Monday, August 26, 2013

Starting school again!

Hey everyone, I'm excited to announce that this is our first day of school! This will be my fourth year of homeschooling my wonderful children. Now I am a person who loves time off, and I really enjoy the days of summer, but I am so ready to start school again.

Last week was a week of fail, and not because anything bad happened to me, it was just because I have nothing to do, or well I should say that nothing was holding my interest. I was so happy at the beginning of last week, to have at least one week of freedom left. I told myself that I was going to enjoy it. I was going to do things that I found fun and relaxing like, read a few books, play the sims, and some warcraft, catch up on some laundry (I really don't enjoy that, but I did have time on my hands so whatever), watch some of my fav TV shows like Star Trek, Big Bang Theory, and Bones. You know... fun and relaxing. All of these sounded great until I started to do them. I just didn't want to. I would start to read, and get 15 mins into it, and get bored and give up. I would start to play the sims and on the sims start to build this exquisite house for mermaids, and then the game would freeze... ... yeah... (I didn't really have the patience to re-boot, and start all over again) So then off to laundry, but you can only do so much laundry before everything is clean including all of the sheets. Not to mention that during all of these activities I was getting interrupted by a three year old every 15 mins or so. I'm also sad to say that I just didn't enjoy watching Star Trek and Bones as much as I normally do. I know what you must be thinking "Oh poor Randi, she's bored and complaining about it. GET A LIFE." and you would so be right.

So yeah, that's why I'm happy that school is starting. Yes I know I'm crazy. It's just time for summer to be over (lets just face it) (and according to the northwest weather it was over two weeks ago), and it's time to start school. It's time to get the books out, and see our friends from co-op again (I'm really looking forward to that starting up again, yes says the person who was complaining about being bored).

I'm writing and posting this early, because it's going to be a big day. I always feel really tired after the first day of school (it usually takes me a week to get into the swing of things). This year I have a new rewards system in place for getting good grades, and the kids are super excited about it. I'll have to tell you guys about it in a later post. We have also moved the chickens outside in their coop, and I'll have more on that later as well. I need to get off of here and start my day.

Thanks for reading :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Using Fanfiction to Engage Students (guest post by : Nikolas Baron)

I love to see students express their imagination through their words. I think that often, children of all ages have something they want to say but struggle with how to say it. Often, they have no idea how to begin, and as their educators, we're at as much of a loss as they are. It's easy to tell them to just sit down and write a story, but if they aren't natural writers, or even worse, they aren't natural readers, this is much easier said than done. In my work with Grammarly, I study how people write and the tools they use to become better writers, and I think encouraging students to write “fanfiction” can be a great way to spark a desire to write more and, possibly, read a bit more as well.
Simply put, “fanfiction” is an original story based on another work, usually a TV show or movie, though there are plenty of examples of fanfiction that are based on books and video games. Fanfiction has a long history in pop culture, dating back centuries, but it didn't quite take off until the 1960s, when many science-fiction magazines started publishing original stories by subscribers. Since then, the Internet has given fanfiction writers a limitless venue through which they can display their works.
The idea behind fanfiction is that you love these works so much, when they're over, you want the adventure to continue, and in order for that to happen, you're going to be the one to write it. You are literally writing an original story based within the universe of a work that you've read and enjoyed.
So, how does this concept translate into helping students learn to enjoy writing? Well, who wouldn't want to go to Hogwarts with Harry Potter? Or fight the empire alongside Luke Skywalker? With fanfiction, you can do this, and it can be fun. We gravitate toward these stories because we often identify with the characters and situations within them, and our students are no different. Encouraging them to write their own stories set within universes they love will hopefully build a desire within them to figure out why they love those stories and use those elements to tell their own stories. You can also encourage them to put themselves into the stories and see what happens. What happens when your student becomes an ensign in Starfleet or comes into the possession of the One Ring? Or both at the same time? Fanfiction is limitless, and because of this, students can be free to express themselves however they want.
Of course, it's important that you spend time reading over their work with them, so that you can help foster their writing abilities. You can support them, while guiding them to becoming better writers. And, hopefully, when they see how they can express themselves through their words, and how they have an audience that cares about what they have to say, they'll have that desire to become better writers.
When they finally find that desire, it will hopefully lead to further polishing their work. In doing so, they might want to fine-tune their grammar. After all, it's frustrating to have a great story hurt by technical mistakes. At Grammarly, we have one of the best grammar checks on the Internet. It will scan their text for over 250 grammar errors and help them learn how to fix them. When they're telling great stories, coupled with excellent grammar, their writing will be unstoppable.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Mermaid Pants

My daughter Olivia had a green pair of pants that she never wore. There were a hand-me-down from our neighbor in Jackson Park. I always wondered what I could do with them, because we didn't have anything to match them because they were just a strange color.

 Yup that's them! I had a weird dream one night about wearing mermaid pants, I awoke thinking "I'm sure Olivia would love to wear mermaid pants," and that's where I got the idea to turn these green pants into mermaid pants

 I started off by measuring around the bottom of the pants. So yeah 7 inches. I decided that I wanted the first strips of fabric to start and stop about half an inch form the inseam (I was making this all up as I went, so bear with me).

I cut 4 strips of fabric measuring 12 inches by 3 inches.

Then I rounded the top corners,

and I sewed them together making them 2 strips.

Time for pinning!

I pinned an inch of fabric, then an inch of folded over fabric, to make a ruffled effect.

Then I sewed all the way around.

Next was triangles. Since the pants were 7 inches at the bottom, I measured 8 inched of fabric for the bottom of the triangle.

I marked the beginning, the end, and half way.

From the half way mark, I measured up 6 inches, and from there drew a line from that mark to both of the ends, this make up the other sides of the triangle.

I maked 4 triangles

then sewed them together to make 2 (yes this does look like a bikini top).

Next I pinned and sewed them onto the bottom of the pants, under the previous strip of fabric.

All done! I would have taken more photos of after, but she run off after that. :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Great Wolf / Spartan weekend

This was our second visit to the Great Wolf Lodge, and I enjoyed myself more this time. Here is the post about last year's visit.

We left Friday the second. The drive is about an hour and a half.

Now just a warning to everyone, this place can get expensive, so to help save some money try to eat in-town and not at the places in the hotel, because they are very over priced. The first night for dinner we had domino's. They were about ten minutes down the road, and a lot cheaper than the pizza place in the hotel.

We stayed in the Kid cabin room again

The water park is great and has a lot to do in a small space. We let the older two go off together while Jeremy and I switched off on watching the younger two, so we both were able to go on the water slides.

We arrived at 2:30pm, and immediately went to the water park, and stayed there until about 6pm, that was when we were all feeling cold and hungry. After dinner we did an hour of Magic quest and we played in the arcade. Yes the kids love this place, and Zachary said that he would love to live there.

Saturday was the Spartan Race. We drove another hour and a half to get to Washougal, WA. Jeremy's race was at 8:30am and the boys' race wasn't until 12:05pm, but hanging out there all day wasn't that bad.

This is Jeremy's after picture. I regret not getting a before pictures because this outfit use to be completely white.

This is the boys' before picture.

The boys are waiting to start.




This is after. They actually don't look to bad until you notice the feet. :)

Even though I didn't race I still felt pretty dirty by the end of the day. It was really dusty there, and even my shoes looked awful and smelled unwearable. :P

When got back to the lodge around 3:30pm and once again went to the water park. That night we hang out in the arcade for quite a long time, and the next day we played magic quest for a few hours before leaving.

I meant to take more pictures, but I just forgot... oh well. :)

After years of being stubborn...

I finally got a smart phone. Okay I guess it seems silly, but I've always insisted on just sticking with my flip phone.

I had it on the t-mobile pay-as-you-go plan. I would pay $50 for 400 minutes and that would last me 3 months or more (yeah I'm not kidding). My husband (who already has an iPhone) had been trying for years to get me to conform, but I am just too fugal. Last week though, my husband's service provider sent him an ad saying he could add a line for just $10 more a month. Well if you put it that way, it would actually be cheaper to switch.

I really didn't want to though... and told him I really wanted to keep my number, so everyone could still reach me... but Jeremy got them to transfer the number too. So yeah here I am, against my will, being forced to use this...

Okay no it's not as bad as I make it sound, and I actually like it, but don't tell Jeremy. ;)

New working animals

We got chickens!

A few of my friends have gotten chickens over the past few months, and even though I don't like to be a copy cat, I do like saving money, and I have always liked the idea of having them, and I guess I finally live in a place (besides home on the the eastern shore of Maryland) that allows such animals.

Meet Yolkie, Omelet

Sunny, and Scrambles
(sorry the picture is pink?) (and yes we can tell them apart)

We got them from farmland pets in Silverdale. The staff was really helpful and set us up with everything we needed, and it was less expensive than buying a hamster. We ordered a chicken coop on Amazon (that was about $200), and now I am really excited. Soon I won't have to buy eggs ever again.

The kids love these little guys and can't get enough of them (I'm glad we have 4). We keep them in a box under a heat lamp, in Darien's room (away from the cats). They will stay there for about 8 weeks, and then they should be ready to go outside.

I'll keep you updated as they get older, and when the coop comes in, I'll post a picture.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

11 years and counting

What do I say to the man who is my best friend?
To the man who I share all of my secrets with?
To the man who makes me feel beautiful and important?
What do I say to the man who gave me my 4 beautiful children?
To the man that makes my life complete?
To the man who brought me along on this incredible journey?
What do I say to the man who makes me feel unique?
To the man who shares my love for Star Trek and video games?
To the man who understands me like no other?

I guess the only thing I can say is that I love him with all of my heart, and that I am proud of him, and that I am thankful for every second that we have spent together. I can tell him that no one else could make me happier, and that if I had to I would marry him all over again.

I love you Jeremy!
Happy 11 year anniversary