Cousins and Other Things


The Funschoolers have just had the wonderful honor of hosting my brother and his delightful family who were visiting us for the very first time from the UK. Bro has been living there ever since he left home (Malaysia) to study and I must admit I (and I think kiddo too, Anglophiles and Cadbury lovers that we are) envy him the opportunity. ๐Ÿ™‚ Kiddo had a great time entertaining and being entertained by his three British cousins. And I had a lovely moment or two to catch up with bro and my beautiful sister-in-law.

Continue reading “Cousins and Other Things”

Randomly Recent

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these. Gee, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here lol! What we’ve been learning about, playing with, reading, eating, watching, discussing, repeating, trying to remember to, asking, contemplating, etc. in no-particular-order: Continue reading “Randomly Recent”

Let’s Squash That Usual February Thing…

It’s in the air again. Always at this time of the year too. Where everything feels lifeless. Like there’s no meaning to anything we do. I’m speaking of the February blahs.

Actually, my blahs have more to do with life in general than homeschooling alone. I’ve been browsing our home library for books to read but haven’t been able to focus on a single page. I’ve been tweaking schedules over and over never mind that we are not going to follow one as written anyway. I stare at ingredients in the fridge and they stare back at me and I can almost here the “meh” and “bleh” being hurled back at me in various dialects of bread-ese and vegetabl-ese. Kiddo went as far as to complain about my chicken curry the other day. My chicken curry! The one dish I’ve prided myself in being able to cook with finesse. Oi!

Something is rotten in the atmosphere of Funschooling Central.

Anyway, this can’t go on forever and until some end is in sight, kiddo and I are launching a battle plan to round up the blahs and give them a blast of hilarity that we hope will banish them forever. I’ve included two of our favorite funny videos below. Perhaps you’ve already seen these but if you haven’t, we hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.

January 2013 Daybook

Our new addition

Having Adrian has added a fullness to my day that I’ve missed. It almost feels as if there’s another person in the house. He’s almost human in some of the things he does and just watching him, taking him out on walks or nature calls, playing with him…these activities are really helping me to feel less stressed.

With Adrian here, our schedule has also changed. It turned the first month almost topsy-turvy but after five weeks, I’ve hit a routine that I’m comfortable with. I now have to wake up earlier which in turn is helping me to sleep better because I’m both more tired and more sleepy when it’s time to head to bed. I wake up less often in the middle of the night. He has finally settled into a routine himself and is more comfortable with his crate and sleeping arrangements. He’s definitely one sly little fella when it comes to comfortable sleeping arrangements.

Homeschooling and parenting…

…is going as well as it can although I’m still hit by periods of self-doubt. What I worry about most now is giving kiddo more group opportunities, especially since he’s an only child and is very, very people-oriented. It might be easier with an introvert but that’s something he obviously is not.

Studies-wise, he works completely independently now but I do help out with little things like suggesting better sentence construction if he needs to email an instructor and also keeping general track of his work through my master binder of all his syllabi. I’m still managing schedules and hope to hand that over to him one of these days. To be honest though, I enjoy managing schedules lol. I’m not as regular as I used to be with read-alouds but I’m trying to sneak it in whenever I can. Mostly though I’m just chauffeur, cook, book provider and an occasional discussion buddy right now.

If asked, I would say taking the early years to read widely and deeply and keeping his love of math intact…these have been the two most winning strategies in our homeschool. Parenting-wise, keeping the spirit light and the bond tight have helped loads. Kiddo is in his tween years and judging by how fast time is flying, the teen years are just a blink of an eye away. More than anything I want our relationship to be as close then as it is now. I want to see him smiling and laughing as often as he does now. And I can only hope that our mutual respect will last through it all. I am confident that the academic side of it will take care of itself as long as he is mentally and emotionally happy.

Reading and watching…

We are immensely enjoying our informal sojourn through Shakespeare’s works. We watched BBC’s Hamlet with David Tennant recently and it was heartwarming to see him being able to predict what lines were coming next. I am so happy that he loves classics and Shakespeare as much as he does. It makes me feel good because you see, I’m not much use at inspiring him on the math and science fronts. So the fact that my literature-loving genes have rubbed off on him…well, it’s very gratifying. I’m being positive and optimistic of course. There are a ton of other things I wish he could do but I will be happy and mindful of the ones that he does do! ๐Ÿ™‚ Why stress right? ๐Ÿ™‚

Currently, he is also reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins and enjoying Malcolm Bosse’s Tusk and Stone as a read aloud.

We are also listening to The Iliad on audio CD. Not exactly age appropriate but the action and adventure makes up for that I suppose. It’s one thing to discuss myths and legends when your child is 6 or 7 and quite another when they’ve attained some maturity and want to discuss it more deeply when they are a tween. I suspect we will have even more fabulous discussions when we listen to it a few more years from now.

And oh, for entertainment, we are watching old seasons of King of the Hill and liking the show immensely! I can’t remember why I was so opposed to the series when kiddo was younger. Boy do things change!

World History with Videos

Kiddo’s world history learning has been nothing short of sporadic over the years. So far, for world history, we have relied on audiobooks, graphic novels (ala Larry Gonick), documentaries, history of scientific inventions and scientist biographies, miscellaneous historical literature, a child-led project or two and numerous dinner-table discussions.

This year, thanks to sale prices, I was able to grab this Teaching Company World History course for high schoolers by Prof. Linwood Thompson. It is very much a survey course and I don’t intend for us to go into too much depth since he’s already experienced some age appropriate depth in the past. And while history is an interest, it is not yet his passion. Treading lightly is therefore, my best bet.

The following are multimedia resources (fun websites, interactive maps where available and related documentaries) that correlate with the Teaching Company course. Experience has shown that when everything is planned ahead of time and links are easily available, we’ll be more likely to actually use what we buy. ๐Ÿ™‚ So here we go with another list! (Ha, of course, who am I kidding…I’m also addicted to list-making!)

Note: Several links lead to YouTube videos and I should warn you that I’ve heard horror stories about hacked YouTube links. I‘m also using this list as a catch-all bookmarking spot without actually checking to see whether each one truly fits our purpose. I will weed out bad links that don’t do what they say they do. So until I get to watching them all, if you would like to use this list, please preview or supervise the viewing with your kids to prevent unpleasant surprises. Also, kiddo is almost past the stage of disliking violence in movies. Please be aware of possibly violent and other possibly inappropriate scenes if viewing with sensitive children.ย 

I will be adding more links to this list and including comments where possible as I find them and we view them so please stay tuned!

  1. Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent: Mesopotamia (interactive map), The Kings: From Babylon to Baghdad (YouTube) (part 1 of 10) — violent scenes alert!, East To West (Netflix)
  2. Egyptโ€”The Gift of the Nile: Egypt: Engineering an Empire (YouTube) and also available for instant viewing on Netflix, Egypt: Rediscovering a Lost World (YouTube parts 1 and 2 of 4 only)
  3. Early India and China: An interactive ancient civilizations map
  4. The Ancient Greeks: BBC schools site on Ancient Greeks
  5. Ancient Rome: BBC schools site on an Ancient Roman death scene
  6. The Growth of Christianity: How Christianity Spread Throughout the Roman Empire (YouTube)
  7. The Fall of Rome: Engineering an Empire: Rome (YouTube) (part 1 of 10)
  8. The Byzantine Empire: neoK12 Byzantine Empire playlist (streaming video)
  9. The Rise of Islam: Islam: Empire of Faith (YouTube)
  10. Early Russia and the Fall of Constantinople: Engineering an Empire: Russia (YouTube) (part 1 of 5)
  11. The Early Christian Church: Christianity: The First 1000 Years (YouTube), Christianity: The Second 1000 Years (YouTube)
  12. The Vikings: BBC Viking Quest (game), Vikings interactive from the Smithsonian
  13. Medieval Life: Medieval Map (interactive map), Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives (YouTube)
  14. The Crusades: The Crusades: Crescent and The Cross (YouTube) (part 1 of 2), Crusades interactive map
  15. The 1300’s, The Age of Despair:
  16. The Renaissance:
  17. Africaโ€”The Civilizations of the Sub-Sahara:
  18. China: Engineering an Empire: China (YouTube) (part 1 of 5)
  19. The Mongols and Marco Polo:
  20. Early Japan through the Tokugawa Period:
  21. Discoverers and Conquistadors:
  22. North American Explorers:
  23. The Old World vs. The New Worldโ€”Hazards and Benefits:
  24. Civilizations of The Americas:
  25. The Protestant Reformation:
  26. Tudor England:
  27. The English Civil War and Parliament:
  28. The Monarchs of Europe:
  29. The Growth of Democracy:
  30. The American Revolution:

More resources:
We may also rely on this Story of the World-Netflix documentary spreadsheet that someone generously shared on another forum.

July Daybook

Outside my window…
the ivy on our stone fencing walls is growing waaaay too long. I remember falling in love with the zen-like clean, grey walls when we first viewed this house (it’s been three years since we moved! where does the time go?). In fact it was one of the reasons why I wanted this house vs. another one we had viewed earlier that day. I like how the walls shut the rest of the world out (not to mention the busy street behind us). The introvert in me was whooping with joy. But now the ivy, lush and green as it is, is blocking my beautiful wall from my view. Time to plan…should we cut it back, or pull the ivy off altogether…?

Around the house…
I’m fighting a losing battle with the Company That Will Not Be Named. We receive these catalogs so often and with such tantalizing coupon code offers…sigh. I’ve made sure my snapshot of my latest collections include the codes in case you might want to use them, dear reader (leave a comment if you can’t see them!). Oh no, now I’m trying to share my addiction with others! Forgive me?

Never buy when not on sale. And when on sale, use a code when possible for more savings!

We’ve lately taken to reading these catalogs before bedtime. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. Are we becoming addicted to hoarding these DVDs as much as we do our books?

I am thankful…
that July wasn’t as busy as I’d blogged it would be. We were going to be quite over-scheduled thanks to my sudden weakness for trying new classes. One class in and I realized what an error it was to sign kiddo up for a College for Kids summer camp. It wasn’t really college for kids, it was too far away, required too much time outside and in the intense heat for shy ol’mom to be able to tolerate and also wasn’t generally deep, involved learning anyway. My main reason was to try to introduce a little more social exposure to kiddo’s routine but neither of us wanted that in the end. What a relief it was to cancel the camp! A pricey mistake though. We couldn’t get a refund.

I am thinking…
Must learn from mistakes! Must not repeat too many expensive ones.

The kiddo…

chose to take two more math classes this summer! I feel guilty telling him about them but he does seem to be enjoying them despite the hard work. He’s been such a trooper that I am tempted to make a certificate to reward his winning attitude.

I am reading…
The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax! Very, very fun so far!ย 
ย ย 
We’ve been playing…
Have you watched Under The Boardwalk yet? (YouTube trailer link. Watch instantly on Netflix!)

I am looking forward to…
taking a long break once his classes end in August to just read, read, read and possibly watch our Company That Will Not Be Named acquisitions. I am also looking forward to September because I’ve been gradually collecting living books to learn more about economics principles and also biology. We’ve neglected those topics for a bit and there’s so much I need to brush up on myself.

A favorite quote for today…
from Mark Twain: “Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss SLOWLY. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably. And never regret ANYTHING that makes you smile.”

Time for a Break

I am taking a much-needed break from online pursuits. So you may not see me online for a bit, dear reader.

The break will include reading, reading, reading and continuing to practice the Downton Abbey theme as well as replanting some of our containers and trying more curve stitching. I’m very eager to sink my teeth into well-written fiction and a bunch of parenting Kindle books as well as anything else that catches my fancy. ๐Ÿ™‚

My current reading list (thanks to P for suggesting the Five Love Languages of Children!):

If you have suggestions, I’d love them. I particularly love well-written, coming-of-age tales or young adult fiction, science titles and helpful parenting books. ๐Ÿ™‚

ETA: Other planned activities:
Watching Netflix! I’ve been wanting to catch up on films about musicians…perhaps, now I will have my chance. Some videos on queue:
They Came To Play
The Drummer
The Overture
For Once In My Life

So Addicted…

…to both the show and the music. So addicted that I spent a giftcard, usually jealously hoarded to spend on books, on the Season 2 series (gulp!) instead of waiting for it to stream free on Netflix.

Love Maggie Smith. What a hoot she is!

I want try to learn to play this theme and really liked the version above on YouTube. [There’s also a tutorial version here]. I have only a total of about 20 hours of beginner piano lessons under my belt so I don’t know if I will ever achieve this aspiration but I have done other crazy things like this before, so who knows? ๐Ÿ™‚

ETA March 6: When played slowly, I can manage the first 3.5 bars! So excited!
ETA March 12: Aaaaaaargh! (stuck at measure 20+)

Tin Tin at Tinsel Time

Hmm, not a very catchy title but since we’re very much into alliterative post titles over here, it’ll have to do. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Adventures of Tin Tin got off to a slow-ish start but made up for it with exciting action in the end. Kiddo is over the moon that this Christmas gift wasn’t delayed due to his bout of flu. He was feeling so much better today so we decided to go after all. Luckily, not too many people opted to watch this show so I don’t think he infected anyone. I was particularly glad that Snowy got so much attention from the filmmakers although kiddo and I were quite miffed that they didn’t stick to the original tale.

Before the show, we caught this wonderful trailer. I can’t wait for The Hobbit. Just can’t wait. Had goosebumps just from watching this…

Also watched a trailer for Brave. Look out for 1:40! ๐Ÿ™‚