Mnemonic for Planets in the Solar System

I know there are lots of mnemonics for remembering the planets in the solar system but I don’t seem to be able to get my head around any of them.  I have a hard time remembering random sentence that have nothing to do with the solar system.  Thus no handle to retrieve the information.  A few things to note about mnemonics is that one, if you come up with it yourself, it’ll probably be easier for you to remember, and the simpler or the more relatable a mnemonic is, the easier it would be to remember.

So here’s mine: “movement around the sun.”

Explanation:  MoVEMe*nT SUN

  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Mercury
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Venus
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Earth
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Mars
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Asteroid belt (asterisk)
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: asterisk is also to note that T is not quite T but if you squish the “n” into the T and connect them, you can sort of imagine a T with a hook to create a “J”… yea somewhat convoluted but mnemonics are never perfect… This deviation can also be a reminder that something weird happens just before Jupiter (division of inner/outer planets and the asteroid belt)
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Saturn
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Uranus
  • MoVEMe*nT SUN: Neptune
  • Pluto the PupPluto? Yes, I left poor Pluto out after it’s untimely reclassification to a dwarf planet, but I think you can remember poor Pluto sitting outside of everything looking at all the other planets.  Isn’t that how he is with Mickey Mouse and gang.  All the other animals are “people” but poor Pluto remains just a dog.  But I think he’s pretty happy about it…


Mnemonic for Layers of Atmosphere

Here’s a little guy who hopefully will help you remember the layers of our atmosphere.

Exosphere: There’s not much in the head of this person.  But will give the molecules x’s and o’s (kisses and hugs) before they leave our atmosphere.

Thermosphere:  The arms are great for holding a thermos and absorbing all those x-ray and UV light from the sun.

Mesosphere: It’s the meatier (meteor) part of the body  where we are mesmerized by the shooting stars as the meteors burn up.

Stratosphere: The person is straddling the world.  Unfortunately stuff is oozing out of his legs  Must be the oozing zone where ozone resides.

Troposphere: It’s the tropical rainforest.  Oh I see.  And of course that’s where most of the water are in our atmosphere.

BTW, I thought of this mnemonic from the bottom up, so might be easier to lean in that direction as well.  Enjoy!

Learning Latin

I recently got into a conversation with some friends about their classical school’s attempt at teaching the kids Latin starting with Wheelock’s Latin Grammar.  Talk about trying to take too big of a bite.  The older I’ve gotten the more I’ve learned to start simple.  I like the approach of Visual Latin from Compass Classroom.  It’s lighthearted but the students learn quite a bit and very quickly and then moving into Lingua Latina.  I did watch some of the Visual Latin lessons, but have not really tried to study Latin seriously.  Now that I’ve had this conversation with my friends, I’m actually motivated to go through Lingua Latina and then later get Wheelock’s just to learn. Lingua Latina is available online for free as a pdf file.

Anyway, so the additional resources I’ll be using are some YouTube videos and some handouts.  And probably utilize some note cards to help me review the vocabularies.

Here’s my plan of attack for each chapter:

  1. Watch the video (the book being read aloud)
  2. Read aloud with the video
  3. Learn the vocabularies
  4. Read each sentence and translate
  5. Watch video and read along
  6. Go through handout stuff to check out grammar and side notes
  7. Highlight and/or note grammar in text
  8. Do the exercises
  9. Finish by reading everything with understanding

I will try and post things as I go along hopefully with ideas and notes.  We’ll see how all this will go… I’m hopeful to learn Latin “easily”.

Here are also some nice additional handouts that might be useful.

More stuff found here at


Ionic Covalent Bonds

Ah chemistry time in co-op.  The subject of ionic and covalent bonds came up and I could not remember which and some of the additional information associated with the bonds.  So quick review…

Ionic… I own it.

Keep an eye on (anion) the negative attitude of the non-metal that stole the electron (maybe the non-metal is so negative because it is jealous of the metal’s shininess)  and on the other side  cat eye (cation) is positively shiny, just like metals.

Covalent – they COoperate and share what they have so each side has what it needs.

If I own the stuff, I’m not going to give it back so easily, so in general, it takes more energy to break apart an ionic bond thus it’s in general a stronger bond.

That’s it for a quick chemistry review…

Do it now or later

I’ll be the first one to admit that I have a tendency to procrastinate and like to stay on the lazier side of things.  Today it felt like though I was just going from one thing to the next and I was just looking forward to a little time to sit down and get somethings done.  Then the drain backed up again…  For half a second I did think about just letting it sit and just tell the kids no more bathroom visits until we leave.  But thought better of it.  Anyway, managed to get the hairball out plus some roots, oh drat!  Now I can’t put off the root killing routine.

Anyway, after coming inside and cleaning up the mess, I really wanted to get some nice icy cold drink and just relax but then the sink and dishwasher glared at me.  Oh why!  I wanted to yell at the kids because they hadn’t put things away, but remembered that I’m at my worst with words when I’m tired and upset.  This is the frustrating thing about trying to be the adult around the house and needing to set the example.  Do I put things off too?  I do have somewhat of a legitimate excuse.  It’s not easy clearing the drain.  My back hurts.  I’ve got things that I want to get done.  But no, they are mostly excuses and I know it and I think to some level the kids knows it too.

Decision.  Fine, zip my mouth so nothing bad comes out of it.  Grid my teeth and get things cleared out and hope that nothing more comes up before we leave the house.  I’ve actually got a few minutes to relax now and I’m glad that I had gotten everything done.  I’m glad that dinner was already in the crockpot before much happened.  And best of all, I’m glad that I was not a bad example today for my kids.  Especially when we are around each other almost 24/7, they are learning constantly about how to deal with life.

Be a good example to others today.

Crash Course

YouTube is great, except sometimes you can spend so much time looking for stuff that it becomes a serious time sink.  But sometimes you find individuals who you does a really great job in breaking things down and they are a great source to go to for information.

Crash Course video is one that I’ve enjoyed with my kids.  The videos are short and enjoyable to watch and has a good amount of content for quick review or introduction to the subjects.  If you have a chance, check them out and enjoy some quick learning.


I think there must be a conspiracy between textbook publishers and the health industry.  I just got a teacher’s edition of Prentice Hall Biology and it weighs a TON!  It’s probably just a hair lighter than the ancient church bibles.  Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be bringing it anywhere to thumb through.

I still have mixed feelings about using textbooks.  They are good resources and covers a well rounded set of materials, but they are set up more as materials for regurgitation rather than retention.  And often just like the heaviness of their weight, the student really have no desire to carry the information within it more than they absolutely have to.  I know it is hard to push against the system and I am by no means an advocate of one size fits all (although isn’t that what textbooks are?) but maybe if we can invest in super teachers who can use state of the art animations etc to teach and classroom teachers being more tutors and facilitators.  Maybe kids could become more interested and engaged in the materials.

Perhaps because I’ve got the Biology text sitting next to me, so I’m thinking about some of the videos that I’ve seen about photosynthesis, cell functions, energy conversion, mitosis, etc that really helped me to understand the concepts, but these were all scattered and had to be found and some, though the explanations were good, obviously lacked the necessary resources for better production to make it more attractive to the viewers.  Oh well, at least YouTube has made learning just a bit more interesting.


Postpone the work

Am I a proponent of procrastination?  Nope!  But there comes a time when it’s better to postpone something.  There has been plenty of examples now with people’s quick unthinking Tweets to help us learn this point.  There comes a time when delaying what we need to do is better.

I learned this the hard way through the days when I used to write more computer codes.  There are times when I’m so tired or frazzled that even though the deadline was looming that it was not a good idea to continue without first taking a break.  Otherwise, I’d have to come back and take even more time to fix the mistakes that I would have for sure introduced.  The wisdom is to know how long of a break and not to let “tiredness” become an excuse for procrastination.  Now that I’m home and have no task master (like Bree in Horse and His Boy) I need even more discipline to not let “tiredness” become an excuse but at the same time not to push beyond certain stress level.

As a homeschool mom, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of finishing the work that we end up stressing out our kids instead of teaching them to learn how to balance life.  And sometimes I can become so stressed that I believe I was doing more damage to my kids by being a bad role model even though I may have finished the task at hand.  Wisdom to balance everything, I think it’s one of the hardest thing to achieve in life.


Need to know

One thing I have really enjoyed learning after finishing school is that I get to choose what I want to learn.  Or sometimes it’s just following up with what I need to know.  I have learned that the internet and the kids’ section in the library are great places to start if all I want is a quick cursory look at a particular subject.

Also, in school there was a sense that you need to go through a whole class and be thoroughly familiar with a subject before you feel up to tackling any problems within the subject area.  However, I’ve learned that sometimes just a little knowledge (yes, it does make you dangerous) sometimes is sufficient for the need at hand and no further time is necessary to continue in a subject area if that’s all you need.

I guess it’s also what I’ve learned in computer science with programming.  Sometimes the brute force method is the fastest way to accomplish a task if you are just going to use it once or twice.  There’s no need to go to a more elegant approach to the problem.

Recently, I wanted to learn how to create a dxf file to do some of the cutting on my Silhouette Portrait (digital cutting machine).  From school training, I downloaded the complete specification manual and started pouring through it.  Then it dawned on me that perhaps I really don’t need to pour through a 270+ page file and all I needed was a few simple examples.  Couple of hours later, I got what I needed.  It may not be the most elegant or the most efficient solution but it is sufficient for my needs.

So I’m slowly trying to teach my kids that if they need some information or learn some skills, they don’t necessary need a whole class or whole book on the subject.  First get a general idea of the subject area that they want to find the information, then identify what niche their interest falls in, and learn to search for the particular information that they need.  Unless they are really interested in digging deeper, once they find the solution, they will be free to move on.  Wish that was a skill that I had learned in school.

Who’s the adult?

Recently Mark and I had separate conversations with  parents regarding conflicts with their teenagers.  These issues were not new and has been brewing for years, just that their kids are now teenagers and wanting more independence.  What the issue boils down to is that there is personality clash between mom and kid and the moms to a tee want their kids to operate more like them and lament the fact that their kids are not more like them.

From  my observations, each of these moms have good kids by most standards.  Are they perfect?  No, but for the most part they are well behaved kids who have decent standards for personal conduct.

The moms want their kids to grow be responsible adults who will succeed in life.  Unfortunately they have failed to see or sometimes just fail to acknowledge to their kids their continuing character growth.  And instead of learning to adjust to working with another person they want their kids to learn to adjust to working with them.

I know that our teenagers still have much more to learn but they need to see models of how to work with people with different personalities.  Isn’t it our perfect opportunity to demonstrate to them how we can have common purpose, hold to certain standards, and achieve certain end goals without having monolithic personalities and working styles.  That’s life right?  That certainly is true at work places and in marriages.  There is no better time for our kids to learn that than while still under our roof.  Of course wisdom needs to be applied in separating the non-negotiable standards from our own preferences and have things in the right priority.

We as parents should be the adults.  We who are suppose to be the more mature ones need to be the first to alter our behaviors and attitudes and to be first to apologize when we are wrong .  Be immovable as a rock in the essentials but be flexible when it comes to our personal preferences, desires, and comforts.