There’s Always a Lesson to Learn

Our area is just starting to have flood waters recede and I felt completely helpless as my mother in law became flooded into her home.  She didn’t want to leave her home as she wanted to know what was happening.  Friday morning she was headed to the store for errands and ended up going home empty handed as the roads to the store were flooded.  As the day marched on she watched flood water creep toward her home, filling the street, coming up the yard, and finally entering the garage.  Fortunately, that’s as far as the water came, but she was stuck at home at that point and we could not get all the way to her if she had needed us.

Our home remained dry as we sit on the highest area in town – far away from the multiple rivers.  I can think of three rivers and another body of water that is at least a creek, if not a full river.

So what did we learn?

Winter boots are not enough to have in the closet.  I’m going to buy a pair of rain boots.  We didn’t need them this time, but if we had needed to get to Mom, they would have been useful – and a whole lot better than strapping on a pair of garbage bags.

DH just ordered a sensor for water in the basement that alerts the cell phone.  Our pastor was away when the water fell and came home to four feet of water in his basement.  Even if we had to travel home, we’d likely be able to gain time with the sensor’s warning and maybe even get home in time to save items.

We could use a pump of some kind.  Our basement doesn’t have a good place for a sump pump, but a general purpose pump would help, and there are other things we could use it for.  Having a pump would also mean that we’d have one to help Mom with, once the road opened.  She doesn’t have a basement, but does have a crawl space which could use some emptying.

It’s a good thing that MIL and I both keep our kitchen and other supplies well stocked.  I couldn’t get to the store either, which meant no Friday refill of milk in the fridge.  That’s okay – we still have some and could probably get another full day out of the last jug.  I just like to keep things full, and this is not the first time I’ve been thankful for that habit.  Snowstorms have kept us home at times as well.

There will be other things that we think of as time passes.  You don’t have to have an event like this directly hit your home to learn from it.

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The AP/IB Lie

Our oldest daughter just graduated from high school and completed the IB (International Baccalaureate) degree.  One of the ‘big sells’ of the program is that she could begin college with sophomore status.  Entering college with credit already earned is one of the appeals of AP (accelerated placement) classes as well.  The cost of college has quadrupled since DH and I graduated and we were very much looking forward to the benefit of so many credits already earned.  One less year to pay for, especially as three of the five schools which DD was looking at have five year teaching programs.

Reality is often different than we believe it ought to be.

Is it possible for DD to begin college as a sophomore?  Sure.  The scores aren’t back yet, but she has the potential to enter college with 32 credit hours.  Now let’s look at the rest of the story.  Our state’s universities have apparently decided that they don’t wish to lose that year of revenue.  As we visited the schools, we paid close attention to the required classes toward graduation.  Each school had unique and specific classes which were required instead of simply wanting x number of credit hours in math, science, etc, or listing a few different classes in each category which can be used to meet the requirement.

This means that starting with sophomore status does not mean that DD will be able to graduate a year early.  At best, with very careful planning, she can gain a semester.  That does no good with the fifth year of the secondary ed. teaching program as the fall semester is part time student teaching in her minor and spring semester is full time student teaching in her major.  The order cannot be shifted, and the semester in which each student teaching session takes place is also set.

Add to this that the price per credit hour increases with upper class status.  I really hope that is determined as 300 level classes and up, not simply class standing.

Granted, our daughter is going the honor college route, but even without that course of action, the schools have changed how course requirements are structured.  I don’t know how much AP/IB programs really gain for a student any more.

We barely saw our senior this past year.  I heard tons of complaining when I did see her, and the IB degree was her decision.  I had tried to talk her out of it, so for all of the complaining I did hear, there was more to be said that she saved for her sister to avoid hearing that it was her own choice that put her where she was.

I had planned on encouraging my son to take AP classes, but the classes are a lot of extra work and the tests which qualify a student for college credit are $90 each.  Is it worth his effort and our money when it won’t be likely to affect his graduation date?  I’m really questioning it.  If your child is considering AP or IB, I strongly suggest you do a little investigation on the college side of things and see if it’s truly worth it in your case.

Our daughter is feeling awfully misled right now.

Posted in Advanced Placement, AP classes, children, college, family, IB program, international baccalaureate, kids, school, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

End of Year and Looking Ahead

It’s the last day of school for my two youngest.  My son is now spending his last day at the middle school.  Hearing that hit him a little bit, in the “whoa” type of way.  My middle child is working to finish her math for the year.  This is the first year she hasn’t finished her school work before the other two finished their public school.  What I haven’t told her is that as long as she doesn’t slack off today, I’ll call the year for her no matter where she stands.  Math is the only subject not yet finished and she’s been diligent.

Next year’s math has had me puzzled as to what class she ought to take.  Algebra is not her thing.  She needs it, and completed all of Algebra one and geometry, but this year has only gotten through about half of Algebra two.  I proposed to DD2 and DH that next year could be business math.  It’s still important to me that she have a math class her senior year and this would be practical.  She even struggled with the math within her vet class this year, and I’m thinking that some math that is more visibly applicable to daily life might be a good idea.

I believe DH is struggling with the idea that DD2 may not go on to college.  She’s not sure about continuing her education beyond high school, and after the struggles I saw her go through this year at the beginning of her vet class, I’m in her corner.  This is not a matter of whether or not she’s smart enough to continue.  It’s a question of anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed (sensory processing disorder).  I saw the anxieties of the beginning of the school year – DH didn’t.  I saw the long, thin bruises left after she raked her fingers across her arms in frustration – DH didn’t.  She triumphed this year, but the first couple of months were rough and full of uncertainties.

DH is concerned that she’ll end up living with us forever.  I don’t think that will be the case.  There are many career options open to her which don’t involve college.  She already has the training and provisional certificate to be a veterinary assistant.  (300 hours working with animals are needed to complete the certification.)  That’s the starting point.  She could also learn dog grooming and/or obedience training to add to her income.  Down the road she could breed animals or be a boarder/groomer.  Honestly, I suspect that after a couple of years as a vet assistant, the desire to be a vet tech (nurse for the animal world) will grow and she’ll be ready to try algebra again for the greater good of advancing in her job description.

I’m with this child all of the time.  I’ve superintended her education for the past six and a half years.  I’ve been at ground zero with her as she’s learned about her sensory processing disorder, gone to OT, gone to counseling, etc.  I’ve helped her through this past year of high school.  Let me tell you – you will never understand how the junior year of high school is the roughest until you stand beside a child with SPD and it’s anxieties and help them prepare for the PSAT and SAT.  She and I were pleasantly surprised with her score.  It wasn’t stellar, but it was better than it might have been.  DH’s reaction (we were alone) was that she could re-take it.  I mentally shook my head at that, thinking about the absolute victory it was that she had fully taken the test and scored as well as she did.  DD2 would have deflated to hear those words from him.

So now I’ve been on Abebooks and found a business math book, workbook, and instructor’s guide all in the same edition and have them ordered.  I was a bit surprised to find the instructor’s guide, and feel this is a bit of confirmation that this path is the right one.  I’m so thankful to have found this resource for used books.  All three books only cost $30 together with shipping, and I’m hopeful that taking a different route for math will be a positive for DD2.

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The First Graduation

My oldest has now graduated from high school.  On Friday she turned 18, got her driver’s license, and graduated.  On Saturday she had her open house.  On Sunday she had her church graduation service.  She was completely done with it all when the service was over.  Who could blame her?

We had so much food left over.  Part of it was that I didn’t gauge the produce well, and part of it was that people were going to several open houses that day and weren’t eating much.  We were the third stop for many, with others planned to visit after ours.  Pastor went to seven!  Family who helped clean up took some home, then we tried calling food banks, but no one was answering phones.  So – Sunday I took produce back in to church and found families who could use it.  We bought it for friends and family anyway, right?  DH took a pan of sugar cookie bars in to work yesterday and they ate two-thirds of the pan.  The rest is hitting the garbage.

It was a little defeating to see the homemade rolls and cookie bars that were untouched, thinking of the time and energy I’d spent on them.  Oh well.  We have another graduate next year and I’ll scale back.  I was raised by a Mom who bakes, and feel that home baked items convey a little extra love to those you share them with, which is why I found it important to invest the time.

My sensory child did pretty well with all of the shake up.  She took a book to the open house with plans and permission to sneak off as needed, but she ended up at DD1’s table of school friends and had a marvelous time.  By Sunday night, she was just as done up as DD1, but she came through everything better than she expected to.  We’ve promised her that we won’t schedule her open house for the same weekend at the church graduation service next year.

My son was a rock star at the open house.  He worked his behind off pouring drinks and keeping things full.  He didn’t even know that there was a possibility of earning some cash, he just knew I needed him to help.

Summer is almost here!  I’m the odd parent out who loves when school gets out.  I love the lack of schedule.  Today was the last day to drive DD2 to her veterinary class, and I am greatly looking forward to staying home!  I have mounds of sewing to do, home school to plan, cleaning inside and out, weeds to eradicate, and I’d love to fit in some time to make beaded jewelry.  I also have to help DD2 with driving practice.  That’s not one I look forward to, but it must be done.  She has mixed emotions.  She wants the freedom, but is nervous about the actual driving.

DD1 and I also have a children’s book to write.  We changed the story that we’re going to do.  We’re going to write up a story based on a fiction which my husband and I devised years ago and passed on to the kiddos.   They actually swallowed the story hook, line, and sinker, and DD1 loved the idea of using this story instead of our original plan.  Now I need to turn a small bit of fiction that takes about a paragraph to relate into a whole book.  Add that to the list for summer.

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End of School Year Stuff

We had DD1’s last award program this week and she took two awards!  It was exciting because this was a true award program.  Most categories only had one award for the class of 315 (or so) students.  She got the English award, cool because she wants to teach high school English, and she got the International Baccalaureate award.  Much less competition in this category, but she’s the only one who has worked for the degree by her own choosing.

DD2 took her exam to qualify as a veterinary assistant today and scored 91%! She’s rightfully pleased with her accomplishment.

There isn’t much left to the school year now.  DD1’s open house looms close (two weeks from now), and I’m trying not to think too hard about it so I don’t freak out about the amount of work.

I got my lesson plan pages ready to be filled for next year along with daily assignment pages (for DD2’s use) and grade book pages.  It’s a lot of work to prepare for the coming year and time slips away quickly.  It’s the last year that I’ll be teaching home school.  After six and a half years (to date), it’s nice to think about the time I’ll regain for other work/projects/sewing/etc.

I’ve taken some time to weed my poor garden.  Earlier in the year I found a stool that sits a bit taller than most of those I’ve seen and it works well to keep me off my arthritic knees, but it’s still tiring and I can’t weed as long as I used to.  I’ve just got to keep plugging away at it.  If I ever finish, all of the garden spaces could use new mulch.  In the past, large needs such as this would bring a truck load to the driveway and have a day of spreading, but I don’t know if I can handle that any more.  It may have to be done bag by bag.

A row of arborvitae bushes are planted along the (basketball) side of the yard, and wood cages covered with chicken wire stand guard to keep basketballs and people out.  It was just in time, too.  Yesterday I saw that the kids now have a rack of basketballs that they’re pulling out to use (like the ones in gym class).  I hope the bushes get a good start before they outgrow the cages, because the basketballs are merciless.

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A Weekend With Mom

When my middle child recently had a two day competition during school days, I invited my mom to go along with me.  (It’s too bad that DH had to stay home with the other two kids who had school – especially as he’s off for a week-long conference this fall.)  Mom said yes and we were off.

The two days involved shopping, looking for beach glass, cheering DD2 along, and lots of gabbing.  The first night we turned out the lights at 8:30 (we’d both slept poorly the two previous nights) and then turned them back on at 10:30 after DD texted me.  We stayed up talking until 2 am. Then we’re lying there in the very quiet dark when we hear our neighbor using the toilet.  I couldn’t help it.  The contrast to the quiet and the lack of sleep had me bust out laughing and soon Mom joined me.  She tried admonishing me as no doubt our neighbor could hear us, but lack of sleep makes one very punchy.

We hadn’t had time together like this since before I got married nearly 23 years ago.

This time together also had me noticing things such as the osteoporosis hump that I hadn’t realized was forming.  Mom’s taken calcium for years, has had many bone density tests and corrective/preventative treatments.  Now she looks like Grandma did.  She still looks younger than other women I’ve seen who are older than her, but it’s tough to wake up to the fact that your mother is becoming more frail.  She has to rest more than she used to as well, and this is a woman who exercises most mornings.

I need to find more times to spend with Mom when it’s just us.

Mom told me again (third time, I think) that if she gets a serious illness, she doesn’t have the will to pull through it.  I’ve heard it through the phone before – this time I saw the look that went with it.  Maybe she wants it to be clear because she has a living will and I have power of attorney, maybe she just wants me to clearly understand how she feels.  It doesn’t get easier to hear with repetition.  Dad and my sister are gone.  Dad’s cat died of cancer.  There’s no one to talk to at her place and she’s three hours from me.

Enjoy the time you have with your parents (hopefully it’s a joy), and work to find more chances to be together.

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Award Program Follow Up

Starting with DD1’s honor roll assembly: I had stated that about a third of the class is honored.  Allow me to correct that: 224 out of 315 were “honored”.  It only takes one semester with a 3.0 to receive an award.  No offense is meant to those who work their butts off to achieve the 3.0, but it really takes away from those busting their butts in AP/IB/honor level classes and achieving 3.5 and better semester after semester.  DD1 said that there were some teachers in the hall with comments of “You made honor roll?” and similar comments.  That tells you something.


DD2’s award program was interesting.  I’m glad she had the opportunity to be part of one, seeing as home school award assemblies wouldn’t mean a whole lot.  The interesting part was a young man who spotted fresh meat and attached himself to her.  At first, I thought it was someone she knew from the career center, but it turns out she simply doesn’t know how to give the brush off.

This is the first time DD2 has been hit on, and he was persistent.  He gave her his phone number on a slip of paper and asked for hers.  She doesn’t know it by heart as we don’t live and die by smart phones in this house.  Then he wanted her e-mail address.  At one point he put his hand on hers.  He may have thought he was doing great, but she was freaking out and wanted to leave as soon as the awards were over.  We didn’t know all that had taken place or we would have left.

Being ignorant, we talked her into having a piece of pizza.  She earned it, so why not savor the moment, right?  Guess who plopped himself down with us, not at all intimidated by the presence of parents.  Once in the car she told us that he had asked her to meet him outside somewhere as well.  Dad was seeing red and demanded the phone number.  I promised to hang on to it in case he became a pest, but not to turn it over unless needed.

I reminded DD that her classmates had decided if a guy was pressing too strongly they could point out that they’ve learned how to castrate.

Bless you, vet class.

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