Geo blocks.

I’ve not been keeping up the blogging here as much as I should. I’ve been taking tons of photos, but to sit down with all the paperwork and write down the things we’re doing formally is a chore and I’ve been procrastinating it. So let me inundate you with ALL THE PHOTOS for now. Later I’ll collect the other info and record it in another post.

Margie did a science with the lenses from the 3D glasses. And then she took the frames and wore them. Good thing I accidentally brought them home.

I went to see Jurassic Park in 3D a week or so ago and I accidentally wore the glasses home (on top of my head like I so often wear my sunglasses). This turned out to be a happy mistake since Margie likes the glasses for dressing up and she showed me a thing they did in science class with polarized lenses like these. You can’t see in that picture up there, but as you turn the lenses from side to side, they change tint.


The place the kids take science classes recently hosted an educational event with Sea World. I know. Sea World. Margie was surprised I was interested in going since we’d sort of made the decision to not visit Sea World again. But here was my reasoning: We would not be visiting the park itself. They were coming to the school and bringing some animal ambassadors along. I have much less of a problem with smaller animals than I do with them keeping whale-sized animals in relatively small tanks. We put no money into this. I mean, we paid our tuition at the school and I’m sure that money went partly towards this trip, but no extra money of our own. Whether we showed up or not would be completely irrelevant to Sea World. So we went. And it was fantastic. I may have certain issues with the park – and those issues may prevent me from visiting it again – but I do realize they do some good work in the world, too. And I’m glad my kids got to see that side of them as well. They talked about animals they rescue and nurse back to health and even showed a video about JJ the baby gray whale they saved back in 1997. They brought a balloon which they used to show how big she was when she was released:

how big jj the baby gray whale was when they released her back into the ocean

And then they brought out animals. A parrot, an alligator, and A PENGUIN.

and then the macaw flew across the room and my camera took a shitty picture of it

garfunkel the alligator

Here are some pictures of Margie swimming.




And then we visited a new (to us) place. The Tijuana Estuary is where the Tijuana River flows into the ocean, right on the border. We learned about some local plants, and saw some little critters.

Tour at the estuary.

Cholla cactus:

Cholla flower.

Honeybee on Black Sage:

Honeybee on black sage.


I brightened this photo of an agave plant to show you how rainbowy its edges are.

Adjusted the colors of this agave plant in #snapseed to show the rainbowy edges better. It was really, really pretty.

Mission Trails today. #latergram


teensy snail





And then we went back in time.

caterpillar dude

The marine layer is slowly moving out.



a shellful of hermit crabs

farm food is just prettier

Spring has sprung!

This week we celebrated Ostara (the Vernal Equinox). Granted we celebrated it a couple of days after the actual celestial event, but the kids had begun the week with a head cold that threw off my game (or that’s the excuse I’m claiming anyway). Also, we had a field trip scheduled for Friday and spending Ostara on a farm seemed like a really lovely way to celebrate Spring.


This farm is right in the middle of the city, about five minutes north of our home, on a plot of land surrounding a historic Victorian house that once belonged to the WalMart family. Like. I do not have any clue why they picked National City (widely considered to be ghetto as hell) to live in (we did not even have WalMart stores here at the time), but there you have it. Since I am obsessed with am interested in local history, I have long wanted a chance to tour this house. Which we didn’t exactly get to do. We did get in the kitchen and we got to wander the grounds. Which was pretty darn cool anyway.

i want to live at there

it's a hard life

The kids learned about how to start a garden (mulch, soil, etc), how to prepare food (Elliott peeled garlic and cooked eggs), and all about composting. It was an excellent field trip.

hard labor

making the kids work for their meal

and then my son learned to make eggs

The day before our celebration, we invited some friends over and dyed eggs.

i sort eggs into rainbows. i may have issues.

How goth kids celebrate Spring:

how goths do easter

And, yes, they traumatized me with glitter. I seem to have survived.

and then the kids forced me to use glitter

Other stuff that happened in photos is below.

Very sprouty apples:

Elliott created (another) Lego game:
elliott's lego game

Trip to the library (blurry photo is ART):
Maybe I'll become a librarian.

We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a traditional Irish/Cornish feast. You know. How you do:
Pork pasty and cabbage.

#pjuniversity #nofilter Squirrel's eye view.

We’ve been busy. We took a trip out to Desert View Tower where we hiked to the… wait for it… spring!

and then we arrived at the spring


Here are the kids in front of a rock painted like a skull.

creepy stalker skull

Desert View Tower has lots of painted and carved rocks. Here’s another:

#pjuniversity Squirrel's eye view. Kinda. I love this guy. He reminds me of a Muppet.

The kids read a lot of books:

The pile of books my kids left all over the couch. Also the cat is back there.

Elliott built a huge tower at a friend’s house.

Elliott's giant tower.

Elliott went to speech therapy at the library. There’s another kid working with him now, too.

Speech therapy at the library.

Margie went looking for books while waiting for her brother.

Perspective. Margie in the stacks. Well. Next to.

And then? We went to the aquarium with some friends!

Star belly (sneetch).

Awe and wonder. Totally posed.

Orange guy.

Apparently I have no evidence that friends were there with us. If it helps we saw them the next day as well at the park (where the kids practiced flying on broomsticks that they built):

And then we practiced quidditch. #pjuniversity #fastcamera Contrast adjusted in #snapseed

Margie took this picture:

Margie took this picture @bethanyactually

Other stuff that happened at the park:

New app. #fastcamera

Can't seem to get the blurred motion right on the #slowshutter app. Any suggestions? #pjuniversity

(I am taking an iPhoneography class which accounts for all the weird effects.)

Boy in a tunnel.

Miniature @bethanyactually crocheting and drinking coffee.

Stuff we studied more formally goes here:

In grammar Margie studied figures of speech, proofreading, past tense, abbreviations, adverbs, adjectives, and rewriting sentences. In history she covered the Potato Famine, the railroad, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. In math she was working on division, decimals, fractions, and money.

Elliott worked on oo words in spelling and he finished his Grammar Minutes book which covered present- and past-tense words, adjectives, verbs, nouns, putting sentences in order and possessive nouns. In math he’s working on addition, place value, rounding up and down, subtraction, and angles. I’ve started reading Story of the World to him and we’ve covered Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and India.

In science the kids studied pill bugs, snakes (Elliott was sad to watch it eat a cute mouse), and betta fish in animal science. In natural science they looked at fossils. They were working on the elements in chemistry. In graphic arts they worked on creating slide shows and using Photoshop.

Weekly Summary 2.25

Recently we watched this video about a 7th grader who sent her Hello Kitty toy into space. Both my kids were inspired by it, as was I. Humanity is really amazing. It’s not just scientists at NASA that can do things like this – we all have the power (if not the resources) to reach beyond our home planet. Just amazing.

A few weeks ago we saw this cool video of an octopus escaping through a teeny-tiny hole in an acrylic box. Humanity is amazing, but so are mollusks.

But what did we do this week?

Grading Margie's school work and I find this down at the bottom. It made me LOL.

I found this on the back of Margie’s homework. That kid is awesome.

Watching the Ancient Egypt episode of Reading Rainbow with the boy. Happiness.

I’ve started reading The Story of the World to Elliott and once we got to the chapter on mummies in Egypt, I pulled out this episode of Reading Rainbow. He properly nerded out over it with me.

Elliott has been bugging me to post a picture of this heart-shaped cookie since yesterday.

Elliott’s math has been focusing on doubling recipes and it’s been confusing for him because the word problems include the numbers of people who need to eat the recipes. As in, “Sally needs to feed 8 people, but her recipe only feeds four. If the recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, how many cups will she need?” Those extra numbers in there throw him off. So, since we needed cookies, and since double cookies are always the right number of cookies, we worked together to double the recipe. And then do you know what we did with the finished cookies?

Homemade ice cream sandwich. Damn it's good.

Ice cream sandwiches. BOOM. Because sometimes it becomes summer while it’s still February.

Mo Willems story hour.

Elliott also took some time to read me all the Mo Willems books we currently have out from the library. Mo Willems rocks.

In lessons this week:

Elliott worked on the aforementioned doubling in math as well as geometry (lines, line segments, horizontal vs. vertical), calendar (days, months), place value, addition and subtraction. In SOTW, Elliott read about nomads, the first civilizations between the Tigris and Euphrates, and the unification of Egypt by King Narmer. He learned about compound words, synonyms and antonyms, prefixes and suffixes, and alphabetical order in grammar.

In math Margie worked on fractions and decimals (and converting one to the other), subtracting 3-digit numbers, greater than/less than in terms of decimals, carrying and borrowing, and multiplication in word problems. She worked with proofreading, parts of speech, synonyms and antonyms, analogies, context clues, and homonyms in grammar. She read about women’s suffrage, the first schools for girls, and more in History.

In science this week the kids worked with microscopes and digital cameras. They worked with crickets and snakes in animals science.

Well, this month sucked.

Between the three of us, we’ve spent pretty much all month dealing with the influenza. And it was a bad one. So February passed in a fog without any blogging. Let me try to sum up what we’ve done in pictures.

Mom kicks him out while she does a radio interview for only 20 minutes and look what happens.

Still very ill, but I'm feeling better enough to start instagramming my recovery. Tonight's remedies: Breathe Deep tea and Doctor Who.

Sorting rocks: handful of snowflake obsidian.

Leia came to cuddle on Margie. <3

Math class.

Reading Harry Potter to pass the time at the library.

So mostly sleeping and laying around, I guess. I have been sorting through rocks and coins again, so we’ve been learning a little about both as we go along. As you can see from the pictures, Elliott is doing math on the computer now. Both kids are using Teaching Textbooks and they both really like it. And they are both really quite perfectionist about grades and FREAK THE HECK OUT if they get one wrong even if they still get an A on the assignment. I tell them every time that it’s TOTALLY OKAY and I hope someday it sinks in. I once heard that it takes kids between 40 and 200 times to hear/do something before they learn it. So, you know. Someday maybe I can stop saying it.

Last week San Diego got hit with a storm which included significant snowfall in the mountains. So on Friday we had no plans (and, you know, what better way to get over the worst flu you’ve had in 15 years than to play in the snow?) so off we went to Julian. Elliott didn’t like the muddy bits (the snow was already melting – it was about 45 degrees out) because he doesn’t like dirty shoes, and our toesies all got really cold since we don’t have snow gear, but we still had a lot of fun. After playing in the snow at a campground, we headed into town and spent some time there.

about to toss a snowball at me

"it's snowing!"

family photo

outside the candy basket

Here’s what we else the kids studied:

Elliott worked on verb tenses, adjectives, plural nouns, commas, pronouns, and contractions in grammar. He also checked out some Mo Willems books from the library and read those by himself. He started reading a Star Wars chapter book. In spelling he worked on long e words, short i words, long o words, and some homophones.

In math Elliott worked on adding and subtracting, learning math vocabulary (addend, sum, etc), place value, days of the week and months, and odd and even numbers.

In math Margie worked on decimals, converting them to cents and dollars or fractions. She also added or subtracted them. She also worked on estimating to the thousands and adding or subtracting the answers. She did some word problems and some work with geometry (area and perimeters).

In history Margie was reading about the exploration of the plains, and the advent of the railroad. She also began reading Little House in the Big Woods.

In grammar Margie worked on homonyms, punctuation and proofreading, metaphors, idioms, alphabetical order, and rhyming.

In science Margie did some work with solubility of various substances.

Weekly Summary 1.25

Counting beads.

Interesting things we found online this week include this gif of how a key works and this video of an egg inside another egg.

Elliott had OT this week and when that happens Margie and I go hang around at a Starbucks for awhile until it’s time to pick him up. This week she took math.

Homeschooling on the go.

Other stuff learned this week:

Elliott worked on adverbs, plural nouns, past-tense verbs, articles and more in grammar and he worked on long e words in spelling. He finished his math book (the last unit was money, and then reviews which included addition and subtraction double digits, greater than/less than, and more). He has been working in his geography book and moved from South America to Europe.

Margie has covered the War of 1812 in history. She does a daily language review each day and those usually include things like proofreading, homonyms, synonyms and antonyms, word groups, how to use reference sources and more. She has been doing very well in math, studying addition of three- and four-digit numbers, geometry (line segments, triangles and angles), multiplication, fractions, rounding and word problems.

In science both kids have been working on building catapults and trebuchets in engineering, making videos in computer class, chemical reactions (usually involving baking soda) in chemistry, and in natural sciences they’ve been doing scratch tests on rocks, learning fish anatomy. Below you can see Margie’s trebuchet and then Elliott’s catapult.

Margie's trebuchet

Elliott's catapult

A Trip to Sea World

O HAI. You know how it is when it’s December and you fall behind in everything and then you don’t update your blog until the end of January? Yeah. That.

So last week we went to Sea World for what might be the last time. Sea World is an expensive day, but they offer educational days for homeschoolers (and school-schoolers) where we can get in for only $6 a ticket. So I demanded that my friend Yara schedule us a trip and she complied and it was all set up. Shortly after we committed to it, I saw this story (FYI: there are graphic images in that story). I’ve long had some issues with Sea World that I’ve been able to ignore, but I don’t know if I can ignore them anymore. Not just because the orca was injured, but because Sea World’s story doesn’t seem to add up, and even if it were true, it’s sure not any better than PETA’s guess.

All that aside, we had a good day. We spent the day with people we don’t always get to see and we got to meet some new friends.

penguin encounter

and then a sea lion came out to see all the people in the people zoo

tunnel of sharks

orca butt


checking out the rays

decorated castle

We wanted to make sure to hit Disneyland during the holiday season. It was also our first time back there since we’ve been playing Epic Mickey so we were, like, actually interested in visiting ToonTown for once. We weren’t able to go with any friends this time, but that’s probably for the best since we were extremely nerdy and making jokes about thinning out the man hole covers on Main Street to get E-Tickets, and about jumping across the rides, and obsessively pointing out every Oswald thing we saw. It was shameful. Except that we were not ashamed.

this is big

In other news, we hit the yearly Balboa Park holiday celebration. We visited the science center, completed the scavenger hunt at the Lego City in the Model Railroad museum, viewed the Nativity, and checked out the Gem and Mineral Society.



During the rest of the week:

Margie did more sentence correcting in grammar, more multiplication in math, and learned about westward expansion in North America before and during the Revolutionary War.

Elliott worked on alphabetizing lists of spelling words, learned about South America in his geography book, and worked on adding two-digit numbers in math.

In science both kids continued working on their trebuchets and catapults in engineering, their house plans in computer science, learning about objects under the microscope in natural science, and this week in chemistry they learned about the reaction between vinegar and baking soda.

frodo's gonna be pissed

So we got anther cat. There is a story here, but I’m not going to go into it. Part of it is that, as it turns out, PetFinder.com is highly dangerous. So Leia came to live with us.

And then, a mere two days after we accidentally came home from the shelter with a cat, we found ourselves at another shelter for a field trip. This time we made it back home without any more bodies than we’d left with. Partly because I’m learning self-control, and partly because the shelter’s adoption area was closed.

bird on her feet

But the kids got to meet a bird, a bunny, a dog (Elliott opted to stay far away from said dog), and a snake. And a legless horse statue for some reason.

I don't even...

That evening Elliott had a karate class. There are things I like about this class and things I’m less comfortable with, but what impresses me is how much Elliott has improved in the class even though it’s got a lot of kids so that he doesn’t get a lot of one-on-one. Here he is demonstrating an upper block, and then doing the kata with the class.

showing sensei an upper block

i love the look on e's face here

The rest of the week:

Margie has been studying slavery in the colonies in history, multiplication in math, and punctuation and homonyms in grammar.

Elliott has also been studying homonyms as well as synonyms and antonyms, and he’s been working on addition and subtraction of numbers up to 100 in math.

In science this week the kids looked at slides of pine needles and some other items under a microscope, they’ve been making trebuchets and catapults in engineering, they’ve been working on designing house plans in computers, and looked at the chemical reactions of iodine on foods.