When Geeks Get Ghoulish

I’ll tell you the truth.  I’m not a big Halloween person.  I know that makes me boring, and stuffy, and way too grown up for my own good, but I just don’t get the whole dressing up thing.  I really never have.  I put up with it as a kid because I would do anything for a bag full of sugar-laced crack, but I never wore the mask to any of my costumes because it made my nose sweat, and I never kept any of my makeup on because it made my cheeks itch. 

I guess that makes me a Hallo-weenie.

Uber takes after me a bit – – he just doesn’t understand why people would want to put on something ridiculous looking and demean themselves for some flimsy Tootsie Rolls.  H-T, on the other hand, is my drama king, and wonders why the heck we only do it once a year!

But one thing all of us have in common around this time of year is our enjoyment of sticking knives into pumpkins and pulling out handfuls of gooey guts.  The boys completely designed and carved their own jack-o-lanterns this year, and in true geek fashion…

Uber carved out an emoticon…

Uber's Emoticon

Uber's Emoticon

and H-T used the symbol of his favorite flash game…Home Star Runner
H-T's Home Star Runner

H-T's Home Star Runner

I guess you can take the ghoul out of the geek, but you just can’t take the geek out of the ghoul.

We Were The 80’s Day!!


It’s here!  It’s here!

Are you psyched??

October 30 is officially “We Were The 80’s” Day.  Well, even if it’s not officially official, it is still here.  And to celebrate, I’m gonna humiliate myself big time.  I’m gonna post a few pics of my 80’s days.

I’m giving you warning right now that you might need to up your screen resolution to at least 1024 ppi to be able to get ALL of my hair in there…God help you if you don’t have a widescreen monitor, is all I can say.

So here goes…80's_0002 now this was about 1985, I think, and if I’m not mistaken, that was the year that having a raspberry beret, at least, was considered very sexy, according to one Prince.  The suspenders? – – oh, I think I came up with that sexy accessory all on my own. 


I had to show this picture just because it is so historic.   This is mine and hubby’s first ever date…to my school athletic banquet.  I think a size 28″ belt would have fit around both of our waists and still had room for at least Mary Kate Olson.  Now, unfortunately, the two of us look like we ate poor Mary Kate for lunch last week. 

But at one time, I truly had a waistline.  NO photoshop involved!



80's_0001Three years after my beret pic, and 437 fashion faux-pas later, I made it to graduation.   Well, my hair was on time, but the rest of me got there about 15 minutes late.  Do you SEE how far back on my head I had to pin that there cap?? God knows I wouldn’t have wanted to smash down even one of those feathered curls.

So I triple dog dare you to join in the fun…post your favorite 80’s pics today, and please don’t leave me alone in my humiliation…

King Midas and the Disappearing Avatars

Uber was in a play yesterday.  It was his first school play, and he did really well.  I was so proud!  Of course, there were problems, as all school plays are apt to face. 

First off, Uber and a couple other classmates were invisible at the beginning of the play.  Then, one of the cast members kept floating above the stage, which caused definite issues.  The most frustrating problem was that the players were all typing so fast that the avatars in the audience could barely keep up!

Wait…did I mention that this was a virtual play????

Ok, go back and read that last paragraph in context, and then get on board, people!! This is the 21st century, for cryin’ out loud!!  Did you think we actually needed a stage, or cloth costumes, or any such outdated modalities in this day and age??!!

Nope, this was a play in cyberspace.  Uber’s 9th grade Ancient Civ class at WiloStar3D Academy has been studying Greek mythology, and yesterday they performed a play based on the story of King Midas.

midas play 1

Uber was a guard, and granted, his part was small, but he did it with flair and his own unique touch (he kept guarding the wrong avatar – – hee).  Anyway, it was first ever school play, and – – virtual or not – – I still have bragging rights!!

midas play 2

If you have curiosity, patience, and plenty of bandwidth, head on over and check out what the school play of the future might just look like. (may take time to buffer – – seems to work best on xp/vista)

Dining Rooms Are Overrated

Yes, the Topsy-Techie household remodeling project is about 90% complete.  I think I may have mentioned that we live in a SMALL house (2 bedrooms, 1 bath), and our boys are growing at the rate of about 8 cm per day.  They are like bamboo…you can literally watch them growing.  Add in some privacy issues, and you have a recipe for OVERCROWDING!! 

Now please don’t think I’m complaining.  I know that in some developing countries, entire villages could probably set up camp in here and still not have to tie each other’s shoelaces, but compared to many of the mansions in this tourist town of mine, ours might as well be an outhouse.

We’ve chosen this life and it has chosen us.  No one goes into being a director of a homeless shelter for the perks and bonuses.  And homeschooling has meant that we aren’t really a two-income family.  So we deal.  And we improvise. 

And we decided that the one thing we could probably live without, at least for now, is our dining room.  So, we added some doors, shined up the floor, threw on some paint, and spiffed up some furniture we got at a second hand store and….voila!  H-T’s new bedroom!

Of course I’m not smart enough to take “Before” pics, so you will just have to trust me when I say that it looked REALLY different.  The walls were wallpapered with flowered paper, and the bottom was painted this deep wine color.  And there was a huge oriental rug over the parquet.  It was wall to wall antique cherry furniture in there too. 

At least I have some “After” pics….

Notice the dog bed in foreground.  That was the most important piece of furniture of all!

Notice the dog bed in foreground. That was the most important piece of furniture of all!

All artwork on walls is done by H-T, our resident artist.  He loves his sheepdog marionette, hanging from the ceiling.

All artwork on walls is done by H-T, our resident artist. He loves his sheepdog marionette, hanging from the ceiling.

Most of the room is dead space, cause H-T can barely lift his hind end from this chair you see right here!

Most of the room is dead space, cause H-T can barely lift his hind end from this chair you see right here!

Behind the door is H-T's built in display shelf area for his collections and creations such as...

Behind the door is H-T's personally customized display shelves for his collections and creations such as...

His fossil collection

His fossil collection

and his soapstone carvings.  He and Uber are master soapstone carvers!

and his soapstone carvings. He and Uber are master soapstone carvers!

Hey, anybody can have a dining room, but not everyone can have a dog-hosting, sheepdog-hanging, fossil-displaying, computer-hogging, homemade-knitted-blanket-cozying room like H-T’s.
And he is lovin it like a horror movie marathon!! (yes, for H-T, that’s a GOOD thing!)

You Get What You Ask For…

So last week I begged for a meme – –  any meme  – – to help me get through my super-duper-allyooper big busy remodeling week, and TLC – -my chocolate-lovin’ bloggin’ buddy over at Send Chocolate – – came through for me.  She tagged me with the task of sharing seven random facts about myself.

So for you, my lovin’ groupies, I’ll do just that.  (Actually I’m just way too exhausted after this week’s project to come up with anything else tonight.)

Here goes nuffin…

  1. I collect antique school books.  I mean the REALLY old ones that came just after the chalk and slate.  They are SO cool!  And you haven’t lived until you have read a school health textbook from 1895.  Leeches, anyone?
  2. I have to have the last word on things.  Unfortunately, my eldest son inherited the trait, which means that arguments with us can go on for days.  You think I’m kidding??  I’m not EVEN kidding.  Days!  And even when it’s “over” he and I are still muttering our last words under our breath as we go off to lick our battle wounds. (And Twittering is becoming an equally difficult problem.  STOP RESPONDING TO ME PEOPLE!! Don’t you understand that I need to be the last one tweeting??!!)
  3. I’m a neglectful parent – – of my plants.  I have two peace lilies that I have killed and brought back to life almost thirty times because of dehydration.  I simply cannot remember to water the poor things.
  4. I have a weird fascination with near death experiences.  I read everything I can about them.  I have never died or been near death so far as I know, but yet I can’t get enough of the NDE’s.  Anybody wanna share?
  5. My wardrobe looks like I shop at my local senior center.  I have no  reasoning for why I tend to dress
    Notice the geriatric neckline and perfectly matching pink capris!

    Notice the geriatric neckline and perfectly matching pink capris!

    like a seventy year old Florida retiree, but my closet is basically a Golden Girls version of Garanimals.  When I accidentally buy something from the JCPenney juniors department, my hubby gets so turned on I have to beat him off with a stick (ok – – walking cane – – whatever)

  6. Everybody has weird useless talents, right? Well mine is for song lyrics.  I can sing along to every song on the radio if I have heard it at least three times.  This holds true for every genre and era of music.  If I’ve heard it, I can sing along with it.  I would estimate that I know approximately a thousand songs from beginning to end. (Wanna take one guess as to how I used to study for tests?) One important exception to this gift of mine – – rap music.  Can’t repeat even one line.  It HAS to have a melody for me to remember it.
  7. I have never watched even one episode of Desperate Housewives.  There.  I’ve said it.  It’s out in the open, and I feel strangely free.  Cleansed even.  God, the things I will admit to random faceless strangers!!

So let’s hear your most random factoid in the comments section, folks!

Discovery Education Network Fall Conference Webinar

den fall conference

I’m attending the DEN Fall Conference Webinar today, and will be Twittering all about it, so if you are interested in what cool things are going on in the world of education and technology, be sure to follow my Tweets today! (Twitter ID: simplywrite)

I’ll definitely be bringing it back to roost as far as homeschoolers go, in a future Friday’s HHH post, as well.  By the way, if you are interested, it isn’t too late to sign up!  Come join us at the webinar

Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints – – Google Apps Part Deux

fridays hardwired homeschool hints pic

So in last weeks HHH post, I kind of gave you a glimpse of how Google Apps could help increase productivity and organization in your homeschool. 

Today, I thought I would get a little more nitty gritty and outline some of the specific ways you can use Google Apps…

First off, you will need to sign up with a Google Account, if you haven’t already. You will also need to sign each of your homeschoolers up with an account. They are free, and relatively painless to register for. Here is the link to get started.  One Google registration is all you need to get signed up for ALL of Google’s many services, including Google Docs, Gmail, Google Talk IM, Google Calendar, and Google Sites. If you have a Blogger account, you are already covered.

One of the first things you will want to do is explore the Google Docs interface. Like I said last week, this is the keystone of the Google product line.

If you have worked with Microsoft Office at all, Google Docs will be a breeze, because it has most of the same capabilities – – word processor, spreadsheet, and presentations.  It will even upload and download in Office file extensions! For a full tutorial on how to use the Docs interface, go through this edutech lesson.

My favorite homeschool use of the program is as a lesson planner/calendar.  I create a spreadsheet grid that I use to keep track of the boys daily assignments.  The great thing is that once I share the sheet with their google accounts, they can access my spreadsheet from any computer, make changes to it, cross things off when they have completed them, etc.

(click to view in full screen)

google docs

The daily assignment sheet, in essence, becomes a collaborative effort.  Even if you are unschooling, and aren’t anally retentive like me, Google spreadsheets are still a great way to track what your kids are accomplishing, and a place for you to provide resources and suggestions for what they are currently interested in.  You can both access the spreadsheet in real time from two different computers, which is the true cool feature.

I have started having my boys submit all their written assignments in Google Docs as well.  There just isn’t a better way, in my opinion.  When they finish an essay, for instance, and share it with me, I don’t have to print it out, or worry about losing it, or anything.  I can just access it on my computer, make comments, notes, and highlight any areas that need more attention.  Then they go back in, see my notes and make their changes, and voila!  I file it in a subject-specific file and can keep it until infinity.  This is a great way to store items if you live in a state that requires portfolios of each student’s annual work.  Instant access from any computer, and you have saved several trees in the process. 

Next week, I will cover some of the even cooler, creative ways for using Google Apps in your homeschool.  Stay tuned…

To see all of my Friday’s Hardwired Hints posts, go to my HHH page!