Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Day 121

I'm writing this blog to show everyone what our homeschool days are like, what a real homeschool family does; but most of the time, I don't actually talk about what we've done for "school" on any given day. I guess it's because it would sound like this: Sam finished his science study guide, Rachel did Algebra 2, Sarah did a science experiment, blah, blah, blah.

I could say that Rachel's math today was working on some complicated formula I know nothing about and she totally memorized it. She rattled it off (forever) while I stood there with my mouth hanging open. I could say that Sam's study guide was about the human body. He had to tell the two main functions of hair, which I can't remember right now, and the two functions of sweat, which I'd rather not talk about right now (something about feeding the bacteria that live on our skin).

I could say that Sam helped Sarah with her science experiment. They got a water bottle and put vinegar in it and put it on its side. Then they filled a foil trough with baking soda and slid it inside to float on the vinegar. Then they stopped the bottle with play dough and rolled it over so the baking soda and vinegar would mix. It was supposed to blow the play dough off and push the bottle backwards because every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Do you think that worked? Does that ever work? Do any experiments ever work? Not at our house.

But all those things aren't most of what we do. The academic stuff we do for school doesn't take up that much time most days. And that would sound the same every day anyway. I'd rather talk about the fun activity we did tonight with the teenagers at church. They got 7 parents to dress up in disguises and hang around at the store. Then the kids got into groups of 5 or 6 and went looking for the parents and got them to sign a paper saying they were found. Where's Waldo. It was a ton of fun, but at first I was so embarrassed to go in there looking not like myself. I had on one of Jeff's sweaters and a knitted scarf and a winter hat, but I must be really vain because I was mortified. Well, I don't want to say vain; I mean I don't usually even wear makeup. I just don't like looking funny. I got over it though (sort of).

They say our house is closing on Monday! I'll believe it when it happens. I'm not sure of all the reasons for the extreme delay; I just hope it's for real this time. After that we can start making decisions about what to do next. Our lease is up in May, and we'd like to find a house to buy by that time. I'm just not sure where to buy it. We do have some different options as far as cities, because Jeff could just change locations for work, but I don't know if we'll actually leave here. We've been here so long. I just know I want a little bit of property, because I'm dying to plant some vegetables!

See you tomorrow!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Day 120--Finally Friday

Jeff was off today, so he did some school with us. He usually interrupts us, but I love when he's here during school anyway. He's decided to read the encyclopedia with Sam and have him write about whatever they read. Sam doesn't complain about this like he does when he has to write other things. I need to have Jeff give him all his writing assignments. One of the things he wrote today was from the point of view of an alligator. It's cute.

"I like to lay here in my own personal puddle pretending to be asleep, but if anyone comes close enough I'll show them that I'm not. I've seen people looking at me and I know what they're thinking, but it's my puddle and I'm not going to share it."

Sam and Sarah are on lesson 21 in the Pre-Algebra book. There are only 30, and some of the topics are things we've done before; so we should be finished with it well before school's over. After we do, I'm just going to have us review the rest of the year and practice some foundational things and have them make sure they have certain things down more automatically, like negative number rules.

Rachel and I are almost half way through editing her book. I don't know if we can finish next week, but I'm going to try. She's totally excited! This is so different from editing my friend's book that was just published. I guess since she's my daughter and it's fiction, it's more like revising than editing. We've made some major changes. We took out the whole first chapter so it could start in the middle of what was going on instead of having any background that wasn't necessary. I don't think there are any more places we'll have to make major changes though, so I hope we can whip through it.

We made a new cover for it. We really just put a new picture on it and chose a new color. Here's the picture. We got it from Kamille. I like it better than the other one.

See you next week!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Day 119--Isn't it Friday Yet?

I've decided I have a cold. My throat has been hurting for a week, but just in the morning when I wake up. So I didn't think much of it, but I've been really tired too. I finally put that together and realized maybe I'm a little sick. Well, I guess I realized it yesterday when my voice started sounding terrible. So I can be a little less hard on myself for the amount of school we've done lately (and the amount of laying around).

Today was better as far as school goes. We finished our questions about Anne of Green Gables. Oh my goodness, they just hated the "write about a book" assignment. Sarah declared she would never do another one like it. I told her that she probably would if she goes to college. I want to teach them fortitude in the matter, but it was torture. She was especially unhappy with how badly it came out. It's totally boring for her to read. I let her read mine, and it's pretty boring too. I haven't read Rachel's yet, but she hasn't complained much. She is a grown up though, right?

We were talking about algebra and how you just keep adding to your skills and using them all instead of mastering a concept and leaving it alone. But there are a couple concepts in algebra that you don't use much after learning them, like imaginary numbers. I told Rachel I don't remember learning it in high school, I don't remember learning it in college algebra when I was 18, I don't remember Wilson learning it, and I had no idea what it was when I came across it in my current college algebra class. We decided that's because it's made up. It is imaginary after all. If I had an imaginary friend at my age, I'd have to get counseling; so what am I supposed to do with imaginary numbers?!

Streams to the River, River to the Sea is killing us. I mentioned how it had no emotion already, but we're not sure if we can finish it. I don't know why I want to finish; they don't care. And I'm not the kind that has to finish every book if we hate it. I do like to finish most of them though. I looked in the front of the book and saw that the reading level is 5th or 6th grade (I guess). I'm not really sure what the levels mean. I don't usually read books that have a level, because if a book is good, isn't it good for everyone? I've been reading good, real books to them all their lives. So I guess it was written down for kids. It's so sad. It could have been so much better if the story had been the focus and not the "level" of the reading. Was it C.S. Lewis that said something like: No book is worth reading at the age of 10 that's not worth reading at the age of 50? I wholeheartedly agree!

Here's a picture of Eliza. She's getting so big! See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Day 118--Do You Ever Do What's On Your List?

Every night I make a list like this for the next day. I'm sure you won't get some of my abbreviations, but you get the idea. This is a pretty short list. It's usually longer.

But the next day, I don't do those things. I always feel like I must not have done anything because I didn't do what I was supposed to do. So today I decided to make a list of things that I did do. It's obviously not everything, but I put several things on there that I did get done. Here's that one.

I feel good about the things we did today. I know there were a few more things we could have done. But we can do those tomorrow.

See you then!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 117--Exploding Hair Dryer

This morning, most of us were sitting around eating or reading scriptures and we heard a loud thud upstairs. Rachel was up there, and I figured she pulled her dresser drawer out too far and it fell out or something; but then she started calling for us. I went running upstairs and found her standing in the bathroom terrified and the hair dryer was in the sink where she had thrown it. I guess after years of wrapping the cord around the handle, it had broken. She said, "The hair dryer exploded!"

The cord had thrown sparks where it comes out of the back of the handle. She said right before that, she had a feeling she should stop using it and she had moved it away from her head. It threw sparks on her, but if she had still been holding it by her head they might have gone in her eyes! We've never had that happen before. I've gone through a lot of hair dryers, but they've always just stopped working or started smelling like they were burning and I would get a new one. This was quite a bit scarier.

After that, Jeff and Sam took it apart to see what it was like inside. Wilson used to do that when something would break. He found out quite a bit about electrical things when he was a young teenager. He even managed to fix a thing or two over the years.  It was more simple inside than I expected.

We had to go over the old house today to check on it, because it still hasn't closed. We gave them another extension for two more weeks, but we told them that was it. If they can't get themselves together by then, I guess we'll just put it back on the market. When we got there, it seemed like someone had been in the house. The lights weren't how we left them. Maybe they did another inspection to see if we fixed all those things that didn't need fixing.

We went to the grocery after checking on the house, and we were going to do math this evening since we didn't do any earlier.  I don't know why we think we're going to do things like that. It was almost 8:00 by the time we got home, and we hadn't eaten dinner. Like we're going to do math after that!

We read quite a bit of Streams to the River, River to the Sea today. We decided that part of the reason none of us like it is because there's no emotion in it. It's full of short sentences (which I combine as I read) and it just tells what happened. It reminds me of a newspaper article. I think we'll finish it anyway, but we're probably not reading anything else by Scott O'Dell. They never enjoy anything he's written. It's too bad.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Day 116--Crazy Ideas

We worked on our little writing assignments today. It is going so slowly! I only want everyone to work on it a few minutes each time so they don't get too burnt out. Since it's a boring school-type assignment, they're complaining a little. We're writing about one of our favorite books, so I thought it wouldn't be so hard; but I'm even having trouble with it. Whatever I write sounds so boring! We'll see when they're finished. Sarah wants to change topics. I guess she's not over that disease yet. After this, the only writing we'll be doing for a while is their research projects.

We took a drive today to look at some commercial rental locations for a business idea that I have. Jeff's job is getting to us, so I have this idea to start a "Homeschool Place" where we can help homeschoolers. I thought we could sell books and curriculum, have a lending library, have group activities and discussions, book clubs, parent support groups, and writing workshops. We didn't like most of the buildings. One was very nice though. It was, strangely enough, located in the parking lot of the public high school. It looks like it's owned by the school, but it isn't. I'm not sure I quite understand the arrangement, but it would be a great place.

Jeff would rather sell pizza, but I just can't do that. He has to keep working while we get something started, and I have to be able to do it. I love pizza. Everyone loves my pizza. But I think it would drive me crazy with all the regulations regarding food. Although my sister could totally do it, and she's needing a different job too. She knows all the rules; she used to manage school cafeterias. It's just that I still need to homeschool another 4 1/2 years and I can't do that making pizza like I could at a place where people are there to homeschool.

Also, I'd love to get MyWritingCheck.com going better than it is so far. It's a great service, but I need to figure out how to get the word out better. If I wanted to spend advertising money, I wouldn't know where to do it. I do plan to advertise in the Homelife Academy yearbook this year. I'm pretty excited about that. I was working on the ad today, but my brain is a little tired. The kids said it sounded like I was tired when they read it. That's pretty bad. It's boring. I'll have to get more sleep and rewrite it.

We're having trouble finding a piece of property right in Lima, Peru for our garden project (see day 114). It's total city. We found a couple places outside of Cuzco, but that's nowhere near where these people are that we need to get to help us. We have their email address and Rachel's thinking about what to say to them. We met them at Wilson and Kamille's wedding reception, and they said they were going to go to Lima. We talked about how much Rachel loves studying Peru and they offered to have her come visit them there! It was very sweet, so I think they'll remember us even after 2 years. I hope anyway.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Day 115--What's That Candy Like?

Yesterday, Rachel went to a Valentine's Day dinner with other 16-18 year olds at church. It was pretty cute. They all made little boxes and brought Valentine cards for each other like in second grade, remember? I haven't been to school in a very long time, so I didn't know that everyone includes candy with their Valentines now. We printed hearts on a couple sheets of paper and taped them to an oatmeal box, then we just printed little hearts that said, "Happy Valentine's Day, from Rachel." We're not crafty.

Anyway, she came home with the thing full of candy--none of which any of us can eat. So today, they wanted to unwrap and break apart all the candy to see what it was like. We've had food allergies and sensitivities for a very long time. It's been 13 years since Rachel ate processed sugar and almost as many years for the rest of us. So Sam and Sarah especially have no idea what candy is like. We thought the Nerds Rope was pretty fun. Nerds stuck to some kind of gooey jelly-bean type stringy thing. I've never seen one, but we told Wilson about it and he said he's had them. I'd think that's pretty yummy. I remember liking Nerds. They thought the chocolate smelled awful. None of them have ever had any of that at all. We stopped eating chocolate way before we stopped sugar. I think it's been 19 years since I had chocolate.

They melted a BlowPop to see the gum inside, and Sam said, "Why would you chew on something you aren't going to swallow?" To which Sarah added, "What a waste of time!" We spend a lot of time on food around here; we don't want to waste any on non-food chewables!

Sarah decided to do her paper on how the barometric pressure correlates to how people feel--migraines, sluggishness, sadness, etc. It should be interesting. All I know is that when the pressure is changing, I'm miserable. I just wish there was something we could do about it.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Day 114

Sarah had a fun science experiment today, but I'm pretty sure we didn't totally figure out the math with it. She had to drop an object from the ceiling and use a stop watch to time it. She had to drop it ten times and find the average time it took to fall to the floor. She just used a ball; it took .5 or .6 seconds each time. So the average was .54 seconds. She was supposed to find the height of the ceiling just by having the time it took for the ball to fall. It's pretty cool, but we came up with half of what the height really was each time. The math isn't that complicated, and I usually understand it pretty well. So I'm not sure what to do about it. We even found a youtube video explaining it, and that guy did it in a way that would have come out right with our calculations. Usually our science book is right, but I guess I'm not sure about it this time.

Rachel has been looking at international real estate for at least a couple years now. She says if you study real estate in a country, you can learn a lot about the place. Anyway, we realized how much more US money is worth in some places sometimes, so we thought it would be fun to buy a small piece of land in Peru or somewhere and donate it to our church there for a garden. Our church has congregations all over the world, and Kamille's parents know someone that's in Lima for a few years; so we thought we'd get them to help us find and buy the land. We even thought it would be fun to have a fund raiser for it by selling personal pizzas to people we know at church. I hope we can get it all organized soon.

Well, we have another delay on our house closing. I really think it might not happen. I guess the buyers messed around with the money in their bank account--taking it out and putting some in--while the bank was checking on their balance to be sure they had a certain amount in there or something. So now, we have to wait for a few more weeks so the bank can check again and again. I can't believe I have to trust them to be able to leave it alone and have it approved. The realtor said she told them, but maybe they didn't understand. We told her we're not sure we're going to extend the time again for them to get it done. It's been "pending" for a LONG time and we're feeling like we just need to have it available for people to start looking at again. Frustrating.

We decided to separate Sam and Sarah for the research report. Jeff said he thought they should each do their own. I told Sam I wanted him to pick something observable, but he doesn't want to do a science report. I think he would enjoy doing something about the way muscles work and studying his exercises as part of it. He loves exercising. He does all of it at night after everyone goes to bed. Wilson used to do that too. I'd find him doing push ups in the den at 11:00 at night. I thought that would keep him from falling asleep. Maybe it did; he used to fall asleep pretty late. I think Sam goes right to sleep though, so I guess it's ok.

See you tomorrow!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Day 113--Julie Bogart's 6 C's of Connection

I wrote this blog post a while ago and hadn't published it. Considering the migraine I've had for a few days (you noticed Rachel wrote yesterday's post), I thought this was a good day to put it here.

At the Brave Writer retreat this summer, Julie gave a talk called “The Invisible Education,” about how the feeling in our homes effects our kids’ education. She gave us the six C’s of Connection. Six ways we can foster connection in our families, because connection is the key to learning together.

First, compassion. Compassion at my house looks like letting Sam play with legos before school and not asking him to write more than he can stand with his own hand. It’s not calling Sarah in for math when she’s playing the piano for the 14th time that day, and asking Rachel to clean the living room instead of doing dishes when her hands are dry and cracked. I like to look for ways they’re showing me compassion too. It makes me feel loved.

Next is Collaboration. We love collaborating. When one of us has something important going on, the others are all there cheering. When we’re doing a project together, each one is aware of what the others are doing. Like when we make pizza; we all have our usual jobs. Sam makes the sauce, Sarah sautees the vegetables, and Rachel and I do crust and cheese. It’s so much more fun than making pizza alone. Faster too. We do almost everything together, but even when they’re working on something separately, they tell each other all about it. They each have their own science book, and they’re always talking about what they’re reading. Most of the time they’re telling each other how much the other will love it when it’s their turn to do that book.

Communication is next. Oh, this is our favorite. All we do is talk all day. Some days I ask them what we’ve done that I can put in this blog, and talking all day is always on the list. I love that about our family, because we’re not afraid to say anything to each other. We might even say too much, but I’d rather do that than not say enough. All this conversation leads to tons of laughter. Tonight we were talking about how we know what each other is thinking without even saying anything. I guess we don’t need to talk because we talk so much. That makes us laugh too--mindreading. We’ll have to do one of our comedy sketches about it.

The fourth C is Creativity. I’m not creative in a crafty way or drawing or anything visual, but I’ve always been a dreamer. The best advice I’ve ever gotten was, “Don’t be afraid to do things other people wouldn’t do.” I may have taken it too far, because I’m not sure I do anything other people would do but it’s fun that way. As far as homeschool goes, I try to see the educational value in the things that interest my kids instead of thinking they always have to learn academic things from school-type activities. Like opening the etsy shop to sell photos they’ve taken, self-publishing that book on Amazon, making lego stop-action videos, or coming up with comedy sketch ideas. How are those things educationally inferior to writing a boring book report on a boring book they never wanted to read in the first place or filling in blanks in a workbook? Clearly they’re not.

Cognition is the next C. The online dictionary says that cognition is the “process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.” What a fun definition! Thinking, doing, taking it all in. This is how we do everything. I don’t mean that I set up experiments or activities or that we have contrived experiences designed to lead to a specific outcome. Yuk. We just do what we do and learn from it little by little. I like to give the kids plenty of space to do this. It takes a long time to see progress, but it happens no matter what I do about it.

The last C is Consistency. I have to laugh at myself here. We get up around 8:00, Sam sits in the recliner waking up while I jog on my trampoline and the girls eat breakfast. I know what’s going to happen every day. We have a predictable pattern and it feels good. We usually don’t start school until after lunch, but we have so much to do in the morning: eating, studying scriptures individually and together, creating something cool with legos, checking email, talking and laughing, watching videos of Eliza learning to crawl. We’re busy.

Julie says, “The priority of home is connection.” And I agree wholeheartedly

See you next week!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Day 112--No Boring Narration!

This is Rachel. Mom has a migraine, so I'm writing today. She had one last weekend and thought she was getting over it, but I guess she wasn't.

I got to work with Sam and Sarah on their math. They were learning how to convert between Fahrenheit and celsius. I loved doing that when I learned how, but I don't think it's really anything I'll use very often. Maybe if I get to travel someday, which I would love!

I love formulas, and I was trying to help Sam get used to taking a formula and plugging the numbers in. Sam does not like writing math down as he does it. It's so important to write down the steps you're taking, especially when you get into Algebra and Chemistry, but he can't see that yet. I can't blame him. I didn't realize it before, but I had to write everything down. If I can't see the math on paper I can't do it.

But Sam is an amazing math genius! He converted between Fahrenheit and celsius in seconds while I was still working through it on paper. I had him do most of them on paper even though he told me the answer before writing it. I wanted him to see how his answers came to be. Sarah is like me. She has to write everything down too.

Dad read to Sam about gorillas from the encyclopedia. Dad is so funny! He likes to read to us, repeating what the book says, and then asking us to tell him what we learned at the end of each paragraph. It's funny, but it's always been hard for us to tell back what was just read to us. I think it's hard because we all just heard it! Why would we tell him that baby gorillas play ball when he just read, "Baby gorillas play ball?"

It's most fun to tell someone something they didn't just tell you, right? When Mom came in the room after Dad tried to get Sam to tell him about baby gorillas Sam turned around and told her all about it. That's the best narration. The kind that comes from wanting to share something interesting with someone else.

Hopefully Mom will see you tomorrow!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Day 111--So Tired!

Baby Eliza is 8 months old today! She's starting to get a tooth and wants to share things she puts in her mouth with her mommy and daddy! Isn't she thoughtful? She was so excited to Skype last night. She talked to us the whole time. I wonder what she was saying. I can't wait to get her in my arms again!

I mentioned Sam being sick on Friday, but most of the rest of us were feeling terrible over the weekend too. I had a migraine and some kind of stomach pain. Sarah had been having her stomach hurt for a few days too, but I thought it was stress. Maybe we had a bug, because it seemed like the same kind of strange feeling. Then Rachel told us she had been having it too, but she hadn't said anything. Thankfully, Sam didn't have that on top of his cold. He's not coughing right now, so I hope he can get some sleep. He's been so tired; so have we all. Jeff wanted to disinfect the recliner today before he sat in it!

It was so hard to think today because of tiredness, but we gave it a shot. Sam and Jeff studied for Sam's science test which he'll take tomorrow--partially open book, although I don't think he needs the book. Sarah could not think at all about her science today. She was introduced to an acceleration formula. More math. She's reading about Albert Einstein and Sam's reading about Ronald Reagan. I don't think they read too much of their books today. I read quite a bit of Streams to the River; River to the Sea. I'm never sure I'm getting the name right unless I look at the book. I don't have it with me. I think we liked it a little better today, but still it's not our favorite. Tonight Sarah told Jeff she wanted us to read something good as a family. I guess we're still in that rut.

Maybe tomorrow will be better. See you then!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Day110--How Many Sheep and Hogs?

We were doing some math problems from Ray's Higher Arithmetic yesterday, and one of them was about a man buying sheep and hogs. He bought the same number of sheep as hogs. The sheep were each $7 and the hogs each $6. The total amount of money he spent was $1482. So how many sheep and hogs did he buy? I always want to set up a problem algebraically, but logic will do too right? Rachel decided she'd just divide $1482 by 6 1/2 and then by 2. Logical.

I never even thought of that though. First I tried 7S + 6H = 1482, but I knew something was wrong with that. Then I realized that since the number of sheep equalled the number of hogs, they could be the same variable. So I ended up with 7S + 6S = 1482. That worked, but how important is it that people set it up that way? I mean adults that aren't in school.

I texted the problem to Kamille, and she divided 1482 by 6 then by 7 and found the average of those numbers and divided by two. So why do we have a fit when our kids can't (or don't want) to set up an equation? Do most of us do that to solve actual problems? Well ok, I do; but that may be because I've been teaching my kids math for years. I'm not sure I would have otherwise. Sure, they need to learn to do it for school, but maybe we should praise their ability to be logical about it too. After all, that will serve them well in adulthood. And if we get excited that they can do it logically, they might just get more excited about trying it the way we want them to.

Sam's been sick today. He's got a cold, and sat around in the recliner all day without getting up. And my head hurts. Lovely day huh? The girls were tired too, so we didn't have school. We watched Johnny Tremain and CNN10 for students. Also, the girls and I sewed and stuffed 18 fabric hearts that we volunteered to help with for a church activity. Plus we watched  a Hallmark movie and some Dick Van Dyke Show episodes. Thank goodness I made tons of chicken and dumplings for dinner last night. We had it for breakfast and dinner today. Cake for lunch!

See you next week!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Day 109

Rachel and I edited for a while today. We cut and cut and cut. I think we cut out about six pages worth of stuff. And we're only on page nine. Well, it's nine now. I don't know what page that stuff was on when we started. Actually some of what we cut was alternative beginnings. She had tried out two or three ways to start off, but I think we're happy with the way it is now. It jumps right into the middle of the story now.

Rachel settled on her research topic too. She's going to do a project about how writing affects your health. Wilson's actually doing the same project at college this semester for a research credit. Rachel didn't know that when she chose what to do. Aren't they cute? Picking the same thing. So I had him send her his proposal for the project so she can see what that looks like for a college student. Also, he sent her some articles about it. It should be fun. We're excited. Now Sam and Sarah need to choose what they're doing exactly.

I started reading Streams to the River, River to the Sea yesterday. It started out kind of violent and gross, but I think it's going to be interesting. We'll see how everyone likes it. As you know, we haven't had too much luck with liking the books I've picked this year.

I've been trying to get up a little earlier this week, so we can get something more done before lunch. It's been ok so far, but that usually doesn't last me long. After not many days, I normally need to sleep in. I've been trying not to stay up too late though, so maybe that'll help. But I'm not feeling like going to sleep tonight. Second shift hours would be good for me; they just aren't good for anyone else. Maybe I can nudge back the time that my brain comes to life. Maybe I can get it to be before 10:30pm!

See you tomorrow!