Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pond Scum and Planets

Gizmo is in Life Science this year, being a 6th grader and all, and so along with petri dishes, seeds, and her curriculum books, she received a microscope this year. Today was her official first Lab assignment of learning how to use it. I figured that called for a mini field trip to the city pond to gather some pond water. This was a surprise to them and a welcome break from school after finishing math. Gathering the pond water and plant life was a quick matter. Getting the kids to want to leave the pond was another. I did enjoy the walk though around it though, so I guess I can't complain.

We don't have all that much bread around the house anymore, since we are a mostly gluten free household, but I did wish that we had brought some for the ducks. At the sight of the kids they started swimming closer.

We spotted a baby duck.
That, of course, made Princess very happy.

And Squirt enjoyed yelling a string of gibberish from the comfort of his stroller as we walked.
Once home, I showed Gizmo how to set up a slide and get it in focus in the microscope. The best place to do it was on the dining room floor. I snapped a picture really quick, but it is does not convey how both of the big kids enjoyed the microscope. I think I heard the phrase, "Awesome, look at this," more times that I would care to count.

And although Spike's science was not super exciting today, it was fun. He has been studying the solar system. Last week, we set up all the planets on the kitchen table, represented by fruit and veggies. Mercury, the smallest, was a pea, and Saturn, the largest, was a honeydew melon. Earth was a grape, and was promptly eaten as soon as I said it was okay.

Today we had an experiment to help show just how far our solar system is. Spike and I got a roll of toilet paper and marked the planets along it with construction paper. The beginning of the paper was were the sun would be. Earth was five toilet paper squares away, and Neptune was a whopping 150 squares away. Each square represented 18,700,000 miles of space. Unfortunately, the only place to lay it all out was outside, and it was a bit windy. The girls helped us hold it down though. Gizmo is at the Sun end, and I was at Neptune.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Learning Photoshop

It will come to no surprise to anyone who knows us that our kids are pretty tech savvy. Even Squirt loves to play on my iPad. And so, taking their interest in computers in mind, Brady got them a super cool surprise for this school year by ordering Adobe CS5 master suite.

The suite includes many adobe programs, like Illustrator, Premiere, and Photoshop, which is what I chose to start with. We have our digital art and photography day once a week, and the kids really look forward to it. Adobe has a wonderful website with many tutorials. These have been really nice for teaching the kids the basics. We also got a subscription to a Photoshop magazine, but we are not ready for that quite yet. It has been a blast so far and I really look forward to seeing what the kids can do over the school year.

I usually have them work on the example photo from the video, and then on one of their own. For today's lesson, we started to learn about adjustment layers. The kids were to add a black and white layer to their photos, change the opacity of the layer, and then chose some area to mask the layer. Spike was giggling while working on the lesson photo as he made the mans head the only thing colored in the photo.

Here are their pictures before and after editing.



Just for fun, Gizmo decided to play around with Photoshop and do another picture.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Life in the Fast Lane

For the past few months or so, I have been It has been a gradual process, but once I got to the point of being constantly nauseous with frequent migraines it really started to upset me. My life involves taking care of my family, and it makes me very upset when I feel I can not do that the way that I want. But there I was, dragging myself out of bed even though I had gotten plenty of sleep, unable to think clearly, feeling like the room would never stop spinning, having horrendous stomach pains, and being much clumsier than usual. Something has definitely been going wrong with my internal systems.

So... I went to see a naturopathic doctor that my mom and younger sister have seen and really liked. it is not really clear if my body just needs some help in clearing out the gluten, or if I possibly have other food intolerances to contend with. So, what is the solution...

That is the start of it anyway. Yep...that lemon-lime water has been my breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack of champions for the past two days. I am shooting for a five-day fast, so that means I am now at halfway mark in the middle of day three. I drink a gallon of the water every day, so I am not really all that hungry. I do, however, miss food. We have a bowl of pears in the kitchen that I have stared longingly at. Making food for the rest of the family has also been a bit of a challenge, but actually not as bad as I had thought it would be (I did imagine that I would be a sobbing, hungry mess by this point).

The good news stomach aches while I have been on the fast. For someone who has had very painful stomach aches daily for two months, that is awesome. That has been enough to convince me to follow through with the entire five days.

After my detox fast is finished, we will be embarking on a three-week allergy elimination diet, avoiding all gluten, dairy, eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, and corn. The foods (with the exception of gluten, which is staying out) will be slowly introduced after that to check how they are tolerated. The entire family will be participating in that one, just to check and make sure they do not have food intolerances. I must say, I am feeling quite excited.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

First Day of School

Yesterday was our first day of homeschooling for this year. Gizmo is now in 6th grade (typing that out makes it even scarier), Spike is in 4th grade, and Princess is starting more structured preschooling this year. I was determined to try and make the new beginning as fun as possible, so I woke them to the smell of bacon, eggs, and hash browns cooking.

Something new that I have decided to implement this year is worksheets at the breakfast table. I have been calling them "brain starters." In the past, the kids get dressed and make their way down to the table, only to sit and tiredly watch me make breakfast. Although I was a little apprehensive about how they would react to the news that they would have a worksheet to do first thing in the morning, they all really liked the idea. The first day of school Gizmo and Spike had word searches customized with their spelling lists, which I made up on this website, and Princess had some tracing worksheets which I pulled from one of the workbooks I have for her. Today both of the big kids did a cryptogram involving facts about the planets, which they loved, and Princess did some simple mazes.

My idea is that the worksheets will be for reinforcing things already learned and encouraging reasoning skills. I am planning to include brain teasers and puzzles along with spelling activities, math worksheets, and fun stuff to go along with whatever they are studying in history or science.

Tomorrow, Gizmo and Spike will be working on composition worksheets which I printed from The website has hundreds of free worksheets available, which can be searched by grade level and subject. The grades span from preschool to high school. An account is required, which I usually hate, but I have found it to be worth it in this case.

We will see how things go, but I may have to start doing something similar at lunch.