Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tomorrow, bring a spatula

That's what Faith just misheard me say. The poor child must be addle-pated.

I've been reading The Shallows: What the internet is doing to our brains. It's not good. I mean, the book is good - quick read, informative, engaging - but the Internet is not good. Reading it has cemented my feelings that we are changing from mostly-unschoolers to mostly-not. I knew we were moving that way but I was filled with self-doubt because I didn't want to take away any choices from the children as far as how they wished to spend time. Now that I'm convinced that the Internet is rewiring their brains to suit it I'm convinced that I need to give them a better framework. I'd say we've moved fully into Charlotte Mason territory where we had heretofore been only dipping our toes, to mix a metaphor.

Just now, Bede said "Look. Mom. Come and See! Tell it to me on your computer!" and dragged me to his computer, where I was to read what he had typed. (it was a SpongeBob script) and then say "Oooh, cool." The language was Dalek stilted but, some appropriate pronouns! Shared attention! He's so awesome.

i have a post planned with the full list of medieval books we're going to use. But now Gloria is crying! Dearie me.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

bitty baby bitty knitties

I made socks for Gloria's Bitty Baby, Baby Boo. Baby Boo is adored mightily by Gloria and I felt she deserved some handknits.


These are some teensy socks, folks.


I show them to Gloria.


Why, I think she likes them!


Arranging to her satisfaction.


There! Perfect.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

the clean(er) Internets

I'm sharing my computer with the kids, like I was considering a few weeks ago. That means I have the Procon Latte content filter on here now - it blocks pages with the word "f*ck".

So some of you guys who be the cussin' sort might not see me cause I won't see you unless I go to the trouble to turn it off. Which is, like, 30 seconds of work, man. *Quelle drag*, you know?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bede's speech and language: June update

will you play with me?
you're weck-ome.
ladies and gentlemen, it's Mom! (applauds)

are all unprompted and unsolicited utterances of my oldest son, today! I think there are some changes going on in his language centers.

The other day he said "I love you too" when I said "I love you kids!" And last night we had a conversation, which is unheard (ha, ha) of.

I said "Hey, Bede. Are you tired?"

He said "No."

I said "I'm tired. Are you sure you're not tired?"

He said "Yeah. I am tired." and yawned.

I said "Gloria and I are going to sit on the sofa. Do you want to sit on the sofa with us?"

He said "Yeah. I'm tired. I want to sit on the sofa." and made no move towards the living room.

I said "Well, let's go then, buddy," and he was up and off to the sofa.

That's more give and take conversation than I've ever had with him, I think. Mind you, he stiil sounds like a Dalek, with that charming flat autistic prosody and inflection. It's very appealing.

Now he's reading Calvin and Hobbes. What a cutie.

Feed, by M.T. Anderson

Just read it - it was mentioned by James Sturm in Offline, his column about giving up the Internet. Or maybe it was Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows. I can't remember.

The 'feed' of the title is the internet feed reader everyone has implanted in their brains in the future. This is relevant to my interests of late in this our Digital Age.

I am favorably impressed and recommend it to anyone who likes speculative fiction in general, YA scifi and dystopia fiction specifically.

I'll post some of my reactions in the comments so as not to spoil the book.

Feed, by M.T. Anderson

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Faith drew Sean a comic book starring the Sculpey Glees! Click through to read it!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

wee Glees indeed


Faith made these - me and the Six (plus Mistyfoot) in Sculpey. I love them with a loving love.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homeschool: Trixie and Starfall

Trixie, age four, has a hard time using a computer mouse and becomes upset by her own lack of dexterity. This sets her up to miss again, because the more upset she is, the less skill she has at her disposal. Feedback loop, you see.

As a result, she doesn't use the computer, and doesn't get any better. She doesn't care a bit, as she is content to watch the older children. I don't care either because she's four. So what if she can't use the computer. Except... she kinda wants to, now and again

I guess this is all my roundabout way of saying I had the obvious idea to hold Trixie on my lap and be her mouse, clicking where she told me to on the Starfall ABC page. (Duh. See, six kids and I still miss the soft questions.) We had fun! I'll try to set aside time for this more often, but I want it to be entirely fun for her, with no sense of work or unease, for several reasons:

1. She's four.
2. She loses 50% of her ability after one failure, and 100% of it after two.
3. More than fifteen or twenty minutes and she loses focus, and I don't want to say "Trixie, look here.."

I don't care a bit when she starts reading. She may be six or she may be ten (although I doubt that) but she will read, and effortlessly. In the meantime we will continue with our vigorous program of lazily reading whatever books she demands I read to her throughout the day.

[Learn to Read at Starfall](

[Farenga and Holt on late reading ages in homeschooled children](

Saturday, June 12, 2010

better with two, or even three

Faith and I went on a walk in the early evening. We retraced a route that Gilbert and I took yesterday. It's amazing what you notice, walking. Gilbert and I discovered a small creek, hidden from the road. He was very excited, but told me we shouldn't get in it because if we followed it we would get lost. He was gobsmacked by the realization that we could just follow it back to where we started. On TV they never do that, see. Dora gets to where she's been yelling at everyone to hurry up to, roll credits, nick jr is just for me. He also liked finding a prickly pear patch and looking up into the Eiffel Tower-esque power tower.

Faith, having heard all about this from Gilbert, was dead set on making the same walk. She noticed a mimosa tree in full flower, some Queen Anne's lace, and a large white flower, twisted shut, with a beautiful fragrance. On that flower we saw a spider with a white body and pale green legs. "I love nature! This is the best neighborhood." saith she.

Bede wanted to go too. His turn tomorrow!

addiction, habit, what-have-you

In my ongoing attempts to scale back my Internet habit I have switched back to Firefox from Google Chrome so I can use the Time Tracker add-on for Firefox. My goal is less than two hours of Internet time a day, which sounds simultaneously decadent and difficult. Decadent because, come on. Two *hours*? When there are people who walk miles a day to get water and wood to cook with? Poor widdle me, wif my two widdle hours! Difficult because, ack! Only two hours!

Time Tracker doesn't track while you're idle (mine considers 'idle' to be 30 seconds without mouse movement, the default is 60) and can be set to not track particular sites at all (I don't track Pandora or this blog server, for instance.)

If I can't do this the next alternative for me is to not have an exclusive computer, and put this one into communal use. I don't kick the kids off the computer unless I have to look something up like a recipe or a phone number, and I give it right back. The interesting thing about that scenario is the lack of stress involved. I'm much more likely to be jonesing for my computer when it's MY computer, and not in use unless I'm using it. When I shared a computer with the kids before I got this one I didn't resent it at all, even though there were days when I didn't get on. Maybe I should just do that.

Is this all part of the bargaining addicts do rather than quit for real? Probably. But maybe I'm not addicted so much as a heavy user. If I can control my habit, then I'll know. If I can't then I'll deal with it then. Gulp.

Here's a guy who has asked himself the same questions: Slate columnist James Sturm is halfway through his four-month Internet hiatus. After the first shock it seems to be largely a non-event. Could it be that easy? [Offline: What happened when I gave up the Internet](

Monday, June 7, 2010

outside is best

Bede likes to draw in the dirt, then...

...blow it away.

Gloria likes to take time to stop and eat the flowers.

Abby drawing, as usual.

Faith makes a face like Agent P, on her shirt. Dooby dooby doo bah!

I leave you with a longsuffering Mistyfoot.

long tall Gleesons

I'm tall for a woman (I'm 5'10", or 178 cm) and Sean is 5'9" (175 cm). Our kids are all normal to tall, but some of them are very tall. Among the girls, Gloria is the 99th percentile for height and is predicted to be 5'10"-5'11". Faith is very tall right now but will likely end up about 5'8". Trixie is slated for 5'9". Abby is supposed to be the shortest, at around 5'6" (168 cm).

The boys. Bede is predicted to be 6'1" (185 cm), and Gilbert is the beanpole, likely to be 6'2"-6'3" (190 cm).

It was fun to predict these!

[Kid's Height Predictor](
[Child Height Predictor](

Saturday, June 5, 2010


We went to Half Price Books yesterday and got some good ones. Everyone else made me leave before I was ready because I can outlast almost anyone in a bookstore. I worked in one for years for a reason, after all.

Today I have baked bread, put away clean clothes, washed dishes. Also listened to the children tell me things of interest: Faith kept having me read from her new Calvin and Hobbes, Abby and I discussed what sort of book she likes, Bede read to me from Flight: Explorers (an excellent graphic novel), Gilbert played with the Cuisenaire rods and taught me about multiplication and division, Trixie showed me the elaborate foods she was feeding to her toys, and Gloria showed me how her toys can dance.

Now we're off to my folks' house!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

read books -> get free books -> read more books

The summer reading program at Half Price Books is underway! Kids 14 and under can get a $3 card for Half Price Books EVERY WEEK from June 1st through July 31! That's nine weeks, guys, or $27 bucks!

Your kid (or you, if you have a non-writing kid) have to fill out a log showing at least 15 minutes of reading time each day, but it's not an annoying log like in fourth grade.

We'll get $162 in free books chez Glee, and since it's Half Price Books, it's actually $324. *Ohhhhh yeah*!

[Feed Your Brain at Half Price Books](

yall know I twitter, right?


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

medieval historical fiction

Here's my preliminary list of Middle Ages or so historical fiction for middle grades. We'll start a high-tide period with some or all of these in the next month or so.

(This is just novels. We'll also have nonfiction and some other books. When I get the final list compiled, I'll post it too. All links go to the books' pages on Amazon.)

400s Between the Forest and the Hills
597 Augustine Came to Kent
781 Son of Charlemagne
800s Beorn the Proud
1100s Red Falcons Of Tremoine
1167 The Red Keep
1170 If All the Swords in England
1171 The Hidden Treasure of Glaston
1200s The Magna Charta
1200s Adam of the Road
1200s Catherine, Called Birdy
1381 Crispin: The Cross of Lead
1400s The Door in the Wall

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

like a big pizza pie

I made pizza for dinner. I do that about twice a month, as scratch pizza is an undertaking, you see, and not one to be done lightly. Tonight I had help from this fellow here:


who looks much less ghostly in real light.

He came in as I was plopping the crust on the pan, and said "Mama is making bread. Hmmhn."

I said, "It's pizza."

He said "PIZZA!" and was so overcome with excitement that he had to skip off and touch the laundry room wall, then come back.

I said, "Do you want to help me?"

He said, "Hmmhn! Help me."

I said, "You need oil on your hands. Here is oil." and spread the olive oil on his hands so he could help press the dough. He did so, pressing perhaps a bit too firmly, but trying so hard to do it just right. I let him do a little, then directed him to the sink while I finished. He washed his hands and dried them, with prompting, and I applied the sauce. He was watching, and deeply wanted to write in the sauce, but restrained himself. Then we did the cheese, which he did perfectly.

My favorite was the application of the pepperonis. He skittered off mid-cheese and I thought he was overwhelmed and done with the whole thing. I finished the cheese and was putting the pepperonis on when a little hand snaked in beside me and placed a slice next to mine. He had gotten a stack of them and proceeded to put them on, precisely, until there was no room for more.

We finished then, and I got on my knees to hug him. I said, "You made the pizza, Bede! You are a wonderful pizza maker!" and he smiled.

I took his picture and then we settled down to watch it bake. Now we're going to eat it, and it will be the best pizza ever.

And that, my friends, *that's amore*.