April 27, 2010

WoW


Jerry's latest passion is the World of Warcraft game. I don't know much about it, but I did recently read an article about how "video games are becoming the new hotbed of scientific thinking for kids today." And WoW was featured heavily in the article. Then, yesterday, we were driving over to Jerry's dog walking job and he started talking about selling stuff on the game (things like tools or potions, I think). He said he always sells his stuff really fast because he looks at the prices other people are selling the same or similar items for and then he prices his items one to five gold pieces lower.

So, science and economics education via World of Warcraft. Cool.

Big thanks to Susan for posting about my book drive on her blog! It never occurred to me to ask before, but if you have your own blog, please consider telling your readers, too.

April 26, 2010

Quick Update

We had a terrific time in Santa Barbara last week with the homeschool group. The train was an hour late, but that was the only hitch in an otherwise fabulous day. When we arrived in Santa Barbara we had lunch and then went to the lovely Santa Barbara zoo.

This past weekend was the L.A. Times Festival of Books at UCLA. I skipped it on Saturday, but managed to get there for a few hours on Sunday and made it to both panel discussions that I was interested in seeing (even though I didn't have tickets!). After the festival I spent a few hours updating the Book Drive page and linking all the books on the Books About Africa page to Amazon. I also changed the name of that page to "Wish List" and made a real wish list on the Amazon web site. My eyes felt like they were about to fall out of my head by the time I was finished!

Once I was done with my Web stuff and Warren was done battling the weeds in the backyard and Jerry was ready for a break in WoW (he reached level 60!) we went to Fosselman's Ice Cream Parlor where I had a delicious banana heath bar ice cream sundae with hot caramel sauce. Yum. Yum. Yum. Then we came home and watched Beverly Hills Cop, which I hadn't seen in ages. Eddie Murphy is hilarious and Jerry loved the movie.

Today I'll be catching up on homework, because I've waited until the last possible second to finish two big assignments. We're looking forward to a visit from one of our homeschooling friends in New Zealand at the end of the week. He's return from visiting his grandpa in the US Virgin Islands and will stopover at our house for a couple nights before heading back to NZ.

So, that's all the news. Sorry I haven't posted about Warren and unschooling yet. I will soon!

April 19, 2010

Birthday Parties & Nursing Homes

Between midterms, collecting books, Jerry's commitments and my own, we've had a busy couple of weeks. Still, we managed to drive up to Northern California this past weekend for a quick trip to celebrate the first birthday of my niece, Layla.

Here's the birthday girl getting ready for the party.
Could she be any cuter? Her mom made the dress and headband.
Here's Layla with her beautiful mom, Irene, getting ready to open presents.
One of her favorite gifts was a doll. She gave it a big kiss.
And a hug.
Look at that face!
There were other people at the party, but I had so much fun taking pictures of Layla, I'm afraid I didn't get many of the other guests. It was a beautiful day, though. Afterwards, Jerry and I went to visit my friend Lindy and her family. We spent the night with them before heading home on Sunday. Our evening was just as fun as the day. Jerry and Lindy's son, Anthony, played Pokemon on their DSs well into the night and Lindy, Scott (her husband) and I drank lots of wine and sat around on their comfy chairs talking all night.

Even the six-hour drive home was enjoyable (if a little nerve-wracking) because we listened to The Hunger Games. What a great book! I can't wait to get the next one now.

The previous weekend I had gone to a nursing home to hear a volunteer band of professional musicians play for the old folks. (I went because I was writing a story about the founder of the group.)
I absolutely fell in love with one of the old men in the audience. Here he is videotaping the band. Note the leather vest.
The fabulous smile.
And the obvious sense of humor.
I don't know his name and he didn't seem to speak much English, but I think I may have to go back to visit him sometime.

In other news, the book drive is going well. I'm up to 269 books (out of 1,000) and still have books to pick up and be delivered. I received a very welcome e-mail this morning that my friend's mom is going to send me a check for $100 to cover part of the shipping cost!! What a relief! As always, you can find out more about the book drive here. And you can even watch the library grow via a Flickr slideshow.

This week I'm on Spring Break and I'll be catching up on two major homework assignments that will be due next week, as well as trying to figure out new ways to promote the book drive.

Summer, Jerry, and I are going on a train trip to Santa Barbara on Thursday with about 120 other homeschoolers. So that should be really fun. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that I have canned my first jar of beans (which Jerry actually ate--and liked!) and have made strawberry jam!! Summer and I went to a canning class last week taught by one of the homeschool moms. It was so fun. And so much easier than I thought it would be! I even bought a used pressure canner for $10 on Craigslist. It needs a couple parts, but once I get those I'll be canning up a storm!

Over and out!

April 15, 2010

Green Eggs & Hamlet

Sorry for leaving that whiny post up for so long. This week has gotten away from me. I want to post a few pictures for you, but I'm supposed to be writing an article right now. So, I'll have to post them later. Still, I couldn't stand to leave that post at the top of the blog any longer. So, here's a little something that will help start your day off with a laugh:

April 9, 2010

Freaking Out - Again

I'm having an unschooling freak out. It happens every now and then. I may have to put in a phone call to one of the more experienced unschoolers in my phone book. Just thought you should know.

Also, after being a total spaz about getting A's in my classes, just days before the midterm exams I suddenly feel annoyed at having to study. Argh! That's not good.

And...now that Warren is working again (and working with a vengeance every single day of the week until past midnight) I'm stuck washing the stupid, endless piles of dirty dishes in my kitchen. I hate washing dishes! Could someone please just give me a pill that would satisfy my family's nutritional requirements so I don't have to cook? I mean, really, shouldn't we have invented something like that by now?

Plus, just in case you were wondering what happens when your cat expels a hair ball after eating an entire bird, I can tell you--there are lots of feathers involved and it's not pretty.

I think I'm done now. I'm off to study for my stupid midterms. Then I'm going to wash the stupid dishes (even though I just washed some last night!).

Sheesh.

April 7, 2010

I Heart Humans

I'm supposed to be writing a post on how Warren is handling the unschooling thing these days (hint: he's still on the fence), but I've been studying for midterms so I don't have time to write it. However, I did want to take a couple minutes to write about how much I love the human race. People are so wonderful. Already, one blogger has sent me a box of books for the book drive, and others have offered to donate money for shipping. My family and friends are forwarding my e-mail about the book drive and linking to the web site on Facebook and Twitter. People are offering books and offering to help pack the books and, thankfully, my initial panic (feeling like the entire village is relying on me--and me alone--to get them their library) is starting to subside. I love people.

And, as an aside, I also love my new deck furniture. (There it is in the Pottery Barn catalog.) After a year of no furniture on our new deck, I finally found the exact set I've been waiting for on Craigslist. And we bought it. And I'm sitting on it now--studying and blogging and eating Warren's leftover pizza. Yes, I love my deck furniture.

But I love people more.

April 5, 2010

Book Drive for African Library

You know how when you want to do something, you want to do in now? And it's so frustrating to have to wait. That's how I was feeling about the volunteer vacation and Africa. And then I found this organization. It's called the African Library Project. And they do the exact thing I was wanting to do! They start libraries in Africa! So, I've contacted them and I'm organizing a book drive! I'm so excited!! (That should explain all the exclamation marks.)!!

Each library consists of 1,000 books and I'll be collecting those books for a community library. So I'll need kids books, school books, and books about business, gardening, animal husbandry,  etc., but all of it at a fairly easy reading level. From my own book shelves I've collected 65 books to send. And I've found some National Geographic magazines on LAReuseIt (it's like Freecycle). It's so amazing to think that I can do something as big as bringing an entire library to a community of people that live so far away. Of course, I'm not doing it alone, but it's so overwhelming and invigorating to think that I'm the one in charge of collecting all those books. I'm getting the homeschool community involved and have started a website with more information. Please have a look at the site and pass it on (or post a link on your own blog). If you have a few books you'd like to include you can send them to me via media mail. I just need them by May 15. The books will be shipping out on May 25 (the day before I leave for the LIFE is Good Conference) and I'll need some time to pack and organize them. If you don't have books to send, but you'd like to donate toward the cost of shipping that would be really helpful, too. We need to come up with $500 to ship the books (they go via boat). I still need to find out the best way for people to donate, but I'll let you know as soon as I find out.

If you're as excited as I am about this project, maybe you'd want to organize your own book drive. As homeschoolers we certainly have the right kind of books at home on our shelves. The African Library Project does need more people organizing book drives, so if you're interested check out their site and read the Book Drive Guidelines to find out if you're up to the task.

In other news, we had a very nice Easter at Warren's step-mom's house. The kids hunted for eggs, we ate lots of good food, and then played a really fun dice game. The highlight of my weekend, however, was Saturday morning when I shared some kugel with my 94-year-old friend, Sol. He made it himself and I felt sure that I was one of only a few people (Sol's family included) who would ever be lucky enough to be served a delicious hot meal made by someone who has been on the planet for such a good, long time. I know Sol appreciates everything I do for him (I help him stay organized, read his mail, pull weeds, etc.), but I don't think he knows how much I appreciate him. I guess I'd better be sure to tell him next time I see him. I'll have to write more about him sometime. In the meantime, you can read about him here.

Oh, there's more good news! I am officially finished with my grandma's estate. The last checks went out on Saturday. And then on Sunday morning I went through the five boxes of my grandma's papers that had been cluttering up my office (I had to make room for those books!). There will still be little things to do here and there, but the big things are finished and I'm both relieved and sad. I feel like it closes the final chapter of my grandma's life.

That's all for now. It's cold and rainy here in Southern California today. I'm going to go make myself a cup of tea, get out my school books and do some reading and homework under a nice cozy blanket.

April 3, 2010

Armchair Travel

What a fabulous way to spend a Saturday morning. And you can join me! Make yourself a cup of tea and spend a half hour looking at these photos. Read the descriptions, too. It's so inspiring to hear people talk about why they travel or how they ended up in a certain place.

 Why We Travel

April 1, 2010

Carnival of Unschooled Life

The April Carnival of Unschooled Life is up over on Susan's fabulous and thought provoking blog, The Expanding Life. There's lots of good stuff over there (including a post by me--but if you're a regular reader you've probably already read it). Anyway, be sure to check it out.