Thursday, January 31, 2013

More January News--School and Vacations!

I have half an hour, here in a rare morning at Panera, before a doctor's appointment. Since I am at Aladdin rehearsals every weekend, I have lost my usual Saturday morning sanity break, so I am grabbing some time alone while I can!

Rehearsals have been such fun, though. I love the kids, and I am learning so much from the other directors. It's helpful to see other's teaching styles with the various elements of dance, vocals, character development, blocking and more.

The older boys finished up their first semester at eAchieve, their virtual school. B17's course load will remain the same, except he will begin a new college class. He took Speech last semester at Gateway, a local technical college, and did fine. This semester we applied--through the  Youth Options program, which means the school district pays for it--for a class at UW-Parkside, which is here in town.  The only one that was approved that was also offered this semester was Intro to Philosophy. Not the first class I'd want him to take at a secular school, but at least his dad was a philosophy major in college, so he'll be able to give some perspective on the material. And hey, free college credit is a beautiful thing.

Blondechick will also be at Parkside this semester. She officially transferred and will be taking a full load of classes, as well as continuing to work as a waitress several nights a week. Right now she is basking in Florida--a last hurrah before classes start next week--with her dad, who is attending an industry conference and moderating a panel discussion on the Affordable Care Act which goes into effect in 2014.

The rest of us went to the Wisconsin Dells last week, to stay overnight at a waterpark called the Kalahari. We found a great deal online through Travel Zoo--it was $150 a night for a 2-bedroom, 2-bath suite, which included six passes to the waterpark and two passes to their indoor theme park, which has laser tag, rock-climbing, etc. We gave those to B17 and B13, and the rest of us had more than enough to amuse us at the waterpark for two days. Outside, the temps were in single digits, so it was perfect timing! It was a nice way to celebrate B22's birthday week and the halfway point of the school year.

B13's fall semester was lackluster. He is tempted by video games and a novel he is writing, when he should be doing school, and it's hard for me to monitor him when all of his school assignments are online. He can't work at his desk in his room anymore; instead he has to sit where I can see what's on the screen of his laptop. Still, I can't be in the room with him all the time. I am certain we will not do a virtual school with him again next year, but we were torn about what to do for this semester. With the goal of cutting down the time he spends in front of a screen, we dropped one of his elective classes for this semester, and we also decided to let him take an F in his social studies class for this coming semester. (It's only 8th grade; it won't appear on any transcript). History is usually his favorite subject, but he has hated this class. The online textbook is boring and unwieldy, and he spends more time trying to find information in it than he does learning anything interesting.

Instead, I am having him read the 10-volume A History of US, by Joy Hakim, and take multiple choice tests covering the material. He will research and write an essay every other week covering a topic of interest that comes up in his reading, so I'll get to work on writing with him, something I've been wanting to do. He'll also read biographies that we have in our homeschool collection. We'll continue this plan for 9th grade, too, and that will be his American History high school course. The best part is, it was someone from the virtual school who gave me the idea of substituting my own curriculum for the remainder of the semester, so I don't feel too awful about ignoring those assignments each week!

The two younger ones are ticking along nicely. B7 and I do his lessons from the virtual school, and I modify them sometimes so that we can more quickly move into reading time! He and Chicklet are really getting into their library books, bringing home lots of easy chapter books--Magic Tree House, Junie B Jones, Hardy Boys Secret Files series, Rainbow Magic Fairy series--that they can dig into. Chicklet has her workbooks, and she's doing Teaching Textbooks for math and really enjoying it. We are also doing Calculadder math drills daily. I don't remember why, but the timed tests freaked out my oldest two, so I gave up on it with them and never tried it with the middle two. But B7 and Chicklet are willing and eager to try to beat the clock every day, and I am so thankful to finally have something working well for learning facts!

My last piece of news is that next week, I am going on vacation. Not a family vacation--just me. My aunt and uncle in southern California are graciously hosting me for six days! This aunt is my dad's sister, and she used to come to the farm in Ohio with her son, my cousin, for about a month every summer when I was growing up, so I feel close to her. We also look alike, family friends in Ohio always tell me. Since my grandma passed away, we don't rendezvous in Ohio like we used to, and when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past fall, I considered going, which started the whole plan evolving.  Now it's almost here, and I can't wait!  So much to do, though, to get ready to be gone.

That took more than thirty minutes.

Perhaps my next post will be from sunny CA, but I am not promising. I may be too busy vacationing from all responsibility!

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