February 2017

So far, 2017 has in one fell swoop, dealt me both heartbreak and intense joy.

The heartbreak of betrayal, a different family dynamic, lower socioeconomic security, and becoming single again. The heartbreak of the tense political climate and what it means to the communities kiddo and I belong to and support.

At the same time, intense joy that I did not fail my child by homeschooling. That I was right to follow my gut and make the choices I did. And that through it all, we always chose love and laughter over burning midnight oils or pressure cooker learning styles.

In a few months, I expect that I will be a divorcee. And that kiddo will start college at kiddo’s first choice university (Yes, the wonderful, hardworking child received both an acceptance and a scholarship offer from a selective university! Still so humbled by it all!).

Funny how life deals you both roses and the thorns isn’t it? Soon, I will only be a mom and no longer a wife. Perhaps it is for the better. For now, I am hoping for strength. I am hoping to be surprised again by joy.

 

A New Chapter Begins

I am now on the threshold of my eighth year of homeschooling (and sixth year of blogging at funschooling). The direction of our homeschooling, if I can still call it homeschooling, has changed quite drastically this year. From being his primary teacher at the beginning to outsourcing a lot of the learning via online classes at home in the past years, we are now pursuing brick and mortar classes, for his favorite subjects, at a local community college.

Continue reading “A New Chapter Begins”

And So, Grade 6 Ends!

How do I sum up our seventh year of homeschooling? So much has happened this year. Kiddo has grown tremendously in maturity and ability. And I feel like I am passing the reins on to him now. He is able to do much more than he ever has been executive function-wise, and I often find myself missing the little boy who was so dependent on me.

Continue reading “And So, Grade 6 Ends!”

Malaysia Trip (Dec 2013)

This time, unlike all of my previous trips, my semi-annual trip back to Kuala Lumpur was a solo effort and a short one too, spanning a little over a week. I left SFO on Dec 23rd, arrived in Changi a little past midnight on Christmas day (due to the 20-hour flight time plus time zone difference), then flew to KL the same day. I returned to SFO on January 1, so both my Christmas and New Year’s were spent on the plane. Continue reading “Malaysia Trip (Dec 2013)”

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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”

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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!

Malaysia Trip (November 2012)

Hiya folks! We are back from Malaysia! Our last trip was two and a half years ago. So we had been really looking forward to this trip. As usual, it went by too fast.

We spent about ten days in Malaysia and Singapore. A quick recap of what we did, ate and enjoyed:

This time, instead of Singapore Airlines, we took United. Two words: Never again! Flights were horrendously delayed. Not once. But on both legs of the journey…extending the usual 19-hour plus journey to almost 23 hours both ways! Kiddo and I developed a huge aversion to airline food, we couldn’t sleep, our acid reflux was triggered big time and we were literally sick. Ugggh!

Kiddo tucking into a well-deserved chicken rice breakfast atย  Changi Airport Terminal 3 just after we landed. At this point, the boy hadn’t slept in 25 hours! Can’t blame him for looking like a vampire ya? We had an almost 8-hour wait at Changi before our connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur (KL) so after an invigorating shower at the airport, we dashed off to find more food to err…ahem…erase the memory of the disgusting airline fare. Apart from chicken rice, we had roti prata and nasi lemak and lots of iced Milo too.

Changi, being the world-class airport it is, even offers free movies for passengers in transit and we managed to catch a fun movie (The Lorax) while waiting.

The flight to KL was a quick one and we admired the many cumulonimbus formations on the way.ย  Kiddo has been “collecting” clouds for some time (since reading The Cloud Collector’s Handbook) so it was a great opportunity to add to his bunch of cloud (cloudy?) snaps.

When we reached KL, it felt SO good to see Dad and Mom again and catch up with sis, her hubby and my mon-in-law. And we were treated to such great food! Not only did my mom make her famous prawn sambal and delicious fish and meat dishes, but my mom-in-law dished up some of her own specialties. We were royally pampered!

And we ate lots outside as well. Pictured upper left: more roti prata! And right: cendol…a dessert made up of ice shavings, green bean noodles, kidney beans, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup. And below: amazing nasi lemak the old-fashioned way, wrapped in banana leaf. Mmmmmmm…and this stuff is cheap too! We barely paid one USD for a package of nasi lemak and prata for two people!

A few days into our trip, we received a huge surprise. Hubby had initially planned to remain in CA because he had a business trip scheduled at the same time as our holiday. But since his business trip was in the “neighborhood” (within Asia), he decided to drop in unannounced en-route! Everyone was so pleasantly surprised because they haven’t seen him in the flesh in seven years (he couldn’t join us the last time we visited in March 2010). I just love this snapshot because it captures how delighted his mom is to see him. He stayed a couple of days and dashed off again in his usual style.

Our days in KL passed very swiftly. I had packed a few of kiddo’s textbooks but we barely thought much about them. Instead, we kicked back, made origami cubes, cooked, ate, worked on puzzles, hugged, tussled with and bathed sis’s adorable terrier mix, visited the Petronas Twin Towers by train, played with cousins and just had an amazing time catching up with loved ones.

Before we knew it, it was time to leave for Singapore again to catch our flight back to SFO. Unlike our last trip, we only spent about a day and a half in Singapore this time. Kiddo wanted very much to visit the apartment he had lived in as a newborn so we took the bus, walked around, found the block, took some photos of the windows (it was occupied by another family so we obviously couldn’t go in), ate a bag of good ol’ Twisties (my favorite junk food as a kid lol) and then sped off to Orchard Road to do some quick book shopping.

Oh yeah…we bought (cough) lots of books! ๐Ÿ™‚ I won’t shock you with how many. ๐Ÿ™‚

So that was it. Hoping very much to visit the folks and sis again next year. We are having an easier time with jetlag this time around. It really helps to drink lots of water and work as closely as possible around the time zone/ routine of the country you are visiting. I am quite sure eating really well helped too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Summer 2012

Some of us read, and read.

One of us traveled a lot and worked crazy hours. Some of us played.
One of us built and crashed stuff. Loudly.
Some of us read some more.
One of us moved up a level in piano lessons.
One of us rearranged the living room furniture (yet again).

Some of us did math (and love our Expo Magnetic Dry Erase Easel Board).

One of us went anagram-crazy.

One of us blogged. One of us didn’t as much.

Some of us tried a science experiment or two. And revived our love for all things David Attenborough.

One of us worked out. One of us didn’t (ack!).
Some of us kayaked and went paddle boarding too (one of us didn’t tag along due to the heat).
One of us complained a lot about the heat and may have glared angrily at the sun several times.

One of us thought some more about math and typed some of it up for a summer class (hurray!).

One of us is loving cheesy vocabulary videos (and happily rushing through the program because another one of us is too cheap to upgrade past the free trial period).

Some of us allowed our yard to become overgrown with grass, weeds and ivy. Some of us are upset about a pesky yard-invading ground squirrel.

Some of us tried hard to resist ice cream and succeeded for about a week.

One of us liberally copied Sheila’s blogging style.

July Daybook

Outside my window…
the ivy on our stone fencing walls is growing waaaay too long. I remember falling in love with the zen-like clean, grey walls when we first viewed this house (it’s been three years since we moved! where does the time go?). In fact it was one of the reasons why I wanted this house vs. another one we had viewed earlier that day. I like how the walls shut the rest of the world out (not to mention the busy street behind us). The introvert in me was whooping with joy. But now the ivy, lush and green as it is, is blocking my beautiful wall from my view. Time to plan…should we cut it back, or pull the ivy off altogether…?

Around the house…
I’m fighting a losing battle with the Company That Will Not Be Named. We receive these catalogs so often and with such tantalizing coupon code offers…sigh. I’ve made sure my snapshot of my latest collections include the codes in case you might want to use them, dear reader (leave a comment if you can’t see them!). Oh no, now I’m trying to share my addiction with others! Forgive me?

Never buy when not on sale. And when on sale, use a code when possible for more savings!

We’ve lately taken to reading these catalogs before bedtime. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. Are we becoming addicted to hoarding these DVDs as much as we do our books?

I am thankful…
that July wasn’t as busy as I’d blogged it would be. We were going to be quite over-scheduled thanks to my sudden weakness for trying new classes. One class in and I realized what an error it was to sign kiddo up for a College for Kids summer camp. It wasn’t really college for kids, it was too far away, required too much time outside and in the intense heat for shy ol’mom to be able to tolerate and also wasn’t generally deep, involved learning anyway. My main reason was to try to introduce a little more social exposure to kiddo’s routine but neither of us wanted that in the end. What a relief it was to cancel the camp! A pricey mistake though. We couldn’t get a refund.

I am thinking…
Must learn from mistakes! Must not repeat too many expensive ones.

The kiddo…

chose to take two more math classes this summer! I feel guilty telling him about them but he does seem to be enjoying them despite the hard work. He’s been such a trooper that I am tempted to make a certificate to reward his winning attitude.

I am reading…
The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax! Very, very fun so far!ย 
ย ย 
We’ve been playing…
Have you watched Under The Boardwalk yet? (YouTube trailer link. Watch instantly on Netflix!)

I am looking forward to…
taking a long break once his classes end in August to just read, read, read and possibly watch our Company That Will Not Be Named acquisitions. I am also looking forward to September because I’ve been gradually collecting living books to learn more about economics principles and also biology. We’ve neglected those topics for a bit and there’s so much I need to brush up on myself.

A favorite quote for today…
from Mark Twain: “Life is short. Break the Rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss SLOWLY. Love truly. Laugh uncontrollably. And never regret ANYTHING that makes you smile.”

June (End) Daybook

Outside my window…a much cooler summer day. After last week’s scorching temps, I can step out without becoming toast. Just finished weeding the front yard. Left the weeds bordering the driveway for another day.

Around the house…
our backyard pond continues to give us so much joy. We’re carefully adding little items to make it a comfy getaway (that chair on the left for instance was built by kiddo from a kit). Keeping it weed free (the safe, healthy way) though might become a problem soon. Drat those weeds!

I am thinking…
of watching Super 8 while sipping nuked instant coffee (vs kettle water). Off to make the coffee now…

I am thankful…

for the silence when the boys are out. The microwave (is beeping after nuking the coffee). I can actually hear it! I can hear the whisper of the fan. And I don’t have to answer a math question or solve a puzzle for the next three hours!

Inย the kitchen…
Left over chicken curry, rice and roasted garlic asparagus and Brussels sprouts. Didn’t expect the greens to go so well with the curry. Kiddo took it quite well despite the fact that he despises both vegetables.

I am creating…
or rather, considering creating, a book. I have some good ideas thanks to the encouragement of friends but I don’t know if I will want to finish it, let alone begin.

I am wondering…
Where do weeds go after you pull them out? I mean I know they go into the yard waste or compost or whatever it is people do with their organic little bodies afterwards but where do their parasitic souls go? (Do weeds have souls?) And why do they not get the message after being pulled out over and over again that they are not wanted around here? I hope they are well incinerated in some weedy little hell. Except for dandelions. Kiddo adores them. He collects the buds before they turn all white and puffy. We could spare the dandelions.

I am reading…
Pygmalion and Three Other Plays by George Bernard Shaw. Kiddo’s first gift to me purchased with his own savings! ๐Ÿ™‚
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I am looking forward to…
August. July is going to be a busy month for us. I didn’t see it coming and now that it’s just a day away, I wonder if I should cut back on some of the activities planned.

I am learning…
some basic programming using Microsoft Excel. Kiddo, the hubby and I are taking a short class together on Monday! I find Excel quite fascinating. Can’t wait to see what else I can do with it.

A favorite quote for today…
By Maurice Switzer in one of my planner pages: “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” I hope you don’t mind my self-promo attempt! ๐Ÿ˜‰

A few plans for the rest of the week:

  1. Finish the laundryย 
  2. Mop the floors
  3. Don’t bite more than I can chew

And another photo to go with the post with the usual motherly worries included…
How did he grow up so soon?
Am I turning into Lady Britomart in Major Barbara? The pushy, controlling mom?
Should I begin looking for the next level of math resources? Kiddo still has a few months of the current course left. Should I wait? Should I plan?
How does anyone successfully homeschool more than one child? Seriously, you can’t be anything less than awesome if you do!

Randomly Recent

Snapshots from inside and around the house this week:

Calla lilies reappear this year, looking pretty.

My reading assignments in preparation for a Coursera course.

Loving my new double-burner griddle.

New tile patterns keep popping up in front of the fireplace…those math manipulatives are being used!

Goofy math review with AoPS.

Only a day on Millie (my treadmill)? Oh Nooooo!


Kiddo’s Sidney Harris addiction intensifies.ย 

Physics continues but may be delayed if kiddo takes a summer math class.

More buckyball sculptures in the making.

The Backyard Pond Project Part II

The backyard pond is taking shape!

I like how it is merging seamlessly with the rest of the pebbled theme. The boys have installed the water fountains by cleverly diverting power supply from one of the outdoor lights. Hubby has to figure out how to conceal some of the piping, wiring and other details.

Both guys are brainstorming the pond decor. We want some low flowering plants at the front and possibly a swinging seat somewhere nearby (with lots of shade I hope) for me to enjoy their creation while reading and sipping iced coffee! ๐Ÿ™‚

The Backyard Pond Project series of posts: Part I, Part II and Part III.

The Backyard Pond Project

The landscaping project I’d blogged about here (more than a year ago) is finally coming to fruition. The boys have been making several trips to Home Depot over two days for a pond liner, retaining wall tiles, marble chips, and various other bits and pieces.

Kiddo received some good hands-on training in calculating the area of the uneven space, purchasing suitable materials, and keeping track of the budget. He also worked hard at digging (he had to clear the existing pebbles first, which is blister-inducing work I tell you!) and building and fortifying the low retaining wall.

I was as usual in charge of refreshments, offering suggestions on the aesthetics and basically poking my nose a bit here and there for show. To my credit, I have been pottering about in the front yard, wrestling with and trying to train a rather thorny rose bush (and proudly sporting scratches too) so I left most of the heavy lifting to the boys.

Anyway, the project is slowly taking shape and looking quite pretty. Part II will involve figuring out some way to access a power outlet for a water fountain. The last guy we consulted probably decided we could sacrifice the three meals we depend on. We need another contractor who will take a little pity on us. I hope we find one by next year!

The Backyard Pond Project series of posts: Part I, Part II and Part III.

Randomly Recent and a Treadmill Desk

Boys who once disliked writing can become happy note-takers!

He Who Hated To Put Two Words Together with a pencil is eagerly translating frames from his German Asterix comic into English! I’m glad I skipped penmanship lessons (it was too much busywork when I briefly tried it a couple of years ago).

Kiddo is also determined to see a free online course from the Stanford U folks through. It is harder than he thought it would be. But he is somehow plodding along. It’s a wonderful experience for him in time management and note-taking and hopefully, he is learning a little about coding, ciphers, and all the technical jargon I can’t wrap my head around.

Oh, I feel So Old sometimes. And. So. Slow.

Some notes from around the house…

I love watching the birds that visit our yard. We have scrub jays and mourning doves taking turns to sip from our water fountains. One day, I even noticed a mourning dove passive-aggressively trying to push the jay away! A hummingbird, too tiny to comfortably drink from the pool fountain, frequently visits our smaller fountain on the side to cool its body and quench its thirst. These beautiful visitors never fail to delight me!

I have started a blog category called “what’s cooking”. It makes me laugh I tell you. Me, the mom who will avoid cooking at all costs if she could, starting a category about what she cooks. Better check to see if something porcine is flying outside.

I hope you, dear reader, will laugh with me, and not at. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s a delicious (if I should say so myself) chicken porridge I made today. It smelled so good that kiddo kept getting distracted during his online math class. We have been avoiding rice but I thought we deserved a treat since we haven’t had it in a long time. I used three quarters a package of low-sodium chicken stock and about half that amount of water plus sliced, boneless, skinless chicken breast pieces, sliced onion and some garlic-ginger puree for the base. I like to keep dry-fried tofu handy (it’s great with stir-fried vegetables) and added some of that too. A little sesame oil and a handful of baby carrots went in next. And once everything was happily boiling, I poured in a cup and a half of rice and let it simmer gently for about 20 more minutes. Cilantro and sliced baby bok choy were added towards the end just before serving, with salt and spice to taste. A yummy meal perfect for an under-the-weather day or if you just want something easy to prepare for lunch.

Ah, and I hacked a closet wire shelf into a treadmill desk! It was so much simpler than what was suggested on various You Tube videos. Simply head to Home Depot and buy a 3ft x 1ft wire shelf, like this one by ClosetMaid. I had two, black snap-locking straps and used them to secure the shelf to each handlebar. These straps look very much like shoulder straps from laptop bags or perhaps, narrower versions of luggage straps. You could also use zip/ cable-ties in place of the straps but I wanted something easier to remove. Voila! I walked for an hour without even realizing it today while working on the computer. On a relatively gentle, no-incline pace, that was close to 250 calories gone!

Till next time, hopefully, by a slimmer, more streamlined Suji lol.

February Daybook

I’m not having the February homeschooling blahs but I am having the February blogging blahs. Each time I set out to begin a post it feels as if all I talk about is the same ol’ stuff.

I’ve recently seen several blogs using day book-style prompts so here’s mine:

Outside my window…a startlingly blue, sunny, beautiful day. Can’t believe the cherry blossoms are out so early. It doesn’t feel at all like late winter. More like late spring. It’s so quiet! Our usually busy backstreet is deserted of those ear-drum shattering, hip-hop music playing pickups. Bliss.

I am thinking…
I should drag kiddo out for a walk. It’s too beautiful a day to spend indoors reading email.

I am thankful…

that we managed to stop at the Asian market last weekend to buy our beloved frozen roti prata.

Inย the kitchen…
Said roti prata. Falafel drizzled with Annie’s artichoke parmesan dressing. Apples and carrots. Talk about simple fusion cuisine folks!

I am wearing…
my uniformly navy blue blouse and pants. Hmm…

I am creating…
a blog post. Hmmmmmm…

I am going…

walking with kiddo. Ugh, I don’t think this daybook prompt thing is a good idea for my obviously sluggish brain.

I am wondering…
if I should keep writing this post.

I am reading…
Gladwells’ Outliers after it was recommended on my local list. I love his story-telling style although I’m not sure if I buy everything he says. It is interesting food for thought. And Collins’ Mockingjay. I’m not sure why I’m reading this series but I have to admit it is tempting in its own way despite the overly forced plot and shallow language.

ย 

I am hoping…
kiddo and I will have a chance to play with our neighbor’s lab-terrier mix puppy soon. I haven’t had me some wiggly puppies to pet in a long, long time.

I am looking forward to…
this weekend. We have a pinball museum field trip to attend! I’ll be seeing old friends and am hoping kiddo will make some new ones.

I am learning…
that prompts aren’t always a good way to kick-start blogging attempts.

Around the house…
our blood oranges look almost ripe enough to pluck. We’ve had two harvests of kumquats but this will be our first blood orange harvest. I bought me a proper working table after spending 6 years checking email and writing blog posts and homeschooling on a coffee-table. I bought some wall-mounted organizers to store kiddo’s smaller toys, games and science things under the kitchen island…hurray!

I am pondering…
will anyone know if I delete some of these prompts?

A favorite quote for today…

“I wonder if we can call the band The Quixotics?” – kiddo on the tween jazz/pop band he’s joining next month (it’s organized by his music school and will be coached by his super-cool piano teacher, isn’t that wonderful?).

One of my favorite things…
Kiddo when he lets me hug him. Since when do boys stop wanting cuddles at 9? I’ve been shortchanged, I tell you!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Finish reading at least one non-fiction book! I’ve been in-between a number of them for too long! Put those socks away. Dust the shelves. Put in at least one more hour on the treadmill.

A peek into my day…

I awoke before 8am today! Woohoo! A true achievement for this chronic late riser (I kid you not).

(add your picture here)
The wall-mounted organizers.ย  Love how he can see his little toys and games easily now.

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A Much Needed Change

You had me at first buzz.

Look at you. Sleek, black and powerful. Ready to serve wherever and whenever I please. Crisp and clean and efficient. You needed a little tender, loving care when you arrived but once we had a connection, you throbbed into life, eager to please.

I will use you. Oh yes, I will use you. You complete me.

I still love you. You served me well. All these years. From our very first foray into homeschooling to these later years of printing schedules and monthly charter reports, we’ve been through so much together. After pages and pages of MEP and vintage books, how can I part with you without feeling a twinge?

But you began to hold back. You made demands each time I needed to print on both sides. You hesitated too often. I was patient. But you refused to budge.

Sometimes, a girl needs to move on.

Cozying Up Our Learning Space

Two years ago, I’d posted photos of our school space. We’d just moved to our new home then and with a tiny budget and little time, I put together a learning space centered around the dinette area in our kitchen.

We’ve made many changes since then. We’d decided that learning where we also have our food was probably not a good idea and I soon got tired of hauling the wicker baskets and stationery caddies around when it was time to clear the table to eat. So we moved everything to our family room which faces the kitchen. We got bookshelves for kiddo’s leisure reading so it made sense to also do math, read alouds, puzzles and audiovisual learning on the floor next to the brown couch, facing the bookshelves. I soon decided not to use the baskets and Sterilite drawers too. They were easily re-purposed to hold kiddo’s origami work and miscellaneous household paperwork respectively. I prefered to keep the curriculum in magazine holders. It was less bulky and less cluttered overall and this arrangement worked well for close to two years.

Day by day during the two years, it became clear that focusing learning in one space wasn’t going to work for our family. So we spread out. Science experiments happened mostly in the kitchen. Serious discussions took place during lunch or dinner or in Dad’s library/ study upstairs or during bedtime. The family room coffee table though remained as the preferred spot for the bulk of our learning activities.

The dinette area wasn’t ignored. The table happened to be the same size as a large world map I had so, using some trusty Blu-Tack, I tacked the map onto the dinette table and covered it with a clear table cloth. We have done a lot of dining table geography this past year and a half!

This year, I’ve realized that the boy, growing so rapidly, will soon feel less comfortable sitting on the carpet to write on the coffee table in the family room. So for his birthday, I bought him a study table for computer/ writing work and an armchair for independent reading time. We have plans to replace the couch we’ve been using for read-alouds. For now, I’ve used a cottage-style quilted throw to make it look cozy and comfy and add some much needed color to the room.

To personalize his study space, I made a little clothespin holder to show case kiddo’s geometric drawings. It took me less than five minutes to hot glue gun craft-sized clothespins on an old wooden ruler and then position it on the wall next to his table using Blu-Tack. I plan, in the near future, to make more to adorn that wall space.

For audio-visual learning, the Teaching Company videos we reach for most sit in a pretty box on the coffee table. The box also conveniently holds stationery, remote controls, silly putty for fidgety fingers while we read aloud and so on.ย 

Since I hate clutter, the majority of the main curriculum we use for home-learning will be stationed at the nifty operations center” near the dinette in the kitchen. This semester, we are trying out an alternate-day routine so books for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays have been placed in magazine holder A and books for Tuesdays and Thursdays sit in holder B.

Either kiddo or I will carry the specific holder to the family room’s coffee table and we’ll work from there, using the study table when he has online lessons, the couch when we do read alouds, the coffee table, his study table or propping the 3′ x 4′ whiteboard on our laps (can you see it under the couch in photo up above?) for math depending on mood.

We’ll use the formal dining space in the front living room when kiddo wants to do science or crafts or other activities that need larger table space.

We tried this updated arrangement this weekend and it was welcomed heartily. Only time will tell whether it will remain or change again. ๐Ÿ™‚