Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Update on my life

Whoa, this school year has been busy! The school itself isn't too painful, but added with our chaotic life at this moment, and we hardly have any extra time!

This Saturday I will take the SAT Subject Test for Biology, because the UW requires homeschoolers to take an SAT test in some scientific area. But since I took Biology one and a half years ago, I really do not remember much about it, so I have had to memorize all of the info again . . . not too fun. Oh well. I'll have my test over with in a few days, and if I fail, I fail (although it makes me cringe to think about it).

My AP English Lit. class has been going well, but we have had to read some really strange short stories. It seems that all short stories are weird, because in order to affect their audiences in the allotted space, they need to be extremely concise and powerful. But next week, we will begin reading The Scarlet Letter, which should be a pleasant change (although I am not crazy about that book).

I have been having a lot of fun with my online AP US Gov. course. My teacher gives us a lot of interaction and potential extra credit, which definitely keeps me motivated. Also, the course load is not overbearing, which is relieving, especially in our current disorganized life.

Meagan and I absolutely LOVE drama!!!! This is our first year ever taking a drama class, and I only wish we could have begun earlier. We will perform the play Peter Pan at the end of the year, and Meagan received the part of Wendy and I am Captain Hook. Callie and Margaret, our close friends, are also taking it, and they have some really fun parts, including Mrs. Darling, a mermaid, an Indian, and a lost boy.

This year has turned out even better than I thought (and I had high expectations). It sort of makes me regret all those unsocial years I spent in Australia, but I'm trying to get over it. I know that God wanted me to be there then, but sometimes I just can't help comparing my life there to my life now.

I just wanted to inform you all what we've been doing. I will try to post some more after my Biology test this weekend.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Days 1 - 4 in Ucluelet

Last Thursday, Meagan and I traveled up to Vancouver Island . . . alone!! It was our first time traveling alone, so it was kind of exciting. We took the Victoria Clipper at 6:30 AM (so that meant we has to wake up at 5:15 . . . too early), and then once we arrived in Victoria (that's such a GREAT city! My family traveled there when I was 11, but I hadn't been there since), we took a bus to Nanaimo and then another one to Ucluelet. Our Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Harry own a little place here in Ukee (that's what everyone affectionately calls Ucluelet), so we're staying with them for a few days. We've had a lot of fun so far . . . we've been taking daily walks on the beaches, which, btw, I prefer to the ones in Australia. They're so much more dramatic with all the rocks and logs washed ashore. But I might just prefer them since I am tired of going to the Australian beaches a lot. (The dog my sister's playing with on the beach is Nina, my grandma's Australian Shepherd.)

Meagan and I have seen a lot of wildlife since our arrival: sea lions frolicking in the waves, a bear cub running along the beach, deer munching on the grass . . . . It's been a lot of fun. We haven't seen any bears close up yet (we viewed the bear through a telescope), but if I do, I'll be sure to take some good pictures of them!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

High School Musical 2

"I need fabulous." That is the main line of the second song sung by Sharpay in High School Musical 2, and I have to admit that the entire movie is not totally up to Sharpay's standards. And I know that I am not alone in this (*smiles at Madison*). But at the same time, the movie did target "tweens," not teenagers, and it wasn't wholly bad in that respect. I know that my little sisters, Madeline and Marina, are absolutely CRAZY about it (we've all been listening to the HSM2 soundtrack for the past three days . . . and the songs are SO stuck in my head). And, in some ways, I actually liked it better than the first one (which I liked a lot):

First, the cast would break into song and dance at random parts, which was kind of cool. In HSM1, most of the songs were only for the musical that's in the actual movie, and I rather like having the songs more incorporated into the story. I know that some people consider that a negative, but I think it's fun.

Second, it was almost so dumb and sappy that I couldn't help but laugh so hard. My mom, younger sisters, aunt, two younger cousins, and I watched it together, and all of us older ones would totally burst out laughing in certain parts (like when Troy and Gabriella broke out, and when Troy sung his solo :-)).

Third, I liked most of the songs. "Fabulous" is not my favorite, I don't really care for Sharpay's version of "You Are the Music in Me," and Gabriella sounds too nasal in "Everyday." But all the other ones are really catchy and definitely "feel good."

Fourth, I personally think that Ashley Tisdale (playing Sharpay) and Zac Efron (Troy) acted really well in this one. I know that Sharpay was exaggerated, but it suited the movie and its audience.

But, now for the negatives:

First, the whole plot was pretty much the same as HSM1's: Troy and Gabriella are doing great at the beginning, but then people interfere, and they break up, but eventually, they get together, sing a duet ("Breaking Free" or "Everyday"). At the end, they sing this huge "Together" or "All in one" song at the end with their friends. It seems like they just took that plot, spiced it up, put it in a different setting, and added a bit more of Sharpay's quest to win over Troy.

Second, when the cast begins to sing, you can totally tell they're doing it in a studio. In most movies, there is not this striking difference between voices, so it shouldn't have been too hard to improve . . . .

Third, the only people in the movie who are even remotely interesting or unique are Sharpay and her brother. Gabriella was boring and almost too perfect, and Troy . . . definitely too cliche.

Fourth, the movie was extremely sappy. Sometimes this was downright funny, but in the duet "You Are the Music in Me," Gab. and Troy were acting way too romantically, especially since little kids are watching this and perhaps imitating it.

So, altogether, I would say that the negatives outweigh the positives, but I still sort of enjoyed HSM2 (yes, I admit it . . . ).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

"Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot." ~Mark Twain, intro to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

A few days ago, I finished this novel, which supposedly is the "first great American novel," in preparation for my upcoming AP English Literature class. If any of you are planning on reading this classic, I have to forewarn you: the beginning is extremely boring. If I didn't have to read it for class, I wouldn't have finished it, but thankfully I did. After a few complications, though, the plot (yes, I found a plot, Mark Twain! Ha!) begins to get interesting.

This story picks up after the end of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Huck Finn finds himself torn between the Widow Douglas, an older woman who volunteered to civilize the boy, and his drunkard father. Eventually deciding he would prefer to live without either of them, he fakes his death and runs away down the Mississippi River. But things soon turn complicated, when the Widow Douglas's runaway slave, Jim, runs into Huck, and they find themselves rafting down the river together. As Huck struggles with the knowledge that he is helping a slave escape, which he considers a great sin, he decides that he can't turn in his newfound friend--Jim--even if his decision is sinful (Twain really shows the ridiculousness of racism and slavery at this point, by making it seem a great sin to not turn in a friend). Up to this point, the story is pretty boring, but then, the two rafters meet two runaways, the younger one calling himself a duke. The older escapee immediately feels threatened and pronounces that he is the "Lost Dauphin," the rightful king of France. These two really add some humor into this book, as they will go to any lengths to receive cash, and frequently obtain it through deceitful and silly methods. Throughout this journey with Jim, the runaways, and other characters, Huck learns more about himself and finds his path in life.

I definitely recommend this book, but if possible, you should read it in a group. I haven't analyzed it yet in my online class, but I know that there is lots of depth and material for analysis in Huckleberry Finn.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

2007-2008 School Courses

School's almost here!!! I am pretty excited for this year, because I'm taking some really fun-looking classes. Here's a list of my courses and extracurricular activities:

1. Precalculus -- it should be fun, but I've heard scary things about it! I'm really disappointed, because if I hadn't gone to school in Australia, I would be taking Calc this year, but oh well. I guess I learned a lot at school, even if it wasn't math.

2. AP English Literature & Composition -- I am taking this online, just like I did with last year's AP English Language & Composition course. And Madison will be in my class again, so that should be fun. I have heard fantastic things about this class, so I'm really excited!! It looks like it will be a lot of work though.

3. AP US Government & Politics -- at first, I planned on taking AP Microeconomics, but then I realized that some colleges (like Patrick Henry College) require a government course for admissions, so I changed to this one, and it looks great! I love politics, but don't know too much about it . . . yet! :-)

4. Physics -- I am really excited about this class, because I am taking it through a co-op called Homeschool Connections. And science is always tons more fun with other students than without! I took half a semester of Physics at Clayfield College, the all-girls school I attended in Australia, and absolutely loved it! It also makes it more fun if you have a dad who's a rocket scientist and who can answer any of your questions about Physics!
5. Worldviews -- Last year, I took an honors US History class taught by Mr. McKenzie, Callie's dad, and when he mentioned that he would be giving a Worldviews class this year, I was definitely on board! It will be especially fun since I can participate more easily in the class discussions, since I won't be on the other side of the world!! Yay!
6. Drama -- Years ago, I participated in two rather "unofficial" plays, so this is my first real drama production. The play could either be Little Women (we're praying for this one!!), A Midsummer Night's Dream (it would be ok . . . I love Shakespeare), or Peter Pan (Uh, I'm not crazy about this choice), but whatever one it is, I will still have fun, since Meagan, Callie, and Margaret will perform in it also!
7. Piano -- I have played piano since I was six, but in Australia, I really did not advance much in my musical ability, probably because I didn't practice much. :-) But I am determined this year to work hard and practice for 45 minutes a day.
8. Choir -- Hopefully, I will be able to join a choir through Homeschool Connections with Callie, Margaret, Meagan, and some other really nice girls I met at church. This choir could be all girls or both boys and girls. I actually would prefer the latter option, because songs seem to sound better with all four parts or at least with more than just girls singing.
9. I also might teach Meagan history this year!! How cool is that? You see, my mom was having trouble finding time for her to teach Meagan, and she doesn't want her to watch another course through the Bob Jones DVDs, so I offered to teach her! We'll see how it goes, but I am really excited about trying it. Btw, I will be using a curriculum, and will be more monitoring her work and deciding what books she needs to read instead of lecturing her. Hopefully it will work out!
I think that's all of the things I'm doing this year. Oh, I also will have to work on applications and researching colleges . . . . So, it will be a pretty busy year, but I'm so excited! I cannot wait for fall, for the cold weather (hopefully it will SNOW sometime this fall and winter!!), and for classes!!
P.S. Sorry about the spacing . . . I've tried millions of times to double space between the paragraphs, but it won't work . . . .

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pictures (what a creative title!)

Hi everyone! Here are some photos from our stay at the Spears' home. I know they're late, but they're some of the most recent pictures I have. As you can see, the Spears have an amazing rope swing and pond, which sure kept us all entertained!

Next week, Meagan and I are traveling up by ourselves to Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, where we will stay with our Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Harry. I have heard that their condo rests in a very natural setting, and that you can see bears roam around there daily! I'll definitely take some pictures up there and then post them. I'll write again soon!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Jane Austen Character Quiz

This morning, I was looking at a few different blogs, and one of them showed a Jane Austen character quiz, and I thought it was pretty cool. I personally love personality quizzes, so I tried it out and here's the result, which was pretty much exactly what I thought it would be:

"Emma is possibly one of the most loyal characters of Austen, always wanting better for those around her and doing all she possibly can to make it happen. Her motives sometimes get in the way of her good intentions and her own opinions can end up ruling her actions, but she has a good heart. She loves to be social and is welcoming to most, unless they are too silly to tolerate. While she sometimes changes her behavior to make others feel comfortable, she knows who she is and is always bettering herself."

Emma Woodhouse = 84%

Elizabeth Bennet = 63%

Marianne Dashwood = 63%

Elinor Dashwood = 56%

Lady Catherine = 47%

Jane Bennet = 47%

Charlotte Lucas = 22%

Here's the web address of the quiz, if any of you are interested in taking it: . It really doesn't take very long (it's only one page long), and I would love to know who you all turn up to be most like!