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Category: Homeschooling


May 14th, 2022 — 2:22pm

A few days ago I asked Teacher Nick, who runs Lulu’s beloved Nature School (at which six preschoolers run around having adventures in a forest all morning) if he needed any supplies. He said — play dough! So I set about trying to find a recipe, because I’d rather make it myself than buy the little plastic cans. Ugh.

Found a likely recipe, sent Dave to the store to salt and cream of tartar, and set to work this morning. Great recipe! From

  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 c salt
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 c water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Food coloring

Mix dries in a bowl. Mix wets, including food coloring, in a pan. Stir dries into wets, cook over medium heat, stirring, till it thickens and stops being sticky. Turn out onto a big plate, let cool a few minutes, and knead for a few minutes. Done!

I made one batch each of five colors:

It was a lot of stirring so then I was done for the day :D

1 comment » | Blog, Homeschooling, Recipes

“This Country of Ours” is finished

June 29th, 2015 — 9:42pm

Bet you didn’t think this day would ever come. I sure didn’t. Eight years it took me to record this book! Jeepers.

This Country of Ours, Part 7:

Links to the other 6 parts on that page, or here:

My next LibriVox solo will be Treasure Island, yay! Pirates and parrots and adventure! I’ve got the first four chapters done already. It won’t take eight years this time ;-) Although my beloved but elderly laptop (mid-2011 Macbook Air) is having Serious Issues and it’s going into the shop on Wednesday so I won’t be able to get any recording done for a while. Boo.

Mood: up, down, up, down. Saturday was horrific. Sunday was ok; today was pretty good. Reading lots of Marian Keyes’s Walsh Family novels. Playing Capitals on iPhone. Listening to podcasts. Discovered a band called The Decemberists and I think I might be developing an unhealthy obsession for their song “The Infanta”.

The lyrics tell a story which is incredibly vivid in my mind. A vast slow-moving procession of nobles on elephants and camels. It’s hot, there are bright flags and sidelong glances, trumpet fanfares, cannon salutes, intrigue.

Meanwhile the little princess, the unwitting cause of all the commotion, is dreaming of a peaceful quiet lake.

Here she comes in her palanquin
On the back of an elephant
On a bed made of linen and sequins and silk
All astride on her father’s line
With the king and his concubines
And her nurse with her pitchers of liquors and milk
And we’ll all come praise the infanta
And we’ll all come praise the infanta

Among five score pachyderm
Each canopied and passengered
Sit the duke and the duchess’ luscious young girls
Within sight of the baronness
Seething spite for this live largesse
By her side sits the baron
Her barrenness barbs her
And we’ll all come praise the infanta
And we’ll all come praise the infanta

A phalanx on camelback
Thirty ranks on a forward tack
Followed close, their shiny bright standards a-waving
While behind in their coach, in fours
Ride the wives of the king of Moors
And the veiled young virgin, the prince’s betrothed
And we’ll all come praise the infanta
And we’ll all come praise the infanta

And as she sits upon her place
Her innocence laid on her face
From all atop the parapets blow a multitude of coronets
Melodies rhapsodical and fair
And all our hearts afire
The sky ablaze with cannon fire
We all raise our voices to the air
To the air…

And above all this falderal
On a bed made of chaparral
She is laid, a coronal placed on her brow
And the babe, all in slumber dreams
Of a place filled with quiet streams
And the lake where her cradle was pulled from the water
And we’ll all come praise the infanta
And we’ll all come praise the infanta

I even forgive them their mispronunciation of “infanta”.

If you’re obsessed with Mad Men, you’ll recognize the song from the opening montage in “Maidenform”, s02e06. Which is of course how I discovered it in the first place.

6 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog, Homeschooling

feeling better now

June 22nd, 2015 — 2:05pm

Thank you all so much for the kindhearted comments and emails. It means a lot.

I’m feeling a better now. I mean, my situation is still exactly the same but I’m managing to think about other things and the terrible terrible depression has lifted again and I am ok for now.

I’ve been working on a LibriVox recording of a US History book for kids — This Country of Ours. It has 99 chapters and is divided into 7 parts. I started recording it in 2007 and got the first 6 parts done within three years, but I started the 7th part in 2013 and it’s just been sitting there unfinished for ages.

LibriVox is doing a finish-up-lingering-projects drive in June, so I decided to get it done. Right now I have only 8 chapters remaining, so the end is in sight!

You can find the recordings here:
This Country of Ours: All Seven Volumes

In non-audiobook news, my cousin Chloe and I saw the new Pixar movie, “Inside Out” yesterday and it was so good! Chloe is one of my favorite people in the whole world and I love to spend time with her, plus the movie was excellent — beautiful and funny and sad and lovely. So that was really fun.

4 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog, Homeschooling

The Tolkien Professor

January 11th, 2014 — 9:08pm

A few weeks ago my brother tweeted something about some Lord of the Rings lectures online. I hit the link, naturally, and discovered Dr. Corey Olsen, The Tolkien Professor (@tolkienprof on twitter). I downloaded and listened to his lectures on The Hobbit and was hooked after only a few minutes. He knows his stuff, and obviously loves and understands Tolkien, and puts things so clearly. His lectures are a joy. I wish Dad could have heard them.

Henry and I are both enrolled in his new course on Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales, which neither of us has read before.

Dr. Olsen’s lectures are downloadable from several different places. They’re all on iTunes U, but the iTunes interface ranges from annoying to difficult, so I thought I’d put EZ links to all of his Tolkien lectures here:

The Hobbit

Lord of The Rings I: The Fellowship of the Ring
(Yeah, that’s an iTunes link. Sorry. The Fellowship lectures don’t seem to be posted anywhere else.)

Lord of The Rings II: The Two Towers

Lord of the Rings III: The Return of the King

Undergraduate Tolkien Survey

Silmarillion Seminar

Unfinished Tales

If you’re willing to fight with iTunes, type “corey olsen” into the iTunes store search box. Scroll down until you see this:


2 comments » | Blog, Homeschooling

Chris Thile – Bach: Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001 (Complete)

October 14th, 2013 — 4:26pm

Good job, little nephew! :)

2 comments » | Blog, Homeschooling

Oct. 21: The British History Podcast

October 21st, 2012 — 9:34am

I found the most wonderful podcast recently: The British History Podcast. Here’s the iTunes link:

And here’s the website:

Click the “get involved” link to find the forum.

I don’t remember how I discovered it, but when I did, I started listening from the beginning and after only a few episodes I was hooked on Jamie’s intimate, casual, lively style, and bought a membership to support him — $5/month via Amazon and TOTALLY worth it, not only for the membership extras (a special section on the forum, show transcripts, and extra members-only podcast episodes) but for the good feeling of being able to help a guy make a living doing something he really loves. He’s an attorney by training, but when he became unemployed he started this history podcast because he loves British history. His enthusiasm is what makes this podcast so very special.

There came a point last year when Jamie either had to go back to work as an attorney (yuck!) or get enough subscriptions to allow him to continue to work on the podcast full-time. So glad he achieved his goal.

I should tell you that Jamie is not professorial in his delivery and he works from his own notes, not a script, so there’s a fun, improvisatory feeling to his recordings and the occasional stumble or mispronunciation. However, the content is, as far as I can tell, carefully-researched and accurate, and Jamie has a way of synthesizing and explaining that really clicks with my brain.

If you want a Teaching Company lecture series, go buy one. That’s not what this is. But if you want to hear a friendly fellow sharing his passion for history in a memorable, enjoyable way, give this podcast a try. And buy a membership if you love it as much as I do :)

New episodes come out on Mondays, barring unforseen circumstances. Last week we had a wonderful episode about Anglo-Saxon healthcare with a companion members-only episode about the development of western science. Great stuff! I can hardly wait for the new episode tomorrow.

Homeschoolers: This is a great resource. I would have let Henry listen to this podcast at any age and he likes it now at 17 even though he’s not quite as fanatical about British history as I am; however, there is the occasional mild curse word when Jamie gets all worked up about something and of course there are some unsavory historical events mentioned. Jamie doesn’t dwell on the gory details, but squeamish parents might wish to pre-screen.

4 comments » | Blog, Homeschooling, Reviews


February 22nd, 2011 — 8:27pm

Henry has no school this week, so we went down to Balboa Park this afternoon for a treat. I love Balboa Park. My parents used to take us there sometimes, and we’d spend the whole day wandering around, looking at the gardens and visiting a museum or two. It’s a very happy, special place for me.

Today the Aerospace and Automotive museums were open for free! I love looking at the beautiful old cars. Here I am with an International Harvester Model A Auto-Wagon, which has bolt-in back seats so it can be used for hauling things around the farm or to take the family to church:


And here’s Henry with the DeLorean:


When we were finished drooling over the cars, we went through the Aerospace Museum. I like the WWI gallery best, and the spacecraft of course! Here’s Henry with the Apollo 9 Command Module:


So much fun!

Comment » | Blog, Homeschooling

the chemical elements – cool videos!

September 12th, 2010 — 10:44pm

Here’s a great site that someone on my homeschool email list sent around:
The Periodic Table of Videos:

A short, entertaining, interesting video about each of the chemical elements, plus lots of videos on various molecules and other interesting stuff. (Hit the “Extra Videos” link).

Here, for example, is a video in which one scientist makes a birthday cake in the lab, to celebrate one year of posting their videos, while the main scientist explains all the interesting chemical reactions that go into creating a cake!

Thank you, scientists of Nottingham University!

3 comments » | Blog, Homeschooling

nice outing

February 24th, 2010 — 10:02pm

I’m pretty worn out now, but I felt well enough this morning to go on an outing with Henry. We went to the MOPA in Balboa Park and looked at the beautiful photos, and then walked through the Botanical Building, and then through the Timken Gallery. I love the Timken especially much; I’ve been visiting it ever since I was a little kid and I just love to say hi to my favorite paintings. And then Henry treated me to lunch at In-N-Out!

Boy among the plants:


Botanical Building seen through the fancy railing at the Timken:


3 comments » | Blog, Homeschooling

The Wiz

January 29th, 2009 — 2:36pm

Tuesday was Henry’s school performance of The Wiz! Henry played the Tinman, and he was just wonderful, singing and dancing and acting and everything! I was so proud! The whole cast did just great. Henry’s good friends played all the lead roles, and you could tell they were all having a lot of fun together. Tawni was the Wiz, Natalia was Dorothy (she was terribly ill with a fever and sore throat, poor thing), Sam was the Lion and Sierra was the Scarecrow. I forgot to take my camera, but I hope to get some photos from *someone* eventually… until then, here’s a photo of Henry in costume. We decorated the shoes and pants with chrome duct tape, the hat was a dollar at Target right before New Year’s Eve, and he has a glittery shirt on under the jacket. For the performance he skipped the hat but had really great make-up — silver face paint and dark lips and a drawn-on jaw hinge.


2 comments » | Blog, Homeschooling

Dover Sampler

August 2nd, 2008 — 10:35am

I’ve been in love with Dover Publications since I was a little kid. The coloring books! The cheap reprints of classics! The antique needlework guides! The cut-and-makes! The paper dolls, oh, the paper dolls! I just found out that Dover has an online sampler service. Just give them your email address, and every week you get a link to a webpage full of sample book pages to download and print out. Today I got two coloring pages, one from a stained glass coloring book and another from “Art Masterpieces to Color”. If I had a color printer, I could have printed out a page of post-impressionist postcards and a page of fruit-crate labels. And if I liked Tom Tierney I could have printed a page of one of his paper doll books. There are also pages from a book of poetry, a book of mazes, a book of butterfly crafts, etc., etc.

Go here to sign up!

4 comments » | Blog, Books, Homeschooling

Scarecrow of Oz, complete!

February 20th, 2008 — 11:42am

LibriVox’s full-cast reading of The Scarecrow of Oz is complete and ready for download! As usual, our recording is public domain, free and legal to download and share, of course. Every character is read by a different voice, by readers all around the world, and the narration is done by still more readers. Scott Sherris coordinated this massive project and did all the pasting-together of parts, a huge job. I did a few chapters of narration, and Henry took part as Button-Bright. Hint: Chapter 8 is Button-Bright’s first appearance ;-)

2 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog, Homeschooling

Feeling better!

February 6th, 2008 — 6:47pm

Feeling much, much better today! I still have The Cough, and probably will for some time, but I had enough energy to do the grocery shopping today and I didn’t get a headache in the afternoon, YAY!

Henry had his weekly private Kung Fu lesson this afternoon, and I got a few photos of him and his teacher, Miss Edwards. Here’s one:


He loves Kung Fu! He’s at a group class right now. His school lets him attend as many group classes as he wants, plus there’s a special group class just for his level once a week.

Henry baked a cheesecake today. We’re going to try it out when he gets home :)

edit: Henry’s cheesecake was delicious. The three of us ate half of it in one night, and he took the other half to share with his dad!

3 comments » | Blog, Homeschooling

Henry blogged!

April 26th, 2007 — 8:18pm

Henry made a blog post, YAY!

Comment » | Blog, Homeschooling

Civil War

March 10th, 2007 — 5:40pm

Henry and I went to a Civil War reenactment today! It was really great. We watched two battles and looked at all kinds of things. Here’s a website:

I took a million pictures but I’m too tired to dump them out of my camera.

1 comment » | Blog, Homeschooling

March 6 (Tuesday)

March 6th, 2007 — 10:16am

math-u-see drills

Comment » | Homeschooling

March 5 (Monday)

March 5th, 2007 — 10:17am

Math-u-see drills
computer programming

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March 2 (Friday)

March 2nd, 2007 — 9:52am

Field trip to Science museum

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March 1 (Thursday)

March 1st, 2007 — 9:47am

Bayshore day:


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Feb 28 (wednesday)

February 28th, 2007 — 4:31pm

Math review (addition with carrying, subtraction with borrowing)
multiplication drills (3x)
piano practice

Comment » | Homeschooling

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