Saturday, May 10, 2008

I Hate It

When my house gets so messy that I look around and don't know where to start, and do some stupid unnecessary thing instead. Like today I got rid of an old couch and prepped the garden beds, but didn't put away all the crap crowding out the couch, which really, should have been the priority.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Picture Time!

To Marie's on Tuesday for a little vegging:
(not sure why this won't rotate, it is horizontal before I upload it!)

And a little playing:

BittyPrincess rockin' her new trike:

Fran was off yesterday, so after a leisurely breakfast (completed at noon...VERY leisurely), we packed up the kids and the bikes and headed off to Lake Sammamish State Park. The whole crew:

The big two and I took our bikes and some snacks and headed off on the trails. Mud, water, sand; it was fun. It would have been cool to get pictures of that, but it was also a very messy ride and I'm not sure I would have thought to take photos anyway. We were TIRED by the time we loaded back up at 7:30pm. It was good fun and we'll be doing it again.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Test Those Homeschoolers!

In the state of Washington, there is a requirement that all school aged children (meaning grade 3 and above, the way the law is written) undergo some sort of evaluation. The law, as far as it goes, is pretty easy to comply with. This year, we chose to take the test that our virtual academy "sold" us. My children took the same tests that ~L~ talks about here:

I sent a somewhat angry letter to the virtual academy. My children were not as distressed as hers were over the test, and for them it was just an oddity. But it was a really shitty test, honestly.

That said, their results came in today and both of the children are in the 99th percentile for their grades on both segments of their exams. What that MEANS I don't know. Here's what I sent to the academy:

I am writing to express my dissapointment re: the MAP test. My daughter's reading/language test never once tested her reading abilities, instead focussing on syllables; this is a testing focus which I find bizarre and unlikely to yield accurate results concerning my daughter's actual english/language arts comprehension or capabilities. Both of my children encountered a question regarding school vacations, which is something entirely foreign to them and an unfair question, particularly considering that it was one of only a couple of its type. My son's mathematics test, supposedly at kindergarden level, skipped quickly from "click three elephants" to a division problem without manipulatives or illustrations.

This test at first struck me as simply bizarre. The more I think about it, however, the more unhappy I am with it. There is little positive to be said for this test and how it played out for my children. It seemed to have little to do with what they know or what they are capable of, and "adaptive" it is most certainly not. I cannot see how this test would in any way tell us anything concrete about my children and their academic progress, having covered extensively such oddities as "which has three syllables" but never testing any reading ability whatsoever.

We are through this hurdle and then some, but I'm pissed that this test was sold to us as being a decent option. It isn't. It took my son just over 30 minutes to complete, and my daughter just over an hour. Convenient, yes. Easy to take, not so much. A valid measure of my childrens' progress? Even if I take off my "tests are almost universally flawed because they test only a few of the many dimensions of learning" hat, I can't see how this would be a valid measure of my childrens' progress. A valid comparison with other children, perhaps. But it doesn't tell me anything useful; I still don't know what my kids' strengths and weaknesses are, or where they have gaps in their learning/understanding. I just know they spanked other kids their age on the same question set. What do I do with that knowledge?

My kids, for what it's worth, were underwhelmed by their 99th percentile scores and the "super job!" post-it note attached to their score sheets.

This is entirely cool

In this study, volunteers collected their own menstrual blood, which was then put in culture with rat heart cells, and spontaneously began to beat and form heart tissue sheets. While only 20% of the collected cells successfully made this conversion, this is 10-20 times the success rate seen with human embryonic stem cells.

Why do I think this is cool? Because someday, your menstrual blood may be "recycled" into new heart tissue that is entirely your own genetically. Such a tidy (genetically, medically, immunologically, ethically) solution!

(My apologies if this has been all over the news the last week...I don't do TV anymore...)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Spring, Spring, SPRING!!!

I think spring is finally actually here. There are baby birds in the bluebird nest, the tomato plants may just be safe to put outside now, and I can leave a window open without freezing to death. We haven't turned the heater on in a week! YAY spring!

Yesterday I took the two big kids out biking and we had a BLAST. And, um, today we bought padded bike shorts. Ouch.

It is also obvious now that Boyness needs a new bike as well *sigh* because he just can't keep up with those little tires, and really he had about outgrown the bike anyway. I feel like we're bleeding money over this venture.

In other news, neither of the kids has brought up the whole sex talk thing again, and neither of them is showing any evidence any stress-out or of it being anything other than just some strange new information. Phew.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Bikes Accomplished!

I did finally manage to pick up our new bikes (mine and Becca's). "Fully assembled," they said. I kind of expected that this would mean they'd check the brakes, at least. I guess not. And my bike has some strange allen key thing that I don't have a tool for. So this is not quite over yet. I was able to get Becca's brakes reassembled and properly adjusted, and she is thrilled.