January 2017 Update

Resolutions…I don’t normally make them. But there are two I am hoping to keep up with this year and updating our journey here is one of them. I don’t trust myself with promises but I will try.

The other? Removing the Facebook and Messenger apps from my phone. I can’t believe how much more “awake” and “engaged” I am in real life after doing this. And how much less depressed (the constant news feed drained my energy even before I started my day!).

January is proving to be very wet here and living in drought conditions, I know we need this rain very badly. We normally love rain but the constant deluge is a little worrying and we came close to flood conditions in our city. Surrounding cities did flood so we are quite lucky that we were spared.


#1 important January milestone: Kiddo starts his first honors upper division math class. It might not be official as the class has filled up and as a concurrent enrollment high school student, he gets lower priority, but he is hopeful his name will be high on the wait list and that he will get in. He will continue to attend class until the system clearly kicks him out (or accepts him).


#2 important January milestone: Atticus (on the right) turns 1 this week! He was a rescue and we won’t know his actual birthday but a vet somewhere predicted he was born this week. I have noticed some growth in the last month, he is definitely taller and ganglier than Adrian (left). My vet thinks he is part poodle which explains his non-shedding coat and exuberant energy. He brings us so much joy but is also about 3 to 5 times the work that Adrian is.

#3 important milestone: January also marks the start of kiddo’s final homeschooling semester. I don’t know what to feel just yet. I think I don’t want to think about it if I can help it. Homeschooling defined my identity in some ways. It also really changed our lives. It dictated how our days flowed. I don’t know if I will ever stop feeling like a homeschool mom. If kiddo will start college full time in the fall, he might still commute from home and we might still do things in the car like listen to books on tape and read whatever we can. Homeschooling is a lifestyle more than an education choice for us so maybe it won’t make a big difference just because he is no longer homeschooled on paper. I will miss having it on paper though, I think.

Before I sign off, I wanted to share one more photo: The obligatory homeschool lab photo! I realized a while back that we don’t have many of those on this blog. Here, kiddo works on a solubility lab for AP Chemistry (with PA Homeschoolers).


Till next time!

Cousins and Other Things


The Funschoolers have just had the wonderful honor of hosting my brother and his delightful family who were visiting us for the very first time from the UK. Bro has been living there ever since he left home (Malaysia) to study and I must admit I (and I think kiddo too, Anglophiles and Cadbury lovers that we are) envy him the opportunity. πŸ™‚ Kiddo had a great time entertaining and being entertained by his three British cousins. And I had a lovely moment or two to catch up with bro and my beautiful sister-in-law.

Continue reading “Cousins and Other Things”

Randomly Recent

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these. Gee, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here lol! What we’ve been learning about, playing with, reading, eating, watching, discussing, repeating, trying to remember to, asking, contemplating, etc. in no-particular-order: Continue reading “Randomly Recent”

March Daybook – A Day in the Life

Awake at 7.30am: My Pre-Adrian self would have still been in dreamland (or nightmare-land or some super-convoluted, quest-themed fantasy scape)! A little bleary-eyed, I stumble downstairs. A fellow-bleary-eyed, black and tan canine greets me in his crate. We walk to the yard for his nature-call, head back in and he gets his treat and a chance to continue his snooze if he wants to (lucky dog!). I head for the shower.

8.00am: Back downstairs, I set out the breakfast things and put clothes in the washer, unload the dishwasher then make my coffee. Mug in hand I have about an hour to check email and take a quick read of my favorite homeschooling forums. I love how quiet it is. Around 8.45am, I wake kiddo up through the intercom. We exchange morning greetings before he heads for the shower.

9.15am: Kiddo is downstairs for hugs and breakfast (usually either eggs, toast or oatmeal and a beverage like chocolate milk or almond/ soy milk and often, more coffee for me). Adrian exits his crate, then usually heads outside for his morning sun-worshiping. Kiddo eats breakfast while watching CNN Student News. We take a short moment to discuss the news while I prepare Adrian’s food. I switched to raw feeding on March 1 so Adrian’s food prep now takes slightly longer than dumping kibble in the bowl.Β 

10.00am: While Adrian eats outside, I water the plants and pull out weeds or just take a moment to breathe in the morning air. Kiddo, meanwhile, chooses his preferred schedule block and gets ready to start work on the independent core subjects (math and physics) or electives (German and logic), usually to pleasant background music on Pandora.

I see if he needs any help but mostly I stay out of the way. I set out any meat that needs to thaw for lunch, fold the laundry, vacuum the floors and carpet, get some cuteness-overload from Adrian, research resources for future use, read email and basically just stay within reach should kiddo need help with anything.

12.00pm: Kiddo continues working while I prepare lunch. Sometimes, it’s a sandwich, sometimes, leftovers or I cook afresh. He takes a short break outside, dribbling the basketball, or running in the yard with Adrian. We eat lunch, often while watching a math video or two from Thinkwell.Β 

1.30pm: We do some math together (yes, we do a lot of math by choice!) and I try to work in a read-aloud or some quiet reading, and if possible some writing too. Adrian chews on his favorite bone or snoozes or starts nosing us for belly rubs. Around 3.00pm, kiddo practices his piano pieces and has a light snack.

3.45pm: This is usually the highlight of the day. Depending on the day of the week, we might just walk Adrian for 40 minutes and talk about anything and everything under the sun while doing so, or bundle ourselves into the car to head to a park for a play-date. Or we may have friends over to play and chat with too. If it’s just kiddo and me for the day, we might also watch documentaries, read, take turns on the treadmill, listen to more music, play a board game, get groceries, discuss something he’s learning and so on.

6.30pm: I prep for dinner, we eat and kiddo then works on whatever he likes (which is usually some more math!). I read, attend to more housework or read some more forums. I am trying hard to minimize my own screen time these days but am not always successful. We wait for his Dad to get home (if not traveling) from work at about 9pm. We chat while his Dad has dinner. Kiddo discusses what he did that day or asks all the questions he had reserved for his Dad to answer. Around 10pm, kiddo has a little snack, makes sure his desk is clean for the next day, gets his goodnight hug then heads to bed, usually book in hand. While I clean up in the kitchen, kiddo brushes his teeth then reads for about 15 minutes. He is (supposed to be) asleep by 11pm.

10.30pm: I have a small snack if I’m still hungry, check for any last emails, and make either a written or mental note for things to accomplish the next day. I take Adrian out for his final nature-call of the day and crate him for the night. I check the locks and alarm, turn off the lights and head upstairs. I might read in bed for about 10 minutes but most nights I’m quite wiped out.

Asleep at 11.15pm: A most welcome activity. Thanks to our daily walks, and having much more restful, cheerful days thanks to Adrian’s antics, I’m sleeping so much better these days.

Wednesdays: our schedule is different, filled with classes and possibly, a play-date too, and gives us a nice middle-of-the-week break from the routine.

January 2013 Daybook

Our new addition

Having Adrian has added a fullness to my day that I’ve missed. It almost feels as if there’s another person in the house. He’s almost human in some of the things he does and just watching him, taking him out on walks or nature calls, playing with him…these activities are really helping me to feel less stressed.

With Adrian here, our schedule has also changed. It turned the first month almost topsy-turvy but after five weeks, I’ve hit a routine that I’m comfortable with. I now have to wake up earlier which in turn is helping me to sleep better because I’m both more tired and more sleepy when it’s time to head to bed. I wake up less often in the middle of the night. He has finally settled into a routine himself and is more comfortable with his crate and sleeping arrangements. He’s definitely one sly little fella when it comes to comfortable sleeping arrangements.

Homeschooling and parenting…

…is going as well as it can although I’m still hit by periods of self-doubt. What I worry about most now is giving kiddo more group opportunities, especially since he’s an only child and is very, very people-oriented. It might be easier with an introvert but that’s something he obviously is not.

Studies-wise, he works completely independently now but I do help out with little things like suggesting better sentence construction if he needs to email an instructor and also keeping general track of his work through my master binder of all his syllabi. I’m still managing schedules and hope to hand that over to him one of these days. To be honest though, I enjoy managing schedules lol. I’m not as regular as I used to be with read-alouds but I’m trying to sneak it in whenever I can. Mostly though I’m just chauffeur, cook, book provider and an occasional discussion buddy right now.

If asked, I would say taking the early years to read widely and deeply and keeping his love of math intact…these have been the two most winning strategies in our homeschool. Parenting-wise, keeping the spirit light and the bond tight have helped loads. Kiddo is in his tween years and judging by how fast time is flying, the teen years are just a blink of an eye away. More than anything I want our relationship to be as close then as it is now. I want to see him smiling and laughing as often as he does now. And I can only hope that our mutual respect will last through it all. I am confident that the academic side of it will take care of itself as long as he is mentally and emotionally happy.

Reading and watching…

We are immensely enjoying our informal sojourn through Shakespeare’s works. We watched BBC’s Hamlet with David Tennant recently and it was heartwarming to see him being able to predict what lines were coming next. I am so happy that he loves classics and Shakespeare as much as he does. It makes me feel good because you see, I’m not much use at inspiring him on the math and science fronts. So the fact that my literature-loving genes have rubbed off on him…well, it’s very gratifying. I’m being positive and optimistic of course. There are a ton of other things I wish he could do but I will be happy and mindful of the ones that he does do! πŸ™‚ Why stress right? πŸ™‚

Currently, he is also reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins and enjoying Malcolm Bosse’s Tusk and Stone as a read aloud.

We are also listening to The Iliad on audio CD. Not exactly age appropriate but the action and adventure makes up for that I suppose. It’s one thing to discuss myths and legends when your child is 6 or 7 and quite another when they’ve attained some maturity and want to discuss it more deeply when they are a tween. I suspect we will have even more fabulous discussions when we listen to it a few more years from now.

And oh, for entertainment, we are watching old seasons of King of the Hill and liking the show immensely! I can’t remember why I was so opposed to the series when kiddo was younger. Boy do things change!

2012: Counting My Blessings

2012. I can’t wrap my head around how every year appears on my horizon, all tantalizing with possibilities, and then it’s over as if only seconds have passed. That 2012 is doing the same, that I’ve seen my wonderful, amazing kiddo turn 10 and lived watching him blossom into this cool kid that he is, I am just so thankful for this. I am not a religious woman but I feel blessed nevertheless.

Frequent readers will know how I try to write a post to commemorate each homeschooling year. I usually do that every summer. But I have some time on my hands today and the thoughts are pouring forth.

So here goes. These are my key memories of 2012.

1. Tinkering, building, taking things apart. What began as a fun autonomous vehicle project has now morphed into a true-blue crazy science experiment. You may remember me posting about the rover in January. It started off looking innocent (R). In summer, the boys built a special control station (tray for iPad, linked to backpack containing power source – L) so that kiddo can easily maneuver the car around the neighborhood. During the Christmas break, hubby and kiddo have further transformed the car into a part-autonomous vehicle, part-Lego Mindstorms monster, part mini missile launcher (for want of a better word). With an ominous name like The Black Death, I’m guessing we’re in for some pretty interesting special effects in the coming weeks. πŸ™‚ Yes, I have courageous neighbors lol.

I’ll post pix of the new machine when I can or better still, have kiddo explain it on his blog (but hedgehogs may croon Auld Lang Syne before that happens!).

Given hubby’s busy travel schedule, kiddo isn’t able to spend as much time with his Dad as most boys do. But when he does, they get up to some pretty cool hijinks together.

The boys finished the backyard pond project this year and kiddo added basic furniture assembly to his repertoire of skills. To top it off, kiddo and his buddy also built a Rube Goldberg machine!

2. Learning adventures. 2012 was a fantastic year in terms of homeschool resource choices. This is how we homeschool: kiddo tells me what he wants to learn at what challenge level and I go seek tutors/ online courses and relevant books. His Dad and I may make adjustments to his wishes if deemed necessary but about 90% of the time, this is how we go about it. It’s nice to see him being in the driver’s seat. I occasionally still suggest courses or books because I can’t imagine not ever doing that lol. I keep an eye out for sagging enthusiasm and sudden roadblocks just to make sure he knows why it’s happening but most days, he’s able to identify and solve the issues himself. As a result, this year he is almost completely an independent learner. I don’t know whether it’s good for him to be 100% independent but I do know that if for some reason I am unable to oversee things, he will know how to carry on and that’s definitely a big load off my frequently anxious shoulders.

Kiddo’s math lessons are progressing swimmingly. His tutor is such a blessing to our family. I love watching kiddo interact with his tutor and have the time of his life every week. I will say this over and over again. If your kid is passionate about something and you can’t help him with this passion, find him someone who can (and who won’t take monetary advantage of you for it).

We are really happy to see kiddo satisfied with the level of math challenge he’s getting. He is certainly developing a good bit of stamina with those harder problems too. Kiddo also had a very busy but definitely invigorating summer filled with math camps: one was a research-style camp aimed at working on unsolved math problems and the other, a cryptology-themed math class with his tutor. He came away with much-improved ability to express his mathematical thinking in words.

The boy also made it through one half of a challenging Coursera course (took notes too!). He is ready to move on to year two of German and might be trying AP-level science courses next year, but without any expectations to actually take the AP exams.

As I am starting to outsource even more than we usual do, I no longer schedule literature or history studies for now but that hasn’t stopped him from voraciously finishing a significant number of well-written classics and enjoying my cobbled-together survey course in Shakespeare every morning during breakfast. Using an animated core program definitely has its advantages! πŸ™‚

Yes, I still complain that he doesn’t write enough and writes his n’s like h’s and vice versa or forgets to put the date on his homework and leaves his study table in a mess no matter how many times I upsize the space. But blessing #2 is about celebrating how far the boy has come after all. πŸ˜‰

3. Friends, family, good health. This year has also been a great time for nurturing friendships. I remember when kiddo was six and practically friendless because he was either “too friendly” or “too young” or “too chatty” or “too curious” for other kids in our area and “too physically awkward” for me to allow him to participate in some of the more sports-oriented friend-making avenues. Time has helped so much with finding friends who accept him for who he is and for me to realize that physical awkwardness is a normal part of child development, especially in boys. I am trying to accept that he might never take to martial arts or swimming like I’d hoped, but he is showing a lot of fondness for brisk walking and some interest in basketball and kayaking. And I am making him work on reaching 20 daily pushups by the end of January 2013. Let’s hope he gets there with a good attitude!

Our trip home to Malaysia this year was very well-timed too. Kiddo had a good time bonding with his grandparents and aunts and uncles. We had a blast devouring the seasonal fruits and the delicious food. It just felt so good to be surrounded by so much love when we are both home alone most of the time.

With Adrian joining us this year, we are benefiting tremendously. From our “pack walks”, from the general well-being that comes from having a pet, and just the idea that there’s one more little fella in the house who needs our love and generously returns it, no questions asked.

2012 isn’t all roses and rainbows. I grieve for the lives lost, both from natural disasters and from personal tragedies of minds gone wrong. I worry about what the future will be like both on a personal level and for the nation and the world as a whole. I just visited my family but I also miss them terribly. But I know how lucky I am to have what I have. To be able to watch my child grow healthy, happy and strong. To have a comfortable home and access to good food and books and safety. To have my parents and in-laws, my siblings and their own families. To have a furry friend who shows me unconditional trust. To have really, really good friends, both IRL and online, after spending the first 15 years of my life with only three, scruffy four-legged ones. I am blessed. And I am fortunate that I can realize this and appreciate it because I know it can be taken from me in a heartbeat.

I guess after all these years of trying to figure out parenting and homeschooling and worrying about books and curriculum and where we are headed, I think I might be getting the point. We can learn to learn anytime. It’s learning to live that’s truly precious.

Have a blessed, beautiful 2013 everyone!

I’m a Dog. And I’m Hot!

Greetings worthy humans. My new Mom thought I should introduce myself. Apparently she’s a little too sleep-deprived to write. Excuses. Excuses.

I’m rather ambivalent about writing…I mean why on earth…ooooh, mmmm, oooh, chomp, chomp, gulp. Man, those liver treats are good. I love writing. Seriously. Did I say ambivalent? Nah. I’d LOVE to tell you more about myself. Love putting paw on keyboard so to speak. zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Uh? Oops, licked that key a little too hard. No Mom, I swear I was only licking it!

So whadd’ya want to know?

I guess my name is a good place to start. I’m Adrian. Apparently my new Big Brother likes this TV series called Monk? Monk…Monk! Hey, I don’t want to be a monk. No way. But I guess I don’t have much of a chance at a love life anymore after some wise guy cut off…ooooh, oooh, she’s giving me one more…chomp, gulp. Yum! They go down too fast. OK, sorry people. I guess Mom doesn’t want me sharing too much.

I’m named after Adrian Monk. And Mom, well she likes English things and reading about wizards and all. And she says there’s this wizard whose first name is really British-like and that his last name suits my err…profile…really well and that he was really scared like me at one time but faced his fears and all that and cut off some serpent’s head and…wait! Serpents! Those guys are nasty. I don’t want to fight serpents, no sir…aaah, chin scratch…heeee heeee that tickles. Right there. Right there. That’s the spot. Oh, that’s so gooooooood.

Anyways, she added Neville to Adrian and now I have a middle name! You can call me Adrian. Or Adrian Neville. Or ‘Drian for short like Mom does. Or Cute Little Mango Sausage like my Big Bro (brothers!). I don’t mind. Just keep throwing those treats at me lady and you can even call me Wienerschnitzel.

Ja…one of my folks was a Dachshund and the other was a Miniature Pinscher. I’m kinda proud of my German heritage if you don’t mind. Verflixt! She’s not giving me another belly rub till I write more. This nice man yesterday (*he* gave me a belly rub) poked into my teeth and told Mom I’m four to five years old. I could have told her that! Would have only cost her a chicken treat. Not an arm and half a leg!

Um…well, treats. Yeah. I love liver. And I love salmon biscuits. And I love chicken treats and carrots and eggs. Oh I’m drooling already. Yeah, I love food. Mom makes me run around the house and then she’d abruptly ask me to Sit. Just for one measly little nibble. I don’t get it. She says this will wear me out and let her sleep better at night. I’m confused. I thought if it wears *me* out, *I* should sleep better at night. Thought mothers weren’t supposed to sleep so much?

Oi! More chin scratch! Ok, ok. I’ll strike out that last line. I promise.Β 

I’ll paw more on this keyboard another day. Really need a shuteye. The last time I had one was all of 10 minutes ago! They work me hard over here. I tried to grab a siesta on Mom’s plush new recliner today and she shooed me off to write this post instead. How about that?! You’d think she’d have learned to share by now. Β 

Hey! Come back with my blanket!