Friday, September 16, 2011

Back to School

This year is the first time Andrew (12) and Melinda (10) have been in a classroom with over 10 students or a school with over 30 students.  This is the first year they have schooled outside our home in the big, sprawling city.  Little by little it is getting easier for me to drop them off and drive away, but I do miss them.  On the flip side, Audrey and I are enjoying our days together very much.

Timothy was a bit blindsided by the amount of homework he had in his first week of 10th grade, but seems to be getting caught up as his classes even out and get into rhythm.  He is regretting not having much time to work at Traffic Management, but did manage to go in all day Saturday, and put in a few hours after school on Wednesday.  He's done a fabulous job this summer with work and responsibility.  Chris was very happy to have him as an employee, if only temporarily.  Tim saved up enough to pay off a debt he acquired due to a stolen bicycle, and went on to buy himself 2 surfboards (!!) and an iphone (with money leftover to pay for those monthly bills).  He impressed me by being bold enough to figure out the city's bus system (motivated by a desire to get to the beach and surf) and now isn't intimidated by it at all.  He walks about a mile from our house to catch the bus to Bolsa Chica, and even manages to catch a bus back.  I guess he's really growing up.

The most difficult part of adapting to school for Andrew is waking up in the mornings.  Now he understands TGIF and the loveliness of weekends.  He has made friends (is going to a birthday party this weekend in fact) and enjoys his classes.  He's in 7th grade now, and the middle school he attends has only 7th and 8th grade (love that!).  One of his favorite classes is elective for people who just love to read.  He says that the environment in that class is the best, since it is filled with people that are there because they want to be there.

Andrew hasn't had any problem in organization, and does an excellent job at getting his homework done without being asked.  He says that one reason he likes going to school is that it takes up part of his day.  His least favorite part of school is his math homework.  Not the class or the difficulty, but just how long it takes to show your work and do everything thoroughly.  The hardest part socially has been the direct exposure to people who are unkind or unjust to others.  Already Andrew has confronted 8th graders for teasing a boy for his looks.  I love that he isn't intimidated and is willing to stand up for others and what's right.  He amazes me, this one.  Brings tears to my eyes actually.  What a guy.

Poor Melinda was out of school for most of her second week of 6th grade with an icky Back-to-School far nobody else is showing symptoms.  She's back today, but a little stressed at the thought of trying to catch up (in fact she actually wondered aloud why she ever wanted to go to Valley in the first place--that's how you know she's stressed!).  She has some friends (mostly due to a summer craft day-camp she went to at the school) but is still working on finding her place.  The elementary school operates so differently from the middle school or high school that it has taken me some getting used to.  Melinda hasn't been very impressed with the hot lunch system, so we are going to have to do some shopping to aid our daily lunch-making process.

Melinda has decided to be in band this year, and is very excited to learn to play flute.  When I was growing up I felt like the only girl who didn't play flute or clarinet (always had a thing for the piano) so it's fun for me to have a flute in the house.  Math is going to be a struggle for Melinda the next couple of months as she tries to get used to a new curriculum (Everyday Mathematics, yikes) and new ways of thinking.  She's always been great at understanding the concepts, but some of her math facts still elude her.  She is growing into such a beautiful young lady, and is doing a wonderful job at handling the surges of conflicting emotions.  She loves people and loves to serve.  Wonderful things are in store for this darling.

Audrey couldn't wait to start school, and has really loved getting to spend the entire day with me.  It took her a little while to "get her math brain on" (as she says) but as soon as I told her that I'd scheduled extra math because she had liked it so much, and offered to decrease the amount, she perked up and plowed through.  She said, "Nope, that's okay.  I can do it."  And she has.  I'm using Math Mammoth 2 and Jump Math 3 for her this year, and she's doing great.  We used Math Mammoth 1 last year, and she had no problem making it through all the work (the program seems more advanced to me than others I've tried.)  She discovered regrouping in double-digit addition on her own...when I told her she wasn't supposed to know how to do that yet, she glowed.

Other things we are using and enjoying include Moving Beyond the Page (which I find to be too Social Studies focused rather than History/Geography focused...yes, there is a difference...but Audrey is enjoying it, and it is on track with what Valley is doing, in case she wants to give it shot at some point in the future.)  The photo above shows a 3D map that we made when we were talking about Communities.  We are also using Queen's Language Lessons for the first time, and I'm enjoying it so far.  I started her at a lower level in order to build confidence, which seems to be working.  We're doing 4 lessons/day right now!  At this rate we should be moving onto the next level before Thanksgiving.  I adjust the pace of her work as we go, speeding up or slowing down each subject to make it fit her just right.

That's about it!  The last two weeks have been craziness, but I'm sure everyone can relate.  We'll get settled in before long.

Monday, September 12, 2011

More Things to be Thankful For

I'm hoping I'll get around to posting more family happenings this week, but in the meantime I wanted to add another installment of things I'm thankful for.  It really has been a good exercise in changing my thinking around...there are so many little things to be thankful for.

26. thunder storms
27. snow
28. mexican food yummm
29. textiles
30. bird nests
31. dew
32. vacuum cleaners
33. brownies
34. choice in how I spell GREY
35. finished projects
36. organized garages
37. thimbles
38. artistic friends
39. lotion
40. elastic
41. pianos
42. trees
43. ponytail holders
44. the self-healing power of our bodies
45. comfortable couches
46. thermometers
47. water
48. fever reducing medication
49. band-aids
50. aloe