Friday, July 31, 2009

My favorite book

I have a long-standing love affair with dictionaries. Not that I have ever read one from cover to cover, but I usually get caught by something in a dictionary on my way to a specific definition.

When I worked at Thiokol, I received a dictionary that had a chart of all the world's known major language families. When I changed departments, I took the dictionary with me. When I was layed off, the only non-human thing I missed was my dictionary. When I'd had enough of the task at hand, I loved to wander through it for a few minutes for a break.

Yesterday I received my latest $5 e-bay purchase.

This was definitely a used copy because there are marker lines on the top of the front and a couple of names written on the inside front cover. The inside, however, was pristine. Even the pages had a new-ish feel and no markings at all.

We have had a couple of children's dictionaries for the last 8 or 9 years---longer than the kids could read---and I really enjoyed them. Lately, however, the boys have had to use our big red Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. For the record, I have always disliked collegiate editions. In my opinion, they do a lousy job of defining words or just about anything else. (I think that a dictionary that uses the word to define itself is pretty bad.) Don't ask me why I bought it. It wasn't a cheap paperback! For the record, the cheap paperback from college that it replaced was pretty good!

This intermediate dictionary is fun to read because it gives word histories, synonyms, etc., and uses white space effectively so your eye doesn't go batty (like the collegiate one we own.)

Final rating: 5 thumbs up (out of 5)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More changes

I am very blessed to have a homeschool lending library in town, and I took advantage of it this year. I've gotten really gunshy at buying curriculum; I've bought too much that didn't work for us!

The library operates on donations and $1 per book rented. You check them out for one year---it's a steal! A local church donates the space in its attic for its use. How awesome is that? One of the volunteers told me that they are concerned because they have lost 500 books this year (and the shelves are still crammed full!) They finally have a good tracking system, but it still gets crazy when people are returning books and checking them out at the same time!

I checked out about 11 books last week, and then went back this week to help. I learned a lot about different viewpoints of various curriculums, found some new materials and, of course, changed some of my selections. Because I gave 3 hours, I was able to check out 3 books for free. Since I'm thinking about returning about 4 of last week's selections, it will probably work out for both sides! I'll be back to help next week again because there are some other materials I'd like to try. I'm so grateful they have this!

While I was there this week, I met Gwen from another county and learned about a program called Easy Grammar. After browsing through it after closing, I decided to bring it home. I really like it! It's just grammar, nothing else, but it looks excellent (and doable with boys. Very important.)

Another think I decided was to continue my eclectic approach to science. This year, the boys need to do physical science so everything will revolve around that. Science is easy to use for multiple ages/children unless it is textbook based!

With those changes, it looks like the only textbooks I'll be using is history and literature. Lit covers American authors and frankly, textbooks are probably the easiest way to get a survey of a good representative population of authors/poets.

Finally, I asked the kids when they wanted to start school. Their answer?

"How about this afternoon after we get back from our bike ride?"


Ummmm, too soon. I'm not ready for summer to be over!

Monday, July 20, 2009


I'm feeling mind boggled by science and realizing how closely tied science and math are. My sons are not doing algebra yet so that is limiting our options somewhat.

While I have the Apologia text, I think I might swing back to the original idea of doing Janice Van Cleave's Biology. That would make my non-scientific life ever so much easier!!!

It would cut down the boys' textbook load too. That could be a plus. Maybe make the Apologia text extra credit???

I only listed my sons' curriculum for next year in the previous post. Here is Jewell's list:

Jamestown Heritage Readers (Reading)
Abeka: The History of Our United Sates
Rod and Staff: Building with Diligence
Scripture Study for Latter-Day Saint Families
Janice Van Cleave's Biology for Every Kid
Discovery Education (for Science)

Why do I think I'm missing something?

Does anyone have experience with Rod and Staff? I've never used it, but it has been highly recommended to me, and I like their texts. Also, I'm wide open to recommendations for Science.

P.S. In my search for a link to Janice Van Cleave's book, I found the Discovery link with lesson plans (and course descriptions.) I think that might our direction for the year. Not quite as limiting.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Homeschooling through high school

Here we are, poised to begin 8th grade, realizing that we are on the precipice called high school. That thought makes me tremble to realize that my sons are growing up! They really, really are.

On the other hand, that is making me refocus like never before, taking more time to prepare for the year. I am setting up our school to deal with high school transcripts, college applications, and scholarship apps. Translated, that means I'm trying more of a textbook approach with some real books thrown in (of course!) Thanks to a local lending library, I have bought very little. I'm renting the books I'm using for a $1 fee per book for the year. I am so thankful, especially since that is allowing me to use some resources that I'm not familiar with. Hopefully it will help us get to where I want to be by next June---ready for high school.

Here's a rundown of what I'm looking at:

Apologia Exploring Creation With General Science
Janice Van Cleave Biology (not sure)
Rod and Staff English
Abeka Literature: Of Places
Abeka History: America, Land I Love
Scripture Study for Latter Day Saint Families

The boys will be going to a local co-op as well, taking classes from World War I and II to Photography, including a Creative Writing course for one and the Excellence in Writing course for the other. I'm operating from memory on this, though, so I might be correcting myself later.

My daughter will be in the usual 4th grade classes, including Art, Music, History, and Science (I think). Besides that, she will be studying from Abeka's History of the United States and Rod and Staff's English.

Additionally, we will continue with taekwondo for the whole family. Good for leadership and PE!

Need I say that we'll be busy? If anyone has experience with any of these courses with tips to share, I'd love to hear them! I have also run across Lee Binz' site and some of her freebies like How to homeschool through a financial storm. Thanks to her, I realized that with a little work, I could use their home business of mowing lawns as a course in Entrepreneurship that could receive high school credit!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Some math games

Here's a link for some fun games you can use to reinforce math concepts. Or cut and paste this:

I will NOT leave on a negative note!

Try this YouTube video! It's great!

Sound of Music: Central Station Antwerp (Belgium)

Did you see the couple enjoying the performance together? Love it!!!

So what do you think?

This was emailed to me---just when I figured I was going to kick the depression of watching the political arena. What do you think about this? (I cut and paste this from my email with no editing.)

It's Not An Option

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, July 15, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Congress: It didn't take long to run into an "uh-oh" moment when reading the House's "health care for all Americans" bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.

When we first saw the paragraph Tuesday, just after the 1,018-page document was released, we thought we surely must be misreading it. So we sought help from the House Ways and Means Committee.

It turns out we were right: The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:

"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.

So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.

From the beginning, opponents of the public option plan have warned that if the government gets into the business of offering subsidized health insurance coverage, the private insurance market will wither. Drawn by a public option that will be 30% to 40% cheaper than their current premiums because taxpayers will be funding it, employers will gladly scrap their private plans and go with Washington's coverage.

The nonpartisan Lewin Group estimated in April that 120 million or more Americans could lose their group coverage at work and end up in such a program. That would leave private carriers with 50 million or fewer customers. This could cause the market to, as Lewin Vice President John Sheils put it, "fizzle out altogether."

What wasn't known until now is that the bill itself will kill the market for private individual coverage by not letting any new policies be written after the public option becomes law.

The legislation is also likely to finish off health savings accounts, a goal that Democrats have had for years. They want to crush that alternative because nothing gives individuals more control over their medical care, and the government less, than HSAs.

With HSAs out of the way, a key obstacle to the left's expansion of the welfare state will be removed.

The public option won't be an option for many, but rather a mandate for buying government care. A free people should be outraged at this advance of soft tyranny.

Washington does not have the constitutional or moral authority to outlaw private markets in which parties voluntarily participate. It shouldn't be killing business opportunities, or limiting choices, or legislating major changes in Americans' lives.

It took just 16 pages of reading to find this naked attempt by the political powers to increase their reach. It's scary to think how many more breaches of liberty we'll come across in the final 1,002.
The only way to really solve the problem is to give a pink slip to all compromised politicians (who vote without reading the bills) and replace them with men that believe in the constitution and will protect our rights.

Doug Olinger in a blog says,

I believe The Independence Caucus, originated in Utah, has correctly identified the root cause of failure for all efforts of conventional attempts to stop and rectify the decimation of The Constitution -- over the past 100 years!

The Independence Caucus is committed to removing compromised incumbents from office and replacing them with good men and women who agree with our principles. -- principles spelled out in videos at

While it is absolutely necessary that we put out the fires that are symptoms of our decimated Constitution, it only stands to reason that, as with any disease or other malady, if you only treat the symptoms, said malady will keep coming back or, even worse, continue to grow and thereby infect the host that much more, perhaps even to the death of the host. We see this affect in our precious, dying Constitution.

Please, go to, and watch the videos. It is a long read, there are 12 of them. But, I am certain, after you watch them, you will see the reason conventional protest methods do not work.