Thursday, March 21, 2013

PyCraft - Programming with Minecraft

George here.  I've started a blog, about a recently begun experiment with teaching computer programming to our kids.  A couple years ago, I taught Levi and Natalie a little bit, but at some point they stopped asking me to do it with them, and you know how things go.  Now that Sam is reading, I thought it would be fun to try with him.  I was trying to think of a way to make it fun, and it dawned on me that if I could tie it in with Minecraft somehow, that would be pretty motivating.

We've done one lesson now, and he loved it, and all the other kids present wanted their turn as well.  What I've set up lets them interact with the game by writing programs.  They can make lightning strike, build a tower, make an explosion, write a message, and force the time of day to change.  I'll add more as the lessons go on, but this is a start.  So I thought I'd start a blog so people can read about how to get it all set up for themselves.  I'll post the lessons there as well as I get them written, I just haven't done that yet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Random Pictures:)

 Pumpkins at Halloween, kids a little dressed up.

 Natalie holding Brigham

 Seth says "Happy Halloween"

 Natalie says "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth"

 Seth with Daddy

SIL- Megan with Kenzie, SISTER- Liz with Caleb
 Lyon cousins...just missing Noa!

 Game night with the uncles

 Grandpa Lyon

 Grandma Lyon (someone once nicknamed her "Mrs. Happy Face" and this is why:)

 My brother, Matt, with some serious hair growth!

 Levi, age 9.5

 Jones cousins!!

 Daddy with Natalie on her baptism day

 Seth with Santa...this is serious stuff..."I want the new version of the Batcave!"

 Sam was our doubter this year, but he was convinced after Santa came in on a helicopter:)

 Natalie chatted with Santa for a good, long while.

 The elves helped me keep my kiddos under control...I think that's why Seth ended up with so many extra toys and treats:)

Levi-he's just getting so big!!!

Hello, January!

I hate that I go so long inbetween posts that I feel like the best thing to do is just make a random list of things that sum up the past few months.  I will try to make this one more like a chronological story:)

We had an awesome holiday season.  Kicked it off with my brother and sister and their families coming from Cincinnati and Baltimore and staying here at Thanksgiving.  We had a wonderful time.  Natalie got baptized on her birthday this year and that was an awesome experience.  Lots of out-of-town family came and that made it so special. 

In between Thanksgiving and Christmas was a whirlwind of activity and I tried to stay on top of school.  It's always a struggle, but we did ok this year.  We were doing a Space Unit Study and that kept us going.  We were able to do some service, spend lots of time with wonderful people, meet Santa (who arrived in a helicopter:), and do lots of shopping.  We enjoyed the usual Christmas goodies though most of them were given away this year.  My one problem was I decided to make fudge just to try to get it know, no pressure.  I made it in early January so I was not going to give it away.  It was the best fudge I have ever made, all smooth and creamy, and I ate almost all of it.  Sigh.  I am not sure why I thought that was good idea!

We spent the New Year holiday with George's brother in Chicago and had a blast.  We always enjoy going up there and being with all the cousins.  They are all growing up SO FAST now.  It's amazing to think that the oldest is off to college in the fall. 

We took 2 weeks off school and are now back in.  We did a unit on George Washington and we are on our second week of Deserts.  I need some good units coming up...this is another time that I get easily burned out.  We are switching up our schedule a bit and hope that helps.  The kids were having problems starting after having a week off, so we are lengthening our time in school.  I think we will do 7 weeks on, 2 weeks off.  That should make the end of the school year come quickly!  And less with the stopping and starting. 

I am in week 2 of a weight loss challenge.  It's going well, so far!  I am hoping I have enough motivation to see it to the end.  The prize is $80!  That's a pile of money!  I am focusing on healthy eating more than "dieting" and also including lots of exercise (which is why I hurt right now!)  FYI: I have quit running.  I am walking and doing the elliptical.  I am sad because I love the idea of being a Runner, but it hurts my knees and back too much.  It was a good year though.  I was very happy that I had committed to running 6 miles and did it! 

I have plans to go out to Seattle soon to help my brother and sister-in-law with their new baby.  So excited about that!  The kids are staying with Grandma and Grandpa and are excited as well!  Another trip out to Oregon is planned to see my grandmother in April and I also plan on attending the next Midwest Homeschool Convention.  This will make for a busy spring, though these will both fall in the same week, so really, it will just be an extremely busy week:) 

Life is good.  I would like to say I will get better at blogging, but I am pretty sure that would be a lie.  But I will try!  Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 22, 2012


So, as I am listening to the Presidential Debate (and am extremely tired of hearing them say the same things...) I have nothing better to do then dump my brain into this post.

  • The 6 mile race.  Sigh.  It was rough.  I ran the whole thing, but I have not run since.  It makes me a bit sad, but the race really hurt my knees, so I want to find an alternative sport. I have tried biking (too cold now, but I love it), swimming (bad on my hair :), and walking (too slow)!  I really want to just do Zumba (dance aerobics) everyday, but that doesn't work in my schedule very well.  Anyway, I am so glad that I set the goal to run the 6 miles in January and achieved it! Now I need a new goal!
  • School is going well.  We have finished our unit on Detectives and started our one on Fall.  We will start an Election one after Halloween, if I am not too disenchanted by this debate!  Math is going well for both kids now (Math U See) and we are using, which is fun for them.  We are also doing a gym class, art class, and a music class this semester.  I am teaching the music class.  It's been interesting to teach 13 kids to play the recorder...
  • I love watching the season change.  The weather is gorgeous...70 degrees today!  The colors are amazing around here.  
  • I had the absolutely amazing opportunity last weekend to help my best friend welcome her little baby boy into the world.  She went into labor at 1am and delivered little Brigham at 6:13pm. It was a long haul, but one I wouldn't have missed for the world!  My 13th "doula" birth on October 13th.  Fun!  When I grow up, I want to become a certified doula:)
  • I want to go on a vacation.  I wish George had more vacation time so that we could take a month and drive across the country and see everything we learn about in our homeschool.  The kids love to play "Stack the States" on the iPod and are curious about the states and the landmarks in them.  I want to just pack up and go...isn't that why we homeschool? 
  • Tried my hand at canning.  I planted a cucumber plant that produced about 30+ cukes, so I made lime pickles.  I used Linda's recipe and they turned out well!  I was so excited!  It wasn't as hot and laborious as I thought it would be, but it certainly was sticky!  A lot of sugar goes into those pickles...I am sure that's why the kids love them:)  George too!
  • We carved our pumpkins on Saturday.  They were actually Grandpa's pumpkins, grown on his farm.  I love this time of year...the kids have so much fun.  Grandpa's pumpkins were huge this year, so it was quite the job to clean them out.  I thought they turned out adorable, though.  I will try to post a picture.
Ok, heading to bed.  I just grabbed all of the pics off the camera so perhaps there will be a long, picture post soon!  Goodnight, blog world!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


One and a half weeks until Fort 4 Fitness.  My 6 mile race!!!!  Yeah, I am gonna die. 

Vacation, School, and Neighbor

So, I need to tell you what's going on.  There were some cliffhangers in my last 2 posts.  Well, at least that's what the kids would say:)

We did go on vacation and had a wonderful time!  We drove up Friday night to George's brother and sister-in-law's house.  It was so nice to visit and see some of the cousins and they actually gave us beds which was SO wonderful, because I would have had to unpack the whole car to get to the sleeping bags...thanks, Teresa! 

We arrived Saturday at dinner time and it was raining...of course.  Luckily, it didn't rain much, just that night and short showers a couple of other times.  We had a blast catching toads and frogs (at our "personal beach"), we made s'mores and popcorn over the fire, we hiked, we swam in the lake, we found a snake, we explored and visited some favorite sites.  We enjoyed our day in town, eating fudge and candy, window shopping, and playing at the local pizza place's arcade. Good times! We loved being up there with my parents and just today, Seth said he was ready to go up there again, in spite of  the 10+ car ride.  Yay!  A kid after my own heart...and my dad's heart...and his dad's heart:)

Since then, we have gotten back into school.  We did do Olympics earlier, but I couldn't motivate myself to do school while prepping for vacation, so we took a break:)  Tons of activities and field trips, including a bee-keeping one with Harry and Linda...thank you!  We have art class, gym class, Lego club, group library days, and are starting music class this week.  We are working on cursive, still doing unit studies, spelling lists, reading, Chinese and hopefully some creative writing. I am trying some copywork to help improve our printing and work on our spelling.   Math is happening, though we are transitioning a bit.  Levi to Math-U-See from Singapore and Natalie to second grade LifePac from first grade.  We'll see how that goes.  If it does not go well, I may check out Kahn Academy or Teaching Textbooks.

I am a bit bummed as I thought I could get more done with Sam and Kindergarten.  Sadly, that is the first thing to go.  I need to take the time to get prepped and then it will work.  We are working on reading (he is doing very well) and he loves math, so we try to fit it in wherever we can.  He figured out the 9th number in the Fibonacci sequence in his head the other day and I was crazy impressed!! You don't know what that is?  Neither did I, but it was cited in the back of a book we had read aloud and he just figured it out and explained how he did it.  That is what really blew me away.  He divided 13 into 10 and 3 and first, added the 10 to 21 in his head and then added the 3 to get 34.  What kind of math do K kids do?  I don't think they add double digits in their head!! (Wow, that's some serious shameless bragging! :)

The neighbor situation is better.  George actually went and talked to her and she seemed not so grumpy.  But she did promise to come talk to me and hasn't yet. She may have said that to get him to leave.   I have not seen her outside very often, and when I come out, she goes in. It's ok.  I am thinking I will write her a letter that explains what I did/saw and see if that helps.  If she can't get over it, I am sorry for her that we will probably be in this house forever.  Ah well.

Hope life is good for all of you.  The next post may be only pictures...I have a whole summer's worth to post, you know:)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vacation or not?

I am so sad.  We had plans to leave tonight to head up to Wisconsin to camp with my folks, but I am just too sick!  I called George in tears this morning and said, "I just don't think I can pull it all together.  I feel so horrible!" So we are still here.  I do think we will be able to go later this week and I am praying I feel tons better..  I am just thankful that we don't have to cancel the trip altogether!