Tag Archives: homeschool

New year, new “Chucks”, new me

The new year is starting out very well.  I feel I have a good grasp on homeschooling eighth grade. We are now in our eighth year.  I think homeschooling into high school won’t be a challenge.  The challenge is to get my now 14-year-old son to think about something other than playing Minecraft on the computer.  I shouldn’t be discouraged, he does well, he volunteers at the local science museum and humane society once a week.   He’s really a good kid.  People ask me all the time, “What is he going to do about college? Will you homeschool college?”  I reply with, “Homeschool college?  Are you crazy?  No, I won’t homeschool college. Did you think about college in eighth grade? Good grief!  Let the boy enjoy his middle school and high school years. There will be time for college.  I never thought about college until my senior year of high school!”  Okay, maybe I don’t say all of that, but I sure do think it, and then some–

IMG_5156

My birthday was a couple of days ago. I turned forty-two years old. Yeah, that’s right–I’m forty-two years old. I know, I can’t believe it either!  I am not going to question this unexplainable youthful feeling I have.  Maybe it’s from yoga. Wherever it comes from, I embraced it and I ordered a pair of orchid Converse Chucks.  They look like this.

Why do I feel the need to define my “youth” by wearing some Chucks? I don’t really know. Maybe because it’s fun. Maybe I’m in denial about getting older. The truth is, I’ll probably look ridiculous, but I don’t care.  I do have my limits.  There will never be any skinny jeans in my wardrobe.  I draw the line there.

Some of my friends and family say I don’t look forty-two, I certainly don’t act forty-two.  How does a forty-two year old mom act?  Does she listen to Dinosaur Jr?  Religiously?  I doubt it.  I’m still obsessed with J Mascis. There–I said it.  No worries, my husband knows all about it.  He isn’t jealous.  He thinks it’s kind of funny.  He knows how I am and accepts me.  I know I’m not like any other forty-ish year old moms I know. My husband knows it, too.

Here in North Carolina, one would think it was already spring.  Last winter was mild, and this winter is feeling about the same.  In fact, the warmer temperatures have allowed some trees to bloom early.

Flowering tree

There was a small amount of snowfall in our area a couple of days ago.  The blanket of snow was nice to see on my birthday. Wish I could have seen this tree with snow on its blooms.

There isn’t much else to tell, other than I can say I am in a much better place than I was a year ago.  This time last year was horrible for me, and I never want to experience what I experienced ever again. Depression. Confusion. Anxiety that crippled me for weeks on end.  If you have ever felt real anxiety, you know how awful and scary it feels.  That tightness in your chest, the dreadful unhappiness, loss of appetite, and insomnia.  I lived on supplements like passion-flower during the day and valerian root at night to ease the symptoms of anxiety.  It helped only a little.  I couldn’t focus on homeschooling, chores, my home, or my life. I disappeared from blogging for a while and tried to get myself together.  I wanted to disappear all together, but I hung in there.  It took me several months, but I finally did it.  With that said, I’ll share a video of  Dinosaur Jr., of course.  J’s acoustical version in the studio is awesome!

But if you want to rock it out, listen to the original version:

Enough of my rambling. I’m just glad happy to be me again. Thanks for reading my blog.   🙂

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the tesserae turns 2!

Happy Blogoversary to the tesserae!  Two years ago today, I started this blog, and I still like to blog, though, I don’t devote as much time to it as in the past.  I think I am either busy, preoccupied, bored, distracted, or L-A-Z-Y.  Truth be told, I am most likely all of them! 

Presently, the following activities are keeping me away from the tesserae either regularly, often, occasionally, or all at once (yes, it is possible):

  • homeschooling
  • spending as much time outdoors as possible (the weather is beautiful here in NC in September)
  • identifying deciduous trees in my yard by their leaves and bark (my yard is very wooded)
  • catching and identifying insects (yep, I know it sounds gross, but I like little creatures)
  • bird watching 
  • watching squirrels drink from the bird bath
  • watching leaves fall
  • noticing the leaves change color
  • staying away from poison ivy (boo-hiss!)
  • trying to read more (not working)
  • attending a homeschool Charlotte Mason co-op
  • helping my son make lapbooks for history
  • trying to get up earlier (not working either)
  • trying to go to bed earlier (HA-definitely not working!)
  • preparing homeschool lessons
  • getting together county fair entries
  • checking out library books
  • watching Cupcake Wars
  • walking through my neighborhood
  • trying to lose 5 pounds (just 5 pounds -dang it!)
  • avoiding urges to eat anything sweet (it’s killing me!)

I’ll wrap this up and end with this photo.  Can you guess what it is?

Thanks for reading my blog! xo

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The Intimidator

We are finally finished with homeschooling!  Our last full day was May 28, and then we worked on a final newsletter project on Monday, the 31st.  The newsletter was about my son’s 5th grade year that we mailed to family.  June 1st was our first official day of summer break and we spent the day at Carowinds, an amusement park 2 hours away.  I purchased a season pass for both my son and me.  I use to go to Carowinds as a kid and I have many great memories there.  Much has changed with more thrill rides and a water park added.  The roller coasters are fun, but the ride choices are limited if you don’t like roller coasters.

Cedar Fair bought Paramount’s Carowinds back in 2006 and gradually changed things for the better.  Under Paramount, Carowinds was starting to go downhill.  When I was last there in 2008, the kiddie land was themed based on Nickelodeon TV shows and many of the characters weren’t popular anymore and outdated.  This year, Cedar Fair updated the kiddie land to the Peanuts and Snoopy theme.  I loved it!  I felt like a kid again.  My son loved it, too, because he is a Peanuts fan (coming from my influence, of course).  The Peanuts are iconic and like Mickey with Disney World, won’t go out of style. 

As we drove through the entrance to the park, my son spotted the new thrill ride, the Intimidator, and he insisted we ride it immediately.  The ride borders the huge parking lot, and there was no missing it.  I didn’t have time to think about the ride, as I was concentrating on parking and getting inside the gate to get our season passes.    I said, “OK”.  I mean, how bad could it be?  

Photo from here.

After we were inside, we got a park map, located the Intimidator, and proceeded in that direction.  I noticed something unusual as we arrived; there were hardly any people there!  Picking a weekday right after a holiday proved to be a tremendous advantage.  There was absolutely no waiting in the lines for rides throughout the day.  For example, if no one was in our que to get on the ride after returning to the station, we could ride again.  My son rode the Woodstock Express three times in row!  BUT, this unusual circumstance to not wait in line proved to be a disadvantage when riding our first ride, the Intimidator.  Why?  Here’s why.  I’m sure if we had to wait in a long line, or even a short line, we would have had more time to consider just what we were getting into.  I am certain we would have backed out.  Instead, we walked right up to the station and within seconds got in the seat.  The seat was designed like a race car driver seat, but with no seat belt or shoulder harness.  There was only a lap bar in a shape of  a steering wheel that pressed down snuggly between your legs.  This was it?  This was going to hold me and my poor child sitting beside me?  

Photo from here.

I didn’t have time to consider what was ahead.  One never really thinks about falling out of the seat because everyone returns from the previous trip.  That’s always a good sign, right?  In a surreal moment, we begin to approach the 232 ft. climb to the top.  I’m afraid of heights and I closed my eyes.  I knew they would remain closed during the entire ride.  Then, we got to the top and I braced myself for the 211 ft. drop, which seemed like the longest drop of my entire life!  As we approached each turn and drop, my body rose off the seat and my legs pressed up against the steering wheel that I was gripping.  It was miraculously holding me in, and thank God my son was still in his seat!!  It seemed the ride was never going to end.  It was the longest 3 minutes and 33 seconds EVER!

When we finally slowed down before returning to the station, my son and I breathed a sigh of relief that it was over.  Feeling stunned, we asked each other, “What were we thinking?”  We were just thankful that we survived and we vowed that we would NEVER ride the Intimidator again!  The name definitely IS what it says!

A series of POV videos are posted on the website, but here is one I have posted from YouTube.

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The board game

I am still busy with finishing up school with my son, but I want to write a short post telling what I have been doing.  I returned the Jump In writing book because the Spectrum writing book is working out fine for him.  I have a bad habit with purchasing too many resources to use for school (which may be exhibited in the photo).  It was best that I go ahead and return the curriculum before too much time had passed so I could get a full refund.  Otherwise, it would just sit on my shelf until the fall.  It is a stocked item so I will purchase it again later.

I couldn’t leave the bookstore without browsing through their used homeschool section.  I bought several things to add to our homeschool library for next year.  You see, it’s OK that these items sit on my shelf until the fall because they were on sale.  Buying anything on sale is acceptable! Nothing makes a homeschool mom more excited than to find materials second-hand for school.  Ian has been studying the U.S. presidents from George Washington to William McKinley, and I found this cool set of President jumbo flashcards.  The set was originally from Barnes and Noble.  I also bought a set of 600 Sparknotes U.S. History study cards…and then dropped the box on the floor when I got home.  I spent a couple of hours sorting them out by period. 

The stack of books on the right in the photo include a  WWII history book for kids, a science experiment book, a bird field guide, a book of presidents, a U.S. states book, and a drawing curriculum.  I think I did pretty good! 

Currently, I am working on a review board game, and I am taking a break as I write this post.  It’s turning out to be more complicated than I originally thought.  The questions are simple, but creating it is painstaking.   I have made games before, but not like this one.  It must be more complex due to the material we have covered.  There is so much history to review (300 years), and I thought playing a game would help Ian retain the highlights.  

I created the game using influences from Cranium, Sorry, and Trivial Pursuit.  I drew two circles with a large plastic salad bowl lid and marked repeating color coded squares and labeled in four subjects: language/vocabulary, math, science, and history.   I already know Ian isn’t going to like it when he lands on history.  The history section is divided into seven historical periods from 1600-1900.  Each historical period has 5 questions (asking highlights from each period).  There is also a section to “Name that President” for each period.  I will use the flashcards for that.  When his token lands on history, he can choose a period.   All the other areas are straight forward. If he lands on a space, he is asked a question from that subject.  The object of the game is to make his way around the two loops, trying to answer the questions correctly.  He will get special prizes along  the way for correct answers.  I am going to use some presidential dollar coins and regular coins for prizes since they have the presidents on the them.  The idea is to make the review fun and he will more likely remember it this way rather than studying for a test.  We will spend next week reviewing and then play the game when we are finished.  Playing the game can take a couple of hours to play, spanned out over a few days.  I will write in my next post if it was a success or not. 

A friend asked me recently why I was trying to make school fun, she said that school isn’t supposed to fun, it’s supposed to be hard.  I kind of disagree. 

OK…back to work.

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Bird week

Last week for science, we studied birds.   Each day, my son picked two birds to study and then he made a color pencil drawing of each.  There were a total of 10 drawings.   Ian likes to draw and this was an assignment he liked doing.

We enjoy birds and birding and I chose to focus on birds last week to prepare for the Great Backyard Bird Count. The bird count is February 12-15, and we will do our bird count on Monday, February 15th.

Studying birds last week allowed me to remember the bird nest we found in our chimney last fall.

After we moved into our house back in the fall of 2009, we heard some birds in our chimney, but we didn’t think too much of it.  We had many repairs to do around our house and one of them was to have a chimney cap installed.  A chimney cap would keep birds and other critters out of our chimney. We called a company that specializes in pest and wildlife control to come and inspect our chimney and to expel the birds.  What we learned was very interesting.  He said the birds that had lived in our chimney were Chimney Swifts.   They are protected in our area and had they still been there, we would not had been able to install the chimney cap until they had migrated.  At that time, it was October and the birds had since migrated and so, the chimney cap could be installed.  We were told the nest was very small, still intact and would not be a hazard when we decided to use the fireplace.  The nest was attached to the chimney wall near the flue damper and my husband removed it while he was cleaning out other debris.

In the photo, I am holding the nest against the door casing to show how it attaches to the wall.  It is one of the tiniest nests I have ever seen other than a hummingbird’s nest.  You can see how this nest is made from tiny sticks.  It is a very tight weave and there was a glue like substance that held it to the chimney wall.  It is a very sturdy nest, as well.  

It was an amazing find and we are glad the Chimney Swifts lived in our chimney so we could have this little jewel of nature.

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