Friday, August 28, 2015

First Day of Homeschooling

Today is the first day of homeschool for my son Ronin. Through Visions in Education we are embarking on a new journey of learning. But first, let me tell you getting here was not an easy road.

First of all, there seemed to be a mix up with who my credential teacher (CT) was. I made the first point of contact and was told a few days later that Ronin was not her student. Okay. I called the only other contact I had which was his special education facilitator and she confirmed that, in fact, the woman assigned to me was my CT. This was a week and a half before school was to begin and still no contact from any CT. Our family left for the weekend to Aptos, so I mentally had to shelf that whole issue until the Monday before school began.

Come Monday, I thought it would be best to just call the main office and see if they could clear this up. It's now four days before school begins and I have no CT. This is important because without one, I don't have access to any online services and I cannot order curriculum. So, again, I call upon my faithful and super helpful special education facilitator and tell her of my continued conundrum. She personally calls her own contact in the main office and is able to fix my online services issue. So, now at least I can order something for my son to work on during his first day of school. But, now that it's four days before school, I'm probably not even going to have that. All the while, I'm still trying to connect with someone at the main office, but I either get a busy tone or the phone rings and no one picks up. I'm becoming increasingly uneasy about all of this...

Finally on Tuesday afternoon, I get an unknown number on my cell phone and I (uncharacteristically) pick up. It's our originally assigned CT and she lets me know that she just received notice that Ronin was on her caseload list. Yay! But now, I'm three days out and have nada. Zero. Nothing. Also, because of all her other existing student meetings, she can't meet with me until Friday at 2:00pm - the first day of school.

I know that my God is all-sufficient and He planned it this way. So, instead of grumbling and complaining about having some awful first experience at homeschooling, I improvised. We had already been working on his reading and comprehension, so we continued that. I also had been drilling him on his math skills, so we continued that in addition to adding a math app that he loved. I also began a student devotional with him on worship which we began the day with. I also had him read a chapter from one of his reading book series. We also started his audiobook of The Lightening Thief ( the Percy Jackson series) which he thought was way too long. We'll have to work on that one. We ended the day with a read aloud of Stuart Little. Can you tell mom likes to read?
So, the big question, what did Ronin think about his first day of homeschooling? Well, here's what he said:

1. I liked doing Math on the iPad.

2. I enjoyed doing the word search (during devotional time).

3. Learning was F U N (what?!)

A pretty good start. Given our lack of materials, we made the best with what we had. In a few weeks, I hope I'll be better equipped and hopefully we will begin getting use to this new routine and schedule. We will also begin his teletherapy with his speech therapist - via a Skype-like link. Lastly, once I get the ordering in, I'll tell you what curriculum we chose for the year.  Yay for a good day!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer Bucket List Done!

And summer vacation is officially over! Here is the list I shared with you earlier this summer. Below is the list after we worked our way through it. I think we did pretty well. Not everything was covered and that was to be expected. I was a bit surprised at the things we didn't do: miniature golf, going to the city or flying kites to name a few. There just wasn't enough time or energy. But that's okay because the point wasn't really to check off everything it was really just to help direct our summer and help us to remember that there is so much that can be done! My boys certainly cannot say they had a boring summer or did nothing. And even though the list was designed with them in mind, I had a great time helping them get through it too! Thanks for sharing in our adventures. I hope it will encourage you to make a bucket list next summer and see that you can make the most of your time off too!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Summer Bucket List: Visit the Beach - Capitola Beach

 Having ice cream after a fun time at the beach. It was just steps away so we couldn't resist. 
 A collage of our time at the sea. Sunny, but windy. 
 The boys of summer. 
Jenny and I trying to keep the sand off of ourselves. We did not succeed. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Summer Bucket List: Our Last Hoorah

As our last summer outing, we took the boys to the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz with their friends. It was a long fun day of rides, games and food. They wiped us out!
 Andre, Mason and Ronin were the big boys on the trip - they rode everything!
 Trying to keep track of all these boys was a tough job on a very crowded day at the Boardwalk. 
 First up - the Hang Glider. 
 Lucas swings with all his might. 
 Little Amelia playing peek-a-boo in her stroller. 
 The Casino Arcade had all the latest games. 
 Lucas trucking along. 
 I love this pick - totally unplanned (well, sort of). 
 I imagine the boys reenacting this photo in a few years. 
 Waiting in long lines is better with friends who are just as bored as you!
 We were in charge of pictures that day. The camera got turned around on us. 
Enjoying his big boy status on the rides. I'm amazed at his bravery!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Summer Bucket List: Trip to Aptos

We've done a few trips with these dear families over the years. Each time, we've always tried to visit somewhere nearby but new to us. This year, we spent it in the Santa Cruz area. We rented a vacation home in the Seascape area in the city of Aptos. What a gorgeous place! We stayed in a 3-bedroom tri-level home with a partial oceanview. It was a pretty home with all the amenities. We spent most of our time there cooking, playing cards, talking late at night and just relaxing. The kids played and argued and made up - their favorite things to do! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lucas' First Day of 3rd Grade

 His outfit of the day picked out by him. Personally, I would have toned it down with less blue. 
 His desk and already his first assignment!
Lucas admittedly was not happy about being assigned to this class because all his friends had been assigned to the other 3rd grade teacher. On top of that, his teacher was a brand new teacher to the school. With too many unknowns, he was hesitant about his first day of school. But it was all for naught, because in the end he said, "Mom, I'm glad I got Ms. Marceau. She's awesome! I miss my friends, but this year you can sit with your friends at lunch, so that's what I did. "

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Napa Wine Company Dinner

We were invited by the owner of the Napa Wine Company, Andrew and his wife Nancy and their daughter Kendall to a dinner at their home in the Napa Valley. Just writing that sentence is surreal. My husband's company along with other suppliers to this winery were all invited to dinner as a show of appreciation. His job involves cultivating relationships with these people on a daily basis and collaborating on projects with them. To be a part of this crowd is truly a page out of a magazine. 

We began the night with a reception outside enjoying glasses of rose and white wine along with passed appetizers. Afterwards we moved to their side patio area where we were greeted with a well-appointed table and a splashing waterfall in the background.  The sun was setting just behind us and gave all the guests a blushing glow. As night fell we were served a three-course meal with the valley slowly turning to night and the evening bulbs lighting the space.  I sat next to the owner Andrew as we talked of kids, running marathons and surviving last year's earthquake. The night ended with a delicious homemade strawberry shortcake and more wine. 

 Main course of flank steak with chimichurri sauce, roasted vegetables and fingerling potatoes.
 The evening's dinner table.
It was so surreal, we were giggling when the night was over. "Did this really just happen?" 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Carmen's 1st Birthday Party

 The youngest addition to my dad's side of the family. She's a cutie!
 Hammy and Junior trying to stay cool on this very hot day. 
Mikey and Lily had the right idea...swim trunks and bathing suits. They played with water the whole time. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Date Fun in the City

We went to the city to celebrate our friend Kat's birthday. She wanted to get some yummy crab from the city's finest - Thang Long. For as long as it has been there, we've never gone. So this was a first for us. We really enjoyed it! My mom still remembers the day when a whole crab in their famous secret sauce was just $18. Needless to say, it doesn't cost that little anymore. 
 The birthday girl, Kat.
 Afterwards we went to have dessert at Ghiradelli. This is their decadent drinking chocolate. It was dark rich and super thick. More of a dipping sauce than a sipping drink. 
 We also strolled the Palace of Fine Arts in the evening. The lighting was magical. 
 The celebrant with all her friends sharing in the feast. 
 Gorgeous, no? That's a no flash no filter shot. 
I may be watching what I eat these days, but for Kat, of course I'm having dessert! I shared this with my husband and we did not finish it. In the past, that would have been all mine and all gone!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Summer Bucket List: Things Completed Just Not Pictured

Read Chapter Books
This one was a modified bucket list item. Instead of having them read chapter books, I had them listen to audio books. I just recently joined Audible and have really enjoyed the selection of novels and book series they have available. It also helped me to kill two birds with one stone. One, they get to listen to a story and practice their listening skills. Second it also served as a siesta time for them - to practice peace and quiet for a period of time during the day. As a kid, I know that sounds awful, but everyone needs a little down time to rest and recoup from a busy day. They are currently working their way through books 1- 8 of the Magic Tree House Series.

Go to a Water Park (waterslides)
Given that I was in the water as much as they were, having my phone near me to take photos just wasn't happening. Ronin amazed me with his bravery as he rode all the craziest water rides with his cousin Lily and Mikey. I won't even go on them (but that's not really saying much). Lucas on the other hand was more skittish so he and I went to the endless river and played in the water playground. It was a fun day at the water park, but I am in no hurry to repeat it. The lines were obnoxiously long and slow. And given it wasn't a super hot day, after you got out of the water you were FREEZING until the sun dried you out and you did it all over again. I think this is how people get sick.

Journal Our Days
We've done this a few times during the summer. It was my attempt at helping them keep up their writing and comprehension skills. Kind of a dud as I was as lazy as they were at encouraging it.

Review 2nd and 4th Grade
We've been able to steadily get through their summer workbooks reviewing and preparing them for their upcoming grades. Lucas has been working on an overall review, while I've been concentrating Ronin on reading and comprehension. As we've worked through the books, the boys have become more independent and compliant about completing them. Lucas continues to memorize his multiplication facts (he's currently working on 6's and 7's) and Ronin is reviewing long addition, subtraction and multiplication.