Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A busy weekend

The weekend came and went so quickly that I'm not sure how it even happened.  I didn't sleep through it; it was just super fast.

First, Friday was a big day.  It was Keali's last day in her public school.  I met with the teacher and explained that we would be pulling her out after the full day at school.  I was already doing the bulk of the work for homeschool (coming up with the curriculum and subject matter each day), but we were still being stifled with the public school schedule.  After all, Caden and Keali are so close in age that the math was really the only area they would need separate lessons.  The teacher completely understood and was kind enough to send some material home with her to get her off on a great start.  The schedule was of course a big problem with the public school, but other things that were important to us as a family that swayed the decision to bring her home:
1. She was really only allowed to "talk" during recess (30 minutes) each day.  Even lunch was assigned seating and little conversation since she was assigned a seat in between two boys that weren't close friends.
2.  We had taken 90% of her school work for the week on the cruise.  We were able to do it all in under 3 hours total.  Compare this to 40 hours of time that she would have been in school for the week.
3.  She was struggling with seeing all the fun "learning" Caden was doing, but being forced to go to school to sit down and be quiet for the greatest part of the day.
4.  I HATED MAKING LUNCHES AND THE FOOD AT THE SCHOOL WAS INEDIBLE!  (I may have yelled that inadvertently.)
5. The work that she was doing seemed to be a great deal of repetition.  More than even a kid who loves worksheets and repetition enjoyed.

She was beaming on Monday morning when I told her to get ready for school.  She quickly smiled and reminded me that she "was learning at home!".  It is fun to see her so excited.

Saturday can't be forgotten either.  Saturday marked 11 years since Scott and I were married at the ranch.  What a day it was 11 years ago!  The weather was almost identical this last Saturday to 2003.  While we didn't spend the day this year with our friends (and my brother who had an allergic reaction to an ant), we still had a fun day.  We left around 4 in the afternoon (without the littles) and went out and had cocktails and a great dinner.  We finished off the night at the dueling piano bar.  It was a fun evening out.  We have certainly had some wild adventures over the last 11 years.  Now with both kids home, and our schedule freed up even more, I have no doubt we have many more in our future.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A little get away

Since we opted to not travel for a chunk of summer and recognized that we wouldn't be able to last until our trip in May, we decided to do a cruise with the kids as a stop gap.  Scott and I had gone on a cruise once before that I gave him for his 40th birthday (before we were married).  While the two of us had a great time on that trip many moons ago, we found the food and atmosphere on the boat to be lacking.  So this time, we decided to try taking the kids on a little nicer cruise line with some better stops.

We left on Sunday last weekend, spent a couple of days traveling on the sea, stopped at Roatan (Honduras), Belize, and then Cozumel.  The weather wasn't too cooperative for the kids to spend a great deal of time in the pool on the boat, but that was just fine by me.  There was ice skating, rock wall climbing, arcades, kids clubs, and countless other things to do on the boat.  In Roatan, since we hadn't scheduled any excursions, we talked to some of the locals near the pier and ended up on a secluded white sand beach.  It rained a little bit of the time, but Scott and I sat at the beach side restaurant with cover, while the kids played until they could hardly walk in the sand and water and rain.
In Belize, because of the all the rain they had received the several days before our arrival , the cave tubing we had scheduled was canceled.  So instead, we decided to go to another local beach.  The kids played on the 90' slide and the rope swing for hours.  While I thought I was watching them have fun, what I was evidently doing was serving as meals for hundreds of sand flies.  I found out in the middle of the night that night.  To say that my legs and arms itch is an understatement similar to saying it is sprinkling in the middle of a hurricane.  Had I been around anyone with smallpox, I would have been certain that I had contracted it. Fortunately, the swelling has gone down now (5 days later), but now my legs look like I have track marks from drug use.  Highly attractive.  No.  Really.

Cozumel was another beach day, but (aside from the itching) it was better with weather.  The upside about the cruise was that it allowed us to see some new sites and also experience a little of two new countries.  Royal Caribben offered in-room babysitting, so Scott and I had opportunities to go out a few nights.  Our babysitters were awesome.  They come as a two-fer and the kids really liked them both.  The man was from Croatia and the woman was Russian.  It was interesting hearing their stories and the "happenings" behind the scenes on the cruise boat.
We spent a fair amount of the mornings on the boat doing schoolwork.  Keali was "skipping" school and Caden was just required to do his bare minimum of schooling there.  It was amazing how many people inquired if the kids were skipping school and how "lucky they were that their parents didn't think they needed to be in school".  At first I acknowledged their comments and assured them that the kids were doing their work on the ship, but by the end of the trip, I'm sure my responses were a little more snarky.  It is interesting to me that one of the big objections of non-homeschoolers is that the kids don't get proper socialization.  When people who went to traditional school ask me about socialization or our private business as it relates to schooling, I really do want to point out how badly their own "social" skills are that they acquired in traditional school.  So far, I have minded my manners. I will hope that continues. Anyway, the whole trip was a learning experience. In addition to new countries and new surroundings, the kids experienced new things. We all were treated to an ice skating show (on the boat!) and the kids experienced ice skating for the first time since living in Amsterdam.

Scott was able to secure a tour of the bridge of the ship for the kids. They learned so much that when they came back from the tour, they were overflowing with facts about the ship.  Overall, it turned out to be a great get away.  Now the countdown starts for the big trip in May!

Honorable mention pics:

A pic to prove that I was there, just usually behind the camera. By the way, the ship in the background is a Carnival Cruise ship that was usually within line of vision from somewhere on the ship throughout the week. 

Keali tackling the very tough rock wall on the ship...

Someone being very enchanted by the ice skating show.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Almost six weeks in

We have been really busy!  There have been some really great days filled with excitement and enthusiasm about learning, and there have been a couple of really bad days filled with tears and feelings of incompetence.  I won't mention who I am describing in either of the above scenarios.  It is either me or Caden, you can take a guess.  Irrespective of who you guess, you probably are right.

There have been many new experiences for us.  We have been down to the food bank a couple of times and made sandwiches for the impoverished children in Houston.  That was actually a very sobering experience.  The KidsMealsHouston is feeding 2000 lunches per day to children that aren't old enough to go to school yet for their reduced lunch.  These are kids who wouldn't eat if the lunches weren't delivered to their homes.  The reality of this is shocking.  The food bank can make a meal for $.33, so why can't our society feed our poorest and hungriest people, but especially the kids?  *sigh*

We have done some really fun events in addition to the Food Bank.  We have met some incredibly cool like-minded homeschooling families that have been a blast to interact with.  Yesterday we spent the day at the George Historical Ranch outside of Sugarland.  It was an amazing 4 hours filled with Texas history.  I learned more yesterday than I ever did in school.  I imagine that this is how kids are meant to learn.  There were people in costume and in character throughout the ranch that discussed how Texas settling happened, how the families and social structures worked, how sharecropping was handled, etc.  I always disliked history, but yesterday I discovered that it could be interesting and more than just memorizing titles of wars and which dates they started on.  Who knew?!

We've done some other fun stuff too, and in fact are about to leave to go to the Health Museum for a heart dissection class for Caden.  By far one of the biggest draw backs to homeschooling right now is the level of guilt I feel for Keali.  She has always loved school.  Loved it.  Like, would cry if she had to miss a day.  She has always loved her friendships there and adored her teachers.  This year has brought in a new situation though.  This year she doesn't like her class, says her teacher yells at the class for most of the day, and generally is in tears at most drop offs in the morning.  I know she thinks that being at home with me would be more fun than going to school, but this doesn't seem to be about that.  It seems to be about her dreading going into her class at school.  Of course we could easily take her out and homeschool her, but that feels like it is cheating her out of the experience of dealing with someone on a daily basis that you don't necessarily like or enjoy being around, and growing as a result of that.  I keep hoping someday someone will write the How To on parenting.  I certainly don't have all the answers.  I know that it hurts to see my kid in pain or sad, and that if they are only 7 years old, I should protect them from that pain if possible.  I don't know the answer.

I suppose we will figure that one out about the same time that Caden learns time management skills.  I'm not holding my breath.