Giveaway on SecularHomeschool.com

Ok, so if you are a Topsy-Techie reader, and you have been meaning to join my other site: SecularHomeschool.com, now is a terrific time, because we are having a site giveaway this month!!

The fine print, however, is that you must be a site member to enter, so get your cute little hineys over there and sign up today, so you can win a great curriculum prize package from Flourish Enrichment.

flourish enrichment

Description of the curriculum from the Flourish website: The Flourish Enrichment curriculum is designed to provide a robust interdisciplinary approach to teach art by teaching other subjects through the art projects. The projects cover everything from the history of Tibet and it’s struggles with communist China to African cultures and the importance of tribal masks. Each project is an in-depth look at the subject matter as well as detailed photo instructions to provide easy to follow art projects that any parent can work through with their home schooled child.

If you have been looking for a unique way to teach art to your homeschoolers, Flourish Enrichment may just be perfect for you!

And even if you don’t want to enter the contest, we’d love to have you at SecularHomeschool.com anyway!  There is constantly something going on in the forums, groups, blogs, and resource pages that is bound to appeal to you if you are a secular homeschooler (and I use that definition to mean anyone who isn’t homeschooling for religious reasons).

Hope to see you there…and best of luck on the giveaway!!

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Popping In For An Update

Yes, I’ve been absent.  But it isn’t you…it’s me!  No really.  You are great…perfect even.  It’s me with the issues.  I think I have commitment issues…or maybe my dysfunctional family history has scarred me…

Yada-Yada.

Ok, truth is that I’m busy as heck right now.  Our internet was out for several days after an unfortunate electrical storm took out our router.  So I’ve been playing catch-up.  Lot’s of work-related things…OH…and did I mention I’m hosting a brand new website?new logo

It is called SecularHomeschool.com, and it is sort of a combination  resource/info site for secular homeschoolers combined with a social network.  I’m writing articles about secular homeschooling and submitting them for the site, as well as collecting info for the Resources section.  And then there is the overwhelming simple task of chasing after the millions of glitches that have already come up, and building a base of members. 

I would LOVE it if you, my bloggy buddies, would drop by the site, check it out, and even sign up, if you think it is something you might enjoy being a part of.  (Obi-Mom – – 007 that she is – – already found it!) Granted, it is starting out small, but with more and more secular homeschoolers joining the ranks, I think it has the potential to be something special in the near future. 

But I’ve done a couple of non-techie things lately as well.  We’re having out-of-town guests coming this week, and I’ve been trying to get some of the 3,425 unfinished projects around the house completed.  I finally finished sanding and painting the porch (only took me two years from start to finish), re-landscaping the flower beds, painting the kitchen trim, etc, etc. 

Thank goodness for company.  They are the only motivation that actually works for me when it comes to maintaining a home properly. 

I’m banking on the fact that absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Feeling fonder of me yet??

A Little Slow On The Uptake

I fancy myself fairly web-savvy…I do!  I’ve had my hand in the waters of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and multiple blogging networks for quite a while now.  But I swear that as fast as I navigate those, there seem to be hundreds more sites out there mocking me from the banks.

You guys know that I do online marketing for a homeschool curriculum company, right?  Well, that company has a new chief marketing manager who is on the pulse of what sites are necessary to be plugged into…so I’m being introduced to things like:  LinkedIn, WeFollow, PeoplePond. 

Yikes! 

There is nothing like the internet for creating a sense of inadequacy.  How can I possibly ever keep up???

Well, perhaps having “keeping up” be part of my job description helps, I guess. 

What are your feelings?  Do you feel like you are staying ahead of the curve of the social networking scene, or constantly doggie paddling to keep up?

 

Are You A Digital Spy?

I was reading an article this morning about how parents and teens sometimes awkwardly exist together on the social network Facebook.  The article was about how certain teens feel very uncomfortable being “friends” with their folks on Facebook.  I am imagining that one of the reasons for their discomfort is worry over whether mom or dad might be using the network to spy on them or track their activities and friends.

I think that is a valid worry, at least in some cases.  I definitely didn’t join Facebook to look over Uber’s shoulder, but since he has been kind enough to “friend” me and his dad, we probably do find out little tidbits of info about him that we might not know otherwise.  But in general, Uber has sort of an open-book personality anyway.  When H-T gets on Facebook (OMG, that kid will be 13 in just over a month!!!), I can see him being far more reticent to make me and dad privy to his online dealings.  He is just a far more private kiddo.

But the truth is, that the digital age makes us somewhat of an open book to anyone who happens to really want to know about us.  I imagine that if I had your full name, your blog name, and possibly a couple other of your online id’s, I could find out some pretty detailed info about each and every one of you.  If we are online, we are kind of vulnerable.

monitor So, the question is…do you ever take advantage of that vulnerability to dig deeper into your kids’ online lives?  Our internet filter, for instance, has a history feature, that lets me, if I so choose, check up on each and every site my kids have visited.  It would take me less than three minutes to scan over their entire catalog of current interests, obsessions, and possible misdeeds.  Have I used this feature?  Of course I have.  And not just to protect them from evil, either.  Sometimes, I’m just curious.  Nosy, even.  I really try to squelch this in myself, but it does come out at times.

So, here is a place for you to confess…no confession box required.  Are you a digital spy?  Have you looked at your kids IM history?  Their text messages?  Their web hits?  Or have you hit paydirt, and discovered a secret blog they have, or online journal? 

You can tell me.  I won’t squeal.  But I might possibly steal your ideas if they are particularly sneaky…

Romans and Tire Pressure and Zombies…Oh My!

One thing I nearly never do on my blog is regale you with details about what we are studying in homeschool.  Mostly, that’s because when other homeschool bloggers do it, I tend to nod off for a minute.  Not that it isn’t important – – because it IS!  But somehow the excitement of a homeschool lesson is one of those things where, well, “you had to be there,” I guess.

But we’re at the end of our first “semester”, and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed nostalgic about all that we’ve covered so far this year.  So granted, this is probably more for my sake than yours, but I’m gonna lay it out there.  If nothing else, it will justify my existence as a homeschool mom.

Uber, as you may remember, is in his second year at the 3D virtual school called Wilostar 3D Academy.  He attends class via avatar, and uploads his assignments to his teachers.  First semester of 9th grade at Wilostar includes Ancient Civilization, 9th grade Integrated Language Arts, and Art.  Wilostar uses an integrated learning model, so that what you are studying in social studies or history is tied in with your literature assignments in Language Arts.  He covered everything from Ancient Egypt, to Ancient Rome, to Ancient China, and Ancient Africa.  And to supplement his studies he has read the following novels: Pharaoh’s Daughter, The Golden Goblet, Inside the Walls of Troy, and Siddhartha.self_portrait One of the highlights of the semester, of course, was his virtual performance in the story of King Midas.

For art, he has created a complete online portfolio, which I think is a really cool idea.  Using the DK Art Book as his text, he has learned about, and experimented with: shading, distance, pastels and color mixing, perspective, texture, shape and form, cartooning, and self-portraiture (see right).

In addition to his online work, Uber was also subjected to my self-designed Life Skills course.  Determined that no child of mine will head out to university or the working world without at least knowing how to check the tire pressure in a vehicle, I have put Uber through the paces of personal finance, character ed, automobile maintenance, job skills, and public transportation. Next semester is cooking and cleaning and sewing on buttons (basically home-ec, but let’s keep that little title between us, k?)

This is only Uber’s “official” education, though. That kid seems to be learning about something 24/7.  He has taught himself 3D-modeling, graphic design using Photoshop, hex-editing, and creating and designing his own trading cards. He is also slowly working on a fantasy drama novel.

Hyper-Techie (H-T) has had a busy semester as well.  He uses the Time4Learning online homeschool curriculum, and has been breezing right through math and language arts this year.  Geometry is his strong suit (not too surprising for a right-brainer), and he has made 100 on almost every geometry quiz so far!  T4L has an incredible 7th grade American History course that is animated and interactive.  I’m so jealous!  And we are supplementing that with a cool electronic field trip curriculum from Colonial Williamsburg, where we long to take a family trip one day.

H-T doesn’t stop there though.  I created my own earth science curriculum for him which involves lots of videos on Discovery’s United Streaming. We are working through the Saxon Phonics Intervention program, which is helping incredibly with the spelling troubles he deals with due to his dyslexia.  And he is also logo-final taking guitar this year and is just beginning to learn his very first song.  H-T needs to get his hands dirty, so to speak, and guide his own learning somewhat, so he is currently spending a little time each day on “social skills” – – interacting on the Fusefly social network for homeschooled kids.  He has made some pretty neat buddies online, actually.  And his current self-directed project is a screenplay B-Movie about zombies.  Thanks to a terrific online screenwriting program at zhura.com, a finished screenplay is a very real possibility for a motivated 12-year-old!

Whew!  Oh my!

The main conclusion I’ve come to after this post?  We are SO ready for Christmas break!!!

Hackin’ When Your Back is Lackin’

Yeah, I’m a songwriter at heart.  Have your people call my people, Gwen Stefani…I’ve got lots more where that came from… 

But I seriously am down with my back.  Not an unusual thing for me, because my back was absent the day muscle tone was handed out. Annoyingly, though, it has become entirely too common of late, and I would have already cashed in on the warranty on the stupid thing, if it hadn’t run out last Tuesday, along with the one on my bum knee.  Wouldn’t ya know?

Anyway, I’m coddling and babying it like Gwen does Kingston (yes, she named her child after the capital of Jamaica, but Jamaica’s sister city is Kalamazoo, so I’m thinking the kid got off lucky!) because it is only nine days until my jaunt with Uber to Vegas, and I want that thing in tip-top shape before I see Tom and Wayne.  How uncool is it to be jumping up and down trying to get your underwear off to throw on stage, and all the time you are holding your back??!!  In the case of the demographic of those who still go to see Tom and Wayne, I guess it might not be all that unusual, though.

As those of you who have read this blog for any length of time know, when I am down and out, I tend to get drawn in by new online “hobbies.”  Remember my jaunt into MySpace during a chest crud episode?? Or last month’s bout with intestinal flu, when I ended up outing myself to the blogosphere at large??  Well, this time, I have been learning how to become a hack…well, not the illegal kind (which of course would make a much more interesting post, but might jeopardize my chance to throw undies at Tom and Wayne) but the social networking kind…as in “Homeschool Hacks.”

This is SO my new favorite website at the moment, because it is where all the cool weird homeschoolers like myself are hangin’.  And yes, it is a social networking site, so you have all the  Facebook/MySpace features like adding friends.  Goodness knows, we homeschoolers need SOME way to feel like we have a posse of likeminded fringers.  So far, I’ve met some incredible homeschool hackers (also called homeschooling hotties – – did I mention I love this site??)

  • There is Tina at Send Chocolate, who is homeschooling two kids with high functioning autism, a teenager, and a couple of schizophrenic cats
  • Anissa, from down in Louisiana (that’s just fun to say).  You can grab her cute little bee butt over at Home Where They Belong …oh, and turn up your volume cause she’s got a killer playlist
  • Can’t forget Michelle who I would be friends with just because of her Avatar pic!  This libertarian from California is bloggin over at Pumpkinshellz Patch
  • Beautiful Karla is Looking Towards Heaven (and in my opinion, heaven is looking toward her as well, OH that gorgeous face!)  This is one fun blog that I am thrilled to have added to my roll!
  • And of course, I couldn’t forget Christine, who I have bragged on here about before…that lady could blog about cabbage and I would read it and beg for more!  Go visit her immediately at Welcome to My Brain! That’s an order!

And these are only a FEW of the over 100 homeschooling hotties meetin’, greetin’, and sweetin’ on each other over at Homeschool Hackers.  If you wanne be in my posse, you gotta be a hacker, man.  Me and my bad back will see you there!!

 

homeschool hacks