Monday, February 25, 2013

Preparing again

I haven't blogged since August.  I just didn't have much to say, I guess.  Yet, I find myself here once again. 

The newest update is another move.  We move from Kodiak, AK to Port Angeles, WA this May!  I am thrilled.  I love moving to new places. 

A family member wondered at my planning, telling me yesterday, "Well, you have like 3 months, right?"  Umm.  Yes, ONLY three months.  There is a lot to accomplish in those three months.  It is very nice that I am not moving pregnant.  But, once again, we are moving with a toddler.  I got pregnant in Virginia with my 2nd, and moved to Florida to have him.  Then we moved to Michigan when he was a toddler.  We left for Alaska pregnant, and now are leaving for Washington with a toddler.  Its never dull! 

We are having ups and downs with schooling.  My son is doing awesome with Math.   We both love "Math U See".  He is learning, retaining and progressing through it.  Writing is improving immensely.  It gets better every week.  Not only can I now read my son's writing, he is starting to get involved with Creative Writing - and not always view it as punishment.  We started a new Reading curriculum - the Scaredy Cat Reading System, and its great.  His reading is improving, as is his spelling.  Those are the ups!  Some days are tough, because he is still quite the perfectionist.  He does not like making errors and he is so very hard on himself. 

The downs - well, my 10 year old daughter does not like school.  It is a challenge to teach her currently.  She dreads working with me, sitting near me, and any instruction I need to give her.  She becomes mouthy, negative and difficult.  Its very hard not to lose my temper and shout.  It is a work in progress.  I honestly feel very lonely her on the island with these issues.  Overseas screening weeded out the families with kids on the autism spectrum.  Kids like my girl just aren't here.  And, add to that - most kids on the spectrum are boys.  Autism in girls presents differently.  You would likely not think my daughter is on the autism spectrum.  But, I don't really want to blog about that- I never really do. 

My daughter is doing very well in Saxon Math, and we are nearly finished with 3rd grade.  Whew!  Only one year behind!  And we began Reading level 3 with McRuffy Reading and Phonics.  I am kind of annoyed at the language components.  She is now being challenged to learn and write poetry for the first time, and to do a research paper.  It is so very difficult to teach her these skills, and frankly she isn't prepared to move forward in this area.  It is a big gap which we must bridge, and an important one.  Her spelling is excellent.  It was an area of weakness for a very long time, but now its improving.  Handwriting is so sloppy, yet she has learned to type, and she is a good with the computer.  She began writing in a journal daily, and her writing is fun to read.  The truth is, she is a 4th grader in name only, but really as we end 4th grade this May - its as though she is just finishing her 3rd grade year. 

I messed up on her grade when enrolling her into the district homeschooling program.  She will take a standardized test aimed for 4th grade, and not 3rd.  This isn't fair to her.  It will be her first testing experience ever, and the material may be too difficult.  But, we take the report with us.  No one will judge her on it (or me).  But, I feel sad that she will be tested at a higher level than her school work.  Perhaps she will rise to the occasion? 

Socially, some good things are happening.  Yes, and we are about to move.  Doesn't life always work that way?  My son plays with the neighbor boy every weekend, and his friend is so nice.  The whole family is wonderful!  My daughter has struggled all year to make friends.  The girls we've met on base want nothing to do with her.  She has reached out, and has been rejected.  But, in town, at AWANA kid's club, we have become friends with a family of 10.  They have 8 kids, and their 9 year old is so sweet.  She and her brother (my son's age) have come over for playdates and it is wonderful!  This is truly a blessing from God!  Even my youngest, plays the two of the kids from this family in nursery (I work nursery during AWANA) and they are his little friends!  This has all been an answer to prayer.  We really struggled when our best friends moved a year ago.  They moved to Miami. 

I am caught up in the move and family vacation, and it is hard to keep giving it all to God.  But, I do, over and over and over again.  We will have over a month to travel to our new home in Port Angeles, and we are planning a lovely trip.  Perhaps, that will be another blog entry? 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Our First Week back, and Changes

So, we completed our first week.  It was quite busy.  Chemistry is a big hit - the kids love it, and they will look forward to it, and so it will be a nice motivator when the kids are not happy about doing work. 

I investigated a school program, and joined up!  Alaska has many homeschoolers, and so they offer some pretty good programs.  I was quite resistant last year, but this year I took some time and looked into one of them.  You can homeschool in Alaska without registering with the local district, and that's what I did last year.  But, my son needs some assessments in reading, writing and math.  I think its dysgraphia (learning disability in writing) but, it might not be, or there may be more.  So, by enrolling, I can get the help we need, perhaps.  I will also get a bunch of money for curriculum, supplies, and a family laptop!  I have wanted to purchase a number of things, but our home school budget it a little stretched right now.  I have nearly everything we need, but now I can go to Amazon, Walmart, etc. and get the things on our wish list.  I can sign the kids up for private swim lessons too! 

My daughter will need to take a standardized test this Spring, but that's ok.  I can do what I want with the results.  She might get frustrated by this, but it will be a good experiment for the future. My son doesn't need to take any standardized tests. 

So, we went to the doctor, and the kids got school physicals.  We dropped off our registration packets, and tomorrow the TB tests will get checked and we pick up the physicals to turn in to the school.  I have already begun spending some money on items.  Rosetta Stone is on my wish list.  I can download chapter books to our kindle programs, and I have ordered a music series - about composers.  The first one is Beethoven Lives Upstairs.  I also ordered a children's typing program. 

We will start learning about New World Explorers this week in Social Studies.  The kids will do many projects and create a Lapbook.  We are reading about David Livingstone - a missionary to Africa, and Math, Reading and Writing are in full swing. 

Baby tore apart my school room, it was like a mini tornado going through, but I've moved some things and its better.  Schooling with a toddler is very educational!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to School Tomorrow?!

The war cry has gone out, "Nooooooooo!  No school tomorrow MOM!" 

Yah, my kids are less than excited to start back to school.  I think it will be an adventure.  I will school with a toddler in tow.  He gets into everything!  He is one busy kiddo. 

So, we will start back tomorrow, and I should be getting prepared, but I have zero time and zero energy.  It will just happen, and I'll fix it as we go along. 

My husband is away, I am exhausted every evening and lack the energy to accomplish much.  I am exhausted during the day. 

So, I will put the coffee on, set the alarm, and crack open the books tomorrow.  I have actually set up some stuff for Chemistry, so I'm not totally unprepared. 

My daughter is 9 and a 4th grader.  My son is 7 and a 2nd grader.  That really means absolutely nothing.  We just pick up where we left off.  I get to do that, as their teacher. 

Goals for tomorrow:

1) Get up at 8 AM with the alarm app on iphone, wake baby who will be asleep in bed with me.
2) Fix breakfast for all, drink beloved coffee, put baby in pack n' play and shower
3) Bring whiny and angry children downstairs, as they tell me how much they hate school and miss Summer.  School day plus lunch and baby nap somewhere in there . . . .
4) Introduce Chemistry with neato lab, that my kids will actually love (this is my motivator)
5) Math and Reading
6) Handwriting without Tears
7) Read Aloud a Missionary story (Ida Scudder, missionary in India from 1870-1960)
8) Cook dinner (pizza?)
9) Eat dinner, kids play outside afterwards
10) Bedtime routine- Little Visits with God devotional book and Bible, Prayers, Read a couple Chapters from: Tales of the 4th Grade Nothing
11) Everyone to bed, me too!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our Camping Trip(s)

Well, we went camping last week.  We were very prepared for our car camping trip.  Except, we were not really prepared.

First, I tried to fit my sleep mat and baby's Peapod sleeping area in the back of the minivan.  Well, they didn't fit.  So, then I tried sleeping on just my mat with the back of the van closed.  I am a bit too tall.  Once I started to load up our gear, there was no way that baby and I could sleep back there anyways. So, we needed a new plan. 

The new plan was to borrow a tent!  We borrowed a 5-6 man tent from the MWR (Morale-Welfare-Recreation?) Its a military service, and they lend out equipment on the base.  I also borrowed a cot, and a few Thermarest sleep mats.  So, we finished packing up and we were ready to go. 

The campsite was gorgeous.  We drove down a dirt road in Pasagshak - to Surfer's Beach.  There was a creek, salmon berry patch and we were right near the ocean.  So pretty!  The kids played while we set up camp.  Baby loved it!  Guess what, the tent was extremely difficult to assemble.  It was missing half the guide lines to the rainfly, and you don't camp in Kodiak without a rainfly.  It was also missing all the stakes for the rainfly.  We made due, because my husband is creative. 

That night, we made a campfire, and we roasted marshmallows, to make smores.  Baby only cried a little bit at bedtime.  When I went to bed, I quickly realized that my camping mattress was awful.  There would be no sleep for me.  Oh, and the camp cot was terrible too, and unusable.  It was very narrow, as well.  Baby woke screaming at 2 AM, but of course I was awake anyways, because my entire body was in pain.  It was raining in the morning.  Also, we could not cook anything, because I forgot the propane at home.

So, we made another plan.  We drove home, about 45 minutes away, and I borrowed another tent from the MWR.  This one was a dome tent, and sleeps 3-4 people.  Then, I bought a BIG COT, seriously, this thing was huge, and a brand new Thermarest mattress at the local sporting goods store.  We drove around trying to find various camping areas with the baby screaming.  We settled on White Sands Beach, in Monashka Bay, on the other side of Kodiak. 

It was just as lovely here, at Monashka bay, and the salmon were jumping out of the water.  What a sight!  Even the baby was laughing, it was so cool!  Everybody went fishing, and my husband caught three pinks, which he threw back.  The BIG COT did not fit in the tent, in fact, had we actually fit it inside the tent, no one else would have fit.  But, this tent was easier to put up.  It had all its stakes and guide lines.  Inside it was very cozy, but we all fit.  My sleeping mat was awesome (we all slept well, even the baby), and I was able to cook spaghetti, because I remembered the propane.

In the morning, in true Kodiak fashion, the weather changed from 20% chance of rain, to 100% rain and rain all day.  So, although we were dry (husband put a tarp over our screen room, and it was awesome), my daughter was cold and unhappy.  So, the kids hung out in the car.  Baby feel asleep on daddy, for 1 1/2 hours.  During this time, I loaded the car, and became a drenched rat.  I noted that I needed better rain gear, like an actual rain coat and rain pants.  I don't actually know how I made it a whole year without these things. 

So, we went home.  But, there was still fishing!  And, my husband and son each caught a pink salmon.  Fresh pinks are ok (not the best, most people just throw them back), they are what's in your canned salmon.  We grilled them up anyways.  My son was so proud to have caught his first fish of the season.  It was ok to be home, because, Baby came down with a fever.  He is ok now, but it last 3 days.

So there it is, camping in Kodiak, the Summer of 2012.  Phew!  I will try to get pictures up here, but I need to figure out my new phone.  Sorry!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Upcoming Camping Experience

In a couple weeks, we will take a family camping trip.  This will be my baby's first experience, and I can hardly wait!  I didn't go on the family camping trip last year, as by spring/summer I was quite pregnant.  And, this will be quite different from the past years.

Our Scamp travel trailer is in Kansas, at my in-laws.  We have outgrown it by normal standards, but maybe we haven't by ours.  Recently, we found out that we can add cabinets about the bunk beds and double bed, for around $300.  And, my husband has researched some storage options for under the double bed/table to maximize our space.  We plan to get a generator and a screen door too.  We will either car camp, tent camp or put a mattress on the floor since technically our 13 foot Scamp has beds for four.  But, alas, the Scamp is not in Alaska right now, it is in Kansas.  So, these projects will be in the future.

Here is a Scamp, please ignore the cheezy people!

In the meantime, we could rent a Scamp, but on this trip, we won't.  Instead, we will do a couple test runs of camping, so that next summer, we can car/tent camp through Alaska and Canada on the ALCAN and beyond, to wherever we move to next.  Hopefully, we will be able to travel to Kansas to get our trailer during this time.  Honestly, who knows?  Its fun to think about, but the destination is still unknown.  We move next summer, possibly about this time of year.  We have our choices in mind, but its too early to tell where we will actually end up.

So, back to the upcoming trips.  We will go to a local beach, about 30-40 minutes away.  The baby and I will sleep in the minivan together.  My husband, son and daughter will tent camp nearby.  I don't really like sleeping on the ground, and the tent isn't big enough for all of us.  The plan is to remove the middle seat, move up the backseat and I will sleep in a bedroll in the back.  My baby/almost toddler, in a peapod.  Here's a picture of each:

Cool bed roll, its about 6 inches thick.  No leaky air mattress for me!

This Peapod is one of those instant tents, and pops open.

My next purchase was a camp kitchen box.  I tried to make one with ideas from Pinterest, but it didn't work out too well.  So we researched this camp kitchen, the Sherpa Camp Table and organizer.  The front zips closed, and the legs stow inside.  The tabletop also stows inside a pouch.  So, essentially you have a box with handles which turns into a standing kitchen, and our propane stove top can sit on top for cooking.
These zipper pouches fit on the shelves.  They hold a lot!    

 Pinterest did have great ideas for a Rubbermaid box and lid to store camping gear, and I have this nearly prepared.  The idea is to leave the stuff inside the box, so its all there when we are ready to go.  Then, there is the potty, hot shower and privacy tent.  We've used this set up before and let me tell you, a hot shower on demand will camping makes all the difference!

This little box - The Zodi Hot Camp Shower is awesome!

We also got a screen tent with a floor.  These babies are hard to find!  But without the floor, its mosquito city.  This is our second try.  The floorless kind usually had more bugs in it than the whole campsite.  What a waste!  This screen room doesn't have a rainfly, so it might not work well in Kodiak.

At 12X12 feet, this will be the biggest thing on our campsite!

 I can't figure out how to add it to my blog, but I've created a camp checklist.  I will not be a crazy lady the night before our camping trip, and I will be organized enough to enjoy myself, instead of dealing with the anxiety of finding things and wishing that I had not forgotten some key items.  And, we are just planning on a couple days.   So, we will set up camp, spray some bug repellent, make a campfire, roast marshmallows, pick some salmon berries  and hopefully catch some salmon!  What fun!  Then, in September, we will do it again, only better! 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer School Begins!

Its a couple days after Memorial Day, and most of our lessons are wrapping up.  We've completed handwriting and social studies.  I just switched DS's math program from Saxon 1 to Math U See Alpha.  And, we will continue Math and Reading all through the summer.  The kids are reading aloud to DH and I before bed, as well as listening to a chapter book and the Bible. 

I didn't complete DD's science, so we are doing Science this summer.  We are so excited about this!  I found a couple great books- Squirts and Snails and Skinny Green Tails (Diane Swanson) and Where the Land and Sea Meet (Kirsten Carlson).  Yesterday, we watched a 20 minute video titled, "Life on the Beach Among Friends and Anemones".  So, Science will be about the seashore this summer!  We will read about it, and then go to the beach and do hands on activities. 

Today, we are going to learn about Intertidal Seaweeds.  This will lead us into learning about snails, barnacles, and limpets.  These creatures are primarily found in the Upper Intertidal Zone.  There are three zones:  Upper, Middle and Lower.  Some of the lesson will involve tide pooling.  So, we will watch the tidal schedule and hopefully walk the beach on some days with negative tides (very low tide). 

When we lived in Northern Michigan, we had sandy sunny summer days, but no ocean (obviously!) and honestly, I missed the sea.  I love beach combing and hunting for shells.  I love the salty sea spray.  I love walking the beach.  I have never been the girl who lays out on the beach. 

So, I will share the things that I love with my children.  The best part is, I get to learn things too.  And, I am learning that science does not need to be so formal.  I plan to add on to our lessons as my children's interest directs us, and enjoy the outdoors as we go along (including the rainy days, and we will have many of them!)

My daughter is going to participate in a couple camps this summer.  The first is a half day art class - and the second, Russian Culture class (folk dance and musical instruments).   DD and DS will also go to Vacation Bible School.  My DS doesn't want to take summer classes, so he will wait for soccer in the Fall. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012


So, it was a pretty good night.  Sleep training, that was what I tackled.  And, it wasn't so bad! 

This is not my baby.  I have a baby boy, but this is what he did.  Minus the thumb - he slept standing up.  And, every 15 minutes or so, I'd lay my sleepy, fussy baby down.  He seemed to welcome that, although he really preferred to be held and nurse.  I did nurse at 1:45, 3:45 and 6:45, but not until he was asleep.  At 3:45, he fussed for a whole hour, but we didn't co-sleep.  Tonight, DH will help eliminate the 1:45 AM feeding.  And really, there will only be one left, as he got up for the day at 7 AM.  I will attempt to decrease the time nursing too. 

Tatunka!  Tatunka!  DH was to go buffalo hunting today.  He got up at 3:45 AM and drove with the guys, hauling 4 wheelers.  The river was too high and they couldn't cross it.  One guy's truck got stuck.  Its actually American Bison.  No Bison meat for my freezer.  Too bad. 

Today, we will go to the Crab Festival.  The kids and I went on Thursday, and they enjoyed the rides.  It was so much nicer than the festival we went to in our Northern MI town, not the Cherry Festival - I enjoyed that, but the hometown festival that shall remain nameless.  I always found it dirty and gross.  I hated taking the kids to it.  Very redneck, which I am not.  The Crab festival is lots of fun and there is some nice stuff planned for the weekend.