Organizing Theory & Artistry

Tricks and Treats of October and Homeschooling Recap

Tricks and Treats of October and Homeschooling Recap
My one Halloween-clothing purchase this year was a pair of hilarious glow-in-the-dark skeleton pajamas for my son.
My one Halloween-clothing purchase this year was a pair of hilarious glow-in-the-dark skeleton pajamas for my son.

It’s a new month and a new time change to boot! Before I launch into some new topics for November, it’s time to recap the posts on homeschool organization from September and October.


HOMESCHOOL ORGANIZATION POSTS

This post earned a “retweet” from Carolina Pad, one of the most innovative producers of school supplies. I was honored.

2013-11-05-studioctweet

BOOK REVIEWS:

Continuing the education theme by enhancing my own education on organization and writing.

It is also part of my ongoing education to witness how kind and generous these successful authors are in recognizing all of their reviewers. What an example to follow!

2013-11-05-erikwahltweet

2013-11-05-gladstone-tweet

ORGANIZATIONAL PRIORITIES: HEALTH

It is time to get ready for cold and flu season. If you haven’t had your flu shot yet, there’s still time but get on this now before Thanksgiving travel season brings with it traveling germs.

OTHER TRICKS AND TREATS OF OCTOBER

I shared with you our Halloween costumes this year but there were other celebrations going on behind the scenes as well.

TREATS

We’ll start off with the positive, there were many treats of October

Diplomatic Skeletons

A coloring sheet at the Dem Bones event.
A coloring sheet at the Dem Bones event.

Our local library held a wonderful event for October. In Fredericksburg, Halloween is a polarizing holiday. Some people celebrate it with relish (like us) and others find it demonic and against their religion. Our local library wading carefully into this fray, created an event called “Dem Bones.” While having applications to Halloween, they kept it strictly an informational event about skeletons and the bones in the human body. I thought it was a brilliant idea and an excellent example of Virginia’s “purple” state diplomacy. The children built skeletons out of Q-tips and filled in a diagram with the names of various bones.

The last activity, however, was the best. The children laid down on a long sheet of butcher paper and had their bodies traced. They then cut out various bones and pasted them where they went. It was a little creepy at first to see my children reduced to their bones but also a chance to appreciate the beautiful complexity that is the human body. The skeletons made terrific Halloween decorations and also give me a record of my children’s height. It will be fun to unroll them next year and see how much everyone has grown.

My skeletonized children.
My skeletonized children.

Dancing Skeletons

We made a trip to Richmond to celebrate Latin Ballet of Virginia‘s Dia de los Muertos festival. My children have greatly enjoyed their summer camp and I thought it would be a great enhancement to my children’s Spanish lessons.

I know almost nothing about Dia de los Muertos, which means “Day of the Dead.” From what I observed, it is sort of like a cross between Halloween and All Saints Day. It is a chance to remember those who have died but also have a little bit of fun with skeletons and costumes. The costumes and decorations are elegant and poetic, almost tragic, remembering loves lost. There are altars with colorful flowers and photographs of loved ones who have passed on. It was an interesting twist on Halloween and I quite liked it. One author predicts that Dia de los Muertos festivities will become more and more infused into American Halloween traditions over time.

Lawanda Raines Giunti, stunning in her Dia de los Muertos costume.
Lawanda Raines Giunti, stunning in her Dia de los Muertos costume.
Making lollipop spiders.
Making lollipop spiders.
A tiny skeleton shadow box on one of the altars.
A tiny skeleton shadow box on one of the altars.
More skeletons with flowers.
More skeletons with flowers.
The elegant Ana Ines King in her Dia de los Muertos costume and my daughter, the Spanish "prodigy."
The elegant Ana Ines King in her Dia de los Muertos costume and my daughter, the Spanish “prodigy.”
Some of the dancers remembered us from summer camp. The best moment, however, was when my 5-year old proudly announced to the always elegantly dressed Ana Ines King, director of Latin Ballet of Virginia, “I speak Spanish too!”

“Oh dear,” I thought, since our Spanish is still a meager collection of words at this point.

“Oh, really?” Ms. King replied, amused at such a statement. “Como estas?”

My daughter looked at her and smiled, having no idea that she had just been asked, “How are you?”

“Yes, we know a few words . . . ” I interjected. The only phrase that was immediately coming to mind, however, was the title of the story we were reading that week, ” . . like palomitas de maiz.”

“Oh,” Ms. King said with a smile. “Palomitas de maiz are delicious.” To my great joy, I had pronounced it correctly enough that she understood what I said.

“Popcorn!” my little one clarified and was so proud of herself for demonstrating her expert knowledge of Spanish. I was proud of her too for having such confidence.

TREAT-LIKE TRICKS

Semi-professional photos

My copyright "violation" notice.
My copyright “violation” notice.

I took some “school” photos of my children in our backyard amongst the fall leaves and had them printed at Wal-Mart. When I went to pick them up, the clerk told me that there was a copyright issue with the photos. Copyright was a particular interest of mine in law school so I knew there was absolutely no copyright issue. “I don’t understand,” I said. “I took these photos myself in my backyard.” At this point, two other clerks came over to examine my photos. They pulled out each one and started discussing the merits of my photography. “Yeah, I guess these aren’t professional pictures.” While it was at first an honor to have my personal photography confused for professional portraits, it then became more like a forum for open criticism as they pointed out the various flaws of my pictures. One was too fuzzy for their taste and in another I didn’t airbrush out a small wound on my son’s forehead from his latest escapade. I left with mixed emotions about my pictures.

The Meaning of “Fundamental”

My challenge for October was to complete the free course Google was offering called “Digital Analytics Fundamentals.” This was pitched as a course where you would gain a greater understanding of Google Analytics, which is the tool most websites, including mine, use to track data such as how many visitors you are receiving, which posts are the most popular and what keyword searches people are doing to find your website. I liked the word “Fundamentals” in the title of this course and hoped it would be a very basic introduction. There were 6 lessons to complete and Google estimated this would take a around 4-6 hours to complete.

Lessons 1-3 were fairly simple and were basically a business overview of why you strategically would use a program like Google Analytics and how you would structure it at a high level. Then in Lesson 4, we dove right into using the software. You had to set up a test account and figure out how to do the tasks described in the lesson. There were no easy step-by-step directions. You just had to figure it out yourself. If you are a programmer or a system administrator, this would probably be easy but it took me quite some time. Clearly Google sets a higher bar for “fundamental.” Lessons 5 and 6 built on these concepts and were equally challenging. There was a time deadline to finish all the lessons and I ended up trying to cram them in on the last day. I ran short on time and decided that I would try my luck on the exam even though I hadn’t finished every single one of the lessons.

I was fortunate that most of the exam seemed focused on the first 5 lessons. You had to score at least 80% to pass. How did I do?

Results of my Google Digital Analytics Fundamentals exam.
Results of my Google Digital Analytics Fundamentals exam.

I did pick up several key pieces of information from the training . . . nothing that sheds light on the Holy Grail of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) mind you, but some things that will help me personally with my data analysis.

TRICKS

The Fredericksburg area lost access to its Civil War battlefield parks during the shutdown.
The Fredericksburg area lost access to its Civil War battlefield parks during the shutdown.

Honestly, the biggest and only “trick” of October was the government shutdown. While we weren’t directly impacted by the shutdown, it gave us all a good scare and made us a bit more cautious in our planning.

Have an tricks or treats or lessons learned from October that you wish to share? Please do so in the comments.