Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nevelson Creation

Kathy over at Art Projects for Kids has an amazing art blog. I've been reading it for a few months and have wanted to try a lot of her projects. Well, we finally did one!

Last weekend, we went to an art class at the Amon Carter Art Museum. I LOVE these classes. They are 2 hours long and the parents get their own class. It's amazing! Anyway, one of the pieces we viewed and discussed was Lunar Landscape Wall (on left). This is a sculpture by Louise Nevelson, a female artist. It is made of painted wood. A lot of Nevelson's art are wood sculptures which are painted in one color - often black or white. Wikiepedia says Nevelson is "known for her abstract expressionist 'crates' grouped together to form a new creation. She used found objects or everyday discarded things in her 'assemblages' or assemblies."

After returning from our class this weekend, I saw Kathy had posted a project she did about Nevelson! I had to do this project and Alexandra and I have really enjoyed it. And, I love the finished projects!

Above is Alexandra's "before" project. (You can look at Kathy's post for more information.)

And her finished project. Isn't it neat!!! We just bought a $1 can of black spray paint instead of trying to paint it with a paint brush.

And, my "before" and "after" spraypaint. These will definitely be on display at our house!

(And, ugh!!! I don't know what blogger is doing tonight. Sorry for where the words are "landing" - this is not how I designed it!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lots of Projects!

We are having lots of fun... with projects! Here our some of the things we're working on:

Journey North Mystery Class - I've been posting about it here.

A neat art project we started last night - I'll tell you more SOON! (This is Alexandra's)

(And mine)

Our cultural project - CANADA! We are participating in a Cultural Fair on Saturday.

And, we will be setting up 4 container gardens next week. All of the "stuff" was FREE! This project has lots of sponsors and is given out to local schools - included homeschools! It came with lesson plans, seeds, fertilizer, containers, games, worksheets - I just need to buy some soil. We'll be planting 2 containers of vegetables and 2 containers for butterflies!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Person's a Person No Matter How Small

Lia is a 12-year-old seventh grader that recently decided to make a courageous stand in her school by giving a persuasive speech on the topic of abortion. Even when her teachers strongly encouraged her to choose a different topic, she decided to stick with what she felt passionate about.

Lia made an incredible pro-life speech that ended with the words of Horton, the elephant: "a person's a person, no matter how small."

Please watch her speech by clicking here. (I tried to post the YouTube video, but haven't been able to.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Longitude & Latitude Tattoo

I don't know why the "geography all the way" link from my post last night is not working now. The site says it is down for maintenance, so I hope it is back up soon. We thought it was a good site.

And, as far as the tattoo lady... while trying to figure out why the link was broke I googled "longitude latitude tattoo" and came up with the answer. The lady with the latitudes & longitudes tattooed on her arm is Angelina Jolie. And, why the 4 tattoos? They mark each of the places where her children were born! In fact, she now has twins so she's added 2 more tattoos on her arm! I guess this is one way to learn more about geography!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Latitude & Longitude

Yesterday, we continued working on our Journey North Mystery Class. To save time, I had calculated the photoperiods of our 10 mystery locations this weekend. Alexandra calculated the photoperiod for our location. Then, we graphed our results (see below) and filled out our journal page for the week.

One of the journal questions asked about why you thought some of the lines went up while some of them went down. Alexandra hypothesized (correctly) that it is because we're in different parts of the world. I am so excited about Journey North and this mystery class as I know we'll both learn a lot!

We also worked on longitude and latitude using geography all the way. First, we listened to a song they have about longitude and latitude. Then, we did the "activities." Basically, this walks you through what both of those terms mean and then have you plot several points on a map.

I had planned on doing the Challenge activity at the bottom of the page (of the lady with the tattoo), but I couldn't figure it out. I was hoping to find a site where you could plug in those coordinates and it would tell you where you were, but I didn't find a site like that. And, I was wondering how we'd figure out who the mystery lady was even with those places identified! So, if you have any ideas.... we'd love to hear them!

I also have a few other activities planned for this week involving latitude and longitude. But, we are also getting ready for a Cultural Fair (like a science fair but we are doing different countries) and we have only 1 1/2 weeks to complete our project! So, that will be taking up most of our time for awhile.

Downtown Aquarium

We went on a field trip with our homeschool group today to the Downtown Aquarium. Tickets are usually pretty expensinve. Alexandra and I have been twice before and with parking and lunch it has cost us around $70! But, we got a great deal today for just $8 per person plus $6 for parking! And, that included a lunch of a sandwich, large bag of chips, Caprisun, fruit (apple or banana) and delicious homemade cookie! You can't beat that!!! We even got the rides for free.

I actually took about 100 photos, but decided to only post a few. I love giant clams like the one in the first photo. And, the second photo of the eel - well, you can't tell from the picture, but he is about 6 foot long!

We spent quite a bit of time watching this beautiful octopus. They are usually so still, but this one was being very active for us! I love his color and he looked velvety soft!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Presidents' Song

We are getting ready to memorize the entire list of presidents - in order - for Classical Conversations. Whew! Someone sent me a link to this song which goes through each president (through Obama) with pictures and interesting facts. I thought it was great and wanted to share it! We've already watched it several times. Each time, we have discussed different facts about the presidents. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Periodic Table of Videos

The University of Nottingham has a cool site where they've posted what they call The Periodic Table of Videos. This morning, I watched the Hydrogen video (see below). I grinned through the entire video. It even includes a "big" explosion! With older kids, this could lead to a study of some of they Hydrogen explosions the scientists mentioned like the Chernobyl disaster.

In the helium video, they cool a helium filled balloon with liquid nitrogen. It has a neat affect on the gas and the balloon! They also explain that liquid Helium is a vital coolant in Magnetic Resonance Imagine, or MRI. I just had an MRI on Monday, so this was neat to hear! (By the way, I got the results from my MRI Friday evening and everything was "normal." Praise God!)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Where in the World? Eiffel Tower

This week, Alexandra solved clues #2 & #3 of Where in the World is Mrs. Waffenshmidt? I was happy that she solved both of them (King Tut in Egypt and Eiffel Tower in Paris, France) without even having to use the internet!

Besides finding the tower and the country for clue #3, you were supposed to find the name of the famous science fiction author who has a restaurant named after him on the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower. We had to look that up and found out it was Jules Verne.

(Above is a photo my brother, "the world traveler", took in 2008.)

We looked up Jules Verne to find out what famous books he has written. Among other things, he wrote Around the World in Eighty Days and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We were so amazed as we had just started reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea the night before! This was also a reminder to me that we need to be discussing the authors as we read. When Alexandra was younger, we always read the title and author and illustrator names. This helped with her reading skills, but it also helped us to find some favorite authors and illustrators.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sudden Hearing Loss

It's been kind of a rough month or so, but things are looking better. It started when I got sick about 5 weeks ago with some kind of upper respiratory virus. After dealing with it for about 2 weeks, I experienced a sudden loss of hearing in my right ear. Idon't think I could hear anything out of that ear for about 4 hours. When I could suddenly hear again, my ear was ringing. It was pretty annoying.

I went to a nurse practitioner twice that week and finally got into my ENT about 1.5 weeks after this started. She ran some tests and found that besides the ringing in my ear, I'd also lost some hearing abilities. I knew I was having trouble hearing, but I really thought it was just from the ringing.

She decided to run more tests - blood & an MRI of my brain - and send me back to my hematologist... just in case it was another blood clot. But, she thought I probably had experienced something called Sudden Hearing Loss. This is usually caused by a virus inflamming your 8th nerve and then it causes abrupt hearing loss. When it returns, 2/3rds of people experience ringing in their ear. And, to be considered Sudden Hearing Loss, you must have lost a certain percentage of your hearing.

So, this week I had an MRI early Monday morning (I left the house at 5:45 am), went to my hematologist Wednesday (he ran more blood tests, but thinks I have not had another clot) , and went to a neurologist today. The neurologist was able to read my MRI and told me it was normal. Praise God! And, she agreed with my ENT saying it sounded like a classic case of Sudden Hearing Loss. But, she said it could continue to get better as the nerve heals, where my ENT had told me I would not improve. So, I will pray for the best but be prepared for the worst!

I go back to my ENT on Wednesday to have my hearing rechecked. My left ear has started ringing since I first saw this doctor, but it is not as bad as my right. The hearing loss is more of an annoyance than a disability. And, the ringing has either gotten better or I'm adjusting to it. It is non-stop, but I only hear it when things get pretty quiet. It was hard to go to sleep the first few nights, but I'm used to it now. I just would love some total quiet!!!

I would appreciate prayers for complete healing! And, I hope to post more "fun" posts next week. We have been doing a lot this week, but I've been preoccupied with my health lately.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Alexandra (and I) started attending a Classical Conversations group in January. I will be telling you a lot more about it in the future! But, for now, I wanted to talk about one of the many subjects we cover - the fine arts. Each week, we study either an artist or a composer. Right now we've been studying artists - one per week. The tutor (teacher) reads about an artist, shows a few examples of their artwork, and then the kids get about 30 minutes to work on a project.

I really enjoyed this week's study of Lichtenstein. After reading about him and showing some of his artwork (which is often made of dots and looks like cartoons), the kids were given stamp pads and pencils with erasers. They drew their own cartoon and then got ink on their erasers and stamped dots onto their pictures.

I decided to do it a little different at home. Instead of using a pencil eraser and ink pad, we used markers. And, instead of drawing our own cartoon, we printed out Littlest Pet Shop coloring pages. I had so much fun!!! And, instead of using one color, I usually mixed 2 or even 3 colors per area to create a neat color. I had to post my pieces of art as I thought they were so cute. And, I could do this for hours!

Although we are not studying these artists as in depth as I have studied artists in the past, we are still being introduced to new artists and learning about their artwork. And, we're continuing each study at home by checking out books (I've requested the Mike Venzia book about Roy Lichtenstein) and looking at thier artwork.

Alexandra is still working on her LPS Lichtenstein-type pieces of art, so I'll share hers when she's ready.

Lincoln's 200th Birthday

I just realized (through an email) that we will celebrate Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday on February 12th. I'd love to do something fun... and educational... for this day. I'm even thinking about getting a group together for President's Day.

Does anyone have any plans they don't mind sharing? :-)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Spelling Connections

Someone told me about the Spelling Connections website today. It has 3 areas: Word Sort (Spellign & Thinking), Complete the Sentence (Spelling & Reading), and Proofreading (Spelling & Writing). Each area covers grades 1st through 8th and has 34 problems per grade.

For example, on Word Sort, Grade 1 Unit 1 has you sort words as to whether they rhyme with "fan" or "bad." Grade 8 Unit 5 has a list of about 20 fairly long words (like repertoire and overture) which you are to sort as to "adjective" or "noun."

For Complete the Sentence Grade 1 Unit 1, you are to fill in words in a sentence like "It is (an) elm tree." Grade 8 Unit 1 has sentences like " There was a (shortage) of copper so the government made fewer pennies."

And, for proofreading, you actually drag the correct proofreading marks to the part of a sentence or paragraph to be corrected. You must also correct the spelling if the error is a spelling error.

I think we're going to try this website tomorrow, so I thought I'd pass it along!

Oh, I just noticed a 4th part to the website. A spelling bee which is also by grade! You listen to the word and then they use the word in a sentence and then you spell it.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wave Runner (Day 6) - final post for San Diego!

We ended our last day with something my sister-in-law suggested. We rented Wave Runners! I wasn't sure I wanted to do this, but in the end I gave it a try.

My sister-in-law took Alexandra on the back of her Wave Runner and I went alone. I was pretty scared and didn't think I'd go faster than 10 mph. Boy, was I wrong!

I LOVED the Wave Runner! We got to spend an hour and a half on the bay and I got pretty comfortable. At my fastest, I went 52 mph - the fastest it would go! One of the neatest things we saw was on one of the floating markers.... We got to ride really close to the marker and 2 harbor seals were sunning on it! We visited the marker several times just to see the seals.
Unfortunately, I didn't have a water camera, so I didn't take any photos while we were out. So, all I have our my memories - and the photos of the sign and one of our Wave Runners.
Well, that's it for our trip to San Diego! We already have another big trip in the works... this one isn't until summer, but it'll be wonderful! So, stay tuned. ;-)

San Diego Wild Animal Park (Day 6)

On our last day in San Diego, we went to the San Diego Wild Animal Park. While it was nice, Alexandra and I really preferred the Zoo.

One of the big things to do at the animal park is to take a bus tour. Unfortunately, it is a long walk to where you get on the bus. And, for the regular trip (you can pay a lot more money and do different types of trips) you don't get very close to the animals.

There is a lot more to do at the animal park besides the tour. This facility actually breeds animals for the zoo, so you will see a lot of the same animals. One of our favorite parts of this park was going in to feed the birds - Lory's. You are given a little cup of nectar and the birds will land on you to get the food. But, BEWARE! These animals have very quick digestive systems - if you know what I mean. I ended up getting "shot" twice!

I enjoyed taking photos of some birds around a pond.

And, Alexandra and I enjoyed the wild bird show the best. Isn't this a beautiful bird???

This was Alexandra's favorite bird - a parrot that talked and sang and made all kinds of noises. He was wonderful!

Shadow Watching

Today, we continued our prep for our Mystery Class: A Study of Sunlight and Seasons. We went outside almost every hour and Alexandra stood in the same place and I traced her shadow. We noticed the shadow was both moving in a clockwise circle and shrinking. After noon (our next time outside was 2:30 pm) the shadow had started getting bigger again. One thing Alexandra realized was that in summer your shadow usually disappears near noon. Now, in late winter, our shadows never got that small. (We'll try to go out mid-day again tomorrow.) Since the sun is hitting us more at an angle, and not as directly as during summer, winter is cooler than summer!
We can't wait to get our first set of sunrise/sunset times on Friday! We're ready!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Seasons and Photoperiods

We started the Journey North Mystery Class today by learning about seasons at this Liverpool Museums site. We also used a globe to reinforce the concept that the tilt of the earth on its axis is what causes seasons.

Then, we had to find our local sunrise and sunset time for Monday. We looked in Monday's newspaper, but it only had Monday's sunset and Tuesday's sunrise. Our recycling bin had already been picked up, so we had to go online to find Monday's sunrise. We went to this site and found both our sunrise/sunset times online.

Then, we had to calculate our photoperiod, or length of daylight. There are other methods, but we did this by writing our time as if it were a 24-hour clock. Then, we subtracted. BUT, remember you cannot borrow as if it was based on 100. These are hours and minutes, so you must borrow as a group of "60."

Here's an example:
sunrise: 7:25 am (stays 7:25)
sunset: 6:10 pm (so change to 18:10)

So, you'd subtract 18:10 - 7:25. You can't have 10 minutes and subract 25. So, you actually have to change it to 17:70 - 7:25. Then, just subtact! In this case, your photoperiod would be 10:45 or 10 hours and 45 minutes. Hope this helps, as I was a little confused at first. We'll have plenty of time to practice when we get our set of 10 sunrises/sunsets data on Friday!

Our photoperiod was 10 hours 49 minutes. Alexandra was really surprised as she thought we always had 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness. So, she's already learning something! (And, so am I as I learned to calculate photoperiods.)
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