31 January, 2006

Learn Spanish Sites

Here are a couple of helpful sites for learning and strengthening Spanish speaking skills. You'll discover a plethora of links all over these pages, including differences between ser and estar and other confusing verb pairs. You'll also find an article on taking the confusion out of the words por and para.

Another site that I like to recommend presents the most common Spanish words, parts of speech, and then also verbs in chart form, beginning about 1/3 of the way down the page.

Here is another site regarding conjugation of verbs.

It is imperative that you hear the language spoken by native speakers, in order to better your own pronunciation. This site has audio samples of restaurant dialogue. My speakers seem to be messed up right now, so I can't double-check...but if I'm remembering correctly, I think it is Castillan Spanish, which has a couple of differences (thought minor) from Spanish spoken in Mexico, Central America, and another dozen or so countries.

Check this site for more exercises, and links to comics in Spanish.

Practice every day, and enjoy learning another language!


30 January, 2006

Getting to know me

I did this for a bit of fun, while I have taken a day off from homeschooling and co-op prep or grading. (I've had a pretty frustrating, dull headache for several days, now...so I'm taking a breather today and not driving anywhere...well, except that quick trip to drop my daughter off to babysit).

I've Been Tagged to play another game by Truly Scrumptious at
A Wink in Time, with a couple of added questions that I saw on another blog that I frequent: Tootle's Time, and one extra that just fit the game perfectly.

4 jobs I have had:

~A live-out nanny for a doctor and a nurse (commuting by bicycle)
~Student Receptionist at the Health Center during college
~Receptionist and phys. therapist for a Chiropractor just outside of Boston, MA
~Singer - vocalist~live and on a few CD projects

4 movies (okay, five) you would (or have/ still do) watch over and over:

~Pride and Prejudice (like the multiple interpretations of Shakespeare on film, I'll watch them all again, except perhaps the Greer Garson/Aldous Huxley version from the 40's-Oh! those recycled, Gone With The Wind dresses! Ack! just too out of place)
~Much Ado About Nothing
~Wallace and Grommit ~the shorts, or the newer long one that's about to come out on DVD
~Oh Brother, Where Art Thou
~The Princess Bride

4 places (well, five) you've lived:

~Germany (Northern and Southern)
~Chicago area
~Oklahoma :-)

Four (sometimes five) TV Shows I watch:

~Masterpiece Theatre on occasion

Four (or more ;-) Places I have been on vacation:

~Colorado or Tennessee for awesome camping/bicycling/hiking/rafting
~Minnesota for some swimming, fishing and photography on Roosevelt Lake - Teddy Roosevelt country
~Italy to visit our Minnesota friends (above) when they lived near Bologna.
~France (a military tour-thanks to my brother, while living in Germany) and Liechtenstein...really!
~Greece (Honeymoon)

Four places I've travelled by *bicycle*:

~All of Heidelberg ~ over historic bridges and through the remains of castles with a nice fellow that I once really liked; the son of an elder at a church in Berlin...though he spoke excellent English, he communitcated this particular tour only in German...I think it was a test...
~Martha's Vineyard ending with snacks at the Black Dog Cafe :-) (marvelous!)
~toured up the coast of Massachusetts - up to Marblehead and then back to Boston
~Oklahoma to Missouri with my hubby for a class reunion
~commuting in Oklahoma City every weekday for about eight months

4 websites you visit daily:

~yahoogroups to moderate a couple of e-lists
~AO blog ring every few days

4 favorite foods:

~Greek food ~ more specifically: Spanakopita and Greek Salad
~Granola and yogurt (smooth and fruity or coffee flavored yogurt)
~Yucatán food ~ black beans and small tortillas with a bit of avocado are a must!
~Bread fresh out of the oven, especially very grainy breads

4 places I'd rather be right now

*I really enjoy home, but I also get a kick out of travelling with my family, so I wouldn't mind being:

~Somewhere where it is actually winter! We haven't gotten a winter this year :-(
~Vermont or New Mexico cross-country skiing, then sipping hot chocolate by a large, roaring fire
~to warm up again, visit our friends in Central Yucatán at their "cooler" time of year!
~take the kids on the historical and literary tours around the Boston area, show them where we lived before they were born.

4 bloggers I've tagged:
Anyone who hasn't played yet~I know many of you already have.

29 January, 2006

This 'n That

Now that I'm almost completely caught up on grading for my Spanish 1 class, and have gotten my co-op class materials re-organized (and better organized :-) in both Spanish 1 and junior high Spanish for the new term, I am truly enjoying the ride. We had a guest speaker in our class on Friday from Chile - a sweet, 18 yo exchange student. She was very kind and helpful with the students, even though she speaks very little English. It is a good experience for us all to feel the awkwardness, yet strive to meet the challenge of conversing with someone else from another country in their own language!

My clever Andrewcles (11 in April) made a quesadilla and sopapilla for me in his cooking class on Friday. It happened during third period, which is my grading period. I am just up the stairs from the kitchen, so of course, I smelled the aromas of onions and peppers, then of sopapillas, wafting up the stairs into the common area, where I grade my students' lesson for the week. The outcome of this experience is that he now asks to help me in the kitchen at home. Since he is a kinesthetic learner, this has been good for him.

Audobon, our 12 yo son, is also getting a lot from his classes. He doesn't have any PE this time around, which is his only regret. He enjoyed archery last term. He has a couple of more academic classes this time around: a study skills class and a Lord of The Rings (book club-type) class.

Oldest son, AnselAdams, did not join in the co-op with us this year (because his study schedule is already quite involved and full, academically speaking). He did want to come visit the classes last Friday, and meet some of the high schoolers, friends of our daughter. After class, we took some of these friends to Starbucks, where we all sat outside and listened to the boys jam on their guitars. Dd even played a little bit (she tends not to play if she feels "pressured" to perform). Even though it was rainy and chilly, we enjoyed the time to just relax and visit. What *awesome* kids these are that our own kiddos are getting to know. They are commited to God, lead worship at their church (as our oldest two teens do, as well) and seem very solid. This is a neat new season for us as a family. I am very thankful for this blessing in our lives. Driving around a little more, as taxi driver mom, is getting easier. I am growing with it :-D. Around here, we are literally 20-40 minutes from nearly everything and everywhere that's anywhere ;-). We do finally have a grocery store and gas station closer to us, built in the last couple of years. That helps!

Ansel and DD are both going to accompany me and help me lead worship at a homeschool moms' conference coming up in a couple of weeks. Sadly, our church home also wanted my daughter and I to help lead worship for their ladies' conference on the same day. I'd love to do both! But the hs ladies asked me first.

I hope, dear readers, that you have a lovely week, and thank the Lord for your blessings. Take time to smell AND ENJOY the coffee! Makes me think of the verse, "Taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man (woman) who takes refuge in Him." Psalm 34:8

Javamom, who is off to type up a Spanish exercise to e-mail to my "kiddos" in class

24 January, 2006

Your Perfect Major

This is so interesting! This pegged me very well. I really have not changed much in 20 or 25 years. Maybe longer :-) I don't think the quiz made much allowance for physical activity...sports, etc. I love individual sports; those in which the challenge is really against self, or rather *with* self...working with and strengthening beyond old limitations, both physical and mental.

You scored as Journalism. You are an aspiring journalist, and you should major in journalism! Like me, you are passionate about writing and expressing yourself, and you want the world to understand your beliefs through writing.





























created with QuizFarm.com

23 January, 2006

Time for Twain

We're beginning to read Huckleberry Finn this week, and I've enjoyed three lectures from The Teaching Company to get more background details and some literary criticism.

I delight in Twain's humor, and am looking forward to reading this book for the first time. I'm late to this one, but at least I am reading it now!

One thing the professor (in the lecture series) says about Huckleberry Finn (the book) is that the final third of the book is just botched. I suppose I can write more about my thoughts on this when I come to that point. He gives his own reasons why, but I'll save that for later.

Have you read Huck Finn and enjoyed it for what it is; for the maturing that Huck goes through...realizing that for the time period in which it was set (1840's), certain expressions and societal mores were commonplace?

It is a controversial book, even from the time it first came out. It offended the Bostonian thinkers/writers in the 1880's, for slightly different reasons than it offends others in our day and age. I don't recommend it for younger students, but perhaps mature jr. high and high school would enjoy reading and discussing it with parents and teachers.

I'd enjoy taking a Twain college course, myself! This is the next best way for me to accomplish that.


p.s. Hat tip to Maria re: Mark Twain Scrapbook at pbs online. The also have a timeline of Twain's life, lesson and activity plans, and more on the Ken Burns film of Mark Twain.

19 January, 2006

Tough Day!

It has been a most crazy day, what with driving and details surrounding co-op preparation for Spanish classes (being overcharged for some supplies at the office supply store), grading (still so far behind), and notebook building. To top it off, my brand new thermos exploded!! The vaccuum seal must have been too strong, for when I began to remove the stem of the pump unit to refill it with coffee, it just popped loudly, shattering into a bazillion pieces! Thankfully, most (though not all!) of the fine glass dust stayed inside the unit.

I'm tired.


17 January, 2006

What's a coffee fiend to do when...

Dear Daughter accidentally shatters the twenty-cup coffee carafe pump-thermos? We used it to keep the coffee warm, which is not unusual, except that our coffee maker heating element does not work anymore. Yes, we had it repaired once, with not such great results. This means that I have been boiling water and pouring it by hand through the glass top of coffee machine, which is a little different than standard home coffee makers. It is a Capresso Aroma Classic, which makes the best coffee I've ever had, but I've been hand-pouring the boiling water through the dead machine for over a year, now, then transfering the hot coffee to the pump-thermos. Well, now that this is broken, how will I keep the coffee warm?

I could just make capuccino twice a day with our stove-top, Italian (Bialetti) 2-mug or three [small] cup espresso pot.

Or, I could spend 160 plus dollars (!) on a new Capresso. The old one did last for a *very* long time. It was just so frugal to keep boiling water in a large measuring cup in the microwave, or on the stovetop and hand-pouring it into the chamber, without the need to purchase a fully electric new one. We could just buy another pump thermos. That *would* be the cheaper, quick fix. Did I mention already that it makes the best coffee in the world? I'm not kidding. I could give you a list of folks who've tried our coffee, who love full-flavored, even strong coffee, who would recommend this machine to you.

You can make weaker coffee in this machine, it is just not my preference. The boiling water (maximum temperature) is on the grounds for about 4 1/2 to 5 minutes, the maximum time for the best tasting coffee, without overextracting flavor from the ground beans.

Pondering the choices...still far cheaper than going to Starbuck's, which I only splurge for maybe six or eight times a year, half the time ordering a simple Americano, less than half the price of my favorite: Venti Mocha. Who needs to go there when I can make them at home?

1-18-06 Upate: I was able to secure a new pump thermos today for less than $18. Ah! The little things in life that just add to the richness of it...


11 January, 2006

Two Things

I've been tagged by Firefly at Bioluminescence. This is an easy and quick exercise, although not as inspiring or thought provoking as the posts I'd like to write. I admire my blogging friends who are able to write quickly and compose deep or multiple good thoughts on their blogs. I wish I had more time to do so. Someday I'll be more free to do this! (hopefully by April).

2 names you go by:
1. Hönig (by Hubster)
2. Dude-mom (by my teens!)

2 parts of your heritage:
1. English
2. Native American

2 things that scare you:
1. Fire
2. young teens' driving(!)

2 of your everyday essentials
1. Good coffee
2. dental floss

2 things you are wearing right now:
1. tailored but comfortable, red shirt
2. new brown suede and pink moccasin shoes

2 favorite bands or musical artists (at the moment):
1. Coldplay
2. Iron and Wine

2 favorite songs at the moment:
1. Naked as We Came by Iron and Wine
2. Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap

2 truths:
1. God is in control
2. I don't have to be my kids' Holy Spirit

2 of your favorite hobbies:
1. bookbinding and restoration
2. photography

2 things you want really badly:
1. For my children to live Godly, happy, peaceful lives
2. go work again in the Yucatán

2 places you want to go on vacation:
1. Estonia with my niece, who lived there for two and a half years
2. Scotland

2 things you want to do before you die:
1. have a completely organized home!
2. give blessings to my great-grandbabies :-)

2 things you are thinking about now:
1. Grading all the Spanish homework and tests from the holiday break (high school Spanish 1)
2. Taxi driving *AGAIN* across the metro area two or three more times today

2 stores you shop at:
1. Albertson's
2. antique or thrift stores

2 people you would like to complete this meme:
1. Leslie at Abiding
2. Katie CM...and Grace

09 January, 2006

Literature - mid-1800's

How can one study literature from the mid-1800's, concerning the war between the states, in just two weeks? That is the problem with some curriculae; rushing the students through just a small sampling of material, which is merely connected by a snippet in time from history, but not by anything else. This is from the "American Lit" standpoint, not from a historical standpoint. There is a bit of a difference from this angle than if one were simply studying "History." We can consider, as well, the speeches or writings of the Native Americans at this time: Chief Joseph (I Will Fight No More), Geronimo, others.

Here are a few ideas to fill out our repertoire:

Civil War in Literature

A Sampling of Civil War stories from
Harper's Weekly

Confederate and Union
Poetry and Music from the War Between the States

Let's not forget Slave Narratives by those such as Frederick Douglas.

Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is also included in this grouping. Find more on Lincoln at Gettysburg here.

05 January, 2006

New term - High School

We are going into the new term this week, and here are a few things we are up to!

14 yo daughter: Biology, Algebra 1 (Video-Text Algebra), Spanish 1, American Literature, Some bits and pieces from the House of Education (Year 10) curriuclum. Both in Literature and History, she is in the time period of the Civil War this term. History Living Book: A History of the American People by Paul Johnson.

This daughter needs to pay a little more attention to current events this term, as well.

From the Year 10 plan, she has already read The Deadliest Monster, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein. She's also covered Emerson's Essays and a couple of his poems. We watched Moby Dick and she's finishing up Billy Bud, by Herman Melville. Most but not all of these are recommended in HEO year 10.

17 yo son, "AnselAdams":

Keeping up with current events via several sources, including Breakpoint Commentary and Christianity Today Online. Hubby listens to NPR a lot, so we have to deal with interesting conversations with him! (He's not a liberal, but he is not a conservative in many ways, either, which is mildly frustrating, but keeps me thinking).

Worldviews of the Western World - year two - second semester

This is what his high school transcript includes so far, along with Biology, Algebra, speech, and debate, photography (2 yrs, so far), videography (for both a national solar car science trip and science fair).

TRANSCRIPT for World Views of the Western World

World Views Year I
Composition ........... ... 1/3 Credit
Literature: Ancient ......... 1 Credit
Philosophy/Theology ..... 1 Credit
Music Appreciation ..... 1/3 Credit
Western Civilization .... 1/3 Credit
Humanities ................. 1/3 Credit
World History .............. 1/3 Credit

World Views Year II
Composition ........... ... 1/3 Credit
Literature: Medieval ...... 1 Credit
Philosophy/Theology ..... 1 Credit
Music Appreciation ..... 1/3 Credit
Art Appreciation .......... 1/2 Credit
Western Civilization .... 1/3 Credit
Humanities ................. 1/3 Credit
American History ........... 1 Credit
World History .............. 1/3 Credit
American Government ... 1 Credit
Political Theory .............. 1 Credit
Science History ...... .... 1/2 Credit

World Views Year III
Composition ........... ... 1/3 Credit
Literature: Modern ........ 1 Credit
Philosophy/Theology ..... 1 Credit
Music Appreciation ..... 1/3 Credit
Art Appreciation .......... 1/2 Credit
Western Civilization .... 1/3 Credit
Humanities ................. 1/3 Credit
American History ........... 1 Credit
World History .............. 1/3 Credit
Economic Theory .......... 1 Credit
Origins/Ecology .......... 1/2 Credit

In another post, I'll type out some details for our 12 and 10 yo son.

04 January, 2006

Books in the New Year

We were introduced to the Poet Laureate Billy Collins last year, and we are becoming huge fans.

Collins' poem "The Lanyard" makes me laugh! It's even funnier when you hear him read it aloud himself.

The Lanyard

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

- Billy Collins

I have been considering what books to add to my "wish" list for 2006, and this is one that I'd like to have for our home library:

The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser, another Poet Laureate

What books are you adding to your list of "must haves" this year?

02 January, 2006

Nephew doing great

G says this is an awesome Iraqi kid :-)

These two photos were taken the night G left, just days after Thanksgiving.

We just got a good update today. He said he is really enjoying his new job. It still is a little intense for family! (click to enlarge)

01 January, 2006

New Year Pause

1. This is the calm just before the return to the regular, schoolyear [educational-type] activities: assignments due, grading to be done, classes beginning again. It's quiet in our home at the moment, with all of our boys visiting friends for the evening. Daughter and I are working through her Spanish lessons, trying to get her caught up on her homework. She slacked off the assignments for her Spanish teacher, which would be me :-/, hoping who knows what...that perhaps I'd go easy on her? I left things in her lap, so she'd feel the natural consequences of putting her work off. She chose to work sporadically on the language, which one just cannot do and expect remember anything well. Now she has to go back to lesson 10 and re-do almost everything. She should be finished with lesson 14 now, ready to begin 15, but she had too many holes in her understanding of the material. Hmphhhh.

2. The weather is strange. We hit an all-time record high (in 95 years) for our area today, 83 degrees! It is one of many records we've set in the last week or two. No wearing of winter clothes for us!! We have to keep shirtsleeves onhand, not pack them away in the attic in "summer clothes" boxes.

3. Pray for rain...Oklahoma and Texas need it *very* badly. Pray also that the wildfires will stop.

4. I wish you all a happy, productive, and blessed New Year, as you set your goals and plans in place, trusting in the Lord to help you accomplish those that you've outlined and set for yourselves and your families.

What are some of your plans or course changes for the new year?