Tuesday, April 21, 2009

World Barista Championships

Richard and I took the kids to the World Barista Championships in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon. [Can I count something as a field trip if the kids have absolutely NO interest, but Richard and I are having a blast? LOL]

This was an almost spur-of-the-moment activity. I read about it online on Saturday and mentioned it to Richard, jokingly saying that it sounded interesting. I had no IDEA such a competition even existed! So we went the next day.

A HUGE coffee seller, roaster, supplier, etc. convention was going on in connection with the WBC. To get into the convention one had to pay a "nominal" fee of $125 ... per person. Not for us. The WBC was free! We made it to the final round - the top 5 baristas from around the world (champions in their own country - 52 countries represented) making and explaining 4 coffee drinks in 15 minutes. It was a bit hard to hear and kind of strange to see - there were to big screens, but it was almost easier just to watch the competitor in the flesh rather than on the screens. It was fascinating though. I think part of the judging hinged on the barista's explaining his or her concoction, the process in developing and making it, and the flavors one was to experience - and the accuracy of that flavor description.

There were 4 tasting judges and I also believe there were 2 other people judging technique, but I'm not sure. There was also one guy who drank the remnants of the judge's drinks! Think about it - 5 competitors, 4 drinks each, and 4 samples of each drink... that's (calculating here) 80 half-consumed coffees and backwash. Ick!

Other than that, it was fun to watch. And... best of all... there were FREE espressos and cappuccinos - the kind of cappuccinos with fancy hearts made from the froth!

Oh! The winner? Gwilym Davies of the UK.

And, of course, since we were in Atlanta, we dropped by IKEA for 3 hours or so.

Wordless Wednesday - boo boo knees

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Decluttering is Strangely Liberating!

I inadvertently began decluttering this morning. It started in our school room which has become nothing short of a book and paper depository. I found stacks of paper I'd forgotten existed, but once I discovered them, I happily threw out most of it! Then, I started going through the bookshelves, taking unnecessary items from notebooks.

Soon thereafter, I was called away by one of the children to my bedroom. Well, I couldn't leave before cleaning out my jewelry box. It is the kind that has lingerie drawers, but since I have a small supply of lingerie which is rarely, if ever, worn, I use most of those drawers for stuff - pictures, children's drawings, NFP charts, receipts, and random papers. Twenty minutes after I started, I had a clean jewelry box and a full trashcan! I'm so proud of me!

Now, to clean out the kitchen clutter drawer, my desk drawers, and finish the school room. Considering we're stuck inside for the day, decluttering has become quite a fun project!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Year-End Portfolio

I've stumbled upon something ELSE I feel as though (as a good homeschooling, record-keeping, organizing freak of a mommy) I should do: a year-end portfolio.

I don't remember how I happened upon this gem of a homeschooling task, but once I learned of it, I researched it to death. Some states REQUIRE this - as in you have to submit certain documents in a portfolio at the end of every school year. I just like the idea of it because I can consolidate the highlights of our academic year in one place.

Now, I KNOW you're just DYING to know what is in mine [I hate that you can't express sarcasm in print without resorting to emoticons, but please know that last little ditty is dripping with sarcasm]. I have all of this crammed in a 1" three-ring binder with clear pockets on the outside. Soon discovering the folly of my early portfolio organization - and realizing how quickly it will become disorganized if little hands come upon it - I recognize that a 1" binder won't cut it. I'm hoping 2 inches will contain the important documents of Casey's first year of home school.

So, contained within this already overflowing binder are the following items:

TAB 1: Summary, Calendar, Schedule
SUMMARY - A brief summation of the progress Casey made in each of the subjects studied and some detail of specifics studied with the subjects - Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, History, Art, Music, Other Activities, and Extra Topics of Study Pursued (mainly the off-topic lapbooks we made).
CALENDAR - A calendar of our academic year, color-coded to show regular school days, field trips, and performances.
SCHEDULE - A couple of pages from my lesson plans showing our schedule.

A chart detailing the texts and additional books used in each subject we covered, along with another (extremely brief) summary of the topics of each subject. The form I used a modified version of a form found here.

A list and brief description of the activities Casey was involved in - similar to the summary detailed above.

I'll either put a list of the things Casey memorized here OR I'll print the poems (etc.). I haven't decided - probably the poems she memorized so we can look back one day, instead of looking it up.

I created an Excel spreadsheet with columns for date, place, location, and summary of what we saw. I had to pull out my calendars to remember everything.

I printed out all of my Weekly Reports and any other entries I made regarding Casey's education. I even printed a few Wordless Wednesday entries. I like these because they go into more detail about our trips and studies, and they also provide photos (which is something I wanted to put into my portfolio anyway, so this was a convenient way of accomplishing that).

In this tab I put a couple of spelling tests, a math assessment along with a couple of worksheets, two science activity sheets, one copy work assignment, one original writing (narrated to me and recorded by me), a couple of history worksheets, and artwork (one each using marker, crayons, pencil, and watercolor). Part of my doing this portfolio is to cut down on the amount of stuff I'm holding onto - I'm trying to move on from my pack-rat ways. Besides, if I kept everything, I'd have a huge tub for each year for each child; by the time they graduate high school, there would be 36 tubs! No way! That said, I'm keeping her history notebook in addition to the portfolio.

Yet another Excel document I created a while back, I've put this in the portfolio as well.

There are a few other things I'll add: reading and math assessments I'll give Casey in a few weeks; sheet protectors to put lapbooks in; something else that I can't remember right now. Then once the portfolio is finished - the finishing touch being a cover sheet Casey can make for the binder - I'll get rid of a lot of the other work that we don't need to keep.

So... is that enough stuff? See why I need at least 2-inches of binder space?

EDITED: During a review of the law in my state regarding homeschooling, I read that the homeschooling parent must write an annual progress report and retain it for three years. The portfolio and its contents should suffice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Snow in April...

As you may already know, my family does not watch television. Now, that's not to say that we don't have a television; we do. However, we don't have satellite or cable or even rabbit ears (is that even an option any more?) to watch shows or the news. [I do, by the way, stream via the internet a few television shows, but otherwise, I'm quite clueless as to that area of pop. culture.] My husband and I read the news online.

On Saturday and Sunday, we went on a plant-buying frenzy - Confederate Jasmine, azaleas, boxwoods, herbs, bald cypress (technically a tree, but you catch my drift). Of course, at lunch on Sunday, I was told that temperatures would be dropping. Well, in a panic yesterday, I checked the weather forecast for our area and found that we would have a hard freeze. "Did I read that right? Hard freeze?" I asked myself, though I was alone, with an air of disbelief. Yes.

Once Richard was home, he covered the bushes he had planted, and we dragged inside the ones he had not planted. Hopeful.

While I was driving in to the office this morning, what do I see wisping about my windshield? Snow!

[Michele, I think Casey, Will, and I will be studying the weather about this time next year. You're right! Everything happens this time of year!]

Friday, April 3, 2009

Our Week Ending April 2, 2009

What a GREAT week we had! Richard even taught for a day!

Will has officially started learning to read - using 100 Easy Lessons - and he's so happy. I think he finally feels like he's REALLY doing school, too! I got the book spiral bound a couple of weeks ago and I'm so happy I did. Pages were falling out! It's a great book, but the binding on mine was terrible! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE spiral binding. It's not pretty on the shelf, but, for books I actually use (and use often), I like that I can fold back my book or lay it flat. It's the little things that make me happy...

Casey has been reading like a fiend lately. I got a shipment of used books in the mail this week, including about a dozen or so American Girl books. Casey flipped out! She's already read 3 of them! I would list the books Casey has been reading, but I fear the backlash (*wink**wink* you know who you are); suffice to say, Casey has read over 30 books in the last month. [Well, I guess I can say the authors and you can solve the title mystery yourselves: Barbara Park, Judy Blume, Carolyn Keene. Yes, fluff reading for the most part, but Casey's been working so hard...]

I won't go into a lot of detail with what we've been covering lately, with the exception of History. We read about Ancient India, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shiva, and Siddhartha. We followed up on the Buddhism part of Story of the World by visiting our local Buddhist Temple. It's still under construction, but it is a beautiful building so far. I did encounter a monk as I was taking pictures of the temple (from at least 200 yards away, I might add). I don't believe he spoke English given my ramblings and his blank stare. Although, he did point toward the temple and utter, "No...in." We left with a smile and a wave and a picture of the temple.