Nobody told me it could be like this…

I don’t know what your take on the Blu-Ray players is, but mine has always been…what’s the point?  I mean DVDs work perfectly fine.  They are definitely a step above VHS because of the whole no rewinding thing, and they take up less space in the entertainment cabinet, so I see no reason to change-over to Blu-Ray. 

UNTIL…our DVD went kaput.  Then there was a choice.  Do I plunk down money for another DVD player, OR move with the times and get a Blu-Ray?? Decisions, Decisions.  And with my birthday coming up in just a month, I knew that this new gadget would be attached to the celebration, so I decided it had better be one HECK of a gadget!!

Thus began my search.  After a while I realized that for the most part, a Blu-Ray is a Blu-Ray is a Blu-Ray. 

LG bluray UNTIL…I found it.  A Blu-Ray that was most definitely NOT just a Blu-Ray.  This Blu-Ray had network access.  Which means it connects to your home network, and lets you watch YouTube, Netflix Instant Watch, and even new releases via CinemaNow.  Oh-ho-ho-ho!!  Now that was a Blu-Ray worthy of my last year in my 30’s!!

With one flick of my remote-hovering thumb I have basically TV-on-demand – – especially with YouTube offering more and more network shows, and Netflix having plenty of reruns of stuff I’ve been meaning to catch up on.

This is the way TV was meant to be.  What you want, when you want it.  Sometimes, a techie just can’t resist the temptations and seducements of the “next big thing.” 

I mean have you seen those refrigerators with the internet screen built right into the door?????

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Loose Ends and Giveaways

I think I need to start a whole weekly meme called “loose ends Tuesday”, because every Tuesday seems to be dedicated to just that, lately.  So here goes…

new logo If you haven’t entered the October giveaways at SecularHomeschool.com yet, be sure and stop by and enter before the end of the month.  I am giving away some premium accounts at Spelling City™ and some free preschool accounts at Time4Learning™.  You need to be a member of the site to enter.

My other random giveaway-related item is from Blog2Print.  I’m thinking about taking the plunge and putting this year’s blog posts into a keepsake book.  I mean, my blog posts are pseudo journal entries, of sorts, and our family has been through lots of different things this year that I wouldn’t mind having record of. 

blog2print With Blog2Print, you can take those posts and turn them into a beautiful book layout where you get to pick the cover (hardcover or softcover), the images, the order and number of posts included, and even which comments you want to add.  You can even get just a pdf of your book!

And Blog2Print was nice enough to share a discount code with me that is good through November 9, so if you think you would like to order yourself an early Christmas present, now’s the time.  The discount code is for 20% off your finished blog book.  Here is the code: fall4b2p

I hope you take advantage of some of these opportunities! Have a totally random Tuesday everyone…

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Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints: Ancient History

fridays hardwired homeschool hints 150X150 One of the coolest aspects of this interest-led learning gig is that I get to do internet research.  Have I mentioned that doing internet research is right up there with imbibing a well-prepared mojito for me?  Love, love, LOVE it!

So when Uber wanted me to find some good sources of info on Ancient Greece, I was all over that like skin on a potato.  And of course Googling Ancient Greece takes you to sites that aren’t just about Ancient Greece, but Ancient Rome, and then those sites lead you to checking out Ancient China, and the next thing you know you’ve got enough fodder for a whole HHH post! 

So if your “free form scholar” ever asks you for info on Ancient History, you are good to go, thanks to my rampant internet research addiction.

As far as I’m concerned, it is impossible to study history of any kind without a good movie or two to supplement the often dry text of historical books, so be sure to stop by Historybusters for a complete list of history-related movies catalogued by era and age/grade appropriateness.  We even discovered a great documentary series on Ancient Greece that is available on Netflix Instant Watch!

Probably everyone has used Mr. Dowling’s great “Browse the World” site, I suppose.  But I’m listing it for any newbie homeschoolers out there…just in case!

What is ancient history without a timeline, and in my opinion, this is one of the most comprehensive ones, and links you to tons of great resources and images of whatever you are studying.

When the kids were younger, we always included some great historical fiction and nonfiction books to round out our studies of different periods and eras.  A Book in Time offers a great reading list of historical books for kids.

If you have some favorite Ancient History tools to tell about, by all means list them in the comments!

Readin’, Writin’ and….Meditation??

As always, in a perfect ironic twist, I blog far less when I am teaching the Blog Writing Course.  Time is simply at a premium, I guess – – especially with 18 new bloggers to keep track of!

But the course is going well…even Uber is taking it this go-round! He is having SO much fun with this unschooling experiment.  In fact, I can’t believe the incentive he has taken toward his own education once I handed over the reigns.  I’ve been flabbergasted, to be honest.technology

Currently, Uber is teaching himself lots of techie stuff (no surprise  there).  He is learning LINUX, networking and network administration, and database management.  Those, obviously, take up a lot of his time, but he is also making room for Ancient Greek History, blogging, healthy living and fitness, nature journaling, piano and Japanese.  He is also taking Geometry via YourTeacher.com, which he is really enjoying, btw, if you are ever looking for a cool high school level math curriculum!

H-T needs a slight bit more encouragement, but there is no lack of miracles for him either.  My son with dyslexia is reading like never before!  In fact, he isn’t waiting for the audio-books to arrive via the mail before starting in on new stuff.  Before, he would pick out his books from the library, or buy them, and then order the booksaccompanying audio-book from his Library of the Blind and Physically Handicapped membership.  This way, he had auditory support for following along with words and phrases that might be too difficult for him to tackle. 

No more.  His reading doesn’t wait for anything, these days.  He just grabs three or four books that pique his interest at the library, and next thing I know, he has worked through them.  It’s kind of freaking me out a bit, actually!

He still has his YouTube addiction, but he has been putting it toward worthy endeavors of late.  He has worked his way through an entire series on WWII, and is now studying the holocaust with equal interest.  His other current interests include drawing, meditation (he’s asked to turn his room into a zen room…if you have ideas or info on this, I’m all ears!), guitar, and American history.  And his biggest project of late was that he asked to be in charge of the Halloween decorating of the porch this year.  You can bet I’ll be posting pics of that when he is finished!  He’s still doing math via Time4Learning, as well.

Anyway, that’s my interest-led learning update for this week.  So far so good! 

Hopefully, I’ll find more time to update again in the very near future…

Some Weeks Are A Little More Topsy Than Techie

So I came home from that glorious Camp Greenville field trip on Sunday to a message in my inbox from one of the members at my SecularHomeschool.com website.  It seemed that while I was hiking and dosey-do’ing, a major tool of a person was busy hacking into the site. 

I didn’t want to believe it was true, but alas when I arrived at the homepage, I was greeted with an ominously evil looking “you’ve been hacked” screen instead of the screenshot that I’m so used to – – the one that has my blood sweat and tears all pixeled in the right places. 

Following that lovely revelation was the realization that even my admin page was out of access to me.  This asinine evil-doer really had my “balls in a vice”, as my hubby is wont to occasionally say.  Topsy-Techie was feeling a lot less techie, and a lot more topsy.  I had to call on my back-up crew…the REAL techies…who know what to do in these kinds of instances. 

It was degrading and demeaning on so many levels.  If you’ve been following T-T for long, you will know that there are few things I detest more than having to grovel at the feet of the Geek Squadhands in ears My idea of “technical support” is anyone who is willing to replenish my coffee cup, take over the cooking duties, and ignore my language while I am tackling a particularly snarly technical difficulty.

But I knew immediately that this particular snafu was way out of my league.  The stupid site had started hurling racial epithets and extremist Islamic propaganda by that time, so I knew it was time to call in the big guns. 

Anyway, as humbling as it is, I’d like to dedicate this post to M and I.  My two knights in shining pocket-protectors who not only knew just what to do, but how to handle an renegade would-be know-nothing know-it-all techie.  Thanks to them, SecularHomeschool.com is back in business and humming along like clockwork. 

Me?  Well, I’m still licking my wounds a bit.  All will be better soon, I’m sure.  Anyone have any easy technical glitch that they need advice on to help boost my morale???

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Field Trip Wars – – Round Four or Snake Handling & Square Dancing

 

Every area or region in the U.S.of A. probably has at least one hidden treasure – –

a spot that not everyone knows about, but that is overwhelming in its beauty or resources.

Our area is actually full of those kinds of places, and yesterday we got to spend the whole afternoon at one of them.  YMCA Camp Greenville is a privately-owned property on the border of North and South Carolina that opened in 1912 as a summer camp for boys. 

Its nearly 500 acres is situated in one of the most magnificent timber and mountainous regions of the Great Smokies.  Camp Greenville offers not only a full schedule of summer camps, but also year-round camps and activities such as retreats for women, family retreats, homeschool days, and retreats for families with children on the autism spectrum.

And then they have just started offering “Family Fun Days”, like yesterday, where they open up their facility and activities – – absolutely free – – for local families to come and experience.  Although we had often heard of and about Camp Greenville, our family was unprepared for just what a delightful place it really is. 

So yesterday, we tried to pack as much into four hours as possible, with a little zip-lining…

A little snake-handling

A little hiking and waterfalling (ok, a LOT of hiking and waterfalling)

A little square-dancing…(that’s Uber and I in the forefront)

A lot of catching our breath over the views from the Symmes Chapel(the place, by the way, where my parents got married, but I had never seen until yesterday…cool, huh?)

050

Yep.  I know.  We have it good.  Let’s see what Firefly Mom has up her sleeve this week…

(p.s…if you want to join in the Field Trip Wars, feel free to throw your hat in the ring at any time!!)

Where Did Friday Go???

Ok, so I totally ran out of time to do a Friday’s HHH post today.  It’s been one of those days.

Where the phone rings so much that you get a temporary case of tinnitus.

Where you forget to put a VERY LATE bill into the mailbox, so you have to drive to the post office, which always tees you off.

Where you are on the way to the post office and your sunglasses break, and you are incredibly light sensitive, so you have to stop by the drugstore and pick up new ones on the way.

Where you discover that your dogs have fleas, so you have to vacuum the house from stem to stern – – including under the furniture – -  and give the dogs the Capstar junk, and then basically burn their beds and buy new ones.

Where you go to make supper and get everything almost ready when you realize you are out of the key ingredient, which not only tees you off, but makes you curse loud enough for the neighbors to do that peeking thing through their mini blinds.

And where you hear the weather forecast and discover that it is going to rain.  The entire weekend.

Yep, one of those.  You can relate, right??

In fact, the whole day would have been a complete and utter WASH if it hadn’t been for coming across this post at the Pioneer Woman today.  If you’ve had one of those days as well, then I INSIST you read this one.  It will seriously crack you up and make you fall in love with homeschooling all over again.

Have a great weekend, everyone.  (And if it is supposed to be sunny and crisp and fall-like at your house, please spare me the details.)