Wednesday, December 18, 2013

For the Love of Math

     I love Math! It's so black and white. You apply your formula and you get an answer. It is neat & tidy... I don't like spelling. There are all these hard to remember rules and then these words that are "rule breakers." (Macy and I put the rule breaking words in jail - that is fun.) Spelling is not neat & tidy.
     I don't think I was always great at math. I remember when I was in 7th grade in California. I was devastated because I didn't get into the advanced math class. My math teacher did not think I could handle the more difficult math and I was mad at him because what did he know about what I could handle... he couldn't even remember my name (it was a huge school). It was at that time someone told me that girls are supposed to be better at English and boys are supposed to be better at math. I exclaimed "What? Who believes that? That is utter ridiculousness!" To this day I hate generalizations like that.
     Really, it was high school math I enjoyed most. Algebra is just so much fun. Learning geometry was like the sky opened up and the sun shined down on me (I really loved geometry). My children tell me that they do not like math. (They are still young. I'm holding onto a small tiny bit of hope.) They tell me they don't see math in their head like I do. Perhaps they are right. God created us all unique. We are all wired differently. "I'm cool with that kiddos." (They are great spellers - so that just proves it right there.)
     Did you know that God loves math? Alright, I hear you laughing... but it's true. God loves math. I first figured this out when I studied Daniel with CBS. For a math geek the end of chapter 9 in Daniel is just about the most fun ever. Dan 9:25 says "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.'..." There are a few decrees (this part is for the history people): Ezra 1:1-4 > Cyrus says rebuild temple (538 BC), Ezra 6:1, 6-12 > Darius I confirms Cyrus' decree (520 BC), Ezra 7:12-26 > Artaxerxes says go worship (457 BC), Nehemiah 2:1-9 > Artaxerxes grants request to rebuild temple (444 or 445 BC). So, I'll pick 444 BC to start counting. Now I convert the word problem to numbers (just like middle school math). Seven 'sevens' and sixty-two 'sevens' sounds like 7 x 7 + 62 x 7. Math! I get 483. So 483 years from 444 BC... only... bible years are different from modern years. There were 360 days in a bible year and now there are 365 days in a year. Hmmm. Let's convert the 483 years into days by multiplying by 360 (1 bible year = 360 days). I get 173880 days from 444 BC... well we can now convert days into modern years by dividing by 365. I get 476.4 years from 444 BC is AD 32. Well what happened in approximately 32 AD? Jesus and the empty tomb!
     And there you have my favorite Bible math! (And yes, I know, I'm not normal)

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Exercise Cure

     I used to think that the bleak NY winters were the cause of my "down" feelings during the winter time. I thought I needed more sunshine. I bought full spectrum light bulbs and placed them in every room and I turned on all the lights and surfed the Internet for "Happy Lamps." I used to think winter dreariness caused my blues until I experienced the "down" feelings in FL last winter. Even with sunshine and fresh air I still got down. Let's face it. Life can be challenging. And parenting is tough (not to mention those hormonal fluctuations and family members with health issues). Often I would be weary and full of self doubt. Add to that the fact that I was away from my strong support system (see bubble post) and there you have it - winter blues in the sunshine. As I prayerfully brainstormed solutions to my winter blues I decided my plan of action. First, I need to reach out to my support system and have them pray for me. Second, I need to eat good healthy food. I know from past experience that if I eat too much junk food then I get out of whack emotionally. Third, cough, exercise.
     I tried a kick boxing class but it was a long drive to get to the kick boxing class and then it turned out to be not my cup of tea. The kicking/punching techniques were just too messy for me (not good martial arts). I found it hard to find any other class close by that worked with our schedule so I resorted to walking laps around the campground. The outside loop of the campground was .5 mile. I would walk 4 loops plus the 5 or so trips to the dog park and the laundry run. That exercise did help my mood but I couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't quite aerobic enough.
     If you know us y'all know that my husband is a triathlon fanatic. He loves it. He got his dad and his children into the sport. I had no interest. A friend mentioned that doing a tri was on her bucket list and I was like "You have fun with that." Then the FL exercise crisis hit... I actually started entertaining the notion to try a tri. The Irongirl was sold out so Jeff told me to check out the Gillie Girl. When I looked it up I was shocked to find out it was on my birthday. Also 100% of the proceeds go to breast cancer research. Because we had just weathered my mom's cancer storm I thought maybe this was my tri. I called my friend and we both signed up.
     Signing up for the tri was just the push I needed. Jeff found us a beginner tri schedule and I started checking off boxes. I was careful not to miss many workouts (although I occasionally switched workouts around). I did not want to get to the day of my tri and not be ready. Running has never been my thing. In fact, I gag at the thought of running (ok well I actually jog, not run). But I had to make peace with it.  In the end. I still had tough days and down moments but the exercise made all the difference. I see that exercise is a big piece of the fighting the winter blues puzzle.
     Now it's fall and getting chilly. I have not been as faithful with the exercise since summer ended. I know I need to step it up. (Ugh. Gag. Oh Whatever). I'll get there and maybe someday I'll even enjoy a jog.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Alzheimer's books

Losing My Mind by Thomas DeBaggio

    I picked this up at the library recently (in FL). The title grabbed me right away (it was one of those days). It was written by a man after he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. It was a little difficult to follow at first. He skips between recounting recent memories, distant memories, and Alzheimer's research. The scattered style caught me off guard but I eventually got used to it. I think he used that style to showcase the disease. I'll be honest. This book is dark and depressing. He wanted to share the raw emotion of someone battling (and losing to) this disease. It also struck me that as an atheist he has no hope in an existence after this life on earth (and it shows). After I finished reading this book I looked up the reviews on Amazon. This book got great reviews there as many family members of people with Alzheimer's felt that is gave them insight into the minds of their loved ones.

The Alzheimer's Prevention Program by Gary Small

I read this book while we were still in NY (from the Marcellus library). I enjoyed reading this book. It included lots of good science and it was presented in an easy to understand way. The advice was very practical and is all the stuff we should already know (eat fruits and veggies, only drink coffee and wine in moderation, exercise, keep brain active, reduce stress). It includes quizes and exercises and a daily plan.

I need to read this one to counter-act the darkness of the first. I'll let you know how it is... (besides, I have a soft heart for cute nuns)

Update: I LOVE this book. It was exactly the right mix of science and story. The nuns were amazing. In this book, the nuns agree to take part of a brain study. David Snowdon, the researcher, really gets to know the nuns and develops a close relationship with several of them. Because the convent keep such great records the research team was able to examine early writing samples of the nuns. Those nuns who wrote elaborately and used large and varied vocabulary when they were young had overwhelmingly better cognitive scores in their old age (so read to those kids). I learned alot about Alzheimer's from this book and the infomation was very encouraging. I fell in love with these wonderful nuns and I love how gracefully they approach old age.

Setting the Record Straight

     I just finished reading Lee Binz's book Setting The Records Straight. This book tells how to make a highschool transcript and it goes into detail about course descriptions. Lee includes several samples. I like her explanations on how to keep track of credit hours. Lee described how she researches alot when she is nervous and I do the same thing. I think I could have figured out everything without this book but it would have taken me many hours to track down all the info. I love that I have it all in one place and it is set forth in an easy to understand way. I'm glad I found this book before I have a high schooler because I hope to keep my records right from the start. Lee also has tons of free info on her website.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Life in a Camper

The day begins with a morning walk to the dog park on the other side of the campground.
We walk the dogs 4-5 times per day.
Then, if it a school day... we do school. Homeschooling in the camper should be a separate post. After school the girls ride bikes, swim, play with toys, read, and play with friends from the campground.
The laundry is a quarter mile away. We always walk... it's all part of my exercise plan.
Haley loves to cook. She has been having a Bake Sales about every other week. She is saving half the money to give to church when she gets home (over $80 so far). She uses the kitchen in the camper and the clubhouse.

We have been so happy to see so much of our family while in FL.

There are activities at the campground like special meals, music, card making, line dancing, craft sales, and etc.

On Wednesday, the girls go to a big church for youth group and Awana. On Sundays, we go to the campground church with about 50 other campers. They love to sing hymns at the campground church and they were overjoyed when the girls played Amazing Grace on their string instruments.
After a long day at the campground we ALL end up in the master bed (but then Macy sleeps in the loft and Haley in the back bedroom). We are looking forward to getting home to our BIG house but I'm sure we will never forget family bonding in close quarters.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Our curriculum

     Just the other day, someone in the laundry room of the campground asked me what curriculum I used. Perhaps they think there is a short answer to this question. I tried to be short and vague... but we use a wide variety of curriculum so it's not easy to give a short answer. I thought I would tell all here. I'm definitely an eclectic homeschooler.
Haley (7th grade)
   History and Reading: Sonlight's World History Part 1 Level G. We love Sonlight! It is a curriculum that uses tons of books. I first came across Sonlight when Haley was a book devouring 4 year old. I ordered the pre-school program just so I could have great books to read to her. She went on to regular school for K but when we started thinking about homeschooling a few years ago I immediately ran back to Sonlight. I've looked at some other curriculums but nothing has tempted me away. I love the many cultures we are exposed to and I love all the missionary books. I love that the kids learn World History at a young age. History was never my thing in school but I enjoy reading Sonlight's books (a big perk to homeschooling). The resale value is excellent but we all can't bear the thought of parting with the books. (Haley has done levels D-F, but she has read many of her sisters books in levels A-C)
   English Language: Sonlight's Language Arts G. This was included with our History package so we thought we would try it again (we didn't care for it in 5th grade). It's gone fine but Haley and I prefer a logical, linear, step by step program. Sonlight's LA is a "natural" approach which is like learning as you struggle to do.
  The Institute for Excellence in Writing's Student Writing Intensive Level B. Haley did level A in 5th grade and it was wonderful. This program teaches writing in a step by step manner. This is an engaging dvd program. She started level B with some friends and we will finish it up this year.
  The Institute for Excellence in Writing's Fix-it for grammar practice. Grammar is my least favorite subject. Haley and I struggled through several grammar programs (Winston Basic was our favorite). This program lets the student practice grammar through editing. It does not take much time and seems to teach a very practical skill. There is 5 years worth in one inexpensive book.
  Vocabulary Vine teaches Greek and Latin roots and thus helping to decipher thousands of words.
  Science: Apologia General Science. Haley is enjoying this book. It is written to the student. She started the year doing all the experiments with 2 friends of hers. That has really helped because she tells me she doesn't like science experiments (GASP). We are on our own in FL but she looks forward to returning to NY and finishing the year doing experiments with her friends. I am a "collector" of science books and I personally prefer to read BJU Press science books but Apologia is very solid science and more homeschool friendly (and Haley friendly).
  Arithmetic: VideoText Algebra Module A (so far). Haley started the year with a the Keys to Percents, Fractions, and Decimals series. I wanted to make sure her understanding of the basics was very solid before proceeding into Algebra. I really liked how VideoText emphasizes learning the why and not just the how. Haley likes is so far so we will see how it goes.
  Haley uses Rosetta Stone French. We also supplement with lots of extras: HLACNY classes (like digital photography, claymation, french, and art),  library art classes, card making classes, instrument lessons, gymnastics, karate, horses, etc

Macy (3rd grade)
  History and ReadingSonlight's Into to World History part 2 Level C. We just can't get enough of these Sonlight books! (Macy has done levels A & B). We also read other US History books.
  Language Arts: Shurley English Level 3 This is a great program but I find it to be advanced. We have done level 1 & 2 but I've slowed down with this level. I think even a 5th grader would benefit from level 3. I hate grammar but I'm so glad Macy knows so much grammar that she won't have to struggle learning it when she is older. It teaches parts of speech using silly jingles. It includes vocabulary and writing. We pick and choose on the writing assignments because I plan to start Macy on IEW's SWI level A next year (see above).
  All About Spelling Level 4. Wow! Love this spelling. Both of my girls seem to be naturally good spellers but I am not. I'm a horrible speller. This program is the best I've ever seen in teaching spelling. It is multi-sensory and logical. I have learned so much and Macy is wonderful at it.
  Science: Apologia Zoology 3. Macy and I have tried a few science programs (Sonlight & BJU). This year we have been working through this Apologia mammal book. Macy is enjoying it. It is well written and has good activities that are integrated throughout the text. I am struggling with it. I find myself not enjoying studying mammals ALL year. I prefer touching on a wider variety of topics. Because Macy is enjoying it I am staying the course this year... We also supplement with selected Sonlight science books (no schedule).
  Arithmetic: We started the year with Horizons 3. I love Horizons (through 6th grade). I love the brightly colored workbooks. I love the spiral approach. I find it presents difficult concepts early in easy bite sized steps. Love it. Macy HATES Horizons. HATES it. After much weeping & gnashing of teeth... I caved and got Teaching Textbooks level 4. Macy LOVES Teaching Textbooks. She likes the audio-visual computer graphics and fun little characters. She seems to be doing well. I think it appears too easy... but I hope that staying one grade ahead will compensate for that.
  Macy does Rosetta Stone (but at a slower pace than Haley) and she has all the same activities...

I think that is all the curriculum we use... of course we dabble with other fun educational stuff...