Friday, September 13, 2013

Virtual Dissection Week or The Week We Chickened Out

We made it to break week!  We are utilizing a six weeks on / one week off schedule, and this week completed our first six weeks.  Amber has been counting down to her break for the past three weeks.  This is not the attitude I like to see, but as it's our first break on this schedule and I promised that the "off" weeks would truly be devoid of regular school, I guess we can forgive a little anticipation.

Amazingly there were no appointments this week outside of Amber's regular activities.  Art class did start up this week and even though all the activities make us busy, we kind of like the fact that we have places to go most days.  It also keeps us from sleeping too late and shifting our school schedule too far into the afternoons.

Art class - glass fusing.  Fall leaves and berries in an open weave plate. We pick it up next week.

I'm still thinking about tweaking our schedule; Amber has been unable to get up anywhere near the appointed time.  I've even gone so far as to create a "6th Grade Alternate" schedule in our homeschool software.  We will give our original schedule one more try after break (maybe) and then switch to the alternate if Amber just can't wake up on time.  I'd rather the child get the needed sleep and work farther into the afternoons, sometimes right up to her activities, than become sick from lack of sleep.

The alternate schedule might work better for me too.  I exercise every day (er.. ok, so it's actually most days... I think about it every day though) and the only time I reliably have available for my workouts is after Amber goes to bed.  Some nights that can be fairly late (like 9:30 -11:30);  some nights it just doesn't happen.  Perhaps a morning workout would help improve my sleeping habits and provide the much needed endorphins at a more useful time of day.

In our lessons this week Amber started her new literature book, Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green.  She is greatly enjoying the Egyptian mythology and we've had quite detailed discussions about the stories she is reading.  Amber loves practically all mythology having devoured in the past couple of years books on Greek, Roman, Viking and Egyptian mythology.  I hope the current book is different enough from her previous Egyptian mythology reading to keep her attention.

Biology experiment #1: discovering the effect of the amount of air in a fish's swim bladder on its buoyancy.
Each balloon has a marble and is inflated to a different level. 

Scheduled for the biology lessons this week was the dreaded frog dissection experiment.  Gah!  I stated early on in the biology planning that I was not supervising that lab.  I hated it the two times I did it in school (jr. high and high school) and my great aversion to biological study would definitely not let me do the experiment justice (or at all).  Fred and many friends volunteered to run the frog dissection lab that Amber insisted she was willing to do.  Thankfully, I did not purchase the dissection kit because after the worm experiment Amber has been quite unwilling to even consider the frog dissection.  Yay for me, not so good for her biology education though.

I was going to find an online frog dissection video or website to replace our actual dissection, but Fred reminded me of an app on the Airspace store.  It is a 3-D frog dissection app that runs on the computer with my LeapMotion controller I have to say at $3.99 it was significantly cheaper and cleaner than an actual dissection and didn't contain the gross-out factor that might hinder learning.  Also, Amber loved using my LeapMotion controller and doing the dissection with her hands instead of a mouse and keyboard.

We also started our first poetry unit this week after finishing the chapter in grammar last week.  It had a bit of a rough start as Amber didn't understand the point of our lessons. Instead of writing poetry as Amber thought, we are learning to read poetry closely, how to make an interpretation of poetry, and to absorb its beauty.  Since she is not creating anything, Amber wasn't quite sure of the point of these lessons thus our first day was consumed with discussing the importance of poetry in our lives and the historical use of poetry compared to today.  Thankfully, the lessons are going much better now that we both have a clear understanding of the purpose.

1. Marking the frog for cutting
2. Cutting the frog with the scalpel
3. Opening top layer of skin with forceps
4. Opening next layer after more cutting
5. All the organs visible, after lifting up a few.  The green dots are "poke" points that let you examine each organ.
6. The heart.  Window of brief information with the organ. You can rotate in all directions and zoom in/out all the organs. It's as easy as turning it in your hand.
7.  Grossed out Amber. 
8.  Totally disgusted Amber viewing the fat deposits. I personally found that disturbing too when we dissected real frogs.
8.  Intestines.  Amber is fond of the zoom OUT function - just push away with your hand.

In our relaxation time we have made it halfway through season 4 of Merlin!  I'm enjoying re-watching the episodes with Amber, but it's more entertaining to antagonize her as I've seen the end of the series and she has to wait.  I'm mean that way. :-)

I'm still looking for more movies, mini-series, or tv shows for us to watch in the evenings when Merlin is complete; a time which is fast approaching. Amber seems to enjoy British television, so I started previewing that genre on the iPad during my workouts. The first up was North and South, from the BBC, not the totally inappropriate John Jakes miniseries which I personally love.  North and South is a definite, hands down, can't-wait-to-watch-again winner.  I watched the whole 4 part series in two cardio workout sessions. I was so involved in the story that I had to force myself to stop after only two episodes the first night, despite sheer exhaustion (it was 11:40 pm when I finished cardio). 

The Masterpiece Classics Mansfield Park was another previewed contender, but it is a bust.  I LOVE Mansfield Park; it is tied for my favorite Jane Austin book. However this movie version is dull and I'd have given up long before the end if I wasn't so enamored of the book.

I'm trying, without success, to convince Amber to watch Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis.  Those are possibly my two favorite TV shows of all time.  I have every episode of both AND the two SG1 movies.  On the other side of the coin, Amber has yet to make it all the way through the theatrical Stargate movie.  In my opinion, it's not as good as the TV shows, but the movie should be watched before the starting SG1, otherwise there is a lot of backstory missing.  Sigh.  Amber has all but refused to even come in the room if Stargate is on.  You'd think with all the mythology in them she'd be thrilled to watch.

School with kitties. 
They are teething right now and there's been casualties: my Shark charger cord, the sound system speaker cord, and several of Amber's school books.
Rosetta (calico, bottom-left) prefers to be held most often and holds on like a child.  It's uncanny.

Starting this past Sunday I also began to put some mental focus back on myself.  I've not been doing a good job of that for quite a while.  A couple years ago I lost a little weight, not a terribly large amount, but enough to make a difference in my life.  I never quite met my my goal amount though because once we began homeschooling my routine and schedule were in upheaval and I never got back to it. Instead I decided to move into the maintenance mode of my weight loss plan.

Now, 18 months since maintenance started, I've gained back five pounds. Not a significant amount, but enough that I'm not happy about it.  I enjoy exercising and I've continued to workout regularly, but not as consistently as I need.  Besides the weight loss, the better diet and exercise help my diabetes and IBS, and the endorphins from cardio make a measurable impact in my overall attitude.   I have so many reasons to work for this new weight goal.

I'm not going to talk numbers here, but I will keep myself accountable for a healthier life style, including the difficult step of switching to a new primary doctor and adding an endocrinologist for my diabetes.

This week my accomplishments included:
  • Eating very little processed food
  • Making dinner 6 nights in a row
  • Eating lots of fruits and veggies
  • Eating only a little bit of chocolate (my body craves it at times...)
  • 387 minutes of cardio exercise (Friday's numbers not included yet)
  • 45 minutes of strength training (again, Friday not included)
  • Practicing piano 4 out of 7 days... this needs to improve.
  • Relaxing for at least 1 hour a day, in the evenings, with Amber. 
  • Taking all my medication EVERY day (I often skip the dinner meds when we eat out)
  • Selecting a new primary doctor and endocrinologist that I might get around to calling next week. (baby steps)
I hoping to equal these accomplishments next week and improve, but being a break week I may find it difficult to stick to my new life style. 

That's been our very full, but GREAT week.

Happy Weekend!

Linking with:

 photo 79396fe0-1f8b-44f8-a90e-f8ca7bfa801e_zpsa74bcc3b.jpg


  1. Holy Cow (or should I say FROG) Christy you are one busy homeschooling momma! Love that she could dissect the frog on line! My way to

    Love your goals for yourself and what you have accomplished. You GO! Taking care of momma is important to the lives of all of those around us - for sure!

    Enjoy the weekend!

  2. I love working out in the mornings too - it definitely sets me up for the day. These days I just have to fit it where I can, though! Your kitty is very cute. We have a teething 12 week old puppy right now so I can relate to the teething issues - no piece of furniture is safe around here! Have a great weekend. Lucinda

  3. what great learning activities - That frog dissection was really cool! Sure beats the cat we had to do in A&P.

    The 6 week on and one week off schedule is something I have always thought about implementing. My biggest hang up was the holidays we wanted to take a week at Thanksgiving and then two weeks at Christmas - how do you schedule around Thanksgiving and Christmas? Do you still take the traditional time off around those (in addition to the 6/1 schedule)?

    1. I was worried about the holidays too. We take Wed-Friday off for Thanksgiving and then Dec. 16 - Jan 5. off for Christmas.

      I started by marking off all the days we wanted off during the year for holidays and special events. Then took our desired start date and went forward 6 weeks at a time. We did have one day off during our first 6 weeks for a birthday.

      Thanksgiving is in the middle of a 6 week session, so it is just there. Time keeps counting after it, I don't start over at week 1. Then we end at Christmas break.

      Second semester is easier and we just go 6 weeks on, 1 week off. The last session is 7 weeks, unless we finish school up early.

  4. The virtual dissection looks very cool -- I had to laugh at the title of your post today.

    Thanks for linking, and have a great weekend, Christy!

  5. Wow...I'm loving that frog dissection!!! That's so cool :) I also love your idea of 6 weeks on 1 week off - how fun! We opted to do four day school weeks :) Maybe I could do both!! Have a blessed weekend --- Jen @ Home Is Where They Send Us

    1. We tried the four day school week last year and it really didn't do much for us except shorten the amount of available school days. We still needed breaks. I hope it works for you.

  6. Looks like a busy productive and fun filled week! Stopping by from the Hoggatt Homeschool.

  7. I think a virtual dissection is much cooler than a real one! I always love seeing all the things you guys do :-) BTW, we have a 6 month old Labrador, and I keep wondering if he's still teething or if he's part goat. Nothing is safe in our house!!

  8. Margaret when she was about 4 picked up "The Mummy" at the rental place. When we asked why she wanted to watch it she answered "Because it looks scary". We followed up with the question of why did it look scary to which she responded "Because it has pyramids on it" At this point we realized she had been paying attention to Stargate as mommy and daddy watched it. We have them all on DVD so we were plowing through 2 or 3 episodes a night.

    Definitely going with virtual dissection when the time comes. Just remembering it from HS sent shivers up my spine.

  9. First of all YAY for taking care of yourself. I need to be better at that. I love the frog dissection. Is that an Apple App? I will have to check it out. I love how you watch series like we do. I am jotting down a few names. Keilee and I really don't get into anything 'spacey' although we did LOVE Firefly. We are rewatching Monk. We LOVE Monk. I just want to hug him all the time although he would hate that! We want Monk to be our neighbor or as Keilee says, "I wish he lived about 3 streets over" ;) Not too close.
    Love the glass fusing too. Y'all always have the most fun! I always love reading your weeks because there are so few 'only' kids out there in homeschooling. Happy weekend my friend!

    1. The frog dissection is not an Apple app, it is on the Airspace store. Those are apps specifically designed to work with the LeapMotion controller, but you can use a mouse. It is also one of the apps that works extremely well with the LeapMotion. In some of the apps the hand movement detection is kinda iffy.

      We already had a LeapMotion (got it in early release), so I decided this app was worth a try. Depending on the app, the LeapMotion can be VERY convenient. I enjoy not having to use the mouse and just moving my wrist and fingers to control the computer. :)

  10. Great week. For dissections we'll be using which I believe is free and doesn't require additional tools. I can't wait.

    1. I had seen and planned on using it or something like it until my husband reminded me about the app we did use. We already had the LeapMotion and since I'd planned on spending the money on the dissection kit the app was a savings. Besides, it was more fun this way too :-)