Minor Dramas

Currently we’re watching lettuce grow out of the cut end of a clump of leaf lettuce purchased from the grocery store.  I had seen that celery will regrow if you put the entire clump end into water, and we have now established that lettuce does it too.  It’s not relevant to any of our studies.  It’s just cool.

The end-of-year school activities have begun.  DD1 was inducted into the National Honor Society this week and this morning was the honor roll program.  The NHS ceremony was interesting from one point.  Inductees were sitting on a stage facing their parents, which put their knees at our eye level.  Fashion trends currently have most of the girls wearing short skirts.  One girl in particular has not learned how to sit while wearing a skirt.  My family worked very hard to look at the students’ eye level, just in case too much showed.  I did let the school know of our observation to prevent any unfortunate pictures or other embarrassments next year.   Please, please, please: teach your daughters how to sit in dresses and skirts!

Our son is loving throwing pottery.  Only one more session left, in which they’ll be glazing their creations.  DD2 and I have been recruited to come help as he made several pieces.  I haven’t seen them yet and am anxious to see how they came out, although the only thing that matters is that he enjoyed it and learned something new.

We’ve got a tentative date to take my mom zip lining.  We had wanted to take her for her birthday last fall, but she postponed it as my sister was on hospice at the time.  I’ve thought about trying it with her, but have decided to keep my feet on firm ground and be the historian.  DH and two of the kids love it and will zip with her.  DD1 is considering, but it’s not likely that she’ll go.

It’s the time of year where I’m planning the next school year.  I don’t have as much as usual to plan for next year as DD2 is taking the veterinary course, but I need to pick an algebra 2 package.  I think I’ve decided on Saxon but would love to be able to flip through a book first.  I like that a DVD is included with introductory lessons.

I’m working on the literature selections for both junior and senior year at once.  Junior year is world lit and senior year will either be world lit continued or just Brit. lit.  I’m reading new books now, loading things onto her Kindle, printing out the literature packets, etc.  She had to make a category in her Kindle of “Do not read” so she remembers to save those items for school.  I still have her read physical books, too, but a lot of the classical literature is in the public domain and free is awesome.

I recently made the mistake of observing that I was going to get to see my tulips this year (while looking out the window at the many developing buds).  Later that day I looked again and at least half had been chomped off.  I hate rabbits some days.

My garden fence had to be reinforced.  Our neighbors built a basketball court next to the property line last fall (cement pad complete with free throw markings), and those balls smash into my garden and roll across our yard on a near daily basis.  The garden fence takes direct hits from the balls and ball retrievers step over the fence rather than use the gate.  I’ve run a number of stakes through the fencing to strengthen it, and put posts along the planting beds to deflect balls away from the vegetables.  A volleyball net was strung along the top of the fence a week or two ago, but it doesn’t do too much.

A rude awakening is coming to the athletes, because the plan for 15 years has been to build a bonus room off of the living room, and a border of cedars needs to get started in order to provide some privacy.  The young cedars will be fenced to protect the developing shrubs, making access to our yard much less convenient (they cut a gate into their fence last fall).  We’re not starting a war.  We like these neighbors – just hate the basketball.  The shrubs were planned long before this family moved in.

What would life be without minor dramas?

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This and That

The SAT is over, and now the long wait for the scores begins.  Scholarship money is on the line here, folks.  Not that I’ve put undue pressure on DD1 about it.  She knows it’s important and did practice tests on Kahn Academy’s web site here and there between the PSAT and the SAT.  She did her part and knows that all we expected was for her to do her best.  I’m just hopeful for substantial scholarship money.  State schools are $20,000-$25,000 per year and that’s a big chunk of change.  Private schools were around $15,000 a year when I was in school.  DH went to a state school and paid $25,000 for four years all together.  Prices have quadrupled in 24 years.  That’s outrageous.

Add to those prices the fact that DD2 will begin college one year after DD1, then DS begins three years after DD2.  At least I’ve learned how to shut down the alma mater requests for donations to scholarships.  All I have to do is bring up the fact that we have two high schoolers and the college student quickly ends the conversation.  I may have two in high school for the rest of my life:)

DD2 got caught up and even a day ahead in her school work, and God rewarded her with a beautiful day for the butterflies.  Clouds were predicted, even when I checked the weather while looking at a cloudless sky.  I had her keep doing schoolwork until it was time to go, just in case the clouds rolled in, but it was sunny as could be.  The butterflies are more active on sunny days, and I think they were rejoicing in the sun after a week or more of cloudy days.  Afterwards I took her to lunch, then we decided to go to the Amish stores.  I legitimately needed to go and the other two find the trip boring, while DD2 loves to go.  I made sure I emphasized that she earned this day out, having completed the day’s work and having started the next day’s.  She’s keeping a bit ahead now, waiting for the green light to finish the year on her schedule.  She knows that green light won’t come until June 1, but I certainly won’t discourage being a little ahead at this point in the year.

As mentioned in an earlier post, this time of year brings a slow down in some subjects as text books are finished.  Math, science, and English will remain the same until the end, but I don’t mind relaxing in geography (just a workbook now) and her electives.

DS is taking a unique after school activity starting today.  His middle school has a pottery wheel and a kiln, and about three times a year holds a pottery club.  Students who are interested put their names in, and if more students wish to participate than there are slots for, they draw names.  He enjoys art but feels that he’s not very good at it.  I’ve told him that as long as he’s enjoying it, he should continue with it no matter how he rates his skills.  We have a pottery studio outside of town where you can take classes and I would be willing to pay for a couple if he enjoys it.

There’s quite a bit of creativity in my mother’s clan.  My grandparents did ceramics, and my grandmother painted.  My cousin is an architect, needlework (all kinds) is all through the clan, and my kids have enjoyed art since they first knew what it was.  That doesn’t mean we’re grand master level, just that there’s a lot of creativity.  Teachers are all over both sides of  the family, and my father’s side is full of engineers as well.  It’s just an interesting (to me) observation.


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Getting Back on Track

Spring Break flew by.  The college visits went well and DD1 seems to be a bit more comfortable with the whole deal.  She didn’t really know what to expect of college, and now she has a better image.  One of the schools we visited was just okay in her eyes, but she could qualify to compete for a full ride scholarship there.  Money talks, and whichever school offers the most money will likely win her attendance.  We’ve had a couple of schools call our daughter but one was out of our price range and super small (only two dorms), and the other on the other side of the country.  She needs to keep her GPA where it currently is, do well on the SAT, and beat enough other students out of the highest monetary awards.  No pressure.

I was pulling out fabric and patterns for new dresses for the girls when I found six quilt squares which I’d sewn together several years ago, intending to make a quilt for DD1.  She went through my scraps and pulled out several she liked and I cut pieces for six more squares.  Amazingly, four are already sewn and the other two are nearly there.  The first six are shades of purple and the new six are blues – mostly scraps from clothes made for the girls over the years.  I made a ton of cotton shorts, clam diggers, dresses, nightgowns and pjs for them.  The last three squares will be in green to keep the quilt in cool colors, but it’s going to be tough to find enough that goes together because we didn’t use a lot of green.  I want to get it pieced and ready to finish by fall so I can work on the hand stitching while waiting for DD2 at her vet science class.

The material for the dresses is washed and ironed and I’ll start cutting them out after the current six squares are together.  It feels as if the sewing mood is back and I need to encourage it to stick around so I can really go after my ‘to do’ list.  The problem is that I keep finding new things to add…especially now that I waste time on Pinterest!  It’s too much fun to see all of the projects.  The rationale is finding fair project ideas for DD2, but that’s become a bit of a ruse as we now have way more ideas than she’ll be able to execute between now and graduation.

Progress is also being made on the scrap afghan for my son.  I work on that while waiting for the girls at Bible study and for DD2 at her sewing class.  He may finally have the finished product in the fall.

DD2 is finishing the last of the make up assignments and has kept everything else current.  She finished her geography and astronomy text books so those subjects get to relax a little as the year winds down.  I found a geography workbook and she’ll be in that for the remainder of the year and astronomy goes to more constellation study, which is what she really wanted out of the subject.  I don’t think we’ll get through the Algebra or Chemistry texts, but we’ve also been using “teach yourself” books along side of the regular books to reinforce/clarify the topics.  Mostly, my goal is for her to get what’s been covered rather than rush through and understand only a small fraction of the material.

Of course there’s a ton of things which were supposed to get done over break and didn’t.  The only item that break took off of my list of normal work was home school, and we spent the majority of two days in school visits.  I may have mentioned before that I also have to fight my tendency towards laziness.  I’m perfectly content zoning out to tv or a good book.

Here’s to keeping the momentum going on finishing projects.

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Just When We Thought it Was Over

The kids have their sixth snow day, starting Spring Break a half day early.  Why they were having a half day instead of a full, I don’t know, but it encourages people to leave for vacation earlier.

I used to be in the camp of believing that kids should not be removed from school for vacations.  That was when the ink was barely dry on my teaching certificate and I didn’t have children.  I still don’t think it should be done often, but those childhood years fly by so fast that I’ve had no problem pulling our kids out for the three Disney vacations we’ve taken over the past ten years.  The most affordable time to go is when school is in session, and the last vacation we paired with a long weekend to only miss two days of school.  We’ve treasured the memories of all of our family vacations, all the more because DH didn’t have vacations when growing up.  Our town offers a huge variety of excellent summer camps, but to me it’s so much more important to spend that money on experiences shared as a family.  We essentially only have our children for 18 years, so why wouldn’t we make the most of those short years?

Our vacations tend to be nerdy.  We go to zoos and museums, usually go to state or national parks and hike, and walk a lot.  The first trip to Disney was a tag-along on a conference where DH was presenting.  On the conference days, the kids and I were taking pictures of birds to identify and learn about when we got home and had the bird book to consult.  My two youngest love to go through the junior ranger activity books, though they’ve only turned them in for badges once.  They’re too old for the program now, but a good share of the books are on line, so we can print them out for fun on future trips.  We go to amusement parks and other things that are just pure fun, but those are in the minority.

This summer we’re headed to Arkansas and one of my highlights will be a day at the Ozark Folk Center.  Here, we will get to see artisans spinning wool, making pottery, basket weaving, leather craft, and tons more.  Three of us are extremely excited about this stop and the other two are interested.  I was quite happy to find this park.  We’ll also be hiking a lot, which will be fun until we’re gaining elevation.  I love nature walks, just not elevation gains.  We’ll stop in Hot Springs and learn about the American tourism boom around the natural springs in the western half of the country.  The stop which DH first added for my benefit (to keep the whining about hiking up mountains to a minimum) is Crater of Diamonds State Park, where we get to look for diamonds in the rough.  The geologist in me is pleased (majored in earth science), and the woman in me is hopeful for a big one to have cut and worn.  We’ll see how everyone’s patience is when I start digging down deep and sifting in earnest.

Monday and Tuesday we will be taking our oldest to visit universities.  Hopefully it will help her start to see things she does or doesn’t like and help her decide where she truly wants to go.  She has a first pick but has never been there on a school day.  It’s huge and may be intimidating, so visiting a few smaller schools should prove beneficial.  Her first pick is DH’s alma mater and we’ve been several times on weekends to feed ducks and let DH stroll memory lane.  We’ll be visiting that school for DD2 in a few weeks.  They have an annual open house for future veterinarians which we haven’t been able to attend in previous years.  A visit on a school day will still be in order, along with one more school.  When we’ll fit these in is up in the air, but to do all four in one week would have been overwhelming for all of us.

For now, it’s time to go enjoy the day off – doing laundry, housework, and cooking.

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She Got In!

Word came that DD2 got a seat in the coveted veterinary program!  I’m so pleased for her!  It will be good for her in so many ways.  It will be a class room setting to help prepare for college.  She hasn’t been in a traditional classroom since 5th grade, and that was not a happy place for her.  It will be a classroom setting in her best and favorite subject, biology, which helps set her up for success.  She gets to learn the real life of a veterinarian which will help her to know if she truly wants to be a full vet (performing surgeries), if she’d rather have a supporting role, or if she wants to explore other careers with animals.  What an opportunity!  She may even earn some college credit in completing this course.  That depends on the college/university she attends.

The career center is about 25 minutes away, so practice driving hours will accumulate quickly.  It will be a bit of a pain to spend every morning there and I’ll need to figure out how that’s going to work, but this can be endured for nine months.  We’re also blessed with getting the morning session, which has the least interference with my other two children’s schedules.  I didn’t like the idea of not being home when my (then) 13 year old gets home, even though his high school sister would be there.

I’ve been making it a goal to work on old projects.  I’m taking my son’s patchwork afghan with me when I’m waiting for the girls at Bible Study and while I take DD2 to her sewing class.  I had the first three columns of the afghan sewn together last fall then took a break, so as long as I stick with it, he’ll be toasty next fall.  After the squares are all finished and sewn together I want to put a small border around the whole thing.  From there I don’t know if I’ll do my Bavarian crochet afghan (new stitch for me) or if I’ll turn my attention to learning to knit.  I want to make my own socks.  I’ve already got the yarn for both of these projects, so time will tell which gets done first.

My sewing stack is in desperate need.  Both the girls could use a new spring/summer dress, material is waiting to be cut and sewn for new pjs for myself, and the list goes on and on.  I just need to sit down and get started.  Once I start, I’ll have momentum to keep going for quite a while.  My eldest says she wants to learn to sew – plans to make her own wedding dress when that day comes – but hasn’t shown a desire to really get into it.  Maybe this summer.

A little voice in the back of my head is telling me to take the girls to Salvation Army and challenge them to find a piece of clothing to alter/add to to make it a one of a kind.  Another little voice tells me I’m crazy to want to supervise such a project.  The first voice then counters with the thought that they may have to live on a strict budget when they first start out, or even for their whole life, and that this would be a good exercise for them.  They’ve been in second hand stores enough to understand the value that can be found with some searching, so I know they won’t turn their noses up if they need to shop there.  We’re blessed to not have to shop that frugally, but I still respect my husband’s work enough to shop wisely.  My kids wouldn’t know a popular brand name if it bit them.  I have recently started shopping Land’s End for them as my girls have long arms which makes cheaper long sleeve clothing uncomfortable and they’ve stopped growing enough to invest a bit more.  This is when the clearance listings come into play.  Anyway, we’ll see if I listen to the voice of wisdom or take the lazy route.

My son’s conferences went well.  I got to sneak a peek at his art project and I’m so excited about it!  Seventh grade traditionally does a self portrait and his is looking great.  He was down on himself about it, claiming that his teacher had done a large portion of it, which doesn’t make sense – she was as excited as I was.  He’s a jealous soul constantly down on himself and I don’t know how to counter it.  I’ve tried several different approaches to get him to see things more positively.  I’ve been careful to give specific praise to my kids over the years, knowing that it means more.  I’m not free from giving general praise (that’s beautiful!  for example), I just try to be specific as often as possible.

Driver Ed classes need to be arranged.  DD2 will be starting this summer, and DD1 needs her second class and when that’s finished she gets to bump up a level in her permit.  So much to do.  Not to worry – I’ll keep running after it and never catching completely up:)

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This and That

Word came today that the first hurdle has been cleared for DD2 to attend a local career center next year.  She’s been accepted to a school of choice with the caveat that the remainder of her day will be home schooled.  Now we’re waiting for the career center to finish its enrollment to find out if one of the coveted seats belongs to DD2 for next year.  I don’t mind that our own district wouldn’t host our daughter (allowing the home school situation).  The school of choice isn’t too far to go for the standardized testing and I’m just pleased that they’re open to our situation.

I need to start researching math packages for Algebra II.  I can teach it, but math wasn’t my absolute strongest area and I want to make sure that DD2 has a clear presentation of the material.  Physics will need a package as well, but if the career program comes through (veterinary studies) that won’t be needed for another year.  We’ve used Kahn Academy a bit for Chemistry and will probably use it in the future as well.  DD2 does well when multiple medias and styles of presentation are used, so even with a complete package I’ll no doubt continue to pull other resources into her studies.

DD1 has two college campus visits scheduled for spring break, which will be a good introduction for her.  Grandma will be spending time with the younger two to help the visits run smoothly and remain focused on DD1.  They’re old enough to be alone, but we’ll be on the other side of the state for one of the visits, so it’ll take the whole day.

Conferences are tonight for our son.  I skipped DD1’s, as I have done since she left elementary school.  Daily grades are posted on line, and she’s a good student.  I don’t want to spend a couple hours to see three teachers and hear, “She’s a delight to have in the class…”  She also tells us quite a bit about what’s happening in her classes.  Our son has spelling and writing issues, and those have also led to a bit of attitude at times.  We need to keep a closer eye on his school work, so I’ll stand in the lines and only have time for three teachers, and probably end up feeling sick by the end again.  His school is ridiculously hot.

Flowers are starting to poke out of the ground.  This is my favorite time of year for the garden because I like to walk around the house and find something new popping up.  I’ve got an order to place, but have been waiting for bronchitis to clear out so I can be understood on the phone.  We have a large area of garden which was full sun when I originally planted it, and now it’s full to partial shade.  I’ve planted some shade plants before this, but rabbits ate them as they came up, even though they’re supposed to be rodent/deer resistant.  That’s how it goes in gardening, though.  Sometimes it’s a grand success and sometimes it’s a grand flop.

I’m battling with feelings about my mom.  I had hoped that we might draw a little closer after my sister died.  Not that we’ve had a poor relationship, but sis and Mom had something pretty tight.  I’m at the point where I need to let go of the dream.  Mom is not going to call me to chat.  She calls when she needs to tell or ask something specific.  I was sick once and didn’t call her for three weeks.  The next time we talked you’d have thought we’d spoken a day or two previously.  She hadn’t noticed the passage of time.  She’s not going to come to visit more than once a year for Thanksgiving unless there’s a big reason (the kid’s graduations, for example – at least I think she’ll come for those).  She will continue to make the trek up state to see sis’s family.  She will continue to call my BIL.  I know with my head that none of this will change and I need to deal with it, but my heart still wants my mom to be closer.

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Whirlwind of Activity

These past few weeks have been a bit of a blur.  There was an open house to attend for a local career center with the next night bringing a meeting for parents of incoming seniors and all of the stuff that has gone with those two things.

The career center visit was for my home schooled sophomore.  The center has a one year veterinary science program, which looks fantastic.  It’s taught by a veterinarian, and the kids have book work and hands on work.  They assist with surgeries and exams, and in general get a good look at the actual life of a veterinarian.  A vet degree is hard, intense, and at least 8 years to be a full vet, so this program is a wonderful resource to determine if it’s truly your path.  The hitch is that you have to go through a high school to take part.  Our local district would not allow her to go through them and remain home schooled for the remainder of the day, so I booked it over to a different school who is open to our situation.  We’ve applied for school of choice and also the career center and are now in wait mode.

The meeting for incoming seniors was eye opening and overwhelming.  Things have changed a bit since DH and I were in DD1’s shoes.  We’re still not sure how tuition will be met and DD1 is still not fired up to apply for scholarships.  I’ve found some which involve a short essay with a new contest each month.  I tried to get the girls working on these last year.  The prizes aren’t large, but everything helps.  She’s a passive child, which is frustrating when it comes to learning about schools and picking one, and doing her part to help pay for it.

I’ve started to think about things such as the graduation party and had DD1 write down the colors she’d like for bedding and towels for college so I can watch clearance racks.  I like to have an idea of what the plan is.  The graduation party brings a debate within myself as to whether we have two separate parties: one for church family and one for immediate family.  We can’t afford a full meal for the whole church and wanted to keep that more desserts with a few snacks thrown in, but if family actually comes (three hour drive), they ought to be given a meal.  Yes, grad parties are a church affair for our particular church.  We love to gather and socialize with one another.  We’ll see what we decide next spring.  Then the year following that we get to do it all over again for DD2!

We told our kids years ago that even if we had the money to pay completely for their education, we wouldn’t do it.  We saw too many kids who’s parents paid the whole bill and then the kids skipped classes or generally had a lazy attitude toward their studies.  We also won’t foot the bill for an entire wedding for similar reasons.  The kids need to understand how bills pile up, need to sweat a little about how to meet them, and as far as weddings go, need to figure out what is worth splurging on and what can be economized.

We’ve had four snow days starting with last Wednesday due to heavy snow dumps.  Yesterday we actually had school and DD2 was feeling a bit overwhelmed.  She gets snow days because her siblings are home, but the work is still there piling up.  So yesterday she was staring at four day’s worth of assignments.  Today she agreed to do her literature reading, and we’ll see that the other work gets up to date.  This month will see the butterflies come in to a local greenhouse and she loves to go but always has to be up to date in her work first.  It’s a good carrot to dangle.  (The other two kids don’t care to go, so we can do it as a field trip.)

I’m glad we had a normal routine day yesterday.  It’s funny, but one of our cats gets thrown off by lack of routine as well, and you could tell she was just loving life.

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