Heavy Artillery

December 14, 2015 @ 11:16 am | Filed under: Family, These People Crack Me Up

Huck (returning home from a playdate): Can I add something to my wish list? Two shields, a sword and a cotton ball.

Me: …A cotton ball?

Huck: You know, the little white round puffy kind?

Me: Okay, so a regular cotton ball. I’m just curious, what’s it for?

Huck: Well, it could be two shields and TWO swords. But Parker only has one sword, so he let me use it, and he had a cotton ball that he threw at me and I deflected it with my shield EVERY TIME.

december 11: well, that was interesting

December 11, 2015 @ 5:56 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Fun Learning Stuff

duolingo french

We had quite a week here. First a stomach virus laid most of us low, and then yesterday when I was finally feeling more like myself, I managed to wrench my back during a cough. So stupid.

But a lot of nice Decemberish things happened in between the grim bits. Before I got sick, I led a craft workshop for a group of teen girls—we made little Midori-style booklets out of envelopes and washi tape, a favorite project of mine. :) I got the tree up yesterday—no ornaments yet, just the lights—and even a strand of outdoor lights. And we had a double birthday this week, celebrated with marshmallow krispie treats instead of cake.

Last December I was reading novels nonstop for the CYBIL Awards. This year, I’ve hardly read a thing. This month, I mean. Between work and kids and illness, my brain just hasn’t been there. Except for reading Christmas books to the kids, of course. Jingle the Christmas Clown, Christmas Trolls, The Baker’s Dozen, Hanna’s Christmas (Huck’s pick, I swear).

I did a Periscope yesterday (about five minutes before I messed up my back) about how we use Memrise and Duolingo for foreign language and other things—a topic I’ve addressed here on the blog many a time. Earlier in the week when I was too sick to read, I found it soothing to review Memrise topics I’ve completed in the past…U.S. Presidents, British Monarchs. Rilla is loving Duolingo French and is now at a great age to use that program. As I said in the ’scope, it’s a bit too advanced for Huck—too much English spelling, let alone German—but there are aspects of the platform that he really loves, and if I sit with him to help with the spelling he gets along pretty well.

No plans this weekend except rest, answering some letters, and maybe cracking a book that has a spine thicker than a quarter-inch. You?

december 4: fun with sarah mackenzie

December 4, 2015 @ 10:23 pm | Filed under: Books

My friend Sarah Mackenzie of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast is in town for a speaking engagement, so we got to hang out for a while. (Kortney, we missed you!) We decided to hop on Periscope for quick hello and wound up chatting about Betsy-Tacy and Little House and middle-grade vs. chapter books, and all sorts of bookish things. Super-fun. Come back soon, Sarah!

Sarah interviewed me on Read-Aloud Revival a while back—here’s the link if you missed that episode. If books are your jam, you should subscribe to the podcast; Sarah has some awesome guests lined up for next year—and the archive of previous episodes is full of riches.

How to find us on Periscope: I’m @melissawiley and Sarah is @amlovelythings. :)

 

december 3: who composed me?

December 3, 2015 @ 4:04 pm | Filed under: Books

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I’ve written before about how useful my kids and I have found Memrise for foreign language study and certain kinds of rote memorization. We’ve tackled the American Presidents and the Monarchs of England this way, and I dip into various German vocab lists every six months or so to keep my intermediate-ish skills from backsliding.

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Today we were exploring new courses and happened upon this gem: “Who Composed Me?” You listen to audio samples of particular musical works and match them to their composers. We’re having a lot of fun with it so far. This mini-course lends itself well to group study. We already know several of the pieces by heart, having enjoyed them in our own composer study times in years past. I like to pick one composer a month to encounter Charlotte Mason-fashion, listening to one key work per week, more or less. It’ll be fun to draw from the pool in the Memrise course for future selections.

december 2: my annual Hanna post

December 2, 2015 @ 8:18 pm | Filed under: Advent & Christmas, Books

I can tell it’s December when my stats are full of searches for Hanna’s Christmas! If you’re new: it’s been out of print for a long time, so here’s a read-aloud video to share with your kids.

If you’re on the hunt for a used copy, set yourself a reminder to check Amazon Marketplace and eBay in June or July. :) Resellers tend to mark the book up to ludicrous prices at this time of year, when demand is high.

december 1 show-and-tell

December 1, 2015 @ 8:22 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Books, Periscope

Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett

1. Christmas Trolls by Jan Brett: always our first book of the season. My younger three love it every bit as much as my older three did. I’m right there with them—the troll voices are so much fun to read aloud, and there’s a bit at the end that chokes me up every single time. Plus we have a red wooden horse exactly like the one in the book!

(Why has Amazon started slapping a copyright notice on book covers? They’re fair use.)

DEC15_lockscreen_iPhone2. I really appreciate the downloadable lock-screen calendar Inkwell Press provides for free every month. What a nice gift! I like being able to turn on my phone and see what day it is without clicking to my actual calendar. I’m lazy that way. If you sign up for their email list, Inkwell will send links to each month’s wallpaper options—lock screen, home screen background, and desktop. Pretty nifty.

3. I mentioned this on Facebook and Twitter last night, but for those who missed it: 50 Incredible Minecraft Seeds You Must Try is free on Kindle right now and it’s pretty darn cool. It includes seeds for PC, Pocket Edition, XBox, etc. My kids and I were pretty excited to explore some of the Pocket Edition maps today…there’s one with four villages squished together and another with a mountain village that looks like something out of Howling Fjord. I ran around the mountain one for a while and it was a hoot. The blacksmith shop is high up on a rocky crag above the rest of the town.

4. The Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar! We look forward to this every year. It’s an animated Advent calendar with some new little piece of story to click on every day. I’m glad my friend Phoebe reminded me to download it today. (Costs $4.) This year’s theme is “Victorian Christmas,” which, you know, had me at hello.

5. Periscope: I’ve done about one scope a week since I started. I never know if I should post them here! You can view all my replay videos at katch.me/melissawiley, but I could upload them here on the blog, too, if it would be helpful. Actually, I suppose I ought to start posting a list of links for stuff I mention in each scope, since show-and-tell seems to be what I wind up doing every time. Okay, there’s a plan (but not for tonight). Yesterday’s was called “A quick Monday hello” and is pretty chatty. Sometimes I have a structured topic, and other times I’m just there to gab. :)

 

Postcrossing Fun

November 30, 2015 @ 9:02 pm | Filed under: Fun Learning Stuff, Geography, Homeschooling

postcrossing wall

I joined Postcrossing a couple of months ago and now it’s taking over our kitchen wall—in the best way. This is a site for exchanging postcards with people around the world. Hmm, “exchange” isn’t the right word because these aren’t reciprocal swaps where you send a card to someone and get one back from the same person. Instead, you create a profile and then you’re given the name and address of another user. You send a postcard to that person. When he receives it, he registers the card, which prompts the system to send your address to someone different. In the beginning, you’re allowed to send up to five cards at once. As people begin to receive and register your cards, your maximum increases. Not that you have to send out five, six, seven cards all at once. You can do it one at a time if you like.

So far we have sent out ten cards and received eight—from Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Taiwan, India, Switzerland, Germany, and Finland! As you can see, we’re taping them to the wall above our world map. So much fun. This is a pretty delightful way to combine the joys of snail mail with a whizbang dose of world geography.

Assorted Thursday thoughts

November 19, 2015 @ 9:08 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry

1. I would like to take a drawing class. In a paint-spattered classroom with a real teacher standing over me grimacing at my line. It’s been 15 months since I started sketching (almost) every day and I can see I’ve made progress, but I’m craving instruction.

2. I’d better finish reading that KonMari ebook before my checkout time expires and it goes *poof* from my Kindle.

3. I wish all the things I want to KonMari right out of my house would go *poof* like an expired library ebook.

4. My brain keeps playing the following conversation on repeat: I should do the Everyday Matters Drawing Challenge. That would really help me improve. Ooh, I know! I should post each day’s entry to Instagram; that would keep me motivated. WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? THEN PEOPLE WOULD SEE IT. Right, that’s the point, accountability, encouragement. BUT FULLY HALF YOUR INSTAGRAM FRIENDS ARE PROFESSIONAL ARTISTS, YOU WILL EMBARRASS YOURSELF. Sigh. Right. Of course. I wish I drew better. I just need to keep at it every day. Hmm, maybe I should do the Everyday Matters Drawing Challenge… 

5. Whenever a form asks for hobbies, I never think to put down “listmaking,” but I totally should. I make lists all day long. I have lists of lists. I could compete in the List Olympics. If there were a Nobel Prize for listmaking, I’d be a contender.

6. Today IS Thursday, right?

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In which I am interviewed about this here blog

November 6, 2015 @ 2:22 pm | Filed under: Bloggity

I’m all smiles today because I had the fun of being interviewed about blogging by Lesley Austin. Her questions were wonderfully thought-provoking and set me musing about how to rearrange my days to allow the daily blogging I maintained for so many years. I miss it! Lesley’s questions helped me hone on on what has shifted in my daily rhythm so that I’m blogging less often than I used to.

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Lesley’s site is so lovely—it was a real treat to see my words on her beautiful page. And I was really moved by the photos she chose from my archives—some of my particular favorites, and some moments I’d already forgotten.

Here’s a tidbit:

How do you think your own way of connecting and being in the world influences your blogging?

I think I was made for sharing neat stuff. :) Scott and I have a joke about my superpower being enthusiasm. For me, full enjoyment of a thing (book, game, app, article, website) comes only when I get to talk about it with other people. I think that’s why I took to blogging so readily, and why I’ve stuck with it for so long—it’s been a place I can always jump to to say “Ooh look at this awesome thing I found.” I’m a magpie, a curator. :) I think all my internet spaces reflect that urge—I share links all over the place.

You can read the rest here. And do visit the other posts in her series of interviews-about-blogging:

a conversation about blogging with Sarah

a conversation about blogging with Jane

Thank you, Lesley!