Friday, June 14, 2013

Man, this "school" is pathetic... but our pencils are sure lookin' sharp!

We are slogging through this last month of school lessons... there's little that I can imagine that is more pathetic than what's happening here in the name of "school."

When June 1st hit we went to bare bones.  So long, ye poetry, sketching, singing, and history-grammar-literature-copywork-Bible reading-and narrations. We scaled it back to Math, Spelling, Reading, Handwriting.  I also threw in a refresher course on how-to-tie-your-shoes because Velcro got the better of us this past year.  We've also been sneaking in a little science here and there because... well, I just can't let it slide when I know it's on my IHIP that we're supposed to be studying human anatomy and about the only thing anatomy-ish going on around here is bath time.  

Here's an example of what a near-the-end-of-the-year Science lesson looks like:

(1) Mom quickly reads a few pages of the DK First Human Body Encyclopedia to the kids, trying to hit highlights like "There is blood in your body.  And, oh, yeah, somehow the heart is involved in... you know... that whole thing."  

(2) Kids sit down to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy's episode on Blood and Circulation.  Mom keeps her ears open hoping to pick up a few key points... but it's difficult to hear Bill over the hum of the microwave - Mom needs her mid-morning black tea and even though she recently read this article, this particular mom is willing to sacrifice flavor for speed.  

(3) Bill Nye ends.  Mom considers letting it play through again.  Instead, feeling guilty that her children have been sitting in front of the computer screen for 30 minutes, she directs them to go sit at the table instead.  "Write three things you learned from Bill Nye."

(4) Mom hops on the now-vacant computer to renew Bill Nye videos from the library.  USER BLOCKED????  UNABLE TO RENEW????  What the????  All 6 of the Bill Nye videos are two days over due????  (And so are the DisneyNature videos????)  I OWE OVER 16 DOLLARS IN LIBRARY FINES????  Me, who's never even known numbers like that could be generated in the library system????  How could this happen????  More importantly, with all the Bill Nye's returned, and my library patron status in question, how in the heck are we going to finish our Anatomy class before the end of the month????  (Note to self: Don't ever let that happen again.  For 16 dollars you could have practically hired Bill to come to your house for a speaking engagement.)

(5) Mom cools off and photo copies various pages from these Dover coloring books: 

(6) "Quick, quick!  Color the arteries red.  Coloring the veins blue.  I don't know what color "capillaries" are. (Is that a fancy word you learned from Bill Nye?) Just get it done, now!  June is almost over!"  

(7) While kids are coloring, Mom Googles things like building a balloon model of the heart, visual examples of a drop of blood using karo syrup, cinnamon red hots and white beans, kids create their own blood vessel dioramas.  Mom quickly and forcefully slams the lap top shut.

(8) "Great work today, kids!  We all learned a real lot about blood!  Can't wait till next year when we delve into topics like Where is the heart located and Is blood really necessary. Class dismissed!"

Now if you can just apply that to Math, Spelling, Reading, and Handwriting... you've got a pretty good idea of what our homeschool looks like right now.  It's June.  And it's not pretty.  

But there is one bright shining beacon of hope and joy, urging us to resist surrender and make it to the end-of-the-year finish line.  It is this...

Remember back in February when Dwija hosted the "Favorite Homeschool Supplies" link-up, and a genius homeschool mother introduced the world of stay-at-home-moms to this lovely item??? I put it in my Amazon shopping cart that very day, and there it lingered.  A month or so ago, our own pencil sharpener died.  A week or so ago, my husband got tired of coming home from work and being bombarded with "Dad, can you please whittle my pencil tip for me?  There's ten more after you're done with that one." So he surprised me with this beauty - even though he never reads my blog or peeks in my Amazon cart and had no idea it was the famous sharpener coveted by homeschool moms the world over.  Cool, huh?  

We actually returned the Office Max one Russ brought home because it's 15 dollars cheaper at Amazon (and I needed that cash to work my way out of Library Debtors Prison). The new one just got here Wednesday, so it's only been a couple days.

Because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want, and because I love taking pictures of colored pencils... 

Here are the colored pencils before the X-Acto School Pro came into our life...

And here's a fancy shadows-and-light pic I did in iPiccy of the pencils after meeting the X-Acto School Pro...

The sharp tips you see here are real and have not been enlarged or altered to show texture or pointiness.  

A brief review: So far, it's love.  It sharpens very well, and evenly, despite some of the reviews which said it sharpened un-evenly.  I hate to even say one moderately negative thing about it... but... it is a little bit of a pencil eater.  It seems to consume a little more pencil than our old (but now defunct) sharpener.  But otherwise, it works so well, that that's not a problem for me - our No. 2's and these colored pencils are not top-of-the-line art supplies, so I'm willing to sacrifice a little length for a usable tip.  (I would not, however, use X-Acto to sharpen high quality art pencils, fyi.)  Two more awesome things about the X-Acto - the multiple sizes - GREAT!  And the giant shavings receptacle - the BOMB!  

So, with this new addition to our home and school going's on... I think I can safely say we'll make it to the end of the year and we'll be ready to start summer school in... July... Late July.


  1. Sooooo funny. Love the science lesson play by play. We are in homeschool meltdown. I think we had our "last day" sometime this week...or was it the week before? Can't even remember when I threw in the towel.

    1. "throwing in the towel" sounds about where I'm at :)

  2. We (I) decided that we're taking June off to "reevaluate" and recover. It works lovely when June isn't monsoon weather and you get the whole neighborhood to yourself to do outside things and enjoy the sunshine. But now we're just getting cabin fever.

    1. Oh, and you must keep us updated on whether the coveted sharpener really does crayons. If so, I'm sold.

    2. This weather sure has been a bust, huh?
      I haven't been brave enough yet to stick a crayon in the sharpener. I know that others have said it works well but I'm afraid of gumming it up... I'll let you know if I work up the courage. (On the positive side, the sharpener DOES have a ten year warranty.)


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