We haven't had an update thread in a long time. I would enjoy reading about what everyone did over the summer and what they have planned for the fall and winter. If your dc have started a new school year, how is it going so far?
October updates - How was the summer? What's new this fall?
Our home was quiet for a good portion of the summer. Both dc were away at one point.
20 y.o. DS travelled through the midwest and northeastern U.S. on a tour with a couple of bands. It was less than 3 weeks, so they did lots of driving in a very short time. He saw parts of the U.S. that I've never seen (Madison, Indianopolis, Pittsburgh). He says it's the best trip he's ever done. One of the most gratifying incidents occurred at a show in New York City. DS plays in another band but it was not on the tour. He was chatting with a young teen from Kansas and the kid was excited when he found out that DS was in this other band. I've always thought it was just a garage band with a bunch of local kids playing tiny local gigs but I guess the reach of the internet means that nothing is really just "local" anymore.
As a side benefit, DS is now comfortable driving in just about any kind of traffic you can imagine.
DD spent much of the summer on a "study abroad" program in Tanzania. It was an incredible opportunity for her. The school portion involved a demanding combination of independent study and group work, in a relatively short period of time (7 weeks in total). The evaluations included fairly typical essays and other written works such as journalling and storyboarding, individual and group projects and presentations (including performances of a rant and a call and response poem and a business enterprise proposal), and written tests. There was also a one-on-one review for each student. At the end of the course, the student sat down with the teacher and they discussed the subject. It was a wide-ranging discussion requiring a good understanding of the work they were supposed to have completed but also requiring the student to take a position and explain it. Then the student and teacher explored beyond the work previously done and discussed potential new questions and new areas to pursue. It's the most comprehensive examination DD has ever done, but she loved every minute of it. Her grades were impressive - in the mid-90's - for both of the courses she took. More importantly, she received a glowing final report from the teachers who remarked on her natural leadership qualities and her enthusiasm and spirit. Just one example: it was DD who suggested and then organized a prom, held on the beach (really just a celebratory good-bye gathering) for the group at the end of the journey.
DD spent the end of the summer volunteering at the Zoo, where she helped out at a day camp for 4 to 6 y.o's.
They have both been back in class for almost a month now. DS is in his 3rd year of a psychology program. He's enjoying most of his courses. He's been working out a lot with free weights and running a little. He's working retail part-time and tutoring some high schoolers in math. He's working on a new vinyl record release. Now that Breaking Bad is over, his Sunday nights are free again :-) !
DD is in her final year of high school, majoring in drama at an arts school. She plans to direct her class theatre group again this year. She'll be working backstage on the school's main production. She is trying out for the Ultimate Frisbee team. She's going to do some peer tutoring again this year. Last year, one of the teachers took her aside and praised her for the work she had done with someone who went from failing to a solid B. Her main focus, though, is on her own grades as she applies for college and has an eye on scholarships in some demanding science programs.
Edited by ollyoxenfree - 10/1/13 at 7:30am
Summer here was crazy. All four kids were home for most of it, and all four were working and workshopping.
Elder dd had two weeks in India mentoring promising young string players there and performing in an orchestra, and a couple of weeks of intensive master classes in Quebec, but was otherwise home, working full time at the café she's been employed at for years. Ds worked full time as a guide and tech guy at a tiny museum in a ghost town nearby. He learned a ton of job skills and coped way better than I could have with very challenging co-workers. Middle dd worked part-time as a kitchen helper and 'float' at the nice sit-down restaurant in town. Younger dd worked for a week as an assistant at a music education program for preschoolers and kindergarteners, and part-time doing some housekeeping at a short-term rental apartment. Younger three kids all participated in an advanced chamber music workshop. Middle dd did a week-long dance workshop, and youngest did a week of theatre. Since we live out of town with no public transit, that left me doing transportation for four busy people each needing at least two rides a day. I also took over primary responsibility for the organization of a big week-long music workshop which involves about 50 families from elsewhere arriving with 85 children.
In September the three eldest returned to school, same as last year. Dd19 is in her second year of university, her third living in Montreal. Ds16 is in his last year of high school at our tiny (pop. 44) local high school. He was also accepted into the college-age auditioned choir in a nearby city and is thriving in that group. Dd14 is doing a combination of 10th, 11th and 12th grade courses at the same local school as her brother. Dd10 is still homeschooling, but is probably experiencing the most changes. Our supervising teacher (we're in a public-school-district-umbrella'd program) has double-grade-skipped her to 7th, which is giving her official access to some of the high school offerings at the local school (since they consider high school to be 7th through 12th ... there's no middle school with such tiny student numbers). So, thanks to additional subject acceleration she's doing some of their science workshops as an 8th grader and is doing math in the classroom as a 9th grader. Both are going well. In math she's got the highest mark and is moving more quickly through the course than her classmates. She seems to be comfortable socially and at their request is tutoring some of the 7th graders in the combined 7th/8th/9th independent study class blocks. She's also begun studying with an actual violin teacher (not her mother or grandmother) who moved to the area, has been bumped up to a more advanced gymnastics program and is taking a more intentional "project-oriented" approach to her homeschooling. She is feeling busy and challenged and is enjoying the regular contact with outside teachers and mentors.
During September dd10 and I did a three-day backcountry backpacking trip as part of her "wilderness skills" homeschooling project. It was cold and wet and a huge physical challenge, but she (we!) did great. We also took part in marshalling and first aid for a big wilderness adventure race near our community, using satellite phones, radios, manning an aid station in driving sleet for hours ... quite the experience!
Things have turned decidedly wintry here in the past week. Three weeks ago we were in shorts and easily getting over-heated when active outdoors. For the past week and a half there has been frost at night and snow not very far up the mountain.
Summer was pretty great. As a family, we felt really connected and had a lot of fun. We didn't get to go on a big trip but we did a little camping, made some time for the beach (which we never do even though we are 20 minutes from it,) saw some shows, just fun stuff.
DD 16 had one of those summers you only see in movies. She went to bonfires at the beach, giggly girls nights at the drive-in, outdoor Shakespeare performances, pool parties, evenings at a favorite pizza parlor and dates with the boyfriend. She also learned to drive, performed in 2 productions, took an art history class at the college and worked as a classroom aide at her youth theatre. She moderated her first professional theatre talk-back night and was invited to a special Shakespeare discussion series with a couple of the most noted authorities in the world. Snore to most people, REALLY big deal to DD. She did a few college interviews. She got her resume up-to-date and started her essays and writing supplements. I'm glad she got lots of fun time with friends this summer because senior year is pretty crazy. She's been back in school since mid-August (they have a short summer but she gets 5 weeks for winter break.) This school year has started well. A hiccup in High school English but she was able to work out appropriate accommodations with her teacher. She's loving her college classes... well, I should say she's loving 2 of the classes, she's learning a lot in the 3rd but it's challenging her belief system which she doesn't love as much lol. She's part of several theatre groups that do several different things. Let's just say she's doing a lot of writing, rehearsing, directing, producing, performing, educating and advocating. Oh, and getting her college apps done. I think life will be a lot more relaxing when those are completed!
DS 12 had a good summer too. He played in a summer basketball league and made SO much progress (and I mean, he actually made a couple baskets and is now being passed to.) He has pulled his mile time down by almost 2 minutes from his average this past Spring! He's not a natural athlete and he's been harassed for it in the past so this improvement means a whole lot to him. He and his theatre friends all did a show together at the youth theatre as well as a theatre camp. They got together a lot to play minecraft. The dads took them camping which I heard was fun. He did another summer robotics camp which he loved. He has an unusually long summer by today's standards so lots of lazy time to read and catch up on movies. So far, 8th grade is going well. He got all our favorite middle school teachers. He got a leadership position in band again. No bully issues this year thankfully. We are seeing the "teen angst" stuff coming on... challenging us on things he never would have before (not disrespectful but unusual,) some moodiness, some pimples, big growth spurt. However, he seems pretty happy too. He decided to continue with basketball along with his regular activities of piano and karate. He's assistant stage managing a show at the youth theatre this fall which he's been waiting to be old enough to do. Things are looking good!
Summer seemed very short here. We have been struggling in a big way with DD2's (almost 2yo) constant tantruming, screaming, lack of sleep etc etc etc. It's been very frustrating and lonely. Hoping to get a referral this month to an OT to discuss possible SPD causes, but I am left with a sinking feeling that there is no help for us...that she is just a highly intense, bright child who needs no sleep.
We went to Calgary to my brother's wedding, which was wonderful. But the 4+ hr/each way plane trip with her was nearly the end of me.
On a brighter note, she has been happier when she ISN'T screaming, so that's something. She loves to read all the letters out of her books and count everything in sight. She is very interested in space and LOVES Saturn. "Sazurn my favowite pwanet, mama" There have been more than a few times lately that she has pointed out words as you're reading or when someone says them....I'm wondering if she is doing a bit of reading already! And she loves puzzles.
DD1 (4yo) is back to preschool for another year and is doing swimming and ballet. A lot of her friends started school this year so she is a bit lonely, not many chances to get together and play. I am, of course, torn about this...part of me wishes she could start now because she is certainly more than ready in every way....and part of me just wants to avoid it because I'm afraid of diving into the whole thing with a gifted child.
We went to see the dinosaurs in Drumheller AB which was so thrilling for her. She is CRAZY about puzzles and is crazy good at them. She's doing 300 pieces herself and she and I have been doing 500+ piece ones together...and she does all the hard parts! It's so much fun to do together
She's still obsessed with the body, especially the immune system. I have to share some pictures because I'm so blown away and proud of her, and....well, you know what it's like...it's hard to share these things with people, ykwim?
She has been working on two big projects lately, completely of her own design and doing. I have helped with a bit of the cutting when she asks. The first is her human body. She is doing all the organs, different kinds of cells, colonies of bacteria, and...lots of bleeding wounds so she can put on platelets to clot, haha.
And then she NEEDED to make her own periodic table. It was a fiery obsession that overtook her, ha. So, she worked on it for 2 days and I helped her arrange all the squares
So that's how we've been spending our days :) It's really nice to be able to share.
Have been meaning to start one of these threads for quite a while now, thanks Olly! How nice I get to post on a morning when we have NO appointments, the older kids are in school, DS2 is asleep and I am freshly showered.
We had a great summer. Spent a week at my parents' house at the time of the big local Bach festival, and DS1 took part in a number of music workshops. I had asked to have him take part in the 7-10 section as opposed to the 4-6 section, explaining that though only 6, he was a rising second grader so should be with the grade school kids and it worked out great - and it was fascinating to see, at the regular end-of-day performance, how clearly he belonged in his section as opposed to the preschool/kindergarten one (which did stuff that would have been great for DD, who was 2 going on 3 at the time so hadn't dare ask to have her go - I should have).
After initial balking, he had a lot of fun and has been totally inspired to compose pieces of his own which I then sing or play for him (it's not Mozart, but I'm still fascinated at his dedication). It has not inspired him to stop balking every single time I ask him to practice violin, even though he does so well and appears to enjoy as soon as we try out whatever he's practicing together, first me playing along with his part, then in two part harmony. I know it's got something to do with his preferred "autodidactic" learning style, working through stuff on his own at his own pace and coming up with his own results, without taking directions or having to do over stuff that is hard. Works fine for academics where he is way ahead anyway, does NOT work at all for music or sports (where we have the same problems of having to motivate him over and over).
We then spent two weeks at a seaside resort, basically just hanging out together with another big family we had met last year at the same place and whose kids play very well with ours, particularly whenever DH gathered them all building really involved sand sculptures (kids gather round him, adults take pictures, and the people who drive the equipment cleaning and smoothing out the sand early in the mornings carefully drive around them). Interestingly, DS1 got on swimmingly with their 8 year old, who had infantile spasms as a baby which left her with autistic traits and impaired social skills - lots of conflicts about building equipment and building plans, but needed almost no adult intervention to come together again and work side by side in harmony. He also was great at helping me bake the cake (quite an undertaking in a hotel apartment without blenders or oven) and prepare (and even invent!) non-alcoholic cocktails for DD's third birthday party - when he's involved in a project, he's like a 10 yo. Watch out when his wheels are running on empty - he can't come up with or settle down to anything, all he can do is drive us up the wall or disturb DD in her own projects until she screams. It's like having another 3yo in the house. I gave him a set of the first three Famous Five books (he's hooked, taking out more and more from the library!) and Enzensberger's The Numbers' Devil to read during vacation, which helped somewhat, and as soon as we were back home, a book about codes, and he has begun settling down to projects again, writing stories, doing math, writing letters and notes in code, composing. It is just so hard for him (and for all of us, in extension) to cope with this seemingly infinite amount of undirected intellectual energy spilling out of him.
Though he had a great first year in school, I am beginning to feel increasingly alienated at parents' evenings, being so unable to join in with the chorus of complaints about how hard the new word problems were, how even the parents couldn't do them, how much work the apples project was, etc. etc. DS1 just...did those. On his own. I didn't even know what the others were talking about. What HE's complaining about is that it's all boring and easy but takes up so much of his time and why did he have to do stuff over and over he could do the first time, and that he just couldn't slow himself down to work at everyone else's pace...
I thought it was all unravelling fast and rushed into a conference, but the teacher (after asking point blank "do you want to skip him to 3rd grade?" and both of us agreeing that while he'd be just fine academically, socially he'd just about found his place in 2nd and be totally overwhelmed in 3rd) explained that a number of kids were spinning their wheels while she was working hard to get the rest back on track, and expecting to be able to march on within a week or two.
She promised to differentiate his homework, cutting some of the drill and letting him work ahead in the workbook if he wanted to, to try and come up with open-ended assignments for the advanced group of kids (I kept stressing how much I'd love for him to be still part of a group, not be singled out), and change the "read aloud every day for ten minutes to some one in the family and have the person sign off this sheet" (with a peg moving up on a signboard once the sheet is full) to the rather more appropriate "have a parent sign the sheet as soon as you've finished reading a new book to yourself." According to the teacher, there are quite a few kids in class as advanced as he is in the various subjects, though none of them as "well-rounded" and advanced in everything and as focused as he is (which makes me a bit suspicious about the first part of that statemnet, too). She pointed out a few books she felt might interest him during work-alone time, but her eyes did bug a little when I pulled out the three volume Famous Five brick to show her what he'd fown through for pleasure this summer, and mumbled that she might have to look out for more appropriate stuff for him after all. Well, we'll see how that goes.
We agreed on keeping our eye on the skipping possibility and that she'd othr teachers about their experiences as the school has skipped a number of kids in the past.
I just so hope that we can avoid a second acceleration until high achievement or gifted programming starts in 5th.
DD is thriving in her new preschool program. After much gnashing of teeth, we had decided to keep her in the new program at the expensive private daycare which is a ten minute drive away as opposed to the cheap public preschool round the corner - the former offering a student teacher ratio which is one third of that in the public school, excursions every Wednesday, a native English speaker (second language for DD) two days a week and a focus on play outside, music and nutrition, and flexibility about kids from various age groups playing together, napping etc. When the public school announced the 3-6 classrooms in their (brand new) building were already oversubscribed and could only offer DD a place in a provisional 3s and under-classroom in another building which would admit batches of older 2s by rolling admission year round, with a focus on, plain and simply, adaptation, we said "no thanks" and deferred our application until next year when she gets to move up to the regular mixed age classrooms. So she hasn't had much of a transition, just new stuff she loves in a place she was happy in before (with DS2's medical bills, we have NO money left and are living on our parents but hey, it's for the kids, and we will hopefully be back in budget once I start working again part-time this month). She has started early music education a year early and LOVES it too. Uses extremely advanced syntax but with such a bad lisp people jsut don't seem to realize, which is just fine with me. Is picking up letters and numbers apparently by herself, "reading" whole books aloud to herself (or, even cuter, to her little brother). Is FINALLY, after plain coercion in order to learn to eat food beyond refined carbs, baby jars and sausages, accompanied by an extremely exhausting regimen of supplements and laxatives, overcoming her SPD-related food issues and moving towards normal feeding and digestion and growing again, in more ways than one. Has moved out of our bed into DS1's bedroom (now the kids'bedroom) and both go to sleep together, sometimes even without a parent in the room.Which is HUGE for all of us.
But the one whose development is most amazing is DS2. Born with Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus, he's had his VP shunt revised once and the valve adjusted upwards several times now, and with each uptick in intracranial pressure has shown a developmental spurt. He is now crawling on all fours (he LOVED the beach!), pulling up to a stand, trying to learn to cruise (he doesn't understand yet how to shift weight from one foot to the other, missing sensory feedback from the affected nerves below the knees). Learning to walk (with orthotics, but otherwise unassisted), which until now was a wait-and-see, is now expected.There is no cognitive or social-emotional impairment apparent so far.
He loves playing with his siblings and they love him. It is SO wonderful to see.
Edited by Tigerle - 10/2/13 at 2:25am
Wow, so many world travelers musicians, and intensely focused little ones! Very interesting kids!
DS is 4 and has started his last year of preschool before Kindergarten. It's a mixed bag at school. He seems to like the material and teacher, but is having many emotional meltdowns, and just lacks flexibility when things don't go his way. This leaves me walking on eggshells much of the time. He seems to be in a lull with no current academically focused obsession, but is living heavily in his imagination right now - which is so fun because he comes up with some really off the wall things.
I do worry about his anxiety. I think he's realizing many things about life, but doesn't quite know how to process these. If I'm away from him he thinks bag guys are going to come shoot me(don't know where he got that idea) , is always asking about death, who will die, and crying that he doesn't want to die. He's just so sensitive.