Our TV Adventure


Last night, the girls and I did our part to represent homeschool families and show that it can be a neat way of life.  I think it went pretty well and it was surprisingly fun!

The show is a family program about issues like nutrition, education, special needs and such.  Originally, the topic was going to be schooling options and they were going to have a panel representing private schools, charter schools, cyber schools and homeschools.  Apparently the other people didn’t work out so they changed the topic to homeschools and also invited a representative from the local community college to talk about the college angle for homeschoolers.

They also said that one or both girls would be welcome to take part too if I wanted (and if they did).  The girls were thrilled!  Nervous and shy, but thrilled.

I was pretty nervous but I reminded myself that I love to to yap about HSing!  People can’t shut me up!  😉  So I just concentrated on that and tried to just go on autopilot.

The interview went really well and true to form, I did chatter happily all they wanted and then some!  It started out a little wobbly.  I said um a lot and had no idea what I wanted to say, but I have a gift of jabbering about nothing at all until a real thought comes into my head and it filled the gap until my brain came on! And after that, I occasionally actually said some intelligent things!  I’m pretty sure, anyway.

Victoria got to answer a few questions too, and Annalee even timidly talked a bit (and whispered in my ear once).  The college rep had glowing things to say about homeschoolers at her college and after the taping she asked me for the contact information to our two state organizations so she could make sure they knew that Riverland Community College was “homeschool friendly”!  She even asked Victoria to come attend classes through PSEO when she was old enough, though it’s a bit of a drive!

Daryl wrangled the boys and watched us on the wall when he could.  Todd, the man who coordinated the whole thing, gave each of the kids a little microphone keychain with the station logo on it and gave Jack some really cool disguise glasses.

The show will air late in February and should be viewable online.  If it’s not too awful I might even post a link.  😉

We also spent the night at a local hotel with a pool, so the kids were thrilled to get more swimming in.  We were in the birthplace of Spam and tried to make it to the Spam museum, but we just didn’t have the time.  Daryl wants to come back in the summer and visit that, along with some neat parks and lakes in the area.  In true homeschool form I had Anna read through tourist brochures and write up 10 interesting facts about the area.  Then on the way back we made a side trip to see Grandma and Grandpa for the afternoon since we weren’t too far away.

It was a great experience.  The girls are really happy that they got to take part and feel very proud of themselves (rightly so!).   I managed to remember how to speak and do a lot of it, and that’s enough for me!

This past year I’ve been trying to say yes to more things, even when they seem slightly terrifying.  This was one of those things and I’m so glad I did.  I highly recommend taking tiny leaps like this if you haven’t.  This was surprisingly fun.  And a learning experience!  😉


15 Minutes

We’re heading out of town in a few minutes so I can be part of a regional PBS TV program about school choice, representing homeschoolers.  I’m a wee bit nervous but am hoping for the best.

It should be a fun adventure.  The kids will get to see the TV station and we’re spending the night at a hotel with a pool, so they’re happy.  I figure as long as I don’t suddenly belt out Broadway showtunes or start speaking in tongues, I can’t really do anything too horrible, right?  And I almost never do either of those, at least in public.  😉

Wish me luck!

An Interrupted Post

The other night I typed up a long post about a freebie that was offered online.  It was homeschool related (generally offered for a price but free right now) and we’d enjoyed it, so I wanted to pass it on.

I had noticed immediately that the intro was very badly written.  There were typos (the type that are real words that pass spell-check but are obviously the wrong words) and many grammatical errors.

After the badly written intro, however, the sections were generally very well written.  That got me curious.

A quick google search of some of the key phrases turned up the reason.  Almost all of the unit study was lifted, word for word, from other web sites throughout the web.

I found this all out as I was writing up the freebie entry, so my entry morphed from a happy little notice of a cool nifty to a rambling post on the ethics of plagiarism.

I knew that most businesses use google alerts to be notified if people post about them, so I figured they’d read my post where I not only said they were bad writers but thieves, basically!  I wasn’t so sure I was up for the backlash from that.

And I didn’t really want to malign these people.  They’re homeschooling mothers trying to make some money.  I don’t want to mess that up for them with bad press or drama.   I try to assume the best about people.  In my post I said that perhaps they didn’t know the rules of copyright and plagiarism.  But really, shouldn’t they?

So I typed and typed, and ended up with a lot of words that I wasn’t ready to send out into the universe.  I don’t think I posted anything that night, and the draft has been sitting and waiting for me to come back to it.

I’m not going to post the freebie.  You can write me for it and I’ll send you the link, but it’s no great loss if I don’t pass it on.  Everything in it is available for free on the net anyway.  🙂

But I would like to open up the discussion because I think it matters.  What are we teaching our kids when we profit from other people’s work?  Is ignorance a good excuse?

I would not have had a problem with their lifting all of those articles, experiments and essays from the web if they had simply quoted the authors and the sources.  Technically, they should have gotten permission, especially since they were making money off of them (most of the time).  But just an acknowledgment:  I did not write this.  This person did the work.  That would have made all of the difference for me.

As huge as the internet is, I have noticed that we are generally a very respectful bunch.  We do hat tips when we pass on tidbits from other sites.  We use links so you can surf back to the great site where we got that art project.  We quote authors.  We give credit.

I think it’s a sign of good manners and good morals, and I think it’s an even bigger lesson to teach my kids than the ones in that freebie.

What do you think?

Wonderful Art Site

I wandered onto the Artsonia site the other day while looking for an art project I’d seen online.  What a fun find!  This site calls itself the world’s largest kids’ art museum and it is a treasure trove of wonderful ideas and fabulous art projects.

With sections for teachers, parents and kids, there seems to be something for everyone.  You can search for neat art projects to do with your kiddos, narrowing the search by grade level, type of art, highest ranked schools and more.  You can display your child’s art in his or her own gallery for free, complete with a guestbook and fan club.  You can even take part in special themes and contests.

You can also order merchandise made with your child’s art and 15% of the profits go to the school arts program.  And yes, your kids still retain the copyrights to their art.  And no, I didn’t get a kickback to say this.  😉

The lesson plan page has tons of great ideas that I can’t wait to look through, but I also have enjoyed just browsing through all the great projects.  Each teacher has a blurb about the general project and instructions on the right at the start of each exhibit.

We are total art junkies around here and I love peeking at school art projects and looking for ideas to do together at home.  Kinderart is a great site for that and I’m stoked to have found another one with some extra nifties, to boot.

I have just begun to browse around but it looks like a really neat site so far.

News Flash: Kids Behave Better if They Get Recess

Mark this under the “duh” category. A researcher has found that children behave better when they’re allowed to move at least once a day. Sadly, 30% of the kids in the study were allowed somewhere between 0 and 15 minutes of recess all day. One first grade class in particular had only one 10-minute break all morning and the kids were not allowed to talk or move from their seats during this “break.”

Another news story talks about how public school children don’t get any opportunities for socialization any more because they have no breaks like recess to practice their social skills.  Socialization, huh?  I’m not even touching that one.

Book Review Writing Contest

 Older kids may want to get involved in this writing contest:

Write a book review—with a twist! Little Dozen Press is sponsoring a new contest for writers ages 11 and up. Review your favourite novel or other work of fiction. In your review, pinpoint a specific writing technique which the author does well, and share what you have learned about writing from reading the book.

The entry deadline is March 15. Winners will receive their choice of book by Rachel Starr Thomson, signed by the author. All entrants who give their permission will have their review published on Inklings, Rachel’s blog for young (and other) writers.

There will be winners in 3 age groups (all 11 or older).  Visit Inklings to get an idea of the blog (which seems to be geared towards writing advice, information about the industry and her her writing on being homeschooled in a large family, Christianity and science fiction stories) and see full details of the contest here.

The Good News is We're Gonna Live Forever

That’s what Daryl told me when he read this…

On Chinese New Year Eve, parents encourage children to stay awake as long as possible, because legend says that the longer children stay awake the longer their parents will live.

From this neat little site that has lots of stuff to do today to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

I followed a link there to a page where you can play children’s games with a Chinese theme and it was easy fun.  I tried my hand at the “Moon Cakes” game where you have to put the moon cakes in order from most to least egg yolks as quickly as possible.  It’s good for teaching pattern recognition as counting and the concepts of greater and less for little ones, plus it’s just fun to try to answer as quickly as possible for bigger kids.  I’ll let the kids try their hands later and see if the other games are fun too.

Chinese New Year, Take Two!

Uh yeah.  So the real Chinese New Year is today.  Oops!

Daryl doesn’t know where he read that it was Saturday and I just took his word for it.  So the good news is you have plenty of time to take part with your kiddos if you didn’t get a chance to earlier.  😉

Welcome, once more, to the year of the ox!

And later I’ll post about our Burns’ Night.  I’m pretty sure we did that on the right day but who knows…


Gung Hay Fat Choy


We did our best to celebrate the Chinese New Year today, mostly thanks to Daryl.  He found lots of nifty things online and he and the kids made lanterns, read a story about how all of the animals got years named after them (and why they’re in that order), made red lucky envelopes with dollars inside, printed out coloring pages and more.

I had a migraine and then some.  I mostly took Advil, soaked in the bath and hid upstairs.

And occasionally listened to the stories, oohed at the artwork and took pictures.

Have I mentioned how much Daryl rocks?  🙂

Here’s a bit of trivia about the year of the ox from this site:

Ox year is a time of hard work, duty, and discipline. Like an Ox plowing the fields, we must contribute during an Ox year. This is not a time for laziness. Success is attained through diligent labor and conscientious effort. Begin by putting your affairs in order, especially your home. Stick to tried-and-true methods, careful actions, and routine behavior. Wild new concepts will not be well received; save them for the following Tiger year 2010.

Characteristics of people born this year:

The Ox or the Buffalo sign symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. A person born during this year will be dependable, calm and methodical. A patient and tireless worker, he sticks to routine and conventions. Although he is generally fair-minded and a good listener, it is difficult to make him change his views as he is stubborn and often has strong prejudices. Still, because of his steady and trustworthy character, the Ox person will be entrusted with positions of authority and responsibility. He will not fall short where duty calls. As a matter of fact, he should be careful not to get carried away.

Famous people born under the sign of the ox include Barack Obama, Napolean Bonaparte, Princess Diana, Walt Disney, Vincent Van Gogh, Bruce Springsteen and Robert Redford.

(Yes, Anna named her ox “Annalandian Color Ox.”  😉

We had Egg Drop Soup and Chow Mein over rice for dinner and ate lots of tangerines (you’re supposed to eat lots of round things to represent the cycle of the year).  Despite my ailments, it was a neat day.


Late Night

I just realized I hadn’t blogged at all today and was going to tell you about our Chinese New Year plans for tomorrow and our Scottish plans for Burns’ Night on Sunday or maybe ice skating today…

But I have a sleeping boy in my arms and a new magazine to read in the blissful quiet of a house where everybody else is sleeping.

And a secret stash of chocolate.

Everybody needs priorities.  😉