Friday, July 31, 2015


Story by Esme, habitat project by Esme with help from Mom 

Once upon a time, there was a fox, that lived in a den.

A heron caught a cricket until two mice stole it and put it in their food storage.
The mice lived in the grass under the big tree, in the ecoystem.  They were husband and wife and helped each other get food, and to stay alive  They were in survival mode, and didn't want to be captured by the big snake.  Or, (eaten by) the fox.  The fox came out of his den and played in the lake with Larry, the heron in the lake.

A salamander crawled into the fox den and looked around.  He saw a picnic blanket and a chicken bone. He also saw a bed made of feathers and grass.  He got back out.  He asked the fox if they could have a picnic.  They would bring chicken, earthworms, crickets and bugs to the picnic.  And maybe a blanket, and maybe some fish.  The fox would bring some flowers, because he loves them.

The snake would bring some hares and rabbits for the picnic, because he is a top hunter.  He has poison in his teeth.  The bird came back from the South and joined the picnic.  Her eggs hatched in the nest in the tree, and it was a happy ending.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


I'm glad to have another day off to get some things organized.  Summer has went by so fast - and the time leading up to the oral surgery was stressful.  Mark and I are both glad that I was able to get in at their earliest cancellation and get it done.  Gail at work told me there is a visible change in my whole appearance showing the effect of the removal of the infected wisdom teeth.  I don't quite see it - but I know I'm not as tired as I had been..and that is a good thing.

Esme is all ready to start her homeschool - and coming up with new ideas daily.  She is so much more grown up since last year - homeschooling has been very good for her.   Her language has advanced noticeably and Renee at work said she can see a new confidence in her now when she comes in with me to talk to my friends.   She is back to being creative, drawing, painting, building things everywhere... and she can use up her energy outside or with her sports equipment in the house without having to worry about schedules so much.  If I had been keeping 'track' of the last few weeks I am sure she would have gotten school requirements in..but I didn't want to push it.  I love seeing her learning be spontaneous and all the connections and questions that come from regular play.

Next week, though, we will be on 'official' school time.  I will be posting some projects to the blog as we move in the school year, but not the timed lists we did last year.  We will still keep those, but in our personal journal with her attendance.  Since we have so many big projects to do I know there will be plenty to blog about!  I also want to encourage her to continue her photography - as several people have commented she has a natural talent for it.

I am now at Level 5 in Spanish Duolingo, so I can help her more with her Spanish lessons as we move along.  I am trying to find (or print out another copy) of the poetry book we were going to read and illustrate - as I had found a few more to add to it.

Grandma came down today and saw our new pups and Esme was proud to show off her 'organized' room and all the things she has that are special.  She also showed Grandma the things she has built in the new Minecraft world and explained what they were.  We will be helping Grandma some more tomorrow, and I've asked her for her help in the family tree project in our Social Studies book that will be coming up in the first few weeks.

Article: The Benefit of Homeschooling - its Innovative, its Eclectic, its Organic, its Academic
This is written by Blair Lee, the leader of the Secular Eclectic Academic (SEA) Homeschool group.  It is an excellent article and reflects many of the reasons we are educating Esme as we are. 

Article: Success isn't necessarily a top college 
I will take that lesson to heart with Esme's choices for the school year.. she is making lots of progress and I still want it to be fun...  still want to go fishing and swinging on the swing and reading a fun book because it has great pictures etc...soul food. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Articles and flotsam

Homeschooling article - Should you try homeschooling your kids?
Socialization article - School isn't the standard for socialization

We did the accordion book  project last night and Esme really liked it.  She has carried her book around with her all day today.  I printed out the words and she had to cut out the ones she wanted from the huge page of 'randomized' words...and then put them in order to tape down for the story.

 Esme's bear book

 My bear and crocodile book

And because... we had some dinosaur races.  The 'triceratops' won, by a horn.

Esme liked the book idea so much she wanted to make another one tonight after I got home from work.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Idea File

We finally have a few running things in our 'idea file' of projects.. so I can start  a running post to keep them in for later.. -^- are Esme's own ideas.

-^-Aquarium of paper fish, find information in books, draw the fish/plant/animal and write a 'file card' for them
--Make our family tree on a wall in the house (social studies project in our book)
--Make a timeline with pasted pictures for our history projects / dinosaur info
-^-Make paper dolls and/or puppets on popsicle sticks and put on a play with them
---------sewing sock puppets maybe
-^-Get another large cardboard box and paint it with a scene
-^-Make a painting on plywood and cut it apart with a jigsaw to make a puzzle
-^-Make something bowl or jar-like with bake clay and paint it like the Indians did (this would go great with the story in the Spinners reading book)
-^-Go to the Japanese Hibachi restaurant
-^-Find more Make/Craft books and find more awesome projects
---------Maybe make this a library initiative to look for these kind of books to read and make notes

--Play recording studio (She made one in Minecraft, but didn't know exactly what it all included)... maybe find some resources to show what really happens in a recording session

--Try to find a place with more musical instruments to look at and try

-^-Learn Spanish 

-- Make an accordion book out of paper and draw or glue pictures inside of a story
--Use printed words to cut apart and tell a story - add punctuation and choose the words that make sense ie: catches/catch, and capital letters at the beginning vs. the lowercase version.
--Use these printed words to play a sorting game of verbs, adjectives and nouns

Monday, July 27, 2015

More paintings

 Esme and I were painting dinosaurs side by side on the easel.
Hers lives in a park, (instead of a volcano) and has great fashion sense.  I didn't want her to feel stressed to paint exactly the dino model we were looking at -and she added lots of details instead of giving up.  I think they both turned out great :)

When it was just about time to clean up, Daddy held up Columbus dog and said 'Paint a portrait of this!'...Esme said she couldn't...I said 'OK.'  (The photograph was taken later, to show the comparison for the post)  Mark had to put Columbus down halfway through (he was very embarrassed by it all) so I didn't get his markings just right...but the general idea is there.

About 9"x12"

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ready for Second Grade homeschool

 Ready to start 2nd grade on August 3rd
at Mixie Engineering Primary School (homeschool)
She says she is excited to make things, dig for gems (geology kit) and learn about dinosaurs!

 Mom and Esme

 And with Daddy the silly faces reign!

 Silly tongue out and air swim

With a kitty all ready to go to town

I ordered several photos for her 'school years book' and to give out to relatives.
We had a long day and she built several 'mob grinders' in Minecraft that turned into restaurants selling freshly gathered chicken, beef and wool bits.  She hooked a furnace up to the grinder/gathering hoppers and served cooked chicken with the push of a button....pretty cool.  I did help her get stuff into the hopper, as the water flow she had started was a bit off.

Pumpkin is disapproving (after taking a rare very close look) of the colorful thing that isn't really there.
I played a bit with painting after coming across an article about an artist named 
Rena Thiagarajan artist website  I was inspired by the way she applied her colors.  I mixed that thought with the bouncing around in my head of the Spanish I am learning as well as the 'schematica' and organization of things I have been working with lately (crystal structures, math, even homeschool charts and supplies)...I imagined Spanish word shapes as I painted, and then electrical circuits, then finally it seemed like a broken city landscape was coming into view...which I finally saw the doors, stairs, windows, lamps and plants take shape.
I think Pumpkin thinks I should add a cat in the 'blank window' at the top. Esme and I do more art this year I definitely need to practice with this sort of 'the art leads and I follow' type has been a long time.

Friday, July 24, 2015

New Horizons Minecraft World

 Esme wanted to start a new world the other day.  So, we did.
We still intend to continue with Freeway World, but this was a change.

We each built a house and a bridge...and then we added a garden and a dock.
Our fishing dock in the 'magic lagoon'.  It kept returning a larger than usual percentage of non-fish items.  There is also a little library building I was putting some new books in about Astronomy, Geology and Paleontology (before we moved on to make the museum)

 Museum and treehouse
She built the T-Rex skeleton -and I built the museum around it.
She then suggested a 'pottery exhibit' about the Egyptians.

 'Egyptian exhibit' and T-Rex skeleton|

 You can see the T-Rex from the outside...

And even climb some stairs to go inside his head...hmm...not sure if that is a good idea ;)

Thursday, July 23, 2015


We went to the library yesterday - and then on to work for me.  I need to close again tonight...this week is just too long...that six day stretch.  But, on to the bits.  I finished reading 'Girl with All the Gifts'...scary as heck..I bawled about a third of the way through...disgusted with 'crunchy reality' halfway through it and the end left ashes in my mouth.  So sad...poignant, I guess one would say.  I read 'The Road' and 'Blindness' on reccommendation a few years ago...also chilling human-horror/disaster stories. I couldn't not finish them, but they don't ever leave the brain either.  I'm on to 'The Green Ember' now...such a different thing - it's like Watership Down and Nimh put together, so far.

Esme's 'Gifted and Talented Reading, Writing and Math' workbook came yesterday.  I had worried it had gotten lost in the mail.  But, it's here, and she paged through it and said it looked great.  The writing is high-end for her (that is where she struggles) but has good ideas for 'how to proceed'. The reading/English activities and the math are going to be great go-tos for her this year...things Mom couldn't easily dream up for her to work on when we come to a blank space. I enjoyed paging through the math puzzles myself before bed...she'll need some help understanding the question, but I know  she can figure out the math once the question is posed correctly.

I am an overplanner of sorts... I was sketching out idea trees at work yesterday during a break about each 'subject' she wants to study this year and what our 'pull out of a hat' type options are for each subject...I can't really turn that stuff off- overplanning etc.. I was trying to work out just what we should be working on as 'every day' stuff and how often the 'electives' should work in...eventually we usually have Esme direct that part herself...I do want to stress the Social Studies/History stuff as a bit more than an 'elective'...a two to three times a week activitiy/lesson sort of thing.  If she is really going to go for Spanish we need to schedule that at least once a week intently or more for practice through the week.  I think she will self-direct on all of the Science as she is interested, and we can throw the Art, P.E. and cooking lessons in wherever they seem appropriate.

Mark said she cooked a scrambled egg sandwich with minimal help (lots of supervision) the other day, and was very proud of herself.  She needed help cracking a tough egg and he pulled the hot pan off the stove and served the egg onto the plate - but she helped wash it in the sink with the brush.  She said the sandwich was good :)

We picked up a few Spanish dual language books while we were at the library.  We read one before bed.  I have been learning French for the past year or more...and now she wants to learn Spanish (her friend is learning Spanish in school).  That means Mom has to learn Spanish...a language I've tried to avoid really diving into over the years (I've done German and French...Latin and Japanese before...modern Greek with her last year). But, I've found her some good online resources and I'm using them, too. I know the fact that Spanish has multiple similar words for the same thing (mono, mico for monkey) is going to be a potential arguing point. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


I need to be making my lunch for work.  But, post a tiny bit.  We had an awesome morning discussion (over and before Minecraft) about planets, the New Horizons spacecraft, fossils and dinosaurs... we even looked at the Laetoli footprints.  I was sort of following her lead but in a very 'Mom really is a geek' way... we built a new bridge and houses in Minecraft and a fishing dock.  And I have to get ready for work...

Our official timekeeping for school starts in a few weeks - but if today was a day for it, it would have been about two hours of discussion/Minecraft combined.  She was also reading the Ancient History exploration book I had found at the dollar store and asking questions out of it. She was upset by the book burning description, and said she couldn't wear a kimono because it was just one big cloak and it would get hot.

Thinking a bit further about how to organize activities and subjects for the first few weeks, until we get going on our 'own fuel.' ... hmm...

In the Social Studies book we will be doing the family tree exercise in the first few weeks...and I want to maybe use the 'Mesozoic Disaster' video about the dinosaur extinction as one of the first kickers to our extinction talk and science questions about the biology science needed to bring them back.  Also, probably start with the digestive system in the body chart because she already asked about the 'food and air tubes'...and after it is discussed it is easy to tie the heart/blood system in next, then air, then return back to the kidney/liver/spleen etc to explain how the body stays healthy by taking bad stuff out of the blood and foods.  How can I work some boring stuff like carrying and borrowing in math into all of that?  There are the 'Math Spies' plans I'm making.  Vocab and spelling will work okay...

And I wish I could just bring her to a place that will have kids to play with much more often - but this place is so rural about the only three places are the public school, the public library (hit or miss she'll find someone there and hit or miss if their mom will let them play with 'strangers' while at the library) and the park/playplace (wild animals resume your positions)... She told me this morning that she had a bad dream that she had no friends, never got invited to any more sleepovers and peed in her bed and got in trouble.  But they were just dreams...but they were scary ones.  All of those weigh heavily on a little mind (we are going through the last one so tough now, she sleeps like a rock and even started sleeping through the new alarm clock after a week).

Monday, July 20, 2015


 Her hair was swishing around even in a ponytail and getting onto the palette, so I tied it up in a scarf out of my dresser.  She is painting a 'road scene' with a traffic light and (eventually) lots of grass and some cars.

I told her we need to print out her quote from the other day (about her writing journal, but it pertains here, too.  'Practice Makes Greatness!'(I ordered it as a cheap poster at the photo center - we'll get it in about a week and hope it looks good!)

We also received some of our dinosaur and evolution dvds in the mail that will go with our science unit this year. She wants to know if Jurassic Park could have been real, how the 'blood sample' became dinosaurs, if extinct creatures can be made again, and a host of other things related to the topic.  So, we have some background info in video form, a magazine and a few websites earmarked for discussing that topic.  I am wondering a bit if I need to plan out an order of topics....we usually just go 'organically' with what she asks about and hopping around to relevant information as she needs it.

A few other notes:
Definitely do at least a good overview of geology and fossils before we do the museum in Kentucky later this year...

In the Spring we might be able to find a docu on the Rosetta Stone and early writing because she has asked a few questions to that regard.

She asked me to find some Spanish resources for her to look at this year - and I bookmarked them in my browser.  She was also asking a lot of questions about vocal chords and air and food tubes she saw on the organ chart I drew the other day - so that was a discussion before bed.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lake trip

 Esme went to a sleepover last night, and today when she got home we took a little trip down to the lake.  She wanted to go fishing, but it was so very hot - we planned for an 'expedition' that we could come home when we wanted to.  In the middle of it all we cooled off a little on the wooden dock.

 I snapped a picture of her and she snapped one of me.

 She said when it was a cooler day we could come down with our easel and maybe draw some pictures of the lake, because it was so pretty.

 I caught this picture of a grasshopper with its wings open - and she snuck up on the black and blue dragonfly and got a nice detailed pic.

We also saw some 'rose' flowers and a little school of fish swimming in the water by the dock after we had been sitting there quietly for a while.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Getting ready...

Our mammoth 'excavation' kit came today.  Esme is intrigued...asked me many questions about it and the geology kit again.  Also, our reading comprehension workbook.  I had been uncertain whether we needed one, and if this was a good one...but I am pleasantly impressed.  It has short one-page reading assignments with interesting topics and color pictures, and then a few questions or fill in the blanks on the opposite side.

We got our third copy of the nat.geo (see previous post) and Esme unwrapped it expecting something 'new' and said 'What?  Really?  How many of these do we need?'  Ha.

I'm about 3/4 of the way through reading the Martian.  I really want to peek ahead.. but I won't.  I'll probably finish it this weekend.  Esme has a party tomorrow she is going to (movie night and sleepover, really).  She is excited.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Anatomical Body charts in progress...

I started to draw the 'outside' body chart tonight and Mark said to start drawing the organ body chart off of the same pattern..tracing over and then filling in.  It is working pretty well.  I'm trying to make it 'not too scary' for her.  I am not sure if I'll do a skeletal one by itself, too... (decided not to, as we have a real lab skeleton hanging up).

Also, we've had a necessity of getting Esme up twice a night for a week or so since my oral surgery - or .... well, there was arguing about it.  So, she progressed a few nights ago to getting up on her own (and meeting me in the kitchen) when she heard my alarm clock go off in her room.  I was using my phone as an alarm clock, and that seemed to work for her.  Tonight we will test run her own brand new dual-alarm clock radio I brought home.  She is skipping rope in her room to the radio now after we got it set up and ready to go (And one test to show how to turn it off).

It was very hard to find an outlet to put the clock radio in (mine was portable battery operated)...but after rearranging several pieces of furniture - I found a Tetris that worked without moving her bed (important when she is getting up and moving). We'll see how that goes...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Just a little happy tiger in the meantime...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Process Thoughts and bits

Day note: We found another Adam Rubin book. It was awesome.  Esme read most of it herself and said it is her new favorite book - 'The Squirrels Fly South for the Winter'.  I found two extra copies of the Nat.Geo with the extinct species article at the library booksale for 25 cents each...after already ordering one for 5 dollars shipped.   I found THREE, actually, but left one for the next person.  What kind of odds are those - there were only 15 or so on the shelf and 1/5 of them is what I was looking for to order?

Some more of the same ... School Day process ideas: breakdown...
Plus she is asking so many more questions already... We also played mancala tonight...she didn't do very bad...I still won both when she went first and I went first.  Now she wants to figure out why/how.

Science : 

Chemistry - hands on experiments, talking about elements a little again from last year's cards.  Cooking is chemistry, too.  Geology relation between elements and rocks.

Biology study - 'aquarium' find a specimen in a National Geographic and look up information online, write our info in a file card.  Identify where on the world map the creature lives.  Draw a picture of the 'specimen', cut it out and pin it on our board.  Put the file card in the pocket.    Might start a bug file, too - if we feel like it.  We have several free DVDs (I hope) coming to use for down days... // How did they find the first dinosaur?  How did they name it?  // Genetics - she is asking a lot of these quetions but it is hard to explain to her.  Our 'extinct species' discussion is venturing into discussion of cloning, so we should find a good youtube about DNA and see she understands what the Jurassic Park 'blood sample' really holds and why it is important.

Geology: and the microscope - tie that with maps, discover why people want that mineral/gem and what it looks like, where it is found, how it was originally made, how it is obtained and what it is used for.

Astronomy - night talks, book, online program and perhaps a trip to the planetarium - astronaut and space talks.

Body Chart - talk about a specific system (bone, nervous, digestion, senses), organ or etc. and locate it on the body chart.  Write it out on a card and place it up on the chart.  Talk about what that system does and how we keep it healthy.  Tie in with nutrition etc.

Math Spies:  Go out into the world, forest, store, park ... and find the numbers in things.  Do calculations on our calculators, write down notes - play!  Put the 'spy notes' away - and when we get home (or the next day) we will go through what we saw and wrote down and decide what it means, what it relates to etc.  Expand our actual math study and Khan activities to relate to what we saw in the world.

Social Studies:  Cities and neighborhoods, systems, monuments and landmarks, maps and symbols.  Groups of people, families, family tree tie-in.  Tying our maps of the world with places we are planning to go to (day trips).  Geography studying of countries using the Passport system - have her ask questions and try to answer them, find Youtube videos etc...French language again (we did a tiny bit last year) when we do France first, then she wants to study China and/or Japan next.  There is a new Japanese restaurant in town (2 now!) and she was very interested in the billboard.  Time for Kids Day in the Life

History:  Make notes of different historical places we see - monuments, plaques etc. - lay them out on the map, talk about how things change over time.   Family tree tie-in.  Some of our extinct species talk can count as history - and we will talk about the idea of reviving dead species, which she asked about with Jurassic Park.  Timeline of EARTH geology events and extinction....after we watch the Mesozoic dvd and maybe while we watch the Transitions evolution dvd.  Photo essays of amazing places and things - Statue of Liberty, National Parks etc.  // Question: When have they read the heiroglyphics, can they even?...told her briefly that yes- someone did figure it out, and we'll touch on it somewhere there, discussing early writing systems and maybe do a 'code' exercise where we write symbols and decipher them.  Forgot to tell her it was the 'Rosetta stone'...  She has asked more questions about Stonehenge, too, the circle rocks in the circle a Nat;Geo by luck that talks about it.

Spelling/writing/alphabetization (dictionary use), journal entries on writing prompts.  Cursive writing her signature.  Working on punctuation again.  Spelling words pinned up next to aquarium board that I do a 'pop quiz' on her when we aren't in sight of it.  Remind her to study those words when she passes by so she gets them into her visual memory.  Sentences with  rearranging pinned words and discuss tense changes, punctuation, capitalization in those terms as well.

Reading Comprehension : workbook... reading several novels together over the year as before - graphic novels online, reading news site for kids and telling me what she read.  Poetry reading in printed book. 'levelled' school discard books, picked up a new one that has longer but good level stories for her about kids caring about their neighbors and community.

Time fillers with learning involved - because every day doesn't have to climb a mountain: Minecraft, Dragon City (reading and math) and Here Be Monsters (maps and 'encyclopedia' lookup for recipes plus some ingredients are regionally-based, so she has to find out where, devise supplies to get there, and perform the right actions (harvesting or fishing) to get the required object), drawing, painting, Sewing, Cooking, cleaning up, animal care, crafts, P.E., rollerskating, biking, walking/hiking, soccer

Monday, July 13, 2015

Classroom Cleanup and Ideas

A clean magnetic whiteboard (our Christmas Tree never comes fact, she adds stuff to it all the time) and a clean desk area.  I'm assembling a few other things and sorting old stuff out.  She had to help remove all the toys and flotsam from the area, which she claimed 'wasted her energy for playing Frisbee.'  I said it was exercise of it's own kind to go put your stuff away, and we weren't playing Frisbee until later, anyway.  She's actually getting quite good at catching it now....throwing still needs some 'aim'..or attention to destination, as I would think is a better description.  The stuff she likes the best (plus the dictionary and atlas) are on her desk for easy reach.  We did a little dictionary work this morning and she drew a picture from her dream.

We are also planning our next supply order - some of the things from the last post...and one of these days soon I need to go buy paper, paint and dollar-store calculators.  I am forming a few worksheets and ideas for activities and stacking them in our go-to folder, as the thoughts come up.  She had a hard time getting through the 'p's in the dictinoary to find purple, so I included a little 'alphabetical order - what word comes before the other?' sheet format and saved it in our documents file for making new ones as needed.

Esme came up with a pretend 'aquarium' poster we add specimens to as we learn about them... I like it.  We are making a background for it,

 The Aquarium Board with file for info on the fish and creatures.

Her other idea was that we could put a file up on the wall to put our 'ideas' in...she would post ideas to me about things we can do, and I would answer back or ask questions to her in her file.  Those are on the left.  I like her participation :)  

 'Lab Experiments' on her toy rat with food and 'chemicals' (paper cutouts)

We went to town and got our paint, and paper, and dollar-store calculators.  I made us carry folders that have a calculator and a post-it note square in each one, and they say 'Math Spies : Homeschool Math' on them...the point is to go out and have math 'adventures' by adding, subtracting or multiplying things we write down on the notes - like things we see - prices in stores (big reason for the marked kits so the purpose is easy to see)  I put those folders in our library bag.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Mostly notes and babble

The healing from the oral surgery is coming along nicely.  And now I have two days off starting tomorrow and that will be nice.

I'm still prepping a bit for Esme's school.  We looked up the details of a trip to a gem and mineral museum for the upcoming year.  I've copied out and put some 'worksheet' like activities into her 'to do' folder - some travel stickers etc..  I put our printed copy of the edited poems in that folder, too.  I've still got my eye on a couple of books to order, but may decide to keep a list of them and have them as 'end of first quarter' refresh supplies.   In all, I think we've spent about a hundred dollars on her school supplies to kickstart... that is with using last year's supplies as well.  I know other things will come up and want to not feel like 'whoa, but I already spent all this...'  I'm definitely not into 700 dollar curriculums and ongoing subscriptions etc...  We are definitely taking the 'eclectic' approach, picking things here and there that we think will work for our situation.

Maybe list so far: Reading comprehension workbook (language arts/spelling/interpreting content will be her hardest subject with her language development), Reading and math for gifted students (actually threw that in the cart because it had 6 good reviews and a deal on a used copy), TumbleHome Learning press dinosaur fossil kit and Galactic Academy of Science books (for later in the year maybe now), Little House on the Prairie used copy.  Geoworld excavation kit for fossil.

National Geographic copies: April 2013 Reviving Extinct Species, should we? (ordered, as it directly deals with her questions in science) , also want to look into January 2012 Twins copy because she has interest there, February 2012 is Dogs, maybe, June 1989 is also about extinction of dinosaurs with a pullout supplement.

I would like to get her reading a kid's news site several times a week. I found one at Scholastic that seems like a good match for her.

There are some graphic novels on a nearby library's website we can access and I think she'd like to read some of those....would have that time dedicated for her to explore their free library.
Maps, landmarks, monuments, highway systems, sewer systems, water and electricity systems... we touched on that the other day just in conversation ... might have her make a pretend 'city' and add these things to it one by one, like SimCity.....we had a copy of that, but it doesn't run on my computer anymore.   There were some good photo essays I saw out there about the Statue of Liberty and National Parks, for days when it is hard to get into much else.

Spelling is tough for her - as if it doesn't stick- but I think it would be good for her to know how to spell color names and major parts of the body (like eyes, teeth) by the time the school year ends.  So, there will have to be weekly spelling tests and activities that center around spelling common words.  I might use Grandma's Silly Situations game some for making sentences and stories.

For my own reading:
I'm enjoying The Martian.  I copied down the title of 'In the Unlikely Event' by Judy Blume as something I might want to read myself, but too old for Esme.  Also, interested slightly in the Harper Lee 'sequel' Go Set a Watchman, but I'll wait a while and finish the books I have before I get anything else.  I was most of the way through the Black Fawn by Kjelgaard before I switched over to The Martian.  I read a lot of Kjelgaard in middle school and found that as a free Kindle book online.  I also downloaded a highly reviewed ebook called The Green Ember by S.D.Smith

In other news:  I've repaired our quilt in several places.. doesn't mean much to anyone but me.  I like it...and want it to last longer.  We made it several years ago and Esme watched me baste the edging on it during one Christmas season.  I've also got an idea for a kid's book  - based on some things Esme was saying about her painting the other week... am making sketches for it and may make a few paintings for it.

Friday, July 10, 2015


Excitement?  No... but I've been awake more than asleep today - so the oral surgery effects are wearing off some.  Esme and I played some in Minecraft (she showed me her dragon city-esque habitats, and a new valley she made yet another house and mailbox set in).  I made her some scrambled eggs - during which there was a lively discussion about reproduction and why so many animals have so many babies and humans have at most usually two or three.  We also read a story out of the Curious George anthology with her. We also looked over some maps and talked about what a landmark is - ended up looking at the Cleveland stadium as a landmark.  She played Here Be Monsters with me some and saw the same map forms there... which will help nail them down for her.

And we are not officially in 'school' until August 3rd.. but I am getting her used to doing a few things here and there in order to make it not such a shock when we have to account for four hours a day again.  And she is mostly learning what she asks about.  The reproduction questions would definitely have counted as a science discussion - while breaking eggs and talking about us not having a rooster to make the eggs into babies we got on to talk about why our dog DOES keep having babies, and why Mom doesn' is quite an age - I'm going to have a more detailed 'discussion' with her this year...she has been getting little bits of it here and there (and the Emily show had some tasteful explanations worked in).

And now...I am torn between curling up in my bed with a book on my Kindle or putting some more Emily on the tv.  I'm probably going into work tomorrow at seven...teas and soups galore.  Most of my mouth feels normal except the spot they dug the deepest... it feels 'hollow.'

Article: Asynchronous checklist 10 things at Crushing Tall Poppies. Yes, Esme fits many of these...her language development is becoming less of an issue (except in writing) but the correcting every little thing (seeming disrespectful to the teacher) and the young emotional age, wide interests and deep questions that MUST be answered etc etc.. also the pulling her away from something she has found she likes leading to likely shutdown...oh yes.  She may hate repetitive information, but when she wants to pretend something in a repetitive way she will go for an hour on variations..and that grinds on me some.. and when I try to redirect it we are at odds unless we can plan something about equally as many things, keeping this link to go back to.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Oral Surgery day after

They did the surgery yesterday.  The pain afterwards wasn't bad - they had given me something by the IV for the pain and started a prescription four hours after that.  I haven't taken the pills every four hours.. a little less than that, and it still doesn't hurt terribly.  The swelling went down about four or five hours after they let me go, and I was able to eat some soft things once I got home.  However, I haven't kept hardly any of it - as I am terribly nauseous.  I can't hold hardly anything down.. and have spent a lot of time sleeping and/or trying not to throw up.  Most of the bleeding stopped by late last night and there is just a little here and there.

Esme walked in the door just from Grandma's house where she stayed the night, and walked directly into me needing a bucket.  She was a little worried by that - and wonders if the medicine will make me better or continue to get worse.  I told her this is just a stage and I'm probably going to be a lot better tomorrow.  This is about the first time I've felt like trying to do something other than sit in the bed.  We'll see how much better I am tomorrow -- I called in and said I wouldn't be there.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Updates and planning

My oral surgery is today.  Trying to get the laundry done and mail sent out before I have to see just how functional I will be.  Downloaded a few new books onto my Kindle, as well.

I've already started easing Esme into the first grade writing prompts.   I'm trying to use a Minecraft mailbox to make it work better .. .as she had a stomp off fit the other day.  She is so perfectionist she doesn't even want to start - lest she have to ask how to spell a word or write something wrong...and then there is the fact she just doesn't like how slow writing many other things we could be doing! *reach terminal mass and explode*  That is what it is like sometimes trying to teach her anything.  But, because we know this and that it comes and goes in waves - we persevere.

writing her journal entry prompted by a Minecraft note I had left in her mailbox.
It worked for today- she has four more days written out for her to answer the prompt.. we'll see how it goes.  The other night her blow-up was because I hadn't written the prompt down and she 'couldn't find' it in the blank book.. and didn't have 'any idea' where to write her answer because she didn't find the prompt.  She was being difficult for the sake of stalling...maybe she could stall right out of having to do it, or go run and hide and not do it..etc...We did argue, she did attempt to hide in her bed..but she ended up doing the sentence easily about five minutes later (after Daddy and I both told her we disapproved and expected better of her at this age).  There are also several things she will not be considered to be able to do (like a sleepover at a friend's she doesn't even know about) I hinted about once she had come back upstairs and was sitting at the desk again.

Also, I am planning for the school year...still... 
I asked her if she would rather have several books that were 'easy reader with pictures' style about animals solving mysteries or one book to read with Mom about a mystery group of teenagers who have to travel in time to solve their mysteries.  She chose the second with great excitement over both the 'teenager' and 'diamond chip' and 'time travel'.  So, I am thinking to order that book coming up soon - it is from Tumblehome Learning Press.  We are almost finished with Little House in the Big Woods and before I continue with 'on the Prairie'  I think she wants some more 'excitement'.  They also had a cool dinosaur exacavation kit.  She says she loves fossils -she found one out in the yard.  We looked at it under the microscope and she drew a little line drawing to send to her Great Aunt in the package I need to send today.

TumbleWeed Jail in Freeway World

Besides building a home point for her Mixie Engineering Primary School (and mailboxes) in Minecraft, we also built teleport stations between the major landmarks (and she had to figure out how to get to places that required two or three jumps between known places, which she said was annoying, but she picked up quickly we couldn't have a spot for every junction at every place)...and we made a jail out in the desert.  I said we needed a saloon or tavern, too - for the Sheriff to keep busy ;)  The jail has two cells, an evidence lock-up, an armory chest and a lost and found station for lost horses.  She pretended to have the 'sheriff' sleep at the desk while the jail was being built. (picture above).

So in a few hours after my oral surgery I probably won't feel like posting much..not sure actually. But we are getting it done.  **hopeful** that the healing won't take too long...

Monday, July 06, 2015

Minecraft Freeway World

This is in the Freeway world she has been working on with Daddy:

It is a flower stand - pick a flower, and put a dollar (gold bar) in the chest to pay
We have been playing with fireworks and also with making a 'currency system'.

They have really expanded the map lately.  They found a desert village and connected it to the Freeway, and this flower stand and a new 'mushroom soup' (Mushroom Dooshroom Family Restaurant) restaurant was built with fresh Mooshroom cows in the back pasture to assist the chef in his preparation.  She put hoppers for the tables so the waiter could dump the food order right into the hopper and the customer could leave their payment there.  She was using book and quills to write the orders down in shorthand and depositing them in the chest by the kitchen :)  

The serving area in front and the kitchen in back.  We built the walls of this together but she had the floor and counters laid out and the colors picked out for everything.

 The 'secret ingredient' ala Willy Wonka

The other project lately was the hospital - which Daddy gave her over an abandoned building of his and she built in ideas from a little map I sketched so there was a waiting room, and operating room and a recovery room.  We did a 'mock operation' there like the appendicitis operation she saw in the Emily of New Moon episode.  I wrote her several books in Minecraft about appendicitis and the names of bones to have in her hospital library.
 hospital outside -it was Daddy's build, and she put the cross on top and made the inside

The operating room.  The stone cylinder on the table in the foreground is a 'cylinder of coffee - for the doctor, when he needs it'.  There are beds to the left for recovery - in the 'broken leg ward', 'sleepwalkers ward' etc etc..

Tonight I made a large building out in some flatland just for the architecture of it -and because Mark said I needed to make something 'big enough to show up on the map'... should post the map soon.  His smiley-face bank building and her giant red T-rex do show up prominently :)

 Mama's build - it looks a lot like the civic center I grew up near..although I didn't have any plan when I started building it last night.  Mark says it is asymmetrical and that bothers him ;) heh.

Alien spaceship and lander - this was a pretend she really wanted to do the other night.
She then filled the spaceship with chickens *facepalm*

A cropped down map of Freeway World.
The T-Rex is left of middle... the hospital is in the right side edge...Daddy's smiley face bank is upper middle-right.. my civic center is lower middle-left

Unrelated Note:   I had her read more with me in the Little House book (we need to buy the next one...we're more than halfway through going a chapter at a time).  Her reading is getting more natural- still runs between her sentences sometimes where she has to stop and look back...still has some pauses and 'errs' while she is reading ahead faster than she can say the words.  But, she is retaining what she is reading -and some of what she is listening to (even though she was fidgeting and playing with flower petals while she was 'listening')...she was able to tell me several specific details from the story later while we were doing a bit of writing.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Second Grade Curriculum (updating)

This is just the beginning of our collection... I will update this as needed until August, when we will begin again.

Our Core Values
Mixie Engineering Primary School
is about:
Asking questions:
---and learning HOW to find answers.
---Reading and Writing
---Math and Science
---Building and Engineering
---Art, music, history, learning new skills

Trying hard:
---not giving up
---and working together for goals.

Meeting People in our Community:
---learning from each other
---changing the world around us for the better

And - adding for second grade (we've discussed this) -
Discerning truth from evidence and experience.
This one is so hard - and also so very important.  It is at the very core of Critical Thinking.
I also have doubts as to whether this prepares or excludes her from public education...a lot of what she got in trouble for was questioning the rules, the processes etc... things we actually raised her to do.  She was called 'argumentative' and 'disrespectful'.... At this young age it does seem like that - unless you are purposefully trying to teach these skills and are willing to draw the lines clearly for the child.  Everything is open to question up to a certain point...and she knows that point with us.  Trying to find that point with a public school teacher didn't reach anything - except a seat in the principals office (which doesn't make the line clear..only move it into the principal's court).

Special Needs:   Expressive language development - moving into the writing stage.  Asynchronous - very good reader, science topics, one level ahead at least on math, one level behind with anything to do with writing original thoughts.

Art :
More drawing and painting on the easel.  Introduce chalk pastels at some point.  I really like how many details she is putting in her art now, and the way she is working on background.

Social Studies and Geography (Tied together with History):
People Together: Adventures in Time and Place :: I got this at the library book sale.  It is social studies, history and geography with lots of big type and graphics. (comparison shopping, this was an expensive book and we got it extremely cheap)  // paired with Our Neighborhoods (1979) also library sale. 

Continue with maps an geography games.  She wants to do a program like Little Passports - we kind of have all of the stuff to do that on our own, debating whether to spend 15.00 for a month to try their service. Mark says I can tear maps out of our fifty-cent 1950s world Atlas...but it seems like a travesty to do that...even though the binding is already half-broken the prints are perfect inside...*debating*

Add the 'day in the life' and sightseeing info for her 'passport countries' from Time for Kids  : France

Picked up two dollar HISTORY overview type books - good for starting off points. (She is already reading the Ancient History one)

Using Minecraft to talk about economies, transportations, projects and goals - recognizing and accomplishing goals etc.  She said she can make some world flags in Minecraft.

Geology - Rocks and Minerals book, microscope, crystals, geology samples cards (tie with geography, too).  Planning a visit to Ben Clement Mineral Museum (tentative). The Pinson mounds  are close to us, and she has expressed great interest in the archaeological finds on display at the library - try to tie some of that together.  Reelfoot Lake would be a good 'not too far away' field trip this year.

Biology : She came up with an idea for Ocean 'Aquarium' of paper fish, drawn out from pictures in book and internet and learning specific facts about them to write down (what they need, where they live, any important facts, also how big they are).  Use geography, art skills and measurement.   I think that is a great project - we painted a background for the 'aquarium' today (July 13).

Astronomy -online night sky program, Zoo in the Sky book, maybe we could visit the planetarium at Land Between the Lakes as incentive to know what she is seeing.

Body chart (hand drawn using our book set The Human Body TorStar books and Mom's artist talent) - labels for major parts and also anatomical parts - add these to spelling lists

Looking for more Chemistry experiments etc..
She wants to make oobleck again,with 'variations' -sprinkles transfer their dye to the oobleck slowly...we mixed potato starch and salt with the recipe to see what the differences were.
She asked to investigate how real the DNA idea in Jurassic Park is - can it really be recreated from amber?
Amber is tree sap.  We discussed what tree sap is - 'resin', and how it captured the mosquitoes.
We discussed seeing tree sap in a tree in our forest in real life - and sealing some plants in acrylic resin from the hardware store as a project in 'pretending' the process from the movie.
I asked on our 'Eclectic Academic' support group and they gave me a TON of articles and website links to science and biology related things we can discuss. She is at that age of asking more biology type questions, too...figuring out how to approach the subject - we've discussed some things and want to be prepared as she continues to come up with the questions.
What are fossilized fuels - and how do we know about them?   This ties in with the population questions she has asked lately...the population of the Earth multiplying and resources etc.
Don't want to forget the Space book Aunt Dot sent us.

Language / English:
Thrid grade vocabulary words (we did second and some third last year)
Continue with the first grade and move to the second grade spelling words when appropriate.
Continue dictionary use.
Reading - Stink series, Little House etc.  Try to advance to less picture books as possible - might try some short stories on her to see how she fares.  I'd like to find more Encyclopedia Brown - I loved those (although I was reading my brother's copy at her age).  Movie series : Emily of New Moon Farm, about a little girl who dreams about becoming an author and just 'has' to write - it is in her bones.  Poetry : I am copying and illustrating some important poems for her to go over with me.  We've mentioned her helping me illustrate some of them as part of her art projects.

Harcourt Language: probably grade 1... This is the subject she needs the most catch-up in, so having this to go over topics will be good.  Also a Scott Foresman Grammar and Writing book grade 1, for the same reason.  The library was selling them at less than a buck each :)

Script - reading script writing, writing her signature.  I won't do official penmanship unless she shows some interest - but it can't be 'a foreign language' to her like she claimed this summer.
First Grade writing prompts - on to second grade after we finish the first grade ones.
Poetry - Will introduce her to some basic poems beyond the kids book she has.. some wider variety, have her take her hand to writing a few more two or three verse ones on her own.
Science explanation/exploration - She will need to write a sentence or two of what she studied, and/or discovered in her science.

Continue with Khan math where we left off, we were 70% of the way through the K-2 material.
Review addition and subtraction borrowing and carrying.
Review money counting and change making.
Review measurement- add more real world scenarios and tasks.
Continue with multiplication - use in real world scenarios.
Continue with geometry/coordinates - review graphing and data from where we left off.
Continue with parts-to-whole, percent etc.

There is a quilt show in September by Murray, KY.
She wants to go to the roller rink a few more times this school year.

Materials List:
I need to buy some more : Large painting paper, acrylic paints
Ideas for : themed travel stickers, foreign coins and stamps for our passport theme

 Link to other post:  More notes and babble as I plan

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Tyger burning bright

 Esme's finished tiger world painting, ready to go out in the mail.
She says the sun has a heat circle (halo) around it, like the sun and moon do in her dreams.

A silly expression from the painter herself,
a moment before she dashes back downstairs to work on whatever project she has going on there now.

I took a little painting as well, trying to make a 'tyger' illustration for the William Blake poem - 'Tyger, tyger burning bright, in the forests of the night...' etc.  It is one of the ones we will put in our book of poetry for the school year with the illustrations.

It is the Fourth of July - but it is raining, and we haven't been able to do any fireworks outside.  Esme wants to do some in Minecraft to make up for it. We had started to talk about the poem of the Star Spangled Banner, too -and how it became our national anthem.  I will do a day on it in school time, too - with some good visuals.  I remember being taken so greatly on a PBS special or something with visuals of the flag in the battle scene and bombs while the words of the poem/song were spoken.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Tiger world

Painting - that is a cow, in tiger world.
She wants to send the painting to her Aunt Dot.

We're into school again August 3rd or so.. but Esme is ramping up ideas now.  I'm still hoping the oral surgery is not going to ruin that entire few weeks following it -- I'm a mess sometimes now with the infections I am fighting...but I am much closer to functional than I have been in weeks previous.

The library was closed today - for the holiday weekend coming up.  We did go to the park and Esme met several little girls.  They said they did 'Itnernational School'..and had been homeschooled at one time.  They were on a trip East for the holiday.  She really enjoyed playing with them.   We also discussed why 'the fourth day in July was the important day'... we shortly discussed the American and French Revolutions.   She also decided that we would study some more countries this year with geography and a sticker passport she found at the dollar store.  There is an online service for that -but it sounds like we are going to 'wing it' and combine it as an idea with our other studies.  I'd love to get her a few foreign coins and stamps as I loved those as a kid - that I would spend some money for as keepsakes.

I've printed out a set of photographs for Aunt Dot now- to go with my letter I just keep not sending.  I'll have to write an update letter, too. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

bits in summer

Esme: I was playing Sims today. And I found Klundge! You buy it in a store - the trapdoor place, and it is yellow and white. It is a spray, and it makes flowers grow all around you like *mine a marshmallow expansion effect* Have you ever bought Klundge? Me: Err,no ...I haven't *brain starts to dawn* OH - You mean Cologne? Esme: Does it have an 'e' on the end? Me: yes-and it is spelled like Bologna, because they are both place names. Cologne made really nice smelling perfumes, so they called that perfume Cologne.  Bologna made nice sausage, so some food we eat today is called Bologna, after their recipes.  Esme: Can we go there? For a school field trip this year? me: Where? Esme: Cologne. Me: Err.. it's across the ocean, in Europe. Esme: That's okay - we'll walk to South America and then go around. Me: OK, then - we will have field trips, but not to Europe. Esme: OK.....*sigh*

Some day she is going to read these and say 'Mom - I never ever said anything like that!' And I'll say - why do I have them all written down by age then...really, it's way too creative for me to make up on my own :)  She has started to enter into the same territory with words as she one did with signs - saying so much more than we expect with so little.  And, showing what she knows, at the same time.  She has been making more suggestions for things to do for school coming up in August..

Update on the teeth.  I am still scheduled for July 30th.  I am in variable pain - it keeps wandering back and forth across three or four teeth and ranging from annoying to damn ice pick sensation with throbbing.  The part that worries me is my neck, tongue and parts of my face will go 'just slightly fuzzy' - I can feel all the surface touches and it doesn't hurt, but at the same time it doesn't feel quite 'mine' or like the inside is on a different dimensional layer of time than the rest...  it doesn't affect my sleep like the pain.  I guess I'll have to take that as a good thing.  But the slightly numb feeling does make me worry that it is going to turn into something else....