November 22, 2011


Casia is the type of person who likes to collect. She received two Carebears when she was about two years old and for the next few years, her goal was to collect them all; she came close. She was given a Webkinz a couple years later and the same obsession overtook her. If she has the first in a book series that she likes, she wants the whole set, even after she no longer reads that series (i.e. The Magic Treehouse). 

Usually this is a frustrating characteristic for a parent. I have to constantly curtail her collecting to avoid hording. It's always a struggle because she becomes emotionally attached to things. And they can be ridiculous things to want to save. She once kept the plastic shrink wrap from an Easter egg for more than two years (the egg had long since been eaten). When I throw out old craft projects that are broken she gets upset. Casia has been brought to tears when she outgrows clothes and they have to be donated.

I hate clutter myself, because I find it visually distracting and mostly, because I hate to dust. The less things there are the quicker the dusting goes. So between us, there are many battles about the state of her bedroom and the contents of her closet (which, although it it technically a 'walk-in', you can never actually walk in it.) I have to admit that in the last year, she has gotten better at discarding old things or giving away items she no longer uses. She is still upset when it's time to remove old clothing from her closet to make way for the new, but she accepts it begrudgingly.

Now every once in awhile, this obsession of hers actual makes my life easier. For instance, we are currently studying Colonial America and she found this series of books in the library, the America the Beautiful state books. They are not actually 'colonial' books, but the first half of each book gives the history of that state complete with the natives peoples, early settlers and all sorts of other cool and interesting details. We checked the Pennsylvania and New Jersey out of the library because I wanted her to to get the feel for the colonies other than Virginia and Massachusetts; colonies on which we'd already spent a lot of time. She likes them so much, she now wants to read all thirteen books from the states that were the original colonies. I told her she could skip the ones that we'd already covered, but she wants to read ALL of them. She is even talking about reading all fifty of them as she learns about them entering into the union. I had thought she'd balk at having to read so many similar books, but I wasn't counting on her need to complete a set. Having started, she is diligently working her way through the collection. It's always good to be reminded that even negative personality traits can have their plus sides.

November 7, 2011

Instant Messaging

Casia now has a laptop and it's wonderful for the whole family not to have to share computers. Now, I can be doing prep work while Casia works independently on a writing assignment or her math. In order to allow me to quickly send her links, I decided to create a second skype account that is used strictly for Casia to communicate to me or her dad in instant messages. Mostly it's very helpful, particularly since her work space is the loft area upstairs and our office is in the front of the house downstairs. Not that I'm opposed to running up the stairs a few extra times a day (that activity actually forms the basis of my daily workout), but the time it saves for quick questions that don't need me in person has made it a valuable tool.

On the flip side, it's also becoming a toy for Casia. We're not gadget people here. No smart phones, iPads or kindles in this house. My cell phone doesn't even have text messaging. Casia's living in a technological vacuum and we're clearly behind the times. So for Casia, instant messaging is a pretty cool new way to communicate... as evidenced by the fact that she sends a constant barrage of messages to me whenever she is on her computer. 

Seeing as how this is all new to her, I'm hoping that soon it will loose that novelty appeal. Until then, I am trying to be patient. A few of her messages have made me laugh out loud. They are almost always accompanied by a graphic face.  Some have been sweet little messages telling me she loves me. Others have have been nagging me to tell me time's up with the assignment (an assignment she's clearly not working on since she's typing to me) and just recently, when I told her to get back to work, she sent me an angry face icon. I was NOT amused. I reminded her that I can take away the skype messaging just as easily as I set it up. She quickly deleted it and came down to apologize and said she meant it to be funny. So there was a lesson in there after all. She learned that the written word doesn't always communicate humor as effectively as face-to-face, since tone is often lost. Happily, it's reading time, so she's curled up by the fireplace with a nice big book and I can finish my blog entry in relative quiet.

November 3, 2011


I never tire of seeing glimpses into Casia's thought processes. Yesterday, she was reviewing mitotic cell division and came to me with a question. She wanted to know what happens to the parent cell, in a single celled organism, when it divides its DNA in half during replication and then, through the stages, splits into daughter cells. I thought she was confused about the process, so I started to review the various stages and she stopped me. She explained that she understands how the process works, she wants to know what happens to the original cell. Does it cease to exist? Is it dead? Are there now two of them? Just half of it? Wow! Well, that was an unexpected questions and it led to an interesting discussion, one more philosophical that biological in nature.

Then this morning, Casia was given a new problem in algebra that she hadn't seen. Previously, we had covered multiplying polynomials and she had that down. Today, a question popped up about factoring a quadratic equation (x+ 7x + 10 = 0). I was prepared to have to break it down for her and explain how to figure out what two two-term polynomials could be multiplied together to get the three term polynomial. Again, she stopped me in the middle and told me she's got it. Skeptical, I asked her to show me what she has to do. She said it's obvious; the first term is a square, so the first term of each of the factor polynomials will be the square root of that term, or x. And if in the first polynomial we call the second term 'a' and in the second polynomial we call the second term 'b', then a + b must equal the coefficient of the second term, or 7,  and 'a' x 'b' will equal the coefficient of the third, or 10. She proceeded to quickly do the math and find the answer.Yup, she got it and on her first introduction with no instruction. Sometimes she makes my job so easy. But it leads me to a more important question....

If my nine year-old can figure out algebra on her own and contemplate the demise of the parent cell in its quest to replicate itself, why can't she figure out that if she wears a skort and a short sleeve t-shirt when it is only 40 degrees out she will be cold?