christmas, we had a big family gathering at my brother’s house. James was so cranky and crying so much, I spent most of the time in the back bedroom away from the noise. And I will tell you a secret, I actually didn’t mind too much, because the noise hurt my ears too and always made me very cranky. Once I read the book, I was able to understand, not only his reactions, but mine as well.

I discovered on my works days that if I listened to the radio on the drive home, I was so not ready to listen to my two guys blab to me about their day, I only wanted quiet. So that led to a rather cranky mom. So, rather than listen to the radio, I enjoy the silence and relax, I am ready to listen to my two men.

Father, on the other hand, is an extrovert and being with and talking to people recharges his batteries. Our business is perfect for him, because he gets to talk all day long. I receive many compliments from our customers that he is such an interesting, nice guy. They, in turn, love talking to him. So, on the days he is home with James, I know when I get home he will need to recharge his batteries.

I highly recommend reading “Introvert Advantage”. You may just discover a few things about yourself and family members and it just may help you improve your life.

Homeschool Science Project: Crickets

Yes, crickets. Little did I realize when James decided he wanted planet frog what we would have to feed these guys. So we went to pet smart Saturday to look for crickets to feed Godzilla. They had containers of small, medium and large crickets. I couldn't bring myself to buy live crickets for some reason. Thought we would try the dead cricket in a can method first, since the froggies haven't been exposed to live food yet. No good! So as I peruse the internet, what do I find. Cricket farms. You can actually get a subscription and they will send you a certain number and size of crickets each month.

Okie dokie.. then what? How do we house them? Oh hey - a cricket keeper! What do you know..............

Looks like we are now getting into the cricket keeping business. Yeehaw!!!!!!!!

I am sending James and Father off to the store today for live crickets. Hope they have fun!


My Education: Midterms and Homeschool

I am finished with my midterm and it has been submitted!

My two guys were very good about keeping themselves occupied this weekend while I was busy thinking and writing. Father recorded some old 1950’s movie “The Killer Shrews” and they watched that on Sunday. We previewed it Saturday night and it was so silly with dogs made up to look like huge rats, knew James would be okay with it.

Father came in very handy, proofreading my paper, except the first draft gave him a big headache for some reason. Hmmm… Once I figure how to link to it in the side bar, then it will be available to read. It is too long to post.

It seems my study time style has completely changed since I was young. Used to be that I couldn’t concentrate unless had complete silence, which usually meant closing myself up in my room or my dad’s office with the computer. Now, I really don’t have that option and have learned to adjust. I am so used to being interrupted by this, that and the other by both my guys, that it no longer bothers me.

However, James is exactly like I was and can’t concentrate with anything else going on, so we usually wait until Father has left for work to do lessons.

We are winding up 1st grade this week and James will be moving forward as a 2nd grader when lessons start again in June. He actually has been doing 2nd grade work for quite a while now, plus reading way above that level, but we have finally finished the first grade stuff. We are taking the month of May to have some fun. I asked him how he wants to celebrate and he just wants a present. He is a very low key kid (like me) and doesn’t like people making a big deal out of stuff. So, I will be making a certificate to give him, along with a neat Lego set that he has been wanting.


Home school Update: Frogs and Godzilla

Ohayoo gozaimasu. Ogenki Desu Ka.

Godzilla has completed his metamorphosis into a frog. It has been so interesting watching the changes over the past couple weeks. We have watched as the back legs popped out and toes formed. A couple days later arms appeared, then the fingers a couple more days later. The stripes on his legs have darkened and spots are now beginning to appear on his back. This morning I discovered him out of the water. He has a little bit of a tail left, which will disappear soon as it is completely absorbed into his body.

Herbie has yet to do anything but grow. We can see the shadow of the leg beneath the surface of her/his skin and will pop out when ready. She has been quite active this morning and trying to jump out of the water. Trying to emulate Godzilla, perhaps.

They are both the same age, but definitely having completely different stages of development. It is remarkable that they mirror how children go through the same stages of development, but at different times. You can nurture and feed and train them, but you can’t force them to change. They will change or develop at their own rate and when ready.

James has expressed interest in learning Japanese (again). With James interest in Godzilla movies, it has lead to learning all about Japan. I got a packet from the U.S. Japanese embassy with all kinds of maps of different towns, plus a big map of Japan. The big map is currently on his bedroom wall and he studies it every night, telling me about the different cities. So, since he wants to learn Japanese and possibly go in the future, we just purchased the following books to help in that endeavor. Also Father is interested in learning as well, for business reasons.

Random House Japanese-English English-Japanese Dictionary

Let's Learn Japanese Picture Dictionary

Japanese Step by Step : An Innovative Approach to Speaking and Reading Japanese

and we have been reading about and discussing folktales in my Literature class, so I just had to throw in a book of Japanese Folktales.

It's Midterm time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The fun of an online class is papers and discussions and whatnot are due by midnight on Sunday. However, we have until Monday 11:55 Eastern Time to complete the midterm. So for the rest of today and the weekend I will be working on my midterm. It is five essay questions covering the major ideas learned from Chapters One through Six.

So I am off to write (amid the distractions of James trying to tell me stories and read Magic Tree House books aloud to me). Me thinks he will be getting more than his allotted computer time for the next couple days. I sure he won't complain. He has recently become bored with his train simulation game and is trying his hand with Microsoft Flight Simulator X. He finally decided to quite crashing the planes and learn how to actually fly and land.

I am off to write. Sayonara!!!!!!!!!!

My education: Literary Analysis - Daniel's Duck

Well, I got a 93 on my first paper.

My professor said “You have done a VERY good job working the criteria here! Your discussion of each category with regards to this book is intelligent and insightful, and you support your points well. Mechanically, your writing is a bit choppy- try to avoid series of short, staccato sentences by combining sentences and using more transitions between sentences. For example, read your first paragraph aloud, coming to a complete stop at each period- you can "feel" the choppy effect. Let me know if you have any questions- I really enjoyed your work here!

She is right about the short choppy sentences, I think I have been reading too many “Magic Tree House” Books.

And now for your reading pleasure:

Daniel’s Duck
Written by Clyde Robert Bulla
Illustrated by Joan Sandin
Harper Collins Publishers, Inc 1982

Plot Synopsis: Daniel’s Duck is a story about a family that lives in the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee during the 1800’s. They survive by trading and selling goods. There is little to do in the wintertime when they are snowed in. The family makes things to sell at the spring fair in town. Daniel wants to carve a wooden duck to take to the spring fair. The problem is he has never carved anything before. He carves the duck with its head looking backward. His brother tries to discourage him from taking the duck to the spring fair, but Daniel won’t listen to him. After everyone at the fair laughs at his duck, he tries to throw it away into the river. He thinks everyone hates it and is embarrassed. An elderly gentleman consoles him and praises the duck offering to buy it from him. The man consoling him turns out to be Henry Pettigrew, the famous local wood carver.

Is this a good story? I liked Daniel’s Duck. It is simply written and combined with the illustrations provides a complete picture about life in the mountains, small town culture, families, sibling rivalry, and emotions. The book is very easy for a child to read and in its simplicity, provides lessons about life. The story brings up opportunities to discuss having confidence in yourself and how to handle ridicule. Kids learn about the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee and small town culture. How families support each other and how they survive during the cold winter months. Daniel’s Duck is a positive and heart warming story.

Is the Story about something I think could really have happened? Is the plot believable? Yes, the plot is believable. The plot includes person against person, person against self, and person against society conflicts. The person against person conflict involves Daniel and his brother who thinks he can’t carve anything because he is too young. The person against self conflict is Daniel’s confidence in himself that he can make something just as good as his brother. The person against society conflict is created when the town people laugh at the duck and Daniel feels he is being ridiculed. The situation described could happen anywhere. It is similar to when a child takes a project to the science fair and it does not perform as expected. People laugh because they find it amusing and appreciate the effort that went into the work. The child misunderstands and thinks they are laughing at him and his mistakes. He loses confidence in himself and his project. Then when a mentor or adult comes along that brings clarity to the situation, it makes them feel better and helps to restore their confidence. Daniel is hurt but feels better when Mr. Pettigrew, who is respected in the community and is an experienced wood carver, likes his duck.

Did the main character overcome the problem but not too easily? His big brother, Jeffrey did not make it easy for Daniel. Jeffrey makes simple carvings out of wood. Jeffrey is good at carving things and his parents are very proud of him. They always tell him “Someday you may be as good as Henry Pettigrew.”(6) This year he wants to do a carving of an animal like Henry Pettigrew. “I want to carve a deer or a turkey or a bear like Henry Pettigrew’s. But animals are hard to do”. (10) Jeffrey decides to carve a box with moons on the lid instead. Daniel has watched his parents and older brother make things and sell them at prior fairs, so he also wants to make something. Daniel decides he is going to carve a duck with its head facing backwards. He won’t let his brother’s remarks that he is too young and inexperienced stop him and he is determined to carve a duck. His brother keeps telling him he is doing it wrong when he sees the head is pointed backward. “That’s no way to do it”. said Jeff. (26) When the people of the town laugh when they see the duck, an elderly gentleman consoles him by saying “There are different ways of laughing. The people liked your duck. They laughed because they liked it”. (54) Daniel thinks they were laughing at him because it is ugly. The man tells him “It isn’t ugly. It’s a good duck. It made me feel happy. That’s why I laughed.”(54) The man is Henry Pettigrew. When some children walking by greet Mr. Pettigrew, Daniel is surprised. The famous wood carver likes his duck! He feels proud. He thinks “It isn’t ugly. It was good work. Henry Pettigrew said so and he knew it.”(58) Mr. Pettigrew’s encouragement shows Daniel that he has great talent which helps him to overcome his embarrassment and regain his confidence.

Did the characters seem real? Did I understand the personalities and reasons for actions? The characters seem very real with distinct personalities that show a full range of emotions from stubbornness to pride. Daniel is a little boy approximately 6 – 8 years old. He is sensitive, yet persistent and confident that he can carve something. He takes his time thinking about what he is going to make. Daniel can see that his parents are proud of Jeffrey and his carvings. He wants to be like his brother and carve something that his family will be proud of. His brother is a typical older brother, who teases and ridicules. He tells Daniels “It takes more than a good knife and some wood.”(11) His parents are supportive and tell the brother to leave Daniel alone and let him do it. He is hurt by the town people’s reaction and loses all confidence in his artwork. Mr. Pettigrew is a grandfatherly type who is famous in the valley for woodcarving. He is very talented and recognizes Daniel’s talent.

Did the characters fit into the setting? Together, the author and the illustrator paint a beautiful warm story of a simple life in the mountains. The setting is the 1800’s era in the mountains of Tennessee. The illustrator helps create the settings with warm illustrations. One of the pictures is of a cozy one room cabin. The author develops the setting with minimal wording “It was winter. The nights were long.”(15) The illustrator paints a picture of a snow covered cabin at the top of hill. Snow covers the ground, the trees are bare and the creek is just beginning to freeze over. Lights shine out of the cabin windows, creating warmth to the picture. The father and the two boys are drawn simply dressed in overalls, the mom in a simple home made dress.

My overall impression of Daniel’s Duck written by Clyde Robert Bulla is it is a good story and easy to read. The story is written for grades 2 to 4, but it is appropriate for any age group and younger children enjoy it as well. It is a very simple story about small town mountain culture and life. I would recommend it to anyone.

Cite: Clyde Robert Bulla, Daniel’s Duck, New York: 1979, HarperCollins, Inc.

What do you think? Does it make you want to read the story?

Homeschool: First Language Lessons - Godzilla versus Aguilas by James

We are getting to the end of First Language Lessons. The lesson for today was dictation. I was supposed to be dictating something to James and he write it down. However, since James loves to make up stories, usually consisting of various elements of movies or books, he dictated a story to me.

Godzilla versus Aguilas by James

It was a bright summer morning in Tokyo. A bird perched on a tree sang sweetly. On the ship, the people were making music. Just then, I saw some strange monster rising out the sea. "What is that?" said the Captain. "Don't Worry" I said, "It is just Godzilla." "Hi Godzilla," I said. "Roooaaaarrrr" said Godzilla, "I have some bad news to tell you." "What bad news" I asked. "Well" said Godzilla, "Aguilas is attacking Osaka and we must stop him."

"Okay" I said to Godzilla, starting up the ship and racing towards Osaka with Godzilla.

When we get there, Aguilas saw the ship and let out a loud "Rooooaaaaarrrrr!"
Godzilla, with a loud loud roar jumped on the end of Aguilas's tail. With one loud chomp, Godzilla cut off Aguilas's tail. Aguilas jumped and leaped to his feet. With a blast of fire, Godzilla killed Aguilas. Okaka was safe and Godzilla had won.

The End.

Question of the Day: Philomath versus autodidact?


Am I a philomath and an autodidact? 

What do you think?

Question of the Day: How did our life together begin?

How did our life together begin?

At the end of 1991, I decided for the fun of it to put an ad in the Sacramento Single News Magazine. The headline was “Ward Cleaver, Where are You?. My mother takes credit for the headline! SWF looking for a 1950’s type of guy…

I received about 40 replies running the gamut from a photograph with just a phone number to a four page letter detailing exactly what this man wanted in a woman and the type of wife she should be. I still have the letters in my memorabilia box. I received a letter from Father and we arranged to meet. We had lunch on January 24th at the Peppermill. Our lunch lasted three hours but only seemed like a few minutes. Since we liked each other, we arranged to go on a date the next weekend. After that date, I never answered any more replies from the ad. Somehow I knew he was going to be a part of my life forever.

Fast forward 5 years later. We got engaged on February 1st 1997. Our 5th anniversary of dating was January 31st, but due to taxes being due that day for the business, we decided to go to Aldo’s the next day. We were at Aldo’s drinking our wine and listening to the pianist, talking about our lives. The subject of gifts came up. Father says “Do you want a ring” as a gift. I looked at him and said “Is that a proposal?” He gets a thoughtful look on his face and says “yeah, I guess it is. Will you marry me?” I looked at him and said “yes!” And as if he couldn’t believe he actually asked the question or didn’t hear my answer, he asked again. “Will you marry me?” “Yes, Yes, Yes, I will marry you!” I said as I kissed him. I can’t remember the rest of the dinner because it passed in a blur. We went home, drank Champagne and called my parents.

We called his mom and she was very happy. She told us she had a diamond in her safe deposit box and if we liked it, we could have it to set in a ring. The Thursday before we were suppose to go see her, she had a heart attack. She insisted all was minor, so we told her we would be up there that weekend. Friday, she had a stroke and was paralyzed on the right sight. We raced up to see her. We spent the day with her and then went back to her house for night. In the middle of the night, she had a second stroke with completely paralyzed her. We had no idea if she was brain alert until Father’s brother told her to blink and she did. She could communicate by blinking, but otherwise she was totally paralyzed.

Evidently, she had discussed giving the diamond to us with Father’s brother. So while all this is going on, brother goes to the bank to retrieve the diamond. Unbeknown to us, there was a wedding set from her first marriage to JJG, a fighter pilot during WWII. They were soul mates and only married 3 years before he died of cancer. She later married Father’s dad, had three sons and named my husband after JJG. Brother comes back from the bank and calls us into G’s hospital room. Two boxes are on the bed. One was the diamond, the other was a wedding set. The set had a wedding band and an engagement ring with a .25ct center diamond with 3 channel set diamonds on each side. They tell me to choose. I picked up the ring, slid it onto my finger and it fit perfectly!!!! (a few weeks before when we had visited G, she had brought out a bunch of rings for me to look at. It turned out we had the same size finger. I think at the time, she was thinking of giving me her wedding set at that time) I took the ring off and asked her if it is okay with her, I would be honored to have her ring. She blinked twice for yes. I handed the ring to Father. He gets down on one knee and proposes to me at his mother’s bedside. He slipped the ring on my finger saying “will you marry me?” Of course I said yes. Everyone was crying. It was a very emotional moment.

This was certainly a sign that our love was meant to be. G had kept the wedding set all these years. She named Father after JJG. They were soul mates. Father and I are soul mates. The ring fit perfectly. After G passed away, we had her cremated and buried her with her true love, JJG.

We will be celebrating our 10th anniversary in August.

Homeschool reads: 35 more books

As of April 9th, James completed 35 books (or what I consider the equivalent since some were hard)

Disney’s Winnie the Pooh (consider it 5 stories)
Storm in the Night
Good As Gold (Winnie the Pooh)
Leif the Lucky by D’Aulaire (difficult – 2 books)
Seabird by Holling C Holling (Difficult – 4 stories)
Patrick, Saint of Ireland
Guess How Much I Love You
Stories of Winnie the Pooh by Milne (Difficult as a read aloud, even for me – 4 stories)
Winnie the Pooh A.B.C. with Pooh
Pooh’s Scrapbook
Why Frogs are Wet
Safe in the Woods with Pooh
What Happens in Spring (National Geographic)
Pumpkin Runner
Higgens Bend Song and Dance
St Valentines
Three Names
They were Strong and Good
Racoon on the Moon
Put Upon Percy – Thomas the Tank Engine
The Cranky Day – Thomas the Tank Engine
Lady Hat’s Birthday Party – Thomas the Tank Engine

We recently acquired a few Winnie the Pooh books from the local used bookstore so James of course, tore through those quicker than quicker.

What did DVD James want and get for reading these 35 stories: Thomas Halloween Adventures.

We have upped the ante to 50 books for the next desired DVD because it is a little bit more expensive: Rebirth of Mothra.

Yes, James tastes are quite interesting for a 7 year old. At least it isn’t Sponge Bob!!!!

Question of the Day: What is your Learning Style?

What is your Learning Style? 

The ladies and gentlemen (yes, there are stay at home dads) from the Well Trained Mind message boards are a font of information. Some had been home schooling their children for a couple years to eighteen years. Yes, some people do home school their kids from kindergarten to High School. They guided me to so many different books to read about learning styles and everything else imaginable.

One of the first things I thought about was James learning style? Did I know my learning style? Once again with God as our guide and leading us down this home school path, I read Dreamers, Discoverers and Dynamo’s by Lucy Palidino.

According to Psychologist Lucy Jo Palladino:

“20 percent of children have what she calls the Edison trait: dazzling intelligence, an active imagination, a free-spirited approach to life, and the ability to drive everyone around them crazy. She named the trait after Thomas Edison, who flunked out of school despite his obvious brilliance. Edison-trait children think divergently, while school is geared to children who think convergently (one idea at a time).”

“He was a boy who learned only by doing. At age six, he had to see how fire worked and accidentally burned his father's barn to the ground. The next fall he began school, where he alternated between letting his mind travel to distant places and keeping his body in perpetual motion in his seat. Because he was distracted and restless, he did not last long in a formal classroom. His teacher called him "addled." Eventually, his mother had to home-school him. As an adult he would recall: "My father thought I was stupid and I almost decided I must be a dunce."

Who was this boy? Thomas Edison!

The book asks these questions:

"If your child is a Dreamer
1. Does he get absorbed or intensely involved in his own ideas much of the time?
2. Is he prone to saying things out of the blue?
3. Does he procrastinate to an extreme?
4. Are his interests and activities eclectic?
5. Does he start at least three projects for every one he finishes?

If your child is a Discoverer
1. Is he easily attracted to sights and sounds around him?
2. Is it vital for him to express his opinion?
3. Does he crave novelty, power, and excitement?
4. Is he always ready to speak, especially if you're talking?
5. When he wants his own way - which is almost always - is he relentless?

Or, if your child is a Dynamo
1. Does he get aggressive or intensely emotional about his own ideas much of the time?
2. Is some part of his body always in motion?
3. Are chances to run and climb as vital as the air he breathes?
4. Does he have boundless energy, enough for about three children his age?
5. Do you find yourself wondering if he lacks common sense?"

Remind you of anyone you know? Father and James have a combination of all three.

“It is a natural human tendency to assume that all minds work the same way. We tacitly agree that all minds should naturally be able to follow through on one idea at a time, from beginning to end, with attention to detail. We call convergent thinking the norm and we presume it's what comes naturally if a brain is "normal." Divergent thinkers are viewed as having "attentional problems."

”We label convergent thinking as right and divergent thinking as wrong. We base the methods we use to train our children on this premise. We expect children to focus in a linear fashion for as long as we say they should. This is true at home and at school. And at school, as class sizes get larger and children get more diverse, a teacher's tolerance for a student's divergent thinking necessarily diminishes. The same curriculum gets taught to all students in the same way and at the same pace.”

”The brains of Edison-trait children are misunderstood, not inferior. As students they are attentionally disadvantaged because we punish, and fail to appreciate, their unique creative slant. They get blamed for not completing desk work in the allotted time. They are scolded for not staying in their seats until recess. They are forced to work at an unsuitable tempo, and then get graded down for poor handwriting, and errors in grammar, spelling, and math facts. These outcomes are inevitable artifacts of a mismatched approach.”

”We teach to their weaknesses, not to their strengths. We insist that they see things our way, but we won't see things theirs. These children are stunningly divergent. They are on a quest for discovery, exploration, and stimulation. Surely we can be flexible and accommodate their style. They can and will develop convergent skins, but only if their desire to learn is protected and kindled with success.”

Excerpted from Dreamers, Discoverers and Dynamos by Lucy Jo Palladino

James is a divergent thinker. So, homeschooling allows us the flexibility to cater to James learning style. We have discovered that I am a divergent thinker and Father is a convergent thinker.

Then someone told me about Upside Down Brilliance: The Visual Spatial Learner by Dr. Linda Silverman. Amazing, awesome book because I discovered something about myself, I am a visual spatial learner.

“Do you know things without being able to explain how or why?”
“Do you solve problems in unusual ways? “
“Do you think in pictures rather than in words?”

“Dr. Linda Silverman coined the term “visual-spatial learner” in 1981 to describe the unique gifts of people who think in images. They get the big picture because they see the world through artists’ eyes.

They remember what they see, but forget what they hear. They’re disorganized, can’t spell and have no sense of time, but they have an infectious sense of humor, wild imaginations and can lose themselves completely in the joy of the moment. Visual-spatial brilliance created the computer and the Internet, the vivid displays at the Olympics, and the International Space Station.”

Oh My Gosh!
Doesn’t everyone think in pictures? I have always thought in pictures and didn’t realize that it was different. No wonder I was bored by literature that was poorly written. While reading I literally see and get into the story. No wonder I had been so darned bored by classroom lectures.

When ever Father would go into a long explanation of a new electronic gadget, I would catch about half of it, then my mind would wonder off because I couldn’t picture what he was talking about. Now, when he describes a gadget, I have him draw a picture of it and I see what he is talking about.

James is like me in so many ways and is also a visual spatial learner. So these books were real eye openers. I discovered something new about myself and was actual able to make changes in my life to improve it. Life is so full of discovery and changes and no matter how old you get, you need to be open to it. Father and I dove in Home schooling without knowing how much it would change our lives. All I can say is hang on for the ride, because it is amazing what you learn and discover about yourself along the way.

There are many books out there that will help you determine learning styles and how to teach your child. I have links to several in the side bar.

Question of the Day: How do you Homeschool?

How do we homeschool? 

Once we decided to home school, the next question was how. I did what most people do, headed to the internet and was overwhelmed by all the information and methods available. There are so many methods out there including classical, secular, religious, unschooling, unit studies and distance learning. We loved the idea of teaching James, but how were we going to go about it. Where do you start?

God was certainly leading me in my search, because I found Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education by Susan Wise Bauer. After reading through the website and seeing what folks were saying on the message board, I purchased the book. Both Father and I were impressed by the step by step instructions, curriculum resources, and techniques for home schooling from kindergarten through high school. Not that we had any intention of home schooling James through high school. We were just starting out and decided to take it one year at a time.

What is a classical education? As stated by Susan in Well Trained Mind.

“Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.”

“A classical education, then, has two important aspects. It is language-focused. And it follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of facts, and finally equipped to express conclusions”

“The first years of schooling are called the "grammar stage" — not because you spend four years doing English, but because these are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language.

“The second phase of the classical education, the "Logic Stage," is a time when the child begins to pay attention to cause and effect, to the relationships between different fields of knowledge relate, to the way facts fit together into a logical framework.”

“The final phase of a classical education, the "Rhetoric Stage," builds on the first two. At this point, the high school student learns to write and speak with force and originality. The student of rhetoric applies the rules of logic learned in middle school to the foundational information learned in the early grades and expresses his conclusions in clear, forceful, elegant language.”

“A classical education is more than simply a pattern of learning, though. Classical education is language-focused; learning is accomplished through words, written and spoken, rather than through images (pictures, videos, and television).”

That is classical education in a nutshell. If you want to learn more, read Dorothy Sayers “The Lost Tools of Learning” which I have linked in the side bar.

As time goes by, we have become rather eclectic in our home school approach. We mainly go with a classical curriculum with a focus on religioun, unit studies, and even a little bit of unschooling thrown in.

This is getting long so will break it up into separate posts. Stay tuned for more.

Question of the Day: Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Would you like to know what your peculiar aristocratic title is?

Click here please.

Mine is

"Her Most Serene Highness Lady Robin the Unhyphenated of Midhoop St Giggleswich"

Science Project: Planet Frog

James got a gift certificate for Toys R Us during Christmas. As we are walking through the store, he discovers “Planet Frog”.

I ask him if this is what he really wants. Yes! So we purchase it and send in the certificate for two tadpoles. Father thought I was nuts for buying tadpoles, when we could have gotten them out of a pond. However, after all the ant, butterfly, and lady bug habitats that we have been through in the past couple years, he came round.

The tadpoles arrive after the cold snap is over so they don’t freeze in the mail. They are about 3 weeks old and very little. Since one is very skittish, James names him Godzilla. The other one is sort of calm and quiet, so it gets named Herbie. (as is Herbie the love bug). I am beginning to think we have a male and female on our hands. After doing some research about Leopard frogs and finding out they have a life span of 6 – 9 years, we will be making a terrarium with a removable pond for them.

Godzilla has recently sprouted his back legs, but Herbie doesn’t seem to be in any rush. We have been feeding them a special tadpole food provided by Planet Frog. Once they finish morphing into frogs and lose their tales, we get to feed them live crickets. Yep!

Hmm…do I sense a science experiment in the works? Just kidding!!!

Life is interesting!

Question of the Day: Why we homeschool?

Why do we homeschool? 

Initially we started home schooling because James was ready to learn, but not ready for a classroom environment. At 5 he was (and still is) very curious about everything happening around him and into exploring the world.

As time goes by, the list keeps getting longer.

Learning has become part of our lives. It is not delegated to a certain time or hour or place. James is very analytical and wants to know all the details. Constantly questioning and wondering how things work and why this person did this or that. Vague answers get more questions. The World Book Encyclopedia has been a wonderful resource for us. When ever he asks a question I can’t answer, we look in the encyclopedia. Many a night he has laid awake waiting for his dad to come home from work, so he can talk to him and ask him questions. He is actively learning and not a passive recipient of information that needs to be regurgitated to a teacher’s satisfaction.

James can work at his pace: speeding through subjects that are easy, taking his time with those that are more difficult, and simply enjoying a leisurely pace with subjects that are fun. In the process both Father and I have discovered things we missed or didn’t learn about during our school years. We are enjoying learning history all over again. When we started studying the ancients, we took a side trip learning about Egypt that lasted three or four months. He can pursue subjects he is interested in. We dropped everything for one month and did a unit study about trains.We give him the individual attention, time and encouragement needed to learn and pursue his passions.

Socially, he easily interacts with everyone and not just his peer group. When Father and I were in school, you only hung out with your grade. It didn’t matter whether you had friends who were in the other grades, you just didn’t hang out with them during school. There is a class structure in schools that you only associate with your age group.

Life isn’t really like that. Do you work, entertain, play, go to church with people only your age. No! His social interactions are by choice and based on common interests.

We can set our own schedule and not have to adhere to someone else’s. James and I are fresh in the morning, whereas Father is a night person. It is nice to take days off when we need it and take vacations while public schools are still in session. We school year round with one week break every 6 weeks and take a month off in May and December.

Fortunately we own our own business, which gives us the freedom to do what we choose. We made the choice before James was born that we would do whatever it took so I could be a stay at home mom. We enjoy spending time as a family.

Another reason is our faith. The lord was leading us in the direction of home schooling since James was born. As parents, it is our God given responsibility to give him a foundation of strong moral principles. James is building a relationship with God and loves to read, hear and talk about him. I wouldn’t want to see that innocence or love squelched.

As it says in Proverbs: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Question of the Day: Mom, who is the Easter bunny?

James asks "Mom,who is the Easter Bunny?

I take a breath, trying to decide how to explain to my analytical son and if I want to explain or debunk it. I make the decision.

Honey, "he is a spirit". Part of God. Remember Easter is all about Jesus and his sacrifice.

Mom, who hides the eggs. You or the Easter bunny. Are they in the closet?

Um. Making things up on the fly (I hate lying when we are supposed to be teaching them to tell the truth)

"Yes, they are in the closet. I put stuff in them and put them out. We hide our eggs. The Easter bunny will bring you something for your basket."

Later that night, while I am watching tv and he is supposed to be asleep. He calls his father into the bedroom. I hear "easter bunny" and the murmur of voices for a while.

Father comes out and says James has figured out who the easter bunny is. Go talk to him.

" Mom - the easter bunny is an angel!!!"
(Okay, I can live with that) Where are the eggs mom? Are they in your closet?"

Treading lightly. "Yes, they are. Want me to put stuff in them and put them out for the easter bunny to hide?

James: Yes!

me: "Okay - go to sleep. I love you"

Childhood dreams are still intact. Motherhood is interesting.

News of the Day: Home School Blog Awards

Don't forget to vote for your favorite bloggers today. Another site that I also post on is well drained mind. They have been nominated for a group blog. Confessions of a pioneer woman, dura mater, trivium academy and others have been nominated.

Hop on over and vote for your favorite blogger.

I started too late this year to be nominated, but maybe next year.
(nudge nudge, wink, wink)


News of the Day: Pull Your Pants Up


I just had to say it. It's has been festering for so long.

I'm am getting so tired of seeing members of the male persuasion running around with their pants belted around their thighs and underwear showing for all to see. What is the purpose? Don’t they know they look like penguins? I watch these guys waddling down the street, one hand holding up their pants as they walk around and they really remind me of penguins.

Do they really think it is sexy or cool? Someone please enlighten me as to what the fascination is.

Why do you want to waddle like a penguin with your pants crotch hanging down to your knees?

Thanks! I feel better now.

Question of the day: How do you picture the face of God?

This is a question I came across the other day. You know what? I have never tried to picture the face of God. It never occurred to me. As I think about it, I really can’t picture HIM. HE is more of a feeling to me than anything else. I feel and hear and experience him, but can’t place a picture on HIM. Why do you think that is?

Now Jesus, I can picture and my picture of him has changed over the years. Growing up, I assumed he was white. Never took in account his earthly heritage. When I was in my 20’s, attended a wedding at a African American church. The crucifix at the altar had a black Jesus. I looked at it for a while, contemplating, and realized we all see him differently.

Then when we started studying ancient history of Egypt and Israel, it hit me light a bolt of lightening. Mary came from Nazareth and Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He is from Israel. Yes, his father was God, but Mary was his earthly mother. His heritage is Israeli.

So now I have a different image of Jesus that I see when thinking about him or praying.
Amazing what you discover when you teach someone else about history.

So – what image do you have of God?

Poetry: Little Orphan Annie

Little Orphan Annie

Little Orphan Annie's come to our house to stay,
And wash the cups and saucers up, and brush the crumbs away,
And shoo the chickens off the porch and dust the hearth and sweep,
And make the fire, and bake the bread, and earn her board and keep;
And all us other children, when the supper things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire and has the mostest fun
A-listenin' to the witch tales that Annie tells about,
And the Gobble-uns that gits you if you don't watch out!

Once they was a little boy who wouldn't say his prayers--
And when he went to bed at night, away upstairs,
His mammy heard him holler and his daddy heard him bawl,
And when they turned the kivvers down, he wasn't there at all!
And they seeked him in the rafter room, and cubby hole and press,
And seeked him up the chimney flue, and everywheres, I guess;
But all they ever found was just his pants and round about!
And the Gobble-uns'll git you if you don't watch out!

And one time a little girl would always laugh and grin,
And make fun of everyone, and all her blood and kin;
And once when they was company and old folks was there,
She mocked them and shocked them and said she didn't care!
And just as she kicked her heels, and turnt to run and hide,
They was two great big Black Things a-standin'by her side,
And they snatched her through the ceiling
'fore she knowed what she's about!
And the Gobble-uns'll git you if you don't watch out!

And little Orphan Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
And the lamp wick sputters, and the wind goes woo-oo!
And you hear the crickets quit and the moon is gray,
And the lightning bugs in dew is all squenched away--
You better mind your parents, and your teachers fond and dear,
And cherish them that loves you, and dry the orphan's tear,
And help the poor and needy one that cluster all about,
Or the Gobble-uns'll git you if you don't watch out!

by James Whitcomb Riley

This is a poem we (my sisters and I) all memorized for elementary school “way back when”. Can you still recite it?

Book Review: Bodie Thoene’s A.D. Chronicles

Have you ever fallen in love with a writer and their books? You read all their books and then wait with bated breath for the newest story to be published. This is how it is with Bodie Thoene’s A.D. Chronicles. She has taken the characters in the stories of the bible and given them life: from the blind beggar to the lepers to the centurion to Mary and Joseph. She has given them a life and wrapped the story of Jesus around them.

I discovered that I am a visual-spatial learner and see things in pictures as I read, rather than words. This means, if the story is well written, it will draw me into the story.

The A.D. Chronicles have personalized the bible for me. Now, whenever I read the bible, I feel a closer connection and envision what is happening in my mind.

The first three books of the series follow the lives of Peniel the begger, the Centurion and the Shephard Zadok as they follow Yeshua.

The last three books chronicle the lives of Mary and Joseph.

This is an awesome series. Get taken back to the life and times of ancient Jerusalem and discover who the characters of the bible really are.

News: Blog posts of the day

Want to do something silly?

Planet M & M's

Need a laugh?

Confessions of a Pioneer Woman

Need some mental stimulation?

Mental Multivitamin

Need a dose of inspiration today?

Hop on over to Christian Women Online Internet Cafe and read "The Shadow of His Wings".

Home life: Spring Fever

Spring has sprung and we have spring fever (aaaaccchhhooooo!!!!!)

We are taking a planned break from lessons this week. We have lots to do including finishing the income taxes. Spring cleaning is also on the calendar: clearing out the dormant plants in the garden, washing windows and cleaning out the garage.

My online class “Literature for Children and Young Adults” is going well. Just finished writing my first paper: an analysis of a children’s book. This is the first paper I have written for college in 20 some odd years. I managed to find a good used copy of “MLA handbook for writers” recently, so that was helpful. I just “might” post it for you all to read, silly as it may be.

News: Homeschool for and against debate

An interesting debate took place in the cyber world yesterday between anti and pro home school proponents. A home school mom was ridiculed for her choice in curriculum material for her children, which led her to defend herself of course. (R rated due to the “F” bomb* -- It is always amazing to me when people resort to the “F” bomb because they can’t defend their viewpoint or to disguise the fact that they have no view point)

The conversation meandered from home schoolers are over protective and making their children incapable of functioning in society to WE are being selfish. That by keeping our children out of school, we are somehow eroding the quality of public education.

He says and I quote'

“Undoubtedly, socialization is a big part of public education. People talk about peer effects a lot, i.e. kids pick up a great deal of habits, values and outlooks from their classmates. Put a child in a class of kids coming from dysfunctional families – sons and daughters of crack addicts, alcoholics and unemployed wife-beaters – and you’re putting him at serious risk of contracting some pretty negative traits. Put the same child in a different environment, surrounded by peers coming from engaged and enlightened families such as yours, and you’re likely to have very different results. When the better folks pull out their kids to be home-schooled, they worsen the pool and diminish the life prospects of all those left behind. Your own kids get a better education in the process, but have you ever asked yourself: at whose cost?

The effect I describe above works through other channels too. School quality depends among other things on parental involvement. Had you people (clearly among the parents most concerned about your kids’ education) not disassociated yourself with your local school system, it probably would have been blessed with curricular and pedagogic improvements thanks to the pressure you would have brought to bear. As it stands now, your neighborhood schools languish under the supervision of apathetic teachers and aloof parents. You have started a movement which, if it became widespread, would create gated communities of nurturing amidst a sea of educational collapse. This is what worries me.

It is of course not my place to lecture you about compromising your own child’s learning for the sake of a greater common good, to put country and community before family. But I am tempted to paraphrase the words of a great President whose inspirational words once stirred the soul of a nation:

Ask not what your school district can do for you; ask what you can do for your school district.”
We are responsible for the erosion of the public school system? I think not. Once the powers that be decided to take God out of the schools, then that is when the erosion began. As always, the conversation ended with an agreement to disagree. No one changed their mind about the issue. Hopefully, though, a few were enlightened.

Celebrate: 19 Years in Business

Congratulations to my dear husband, the electronics genius. Today he celebrates 19 years as owner of our business, Rainbow Electronics. He took a failing electronics business and made it into a successful audio and video repair facility. He has outlasted the majority of other repair shops in town and is still going strong. I am so proud of him.

I do have to give credit to our two wonderful employees who have been with us practically the whole time. They are masters at their craft as well.

Father loves to design and has come up with some wonderful ideas. He has an ear for sound and has taught me quite a few things. He has designed and built huge amplifiers for the high end audiophile world to a micro guitar amplifier for musicians to use to practice quietly behind the scenes or in hotel rooms. Just click on the links to take a look at his creations.