Monday, January 30, 2012

My Awakening

I have shared with you my search for how we are to continue to home school next year and the years following.  Specifically since we have a high schooler in the home.  I have looked at online schools such as Abeka and Bob Jones, but I have also looked at co-ops such as Classical Conversations.  The kids want to join Classical Conversations (CC) because they want a peer group to socialize with and compete with.  I want a guideline, accountability, a reassurance that we are hitting all the marks to graduate. 

Last week I attended an information meeting for our local CC group.  The problem with this group is that they are young.  My two oldest will be considered Challenge students and the Wenatchee group doesn't have a Challenge class....yet.  I have been asked to consider being the Challenge Director and therefore teach my kids and any other students who are in that level.  Tomorrow, we will attend the CC Open House and meet with the moms who have kids in the Essential group (grades 4-6) and might have kids that need to move up to the Challenge class. 

In my struggle of whether or not to step into this position, I have had to face some humbling things about myself.  You see, to be the Challenge Director it will take a lot of work and preparation.  My friend who is the Challenge Director of her group says it takes her about 8 - 9 hours of prep time each week (basically all day Saturday and Sunday).  This won't make life easier but more complicated, but this is where I had to wake up and realize that this is the time and effort that I SHOULD be putting into my kids school preparation.  NOT spending enough time prepping with my current curriculum is why I am so frustrated with it and feel like I am not getting enough out of it.  That is because I am not putting enough INTO IT.  I love Tapestry of Grace but right now I feel like a lone fish swimming up stream.  I could sign my kids up with TOG's online classes, but CC has something that I need that TOG doesn't and that is live people to network with and meet with here in my area. 

So I have to make a choice, do I take the challenge and start putting some energy and effort behind our school or do I turn it over to an online professor.  (Don't get me wrong.  There is nothing wrong with online schools.  I know they do a great job and that may be the best fit for your family. I also know online schools don't take all the pressure off mom, I would still have to keep my kids on track, monitor their school work, check over get the picture.   I just have to decide if it is the best fit for my family.)

The other factor weighing in this decision is cost.  CC charges a tuition.  However, if I were to be the Challenge Director I would get paid for teaching the class.  In other words, if there are five other students besides my two I will  make enough money to pay for the tuition for all three.

Well... this is still a prayer matter for me.  Open House tomorrow.  A Challenge Director meeting in two weeks.  Then we will see.

Oh....FYI - We were supposed to close on our house today but evidently you have to have a document from the IRS to show you are current on your taxes  before you can buy a house anymore.  Once our buyers get that paperwork then we can close.  I am keeping the Champagne corked until then.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Today the boys and I went up Ski Hill to practice skiing.  Let me restate that, I went up to practice skiing.  They went up to have fun skiing.  I am proud to announce that I made it up the tow rope and came down the hill about ten times,...without falling!!!  I still struggled with turning and making S turns, but I did make it. 

We are home now for lunch but may go back up this afternoon.  Our ticket is good for all day.  I like that about our little hill.  We can ski, go home, eat, do chores, and go back to ski whenever we want that day.  Very convenient. 

Do I like skiing?  It is still too early to tell. Can I tolerate it?  Yes.  Will I learn to love it?  Time will tell.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Week Two

It's the families second week of skiing at Mission Ridge.
The weather was a lot nicer and the sun was out, but don't be fooled.  It was cold up there.

The kids start off going to ski school.  
To make sure they remember what to do, their instructor had them use the tow rope one more time to show him they knew how to ski.

He then had them go up Chair 1.  That is the chair that drops them off at the easiest slope.  Todd took the kids on Chair 1 last week so this was nothing new to them.
The kids did well for their instructor, but I heard Bryce took too long to come down so he got sent back to the tow rope.  After lunch I asked Todd to take Bryce up Chair 1 again to help him.  By the end of the afternoon, Bryce proudly reported to me that he had gone up Chair 1 nine times.  
I opted out of skiing today.
Last week during one of the many times that I crashed and burned, I tore, injured, did something to some muscles in my chest.  It hurts to breathe deep, sneeze, or move my arm too much.  I want to be fully in charge of my body on the slope and asked for one more week to heal.

I had to confess to my dear husband, that when he talked about skiing with the kids, my thought was "That would be great time for Todd to spend with the kidos."  Notice I didn't include myself in that.  I thought I would be spending Fridays alone and was looking forward to it.  Todd really wants this to be a family activity, so I have promised to try skiing again.

We are finally home.  Todd is soaking in a hot tub.  Bonnie is spending a night at a friends, and the boys and I are enjoying a pot of warm chili.  Soon we will settle down to watch Real Steel before turning in for the night.

Goodnight Everyone.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sore Muscles... body hurts!
Friday, the family went up on Mission Ridge to learn how to ski.  You may think that we were taking a day off of school but we were actually joining the Christian school in town.  You see they don't have a regular PE class so they cram all of their PE into five Fridays in the winter skiing.  In the morning the students take lessons and then they have four hours to ski in the afternoon.  We were fortunate to be allowed to participate with the Christian school this year.  Bonnie, Brian, and Bryce are taking lessons in the morning, while Todd and I ski.  After lunch we all ski in the afternoon.  Of course, that is easier to type  than it is to act on.  You see, I really don't know how to ski.  Friday was my first time in sixteen years to try skiing and let's say I stink at it.  It took me over an hour to get down the easy slope (according to Todd it takes the average skier five minutes to get down the slope.) Yep...I stink.  I lost count with how many times I fell. I was shaking and wanted to throw the towel in multiple times.  Finally I made it down and was glad to head to the lodge.  After lunch, Todd took the kids who had spent the morning on the tow rope up the chair lift and down the easy slope.  They did much better than I did.  I, on the other hand, spent my afternoon on the tow rope and practiced skiing in and out of the cones set up.  It was so easy there.  I wish the easy slope was more like the beginner course.  sigh....I plan on going back up next Friday.  I have to do it again.  I have to prove to myself that I can do it.  I hope I learn to enjoy skiing for the family's sake.  I want to enjoy it but right now it is pure torture.

On another note...Bonnie participated in the 30 hour Famine fundraiser for starving children.  I was very impressed with how she called up people and asked for them to sponsor her.  She raised about two hundred dollars for the cause.  I didn't need to do anything but sit back and watch.  Already she is asking to get a job in town.  She picked up a job application for the Enzian Inn.  I am not sure if I am ready to let her go in to the work world, but on the other hand she has wanted to work and make money since she was little.  I feel safe allowing her to work here and eager to see her grow into a young woman.

Finally,  winter has hit Leavenworth full force. In this last week we have gotten at least two feet of snow.  I love it.  Snow is beautiful and refreshing.  Bonnie and I just took a walk into town.  The snow covered us from head to foot.  We had to walk on the road in the tire tracks because the snow was mid-calf high on the side walks.  Oh, how I love this town. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I have to say that I absolutely love this town.

It is the Ice Festival weekend here in Leavenworth.  We did not go down yesterday for the snow sculpture contest nor the slooshing or even to watch the snowboarders do their tricks.  But tonight, we headed downtown to watch the firework show.  It was pretty awesome.  We can't do fireworks over the fourth of July or even New Years because it is a fire hazard during those times, but evidently the forest service feels that by mid January it is safe to shoot them off.  After the fireworks, everyone was invited to head over to the Festhalle to watch a free movie on snowboarding and skiing.  On a whim, the boys and I headed over but after a half hour of waiting decided to skip the movie.  I didn't have my phone on me and Todd did not know where we were at, plus someone had to pick up Bonnie from  youth group at eight.  Oh well.  I think the boys would have liked it if we had stayed.

Regardless, I love all the free, fun entertainment that is right out our front door.  Just a few minutes walk away and we can have a ton of experiences. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

 It's Friday the 13th and in the James household that means Oreo cookies and milk!
 To make the night even more fun, Todd told the kids to invite their friends over.  He then gave all the kids pvc pipes, duct tape, aluminum foil, foos balls, and a lot of other gadgets and told them to make a "mouse trap" sort of thing-a-ma-bob.  I don't know the real name but it is one of those things that make dominos fall over, and things fly up, and ...well, you get the picture.
 The girls worked on their creation, while the boys worked on theirs.  To add more to the challenge, the end of the contraption was to reveal a memory verse that we are working on at church.
 On of our elders popped in with his video camera, and video taped the kids' contraptions.  Todd plans on playing the video Sunday morning to introduce this week's memory verse.
 The kids got into the whole challenge and had a lot of fun.
 In the midst of the building we had the kids make their own pizzas.  I had the dough, sauce, and cheese on the pizzas.  The kids put whatever toppings they wanted on them. 
 After it was all said and done, the girls disappeared only to reappear as...
.(I like the cat and dog faces better than the zombies *Note: earlier post) Can you believe they went downtown dressed up like that.  They couldn't understand why they got stares from people.  Go figure!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spoke Too Soon

Ok...I spoke too soon.  The end of our school day concluded with my ten year old crying at the table at the prospect of writing a page on the maxim, "practice makes perfect."  He did write it though.

Look what I got for Christmas....
 I feel like I am cooking with some space-age contraption.  It is an InfraChef.  It uses halogen lamps to heat the air in the glass bowl to create a convection oven.  Cool huh?!  I used it to fix pork chops last night and I have used it to cook sausage links, salmon fillets, and french fries. 
Bryce told me that if I didn't like it to cook with, then it would make a really cool fish bowl.  lol  Just don't turn the lamps on. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

So Far...Awesome

Today has been pretty awesome!
One of those days that make you smile and remind you why you love homeschooling.
The kids were engaged, focused, laughed, and didn't balk at writing...(ok - Brian still hates filling in his timeline but did it anyway.)

We had a great discussion on Martin Luther.  The kids and I are working on an advanced cluster diagram on him.  On one day we came up with our theme and three major points.  Today we came up with three or four sub points for each major point.  Tomorrow's task is to take all of our points and flesh out a paper.  The fact that everyone was writing and giving good points and putting their ideas on paper was thrilling for me.  Writing is not our strong point.  Math and science comes easy for us but don't ask us (at least the boys) to put their thoughts on paper.  The cluster diagram is a tool to show them how easy writing is if you break it down into simple points/ideas.  Little things like that excite me.

Right now, I am battling over next year's school curriculum.  With one in high school and a second one close behind, I need to make some changes.  I need something that will help me know that my kids are equipped for college or life.  I have been looking at on-line schools such as Abeka Academy or Bob Jones On-Line school.  My girlfriend, however, is encouraging me to look at Classical Conversations.  CC is very much like what we are currently using - Tapestry of Grace.  The positive about CC is that we would have a group we meet with on a weekly basis and they have a top-notch program.  When I have discussed the options before the kids, they have all agreed that they favor going with Classical Conversations.

Last night, I sat in on a director's meeting for CC.  If I pursue this option, I will need to attend a 3 day practicum in the next couple of months and connect with our local group (Wenatchee).  Lots to think and pray about. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

julia & julie

My Young Chef

Bryce likes to be in the kitchen.

I don't know what it is, but two of my three children love to get out the knives and cut up food and make things.  Bryce is one of them.

Over the holidays we made guacamole and everyone loved it.  When we saw a good deal on avocados at the store we grabbed some more so we can enjoy more guacamole.

 Bryce couldn't wait to chop up the onions and tomatoes and dig out the avocados.  I had to laugh.  When chopping up the veggies, he tried to chop them like a professional chef.  It reminded me of the movie, Julie &Julia when Julia Childs learns how to chop onions.

After some guacamole dip and chips it was time to play a game of Spades.  Good times for all!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Is it like this in your home....

That first day back....

  Kids dragging their feet, bleary eyed, all-of-a-sudden sick and can't sit up even if you put a board up their backs....

  That was our day to day. 

It was all I could do to not throw the towel in and jump into bed myself.  I stuck with my agenda though.  A few concessions here and there.  Our focal point this week is Martin Luther and the Reformation.   So to ease into our day we watched the movie Martin Luther (good ole youtube comes in handy again.).  I then assigned the kids reading about Martin Luther to get a deeper appreciation for him.  By that time it was lunch, then math, language, and science for the kids.  I had wanted them to write a summary on Luther but I have tabled that for tomorrow. (that's one of those concessions I was talking about.)  Bryce had it the hardest.  He woke up this morning complaining that his brother kept him up past ten.  (Bryce likes his sleep and Brian could do without any.)  So Bryce had a hard time focusing.  Brian on the other hand came down complaining of a stomach ache that was making it difficult to do his house chore and shovel off the new snow that fell last night.  Funny how when dad came home for lunch he was able to do everything.

Regardless, by five I finished with the last child and said ENOUGH!  

Bonnie still has a research paper to work on.  She printed off her note cards today, but she has a few more Renaissance artist to research to complete her paper.  I  think though we are done.  It is 6:30 outside and black as midnight.  The boys are playing a new game on the Wii and the movie I ordered for Bonnie's Christmas finally arrived today so I will let her watch it.

Tomorrow will have to be better.

Oh...I hope it will be better.

It's got to be better.