Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

Well, it has been awhile since I updated this blog, so here is what has been happening in my life. First off, Merry Christmas, and happy holidays! I hope everyone had a wonderful day yesterday, and are enjoying the vacation and the holidays.

I have been taking it pretty easy, and reading quite a bit in my free time. Finishing my application for high school, knitting, and writing poetry. Christmas was wonderful, and I am so grateful that I can spend it with people I love. 

Well, not much to say...I have been enjoying the vacation, and having lots of fun relaxing. 
Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011


I would like to take a moment to fill you in on the book's I have been reading lately. Because it is almost vacation, I have been doing a lot of reading, and thought it would be nice to write about the book's I read for fun. This is a list of books I have been reading...

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain:
This is an enchanting tale of the first wife of Ernest Hemingway, the great writer. Told from her eyes, this story spans from when they first meet to their painful divorce, and it is both moving and well written.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer:
This is the true account of a disaster on Mt. Everest that resulted in many people's lives lost, and many more wounded or emotionally scarred. It is a rich book full of heartache and passion for climbing.

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks:
This is a historical fiction based on the life of Caleb, the first native american to graduate from Harvard. It is a story full of love and loss, and it was beautiful to read.

The Life Guide to Digital Photography by Joe McNally:
This book is great for learning about photography, and it has helped me to see things in a different way.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Good Times Remembered

Today was a rather odd day, but I really enjoyed its oddness. I went to my elementary school this morning to help out, then came home to begin the dreaded essay. I wrote about how I once knew that my world was small and perfect, but know I have a better sense that nothing is perfect, and the world contains many sorrows which I hadn't known as a small child. It is a pretty flowery and nostalgic piece, and I will probably change it quite a bit before submitting it, but it was good to get a draft on the table.

In the afternoon, I decided to walk downtown to the library because I was in need of books for this weekend. With perfect timing, I walked past my old school right as they were all getting out for the day. It was pretty weird to see everyone again that I had not seen since last year, and they all welcomed me and exclaimed over me. Being home schooled does that to you, I guess. Everyone said they missed me and were glad to see me, and some thought I was back for good. It was a bit of a self confidence booster when I realized just how many people missed me this year. I missed them too. I said hello to a former teacher, and saw friends from last year. It was an odd feeling walking into the school that I had abandoned for home schooling, and seeing all the kids who still went there. I definitely felt like and outcast, but in a good way.

Anyway, I finally got to the library and got some good reads for the weekend. Two fiction books, one memoir of climbing Mt. Everest, one guide to being a playwright, and one collection of poetry. I guess I can't go wrong with that. Tonight I have a soccer game, and this weekend with hopefully be spent editing my essay.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Sorry about not writing for several days, but not much has been happening in this homeschooler's life. My actual classes are finished, so I am taking the opportunity to do all the little things that I have been meaning to do all fall. I have been helping to decorate the house for Christmas, slapping my poetry into shape with a very intense poetry book which has me thinking everything in iambic pentameter, or trochiac substitution with a weak ending, cleaned my room, baked a little, celebrated St. Lucia Day, and read quite a bit to make up for the fall weeks where I was too busy to read anything for fun.

Yesterday I was not feeling very well after a bad night's sleep, so most of the day was spent reading and knitting, with a little calligraphy too. I actually finished three books yesterday, and when my mom playfully asked at noon if that was my second book, I stunned her by replying in the affirmative. Several days ago I discovered the stash of Christmas crafts, and spent a blissful morning making Christmas cards using a technique I learned during my pottery week in North Carolina. This morning, I had a great talk with my dad about our semi new play, Much Ado About Nothing. We have a very good exercise shaping up for next week, dissecting a monologue and really thinking about the character and why Shakespeare wrote the monologue the way it is.

Another thing I have been slaving over is the application to the high school I would like to attend next year. I really want to make it memorable and good, so I have been spending a lot of time perfecting the short answers and thinking about the essay. I have yet to get my SSAT scores back, and I am rather jumpy every time the mailman comes to the door.

Well, that is it for today, another snapshot into my life as a homeschooler. Happy St. Lucia Day, a little late...(it was on December 13)


Monday, December 12, 2011

Getting in the Spirit

As the holidays are approaching fast, we have finally started spreading cheer throughout our house. Last night we put up the tree and watched Holiday Inn, and this morning I made gingerbread cookies.
Happy Holiday Season!
Those are the gingerbread cookies, sitting on the Christmas placemats in the kitchen.

December is Nutcracker season, and these are my friends who live in my bedroom.

This is our Swedish Christmas star, which lights up and hangs in the window.

This is our newly erected Christmas tree, next to the Swedish candles in the front window. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Tempest

On Saturday night, I went to see a production of Shakespeare's play The Tempest, which was magical. It was a student produced and directed production, but I think they pulled it off incredibly well. The Tempest is one of Shakespeare's later plays, and some say that the character Prospero was based on Shakespeare himself. The play concerns the inhabitants of an island, and a party who is shipwrecked on the island. The Tempest is more than just a romance: it is a contemplation on magic, dreaming, illusion, and music. The cast includes an exiled duke turned magician, a beautiful princess, a usurper, a monster who speaks beautiful words, and a spirit desperate for freedom. I am going to try my hand at reviewing the play, and give you some details on the choices they made.

Sets and Costumes: The costumes in the play were simple but attractive, and the set was spectacular. Prospero the magician was played as an artist, complete with paint spattered jeans and t shirt, and a thoughtful appearance. The set was multiple tall shelves filled with lamps, books, art, and knick-knacks. There was creative lighting inside the shelves, which made the stage glow. The artwork in the play was all beautiful, and made by students. There was a large easel and a huge pile of books at the front of the stage, and this and the shelves were the only set throughout the play. It gave the play an air of illusion that only those in Prospero's favor could see his home and art studio.

The characters were all well played, and some interesting choices were made. The monster Caliban was played by a woman, which was unusual but worked very well. Miranda was a wonderfully innocent princess who fell in love easily, and Prospero was quiet but powerful, and artistic. Ariel the spirit was eager to serve, yet at the same time was desperate for her freedom.

As a student directed play, I think this was amazing. When you perform Shakespeare, you must make choices well because the audience will expect it to be good quality. The cast was great, although had some problems projecting and speaking clearly enough to be heard in the back. The tone in the play was artistic, and the themes of music, dance, and art were clear and beautifully worked out. The musical choices worked wonderfully, and overall the play was magical, as it should be. It was a great first Tempest for me to see, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shakespeare's Time

Last week, my dad and I did some research on the times of Shakespeare, and his history. I know quite a lot about him now, and the exercise for this week was to write a short piece about a day in his life. I chose to set this in the early years of the 1600's, around 1603. Shakespeare was by then a well known playwright, and he was living with two French Huguenots in London, while frequently visiting his wife and children in Stratford. This is a fictional day in his life, where he discovers some of the words for his play The Tempest...

William Shakespeare awoke to the painful screeching of the matron next door, and her unruly cat who insisted on echoing her. 
“Why you lumpish toad! Sitting an’ singing to yerself with not a care in the world! Beef-witted barnacle!” 
Will tucked that slew of insults away into his mind, then yawned prodigiously and climbed out of bed. Candle stubs littered the room, as well as quill tips, crumpled papers, and stinking clothes spattered with ink. He peered out the window, glancing disgustedly at the grey rooftops, grey streets, grey people, and today, the grey sky. He cursed London briefly as fat raindrops began to spill from the sky. It was going to be a long walk to work. 
Downstairs in the dingy kitchen, maids were working away and being chastised by the cook. Shakespeare smiled to himself as she berated Audrey, the new serving girl, for spoiling the eggs. Another thought to slip into his brain, the melting pot of ideas. 
In the dining room, Mr. and Mrs. Mountjoy were speaking quietly in French and eating breakfast. Their daughter Helena was in the tire shop with some excuse, making moony eyes at the new apprentice, whose name was Stephen. As William entered the room, the Mountjoys looked up and simultaneously said “Bonjour William.” 
Shakespeare nodded and sat at the table, munching on the plate of eggs, which Audrey had not spoiled. “Good day to you Christopher. How was your rest last night?” 
“Ah, my sleeping. I had a dream so beautiful, so perfect, that when I waked, I all but cried to dream again,” said Mountjoy in his distinctive French accent, smiling placidly and thinking back. “The clouds opened and threw riches down upon me. It was...wonderful.”
Will thought this over for several seconds, turning the phrases over in his mind as he so often did. Hmm, he thought, that could be good for a play someday.
All too soon, it was time for Shakespeare to pull his coat over his head and set off through the rain to the playhouse. It was damp and cold, and Will shivered as he pushed through the masses of humanity on either side of him. Living in London was a great way to learn how to multitask. Will shoved against the crowd, listening to jeers and catcalls, hammers ringing, people singing and shouting, lovers quarreling, cats squalling, and carts trundling up and down the streets. He grasped his bag close for fear of pickpockets, held his jacket up to shield him from the rain, took erratic steps to avoid piles of waste, and mulled the morning’s events over in his mind. 
When William Shakespeare arrived at the playhouse, he could still hear Christopher’s voice in his ears. With a little tweaking, they could be magic, thought Will. 
Stepping out of the rain, he could hear them playing over and over in his mind, music to his writer’s ear. 
“The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.” 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Weekly Wednesday Snapshot

I had a burst of creativity when I dropped my assorted things onto my bed before putting them away. This was a perfect snapshot of what I had been doing this week! I quickly took a picture, and I think this would be a super fun way to sum up the week. Every Wednesday, I will post one picture that sums up my week. It could be a collection of things, or just a picture I took that week which was important. This is a much more fun way to express what I am doing, rather than just writing about my week. I will include a description with the basic things that I have done that week.

Here is the story of my week this week through the items in my picture...

1. My knitting: I have been making a fun little blue scarf this week for a loved one's Christmas present. Knitting is great, and is a quick way to make beautiful homemade gifts.
2. SSAT Prep book: This is one of three prep books I have to study from. So far, I have taken four practice tests and worked through hundreds of problems, as well as many essays. I may post a couple essays soon, as they are a fun read.
3. Books to read: Currently, I am reading The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton, but I have several more for when I am finished.
4. Much Ado About Nothing: I am beginning to read this play with my dad this week. It is our second play of the week, and it seems like a wonderful read!

Hope you enjoyed the snapshot, and let me know if you think it would be a fun idea to continue!


SSAT Essay: A Chance to Write

While studying for the SSAT, I have had the opportunity to write a couple essays using the prompts that they give me. This is undoubtedly my favorite part of the SSAT, because you can get creative and it pushes you to think fast and come up with meaningful examples. There is not a whole lot of time, but enough to get something good down on paper. The prompts can be a little wacky, and so can my responses, but generally they are good. This is just a rough draft, as I had a short time and have not edited it yet.

Here is my essay, written in twenty five minutes. It is a response to the prompt "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

Anyone can succeed. You don't need years of schooling or intensive learning to excel. Imagination is the most important tool to have, and with that at your fingertips, you can do anything. Examples of creativity outstripping knowledge include painters, poets, and writers such as William Shakespeare.

 The first example of imaginative thinking poetry. Poets do not need vast amounts of learning to create beautiful images and scenes. All they need is a passion for writing and a great imagination. A poet full of imagination and heart will always beat one who has had years of training but produces bland and uninspired poems. Poets like Emily Dickinson did not attend a school for poetry or a university of words. They simply imagined their own world and created stunning poems from their thoughts and emotions.

Another example of a great imagination is the Bard himself: William Shakespeare. As a young man, Will's family did not have the money to send him to university. When Will became a playwright, many other writers had attended university and considered themselves better than him. Will blew them all away with his plays, even though he had less schooling than them. He used his spectacular imagination to create plays better than those stuffed with knowledge.

The last example of imagination versus knowledge is an artist. Artists rely on imagination to create media that will capture the hearts of audiences, and no amount of knowledge can teach a painter how to create magical pictures. You can study hard and become a technically perfect potter, but your bowls and vases will not be fully appreciated unless you create them with the spark of imagination.

No matter what profession you may have, you will always value imagination over technical ability and knowledge. Whatever you choose to do, the amount of imagination you put into it will be the key. It is imagination which makes good thinks into great, and it is creativity which makes the world magical.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Rainy Night Turns to Photo Opportunity

Tonight as we were walking to dinner, I grabbed my camera at the last second, thinking that I would try to take some night pictures. I had never taken any night pictures, and I wanted to try, because it seemed like it would be fun to edit them. My camera has a format for night pictures, which takes the picture at a slower speed, which can do some pretty crazy things with the light. People in our neighborhood are putting up Christmas lights, and I discovered that moving while taking a picture had amazing results. The pictures are not really recognizable, but they are works of art. The light is beautiful, and I love everything about these pictures taken on a dark and rainy night.



Bring out the sweats and old t shirt, because today was the first day of my vacation! I slept a little more than usual, showered in the morning, and did some Christmas planning. I started a scarf, made a new zentangle picture, and made thank you cards for the teachers who did so much for me this term, and took me in even though I was not technically a student. Later this week, I am going to bake something nice for them as a thank you for all their time and commitment.

After lunch, I worked on my SSAT prep for a couple hours. I wrote a practice essay to get used to the timing, and went over my previous tests to work on what I got wrong. I am getting very nervous about the test on Saturday, and I hope that my studying pays off.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Final Exams

Today was the day of judgement as far as the first term goes. I had a final exam in both German and Math today, which is worth a chunk of my final grade and is very important. The German exam was in the morning and lasted for an hour and a half. That one I had studied for plenty, and I feel fairly confident in the score that I will get. Math was in the afternoon and it was harder, but still bearable. I hope I finished with a good score, and I do feel confident that it was at least an ok score.

After taking tests literally all day, I was very happy to come home and relax. My plans were to spend the afternoon reading, which is something that I love more than anything but have not had much time to do lately. After settling down on my bed to read, I only lasted about 15 minutes before falling asleep and staying asleep until dinner time. I guess my body needed a break after a weekend of studying and a day of exams. This week will be spent in preparation of the SSAT, which I am taking on Saturday. Because I have no classes now, I can dedicate the time to the SSAT and other things that I have not had time to do while being kept busy with classes and other practices.

I intend to spend this week knitting, reading as much as possible, and studying for the SSAT. Once the SSAT is over, I will throw myself into the application process for the private high school I hope to attend. This weekend should also be really fun, as I am going to see a production of The Tempest by William Shakespeare performed by a Harvard acting troupe.

For now, I am going to bed early tonight, and will hopefully wake up tomorrow refreshed and ready to start studying.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Weekend: Preparing for the Week of Doom

This weekend is one of studying and stressing over what I am worried will be an incredibly hard week. On Monday, I have the final exams for both Math and German, and I am very worried, especially about math. I have been reviewing both today, and plan to continue and do more tomorrow. I am the most nervous about world problems, making stupid mistakes, and forgetting German vocabulary gender (feminine, masculine, and neutral nouns). Then, after Monday's hours of testing, I have to study for the SSAT, which is next Saturday. I still don't feel comfortable with the practice scores I have been getting, and I think a little more studying should help. Still, it is set to be a nerve-wracking week.

Apart from all the testing, I am very happy. We are finally in the Christmas season, which is questionably my favorite part of the year. Radio stations start playing "White Christmas" and people go out to buy apple cider, gingerbread, and Christmas trees. Today, we took out our Christmas lights, and it was an opportunity to take some pictures. I am not sure how well they came out, but it was super fun to take pictures in the dark and get in the holiday spirit.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pictures of Today

Today I had my Friday morning excursion to my elementary school, and the kindergarteners were having fun counting with beans. Walking home I messed around my my camera a bit, and thought I would post some pictures. As I said earlier, I'm no good at photography, but I really enjoy it!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Jumble of Words and Thoughts Because I am Tired

Today was a crazy day. Because of my habit of procrastinating, I did not finish my Twelfth Night paper until this morning. I had it all planned out, but somewhere forgot to write the actual paper, so that it how I spent the morning hours. I feel like I dissected the play, because I began to think much more about characters, illusion, and how this translates to our lives and identities. Is that going overboard? Not at all! I enjoyed coming up with a thesis and backing it up, as I believe there is nothing better than a good essay (except maybe a poem). Anyway, maybe I will include parts of the paper in a later post.

As far as busy work goes, I have finished my German review and the math homework for tomorrow. Also started the final math review for the test on Monday. Sounds like lots of math, but I know it is necessary. Today I also kept with my goal of doing one full practice SSAT per week until the real one, which is next Saturday. It is a time eater, and it is painfully dull, but I need the practice *wince* That was what occupied my afternoon.

The later afternoon was spent babysitting, then I had dinner. No chorus tonight because our director feels we are ready for our big Christmas concert on Sunday, and wanted to give us a break. I am so excited for the concert, which is shaping up to be fantastic!

Regarding my opportunity post yesterday, I just want to say that I finished my story, and it is up! If you would like to read it, click here. I wrote about the W.P.S, and the unfairness of the situation regarding women's professional soccer here in the US. Thanks to Nathan for publishing me!