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”

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. 🙂 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! 🙂

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. 😉

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!

Oh To Play The Violin Again…

Now I know what I need to learn when empty nest syndrome hits. 🙂


Kiddo sent this link to his piano teacher and cc-ed me. He forgot to explain why he sent it so here’s what he wrote in a second email:

“Dear Mr. H, You may have received some mysterious emails from me that said to check out some videos. I sent these for our class. One of them is the complete Doc Martin, but you may not have heard of the other one. It’s from a show called Sherlock, and it has a nice beginning theme. I was thinking we could learn it too.”

This video was just begging to be shared! Love that kiddo’s inspired to try playing it on the piano.

Treasured Tunes

It was only three years or so into our homeschooling that I realized how much better kiddo learns when I play some music in the background. Since that realization, we’ve just about exhausted several stations on Pandora, from Recess Monkey and Gustafer Yellowgold to Weird Al, Michael Jackson and of course, the usual list of well-known classical composers.

I don’t know why it took me so long but about a week ago, I finally added The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel and The Beatles to our list of stations. I really should have introduced these songs to him earlier, because after all, they were my favorite artistes during my teen years.

As is the usual case with Pandora, the station won’t just play The Beach Boys if you select it. Pandora also mixes in songs by similar artistes and it was during one such mix that we discovered Little Bitty Pretty One by Bobby Day.

My parents did not play much Western music at home when we were growing up and anything Western I listened to was usually through the radio played on the school bus on the way to school. So while my repertoire of excellent Indian music grew, I missed many, many wonderful Western tunes as a result. I’m so grateful to discover these great tunes now. Every time Little Bitty plays, I drop everything and go absolutely crazy with the tune. 🙂

I love it when kiddo chuckles at my craziness. It just loosens us up and brings a special warmth to our days.

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Amazing Musical Instruments

Kiddo and I are having a laid back Friday afternoon with curve stitching (from this book; I’ll post photos of his project later) and watching these pretty cool YouTube videos. These are so amazing to me that I wanted to post them here for others to enjoy as well. Have fun!

The first is a halo drum performance on the streets of Oslo (reminds me so much of Indian music!):

The second, a remarkable combo of piano and dance:
Happy weekend everyone!