Archive for the ‘Catching Up’ Category

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.


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#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.

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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.

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Catching Up

It’s been over a month since I last posted so let me just sum up in pictures.

We went to our city’s centennial celebration.
and then they posed with the swat guys

We celebrated Halloween.
darth and sparrow

best jack sparrow ever

Happy Thing: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

We celebrated Dia de los Muertos.

We did some baking.
Happy Thing: Baking Cookies With the Kids

We went with some friends to an event in Old Town (Cleopatra went with us).
cleopatra went with us to old town today


prickly pear

school room


riding a horse

mr and mrs kimball

Elliott had a speech therapy appointment via Skype.
speech therapy of the future

And some random recents of the kids.
camera smile

silly wig girl

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2011 sucks. It’s been difficult from the start and this summer it got worse. I’d planned to spend the summer setting us up on a new schedule for the school year, instead I spent the summer not sleeping, trying to remember to eat and cleaning out my mom’s house and taking care of her affairs.

So the school year has begun and we aren’t doing anything here at home but unschooling at this point. Which is fine for us as that’s part of life isn’t it? Sometimes you can only do the bare minimum, sometimes you can move smoothly ahead. Life weaves in and out and up and down and just the act of unschooling right now is a lesson in itself. However, being part of a charter complicates that a little as we need to provide records of what we are doing. And while we are probably doing all subjects naturally, it helps to be more organized about it. So here’s a summary of the first few weeks. The kids are taking PE and have already finished the first session (soccer), they are also taking classes at the charter’s local location (math, music and dance, unit studies). Soon Camp Fire will start again and we still attend knitting every Friday afternoon (which is more play than fiber arts for the kids).

Week One:
We took a trip to the Children’s Museum where the kids rode the chariots, bounced in the rainbow tunnel, made parachutes that they launched over the balcony, climbed ropes, and ran around in the park across the street. We had lunch at Seaport Village and then rode the carousel, checked out some art galleries, looked at the bookstore, and found a bird nest in a tree, watched over by a large bird we could not identify.

Then we had a blackout. We listened to the radio, learned about emergency kits, how to store food during a blackout, the local power stations and how they stopped working, and how very much electricity effects our lives.

Week Two:
First day of classes. The kids learned about Europe, some of the facts and figures about it, and made cave paintings. In math they played games and learned riddles. They started learning a dance in music & dance.

Our personal lives have been filled with rocks as I inherited some from my grandpa. So we learned about different types of rocks, how they are made and what they look like.

Week Three:
In classes Elliott learned number combos up to 10, Margie worked on place value. They started learning about Spain in unit studies and continued work on the dance.

We’re totally caught up on Doctor Who now and in the last few weeks we’ve watched and/or discussed episodes involving Hitler, Nixon and Churchill and were inspired to learn more about all of them. Margie has also done a lot of literary work on the show, learning symbolism and other elements of Story.

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It’s been two weeks now but this but this is the first moment I’ve had to blog it. May was INSANE. Anyway, he had a lovely birthday. For breakfast he had pancakes and bacon (which he was very excited about because he could make them look like a tie fighter – Margie made hers into Pacman). We opened presents (he got Legos, t-shirts, a soccer ball and bikes from my bff and her husband) and spent the day quietly enjoying life. We rode the bikes at the park, played a little soccer. After dinner we had fruit salad instead of cake. It was lovely.

for breakfast the kids ate nerd food

bike rider


Happy Thing: My Son

blowing out the candles

For his birthday, Grandpa gave Elliott the chance to go to Legoland! So the following day (because Mondays during the school year they offer FANTASTIC homeschool rates) we spent the day there. I didn’t take the big camera, just my phone.

bad driver

While there he was able to pick out three different Lego sets (also courtesy of Grandpa). It was a fantastic birthday all the way through!

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Please excuse the lack of updates here. Life’s been hard. We actually took two weeks off after we got back from LA and have slowly been adding formality back in. This week is the first that’s started to feel normal. To make up for the lack of anything here, I shall offer up kid pictures at the end of the post. Enjoy!

LA: Reading, writing, grammar, spelling
SS: How to deal with bullying (sadly we’ve had to talk about this too much lately), Cesar Chavez, current events (Libya, Japan, etc)
Sci: Tsunamis, earthquakes, spring nature study
Math: Adding to 100 and beyond
PE: Track & Field, swim

LA: Reading, writing, spelling
SS: How to deal with bullying (sadly we’ve had to talk about this too much lately), current events
Sci: Springtime nature study, sun/earth/seasons/equinox – demonstration with a light and a globe
Math: Adding to 30
PE: Track & Field, swim

Elliott’s had a difficult time understanding how to follow the lines when writing, but this week he did a fantastic job (also: spoiler alert for next week’s big trip!)

elliott's handwriting

Margie has a new space in the closet we saved just for her to curl up with a book. This week, she took her math in there along with the camping lantern.

margie's little spot in the closet

math in the closet

This week, when we showed up for swimming lessons, our good friends showed up at the same time! They’ve been attending the same school for longer than we have, but we’ve never seen them there. Now Margie and Lev are in the same class. How cool!

swimming friends

And now, as promised, gratuitous kid pictures!

i always wanted a baby that looked like eloise wilkin drew him

that's my girlie

fun with the pigeon

7 Days: Day 6 (Fun With the Pigeon)

fun with the pigeon

Happy Thing: Fresh, Clean Windows

fun with the pigeon

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