Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Homer - The Odyssey

This year, I am reading The Odyssey by Homer with two of my tutoring students (9th graders).  Lucky me, they are reading two different editions!  At first, I was a bit irritated, but now that I've been going through the two texts, it has been incredibly interesting to see the differences in translation and interpretation.

With one student, I am reading the Penguin Classics translation by E. V. Rieu (ISBN: 978-0-14-044911-2).  This edition reads very much like a novel, in regular paragraph form.  As a result, it is quite a bit easier than some other editions.  

The other student is reading the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition translated by Robert Fagles (ISBN:  978-0-14-026886-7).  This edition resembles the more poem-like format of the epic.  If you choose this edition, be sure to read this great interview with Robert Fagles which was featured on PBS's "News Hour" back on March 3, 1997.

Whichever edition you choose, the two above both have excellent introductory sections with background information and insight into the story.  If you prefer to get the text for FREE, try an edition from Project Gutenburg, which is a resource for free texts of all manner, from around the world.  See the available editions of The Odyssey HERE.

Here is a fantastic resource from the Annenberg Foundation.  Click HERE for a video about the story, and links to explore. 

Although meant for the Fagles translation, Temple University has an extensive study guide which would be a good compliment to any translation.  When I say extensive, I really do mean it!  Click HERE.  Please note, the on-line text with hyperlinks mentioned in the introduction to the study guide does NOT take you to the actual text of The Odyssey. 

If you want to give your student study questions as part of their schoolwork, click HERE for a fairly good list put together by a teacher using  Also from MythWeb, this page has links to editions of the text, as well as links for more information on all of the characters, and locations in the book.  

For some historical context, check out this History Channel documentary from their series, "Clash of the Gods":

And, this additional video from the same series, "Clash of the Gods - Odysseus, Warrior's Revenge":

If you are reading The Odyssey as part of a study on Ancient Greece, check out my other posts on the subject of Ancient Greece HERE and HERE.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Beverly Cleary fun...

Recently, The Busy Homeschool Mom posted a funny picture on Facebook of children's book character Ramona Quimby.  Ramona and friends are beloved childhood friends to many, but how many have actual ties to the neighborhood of Ramona and friends?  I do!  My dad grew up just a few blocks over from Ramona's Klickitat Street neighborhood in Portland, Oregon!

When my son was about seven or eight years old, we went to visit family near Portland, and decided to visit Ramona's neighborhood.  We had already read many of Beverly Cleary's children's books - our favorite is Henry and Ribsy!  As we drove down Klickitat Street, JP pointed out which house he thought belonged to which character.  Unfortunately......I no longer have any of those pictures!  I don't know what happened to them.  :(

But, here are some fun resources for you, if you also love Beverly Cleary, Ramona, and gang.

First and foremost, you MUST visit the Beverly Cleary website!  This site has interactive games and background information on each character, and a fictionalized map of the real neighborhood. Click HERE.

If you ever have the chance to visit Portland, and Ramona's neighborhood, be sure to check out the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden at Grant Park in Portland.  The park is located at NE 33rd Avenue, between Knott and Broadway.  You have to actually go into the park to find the sculpture garden.  It is south of the playground.  The park is huge, and beautiful.  If you are lucky enough to be there during the summer months, look to see if the water fountain is will look like Ribsy is playing in the water!  And, the kids can have fun playing in the water too! 
Scholastic's web page for Beverly Cleary HERE.

Interview with Beverly Cleary HERE.

And, here is another wonderful interview with Beverly Cleary:

And, a story from NPR on the making of the movie Ramona and Beezus - HERE

A FREE unit study to go with Beverly Cleary's Mouse and the Motorcycle  - HERE.

Resources for a unit study on Beezus and Ramona - HERE.

...and, if you know of any other Beverly Cleary links that you think are absolute musts, please let me know so I can include them here!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cell phone plans?

I would like to know if you are happy with your cell phone plan.  If you don't mind sharing details, I'd be curious to know who your provider is, and what you pay each month, and what services are covered by those fees.

If you have been keeping tabs on my blog, you may have seen this:

That is my phone after dropping it one too many times.  I had been using a cheap monthly plan from Virgin Mobile, but it wasn't quite covering my needs.  So, I decided to go into Verizon and see what they had available for phones and plans.  I found phones I liked, that were cheap ($50 after rebates), and talked to a sales girl about plans.  She laid out a plan that, according to the numbers she was rattling off, should have been about $120/month TOTAL for two lines.  Note the word TOTAL in that sentence.  So...imagine my shock when I got the first bill, and it was $305!  On top of which, the girl never told me that the billing cycle would be ending in only NINE days!  Or that my bill would NOT be prorated to show that we only used NINE days of a 31 day billing cycle!  Or that those "shared" charges she told me about were NOT shared at all!  Or that some fees would be MORE than she quoted...

I checked the bill, read every detail to make sure I hadn't missed anything, but there was nothing missing, nothing extra...just nothing SHARED at all, and some fees higher than I was told!

I am going in on Thursday to complain, and demand the $120/month she promised.  Wish me luck!  I made it extremely clear to her that I was on a tight budget and could NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES afford more than $120/month for our plan.  Imagine my shock when I saw that bill!

I've been polling friends, and family, and it seems $120/month for two lines is quite reasonable no matter who the provider is.  What do you think?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Not much homeschooling this past week...

We've both been sick this past week.  The boy was sick pretty much from Tuesday through today, and I started feeling ill on Thursday.  We got through some videos, some reading, and one math lesson, but that was it.  We were both just too tired!  So, instead of a blog post about anything home education related, I'm giving you food and a postcard.

My absolute favorite meal is mustard glazed salmon, rice, and wilted spinach with roasted red peppers.
For the mustard glaze, mix your favorite mustard with a bit of white wine, and brush over the top of your salmon, then bake or broil until the salmon is cooked, and flaking nicely.  For the rice, just prepare your favorite rice in your favorite way.  JP and I both love rice cooked in broth.  For the spinach and roasted red pepper, heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet.  Cut a roasted red pepper into small pieces, maybe 1/4 inch, and add to the oil.  Pile the skillet high with baby spinach, and season with a bit of salt and pepper.  A minced garlic clove is a great addition.  Carefully turn the spinach, trying not to spill any over the side - use three or four times the amount of spinach you think looks right.  It wilts down to next to nothing.  When all of the spinach is wilted, it is done.

A couple of nights ago, we had a "make do" meal which is what you get when you are too tired to make a real meal, or when you want to clean out the fridge.

We had one egg, a small bit of sausage, carrots, rice, and spinach.  I made wilted spinach with roasted red pepper for myself, and JP had raw spinach, but swiped a few of my roasted pepper pieces.  I have to tell you that it was hard to let JP have the egg, which I had scrambled.  I love scrambled eggs!  This was a simple meal to make when we both were feeling to tired to go to the store, and too tired to make a proper meal.  As you can see we also had raw baby carrots, and more rice...we eat a lot of rice, and a lot of spinach!

And, finally a postcard.  I recently sent out a bunch of postcards via the Postcrossing postcard swap, and have started to get cards in my box as well.  The most recent is from Veluwe, Netherlands:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shakespeare - Macbeth

One of my tutoring students is currently studying Shakespeare's Macbeth.  He is 16, and in the 10th grade.  Whatever grade your student(s) happens to be in, or whatever age, I wanted to share some of the resources I've found to go with the text.

First, you need the text, right?  My student's class is reading the Folger Shakespeare Library edition, but you can find several FREE versions of the play at Project Gutenberg

Macbeth is one of the more difficult plays by Shakespeare, and is the only text for which I have ever allowed a student to use a study guide like Spark Notes.  You can review the Spark Notes study guide HERE.

A humorous approach can be found in the videos at the BBC Schools website.  There are several sections here, including text, some videos, and tests.  The videos are pretty funny, with several jokes, although many are specifically British references.  Check it out HERE!

A great, basic study guide from a student teacher at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. This study guide offers very basic background for the play, but also has some fantastic study or thought questions which might be good for writing assignments.  It also has several organizational charts for the student to use.

There are a few different versions of the play available on video.  I recommend watching the two linked just below.  Watch both, then compare and contrast them.  Does the set dressing or time period change the understanding or meaning?  Is one more successful than the other at getting across the meaning, or main ideas of the play?  Why, why not? 

Watch a modern interpretation of Macbeth from PBS's Great Performances series.  This version is FREE to view, and stars Patrick Stewart.  Please note, it is geotagged to be only viewable in the USA.  The dialogue is all the original play, but the sets, the costumes, etc are updated and resemble World War II

Watch the BBC production at  Unfortunately, it is not free.  You get 7 days of viewing access for  $1.99.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reading update...still blaming Nick Hornby...

I originally posted a blog about reading after I finished Nick Hornby's fun book, The Polysyllabic Spree.  Then, I posted an updated reading list, that I never came back to, and sort of abandoned...oops!  You should just blame Mr. Hornby for any reading blog posts I put up, 'k? You all good with that?  Allrighty then...

Sooooo....back in the last week of December, and the first week of January, I managed to read (or finish):
  • Mary Karr - Lit  (fantastic, but a few turns of phrase sprinkled throughout that were utterly annoying)
  • Barbara Kingsolver - The Lacuna  (I wanted to love this book, but some portions were far too choppy, and I would have preferred a straight novel without the interjections of one of the characters)
  • Suzanne Collins - Mockingjay (Whoa! Can't wait for the movies!)
  • Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Uh-may-zing!) 
  • J.K. Rowling - the first Harry Potter book (I actually started reading this more than a year ago!)
What now???  Well, my last term of graduate school started a few weeks ago ( last term???), and much of my reading is poetry and creative writing based, as well as reading to help my tutoring students.  As a result, my current reading list is:
  • Homer - The Odyssey (Penguin Classics edition - one student is reading this edition;  Robert Fagles translation - the other student is reading this one!  My son will read the Penguin Classics edition in a few weeks as part of his Ancient Greece studies)
  • Shakespeare - Macbeth (not exactly one of Shakespeare's easier plays...sigh...  This is the only book for which I have ever told a student that I will accept him using Cliff/Spark/E-notes)
  • Dean Young - Recklessness (about writing poetry); Fall Higher (poetry)
  • Jorie Graham - Erosion finished 2/13 (poetry)
  • Major Jackson - Holding Company (poetry)
  • Louise Gluck - The Wild Iris (poetry); Vita Nova As of 2/19, halfway through both and enjoying neither, but will probably finish anyhow (poetry; Am I the only person in my grad program that hasn't read Vita Nova yet????)
  • Lynn Emanuel - Hotel Fiesta finished 2/21 (poetry); The Dig finished 2/21 (poetry) Loved both!
  • Sharon Olds - Strike Sparks As of 2/19, a quarter of the way through and loving it (poetry)
  • Margaret Randall - Hunger's Table finished 2/15 (poetry, and OMG, so good!)
  • Deborah Digges - Rough Music finished 2/22, and loved about half of it.  Couldn't sand the other half! (poetry)
  • John Green - The Fault in Our Stars finished 2/16 (fiction; one of my tutoring students - the one reading Macbeth - insisted I read this...he was right.  The book is fantastic!)
Amended to add these books which I forgot I had taken out from the library: 
  • Matt Cook in the small of my backyard  started and finished 2/19 (poetry; so good! If Holden Caulfield had been a poet, he might have written these poems.) 
  • Jack Crimmins Kit Fox Blues As of 2/19, quarter of the way through and can't decide if I like it or not (poetry)
  • Abigail Child Mob As of 2/19 abandoned (poetry)
  • Reginald Shepherd Otherhood As of 2/19, three or four poems in, and not sure yet... (poetry)
  • Nancy Mitchell The Near Surround finished 2/22 - the best of the poetry books on this list so far! (poetry)
  • Willie Perdomo Where a Nickel Costs a Dime finished 2/22 - excellent! (poetry)
  • Raymond McDaniel Saltwater Empire As of 2/22 abandoned (poetry)
And, adding one that a tutoring student is reading for a creative project in her English class:
  • Markus Zusak I am the Messenger Wow! Finished 2/26, and loved it! So interesting! (fiction) 
    My goal is to finish all of these books by March 1st, with exception of books read for tutoring students as I read along with them, according to their class reading schedule.

    And, I leave with this for your amusement, and feel free to make fun of me...
    This is what happens when you drop an already damaged cell phone on a cement walkway...oops!

    Monday, February 13, 2012

    Ancient Greece - Part II

    I recently blogged about our history curriculum, and studying Ancient Greece.  I promised to post pictures after we visit the Ancient Greece section at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (aka - The Met).  We wandered around about half of the Ancient Greece section, but we only focused on the first two galleries - the earliest periods.  We will make followup exhibits for later periods in Ancient Greek art and history.  I also want to mention that the links I posted are the ones we are using in our homeschool.  There are zillions of other websites, articles, links, and more out there...pick and choose what works best for your family or interests. 

    Although we visited The Met, and will eventually read The Met's guides to their Ancient Greek collections, for this particular visit, I just wanted to introduce JP to what we would be seeing, the stories and history behind the objects, what Ancient Greek life might have been like, and so on.  The Met has two fantastic guides that you should check out (here and here), and could easily adapt for use at home and with The Met's website.  But, for this visit, we started with a guide from The British Museum.  We started with reading the background information in the Everyday Life guide, and will revisit other guides, and sections of the British Museum website at another time in our studies. (The British Museum has loads of other great resources as well...)

    Anyhow...on to our visit to The Met!  The Met's Ancient Greek collection is split among about 7 rough time periods.  As I stated, we focused on the earliest - the 7th and 6th centuries B.C.  In the first two galleries, I asked JP to choose two pieces which we would study in depth this coming week.  He chose a terra cotta bull, and a collection of three small, bronze double axes.  I created a worksheet for him to record information about the pieces, and his thoughts about them:

    And on to the art and artifacts...
    This is the little bull that JP has chosen to study this week.  It is terracotta, from the Helladic (Mycenaean), Late Helladic IIIA period, ca. 1400-1300 B.C..  It is about the same height and length as a regular credit card.  While this guy isn't available to look at on The Met's website, a similar bull sold at Christie's (the auction house) for $6,875!
    Tiny little bronze double axes (only a few inches in size). Minoan or later, said to be from Arkalochori; at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.   While The Met has not included a picture of these on their website, they do have a bit more information HERE.

    From the information card:  "The hole at the end of the shaft indicates that these pieces probably served as pendants. Double-ax pendants were common not only in Crete but also in Greece from the Protogeometric through the Archaic period."
    Terracotta stirrup jar with octopus, Helladic (Mycenaean), Late Helladic IIIC period, ca. 1200-1100 B.C., at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.   More at The Met's website HERE.

    From the information card:  "The shape takes its name from the configuration of the spout and the two attached handles. Such jars were commonly used to transport liquids. Mycenaean artists adopted the marine motifs from Minoan antecedents."
    This was one of my favorite pieces in the Ancient Greece exhibit at The Met!

    Terracotta vase in the form of a bull's head; Minoan, Late Minoan II period, ca. 1450-1400 B.C.  Nothing additional on The Met's website, unfortunately.

    "This vase is a type of rhyton, or libation vase. The offering was poured through the hole in the animal's muzzle. The vase was filled either by immersion in a large container or through the hole in the head. Using the principle of the siphon, liquid would not flow out as long as the opening at the top was closed with the thumb."

    Gold bits in the Ancient Greece exhibit at The Met.
    Marble seated harp player; Cycladic, late Early Cycladic I-Early Cycladic II period; ca. 2800-2700 B.C. at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.   More details on The Met's website HERE.

    From the information card: "A male figure playing a stringed instrument sits on a high-backed chair. This work is one of the earliest of the small number of known representations of musicians. It is distinguished by the sensitive modeling of the arms and hands."
    Terracotta kernos (vase for multiple offerings); Cycladic, Early Cycladic III-Middle Cycladic I, ca 2300-2200 B.C.  More info at The Met's website HERE.

    From the information card:  "Although the kernos was used in widely disparate regions during the prehistoric period, particularly impressive examples have come to light in the Cyclades, and this is one of the grandest preserved. The receptacles probably contained foodstuffs of various kinds or perhaps flowers.

    "The kernos was a tomb in Melos by Captain Copeland, a British naval officer. In 1867 his widow gave the [vase and other objects] to Eton College where they rmained until coming to The Met on loan in 1996."
    Top view of the kernos.
    Terracotta krater, Greek, Attic, Geometric period, ca. 725 B.C., Attributed to the Trachones Workshop.  This thing is huge! JP could have fit inside with room to spare!  No picture at The Met's website, but a bit more information HERE.

    From the information card:  "...this krater served as a funerary monument and shows...primary subjects, the prosthesis - or laying out of the deceased surrounded by mourners - and chariots in procession. In this work...the deceased is shown with a long braid or pigtail issuing from his head; the same detail appears on the... warriors standing to the right, suggesting that it is either his braided hair or the crest of his helmet. Also noteworthy is the little, almost simian creature that seems to be attending to the warrior's head. Below the dead man sits a row of female mourners. Of the two subordinate zones, the upper one shows chariots drawn by two horses; the lower one shows a single horse per chariot. Foot soldiers are at a minimum."
    Close up of the terracotta krater.
    Closeup of the terracotta krater.
    Bronze rod tripod stand, Greek, early 6th century B.C.  More at The Met's website HERE.

    From the information card:  "The tripod stands on feline-paw feet. Atop the central rod of each leg is a palmette, and above this, on the upper ring, a couchant sphinx. Large horse protomes, each including the forelegs as well as the head, decorate the upper rim above each of the inverted U...-shaped intermediate rods. Below each horse protome is a lotos blossom. The stand would have supported a bronze vessel.

    "Rod tripod stands have a long history in the eastern Mediterranean region. The earliest occurred on Cyprus in the thirteenth century B.C., and the type continued to be produced there and elsewhere in the succeeding centuries. The Cypriot version has a wide distribution: it has been found on Cyprus, Crete, the Cyclades, mainland Greece, Sardinia, and Italy. This stand is an early example of a later, ornate type of Greek manufacture. Cast in several pieces and jointed together, it is a highly accomplished piece of metalwork."
    Closeup of the top of the bronze rod tripod stand.
    JP found the military armor and weapons fascinating.  Three bronze mitrai (belly guards), Cretan, late 7th Century B.C., at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.

    From the information card:  "These three mitrai were found on Crete with the two helmets [in the next pictures]. They were suspended from belts to protect the lower abdomen. One, with the depiction of the foreparts of horses, is inscribed "Synenitos, the son of Euklotas, took this." Another, with the foreparts of winged horses, is inscribed "Aisonidas, the son of Kloridios, took this." The third mitra is decorated with two sphinxes. Such heraldic representations of fantastic animals were derived from Near Eastern prototypes."
    Two bronze helmets, Cretan, late 7th centruy B.C. at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.   Additional views, and more information at The Met's website HERE.

    From the information card:  "These helmets and the three mitrai exhibited below them are the finest pieces of a large cache of armor that came to light in south central Crete, where it was undoubtedly made. The inscription suggests that the armor was captured as booty and offered as a dedication. In repousse on both sides of one helmet... is a pair of winged youths grasping a pair of intertwined snakes. Below them are two panthers with a common head. The helmet is inscribed "Neopolis." In repousse on both sides of the other helmet is a horse; incised on each cheekpiece is a lion. The inscription states that Synenitos, the son of Euklotas, took this object."
    Bronze griffin attachment from a cauldron, Greek, mid-7th century B.C., said to be from Olympia. at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.  No additional info on The Met's website, but The British Museum has a bronze griffin attachment as well, with details HERE.

    Terracotta cosmetic vase; East Greek; fourth quarter of the 6th century B.C., at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.  View from the other side at The Met's website, and additional information HERE.

    From the information card:  "On one side of the upper frieze of this exquisite vase a youth holds two winged horses and two youths drive a chariot. Real and imaginary animals circulate on the other frieze areas between carefully drawn geometric patterns. The ram's head cover may have served as the handle for a cosmetic applicator."
    Terracotta statuette of a siren; Greek, archaic period, ca 550-500B.C.; at The Met; Ancient Greece exhibit.  More at The Met's website HERE.

    From the information card:  "Sirens are mythical creatures famous in antiquity for their song, which lured sailors to their death. Sanctuaries to the sirens are known to have existed in parts of Southern Italy and Sicily, as the geographer Strabo and other ancient writers tell us. This large, hand-modeled sculpture with applied decoration may well have been a votive offering at such a sanctuary."

    I am leaving you with a writing assignment - scroll back up, and take another look at the pictures.  Which is your favorite (or, to make it more interesting...your least favorite)?  Your task is to write a short story or poem with the object in your favorite/least favorite picture as the subject.  What would that story be?   Would it be set in Ancient Greek times, or more modern times?  Would it be happy, sad, war-filled?  My son will be writing a short story about the little terracotta bull.  I will be asking him to keep his story in the timer period of Ancient Greece, using accurate details, but the rest is up to him.  
    And, for those of you studying Ancient Egypt, I came across this fun game (and several other great links) at the National Museum of Scotland's website - click HERE for the game.  The NMS also is unveiling a new Ancient Egyptian exhibit called "Fascinating Mummies" which you can read a bit more about HERE, plus you can see slides of some terrific artifacts from Ancient Egypt, and follow the links on the lower right for more about Ancient Egypt (some are the same as those on the game page).

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Paths to insanity...

    I might just go insane this week...  We've had a variety of problems around our apartment since we moved in, and they've slowly been getting repaired.  Tuesday, an electrician came out and (FINALLY) installed the hard wired smoke alarms.  The wiring was in already, but no detectors.  Well, the repair guys installed two new smoke alarms, and the stupid things went off randomly for several hours.  I read the instructions, pushed the tester button, etc, etc, all to no end.  Tried calling and getting hold of the electricians company but to no avail (I had to call the building management company who said they would call the electrician company...but I never heard back).  Well, finally the stupid things stopped beeping....untillllllll....20 minutes ago.  One of the stupid alarms has gone off twice in the last 20 minutes.  I'm just waiting for it to go off again.  I'm betting it will start going off as soon as I'm deep in sleep.

    The batteries are fresh.  The alarms aren't around anything smokey or anything that would block them.  Can't figure out what is up...

    If anyone has any brilliant ideas on what is wrong with the stupid things, or how to get them to stop beeping without ripping them off the ceiling...please share!  I may go slowly insane otherwise...

    Update - I think I fixed the smoke alarms...or maybe broke them?  Either way, I'm fine with it!  They finally STOPPED beeping!  Thank goodness, because I think I probably seemed a little insane to my tutoring students today thanks to the combination of the psychosis inducing beeping and sleep deprivation.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Ancient Greece...

    Hey homeschoolers!  Today, I'm talking history curriculum.  I thought we would give Sonlight a try, and as I'd heard such great things from friends, I had very high hopes and expectations.  I was both ecstatic and sorely disappointed by the Core W curriculum.

    Sigh...I love the layout and overall approach, but absolutely cannot stand the two primary texts.  The curriculum is supposed to be geared towards ages 12 and 13 - JP is 13 - but the two primary texts?  They are clearly meant for younger children.  So, we will be dispensing with those, and following some of the main lesson plans and curriculum map, while also making changes and adjustments as we see fit.  I only bought the two main texts (which are being sent back), and the instructor's guide as our local library has all of the other books listed.  We also won't be following the Bible study portion, nor will we be using the poetry segment.  I was looking to Sonlight strictly for history, not for religion except as it is part of history (and by that, I mean we will cover most world religions, including the Christianity and the Bible, Judaism and the Torah, Islam and the Koran, Buddhism, Hinduism, and much more).  For poetry, well, that is my specialty area, so I have designed my own poetry curriculum.

    Anyhow, when I got Sonlight's Core W instructor's manual, we were already well into Ancient Greece.  I considered backing up to the beginning of the Core W curriculum, but decided instead to just pick up with Ancient Greece, and continue using our current materials.  When we have exhausted our current materials, I will add in the books, map activities, and so on from the Core W plan.  If we like it, then we'll just do the same as we move along - use the Core W as a guide, and add in our own materials.  Core W is supposed to be a one year curriculum, but I plan to stretch it into two years as it doesn't go as in depth as I would like, so we will be supplementing like crazy as we go along!

    I wanted to share with you some of the materials and resources that we are using to cover Ancient Greece.  So far, we are using the following in addition to many of the texts from Sonlight's Core W:

    BOOKS WE ARE USING THUS FAR (an upcoming library trip will likely expand this list greatly!):
    • National Geographic's Visual History of the World
    • The Time's Complete History of the World
    • D'Aulaire's Greek Myths
    • Tales of the Greek Heroes
    • The Odyssey (Penguin Classics edition)
    • Empires: The Greeks - Crucible of Civilization (A PBS three episodes documentary about Ancient Greece, available streaming from Netflix)
    • Several History Channel documentaries covering Alexander the Great, The Odyssey, Clash of the Gods, and the Battle at Marathon.  Note that some of these episodes are quite violent and graphic.  If you have younger kids, or kids sensitive to monsters and violence, either skip these or preview them for appropriateness. ***A little tip:  A very annoying ad loads when you go to this page.  As fast as you can, hover your mouse over the top right corner of the page.  As the ad is loading you will see "Close" with a little box to click on.  Click it FAST or the ad will load entirely, taking you to some other website for the product - I think some sort of web security software or something.  If you don't get it closed fast enough, it is hard to get back to the documentaries page.  Lame, I know...***
    • Short clips and videos at - these are typically anywhere from 2 to 10 minute videos, and many are actually clips from larger videos and documentaries, but they are great if you are short on time, or your child has a short attention span.
    • BBC Primary History - readings, photos, quizzes and more
    • Mr. Donn - Power Point presentations, lesson plans, and more

    A glimpse at The Met's Percy Jackson guide
    I also wanted to take a moment to show you why we love the National Geographic and The Time's history books we are using.  They are amazing!  These are definitely middle school and high school level texts, so if you have younger kids, you might prefer the two books that are part of Sonlight's Core W - the Core W main texts were just too simplistic for our needs.

    Anyhow, check out these pictures...the maps and illustrations in both the National Geographic and The Time's history texts are incredible!  They both feature in depth text, numerous maps, historical rendering, timelines, and far more!
    A page from National Geographic's Visual History of the World

    A sample of the maps from the New York Time's Time's Complete History of the World

    Check back in a week or so for pictures from our trip The Met!

    I am already planning our transition to our Ancient Rome unit study, which will include watching "Spartacus" (the original movie featuring Kirk Douglas), and the more modern film "300."

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Postcrossing postcard exchange...

    A while ago, I mentioned Postcrossing, one of my favorite hobbies. If you don't already know, Postcrossing is a postcard exchange. It is a fantastic way to learn about other people and cultures, as well as brush up on your geography.  This morning, I have been addressing cards to send out.  For each address that Postcrossing assigns to you, they also give you a code which the receiver enters into the website database which records that your card has been received.  The site allows you to track various statistics, to view maps showing where your cards have gone to and come from, and much more.  I love it!

    Today, I am sending cards to:
    • Russian Federation
    • Germany
    • Ireland
    • Switzerland
    • Netherlands
    • Moldova
    I can't wait to see what card I get in return, and the countries they come from!  When your cards are received and entered into the Postcrossing system, your address is assigned to someone else and you receive cards in your mailbox.  So fun, and a great little surprise amid all the bill and junkmail!

    This map shows where my sent (in red) cards have gone to, 
    and where my received (in blue) cards have come from. 

    Postcrossing can also be a fun way to add some geography and cultural studies to homeschooling.  Just be sure that if you set up a Postcrossing account, you specify that the cards will be received by a younger person, and list what types of cards you do or do not wish to receive.  For example, my profile states that we do NOT want any cards with sexually explicit themes.

    A few of our favorite cards (others posted here):
    From Wyoming, USA
    From Montreal, Canada

    Old cars from Germany
    Colorful card from Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Gorgeous card from China

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Cutest meltdown...

    I normally don't share this kind of stuff, but this had me laughing (and sympathizing) so much, that I just had to share it!  Kristen Bell is so cute and funny...over a sloth.  Now, admit it, you have something that would make you act the same do...I know you do...

    You are worth it...

    If you've been reading my blog from the start, you will know that I left an abusive relationship several years ago.  Since then, there have been many ups and downs, but mostly ups.  Life has gotten better and better, and I intend for my life to continue on that upward path.

    If you are in a bad situation, or feeling low and worthless, or you just don't know where or how to take your life in a better direction, this post is for you.  You may not be ready to believe it yet, but you can get through, you can survived, because you do have value, you have worth, you are a survivor.

    "She decided she was worth it" magnet by allistonstrine on

    Once you realize that you have survived your situation,
    realize that you will always survive.

    You are a survivor.

    Nothing can hurt you for long, or do permanent damage,
    because you can and will survive.  You will be stronger for it.

    If you don't believe that you are a survivor, or that you are strong, or better, or somehow
    more than ever before, then you are either still in the middle of your negative situation. 

    You must find a path out.

    If you are still in it, don't wait for a hero.

    Be your own hero.

    Make your own path.

    Write your own destiny.

    Live by your own rules.

    Do these things and you will be a survivor.

    There will always be someone better off than you.

    There will always be someone worse off than you.

    They don't matter.

    YOU matter.

    Now matters.

    Here matters.

    Be here, be now, be you.