Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Year Round School?

I am thinking about year round school again. We did it once, the first year I began homeschooling. I am wondering if I was wrong this summer to take a break. Its not like it caused any damage, but I think it would take some pressure off. I want to enjoy watching my children learn, not spend the day moving us from one subject to the next, so we aren't late for swimming, dance or some other appointment. I want to have the flexibility to go places and do family activities. If we move in the Spring, we could be on the road for a few weeks, anyways! Then, we will be moving into a new home. I need to learn and teach flexibility.

I am also considering Saturday school. We would use it as a "catch up" day. In other words, I won't plan to have school on Saturday, but if we need to spend an hour or so completing a reading lesson, we will.

My ideas demand breaking the "school" mold. I am still too tied down to my traditional school views. I can't seem to stick to a 9-2 PM schedule, no matter how hard I try, so why bother? Really, its not natural. Plus, my husband is not home very much, and then suddenly will have a morning home with us. I need to use this time to my advantage. Tomorrow, I will. I will go to the lab and get my cholesterol checked. I was suppose to do this a month ago. I will stop at the store and get some groceries without kids, and get the (late) registration renewed for both cars. My dear husband can guide the kids through their chores, and read with them. Maybe, they can even play outside a bit.

This Saturday, I am hoping that the family can all go into TC to the observatory, and see stars and planets. I have to check the weather. My daughter is really enjoying her astronomy lessons. Tomorrow, we will simulate a solar eclipse. This is why I need to break the mold. We should be loving this a whole lot more, and I am tired of hearing how everyone "hates school".

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dinner with a friend

Tonight, we went across the street to have dinner with a friend. She is in her 80's and lives alone. She made us macaroni and cheese, green beans, homemade applesauce, salad, and served grapes, bread, chocolate eclairs, and jello with whipped cream. My children ate off of real china. They did not make a mess, they used their napkin and washed their faces and hands after the meal. Then, of course they were bored, because there were no toys (they read Reader's Digest magazines LOL!) but, they allowed me to visit without breaking anything or fighting. My son only ate bread and dessert, and my daughter only ate salad and dessert, but they each took a bite of unfamiliar food and politely declined. We stayed for two hours. Amazing! My kids made me very proud of them tonight.

We had a decent school day, but it is taking me forever to start in the morning. We finished everything except Science. But, tomorrow we will catch up on that, because our TC day will be shorter than usual. My son did not do chores today, and he did not get allowance. He also told me today, "I hate school! You can't make me do school! I am going to play!" Then, he hit me in the leg three times. I told him to sit down and stop being disrespectful, or he would end up in time-out in his room. He complied, and we actually had a decent lesson. What he doesn't realize is, "been there, done that!" His dear sister's outbursts of past years have been far more intense. I'd be lying if it didn't bother me that at 5, my son is already claiming to hate school, but he has the next twelve years to learn to like it, right? :)

Kodiak, Alaska is really really far away! It will take two weeks to travel there, and half of that will be on a ferry! That is just wild! Did I mention that I get sea sick? I guess I will have to get over that. It sounds like such a neat adventure. I hope we can take extra time to visit some sites along the way. The ferry sounds interesting, its the Alaskan Marine Highway, and it makes different stops along the way. We would take a couple ferries. The dog would stay in the car - in a kennel. We'd get to walk him a few times a day, either on land or on the boat. My husband says, if we get orders to Kodiak, its an earlier PCS move, like in the early Spring. That is only 6 months away! I have this sudden urge to purge the house of more junk that we don't need. Like get ride of the treadmill, old clothes, the old couch, and old table. And, sell this darn house!

Ok, in reality, we might not get orders to Kodiak, but right now I can think about little else. I've got that itch to get moving again. We've been here 4 years already, and I am getting antsy.

Maybe its the tea, that I drank at my neighbor's house. I am not use to caffeine anymore. I bet it had caffeine. Maybe it was the 3 mile walk I took (in home walking tape). I have got to force myself to settle down and get some sleep!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Arrrrgh, the eye patch!

Maybe we are done with patching? My daughter has been wearing an eye patch for a lazy eye since she was around 5 years old. She has weaned down to wearing it for 1 1/2 hours twice a week, to not wearing it at all for three months. She is thrilled. In December, we will find out if her vision remains the same or if she needs it a bit longer. The treatment has essentially saved her eye from blindness. I am very thankful to God for that! The eye doctor thinks that her far sightedness will improve by her teen years. That would be great too!

I am doing better with our school schedule. We didn't finish math this morning, but I got right back on track after the appointment. We got everything done, including chores. And, both kids received post cards! Its great, I like this pen pal thing!

I am exercising at night again. It feels really really good. I have committed to doing a Leslie Sansone walking tape every other night, and I'm doing it! I think its been about two weeks now. The tapes are simple, and I rotate between a half dozen - 2 mile walk programs. So, its not boring yet. And, it doesn't take too much room, so even if there is a train track left by my son, I can still exercise.

And, I gave up caffeine, down to decaf. I am not having so many highs and lows in my day. It wasn't fun at first. But, this has been a couple weeks doing this too. No more pop (soda) either. But, I love Seltzer water. I must be the only person in this little town that drinks it. Maybe its an East Coast thing?

Well, we are off to dance- so that's all for now!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Late dinner and Cranberry chicken Pizza

Its Tuesday, and its getting late. My son is eating Mac n' Cheese at 7:45 PM. It seems the evening got away from me, and the back burner on my stove isn't heating things up. He is eating "Toy Story" shaped pasta. And, he looks really cute studying his macaroni. I made a great pizza. Its a pre-made crust, topped with whole cranberry sauce, cooked chicken, caramelized onions, thyme, and goat cheese. It tastes like Thanksgiving leftovers, and smells just as good too! And, since, the kids won't touch it with a ten foot pole, its mine for the next few nights. That makes me happy!

My daughter is making up a song and singing in the shower. She loves to sing, always. My son will be next. He started group swim lessons tonight. There are only three kids in his class. He got to wear cool blue goggles. His sister told him that he looks like a giant beetle with them on. Her lesson will be on Friday, just a few private lessons until she masters floating on her back without screaming and carrying on.

We go into Traverse City on Tuesdays, and it has been my goal this year to do a half school day on Tuesdays before going into town. We did it! We got reading and writing done this morning, plus one lesson for my daughter when we got back. The kids got to play with a friend in town, my daughter got snow boots, and I got a new pair of shoes at Sears.

In writing, both kids are using Handwriting without Tears. It is a good program. My daughters printing is beautiful on lined paper. She gets better each day. My son is working on lowercase letters, and has mastered capital letters. My daughter is also writing postcards to a pen pal. So far, she has not received one in return, but at least she has a nice writing activity.

My home is a mess. It is cluttered and dirty. I am not keeping up with things like I want to. But, I am completing our school days, keeping food on the table, keeping up with the laundry enough that we have clean clothes, and the dishes enough that we have plates to eat off of. But, its messy and needs some deep cleaning!!! If the realtor called for a showing tomorrow, I would be a wreck. But, I don't know how to keep up with everything. I'm not complaining, its just insane to have your home on the market for a whole year and counting. I'm not keeping it clean to have company over, because that never happens.

Friday, my husband comes home, after two weeks :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dance, dance, dance

My daughter started back to dance today. She is taking ballet and Jazz/HipHop. She told me that they did the "crazy wacky dance" in HipHop today. She just loves being back with her friends and teacher. She needs these classes to get her body moving. Talent has little to do with it. I'm not saying that she isn't talented, because she does just fine in the class. She is quite good at it. She pays attention, perhaps better than most of the girls in the class, who are her age. But, she needs to move and dance, because she craves it.

I signed my son up for swim lessons, which will be on Tuesdays. He is very pleased to hear this news. His sister, needs some private lessons until she masters her fear of floating on her back. I want both of my children to be good swimmers. We tend to live near water since we are a CG family.

My son was so much more motivated at school today! He was in a good mood, and he was happy to do his work. What a relief! I needed a good day with him. We played a game in reading, and read a Busy Town book too. I think he really like both of those things.

So, we have completed our first week of school. I am happy about how its going. We are just busy enough, but not overwhelmed. I am planing to take the kids to Shetler's Open Barn on Saturday, if the weather is good, and we need to make plans to go to Hoxie's for a hayride and apple/pumpkin picking. I will do an arts and craft activity with the pumpkins, we don't celebrate Halloween, so we will probably decorate them to look like stuff. My daughter wants to make a girl with a Zhu Zhu pet pumpkin hamster.

My husband forgot his cell phone at CG headquarters. So, I feel out of touch. And, yesterday our netbook got a virus. Its probably the end of it. I hate PCs. This Christmas we will update our Mac, with a Mac Mini. It is a much better system, in my opinion.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Solar system project and stuff

So, we made the solar system out of balloons today. It was to show the differences in size of each planet. It was fun, for our first project. I ordered a kit to go with the Apologia Science program, but for what I paid, the balloons were kind of a disappointment. If I had purchased my own balloons, we would have chosen more accurate colors. For instance, what planets are pink or purple? But, the kids seemed to like the project. It is hanging from my ceiling. Once the basement is less messy, I will take a picture of it.

My son is really really really difficult to teach. He is refusing to write with a crayon or pencil. He had a really good pencil grip in June, and now is pretending that he doesn't know how to make letters. Only, on his own time, he draws pictures, and holds the crayon or markers just fine. He will write his name too. So, its an act. Math wasn't so good today either. I lost my temper, and yelled. He is just refusing to do anything. And, in Social Studies, for Community Helpers we learned about teachers. He drew my picture. I was a box with a face. What am I going to do with my little boy?!

I mowed half of the front yard. Then it rained, so we went inside. We have "Stink horns" growing in the flower gardens. Bleh! Stink horns are really gross mushroom-fungus things. They sort of have a phallic look and smell like spoiled garbage. I dig them out whenever I smell and find them and toss them in the woods.

I am going to tackle the messing basement now, and see if I can get the kids motivated to clean with me for money. It looks like the basement exploded!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kodiak, AK Maybe?

Ok, well we won't be going to Humboldt Bay, CA or Sitka, AK, or at least it is unlikely. But, Kodiak, AK has suddenly jumped to the top of the list. There is a lot of reasons for this, and they won't make sense, so I won't try to explain. But, between my husbands future career with the CG, and the needs of the CG, choices get narrowed down. I just don't want to move to Miami, so honestly, I am not that picky.

Puerto Rico isn't off the list, but its not a likely choice.

So, Kodiak. Its a two year billet. Not too long, and lots of neat opportunities to explore a part of the country that most people never see. I would see my puffins! There are a couple dance studios, and so my daughter would be able to continue dance. There is little league, so the kids might get to play again. And the temperatures don't get as warm as they do here. The average high in August is 62 degrees, but they don't get as cold either. The average low is 25 degrees in January. Traverse City's average low in January is 9 degrees. And, there isn't much chance of getting lost, as there seems to be one big long road. Oh, and I just bought a GPS!

Also, where ever we go, once we sell or rent the house, my husband will likely take a couple months of leave. He will have over two months accumulated. I would like to visit all the family. I would like to see my brother and family in San Diego. I haven't seen him in over three years! If its Kodiak, I will become very good a camping, and we will drive our camper out to Alaska. Its already been to Kodiak, so it will feel at home (we bought our Scamp from a Coastie family).

And, I will bird watch in Alaska! I will overcome my seasickness, cause I won't really have a choice. Kodiak is on Kodiak Island :)

School update:

My daughter wrote a post card to her friend who is vacationing in Virginia. They will be pen pals. It was fun and challenging to do this. This is our second postcard.

My son was about 5% more cooperative today during school. He was very very angry that one of the Grandma boxes contained a train set that I snatched away from him, as I opened the box. It is part of his Christmas present!!! I didn't know Grandma had sent it, so I opened the box in front of him. The other 4 boxes she sent were either clothing or books. He cried on and off for two hours. He did like the Wall-E books that Grandma sent. I have so many books, we could open our own library! Its crazy!

Oh, I almost forgot. Aunt Tina and Uncle Tim made the kids a wonderful photo book and story about our visit to Chicago! Its awesome! Its one of the nicest gifts they've ever gotten. And, we all love it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thinking about Puerto Rico today

I am giving Puerto Rico a lot of thought today. It could be a great adventure! My good friend and her husband helped set up a mission church there, and I had just looked on the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod website last night and checked it out. Its very close to the air station. How neat would that be to be "missionaries" while we were in PR? We would love to be involved in youth programs, like teaching Sunday School, VBS, or even adult Bible Study.

My daughter and I are using a book about "Bibleless people", people who don't have the word of God in their own language. We have an opportunity to pray for these people every day! It is part of the Sonlight World History curriculum, and really neat! Its a good introduction to learning about prayer and missions.

So, I'm pricing Rosetta Stone Latin Spanish. The whole family could learn Spanish. John and I could really use a refresher! Boy, its expensive, but if it taught me to understand spoken Spanish, and to converse, that would be awesome. Three years of high school Spanish, and three semesters of college Spanish did not do that.

I am wondering about my daughter's dance classes. I can't find out any information on children and dance in Aquadilla. Do they teach ballet to children in PR? Or, any other type of dance? She loves to move, and I hope we can continue lessons as long as she is interested. We start up Thursday night with Ballet I Advanced and Hip Hop/Jazz II. I'm not sure about Latin dance for little girls, I mean my daughter isn't going to wear suggestive clothing, and that's how the costumes seem to be in this area for salsa and other types of latin dance.

So, tomorrow my husband speaks to the detailer, and hopefully we will get some direction to where we might go. If not, I will just keep learning about all these air stations.

My son looked at a map of the world today and asked, "How do you get from here to there?" He was pointing to South America and then to Africa. I asked him what he thought. He suggested a bridge. So we talked about how big the Atlantic Ocean actually is, and how the slow way would be by boat and a quicker way would be by plane. Another question was about how toys and machines worked when you pressed buttons. Later, he wanted to know how people move their bodies. I will have to get a more detailed books for those question! After I answered him, he was giving me a really puzzled look!

My daughter is very excited about astronomy. She made a mini-book and explained information that she recalled from reading about constellations, gravity, Galileo, Copernicus, NASA, Hubble telescope, natural, and artificial satellites. She took her mini-book to her bedroom to read on her own. Tomorrow we will make a solar system project with different size balloons.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Wish List

My spouse is away in Washington D.C. and may meet with the detailer while he is there. The list is not finalized, but we put together our wish list, based on what is available. There are only 8 choices, so I'm not really leaving anything out. There are only these choices now, but more may be added or subtracted before a decision is made by the CG this Spring.

1) Humboldt Bay, CA (really northern CA)

2) Sitka, AK (think about Washington State and Puffins)

3) Aquadilla, PR (Puerto Rico!)

4) Cape Cod, MA (not for from Maine, so puffins)

5) Kodiak, AK (island in AK, not really near anything and puffins)

6) Barbers Point, HI (Beautiful Hawaii)

7) Clearwater, FL

8) Mobile, AL

My mother wishes that there was an air station near San Diego, because my brother is there, and she plans to move out there in the summer. Humboldt isn't really close to San Diego, but closer than the other choices, I suppose.

If I go to PR, we will have to order Rosetta Stone- Spanish and get busy learning. Cause, my Spanish is not usable. I managed to get additional towels from the Spanish speaking maids in our hotel in Chicago, but barely.

I really really want to see puffins again. I want to bird watch with my children. But, I'd love any of the top 6 choices, I think. Ok, and since this is a homeschooling blog, everywhere on the list is an easy transition for homeschooling except Cape Cod, MA. It would be a pain there, but still doable.

Friday, September 10, 2010

We are Floating in a Balloon

A Beka social studies at the kindergarten level begins with family and community, for just a couple days before learning about Community Helpers. So, the activity was to draw a picture of your family. My son, drew a balloon with a string. Followed by, "Daddy with a very very long neck, Mommy you are inside an egg, and now you are an elephant,and D is in an egg too." He drew himself small, but rather normal looking. The next page involved drawing your house. Our house has a big face that is smiling.

Every lesson for my son began with fake snoring. He used a growling voice to do the ABCs and count numbers on the number line. He is continuing his questions of "Why won't you just let me play, mom?" He is silly, angry, happy, whiny, and confused. But, it wasn't bad for day two!

My daughter, was not as happy about school today. If I could remember the nonsense words she made up to describe the kind of mother she thinks I am, I would post them. Something like "Mom, you are a banana butt stinky head" or "Mom, you are a jumping bean silly muffin". They are truly creative descriptions, that really don't mean anything, but are combine with snarly faces and pretend slaps and punches. Umm, I'm really am not describing this well. Let's just say, its disrespectful enough that I can't let her get away with it, but truly rolling on the floor funny if you step away and think about the things she says.

Even though my daughter wasn't happy about school, she had a good day. We finished school by 2 PM, and boy was I exhausted!

We took the dog to the vet, he was coughing today, but the vet thinks he ate grass and got some stuck in his throat. I highly doubt this, but it seems that he does not have kennel cough. On the way home, my son told me, "Mom, when i am not in the house, and on my own by myself, I will buy a hamster." Later, he wanted to know how to get a house. My daughter wants to be an astronaut and own two golden retrievers, like Scotty. She will ride her "future" bike (the green one in the garage that Daddy is saving for her) She will put her dogs in the kennel when she takes trips. Hmm, trips to space, I guess!

I am glad its the weekend!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What kind of rock is this?

I am identifying rocks with my daughter that she brought back from Lake Superior last summer. We are using the book, "Is this an Agate?" I don't think that she has any agates, but she has lots of other rocks. This isn't a school lesson, but it is a great opportunity to learn, and she initiated it!

We began school today. It was a great first day. We got our chores done and all our lessons. My daughter loved the science lesson, we began our immersion study of astronomy. I like that the author gives credit to God for the creation of this amazing universe.

My son liked everything. He was tired when we finished. All day, he is desperate to complete his lessons and play. It was like a broken record every time I called him over for his turn. "Mom, I just want to play!!" He likes to listen to his big sister read aloud. I like it too.

We began school at 9:30 AM and were done at 1:30 PM. I didn't do a math lesson with my daughter, because we had to copy a page that she uses daily with her lesson. Then, we played outside. The kids rode scooters and played with chalk. I picked up branches from the rainy weather we got earlier this week. The yard was covered with downed tree branches and limbs. The leaves have started to fall, although they are still mostly green. But, it won't be long- Fall arrives early to Northwest Michigan.

I got over to an office supply store, made copies, and bought paper clips and post-it notes. We got food for dinner tonight, and for the next couple days.

Now, I have to clean up from supper, get organized for the morning and get the kids to clean up the basement playroom and bathed. I am so happy that school has begun. But, unlike so many of my good friends, it is not because I get to send the kids away because they are driving me crazy- I am happy to see them learn and grow under my own roof, with God's guidance.

Quartz, chert, epidote, basalt, porphyry, rhyolite, and granite are the rocks in my daughter's collection.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back from Chicago

We are back from vacation! My husband has a few days home (well, at work) before he goes to Washington DC for training. He will be gone two weeks. He will go to a lot of training this year as an Engineering student with the CG. But, we are seasoned in this type of lifestyle. Last year, he was gone a third of the year. Homeschooling fits this lifestyle perfectly! We get to spend time with him when he is around and keep busy while he is away.

Chicago was nice. I now own a GPS! I am very skilled at getting lost. It is true, I could and have gotten lost in Traverse City. I got lost one too many times in the Chicago suburbs. I drove through Calumet and it was just like driving through Paterson NJ. You just keep driving and all will be well. Then, I got lost in downtown Chicago. Our 7 hour trip to Waukegan took over 9 hours. I got lost plenty more around Waukegan, with a map in hand, and sometimes with bad directions from Google maps. Let me tell you, this GPS is a miracle. I love it!

In Chicago, we went to Shedd Aquarium. The kids saw the animal show with their Aunt Tina. We had a very nice day with Aunt Tina and Uncle Tim. Daddy was able to join us all for the day, and the kids loved that. My son was thrilled - watching and riding the trains. He still loves trains.

The next day, I took the kids to the Jelly Belly factory in Wisconsin. It was on the border. The kids liked the tour, but not the screaming baby which sat behind us. The little boy cried the entire tour, and stopped when it was over. But, they gave out samples of jelly beans, so it was still worth it. We had Mexican food with Daddy and his crew, and then went to the mall in Gurnee. It may be the largest mall my children have ever been to. But, there was no escalator, so they we not impressed. I endured lots of whining here, because my daughter got the "gimmies". Daddy had a night flight, and a SAR case, so he didn't get back to the hotel till 7 AM the next morning.

Saturday, we drove to Lambs Farm. I got very lost from bad Google directions. We rode a little train which broke down, and had to be pushed to the station. Then, we played mini golf with a bunch of wasps, and rode a beat up merry-go-round. Hmm, Lambs Farm was nicer a few years ago, and needs a little work. But, in the afternoon, we picked up Daddy and went to the Chicago Botanical Gardens, and that was very nice! They have a "train garden" with a model railway. There were dozens of engines running, and my son was in heaven. There was also a fruit and vegetable garden with was a favorite with my daughter. It was very pretty there. We had a nice dinner together in Libertyville, at a steakhouse.

Sunday, we had "church" together in our hotel room. And then Daddy had to go to work again. Aunt Tina and Uncle Tim came over for a visit, and the kids swam in the pool all afternoon. The hot tub was a favorite. We went to Cracker Barrel for dinner. My son came down with a fever of 102, but, it was gone by morning. I always carry motrin and a thermometer when we travel.

Monday, after Daddy got off work, we went to the Illinois Railway Museum and rode two trains (and Electric, Diesel, and trolley) and the kids loved that. We looked at lots of old steam engines, too. This museum is a lot of fun. This is the day I got my GPS too!

Tuesday, we drove home. It was a long drive, but 7 hours, instead of 9 hours. We picked us our dirty dog (he got a bath first thing when we got home) and got the house ready for school and work. My daughter woke with a fever at 4 AM. She is feeling icky, and has puked once. So, no school today. But, we are ready to go, once she is well again.

That's about it for now!