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The Genial Hearth
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Archive for October, 2007

On Blogging-For K and L!

(I know that for most of you, this is old hat, but I’ve had a couple of friends (K and L:-) ) ask me about this just recently…)

Why Blog?
There are so many reasons why people blog that I figured I’d just talk about why I blog:-)
For me, there are two main reasons. Initially, it was about keeping in contact with people I wasn’t seeing as regularly (I started blogging at about the same time as I stopped working when I came home to have Puggle—three and a half years ago!)
The other reason, which has become far more important over time, is to record what I’m doing with the children—and their progress. I’m finding it useful to record my plans and list what we’ve done, in one place (I’m expecting I’ll be able to use these notes when I need to talk with a moderator eventually).
Personally as I’ve been exploring homeschooling, I’ve found other people’s blogs have given me an opportunity to peer into their houses to get some ideas about what it might really look like. I like to think that my blog might be equally as useful for some other people—kind of my way of putting back in to the online homeschooling community:-)
Another side benefit, is that my blog acts like an easily searchable brain… I’ve been visiting my parents, and wanted to tell mum about a recipe, so I’ll search my blog. Lots of the things I blog about, I do so in order to rememeber them (useful websites, plans, things that worked, and things that didn’t).

How to start?
Blogging is pretty easy (or can be!) to set up. I have used a number of different programmes at various times, and they all do the same basic stuff. But there are some things you should probably consider before you begin.

The first thing to think about is probably what you’re going to blog about and who your audience is. I blog in the personal sphere, but I’m happy for anyone to read my blog (I choose to use nom-de-blogs for my children, and only post non-identifying photos of them for this reason). I don’t need to hide my posts, so that is one requirement I don’t need to consider (although, depending on which solution you choose, it’s possible to hide your entire blog, as well as individual posts).

You’ll need to choose a blogging application.
Blogger is where I blogged most (it’s the stuff I’ve also copied to The Genial Hearth). You can I believe, choose to make your blog either entirely public, or entirely private (I’m not sure whether this means viewing is restricted, or just that the blog isn’t made visible in searches). You can tag your posts, and they’ve just introduced an ’email comment’ option, so people can follow a conversation in the comments. You can also have multiple posters to one blog. It’s not possible to queue posts, you can change the date on which they appear to have been posted, but if you have a regular posting schedule you wish to maintain while away, that’s not possible to set up. You can have multiple blogs attached to one person… so if you wanted a cooking blog, and a book review blog, and a homeschool blog, that’s easily done.
Live Journal probably offers the most flexibility for privacy of any of these five. You can choose to make all your posts public, or you can hide some or all of them behind a friends-lock. I believe it’s also possible to vary the filter, so that some are visible to different groups. The downside is that people who are going to read friends-locked posts need to also have a Live Journal account. You can both catagorise and tag posts.
HomeschoolBlogger was one I set up, but never did anything with, and it appears to have eaten the name. is based on is another I have set up and done nothing with (it was when I was considering shifting blogs… The Genial Hearth is a WordPress blog and they share most of the same features as far as I can tell). You can have multiple blogs attached to one person. You can use both catagories and tags. The blog can be public or a private (members only) one—other viewers would also need to sign up. Or, you can choose to password protect certain entries. And if you decide after you’ve been blogging for a while that you’d like to move here, they have a handy tool for shifting existing blog posts from other providers.

There are a myriad of other free blog sites that I haven’t mentioned (because I haven’t used them at all), plus dozens of different paid alternatives if you’d rather go that route. Look around, you’ll start seeing different ones all over:-)

Choose a blog application.

Now you can start the fun stuff. You need to choose a Blog name (I’ve used Fe2h2o, fefifofum and The Genial Hearth) which may or may not be the same as your posting name (I’ve used fe2h2o, fefifofum and Fe). This will usually be part of the blog address. It’s probably a good idea to choose something memorable—you don’t want to have to struggle to remember all your login information! (There is always the possibility that your chosen name will already be taken, so you may need to get a little creative.) Then, you just have to follow the prompts to get it started.

Of course, the real ‘work’ of a blog is the writing of posts. You can choose to write your posts directly, or do them off-line and upload them later. You can include photos (or only post photos). You can fiddle with the general appearance of your blog (all the ones I linked to have a range of themes from which you can choose.) And of course, you can add favourite things to the sidebars (including links to your favourite blogs!) You can even include a link to your feedreader, so that people can read the posts you’re reading. (There’s always something new to try… in setting up the email subscription option here, I’ve joined up to Feedburner, which gives you really easy options for monitoring your traffic. I’m finding watching what people come to read very interesting, as well as bizarre… some one found me with a google search for “t”!)

Hopefully, this covers most of your questions:-)
Happy Blogging!

It’s Carnival Time!

CM carnival logo
The Charlotte Mason Carnival is up at Dewey’s Treehouse. Join her for coffee and check it out:-)
Carnival of Homeschooling

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Spiritbee’s. Her Yearbook runs the gamut of the school experience:-)

Cannon Fire

So, our current poem refers to firing “the penny cannon in the bow”, and Puggle asked me what a cannon was (he has seen one before, at the museum). After talking for a bit, I quickly searched the web for some nice visuals:-)

Our favourite was here. It’s not too long, and the camera is well positioned so that you can see what they’re doing:-)

This was reasonable as an example of a cannon in the middle of a battle.

Here is an example of a cannon being used in a fortress (a little long).

This one includes some explanation of how a battery might work.

This lets you hear some of the commands a little more clearly.

What’s your favourite cannon firing footage?

One joy of the CM approach is that (as far as my reading goes, at any rate) you don’t need to work to make links for the children, it’ll just happen. And here’s a great example of that. Our current folksong is “Soldier, Soldier” which is a Civil War song… many of the cannon links are civil war re-enactors. We got briefly distracted by some fife and drum corps. He’s now singing a bit of “Two Little Boys” (also a Civil War song)—the bit where “cannons roared loud”. At the time he didn’t notice:-)

(And now Puggle: “I don’t suppose we can take your computer to Grandma and Grandad’s so we can show them cannons?”)

Everyday Systems

Today, Drew at Running River Latin School linked to Everyday Systems, and I’ve had a lovely time exploring! I was particularly interested in the Weekend Luddite idea and am now tempted to go and buy a sledgehammer (I need some exercise)!

This Week

Our plans for
Week 2, Block 9
‘My Ship and I’ from A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert L. Stevenson
‘The Nightingale’ from The Yellow Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse* by Beatrix Potter
Folksong: Soldier, Soldier, Will You Marry Me?
Carol: The First Nowell
Composer: Richard Wagner
Work: selections from The Valkyries (It should be The Love Feast from the Apostles, but I’ve failed in sourcing it so far).
Artist: Titian
Work: The Portrait of Emperor Charles V at Muhlberg
Art Activity: Make an x-ray ‘X‘. Use Window paint (like an X-ray:-) ).
Cooking: Dips and Dippers

*Although, we may do one of the other stories we missed earlier in the year.


A fairly basic week. We did manage Mat Time on 4 days (which is as many as I would anticipate), although, on Swimming day it was rather abbreviated! The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse is significantly shorter than many of the other Beatrix Potter stories! ‘Thumbelina’ mentioned Swallows, so we spent some time on the Birds page of Richard Scarry’s European Word Book

We’ve missed the folksong completely—I couldn’t get past my inability to fit it in a readable size (from the couch), on one page. There are other long songs coming up, so I’ll need to find a solution for that. We did introduce a new Latin song Ardet Roma (Rome Is Burning) which Puggle’s enjoying (he just saw the page as I uploaded it and told me he can already sing it himself… it was pretty good!) We also began experimenting with some opening songs, so that Mat Time has a definite start.

We had another watercolours session, and we read Ruth Hellar’s Color (and also Jane Yolen’s How Do Dinosaurs Learn Their Colors, which Puggle chose from the library—and Bilby is finding very interesting:-) ).

We even got the ukeleles out a couple of times:-)

A reasonable week. He’s asking for Mat Time now, which helps me remember it:-) I think I probably need to find a basket to pack at the start of the week, with all our Mat Time books, that will make it quicker to start.

Proud Dada:-)

Paddington has just posted some Puggleisims:-)

On Photography

My maternal grandfather was into photography. Two of his three children took it up as well, my mother and one of my uncles. My parents were very in to it. When I was small they were still involved in photography clubs, and developed their own film. Later, they stopped that, but they still mostly shot slide film (oh, how many boxes of slides are there to go through!) About eighteen months ago they got a digital point and shoot, and mum has got into it a bit, but dad hasn’t really done much photography since he retired.

A dozen years ago, when my uncle died, I was teaching photography. So, my parents brought back his camera, a Spotmatic F. I used it a little, but mostly stuck with the point and shoot I already had.

But I’ve always taken photos.

Last year, my point and shoot died (well, the battery did… and I just didn’t get around to getting a new one). Later in the year we got another digital, and I had the older one (figuring that it would have a harder life around the kids). You might have noticed a sudden flurry of photos on my blog:-)

Then, that died.

At the beginning of September I was looking at junk mail when my father arrived, and commented on a digital SLR that somewhere had for sale. Dad got very enthused and got one the next day! (He’s using it… but hasn’t quite worked out the digital thing… he took a total of 40 photos on his recent holiday—and that was with 3GB of memory available:-) )

It got me motivated to get out a camera, and given I needed to get a battery for something I figured I might as well get out the Spotmatic… I had been finding the point and shoot limiting. After some research (there’s some very keen Spotmatic users out there… fortunately for me) I managed to work out which battery to get.

So, since then I’ve getting back in the swing of taking photos. Not so many for the blog (using film forces a slower pace than really suits blogging!), but lots of the kids:-) I’ve been enjoying experimenting a bit, and I am finding the texture of film appealing. They’re up at Flickr. (Although, I have got most of them restricted to friends. So if you want to see them, add me as a contact, and if I recognise your name I’ll list you as a friend—if your name isn’t obvious, leave me a comment.) At this stage the subject matter is somewhat repetitive… I have the camera at home (it’s really heavy!) for the most part, so it’s the kids and the garden:-)

Carnival Time

Carnival of HomeschoolingThe Carnival of Homeschooling is up again, at At Home With Kris. She’s put a lot of effort into the ABC edition, with at least one entry for every letter of the alphabet!

For those on LJ

Dalekboy has set up an LJ feed for this blog. It seems to truncate the posts, which I think is kind of good:-) Means you’ll all have to come over here if you want to post any comments:-)

If you do sign up, can you give me a hoy? The feed setup only lets you see the number of followers, not who they are—and it’s nice to know who’s reading:-)

So now you folk on LJ have another option:-)

Watercolour Again

This time around we used yellow and blue (starting with the lighter colour:-) )

Puggle remembered a lot of what we talked about last time, he was generally good about taking care of the ‘beards’, and he certainly remembered about mixing the paint and water, and cleaning off the brushes. He was able to be dramatically more independent than last time!

yellow and blue watercolour
We talked about the way the paint moved across the paper, and the way the colours mixed.

Just this week we’ve been reading Color by Ruth Heller. Recently Katherine reviewed some lovely language books (also by Ruth Heller). They sounded quite interesting, so I did my usual, searched the library and requested all the Ruth Heller books they had. I’ll post separately about the language ones, but one of them was Color—and it’s fabulous! It’s probably mostly beyond Puggle at the moment, although, it includes colour mixing so that much works for now. But it’s a book I could see benefiting in the long term. It’s written in rhyme, and the images are gorgeous. It is a good introduction to the language of colour, but it also talks about colour and print.

This is one that I’ll probably add to our wishlist!

One Year On

Happy Birthday Bilby!
Bilby foot
It’s been a fabulous year:-) She’s a cheerful, determined, madly keen on music and books, crawling (much more consistently!) delight.
Bilby Reading
At the moment, we’ll typically find her sitting with a book, reading out loud—either that or squeaking when she sees the cat (and then Puggle squeaks back, then she replies… and on and on!)

I did want to include a link to her birthday flag, but sadly I can’t remember how to blur the name and replace it… so it’ll have to wait.

On Reading

Willa recently posted about her reading plans for one of her young sons. I’m particularly interested because she is taking a literature approach, which appeals to me.

She is using the Primary Reading and Literature and its accompanying Primer. She also includes links to Don Potter’s phonics site.

I am pretty set on Writing Road to Reading as our reading spine (for my phonics knowledge at the very least), but I’m starting to think about the actual ‘presentation’ of the information. Anything too formal seems somewhat over-done for home, but I’m not certain what it will look like. This post gives me some pointers.

(A little further down the track… Kathy has an interesting [and helpful] post on planning a reading programme—including pointers on numbers of pages and how to calculate how much to assign over a year.)

Free Vocabulary and Free Rice

FreeRice is a really fun site:-) And you can do good at the same time!

Test your vocabulary, and for every word you get right, they’ll donate 10 grains of rice. Check out their totals page, to see how their numbers have increased:-)

(Hat tip to Fred_mouse—she blogged it on the 14th October.)

It’s Vegetarian—and Kosher!

Who would have thought? Bacon salt!

(Hat tip to Drew.)

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