Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Arts Bash

Entries are pouring in for this year's Book Arts Bash. I've been glancing at the synopses am in in awe of the imaginations of our young homeschoolers. I was expecting to be drowning in fantasy like we were last year. Not so this year, we have novels set in medieval Japan, on the DC metro, and in orphanages. There are angst filled teen love stories, girls disguised as boy hockey players and pen pal guinea pigs.

It's going to be such fun reading all the creative submissions.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm envious

Marc and I often talk about how we'd dearly love to both be at home all the time with the children. Unfortunately Marc has to spend his days at the local hospital. Pathology is not a field that allows for working from home and fitting work into your life schedule.

I am always envious of families who have managed to organize their lives in a way that allows both parents to be home and to be actively involved in their children's homeschooling.

This means that I am exceedingly envious of the Berry family. Jon and Julia have an enviable homeschooling set up. Jon works from home running a successful web hosting business that allows him to be intimately involved with his children's education.

Sometimes I feel sorry for poor Jon. He's generally the parent who brings their children to park day. Just imagine the single male amongst a host of knitting, crocheting and kibbitzing moms. He's made of stern stuff. Jon takes everything in his stride. Sometimes he interacts with us, sometimes he's on his phone doing business, all the time calm and collected.

Jon, being the generous, homeschooling committed, business owner he is, hadGreen Olive Tree sponsor the G.U.E.S.S. Homeschooling Science Fair.

This web hosting company provides all kinds of server management, virtual server solutions, and dedicated servers. If you need complicated internet stuff, they are your answer. Don't go with a big company that treats you like a number -- Green Olive Tree's customer service is unparalleled and their record is spotless. Even if you're just looking for reliable web hosting, and you don't want to pay a lot of money, how about this: $25 a year for web hosting for a personal site. That's wicked cheap. Find out more about their web hosting plans and prices here.

If you're reading this and you appreciate their support of our science fair, their support of their kids, and their involvement in the community, please follow their Twitter feed and fan them on Facebook. These are good people, doing a great job raising their children and making an exceptional business out of hard work and excellent service.

Monday, November 23, 2009

204th Carnival of Homeschooling

The carnival is up at the Norfolk Homeschooling Examiner.

Steal this post.

The sponsors of our 2009 GUESS Homeschool Science Fair generously provided our young scientists with exciting prizes for the winners. Their donations also allowed us to underwrite the cost of all the kids' science fair day at the VASC, including an age-appropriate science class, an electricity demo, and an IMAX movie. Part of what we do to thank our sponsors is generating links for them on homeschool blogs and sites, pointing to their web presence from descriptive anchor text, to boost their Google ranking on those search terms. That's where this post comes in!

We need your help to spread these links across the internet, to say thank you to these businesses for supporting our young homeschooled scientists. If you have a blog, or site, and you can help us, please steal this post! For maximum impact on search engines, it's very important that the links go along with the post, attached to the appropriate text, so if you need the plain HTML to put into your blog, click here for a .txt file.

So, how can you help the GUESS Homeschool Science Fair?

1. Copy this post, or the .txt file with the HTML.
2. Post it to your blog.
3. Let us know when you've done it so we can link back to your blog!

Here's the part of the post we want you to "steal":

Thank you to the following homeschool-friendly businesses for supporting the GUESS Homeschool Science Fair and the young scientists of Hampton Roads!

Green Olive Tree is an internet company based in Portsmouth, Virginia and owned and operated by a homeschooling family. They offer a broad range of internet services, from reliable web hosting to corporate infrastructure solutions and server administration.

SKS Science supplies homeschoolers and other educators with all the science supplies you need to turn your dining room table into a proper laboratory. Browse their site for test tubes, bottles, face masks and other lab supplies and books.

Book Exchange is the largest used bookstore in Eastern Virginia. Unlike most musty and confusing used stores, this one is clean, bright, inviting, and has a huge selection of used homeschool books. There's always an interesting curriculum find on these shelves!

Folkmanis Puppets makes the most delightful animal puppets available outside Santa's workshop. Meet their most unusual creations like llamas, Chinese dragons, ostriches, flying squirrels. Unusual materials create realistic textures, and they all move in very realistic ways. Irresistible.

The Happy Scientist, Robert Krampf, hosts an online wonderland for budding scientists. With online science lessons, experiments to try at home, a science photo of the day, and new content added all the time, you'll love setting your kids loose on this site.

Mad Science is Hampton Roads' premier provider of science enrichment classes for children. Summer classes include "Crazy Chemistry" and a space camp developed with NASA! New homeschool science classes are being offered in Norfolk and VA Beach, with more planned for fall.

Moore Expressions is a homeschool bookstore in Virginia Beach, VA. They sell used and new homeschooling curriculum, host a support group, and publish a newsletter called the Bayith Educator. They are the premier source for homeschooling books in the Hampton Roads area.

Norfolk Karate Academy offers classes in Tang Soo Do (Korean karate) and Gracie Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian grappling and self-defense). With classes for children, teens, and adults, it's a great way for anyone to get in shape and kick things in a socially acceptable way!

Brooks Systems offers standalone software and web applications that check legal compliance in all municipalities in all fifty states, and create truth-in-lending documents for residential lenders. Using Brooks for your automated mortgage compliance, you can be sure your loans are safe.

eScienceLabs creates boxes of joy for science loving homeschoolers. In each kit is a complete science experience -- from individual lessons to full years of high school labs. Hands-on science kits are the answer to your laboratory woes. Everything is in there: test tubes, goggles, and fun.

Mariner's Museum has amazing programs for homeschoolers learning about maritime science, history, and even pirates! Their spring homeschool series features lessons about the Civil War. Visit Mariner's Museum for historical exhibits and educational programming.

Virginia Air and Space Center was host to the homeschool science fair this year, and delivered awesome science classes for homeschoolers from their education department. The VASC is the educator resource center for the NASA Langley Research Center.

Thursday, November 5, 2009



History at Our House

Originally uploaded by Sherene Silverberg
Couldn't resist posting this pic of my kids as they do a History through Art lesson with Scott Powell from History at Our House.

Every Monday to Thursday, from 11-11:30 a.m., the children call into their history class. I've discovered the trick to keeping Ben focused to to have him bounce on a Pilates ball.

I always quiz them about what the've learned immediately after and before a lesson. I discovered that the children retain substantially more of what they hear when they bounce on the Pilates balls during the lesson.

I can't believe it took me so long to have them bounce during a lesson as I've used movement successfully so often in our homeschool. We practice Latin conjugations, declensions and translations while we walk, jump, climb stairs and swing. Ditto for math facts. Now I see it works for history as well.

I've transferred this lesson to the rest of our schoolwork. Now, when I teach them something new, I make sure they are sitting on the balls or marching around.

I feel sorry for all those children who are institutional schools all day and who don't get to move while they learn.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Plural of curriculum

I am writing on my blog to prevent me from being rude on a list. When will homeschoolers learn that the plural for "curriculum" is NOT "curriculums"? It is "curricula".

It's like the homeschooler in Hampton Roads whose address is "grammerworks@....".

I die a thousand deaths when I see homeschoolers make mistakes like this.

Promoting Happy Scientists

The Science Fair is nearly upon us. On Monday, 9 November, close on a hundred homeschooled students descend on the Virginia Air and Space Museum to show off their scientific prowess.

We have really great sponsors this year.

Robert Krampf, The Happy Scientist has donated 10 memberships to his website. We've been members of his website for a few years. My kids love nothing better than to spend an afternoon surfing his website. He makes science come alive in his videos and his experiments are easy for the children to do. Best of all, they don't require any special materials. The kids don't need me to run around buying obscure items, they just raid the pantry and cleaning supplies to make science magic. Our annual subscription of $20 is some of the best money I spend for our homeschool.

My favorite used book store, The Book Exchange in Norfolk is repeat sponsor. I've found homeschooling gems in this store. My entire library of books on American government and American history was bought at the Book Exchange for a fraction of the retail value. Everyone at this store understands homeschoolers and their needs. They go out of their way to help us. One of my deepest wishes is that every homeschooler in Norfolk would recycle their homeschooling materials and libraries through the Book Exchange which would make it an even better resource to our community.

Another repeat sponsor is Mad Science of Hampton Roads. These guys are a hoot. They are all about the drama of science while still providing instruction. One of the neatest things they do is to come into your home and do a scientific presentation with drama and flare at your children's birthday parties. What's not to love about an organization that entertains while it teaches?

e-Science labs is once again providing science kits to our winners. If you are looking for the best hands-on science kits available at the middle school, high school or college levels, e-Science labs is your best bet.

Their hands-on science kits are designed to fit with any curriculum or teaching style. Engaging online content is provided to supplement a complete series of hands-on labs and to reinforce key concepts.

Their kits are designed to be safer for students and friendly for the environment. Each kit is complete and contains everything a student needs to perform all of the experiments. Their PhD-level educators and scientists have written manuals that are clear, concise and easy to follow.

In both their hands-on and online content, they show how fundamental scientific concepts play a role in our daily lives. By making science relevant, they engage students and enable them to better understand the world around them.

Norfolk Karate Academy provides the best karate instruction in Norfolk. Mr Odom understands that squirrelly young children need gentle care to keep them focussed but at the same time, he allows no misbehavior. His karate classes provide the perfect mind/body balance by exhausting the young homeschoolers while at the same time teaching them mental discipline. I promised my kids that they could start karate with the Norfolk Karate Academy in the fall but life has conspired against us. I've had to swear on my life that as soon as we return from Key Largo in December, that they can sign up for Monday and Wednesday classes. It's going to be good for Mr Ben. He needs another male teacher in his life, especially one who takes no crap from bright young boys.

I count myself very lucky to live in Norfolk. We have many of the facilities you find in a large city without the stress of living in a large city. One of the biggest draws, for me, is that we have such a large, active and diverse homeschooling community. Best of all, we have our very own homeschooling bookstore, Moore Expressions.

I've had reason to thank them twice in the last few months. I needed to change both our math and our English curricula. I did tons of research online, but that only helped me narrow the list down to 2 contenders for each category. I can't tell you how much it helped me to be able to tootle off to Moore Expressions and page through my options. It particularly helped me to be able to page through many Singapore Math books as I couldn't work out where to place Ben and Shira. I ended up buying books two levels too low because we had not covered everything Singapore did. We spent a week barreling through the work and then when we were done, i took the books back to Moore Expressions where they gave me a store credit and sold them on to another homeschool family.

This is one store that Ben and Shira don't mind tagging along to as Moore Expressions has a great children's play space and they always meet fellow homeschooled children when we go there.

Puppets have always played a huge part in my children's creative play. Our favorite puppets are those from Folkmanis. I'm always blown away by how realistic and CUTE their puppets are. These puppets are in a world of their own. You want to hug and stroke their puppets instead of giving them to the kids to play with. I've lost count of the number of naps I've had while snuggling a Folkmanispuppet.

There are going to be more than a few happy children at the Science Fair as Folkmanis has again donated puppets as prizes for the younger set.

Are you looking for petri dishes, pipettes, tubing, test tubes or any other lab equipment? Look no further than SKS Science, yet another returning science fair sponsor. Their website helpfully allows you to search for equipment by scientific field. It's a little late for this year's entrants, but SKS Science has an entire section on their website devoted to science fair projects. I truly appreciate doing business with a company that is not just out to make a quick buck. They provide info for free to the community.

We have great museums in the Norfolk area. One of my favorites is the Mariner's Museum. I love spending time looking at the beautiful replicas of small craft from around the world. Their homeschool days are well worth it. Read all about the last one I attended over here.

Fellow homeschoolers Jon and Julia Berry are the owners of Green Olive Tree a web hosting and internet services company. They offer web hosting, dedicated servers, virtual private servers, enterprise anti-spam solutions, VoIP servers, hosted exchange, and server administration and security.

They also provide consulting for companies with complex infrastructure needs. Jon has been working in the Internet Industry for over six years and has the expertise to evaluate your needs and come up with the most cost effective solution possible.

Another returning sponsor is Brooks Systems. Brooks Systems has been a provider of cutting-edge technology for the residential finance industry for over 20 years. Brooks Systems has serviced and supported over 10,000 clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada.

They offer products that help maintain TILA and Predatory Lending Compliance. Customized solution programming is also available to solve many additional lending problems.

To all our sponsors, a great big thank you. Our children thank you for helping make this science fair possible.


I was planning on having Ben and Shira write a 5,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo, but life has conspired against us. November is going to a brutal month for us and I can already see that my kids are feeling stressed. I decided that adding writing to their workload will be the tipping point, so no NaNoWriMo for the twins.

I have no intention ever of writing a novel, however, I am taking up the challenge to write a blog post every day in November for NaNoWriMo. I need something to give me a good old kick to get me blogging again. I have all these things I want to say but then don't get round to blogging about it.

If your homeschooled kids are writing a novel for NaNoWriMo have them submit their novel to the The Book Arts Bash. I can't imagine a better opportunity for a child to have his/her writing critiqued by someone who really knows what s/he is doing. Judges are such luminaries as Holly Black, the author of "The Spiderwick Chronicles" and Sara Gruen, author of "Water for Elephants". The winners in each age category will receive an in-depth critique from a leading NYC or LA editor or literary agent.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Arts Bash

This year's Book Arts Bash is now underway.

The Bash is an amazing opportunity for budding homeschool novelists to showcase their writing. Last year over 300 homeschoolers entered their writing. Judges like Lois Lowry (The Giver) and Robert Pinsky (former US Poet Laureate) judged and critiqued these homeschooled writers.

This year we've made it easier to enter the Bash. Entrants simply send a .txt file to the Bash. Because all entries are digital, our entrants will have the opportunity to share excerpts of their entries online.

All judges will all be best-selling novelists, such as Holly Black (Spiderwick Chronicles) and Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants).
The top three entries in each age group will then be sent to leading literary agents in New York and Los Angeles for constructive critiques. The top entry in each category will also win $100.

The Bash starts accepting entries on November 1.
The deadline for novels is January 1.

This is a great opportunity for homeschooling parents to help their children find relevance in their writing curriculum. Your children have a chance to win cold, hard cash and more importantly, they have a chance to have a top notch, industry professional critique their work.

If your child, like my son, is a reluctant writer and science geek, don't despair. You can have him write a living science book.

Feel free to steal this post and publicize the Bash on any and all homeschool lists to which you belong. The more homeschoolers who hear about the Bash, the better.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lego Mindstorms NXT

A friend and I have lost our minds. Despite zero experience with First Lego League and Mindstorms programming, we're running a First Lego League team for our four children and another friend's 2 children. Thankfully we have a homeschooled teen who is Mindstorms crazy as a mentor for the robotics part of the tournament. I've spent the last week learning how to do and teach Mindstorms programming.

Since all 6 children are new to Mindstorms, I thought that I should spend some time with with each sibling team to bring them up to speed. I figured that it is easier to teach 2 kids rather than 6 kids at a time. Today we my children's turn. I must admit that I did not realize how time consuming this little exercise would be. We spent 5 hours on today's little project. I think that when I do this with the other sibling teams that I'll just concentrate on the programming and the thinking process being breaking the tasks down into their component parts. We'll use the already built robots. Most of the children in the team are Lego fanatics and have great experience building things with Legos. Their knowledge deficit is in programming.

I found a great book that we're working through that teaching the thought processes necessary to successfully design, build and program a robot. In case you are looking for something similar, I highly recommend Lego Mindstorms NXT: The Mayan Adventure . It's part of Apress' "Technology in Action" series.

The book tells the story of a young boy who accompanies his uncle on a Mayan archaeological dig and helps his uncle overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles by designing and using Mindstorms robots.

At each obstacle, the author takes the children through the thinking required to design a robot and to design the programming. Then he teaches them how to do both.

We've just spent a fun morning designing and building a robot that navigates a tunnel full of turns, depresses a pressure plate and then returns to its starting point.

I highly recommend both Lego Mindstorms and The Mayan Adventure.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Shira: "Ben, when you bake, it's important to stir and beat the batter well." (said in her most officious voice)
Ben: (said in his most "know it all" voice) "Shira, I know how to bake. I've baked countless loaves of bread on Disney Fairies. I know that the more you mix, the better!"
Shira: (with a large sigh) You just watch me, I'll teach you how it's done in real life.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Learning to apply make up

There is nothing quite as deflating to the ego as having young children. This morning Ben and Shira were standing next to me as i started applying my make up and seriously punctured my ego.

Shira watched me take out a brush and start applying concealer. She wanted to know what I was doing and I explained how it smoothed out the uneven color. She and Ben thought this was a really neat idea and proceeded to point out all my skin imperfections. Who knew I had so many blemishes? It must be those 8 year old rods and cones that are so discerning.

Shira was fascinated by the entire make up process and asked to be allowed to make up my face. My instinctive reaction was to say "no". However, then I realized that I have no issues with her using face paint on my face and hands. I let her turn me into clowns and butterflies, why not let her practice more subtle skills on my face?

I realized that I was having an instinctive response to an 8 year old and make up. She wasn't asking to put make up on her face, she was asking to put make up on my face. I had to get over my fear that she would want to start wearing make up if she gets to do my face. She's still young socially, so that's not an issue. For some reason, I see her face painting as an expression of her artistic skills and doing make up as a social skill. I need to think of this as a life skill and an artistic expression.

Tomorrow Shira starts practicing her make up skills on my face. Hopefully she'll have enough practice that when she is old enough to wear make up, she won't start off looking like a clown the way so many young girls do.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Today is Towel Day

This morning, as I was making breakfast, I reminded the children that today was a public holiday. "Yes, we know," they barked, "It's TOWEL DAY!". Mmm, our eccentric homeschooling ways are showing. Our kids know all about "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" but don't know about Memorial Day.

Marc and the kids plan on wearing towels around their necks for the entire day. Marc has already proven how useful a towel is. He proudly showed me all the spinach he brought inside from the garage freezer, all neatly packaged in his towel.

Just in case you are not aware of the towel's import in a hitchhiker's life, I leave you with this quote:
A towel (...) is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value — you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan
Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-tohand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you — daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself
off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase which has passed into hitch hiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is." (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

I'm blogging over at the

I've started writing for the If you've been following this blog, you will probably enjoy following me over at the

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Separation of Church and State.

One of our local Congressmen Randy Forbes has introduced a legislation to recognize the role of religion in official America"
During a visit to Turkey last month, Obama said, “One of the great strengths of the United States is, although I have mentioned we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”

That’s just incorrect, Forbes said Wednesday.

Forbes wants to establish the first week of May as America’s Spiritual Heritage Week to mark the involvement of religion in “official American life.” He and other sponsors of the resolution will hold a news conference in Washington today , the National Day of Prayer, to publicize the effort.

Just what part of the separation of Church and State does Forbes not understand?

Hopefully his resolution is voted down by saner minds. I'm no Obama fan, but it is truly refreshing to see a President who understands that there is no official American religion and that religion should not play a role in official life. I wish our politicians would keep their religious and private lives private.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Yesterday was the annual egg drop competition at Nauticus.

Ben's feeling miserable with his broken collarbone so he decided not to take part. Yesterday turned out to be a great lesson in actions having consequences. Shira won second place in the parachute drop and Ben is seriously bent out of shape that she won a gift card to the Discovery Store and he didn't.

I love teachable moments like this. Ben and I had a little chat about actions having consequences. He was convinced that this was only applicable when you did something bad. LOL. It was good to be able to demonstrate that inaction as well as action results in consequences. He decided to play instead of testing egg drop contraptions while his sister spent hours working on different solutions. She entered and won while he didn't.

I've been working with Shira on building her confidence. The child is a perfectionist and never thinks she does things well enough. She also always defers to everyone else and thinks that their efforts are better than her own.

Marc discovered that my little talks are paying off and that she'd been psyching herself the evening before the competition.

Shira's parachute was the cutest there. When she held it up to launch you could hear the collective, "Oooh's and Ahh's". Interesting choice of parachute for a a little Jewish kid don't you think? Shows you how well the dominate culture percolates into our thinking.

Shira's parachute landed closest to the target but lost first place because it weighed too much. She was thrilled with second place though and is already working on ideas to help her win next year.

We were convinced she'd win "Most Creative" but alas, it was not to be. A young girl who used more padding than I ever imagined was possible, won that category.

I took the above picture about half way through the unpacking process.

Padwan Shira

The highlight of Shira's trip to Hollywood Studios was being chosen to take part in a Star Wars Academy.

As you can well imagine, Ben was not impressed that she, and not he, was chosen. It's tough when children start to realize that life is not always fair.

Georgia Aquarium

In early January we visited the Georgia Aquarium with my cousin, Roy.

I have to say that this is a most impressive aquarium. However, the cognitive dissonance was almost too much for me.

When I think of aquariums, I think of quiet places filled with the sounds of moving water and lit by subdued lighting. This aquarium is as far from that as you can ever imagine. There is loud, obnoxious music spewing forth at decibels far too high for comfort and there are neon lights and bright colors everywhere.

Our little family became quite overwhelmed by all the stimulation outside of the exhibits.

Thankfully the exhibits were calmer and quieter. We made the mistake of visiting on a holiday Saturday. Thankfully, as is my wont, we were at the doors as they opened so we had a good few hours of quiet before the crowds hit.

I've never come across such knowledgeable and vibrant docents. I've trained the kids to always go up to docents and ask them questions. This way we find that we can almost guarantee private tours around facilities. This facility was no different. We made our way from docent to docent who were only too happy to impart all the encyclopedic knowledge about their areas of expertise.

Also, as usual, we arranged a behind the scenes tour and this was one of the best we've ever been on.

Our tour leader excelled at engaging young children.

As always the touch tanks were a hit.

My favorite part of the entire tour was being on a gantry above the whale shark tank.

This was my first visit to Atlanta and definitely not my last. Shira has asked that we go back to Atlanta in warmer weather so that we can do all the area museums. I've even joined an Atlanta area group, Homeschool Passport so that I can discover when all the homeschool days are. Hopefully we can combine a trip with lots of other homeschool activities.

I thought of taking the kids to the Coca Cola museum but seeing as my kids have never drunk soda and have no intention of ever drinking soda, I wonder if the museum will be a bust for them. I think that when they are older, I can talk about Coca Cola and American culture, but for now, I think it will be all lost on them.

Behind The Scenes at Epcot

Whenever we visit a museum or park, I try to arrange a behind the scenes tour for our family as my experience has shown that this greatly enhances the visit.

One of our favorite "rides" at Epcot is the "Living With The Land Boat Ride".

When we were at Epcot last September with my parents, I discovered all the behind the scenes tours you can take at Walt Disney World. The "Living with the Land" one is one of the few that Ben and Shira are old enough to do. This January, when my cousin was visiting from South Africa, we went to Epcot and did the Living with the Land Behind the scenes tour.

I highly recommend the tour to all homeschooling parents. The educational aspect has just enough cookiness built in to make it a whole lot of fun for the kids.

They put growing pumpkins into Mickey Mouse molds and force the pumpkins into those shapes

They also do the same with cucumbers

My kids, the tomato eating fanatics, fell in love with the tomato tree.

Ben was fascinated by this brand new display of aquaculture combining with hydroponics

Did you know that they try to grow enough produce hydroponically to fulfill the needs of the table service restaurants?

Hampton Roads Tax Day Tea Party

I can't wait to take Ben and Shira to our local Tea Party on April 15 in Virginia Beach. They've learned all about the Boston Tea Party and were actively involved in campaigning to get Ron Paul onto the Republican ballot.

A blogger buddy, Rational Jenn took her kids to the Atlanta Tea Party and came under a fair bit of flack for doing so. I am stunned that people think that children should not be involved in political activism. Jenn writes a lucid argument for why they should be involved in activism.

What is happening in government right now is going to have a lasting effect on our children and their grandchildren. As the trustee of my children's future, I need to become active and as the recipients of their future, they need to be aware and active as well.

I was very active as a teen and young adult in the anti Apartheid movement and know well how disapproving non activists can be of those who stand up for their principles. Even though I benefited from Apartheid, I can live with my conscience as I was an active part in the movement to change it.

I want to be able to look my kids in the eye and tell them that I did what I could to ensure that (to paraphrase Jenn), their futures are not shackled by today's idiot politicians.

From Hampton Roads Tax Day Tea Party

Fed Up with High Taxes, Bloated Budgets, and Pork?
We are organizing a tax protest “tea party” to take place on April 15, 2009 at Central Plaza, Towne Center (across from Senator Webb’s Office) Virginia Beach, VA. This is a non-partisan event designed to be creative and effective. Our representatives are not listening to us on the bailout, TARP, the stimulus A.K.A. “porkulus” bill, and now the 3+ trillion dollar budget. We in effect have “taxation without representation”. Both major parties are to blame. Our children and grandchildren will pay the price with their future. Our country is being sold to foreign interests through bonds.

This has got to stop. Washington is on a spending orgy. ”Going forward” is become code for “we will do what we want, call it what we want, and give the public meaningless verbage about responsibility. Later. When it’s convenient for us”.

It doesn’t matter if you are a low-tax, fair-tax or flat tax supporter. Our country is on a tipping point. Our Founding Fathers were keenly aware of the addictive power of government and sought to limit it. They took a bold move and created a nation unlike any other in the history of the world. It’s a precious heritage. We need to protect it.

You can help. If you live in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Norfolk, Newport News, Hampton, or anywhere in the state of Virginia, please join us! If you are on Facebook, join our group. Tell your friends, co-workers, peers, and family about what we are doing. Opt-in to our email list, so that we can keep you up to date about locations, times and other important details. When you opt-in, you will only receive emails about the Tax Day Tea Party. Hampton Roads Tax Day Tea Party is a non-partisan group, and not affiliated with any political party. We love our Country, our Constitution, and the Liberty that our Founding Fathers sought to create.

Thank you for being a part of the Hampton Roads Tax Day Tea Party. We have a voice - let’s use it!

Karen Miner Hurd
Coby D. Willard
Founders & Patriots
Hampton Roads Tax Day Tea Party (Karen) (Coby)

Earthbox gardening

I am a green thumb challenged homeschooler who has been cursed, um blessed, with two children who are desperate to grow things. After it cost me in excess of $200 per tomato last year I swore off ever growing vegetables again.

In my defense, we have little or no room in our backyard and what room we do have is severely sun challenged. Last year I tried growing veggies in containers in the tiny area that does receive sunlight but they required so much watering (at least twice a day), that our water bill shot up by over $100 a month. I don't quite know what I did wrong, but I got weird vegetables that were eaten by wild creatures before we got to pick them.

Today I received a notification that Green Alternatives, a neat little ecostore around the corner from me, is hosting an Earthbox Meet Up on Saturday, 21 March at 2pm.

The little blurb got me excited that perhaps my plant killing days aren't yet over.
"An EarthBox is ideal for aspiring and experienced gardeners that are tight on space or just enjoy having a controled environment for their fruits, veggies, and herbs.
The class will be taught by a local professor who currently uses about 30 EarthBoxes for his gardening. "

I just had to google Earthboxes and discovered that these little boxes are on casters that allow you to move the boxes to the light. They also have the watering problems solved.
The EarthBox's plastic cover drastically reduces the water evaporation rate and returns condensed water vapor to the potting mix. As the plants draw water from the reservoir, they consume only what they need to stay healthy. Plants cannot be over-watered or under-watered if the reservoir is kept full. The plastic cover also prevents fertilizer from being diluted or washed away by rain.

The Tobagan government is using Earthboxes to solve their food security problems.

If a country can use Earthboxes to ensure they grow enough vegetables for their country, perhaps I can grow just part of the Silverberg family's vegetable needs.

Earthbox also has an entire education site. You can purchase the earthbox, together with education manuals for different grades.

I had a look a the sample on their website for the 2-5th graders and it looks like it might be worthwhile.

The website says
The curriculum support of the complete edition provides 17 standards-based sequential lesson plans divided into 45 minute classroom periods that require 60 days to complete in their entirety. Elementary Sample Lesson Plan.pdf. The 60 day time-line includes the treatment intervals between the real time experiments, but the actual lessons can be completed in twenty-seven, 45 minute periods. Not all lessons are interconnected. Instructors can choose the lessons appropriate to their objectives to focus on individual goals.

They also have pared down educational programs.

I'm really excited about the possibility that I too can have tomatoes like this

or spinach like this

Who knew spinach grew on vines?

This looks promising for someone like me. Perhaps I could have a real veggie garden this year and educate the children at the same time. Is anyone interested in joining me at Green Alternatives on Saturday 21 March at 2pm to find out about Earthboxes?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Kim's Play Place: Academy of Science and Technology 1

I've been on a mission lately about finding a science curriculum for the kids. To this end I've been searching through all the homeschooling message boards to find information on science programs.

I couldn't get over the fact that more time is devoted by homeschoolers talking about history than about science. I suspect that Susan Wise Bauer and her "The Well Trained Mind" is to blame. She spawned an entire cult of homeschoolers who believe that history should be the backbone of their children's education.

Science seems to get short shrift.

I fully agree that history is vitally important in our children's education, but science is as well.

So much of the science programs that are on offer to the homeschoolers confuse religion and science. I hate that I have to read subtext to find out whether a so called science program teaches mythology or science.

I also become rather irate when science is not taught hierarchically and when children are taught concepts for which they do not have the requisite context.

I think I have a solution. I need to check on a few things and then if I am correct, I'll blog about it.

In the mean time it was a real treat to see that Kim from Kim's Play Space has started a science blog carnival called theAcademy of Science and Technology 1


Just heard a great quote, "Patience is just procrastination without the stress."

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Homeschool Showcase is up.

As usual, Kris has published another great edition of "The Homeschool Showcase"

I can't wait to make the origami boxes she featured.

Have fun with augmented reality.

Marc and the kids have just spent a few happy minutes playing with the digital hologram at the GE site.

Plug in your webcam, print out the graphic from the website and have fun with the digital hologram of the smart grid.

Math Fact Drill

Over the last few decades I've noticed a very worrying trend amongst math educators that downplays the importance of knowing math facts well enough that you don't have to think when asked one. I've seen arguments that suggest that calculators take the place of knowing math facts.

For a while, when I lived in South Africa, I tutored underprivileged high school junior and seniors in math. These were all strong students who wanted to go onto do something that required math in university. They were hamstrung by the poor math teaching they received in their schools.

I generally tutored algebra and trig and discovered pretty quickly that they were also hamstrung by the fact that they couldn't easily find factors and common denominators.

My first action became going back to basics. I become a tyrant about math fact drills. I expected all my students to be able to give me the answers to the 1-12 times tables (and the divisions), squares of 1-20 and square roots of a long list of numbers within seconds of my asking them. I wanted these things to be automatic. I didn't want anyone having to think what 17+22 was, I wanted them to immediately know it was 39.

Without a single exception, all my students started excelling at their higher level math once they had their math facts down pat and we'd done some basic tutoring on methodology.

I had almost forgotten about all this until I started homeschooling my own kids. I have twins who love math and who want to scream ahead in the syllabus. I have no doubt in my mind at all that they could cope with the concepts of beginning algebra right now. The problem is that they'd be frustrated by their slowness in math facts.

I've spent the last year looking for tools to drill math facts.

We've done pages upon pages of written problems. There are a host of different free worksheet webpages, but the one I used most often was

Whenever I added a timer to them, Shira fell apart. I struggled to keep Ben focused. Shira would complete her worksheets in record time, as long as there was no timer, Ben could do it, but became bored.

We tried games at, Timez Attack, the river crossing game at AHA Math, flash cards and mom asking questions while we drive.

Flash cards and mom asking worked well but it took up too much of my time. I tried having each child quiz the other but it ended up in too many tears.

We discovered that the computer games helped the children learn new math facts but didn't do much for speed. Both my kids hated Timez Attack. I was surprised at that because I had only read great reviews. I realized that since we're not a video gaming family, my kids were becoming too frustrated learning how to play the game. They just wanted to focus on the facts and the extraneous activities were driving them crazy.

Before I forget, we also had a subscription to Big Math Time. This worked really well for addition and subtraction of small numbers but it fell apart for us on multiplication, division and addition and subtraction of large numbers because of the strange way they had the kids show the carrying.

About a month ago a fellow homeschooler reminded me about FlashMaster. She'd used it with her children and was convinced that it would solve my issues.

I am so glad I listened to her and bought two for my kids.

My only complaint is that I didn't buy them sooner.

Our goal is for the children to do the "timed flash cards" so fast that it takes them less than 1.5 seconds per problem.

Every morning, my kids know to do 20-30 min on the FlashMaster while I make breakfast and feed the dogs. Each child competes against his/her self. This is a BIG deal in our overly competitive household. I love anything that takes the focus off competing with a sibling and onto competing with one's self.

I love how I can go into each unit and see how the children are doing on their problems. It's also useful that besides the standard, 1+3=?, 4-3=?. 3x4=? etc, you can also do things like, 32/?=4 or 3+?=12.

Last week I sat down and quickly taught the kids the basics of the next few things we are going to learn in math; long division, factorization, lowest common denominators, factor reduction, improper fractions and mixed numbers. I have two children who are champing at the bit. They are desperate to sink their teeth into meatier math. I can see that they understand the concepts but I know that if I let them loose on this math without automaticity of their math facts they'll become disheartened because everything will take too long to do.

it's wonderful, now they have incentive to work on their math drill. They know what exciting math is just around the corner but that they are not going to be let loose on it until they can do anything, in 1.5 seconds, that the FlashMaster throws at them.

The FlashMaster has made my life so easy. The children can practice math drill while we're driving, waiting on a sibling at an extramural activity or anytime I so wish.

Monday, March 2, 2009

What are you doing for Pi Day?

Celebrate Pi Day!

Pi, Greek letter (), is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi = 3.1415926535... Pi Day is celebrated by math enthusiasts around the world on March 14th.

Read about Pi Day here

We'll start off the day by rereading, Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi

Will have to think on some other things to do. Part of the day we'll be participating in an Egg Drop Competition at Nauticus. We missed the one at the Virginia Air and Space Museum this weekend so I am adamant we won't miss the one at Nauticus. I've been planning my contraption for an entire year and can't wait to let it drop.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Touching stingrays

Fun in Seaworld in the warmth

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Shira's story

Shira is writing a story. She outlined the beginning of the plot to Marc. Here's what she said:
The hero is Karog is a dragonslayer which is only one of two jobs available to boys in that village. The other being a councilman. The heroine, who is currently nameless wants to be a good witch but is unable to cast spells. The only professions open to women in her village are, witch, fairy, housewife and hag.

When her hero tells his mother that he is going to be a dragonslayer, she does not answer him in words, she simply reaches into her robes and pulls out a sword.

The two heros leave their respective villages to seek their fortunes whereupon they meet elves and gnomes.

She is still working on the plot, but thus far I think it sounds adorable.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Kids Are Growing Up.

Both kids told me today that they are going to use their own bathroom from now on. They've both showered in their bathroom and now they have moved their face wash, moisturizer, toothbrushes and pastes into their bathroom.

I thought I was dying for the day to come when Marc and I would have our bathroom to ourselves, but now I find myself all sad. They are growing up. These baby steps towards independence are so bitter sweet.

The last laugh is on me.

A few weeks ago, a homeschooling buddy, Deva was mocking the Snuggie. I wholeheartedly joined in. I've been tickled by this strange product ever since. I should have known that it would be a successful product when Ben asked for one. He thought it was the most perfect product he'd ever seen.

You have to love a company that gives you the code to publish their ads on your web page.

Advertising Age reports:
The Snuggie blanket launched nationally on direct-response TV in October, just as the economy was slowing to a crawl, so the timing seemingly couldn't have been worse. However, it turns out the timing couldn't have been better.

The quirky little blanket with sleeves has become the raiment of the zeitgeist, with more than 4 million units sold in just over three months and more than 200 parody videos on YouTube. Fox News honed in on a woman wearing a Snuggie as she braved the cold attending Barack Obama's inauguration on Jan. 20, five days after Ellen DeGeneres donned one on her daytime talk show.

With 4 million of the blankets already shipped or on order, or just under $40 million in retail sales, Scott Boilen, president of Allstar Marketing Group, Hawthorne, N.Y., is laughing all the way to the bank. The company behind the Snuggie is moving the blankets out the door as fast as it can get Chinese suppliers to crank them out.

Great bright hope to end battle of the light bulbs

A story in the Mail Online is one of the most heartening stories I have read for ages. I would never have dreamed 2 years ago that light bulbs would be a subject near and dear to my heart.

I totally detest those energy efficient fluorescent ones. I struggle enough coping with light because of my frozen left pupil without having to deal with the nauseating and headache inducing flicker and color.
A lighting revolution is on the way that could end at the flick of a switch the battle between supporters of conventional bulbs and the eco-friendly variety.

Cambridge University researchers have developed cheap, light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs that produce brilliant light but use very little electricity. They will cost £2 and last up to 60 years.

Despite being smaller than a penny, they are 12 times more efficient than conventional tungsten bulbs and three times more efficient than the unpopular fluorescent low-energy versions.

The bulbs fully illuminate instantly, unlike the current generation of eco-bulbs.

It is reckoned the bulbs, which were unveiled yesterday, could slash household lighting bills by three-quarters.

If installed in every home and office, they could cut the proportion of electricity used for lights from 20 per cent to 5 per cent a year. As well as lasting 100,000 hours, ten times as long as today's eco-bulbs, the LED bulbs do not contain mercury, so disposal is less damaging to the environment, and they do not flicker - a problem that has been blamed for migraines and epileptic fits.

I can't wait for them to reach the market in the US.

Mercury in corn syrup? Food made with ingredient may have traces of toxic metal

The Sun Sentinel has this story.
A swig of soda or a bite of a candy bar might be sweet, but a new study suggests that food made with corn syrup also could be delivering tiny doses of toxic mercury.

For the first time, researchers say they have detected traces of the silvery metal in samples of high-fructose corn syrup, a widely used sweetener that has replaced sugar in many processed foods. The study was published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health.

Eating high-mercury fish is the chief source of exposure for most people. The new study raises concerns about a previously unknown dietary source of mercury, which has been linked to learning disabilities in children and heart disease in adults.

The source of the metal appears to be caustic soda and hydrochloric acid, which manufacturers of corn syrup use to help convert corn kernels into the food additive.

This is not a definitive study as the sample size was small (20 samples with 9 positive), however, it is yet another reason to avoid corn syrup like the plague. This is one of the few food stuffs that I am a total fanatic about. If we see it listed as an ingredient, we don't eat the product.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Homeschool Showcase is up!

Kris of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers has just published the latest edition of The Homeschool Showcase (formerly the Carnival of Cool Homeschoolers.

I loved this carnival but two posts in particular made it really worthwhile to me.

Jenny Wren's Nest post on how shemade homemade soaps with her daughter gave me great inspiration. This is a craft that Shira would adore. I can't wait to get to Michael's to purchase the necessary materials.

The other post was by fellow Objectivist, Michael Gold. Michael is one of the few educators in the States who is reintroducing reason and logic into education. Others are Scott Powell from History at Our House and Lisa Van Damme from The Van Damme Academy.

Michael talks about Educational Regifting i.e. marketing spin by educational facilities on what is basically a case of The Emperor's New clothes in education.

Getting back to the educators I mentioned a paragraph ago, if we lived in or near Laguna Hills, CA, I would have given serious thought to sending Ben and Shira to school outside of the home. The Van Damme Academy is the only school I have ever considered for my children, but the commute would be too great from Virginia.

My kids and I learn history from Scott Powell from History at Our House. Before he went solo he taught at The Van Damme Academy.

I am not able to say enough good things about Scott's teaching abilities. Marc, my husband, who is no mean teacher himself, said that he likes to listen to Scott's history lectures to re-energize himself and to remind himself of how a truly great lecturer teaches.

Scott is passionate about his subject and imparts that passion to his students. His history program is so much more than Wise Bauer's Story of the World. Rather than just telling a story, he draws connections for the children, helps them understand why they are learning what they are learning and shows them how the great story of history impacts on their lives today. Better still, the only work it requires from me is for me to download the MP3's, to listen to them with my children and to do test prep with them. I don't have to rush around finding tons of reference books, setting up crafts or even digesting material before teaching it. Scott does all that for me in 3, half hour lessons a week. As a historian and gifted teacher, he is far more able to teach history than I am.

While his history course is outstanding, the true gem for me is his "History Through Art" program that you get when you sign up for his history lessons. I have no background in art appreciation and feel the lack most deeply. I feel that I am receiving the education I so sadly lack by sitting in on the lessons with my children. During one half hour a week, we look at a beautiful piece of art and learn how to truly look at and appreciate it.

One of the perks of homeschooling, is that I get to choose the best ways to educate my children. I fully understand that I am not their best teacher in al subjects, but that I am the best facilitator that they will ever have.

My goal is to have my children taught by the best people I can find in each field of study (sometimes that's me, but often it is someone else). Right now they are taught history by Scott Powell, art by a professional artist and art teacher, Lee Gerry Wertheimer, literature by my dear friend, Lydia who has a masters in English literature and who taught at the university level and chess by Coach Kala Dawson from Championship Chess. I teach the rest of the subjects because, for now, I consider myself their best teacher.

However, I am eagerly awaiting the release of David Harriman's elementary school science program. I hope that it will be MP3, video or live internet based. I want my children to learn science within a historical context with connections being drawn between concepts. Kim from Kim's Play Space, is doing a science class in her area that looks really good. I wish that we could attend it.

I can foresee a time when I may hand over the math to Michael. Even though I did three years of math at university, I suspect that once we get to calculus, that I will probably prefer to have someone else teaching my kids. My two appear to really enjoy math. The other day they told me that they want to start 6th grade math in September. This means that we need to finish the rest of 4th grade and the whole of 5th grade in 7 months. I think it is doable. These kids are so competitive. I mentioned in passing that their friend Benny, who is a grade ahead of them, is doing 6th grade math. That's all they needed to hear. Now they want to do math the entire summer so that when they are in 3rd grade, they too will be doing 6th grade math. Oy, vey, the genes of the parents are alive and well in these kids.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dog Trainers

My dogs are expert trainers, they have me trained to perfection.

We tried to train the dogs to ring a bell when they need to go to the potty. Archie is not interested in bells, but Hershey loves them. She's discovered that if she rings the bell a human, generally mommy or Shira will open the door for her. Then she discovered if she body slams the back door, a human will let her come back inside. Some days this dog rings the bell every 10 min or so. You can see her little doggie brain working, "got to practice with these humans so they don't forget. Let's see if it will work this time".

Archie has decided that the only way to be fed is from my hand. He will sit and look at the food in his bowl and then look at me. I move the bowl to him and he ignores it. I put a put a little bit of food on my hand and he gobbles it up. I then give him the food in the bowl and he ignores it. Will only eat his food if it comes from my hand.

I created this feeding problem when he was ill. Archie and Hershey were victims of dehydrated Chinese chicken. Thankfully an on the ball animal nutritionist told me that their anorexia and vomiting was probably as a result of the Chinese chicken. I was at my wits' end. The dogs had gone almost two weeks refusing all food except the odd chicken treat. I tried food after food, I sat them on my lap and tried to coax them into eating. Nothing worked. Then we found out about the chicken and small dogs. I stopped treats on Tuesday and slowly but surely the dogs have been improving. Archie discovered that he rather liked sitting on my lap and being hand fed so now he expects it.

My Saturday

Ben has a playdate this morning and we weren't successful in arranging one for Shira. Ben has big plans for "boy" play today and Shira has no real interest in it. She asked if we couldn't have a "mommy and Shira" day.

I LOVE days where I do things with just one child. They are so different on their own. Shira, in particular, is far more vocal when she doesn't have Ben around.

Here is what she has planned for us.

She wants to paint my hands. Yesterday we received our first edition of Ask Magazine. Cricket Magazine Publishing bills it as a magazine of arts and sciences for kids. This edition of Ask has a feature on Guido Daniele's hand paintings. (You have to follow the link to see his hand paintings.). Wish me luck. LOL.

Then she wants to bake. We can't bake until later today because I don't have some of the ingredients.

She wants to bake, this vegan, gluten free pumpkin pie, these strawberry and chocolate chip scones, banana chocolate chip bread and and Mexican chocolate cake.

I hope these recipes work as vegan, gluten free baking is not the easiest way to bake. Everything else we've made from Karina's Kitchen has been great, so I have high hopes for these dishes. The only problem I foresee is that I'll have a duty to help the children eat the cakes.

Last night Shira and I made this fabulous Gluten Free, dairy free "tapioca" pudding. It was so simple to make and is loaded with good fats (and calories, but we'll forget that for now).

Wish me luck. I am about to have my hands painted

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm back

The whole episode with my eye left me feeling very burnt out and even after my eye was no longer so painful, I had no inspiration to blog.

Yesterday, however, when something happened that had me wanting to blog, I realized that my spark had come back.

Shira and Ben are reading Erin Hunter's "Warriors" series. Yesterday Shira finished a book and our library did not have the next one so we trekked off to B&N to buy it for her.

While we were there I saw a bookmark with the cat charm and pointed it out to her. She was enchanted. She begged for the bookmark and spent the next few hours telling me all about how awesome it was to have a bookmark with a totem from the book she was reading.

She opened a whole new world for me. I am not a bookmark type of gal. I tend to use whatever scrap of paper I find lying around. My bookmarks are typically those reply cards that fall out of magazines, old kids' artwork or receipts from my shopping. I didn't realize that a kid could become so excited about a bookmark.

I think that as she starts new series of books, I am going to endeavor to make her a bookmark that is specific to that series. For instance, she has the "Frog Princess" series and a dragon series waiting in her "to read" queue. I'm looking for a frog and a dragon charm and will make her book straps with a few jewel like beads and the relevant charms.

I wonder if this isn't a neat gift for young girls. A book and matching bookmark?

I have to read a few books from this Warrior series as I am currently excluded from many of the conversations in this house. Ben and Shira are obsessed with these books. They talk about intricate details of the lives of the cats and they spend countless hours playing very involved games where they are cats from the various tribes.

It makes my heart sing with joy as it brings back all the most wondrous memories I have from my childhood. I think I spent half my childhood living the lives of the characters in the books I read (the other half was spent reading said books).

Friday, January 2, 2009

King Tut and Gluten free goodness

We're in Atlanta for a few days to see the King Tut exhibition and to visit the Georgia Aquarium.

Ben was underwhelmed by the King Tut Exhibition, but Shira loved it. Even though Ben was bored, I was pleasantly surprised that to see that much of what he learned about Egypt during Scott Powell's History at Our House lectures was retained. He and Shira had great fun identifying where in the "heartbeats" the various pharoahs fitted. (Scott designed a neat little timeline for the kids that showed periods of greatness - the heartbeats).

I was nearly doubled over with laughter when Ben shouted out, "look Shira, there's Queen Hot Chip Soup" and one old lady sternly corrected him to "Queen Hatshepsut". He turned to her and dripping condescention the way only a 7 year old can, replied, "I know that, but it helps us remember her name when we call her Hot chip soup".

After the exhibit we went to Pizza Fusion for lunch. Ben and Shira had their first ever commercial pizzas and are in love. They've asked for pizza for dinner as well. Jeff, the owner of the Buckhead branch was wonderful. I'm in love with this chain as they do organic, gluten free and vegan pizzas. What more can a girl want?

Apparently they are opening a branch in Richmond, VA. Ben told me that a 2 hour drive is nothing if it means he can get safe pizza. LOL.

Tomorrow we see the aquarium and do a behind the scenes tour. I can't wait.

Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers: Homeschool Showcase (Formerly The Carnival of Cool Homeschoolers) #14

Kris has published the second edition of Homeschool Showcase . This is what Kris renamed the Carnival of Cool Homeschoolers that I used to run. Kris has done a splendid job and I thank her once again for taking over when I was in a bind.

My good news is that the inflammation in my eye has completely resolved and I have a provisional bill of good health from the retinologist. He is 98% certain that I don't have a tear in my retina but there is so much debris in the vitreous from all the surgeries I've had on that eye that he can't be certain. I go back in a month for a check up. It's so good not to have to use steroid drops hourly (you have no idea how much they hurt me as they destroy the tear layer of the eye).

Also, a big thank you to Janice Campbell who hosted The Carnival of Homeschooling in my stead when it was my turn and I was not able to do so because of my eye problems.