Monday, July 23, 2007

Back to School has begun

I have only 2 weeks before my (un)official school start date. Officially, A Beka thinks I am starting on the 20th, but I discovered last year that by starting a couple of weeks early, I can fit in more field trips and fun stuff. So, we're doing the same thing this year. It also has the added benefit that A Beka gives me 30 days from my official start date to switch between programs if I decide we need to. I decided to make the move from the DVD program we used very successfully last year to the parent-directed program this year in the hope that it will take less time to finish each day. I do admit that I'm worried about being dedicated enough to do the extra prep work and teaching that I didn't have to worry about last year. I am also adding a few activities for my 3-year-old so I'll have that to prepare and teach as well. But, we will have 44 days in which to decide if it's working or if we want to switch back to the DVD program.

So today we started to get ready for the start of school. The girls got to pick out 5 folders each, which was the highlight of their day. We are now the proud owners of Hello Kitty, Dora, Hannah Montana, High School Musical, and glittery heart folders galore. One folder K picked out has a large pic of Zach Efron (from HSM) on the cover. Her comment was, "Does 'HSM' (which was also on the cover) stand for High School Musical or Handsome?" Ok, we are waaaay to young for that! After the trip to Target, we packed up and headed down to the pool where I sat in the shade and read through the Course Guidelines book and the intros for 4 subjects in one of the curriculum guides. A mother at the pool asked what I was studying, so we ended up talking a little about homeschooling. Her daughter and K were sitting near us eating a snack and the girl asked what homeschooling is. When she finally understood that it meant K doesn't go to regular school, her shocked response was, "Do you have any friends?" Gosh, even in kids :-) So her mom and I both explained that there are lots of other ways to make friends, including all the other activities K does and even just meeting people at the pool like today.

All this school stuff today and my sister calling me tonight about passing her ESL certification test got me thinking that I may want to renew my teaching certificate by getting licensed here in NC. In TX, I took the Excet test for certification, but here I think I have to take the Praxxis in order for my certificate to transfer. So it's $85 to process the application plus a fee to take the test. Then I'll have to have 10 hours of college credit every 5 years to keep the license current. Is it worth it? I don't have to have a teaching license to homeschool and I don't think I'll ever go back to teaching, but I hate to just let it expire and do nothing about it. After all, who knows what'll happen?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Night #3 in the new place

And night #3 of no sleep. I'm not sure what the issue is - a new room, the fact that it's a whole lot brighter at night, or just that my mind is continually whirring with everything I have to get done by 6pm Friday. By then, we have to be completely out of the old place and have it clean with all the nail holes spackled. We have the vast majority of our stuff moved over into the new apartment, but there's still a lot of odds and ends left at the old place that I have to figure out what to do with it all. Most of the boxes here are unpacked. I *hate* having boxes stacked everywhere, not knowing where something is, and just being so unsettled. Besides, I needed to know if any of the leftovers will fit in here and where. As a result, I've worked almost nonstop over the past few days packing, hauling things up and downstairs, and organizing things into their new places. The packing was done in a hurry, so the unpacking involves a lot of going through boxes and carting much of it out to the dumpster. Even though I've been moving constantly since Thursday, I don't feel overly tired, probably because my drive to get everything settled is overriding my body's screams to stop :-) I did notice that it took a whole lot of effort to drive the new screws into my daughter's desk to (hopefully) keep it together for a little while longer and the office staff of the complex remarked that I didn't seem as chipper today as I did when I last saw them on Friday. I collapsed on my bed this afternoon after I sent the girls to their rooms until their dad got home (and thankfully, my awesome husband let me nap while he took the girls to dinner). They were at each other's throats all day and I finally couldn't take it anymore. They're awfully tired of this whole moving thing and having to entertain themselves while we're busy. I have a friend coming over tomorrow to go over my homeschool stuff (which yes, is already organized neatly on the shelf, thank you very much) and I'm planning to ask her if I can hire her daughter to do some child entertainment for a few hours over the next few days. The girls will love it, I'll be able to get more done faster, and my friend's daughter can earn some money for school clothes. See? It's good all around!

There are a lot of positives about the new place to make the move worthwhile. All the rooms are bigger so we don't feel so crammed in. We purged a lot when we down-sized last year and we're doing more of it now just because we've learned we can live with less stuff (less to clean up, after all). The girls now have their own rooms where they can do their own thing. With the age and personality difference, it's nice to be able to give them their own spaces. I can also separate them when they just can't get along, like today. The kitchen and all the cabinets and drawers are bigger and it's so nice to be able to see and reach everything. The biggest thing that's making itself felt right now is that more space, plus 3 levels, means we're getting a whole lot more exercise. I told hubby yesterday that I was going to start a moving company disguised as a unique exercise experience. People will pay me to allow them to workout by moving other people's stuff into or out of a multi-level house. Brilliant, isn't it?

I think I'll try going back to bed since tomorrow will come all too soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

And I thought it was just a trip to Target

Tuesday night I had decided to get the sets of Rubbermaid drawers we were planning to use in the new apartment so I could go ahead and pack some clothes into them, then move the whole thing. L was already in bed and K asked to go with me, so we took off.

As soon as we got in the car, K started in with some hard questions. That day a friend we hadn't seen in ages had invited the girls over to her house and, at 6, K has started noticing things. Things like the fact that my friend's older daughters have darker skin than her younger children and K wanted to know why. My friend's story includes many elements of bad decisions, brave choices, an amazing turnaround, and inspiring work to help others avoid the same things, but it's not quite the thing to tell a 6-year-old. So I tried to delicately explain that the older girls have a different birth father than the younger ones, one who has darker skin, but Mr. H is adopting the older ones. K's questions led to the topics of one parent adopting the children of another, parental rights, severing or giving up parental rights, why L's parents would have given her up for adoption, why people in China need sons, L's heart condition, then back to the original question of why the girls' skin is dark, so we got into genes and how traits are passed on from parents to children. Of course, all this in terms that a 6-year-old can understand and process.

This, of course, took us the drive to Target and through most of the store. Whew! I almost kicked myself for agreeing to bring her on what should have been a quick simple errand, but it was rewarding in it's own way since I'd rather her learn this stuff from me than from the TV or her friends or just make something up in her own head. Parenting is not a job for the faint-hearted and schooling is not something that just happens between 8 and 3, August through May.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Added a pic of the girls

Yes, I should be cleaning/packing/purging, since we *did* decide to move into the 3-bedroom loft and it's going to be ready Friday! Eek! I figure that it's only on building over and we have a week to get everything over, so I'm not too worried. After all, we only have a few boxes to pack into, so I'm focusing on getting things clean and cleaned out. I tossed two large bags of toys, several large toys, and took more toys and clothes to the consignment shop/Goodwill today. The apartment is bigger, but we're giving up the garage, so there's a ton of outside stuff that had to be purged. Thankfully, the girls have been very cooperative in giving up things, but I am extremely grateful to a friend who watched the girls at her house yesterday so they don't know the full extent of the things that are gone :-) I doubt they'll ever miss any of it.

One of my packing procrastinating projects was to make the girls clothes from some ultra-cute material I found at Wal-Mart. It was already smocked and printed, so L got a dress and K got a top and all I had to do was put in one seam, a hem, and straps. I even had enough fabric to make kerchiefs for both of them. I had gotten rid of my sewing machine last year and replaced it with a tiny one from the homeschool yard sale, but it didn't come with the manual. I couldn't get the stinking think threaded, almost tossed it, then hubby suggested I look for the manual online. Oh yeah. And whaddya know? There it was! According to the manual, I was missing a tiny, invisible hole with my thread and that made all the difference. So thanks to Molly for selling the machine and hubby for helping me find the manual so I could put off packing for one evening.

I added a recent pic of the girls in their new clothes since someone mentioned that they hadn't seen any pictures of them in awhile. So here it is and I've got to get back to organizing my closet.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Out of the Fast Lane for a Moment

For the past month, we've been traveling, camping, visiting, entertaining, and just consumed with busyness! It has been a lot of fun, but I am so glad to get to a blank stretch in the calendar with days that I can devote to just...everydayness. It doesn't mean there's not stuff to do. I've got cleaning and entertaining the girls that must be done and the school stuff for next year must be organized and I've got to spend some time with the curriculum guides so I can get a handle on how things are organized.

We also have another big decision to make. We had started talking a couple of weeks ago about what we might like to do about where we live when our lease runs out around Christmas. I would *love* to move up to a 3-bedroom place so the girls will have their own space to play and get away from each other sometimes. Our apartment is pretty big, but the girls share a fairly small room and the only other play space is the garage. Separating the girls (which is necessary at times) is difficult because I can only send one to her room.

Our apartment complex has a section of "townhomes" and I asked what their general availability was the last time I was in the office paying rent. The woman in the office pulled up all the open 3-bedroom options and offered to let us look at them. So Tuesday, we picked up the keys and toured all 3, since it is a rare occasion that all the options are empty and available at one time. We loved the townhome, loved the loft, and hated the last one. When we turned in the keys, we asked about prices and their policy on moving between apartments. When we found out we could transfer at anytime without a penalty *and* that the loft is only a little more expensive than what we're paying now with a lot more room, then the question has come up about moving soon. So today, I'm getting a few more questions answered and we'll see where it all leads.

A friend of mine is unexpectedly moving this month to their dream place and she mentioned that she had been puzzled when her normally crammed calendar just stayed clear in July and August. Then she figured God had known better than she did that she would be busy enough with the move. It's a very rare occasion that I have a crammed calendar, but it is also odd that it's *so* empty for the next couple of months. Hummm...