Thursday, August 13, 2020

Grammar Thoughts


Someone recently asked about when to start diagramming sentences and doing formal grammar.

The easiest way to teach grammar is to just speak correctly at home (which I'm sure you are already doing).  Then, when you start the formal grammar, correct use is the first thing that comes to mind. The Emperor, an English teacher and writer with strong opinions about such things, thinks sentence diagramming is overrated, so we've done a bit as a curiosity, but that's about it.

We taught the parts of speech very early using Schoolhouse Rock (Grammar Rock) videos.  
There is also a great series you can get in the library with titles like, A Mink, A Fink, A Skating Rink: What is a Noun. I don't get any money from links, by the way, they are just for convenience.
Probably around 9 or 10 we did Super Grammar, a very fun book with the parts of speech (and punctuation) as superheroes.  We've done a lot of Mad Libs, some other fun books like Comic Strip Grammar, and, for older kids,  Hot Fudge Monday and a proofreading book called Phunny Stuph.   Eats, Shoots, and Leaves is a good one that shows how punctuation changes the meaning of sentences like ""Let's eat, Grandma!" and "Let's eat Grandma!"

Ultimately, most of our grammar, spelling, and punctuation instruction came from the kids writing their own stories, blog posts, and screenplays.  The key is to start young and only correct one kind of mistake at a time so as not to discourage them. When I had a younger kid who was reluctant to write, I would write them letters and they would answer them (incredibly sweet and fun for both of us!). 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Math Snacks

We watched this series a few years back, and, all I can say is that they stuck!  All of them were good, but I think we still refer to this particular video at least every other week because it goes way beyond teaching ratios into teaching human interaction. Also: BREAD!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Home Offices and Schools


Within a week we got news that the Emperor would be teaching from home this semester, our college students would be learning from home this semester, and our art student would be painting (and learning) from home this semester.

If you're counting, that's ten of us home full time for the next 4 months at least!

We've been spending part of the summer rearranging things to make sure everyone has space to work ergonomically since we've had a number of people who needed physical therapy after a cramped spring semester.

So the Emperor has this new office set up in our bedroom, complete with a privacy screen and a blank background for video teaching.

Mxyl moved downstairs into the office to have a better desk and more shelf space, now that he's real life working from home.  Klenda, Zorg, and Leena also have desks in this office.







Also, we did a big clean up in the library to reclaim a quiet place to read, work, play, or socialize.

And we carved out a space for Choclo to draw and listen to music.




 Klenda has her watercolor/ink studio in her room and her oil/acrylic studio in the museum.










And I now have my own desk again (with all my homeschool stuff) in the living room! 

I haven't really had a desk in a while, so I'm enjoying it.  

Between having a desk and only schooling two this year, I feel ridiculously organized!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Poem of the Week: Sonnet 116

 For my niece, Anja, and my new nephew, John, who married yesterday in the middle of a pandemic.  May you ever rejoice in each other and in the Lord!  Like everyone else, I wish I could have been there!

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov'd, I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.

HT: Poetry Foundation 

Image HT: @KrissMacDonald1 via Twitter

Friday, August 7, 2020

Happy Birthday, Mxyl!

Yes, it's another pandemic birthday:  Mxyl is 23! 
Another smaller than usual gathering, but still a lot of fun and a lot of love for our first born!

23 Great Things About Mxyl

1. He's a college graduate!
2. His second movie, Abydos: Incursion is almost ready to come out! 
2. He's a professional web designer.
3. He's a great older brother who has a lot of fun with his younger siblings.
4.  According to those siblings, "He's amazing!"
4. He graduated Summa cum Laude.
5. He knows an astonishing amount about tokusatsu.  
6. He loves the sacraments.  
7. He's got a great sense of humor!  
7. He's a deadly punster. 
8. He looks cool in sunglasses.  
9. He never gives spoilers.  
10. He's passionate about his projects.  
10. He has an amazing ability to learn complex things.
11. He always tries to make things better.
12. He's great with little kids.  
12. He makes beautiful intuitive websites.
13. He always sees things through.  
14. He fan subs Japanese movies.  
14. He loves to help people. 
15. He does a posh British accent.  
16. He's my in house computer support guy.  
17. He's my out of the house errand guy.
17. He's a big supporter of all his siblings crazy schemes.  
18 He has an eye for creating beautiful photographs.  
18.He enjoys really good artistic movies.
19. He enjoys really bad (artistically speaking) movies.  
20. He's teaching himself Python.
20. He watches out for others.
21.  He's helps without being asked.
22. He's good  at the whole adulting thing.
22. He's still supporting the scouts, especially his siblings.  
23. He's a very loving son and grandson!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Poem of the Week: Country Summer

Country Summer

Now the rich cherry, whose sleek wood,
And top with silver petals traced
Like a strict box its gems encased,
Has spilt from out that cunning lid,
All in an innocent green round,
Those melting rubies which it hid;
With moss ripe-strawberry-encrusted,
So birds get half, and minds lapse merry
To taste that deep-red, lark’s-bite berry,
And blackcap bloom is yellow-dusted.

The wren that thieved it in the eaves
A trailer of the rose could catch
To her poor droopy sloven thatch,
And side by side with the wren’s brood—
O lovely time of beggar’s luck—
Opens the quaint and hairy bud;
And full and golden is the yield
Of cows that never have to house,
But all night nibble under boughs,
Or cool their sides in the moist field.

Into the rooms flow meadow airs,
The warm farm baking smell’s blown round.
Inside and out, and sky and ground
Are much the same; the wishing star,
Hesperus, kind and early born,
Is risen only finger-far;
All stars stand close in summer air,
And tremble, and look mild as amber;
When wicks are lighted in the chamber,
They are like stars which settled there.

Now straightening from the flowery hay,
Down the still light the mowers look,
Or turn, because their dreaming shook,
And they waked half to other days,
When left alone in the yellow stubble
The rusty-coated mare would graze.
Yet thick the lazy dreams are born,
Another thought can come to mind,
But like the shivering of the wind,
Morning and evening in the corn.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Four Months

We are four months into our lock down/quarantine.  At three months, I was surprised it had been so long.  At four months, I am surprised it's not six or seven...years.

It's not that it's terribly hard on us, it just feels like it's gone on for so looong.  Maybe not even that so much as the feeling that we are on a treadmill with no end in sight.

We miss Mass. We miss people.  We miss going places.  We miss not worrying .

A lot of our friends have given up and more or less returned to socializing.

For us, with so many high risk people in our house, that's not an option.

What has turned out to be a surprising option is a family vacation to a house on a mountain lake in New Jersey.  Yes, all ten of us are going up to visit my parent's house next week!  This is their actual house, the one I grew up in. 

With them living with us most of the time, it's sort of turned into a vacation home.  At any rate, my dad's health hasn't been stable enough for them to visit since last December, so they (and we) are super excited about going. 

Prayers would definitely be appreciated.  I'm less worried about the virus (which is less prevalent there), and more worried that the trip will be physically hard on my dad.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Concrete Garden

 Six inches of concrete over the course of 30 feet of sidewalk adds up to a lot of concrete.

Also, it turns out that getting rid of concrete is difficult, expensive, and requires special permits...

I had been thinking of adding a garden on this corner in the fall.
 And I had always liked the idea of a garden berm.

And I don't mind when my entire family collectively rolls their eyes at me when I suggest a new garden.

So I spray painted the outline of a garden, and we dumped the concrete there.

Then I ordered a couple of cubic yards of compost and had the truck dump it directly on the concrete.
 July is a horrible time to start a garden here because it's so hot and usually so dry.  So I mostly put in some annuals in the hopes that they would grow quickly and hold the soil in place.

I knew already that the plants all need to be fairly low growing so that drivers can see around the corner, and I already knew a few of the plants I wanted there.

When my local Home Depot had peach Drift roses on clearance, I nabbed two of them!
Come fall, I'll separate a bunch of my perennials, from other gardens and plant up this corner garden properly.

I'll probably add a few new bulbs and other plants, because I just can't get enough of the family collective eye roll really love plants!