Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Two more days...

Okay, I was pretty iffy about the NaNoWriMo. It's difficult to imagine where the time to do this will come from, BUT... I was poking about the website today, and noticed in the rules that although you're not allowed to start writing until Thursday, working on a plot outline beforehand is allowed (and even encouraged!)

Trudge, trudge, trudge. As I walked my pleasant, but not too exciting circuit through our neighborhood this afternoon, I turned off my radio and started thinking through the plot of the story I'm planning to write. WAY COOL! Now I'm all kinds of excited about doing it.

I'll try to put updates of how I'm doing. I figured out one would have to write 1666 words per day to reach 50,000 in thirty days. Since there will doubtless be days I can't do it, that means I'll need to have quite a few 3K plus days... Yikes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Language Arts

Everyone has their own strengths, and Language Arts isn't Tim's! Unfortunately, while someone who isn't good at science, or even math, can often thrive in well-chosen career paths, being able to write and speak well is important in any occupation. (Fortunately, his weakness doesn't include reading, except that he's somewhat slow.)

So it seems that this year, in an attempt to begin compensating for this weakness, we are spending about one-third of our time on it! His primary curriculum, the one that we are following exactly, is called Put That In Writing. As you might guess, it's a writing course. For some reason, although IEW is big with a lot of homeschool families, it has never appealed to me. Fortunately, I've been very pleased with PTIW. Level 1 teaches the paragraph. It takes a very systematic approach to writing; perhaps more so than would be necessary for a student who is naturally a good writer, but it's perfect for us. We began it last Spring, and in just that short time, I noticed decided improvement in his writing. So, this year, we went back to the beginning and are going through it again. I did skip through some of the early parts we'd done last year, as I'm hoping to get to Level 2 (essays) in early 2008. I'm especially grateful that the creators of PTIW have a yahoo group to which I can post questions about using the curriculum.

In addition to PTIW, we're going through the first half of Rod & Staff English 8. The current plan is to finish it next year. Don't let the '8' fool you. We're using this primarily to beef up grammar and do fun things like diagramming sentences, and it's more in depth than some high school texts in those areas. R&S is only done three days per week.

Of course, in high school, one ought to be doing some formal literature study, so he's also doing most of Lightning Literature and Composition 8. We skip a lot of the composition; although as he gets further along in PTIW, I'll start using LL8 to practice writing skills learned elsewhere. In this case, the '8' level is a bit of a problem. Since this is a weak area, I wanted to start him off more gently. I'm trying to beef it up with high school level literature guides for some of the books he has to read for Notgrass Exploring World History. Fortunately, from his perspective at least, the pace of LL8 isn't too difficult.

And just in case that isn't enough... vocabulary is important, too, right? With ACTs, PSATs, SATs and whatever other alphabet soup tests looming, he also does a separate vocabulary program each day -- Vocabulary for Achievement. I've used both this and Wordly Wise. I don't have a strong preference for either; I just managed to get these very inexpensively (used) at Follett.

He rarely spends less than two hours on Language Arts, and usually more. I feel like this both subtracts from his ability to give his best work to other subjects, and also causes him to feel/be overloaded at times. I'm hoping that we'll be able to lessen this load over time, but it seems both necessary and beneficial for him at present.

He does have a lot of strengths, by the way. In 9th grade, he's taking Chemistry and Algebra II and doing well in both. (He will do Geometry next year.) A year and a half ago, he built his own computer, buying the components with money earned from a paper route. (I just had to add all this, after talking so much about his weaknesses above!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


What in the world is that???

It stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea behind it is to commit to write -- just write -- from November 1 - November 30. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel. Of course, it would have to be pretty rough writing; there'll be no time for agonizing over just the right word, no time for editing, and no time for revising.

I've signed up, although I'm not entirely certain I'm going to do it. If so, I'll give up my English and Spanish study (see previous post) to make time. The reason I'm thinking of attempting it is that I've been carrying a story around in my head for at least a year, but I haven't wanted to start it while still finishing and revising my first two books.

If you're interested in trying, check it out:


I'll try and post on my progress, although 50K words in a month -- or even anything close -- will severely limit blogging time.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Homeschooling Just One

This year, my 7th grade daughter is at a small Christian school, so it's just me and Tim, my 9th grader, at home during the days.

It's been two months, and I still feel like crying every day when I see my daughter get on a big yellow school bus; yet we made the decision to have her there for good reasons, and I still think it has the potential to be a good place for her.

I'm using the time I would have been homeschooling her to.... homeschool myself! Seriously, I've often envied the kids their education, but I've only had time to supervise, rather than learn it with them. So this year, I'm 'taking' English and Spanish. Last year, my son started in Rod & Staff English, and I realized how much I don't know! I'm sure it will be beneficial for my writing to get a more solid grasp of grammar and punctuation.

The reason I'm learning Spanish is just that when I tested the Rosetta Stone software in preparation for Tim to use it, I thought it seemed like a fun and easy way to learn a language.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Computer literate kitten?

Lesson to be learned... a laptop is a warm place in a cool house; don't leave it sitting open!

I'll bet you didn't know that a kitten sleeping on a keyboard can not only open a help file, but print it, too. I'm just glad it was only a couple of pages.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bad timing!

It's not that I don't ever think deeply about things -- it's just that it generally happens either in the shower, or during my daily devotions! Neither are ideal times to hop on the old keyboard, unfortunately.

That's another reason my blog has been so neglected.

A third reason (the first was in yesterday's post) is that I have so little time for writing much of anything lately that I save it for working on my book.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


It's been a long time since I've posted anything here or updated my webpage. I probably jumped the gun by trying to do all this at a time when my life is too busy to keep up with it...

I'm hoping to find a little more time this year, however....