Monday, July 31, 2006

It's a BAW-gin!

I mentioned in the last post that I buy most of my additional reading books for history and science. What I didn't mention is my list of favorite bargain book sources -- used curriculum sales, Scholastic warehouse sales, and bargain-book liquidation outlets.

Used curriculum sales are my most favorite. I go to one held annually in June, and I've found some great bargains. This year I stocked up on a big stack of "Key to" workbooks and answer keys, some fiction titles for $2 or less, and the Building Thinking Skills Level 1 workbook AND teacher's manual. There's no better place around here to check out a resource in person before buying. Last year, I bought a stack of Saxon hardcover textbooks for a friend of mine, and I scored myself an older edition of the Math-It game (including the upper level stuff) for only $5.

Scholastic warehouse sales are good, too. 50% off is always a good deal. But I have to walk past hundreds of copies of Junie B. Jones, SpongeBob, and sports-related nonfiction to find stuff I can use.

Bargain-book liquidators have been the source of some surprisingly good finds. Last week I found a copy of Peter the Great by Diane Stanley -- one of the nonfiction titles I'm considering for this year. But the kids section has all its fiction books shoved onto the shelves with no discernible rhyme or reason. But like they say, half of it is just the thrill of the hunt.

Summer Planning Madness

I finally finished the summer reading list for The Goose. Now all I have to do is make her use it, LOL. While I've been slacking off from posting, I've spent the last several weeks trying to narrow down our reading choices for the next school year.

This year we'll be doing Early Modern history a la WTM, 1600-1850. So we'll hit the time period I know and love best: colonial times. It always seemed silly to me to do the same material in school over and over again -- half the year spent on the Revolutionary War, another third spent on everything up to the Civil War, and then spending the last six weeks of the school year trying to cram in everything that took place after the Industrial Revolution. Changing the scope and sequence for history is one of the reasons we homeschool. But I still get excited thinking that we'll get to read Johnny Tremain this year.

There are so many good books available for this time period that it's hard to choose just a few to digest. I found a list of Sonlight titles arranged in WTM order, and that was extremely helpful. Using that, I marked up my Veritas Press, Sonlight, and Rainbow Resource catalogs. I've got notes of the prices for each title I'm considering. And then I finally cracked open my Story of the World activity guide and started winnowing down their list of suggested titles.

"But wait!" you interject. "You mean you're BUYING your books? What about that great big-city library system of yours?" Yes, in the past I've bought most of my books. I spent two years flipping through my SOTW activity guides, hunting online for titles at my local library branch, and finding only a handful available. I'll come out and say it right now: my local branch stinks, and the mere thought of spending hours every week requesting books through ILL makes me ill. Placing my school schedule and resources at the mercy of a clunky government agency just rubs me the wrong way.

This time around has been better, but it's still frustrating to find that 20 other branches carry the book I want, but my local branch doesn't. Or to find that the only copies available in the entire City of LA library system can be found only at the downtown Central Library.

So yes, I'll be buying most of our history books this year. But since we'll be out of the house on Fridays this year, I know I'll actually be able to set foot inside the library more than once. Finding the books I want while keeping the Flock both quiet and nearby is another challenge entirely.

I don't usually plan this much for history during the summer, but I'm tired of having things sneak up on me during the year. DH and I spent an afternoon planning our life schedule through the end of the calendar year (yes, we actually do this on a recurring basis) and I found 180 days of school to pack in around it all. Just doing that much has really taken a load off my mind.

Now, if I can just find the cheapest place to buy all my science books...

No, It Only Looks Like I've Dropped Off the Face of the Earth

I've been trying to get back to posting after the beach, but I've been using late nights for DVDs and sleep, of all things. Fortunately I have a big writing project keeping me up late at night, but I'm still nodding off too early to post. Still working on finding a groove.

OK, enough excuses. I'll just do some quick binge-posting and stagger off to bed.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Climb Every Mountain, Swim Every Stream

I successfully scaled Mt. Beach Laundry, took a break over the weekend, and have begun my assault on Mt. Laundry-Left-Over-From-Before-Vacation. The summit is slowly coming into view, but I paused a little today to teach the kids how to play Crazy Eights. The Goose has a tin with "kid games" in it, so we've been bingeing on Old Maid (Thrillsville). The kid version of Crazy Eights has all these funky shapes instead of the suits on a regular deck of cards. That, and the colors aren't distinct enough -- red looks like orange looks like soft pink. I blundered on explaining the wild eight card rule (been a looooonnnng time), and when I realized it, The Goose already had a big handful of cards in her hand. I told her we should start over, and use a regular deck of cards. She was aghast, and said she didn't want to play anymore. The Flea agreed, and I was left with The Boy, who is quite the expert at having a hissy fit when he doesn't win.

Today was hot... temperatures in the triple popsicles (that's how many I had today). I pumped up the pool for the kids, and they played for a good 45 minutes. I'm making headway on my "summer reading list" for The Goose, but I need to finish up before the summer's over (duh).

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Lucy, I'm Home

We're back from camping. One whole week of mighty fine west and wewaxation. Posting to resume when I've scaled Mt. Laundry.