Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Day 33

I usually wait until bedtime to post, but I know I'm going to be up late and forget to do it til 11:30 or something; and I just don't want to do that tonight. So here I am. Still with the migraine. Rachel has had a headache for a while too. We both felt great out west but have been feeling terrible since we got back. Maybe we always feel like this and just hadn't realized how bad it was until we spent time feeling good. I think it's time to move!

Today, I had Sam and Sarah working on subtracting negative numbers again. This time I gave them a procedure--Sarah's life saver. She was able to whoosh through several problems after that. Sam too. He did the procedure even though his actual problem solving was still in his head. Now to do that about 5,000 more times. Jeff always wants them to do hundreds of problems, but I think he wants them to do that all in the same day! He talks about taking timed tests with math facts when he was little, and he says there were 100 on the page. I wonder if that's just his child memory. Everything was so much bigger when we were kids.

I have mixed emotions about giving them so many problems at once. I had them do 10 or 15 after they got it. I didn't want them to stress out about having to do too many. I know they need to do a number of problems after getting it, but I also like just doing a few a day. It's a good idea to do a few later in the day too. I think doing problems twice in a day is as effective as having two days worth of practice.

That's what Jeff and Wilson say about piano practice too. I believe it. I've mentioned Sarah started learning piano just a few months ago. She has progressed much farther than I'd expect, and I think part of the reason is that she plays several times a day. I don't even know how many times. It has to be at least 10. There might be a little genetics at play too if that's possible--Jeff and Wilson were both like that. Here's a picture of Wilson giving Sarah a piano lesson--in their pajamas!

I have Sam and Sarah reading Uncle Eric books to start them off on their American History credit. We're going to study the Constitution too. And probably read parts of biographies of the founding fathers. Sam's reading Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?, and Sarah's reading Whatever Happened to Justice?.  I think they'll like them. We also read another chapter of The Mysterious Island today. They found the missing person, but the chapter ended before they said whether he was alive or not. Obviously, he's going to be alive, right?

Tonight, if I can drive with this headache, the kids are going to church youth activities. Sam is going to hear a guy talk, that climbed Mount Everest (not all the way to the top, though). And the girls are doing art projects--Rachel is drawing and Sarah is painting. Yay for other people teaching my kids things! Jeff drove my car to work and left his, because it was low on gas and he was in a hurry when he left. His is a stick. Maybe it's time to teach Rachel to drive it. She started a long time ago, but we dropped the ball. I'm sure she can do it. Not tonight though, all that whipping my head back and forth! Ugh.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Day 32

First thing this morning, Sam looked at the Lego website and found out that he's not a finalist in the contest he entered. He's disappointed, but he does know most people don't win contests. He voted for the stop action video he liked best of the 6 finalists, but the girls didn't vote. They really only cared if Sam was going to be one of them. But he'll keep entering contests. He likes it.

Jeff was helping Sam and Sarah with subtracting negative numbers today, and Rachel said, "I never learned negative numbers." I had to laugh because she's been dealing with negative numbers for years. She is a senior after all. She says she just knows the rules but not why it works. I guess we were trying to get Sam and Sarah to know why the rules are the way they are. I like to understand what's going on, because it makes the math part of me and I remember how to do it. Maybe everyone doesn't need that.

Everyone did science at the same time today, as usual. Rachel was studying something about cell membranes and she looked at lung cells in the microscope. We always all get involved in each other's labs for science, so everyone got to see today. And so do you. Sam couldn't do his experiment because it involved plaster of paris, and we don't have any. Sarah's experiment was a bust because she tried to use a rubber glove and rubber band instead of a balloon. Clearly, I need to buy some science supplies.

We read another chapter of The Mysterious Island today. They haven't found the fifth person in their party after they were shipwrecked (actually, balloon wrecked). The characters are assuming he's dead, but none of us think so. They keep talking about him. We figure they wouldn't keep talking about a guy if they weren't going to find him alive. I've never read it. I wonder how long it's going to take to find him and what condition he'll be in when they do!

After school everyone did yard work in the heat. It was yucky and sweaty. I just watched because I have a terrible headache again/still. There is an unreasonable amount of work to do in the yard. We're renting a house and this is our first summer here. We've talked about buying the house, and the first thing we would do is rip out most of the things that grow and cause yard work! It's not our thing.

See you tomorrow!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Day 31

Today was hot, so the kids filled the pool--one of those inflatable, family-sized pools. They just love that. It heats up during school and they get in, in the afternoon. Rachel especially loves it; she needs more sun than the rest of us. While the pool was heating up, everyone did their science and math. I can't think what else we did. That's funny. Jeff did school with them all day.

I love that their science books are so clear and easy to understand most of the time. They're always telling us about what they're reading about. Whenever one of them talks about their science, someone that's done that book before reminisces about how much they liked it and they want to read it again. I can't imagine wanting to read one of my school science texts again, can you? Of course, my goal was just to get through my homework. I don't remember having too much of an interest in real learning. 

Sam and Sarah both worked on the Pre-Algebra today. Jeff wasn't sure how to explain what they were supposed to learn, so I ended up doing it. But my head was still hurting, so it didn't go extremely well. I think they understood enough to get it the next time we talk about it, though. I think we'd better work on it tomorrow and not wait til Monday.

We ordered MathUSee for Rachel. She's still worried about getting her 2 credits done, but the only way through is hard work. We all have to do it at some point--work harder than we really want to. She'll make it, I'm sure. She doesn't have that many other credits to get this year. I don't like thinking of it in terms of what credits someone needs, but that's what we're down to. And it's ok. Several years ago, I knew a homeschool family where the dad was the one at home. They were doing a charter school, and he told me one day that he just, "administered the program." I was sad about that for a long time. Until one day, I really looked at them. They were having more fun with their homeschool than I was, and it was so much easier. It didn't wear them out like it was doing to me. They did the program, they had brilliant kids, and they loved it. It really worked for them. So if something can make it easier on us, I'm going to love it!

Hopefully tomorrow I can make a list for them to work on whether I can help or not. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but I'm not really a nitty gritty planner. We have the books we're reading, and we just do what we need to do each day. But if all that's stored in my head, it gets trapped there when I have a migraine. I don't even have access to it, so how could I give it to them? I need to put it on paper.

Jeff's been reading Jules Verne's Mysterious Island to us. I hope we have better luck liking this one than we've been having this year with our books. I started The Princess Bride before my headache, but I'm not sure it's really the kind of book we want to read. And we pretty much gave up on Matilda, and they don't love Life of Pi. I think they're might have been another since we started in July. I usually do a better job of choosing. I think I've hit a slump. Maybe I'll read them something we know we love, just to get back in the groove.

See you next week!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Day 30

It's after midnight, and my head is barely starting to feel a little better. I dread going to bed because it always hurts more when I wake up. So the kids and I have spent a couple days worrying about how we are actually going to accomplish school with me like this. That's funny because I've always been like this. I have always had migraines, and I've had fatigue problems for about 12 years I think. I have eliminated a lot of headaches over the years by giving up chocolate and all refined sugar, but the rain still gets me. And maybe hormones. The headaches have been worse this year (or maybe couple years). I am about to turn 46 next month though. So I guess the hormones could be changing too. So this is the way it is for now, but the kids need school.

Rachel is a senior, and she has 2 math credits to get this year. That totally stresses her out. Math has never been her thing. She's much better now, but now she feels the pressure. We thought we'd try a computer subscription type homeschool curriculum and we signed up today. But I don't think we're going to love it. They talk too fast, and I'll have to teach anyway. We'll probably drop that. We looked at other things that would be streamlined for math, but she can't feel like she wants any of them. I told her tonight that I'm probably just going to have to choose and she can just plow through. I'm thinking we'll use MathUSee. She's never been a fan of it, but I do think it's the most streamlined and will give her the best chance of getting done.

Sarah started 9th grade this year and Sam is in 8th. So we're thinking that we need something more like textbooks for Sarah. She likes that sort of thing anyway. That's what Wilson did and he came out just fine. He liked it well enough. They're very much alike in a lot of ways, so this doesn't surprise me. We're using Apologia science and MathUSee Pre-Algebra with her this year. I had big plans for a world study project, but it would take quite a bit of effort; so I'm going to have to ditch it. That's going to have to be ok. We'll just do American History/Constitution study and biographies, or maybe Geography.

Sam doesn't need textbooks. He just needs a lot of information to read. He loves statistics and specifications. He is using Apologia too, and I was going to have him wait til next year to do Pre-Algebra, but I think I'll just have him do that with Sarah. They've always done math together. He's just not so hot on procedures, but he understands concepts, so we'll see.

I don't know if these things will help us feel like they're getting somewhere when I'm out of commission, but I hope so. I also have to just make a checklist so they can handle it whenever I can't. For now, Jeff will be off tomorrow and can help them have school even if I get up feeling worse--again.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Day 29

I woke up with a terrible migraine today. That never happens. Usually I get them as the day progresses. You know we were supposed to have school today after weeks of not having it. This happens every time. I think I talked about it in a previous blog. How something always happens when we're starting school after a break. I don't know if it's tension or coincidence, but it really gets old. We had to reschedule Sam's appointment with the surgeon because of it. Now it's not til September 8th. Also, Jeff's usually working during my headaches. I don't know if I've told you he's an airline pilot; so when he's working, he's just gone.

For years I've wondered what to do about it. Sometimes I think the kids need to do some kind of charter school or distance program so they won't need me. But that's ridiculous. I've tried some of them, and they need me anyway. It's just the way it is. I just hope that what they learn from my problems will be enough to make up for what they miss because of them.

They worry sometimes that they don't know the things other kids know. But just last night we were talking about adults knowing different things from each other. I know there are certain skills everyone needs by adulthood, but think about it; Jeff doesn't say the dentist is an idiot because he doesn't know how to fly airplanes. The guy that fixed our air conditioning before our trip doesn't think I'm lacking some required knowledge because I couldn't fix it myself. Isn't that why there are businesses? Why we pay each other for things.

If you used my writing critique service (MyWritingCheck.com) to evaluate one of your child's papers this year, I'm not going to say you shouldn't need my help. We had a plumber come fix the toilets in our house, and he didn't look down on us because all we could figure out was to call him. Ok, I go on a little when my head hurts this much. I'm lucky to be sitting upright; I wasn't for most of the day. And I'm about to go to bed again.

Oh, but the kids did do some school today! They all did science. Then they did math together from a Strayer Upton book. I think they did personal reading, played badminton, cooked lunch, and they went to a youth activity at church. Rachel had to call someone and ask for a ride to that, which is good for her. Also, they warmed up my hot rag in the microwave about 100 times! Maybe tomorrow will be better, but it usually takes a few days. We'll see.

Here's another family picture.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Day 28

Oh, we just miss Wilson and Kamille, and holding that little Eliza! We did not have school today. We just rested a bit more, and cleaned up a little after being gone. Jeff went to the grocery. That was almost an emergency after the trip. I got up before church yesterday and started to make banana bread for breakfast, but we didn't have any eggs. I was pretty sad.

We haven't started looking up things we wrote down on the drive yet. We'll have to do that little by little over the next couple weeks. We wondered if Dr. Suess lived out west because of some of the illustrations he put in his books. The bluffs in Nebraska, and the quail (I'm not positive it was a quail) with the silly, tall tuft on his head made us think of him.

While we were at Wilson's, Kamille read Rachel's book and did a little editing with her. Then Kamille started getting ideas for writing her own book.  She even got started while we were there. I'm writing a couple books right now too, and I'm planning on self publishing. So I'm excited about the girls writing books. I'll have to create a line of family fiction in my publishing company (which I hear you have to create to self publish). Kamille wouldn't tell us what it was about or any of her ideas. I guess that runs in the family, even if she's not genetically related to us. Just now, Rachel came up and sat beside me; and I said, "Don't read it while I'm typing." I always say that. I never want anyone to read anything I'm writing until I finish it, or fix it. We're all that way. Maybe other writers are too.

Today was the first day we didn't talk to Wilson or Kamille in almost 3 weeks! I didn't like it. Wilson starts classes tomorrow. I hope he gets some sleep tonight. Eliza keeps them awake sometimes, and then he gets up before 3:00am for work. At least he works at home and can go back to bed for a while afterward. School for us tomorrow too! I hope we can get our brains together for it. It feels like we've never done any school all our lives. Jeff has to go back to work too. I never want him to start working again after a vacation. He's so nice to have around.

I would say that life is going to settle down, but I guess Sam's colon surgery will be soon. That's why I wanted to start this blog. So we can talk about the reality that homeschool is at home, where people live their lives. Part of life is deliberate, methodical learning and part of it is having things happen that make it impossible to have deliberate, methodical learning. In fact, I would say that something has to happen in order to have real learning, so let's let it happen!

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Day 27

We're home! After 4 days in the car. I'm so excited to sleep in my own bed tonight. I'm too tired to write much; I just want to sit. But not Jeff. He wanted to put everything away. Thank goodness he's like that, because I'd leave all that junk in bags and suitcases for a few days. I've done it before. Sometimes I think I'm so lazy, then I remember I have fatigue problems. But I wonder where the line is. And I wonder about the "lazy" looking example I give the kids. I guess I can't figure out the answer to that question tonight. All I can do is go to bed!

Oh, but first, here's our new family picture. We don't really look like this. We all wear glasses except for Sam, who needs them but refuses to wear them. We just didn't want to have the glare. You should have seen the pile of glasses we had next to the camera. Now everyone can think we all got contacts! Also, we were on a hill and the camera was propped on a cooler in the back of the van in a parking lot, so we're leaning. Pretty funny. But I love this picture.

More about the trip next week after I have my day of rest. See you then!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Day 26

Well, a few things have happened. Sam had to have his colon untwisted laporascopically. Is that spelled right? I'm typing on Jeff's work iPad in the car. I really hate it. He's got limited 4G, so I just have a few minutes. Anyway, Sam is healing well, and we didn't have to delay our trip home. It could happen again at any time though, so I am a little nervous about traveling so far in the middle of nowhere for so many hours.

We're taking him to see the surgeon on Tuesday. I guess we'll really have to have that redundant part of his colon removed this time for sure. Apparently there's a whole lot of extra length, and it's still  impressively stretched out. I just can't have him or us worried about that all the time, and it is a safety risk walking around with that about to twist up at any time.

It was so hard to leave Wilson and Kamille and that sweet little bug, Eliza. We took a walk the other night and I wore her in the carrier. It was the sweetest thing. She's so cuddly. Now I don't know what I'm supposed to look at all day long. Right now I'm looking at Wyoming. And as beautiful as it is, it's not doing it for me. Besides that, it's raining; and it doesn't look as if it's going to stop any time soon. Like today.

I guess I'd better stop using Jeff's iPad. I'm hoping to be able to blog a bit more at hotels at night when we stop, but we've seen how well that plan works out on this trip.

See you soon!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Day 25

I'm not really blogging tonight. I don't know what made me think I could do it every day during our trip. Our family always has something. Right now, Jeff is on his way to a city an hour and a half away with Sam to the children's hospital. We found out in November that Sam has a redundant colon, and we were trying not to have part of it removed. So now here we are a couple thousand miles from home and it's twisted. It twisted in November; that's how we found out about it. So the rest of the kids and I are going to go meet them in the morning, but I feel like I sent them off the edge of the world alone. I'm usually wherever one of them needs me, taking care of all the details. But I was getting a headache and I have to make sure we all have food for however long we'll be there.

So that's why I'm not really blogging tonight. Mostly what we did today was hang around with Sam in pain and try to figure out how to make him feel better before eventually deciding to take him to the doctor. I suppose there's some learning in there, but it might be more for me than the kids.

But here's another sweet baby picture.

I hesitate to say see you tomorrow, but hopefully it won't be too long!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Day 24

That baby is unbelievably cute! We've been here at Wilson's about 2 days, and I still can't believe I'm a grandma. I had thought it would become more real when I got here. So far we've just been hanging around holding Eliza, which suits me.

I think I'll just stay here. Oh my goodness, that was a long drive. There are some states in our country that just never end. Like Nebraska. It's amazing to look at, but it does go on. We stopped writing down interesting things to look up. It was all just hills, and what looks like tumbleweed. Or what might be tumbleweed when it dies. Oh, and cows. We did see one person tending his cows, but he was very far away. Did I mention you can see forever! Nothing's going to stop you.

I'm limited on pictures and actually on blogging, because Wilson's internet won't let me use my own computer. So I'm using his. It's identical to mine, so I'm not sure why it's so much of a pain. But it is. I guess it's because my computer knows all my stuff; his just knows his stuff.

As far as learning goes for today, the kids have learned to hold a baby while standing, change dirty diapers, put together a crib, what a college campus, lecture hall and library look like, and how Wilson works. He teaches English to Chinese kids online through video conference at 3:00am. We can hear him, but we're dying to see the kids while he teaches them. Sounds like he does a great job.

I'll try to get myself more organized for blogging tomorrow. I miss it!

See you then!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Day 23

Just a quick update. I totally forgot to post yesterday, because we got to our hotel at midnight.

We decided the theme for our trip would be, "So Much to Discover." So we started writing down things we think are interesting or that we want to look up or do research on. So far we've seen things like a massive indoor football stadium, the world's largest truck stop, grain bins bigger than we've ever seen, tons of windmill type generator things (and one of their giant propeller shaped parts on a huge truck on the highway), more corn and bean fields than I thought could have existed, and lots of motorcyclists on their way to a bike rally.

I can't post pictures of any of these things right now, because I'm on my way to bed!

We've driven about 1000 miles I think, and we have 1200 more to go! Two more long days. It hasn't been as hard as I expected, but we have to get up and do it again tomorrow. And again.

See you tomorrow, and maybe I'll have a few pictures!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Day 22

I'm falling asleep on my feet. I'm not sure when I've had a more ridiculous day. First thing this morning, I took the car to the shop to see if they could fix it. I really didn't want to go and I was sure it was going to cost a fortune or they wouldn't figure out what was wrong. But they did! We have air conditioning! That means we can take it on our trip and not have to rent a van. What a relief.

Next thing that happened was Bubby cat went outside his litter box. We've had him almost 2 years, and that has never happened. Well, we can't just go off on a huge trip and leave him like that, so we took him to the vet (as soon as we picked up our car). He didn't seem sick, so they didn't test his urine; but he was acting strange around a blanket the other day and that's where he went today. So I double washed it, and got rid of any smell so he won't do it again. My dad and brother are taking care of him while we're gone, so they're just going to have to come over every day for a few days to make sure he's ok. I think he'll be fine. The vet said it could be stress, which I totally believe!

Then I tried to buy my special flour that I'm not allergic to, but they didn't have it today. That's never happened before. They said it was coming in on a shipment in a few hours, so I called. No. They said to check back at 5:00. No. So I had to order it online and have it shipped to my son we're going to visit. Here's a video from a youtube channel I have with my sister showing recipes using alternative ingredients to deal with allergies or health problems.

Then I realized that when I bought some mineral supplements the other day, they gave me the wrong ones. I hope I'll have enough to last for the whole trip.

We didn't get all our food cooked, and I don't see how we could possibly leave when we're planning on it. We think we're going to burst if we're delayed by a day. We need as many days visiting as possible! Rachel was being cheerful and trying to push us through, but the rest of us were so tired. We sat down and after a while I was falling asleep. Which brings me to right now.

Of course we never planned to have any school today, but we can always learn from problems. In a few weeks, we'll be able to have normal days again--I hope.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Day 21

The air conditioning in our van hasn't worked in 2 or 3 years, but we thought we might try to get it fixed and take our own car on this trip instead of having to rent one that has air. We had someone working on it, but he ran up against a problem he couldn't fix. And it's making disturbing noises today. I have to take it to the garage tomorrow and see if they can find the problem, but we're running out of time! I'm thinking we'll have to rent a van. Of course that's the most expensive thing to rent. I don't have the heart to stuff 3 teenagers into the back of an SUV for 30 hours. They are so uncomfortable. We'll see, maybe ours can be miraculously fixed and we can take it. Although I'm not sure I want to rely on it without any days between fixing and leaving!

So, today we mostly worried about the van and the trip. I did make several phone calls about it, but I'm not sure what the kids learned from that. There must have been something. They were involved in several conversations about it. They got to listen to the sounds it was making and help me describe them--hey writing! Not to mention real life experience.

Sam was thinking about not having his legos for so many days while we're gone (he doesn't like to take them out of town), and he found some software online that would let him build virtually. We downloaded it, and he and Rachel played with it for just a few minutes. But the next time we tried to open it, it wouldn't work; so he's a little sad. I don't know how to make it work, and I especially can't think about it while I'm so worried about the car and the trip. Maybe his brother Wilson can help him figure it out when we get to his house.

Wilson and Kamille and Eliza moved to a new place yesterday. He's doing some more undergrad work so he can be accepted into a Marriage and Family Therapy grad program in the next year or so. Here are some pictures of Eliza smiling at Kamille's mom. I can't wait til that smile is for me! She looks so much like Kamille. Too adorable!

We made treat bags for each of us for in the car too. That was pretty productive. We have food allergies, so we can't eat too much that's prepackaged or convenient, but we have a few favorites and we got them all! We did open some chips this evening in hopes of cheering ourselves up, but they gave me a gall bladder attack. It didn't really cheer me up.

Well, there's always tomorrow. See you then!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Day 20

Rachel's cover
The kids worked on their covers for Rachel's book today. They all started with the cover art. Of course, that's the most fun part. I'd rather write than draw, so I wouldn't have started with that. But that's me.

We downloaded several audio books for our road trip. I've never used any before; I prefer to read aloud myself. I'm not sure I understand the library website I got them from, but we'll see. Here's the thing about audio books. When I read aloud and I come across any swearing, I just scratch it out. So I'm hoping when we listen to the audio books, there won't be any swearing that we're not expecting.

Sarah's cover
It's not that I think my kids are never going to hear words I don't like, but I don't want to provide them. I figure that when we read a book, it's like inviting someone to tell a story to my kids. If I invited someone to my house to tell stories to my family and they started swearing, I would politely ask them to stop. The fact that someone is an author and has their stories published doesn't give them permission to swear in front of my kids. Anyway, I hope it works out.

Sam's cover
Tonight for Family Home Evening (we spend each Monday night together doing something as a family--spiritual lesson or activity) we planned our road trip. My dad got an old fashioned Trip Tik from Triple A, and we went over it to see where we might stop and what kind of hotels are there. It's going to be very long, but fun. And we can't wait to get to that baby and not put her down for days and days!

Rachel's sitting near me writing another book right now. I'd better get busy doing a final edit on her first one. I asked her what this new one is about, and she doesn't want to tell yet. Not just you, but me! I guess we'll all have to wait.

See you tomorrow!