Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Real Lesson

Homeschooling each child is a unique experience.  They each have their strengths, weaknesses, and styles of learning.

Let me give a little insight into what it's like to teach my eldest.  Let me also write down a reminder of what homeschooling was like for him when he was 3 months past his 11th birthday.

"Addison, come here so I can make sure you understood today's math lesson."  (He is working through/reading/self-teaching in math.  His brother comes to me when he is stuck or needs clarification.  Addison, not so much.)

He comes to the table, where I sit with the book.  He does not bring his work.  I don't ask him to get it.  I am checking for mastery, and to make sure he's reading the instruction thoroughly.

"Ok, what about this problem?
Is exponentiation associative?  That is, if a, b, and c are positive integers, must we have
(aᵇ)ᶜ=a(ᶜ)  ?"

He explains.

"What about this one?

517 + 517 + 517 + 517 + 517 
as a power of 5"

He throws out

without looking at his sheet. I ask him to walk me through, and he does.

He proceeds to tell me the answers to the other problems.  I have no idea if he is remembering what he wrote, has a photographic memory, or is reworking them in his head on the fly.  But, he is correct.  On one problem, he explained what he put, initially, and that he read through and understood what he did wrong, telling me the way he then came up with the correct answer.  I have always been amazed with this skill.  Often, I will yell from the next room, "Addison!  What did you get for that problem with all the 7's?"  He'll look up from whatever Kindle book he's reading and not only yell back the answer, but can also remind me that it was problem 1.56. 

I then get another problem.  
"Express 1120,000 as a 10,000th power by finding the positive integer a such that 1120,000 equals a10,000

He tells me that he figured this one out.  Before jumping in, he asks me (in a non-threatening, non-critical, completely nice way) "Do you know how to work through this one already?"

And here lies his biggest achievement of the school day.  It was not understanding the math lesson.  It was not his independent learning.  It was the fact that he paused before spouting off a detailed disquisition to ask if I was ready, or if I was on the 'same page' as him.  Most people would have missed this.  I did not.  I sighed, and smiled.  I told him that I knew how to work it, and thanked him  for asking.

He finished his schoolwork and never recognized this as a big deal.  But, I did.

He's got the academics covered.  It's up to me to teach him the rest.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Joint-Effort Joint Work

A Day

Whew!  It's Saturday.  A day where, before 10am, the boys had done their farm chores, Jeff helped a goat whose head was stuck in a barrel, I dropped off the boys' spend-the-night friend, dropped boys at a Boy Scout merit badge class, AND had Ivey suited up and at hockey evaluations.

Today was a day where Mim had Olive to ballet at 10:30, and Ivey and I met them there to catch the tail end of class.  We then made it to pick up the boys from their class by 12:00... where they successfully earned the Citizenship in the Nation merit badge that they had been working toward for weeks.

It was a day where Jeff and Randy managed to work in the 96 degree heat, in an army tent, to cut the first girt for our house.  

A day where the boys got home, packed up supplies, and made it out the door by 2:30 for a Scout camping & canoeing trip.

A day where Olive and Ivey danced through Lowe's, pretended to be ninjas, and giggled till they almost peed in their pants.
Me: "Olive, are those ninja moves easier without any clothes on?"
Olive: "Yeah, cause I'm kinda invisible."

Olive: "Water is like an invisible ninja drink. It looks just like cups." 

A day where, at 11pm, I was in the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies (and eating the dough until I was physically ill) while listening to the sounds of Jeff's saw in the tent and the guineas yelling at Jeff's saw from their perches in the trees.

 Tonight, my boys are sleeping in a tent in the woods, my girls are snuggled in a single bed, my husband is catching hard-earned zzz's on the couch... 

...and I will finally call it a day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Enjoying Our School Days!

Hands-free Panic

So, this may have happened....

I finally bought bluetooth headphones, so I can both listen to cheeseball shows on my Ipad while putting eggs into cartons in the wee hours of the morning without waking anyone up... and there was a bonus microphone, so I can talk on the phone hands-free.

I successfully connected the headphones to my phone, and when the phone rang, I attempted to answer with the new device. Unfortunately, I could not figure out how to answer it, so it rang and rang. As I walked around shouting "Hello? HELLO?" into the air, something picked up. Again, I said "hello", and I heard what sounded like a loud baby crying. "Hello?" There was no voice, but definitely loud crying. Because I was hands-free, I had no caller ID to look at. Assuming I was butt-dialed by a mommy friend, I kept up with the loud "HELLO's". Soon, I realized the crying was serious. It sounded like someone was in pain. WAIT. Was it an animal? I started to panic. Something was very wrong. I asked who was there... I asked if everything was ok... I ran to my phone to see who was wailing on the other end.

There was no number.

Confused, I scrolled around on the phone to see what on Earth was going on. All the while, there was screaming and wailing in my ears. It was loud enough that Jeff, tuning in to my distress, could hear it in the next room.

What was it?

How about an MP3 playing on a LOOP. An MP3 of simulated wounded rabbit calls that I had stored and played to help lure a fox.

Yeah. Cause that's pretty typical.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Guest Post

(Guest post, by Jeff)
An ode to marriage:

I stayed with the girls last night while holly took the boys to a movie. Before leaving she gave me the run down on finishing up the dinner she had started, beef stroganoff.

It started simple enough....just boil some noodles. Once I committed she then starts with the rest of the story. Blah blah do stuff blah do I'll write it down for you she says. I like bulleted lists with clear steps, so this sounds good. She grabs a piece of paper and starts.....bullet 1) drain meat first. Then much to my surprise she stops....that is it? Really.....all that blah blah do stuff is summed up in a single lost/annoyed/feeling tested.

I moan and look annoyed and she finally gives in and spoon feeds me some more info. Why it had to be this hard to get some instructions is not clear to me....but I got them and I got this.

Time comes and I get started. Noodles are in a big Tupperware with no literature how much do I need? That isn't in my notes. Call my mom but no answer....crap. Oh wait, how do we figure out all sorts of things in 2014....Google. "How to cook noodles" enter.

This is the point I realize how in the weeds I few ppl search for how to cook noodles.....Google doesn't freaking know. I get all sorts of info on making them from know like an Italian grandmother would do. I just laugh at the disconnect.

While I am not an expert is stroganoff, I am an expert at Google....I got this. New search "how many cups of noodles in a serving". Enter. Now we are talking.....cups to servings info for many different noodle types. I got this.

Noodles in water. Moving on.

Sauce recipe wants a cup of water brought to a problem. Water in pan provided by holly. Wait....this pan is huge. Water is 1/4 inch deep. Really? Going to boil 1/4 inch of water? I re-read the instructions, I recheck the pan I was directed to. All is checking out...but this seems odd. But I refuse to deviate from the plan. I feel like a x-wing pilot honing in on the exhaust port "stay on target, stay on target"

Water check, meat (drained) check, sauce packet check.....May the boiling begin. Boiling check, reduced to simmer check, thickening up just like advertised.....I got this.

At this point I'm on a roll....I got this. I even have an original thought....we need a side. Green beans it is. I got this.

All is done, on the table, on plates......let's do it.

Wow that is the worst salty stroganoff I have ever had. The girls and I make the best of beans and noodles. Eating just enough salty meat to get by.

Flash forward.....holly is home.

She and the boys sit down for dinner. She asked if it was good. I just smile ans answer "you will see". She looks at the salty meat mush and her eyebrows furrow. Lots of questions start flying....but I'm clean. I know I followed the directions "I'm on target, I'm on target". Yes both packets, yes water, yes drained the meat, yes yes yes yes yes yes yes.

"Did you add the sour cream?" Damn you, damn you all to hell. No.

All that work, all that progress, all that beating Google into submission. And it all comes down to sour cream.

Jerry maguire's "you complete me" has no idea how much was required to complete ME.

Completing stroganoff needs only sour cream, completing me needs Holly.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Field Trip Day!

Well, we did it.  We finished up our first week as a 4-homeschooler family.  And, you know what?  It felt good not to be rushing out the door for preschool (Technically, Olive would be in K4 and Ivey would be in Kindergarten), grabbing lunch bags and backpacks and communication folders, forgetting show and tell, and so on.  Instead, we read, learned, crafted, cleaned, and played in harmony.  Ahh.
The boys have been working on the prerequisites for their Citizenship in the Nation merit badge.  One of the requirements is to visit the capitol building.  Since the girls' vocabulary list included "capital" and "monument" (Wordly Wise 1, with a story about a family visiting Washington D.C.), I figured a field trip to Atlanta was in order.  So, the kids and I made our way to the capitol building for a self-guided tour.  I was pleasantly surprised with the girls' attention span and enthusiasm.  They loved it!
Afterward, we managed to maneuver the one way streets and lane changes and head over to the Varsity for lunch.  A few naked dogs, chili dogs, onion rings, and frosted oranges later, we were on the road for home.  It was a very successful trip!