August 2017 Unschooling Thread - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 38 Old 08-02-2017, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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August 2017 Unschooling Thread

What's new (or old!) in your learning world? What challenges is life presenting? What is keeping your children busy? What are they enthusiastic about, or struggling with?

Miranda

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#2 of 38 Old 08-02-2017, 10:38 AM
 
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Wilderness! I feel like I've done nothing but unpack and re-pack backpacking gear all summer. And have lots of guests. Great stuff, but all a little hectic, especially the lots of people part. We're leaving tomorrow to go build a new trail for 3 weeks with a bunch of volunteers (built 5 miles of it last year, hope to finish it off to be 20 miles ocean to ocean this year). Then back for a month, then off to Peru.

As for the kids, summer is a hectic time for anyone to focus on anything, and though my 6yo has recently learned to read, she hasn't read much at all, and has mostly run around wild and playing outside. My 8yo is constitutionally incapable of NOT focussing on something, so he's been plugging along at becoming a chess expert, and enjoying the ability to crush all the random adults who are willing to play him (luckily there are some kids in the homeschool chess club who are better). I can still beat him sometimes, but probably not for long. I am certainly no chess expert.
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#3 of 38 Old 08-02-2017, 12:11 PM
 
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Summer is moving along. We are going to the pool & park most days. I am trying to relax and see where the day takes us.
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#4 of 38 Old 08-02-2017, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I haven't written much about them, but the refugee family we sponsored is doing very well. I won't go into details, because it's their life, not mine, but Fiona and I have been pretty involved with them, especially since coming back to our village full-time when school ended. The mom is expecting a baby in the next couple of weeks and we've talked a lot about health care, delivery, emergency services, cultural practices around birth and all that stuff, and how it varies from here to where they lived in Africa. The upshot is that Fiona and I have committed to being in the delivery room with her as friends and personal supports, as "stand-ins for Somali sisters." Fiona is very excited, having never attended a birth, and I'm excited for her too; it's a great privilege. I'm very happy to be doing this, as I have the medical background, can I think do a good job of putting English medical terminology in terms that are more easily understood by her, and have a good relationship with the family.

So we have that on the horizon, but the timing is awkward because I have 9 days of 16 to 18-hour days of work coming at me as the Suzuki music camp starts in about 48 hours. I cannot imagine what is going to be required if we suddenly have to leave town for 12 hours in the midst of this! Ah well, I keep reminding myself that I am not as indispensable as I like to believe, and that I'm dealing with an absolutely lovely, understanding, caring bunch of families. Truly, I cannot imagine a nicer self-selected group of 250. If baby comes during camp, I am sure we will all cope.

A crazy thing happened when we were visiting with our Somali friends the other day. One of the other support-people was there too, a friend in her late 60s. We were chatting and this woman mentioned that she and her husband were trying to talk their 12-year-old grand-daughter into coming along with them on their trip to the Galapagos in January. I said, incredulously, "What kind of person needs to be talked into that kind of a trip?" And Fiona quipped "Take me!" Everyone laughed.

A day later the phone rang. Turns out the 12-year-old is much more interested in coming if Fiona comes too. So Fiona has been offered the chance! Not a free ticket or anything, but the company, organizational skills and supervision of kind, adventurous, seasoned travellers. Since she's making money like crazy this summer, she can afford to pay more than half the cost. She's convinced she can make her schooling fit (the school has a reputation for supporting trips like this) even though she'll likely be taking one junior- and three senior-level courses that semester. Today she's been researching vaccine recommendations and requirements and ogling photos of tortoises, iguanas and blue-footed boobies. We'll see ... we're going to let the idea gestate for a few days and then have a proper family meeting to decide.

(For those of you who haven't yet had kids who are teenagers, here's an example of what you might have in your future. She's looking at the list of the vaccinations that she needs and/or might opt to have and says "I'll have to go have sex just to use all that freakin' immunity!" For the record, she was quite intentionally making fun of the argument that teaching kids about safe sex will encourage them to have sex. )

Anyway, life's exciting here in a bunch of ways. Music camp friends are going to start arriving in town tonight, so I probably won't have much time to post for a while. Cheers all!

Miranda

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#5 of 38 Old 08-03-2017, 02:42 PM
 
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August is typically HOT, Humid and full of monsoons. Typical school kids are back in full swing by the first week of August so homeschoolers are free to libraries, museums, parks, etc. *I* think its much too early to start the school year but obviously that's my opinion. Kid isn't starting classes until mid-september. We have a couple field trips/activites pre planned for August, an art class, a trip to the aquarium and possibly a trip up north for the day. We will probably do a bit of planning for kiddo bday (1st weekend in september). Mostly focusing on trying to stay cool and hoping for some decent rain.

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#6 of 38 Old 08-06-2017, 06:32 AM
 
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Yesterday was great. We went on a great hike.
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#7 of 38 Old 08-10-2017, 12:04 PM
 
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What's new (or old!) in your learning world? What challenges is life presenting? What is keeping your children busy? What are they enthusiastic about, or struggling with?

Miranda
We are enjoying our RV travels immensely. We figured it out and since we bought it in mid April at least one person in the family has spent 1 out of every 4 nights in it. And it's only going to get used more this fall. We're still having fun planning our month long November trip and my 4 year old keeps asking every day when our desert trip is going to start.

Right now we are in the midst of visits from out of town family though. My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew are here for another 2 days. My husband's sister and her family arrive tomorrow night. We are having lots of fun but my beans need to be picked, my grass mowed, and my laundry done. Oh, well.

My boys are still into Pokemon although not quite as intensely as a month ago. My 9 year old wants to be in the water every chance he can get. He also just did his first jump at the popular cliff jumping spot in town on Lake Superior. His Uncle asked him if he wanted to and I was amazed at how little nervousness he had. He did say that the first time he did it he was a bit surprised by just how long it felt before he hit the water. But he was out, up, and jumping again right away. After 20+ years I've never gotten up the courage to do it. ;-)

The question about struggling reminded me that while my son still doesn't seem bothered, I am starting to hear more and more comments from peers about the fact that he doesn't read yet. Just today one young homeschool friend in my area was grilling ME about it. Ha. He just seemed so confused that it wasn't a big deal to me and that my son could decide when he was ready. But I do wonder when/if it will it will be an issue for my son when he gets the incredulous comments. Time will tell, I guess.

My 4 year old continues to assert his independence more and more every day. It's like he is looking for all the ways to show he can take care of things himself. Twice in the last week he's insisted on cleaning all of the dishes himself. He learned how to buckle his 5 point harness himself after some intense and extended effort one day. He is a bit pissed off he can't unbuckle it yet but I'm sure it won't be long. My two are so different in this way. The 9 year old will gladly let me do everything for him and the 4 year old says "I'm doing it myself, thank you very much." It's so fun (and a bit challenging) to live and grow with such opposite styles.
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#8 of 38 Old 08-10-2017, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just today one young homeschool friend in my area was grilling ME about it. Ha. He just seemed so confused that it wasn't a big deal to me and that my son could decide when he was ready. But I do wonder when/if it will it will be an issue for my son when he gets the incredulous comments.
I find this sort of thing a little tough, because I always worry that the other parents' homeschooling approach is predicated upon their child's unquestioning belief that certain levels of academic achievement are non-negotiable. And then my kids and I end up inadvertently undermining it by being counterexamples.

We are subversive, we unschoolers! For better or for worse.

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#9 of 38 Old 08-11-2017, 11:06 AM
 
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I find this sort of thing a little tough, because I always worry that the other parents' homeschooling approach is predicated upon their child's unquestioning belief that certain levels of academic achievement are non-negotiable. And then my kids and I end up inadvertently undermining it by being counterexamples.

We are subversive, we unschoolers! For better or for worse.

Miranda
I'm so often surrounded by other subversives that I forget how subversive my life must seem to others. Then I go to an extended family reunion (like this last weekend) and I'm reminded! ;-)

As you said, this sort of thing can be tough. I've given some thought to and arrived at this. If my kids observe something happening that is confusing or interesting to them and ask another person (thinking especially of adults here) about it, I would want them to give a simple but straightforward answer. No trying to convince my child that their way is right but also no diminishing their values/beliefs because they are worried about offending someone. When my child comes back to me with the idea it gives us such a great opportunity to talk about different values and ways of doing things. And yes, I know others may not feel the same about their children being exposed to other ways. But I've decided it's not something I am going to worry about.

This actually made me think of when something like this happened just a couple of weeks ago. My 4 year old was playing with some other kids at a park and got a thorn stuck pretty deep in his foot. Understandably, it hurt and he was crying. The other kids stood around as I pulled the thorn from his foot and comforted him. Immediately after I had removed it one young boy (probably around 6 or 7) said in a voice that obviously was channeling what he had heard a parent say many times, "And THAT is why we wear shoes." And then added, "Right?" I answered him by saying that that was one way to look at it but that we feel shoes can cause unhealthy patterns in our body and so we choose to deal with the occasional hurt of a cut or scrape on the foot to have an overall healthy body all our lives. Utter bewilderment of course. I wonder if he recited that one to his parents? And whether he noticed that I was barefoot at well. :-)
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#10 of 38 Old 08-12-2017, 02:13 PM
 
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Today we put together a 5000 piece puzzle.
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#11 of 38 Old 08-12-2017, 04:48 PM
 
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Today we put together a 5000 piece puzzle.

WOW! Finished the puzzle or did the entire thing? You are much more patient than I am, either way

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#12 of 38 Old 08-12-2017, 11:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Finished our music camp last night with a series of four performances. Chamber music from the advanced students, improv/percussion showcase, then orchestras concert, and finally the group class performances.

About 10 years ago I noticed how many homeschoolers were making up the enrolment at our camp and hosted a picnic at our place for all of them. I had to stop doing that because as the years progressed and the camp grew (with a proportionate increase in the number of homeschoolers) the numbers got too big. But even among the advanced chamber program (26 students enrolled, aged 11-18, a subset of the more than 100 kids enrolled in the entire camp) almost half are homeschoolers or have homeschooled for the bulk of their childhoods. This year a lot of them are starting school for the first time, or have recently started school, most beginning at the 10th grade level. Really amazing group of kids. Most have known each other for years.

Tuesday evening we hold an ice cream social event. About 200 people attend, in the garden of the school. About an hour into the event, I realized that Fiona and a lot of the senior kids had disappeared. Eventually as things were winding down I wandered into the school to do some cleanup and I found 10 of the violinists in a classroom. They had pulled out a piece they had worked on together a year ago (but hadn't played since) and were just jamming away for fun on their violins. They grabbed an accompanist to sight-read through the piano accompaniment and had a blast. They were having so much fun!

. Fiona is on the far left. Watch the end for sure, where you can see exactly how happy they are to be doing what they are. It is an entirely unrehearsed, rough rendition, but it's one of my arrangements and the joy the kids exude at the end makes me tear up every time.

Riding pretty high right now.

Miranda
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#13 of 38 Old 08-13-2017, 04:33 AM
 
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WOW! Finished the puzzle or did the entire thing? You are much more patient than I am, either way
Worked on it all day. It was hard but worth it.
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#14 of 38 Old 08-13-2017, 02:27 PM
 
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what about the baby in the refugee family ? born yet ?
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#15 of 38 Old 08-13-2017, 03:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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what about the baby in the refugee family ? born yet ?
Still waiting! I know the midwives are happy to do a planned induction this week or next partly because she's past 40 weeks and partly because there's a 90-minute drive involved in getting to them, but the mom is inclined to give birth on baby-time.

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#16 of 38 Old 08-13-2017, 06:29 PM
 
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Yana is still very much in our lives, dropped off her dogs anad a big basket of laundry on her way to work this morning. And my mom has offered to pay most of Lilah's tuition at the Montessori this year, which even if not needed, adds a needed level of stability to our finances. I have a potential violin mob this year, but unfortunately most want lessons between 3 and 5 in the afternoon, and I live 24 miles from where the lessons (most of them) are. So, we are going to have to negotiate some evenings and the like. Or they can visit me!

Fortunately the monsoon brings cool weather to the mountains of Texas, while most of the southwest swelters in August. Today after my vet job we drove to the sate park, four or five miles away, where a retired cellist friend from the Hot Land (Austin) spends several months living in an RV with her husband and volunteering at the park....she's a birder and that sort of thing. So we were having a rehearsal in the interpretive center, with the usual sort of quartetly spats:

"Am I flat?" "Yes!"
"It gets slower and slower" "I felt like I was pulling a train!"
"You can play it faster if you don't use so much bow!"

So one group came in and all of them watched us a long time, including a little girl (7?) who walked around and around, looking at all of us, with all the time a wide smile. Then a family group, eight or so kids, a lot of them very small, "look, it's a violin! It's violins!"

Meanwhile a thunderstorm started up, a lot of lightning, rain drumming on the roof. We were glad that at the last minute we'd closed the back door, but some windows had been left open. Husband dropped me off at work, where my chief challenge was a Great Dane with an attitude problem. Back home, husband found the dogs soaked and the outside kitten, Mewsic (named by Lilah), missing. Some large animal had rampaged in the garage, pushing aside stuff to get at the cat food that falls between the spare washer and the wall, so we're hoping it didn't eat Mewsic as well! If she comes back, guessing she may be elevated to house cat status.

I know this is mostly about me and not them, but that's what happens when the unschoolers leave the nest!

Deborah

p.s. but I do get Lilah back tomorrow, thinking of taking her to the mountain, for work and swim. And maybe we'll "do school" or a hike or somefing.

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#17 of 38 Old 08-19-2017, 04:36 PM
 
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15 days straight of either being out of town with family or having extended family in town and we are wiped out. We are on day 2 of recuperating. Yesterday was nothing but laying around reading, watching shows, and playing video games. Oh, and I tried to do catch up on laundry. Today the sun is shining (yesterday was gray and cool) and I felt capable of doing outdoor chores that have been neglected. The kiddos aren't so on edge and we had fun playing together off and on. We just might be in the frame of mind to enjoy our regular weekly family potluck tomorrow afternoon at Grandma and Grandpa's house. But I bet we won't stay too long. ;-)
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#18 of 38 Old 08-19-2017, 08:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Still waiting for that baby! Induction on Monday if it isn't born in the next 36 hours.

Fiona has been successfully handling working for a rather challenging boss. The boss is a lot of fun when she's in a good mood, but when she's not she gets short and sarcastic and lashes out at anyone nearby, primarily her employees. The last couple of weeks have been tough ones: peak season, little rest, everyone too busy. So it hasn't been a picnic for Fiona. But she's handling it much better than the other employee who finds the boss terrifying and often gets nauseated before work with the stress. Overall the summer job has been a lot of fun for Fiona. Interpersonal stress is not a big deal for Fiona. But she's starting to get niggling anxiety about her school-year insomnia. Two weeks to go... needless to say she's has zero sleep difficulties all summer.

Her flight to Quito Ecuador is booked and paid for (by her!). She'll leave January 28th, for three weeks in the Galapagos.

Her major learning accomplishments this summer: handling a full-time job and a cranky boss, learning to sight-read alto clef on viola and a fair chunk of Spanish language learning on Duolingo.

Miranda

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#19 of 38 Old 08-20-2017, 04:27 AM
 
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Her flight to Quito Ecuador is booked and paid for (by her!). She'll leave January 28th, for three weeks in the Galapagos.

Miranda
Exciting!!!!
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#20 of 38 Old 08-20-2017, 10:47 AM
 
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Checking in here as one of the many who will NOT see the total eclipse...have to make do with 58%. (I saw the 1979 one, which will have to last until 2024, when the path of totality is just a half day's drive from my house. If we're still in the same house. It also goes near our Maine house. So, one way or the other... ) August is not as rainy as we would like, but still plenty of clouds and a thunderstorm visible every day, if not where we are. But the weather is nice anyway, 81's for six of the next 8 days, except for one 82 and one 79. And we've stopped opening all of the windows at night; last night the front door (with its half screen) and the bedroom window were all the cool air that was wanted.

My mom is sending a check to fill in the gaps of Montessori tuition for Lilah, if needed.

Zela is facebooking with husband. They are discussing a possible visit of up to three months with dh's mother in France, who has offered to teacher her "all I know" about painting.

And now the conversation has veered around to music, as ever...

Deborah
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#21 of 38 Old 08-20-2017, 02:07 PM
 
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Kid has a few weeks (4-5) before his university starts. We are getting things finished up for the transfer and meeting with the coordinator in a couple weeks. I *think* funding and financial aid is squared away. Classes are all scheduled for the entire programme. Kid really needs something to do. Still no job- seems to have hit sloth mode on that front, my rule remains, no job, no driving. So we are at an impasse right now. His b'day is in 2 weeks and how on earth did he get to be 17?
Its still blazing HOT here. The humidity seems to have broke and possibly the monsoon is ending. maybe 1 more month of swealtering heat?

My own classes are plugging along. One class at a time (8 weeks), one week and one assignment at a time. Seems to be the best approach to keep myself from becoming overwhelmed. All of 2019 is an internship (mid jan- thanksgiving). I'm not focused on that- I still have plenty of online classes left.

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#22 of 38 Old 08-20-2017, 03:50 PM
 
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Her flight to Quito Ecuador is booked and paid for (by her!). She'll leave January 28th, for three weeks in the Galapagos.
Miranda
How exciting!!!
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#23 of 38 Old 08-20-2017, 04:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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KKid really needs something to do.
That's tough. Is there anything he could volunteer to do, in the absence of a job? I've noticed that by age 14 or so my kids didn't just want to fill their own time anymore, they want a purpose for their activities, one that is directed beyond themselves, home and family. Schooling may fill some of the time, but it's still largely focused on the self, especially if it's online, and so it's more of a distraction than a means of providing that wider sense of purpose.

Volunteer work is one of the more inexpensive close-to-home options has helped my kids find that sense of purpose. Does your ds have any skills or interests that he could turn to volunteer work? Or "helping out while job-shadowing and being mentored"? I remember he's done a lot in the way of art classes. Maybe there's an after-school program that would appreciate having an older teen to help with some art activities. Or perhaps he could help his former art teacher with set-up and clean-up of younger kids' classes. If you're involved in a community group or church group, maybe he could volunteer to help out with website maintenance, message board moderation, social media management and some other tech work. When he was 17 my ds set up a secure online auction for a local historical-cultural society on a volunteer basis. They ended up hiring him full-time the following year as their summer student, so not only did he learn a lot and feel like he was contributing to the world, but in the long run it earned him a job.

A short update on my Big Kids. Middle dd has completed her military basic training in Quebec a couple of days ago and is back home on the west coast. She's heading to Portland-ish area today on an eclipsing road trip with friends. Then she'll sprinkle in a few more Canadian Naval Reserves training days before starting back at university after Labour Day. Elder dd performs her final concert at Tanglewood tonight and will be back in Boston tomorrow I think, whereupon she can start shaking down the USPS to find the "trackable" (not!) envelope containing all her identification so that hopefully someday she can replace her Canadian passport. No offence to all you Americans but she is definitely feeling stressed about being legally trapped in the States. It would give me some peace of mind too to know she can get home for Christmas. She'll be in the last year of her Master's at New England Conservatory. Ds is moving from summer semester to fall and staying in Vancouver/area, so not much is changing for him.

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#24 of 38 Old 08-21-2017, 01:20 PM
 
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We made a pinhole camera and watched the eclipse
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#25 of 38 Old 08-21-2017, 02:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Nazsmum View Post
We made a pinhole camera and watched the eclipse
We did the same with binoculars. Clouds came in to frustrate us but cleared in the last 4 minutes. Yay!
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#26 of 38 Old 08-23-2017, 10:36 AM
 
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Of course it was totally socked in for the eclipse...clouds broke a little a few right at maximum totality (here less than 60%) so I got a few snaps of the eclipse peeking from behind clouds. The filter on the telescope (14"?) set up to show it was meant for full sun, nothing visible. And Lilah stayed at home, had cold. Some family and friends posted amazing shots, news travels fast on social media!

Lilah has a new "job", testing dogs for kid friendliness at the Humane Society. Because she has always been around dogs, she's a perfect fit.

We are going to town for violin lessons in half na hour or so. I haven't set up my fall schedule, seems to complicated with some things I am adding! And I'll likely be working at the vet more, so trying to leave room for that. (Co-worker is having a baby in a few months...)

And the end of summer approaches...today I drove my husband to work (he hurt his neck and is not motorcycle enabled right now) and we spotted a bank of clouds rolling into the mountains from the northeast, a high pressure from the north...hope it doesn't snuff the monsoon. (We have two days of rain forecast, then all sun.) I'm posting three webcam shots that show how the clouds sneak in through the canyon at the right, and from the north & northeast (upper left side and middle)...in the winter these would be snow clouds.

Deborah
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#27 of 38 Old 08-24-2017, 09:29 PM
 
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I'm back!

Just spent three weeks building trail out in the wilderness. Rugged mountains, crazy pouring rainstorms, more than 30 volunteers in and out across that time. I spent much of my time running up and down mountains and around cliffs and swimming through bushes trying to keep the scouting ahead of the trail crew. Kids stayed with the slower crew, sawing and cutting brush for parts, playing at other times. Then at the end, a bunch of friends and their kids (including one 3yo) joined us to hike the whole way across the passes, ocean to ocean, for 4 days.

Along the way my 6yo discovered she could read a chapter book! She was whining that she didn't have a book to look at, and I found a kids book that happened to be on my phone, told her she could look at it if she wanted, and she read the whole thing. Quite exciting for her (and me). Now I finally see what people mean when they say there was an age their kids "learned to read"

My 8yo still can't read, but he had a book to look at full of chess diagrams, so it worked for him anyway.

Now, to spend the next month frantically planning for 9 or so months in South America.
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#28 of 38 Old 08-24-2017, 11:22 PM
 
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Hanging out and enjoying the summer. Learning how financial aid truly works for kid. I do NOT speak financial aid. We are getting ready for him to start classes mid-sept, its all online and one-class at a time for the entire program (7-8 week classes). Same type program schedule that I am in and same university.

We've had some last of the monsoon season sneak up on us. A few storms and a huge storm last night. Thunder and lightening right over the house.

We both got new glasses this week. Amazing how clear things look again.
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2017 the year of peace and tranquility.
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#29 of 38 Old 08-25-2017, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Good news on a number of fronts.

1. USPS found my eldest's ID, so she is only two steps away from having a replacement Canadian passport, not ... like ... eleven
2. Ds20 got three job interviews this week and is being courted by all three companies. Two are tech startups, one smack in his field (VR and gaming), the other two are positions in related fields (more in the coding realm). Looks like he'll have a job placement soon. This is a 4-to-8-month co-op placement that earns him an additional certificate at his college, while paying the bills and giving him a impressive and legit resumé.
3. Our refugee mom had her baby, finally! It has been in incredible experience for me and Fiona, becoming intimately familiar with a lot of the nuances of gender-roles and family authority for Muslim families. Enlightening and quite amazing to watch it all in action as 'insiders.' So impressed with this family!
4. The eclipse was not total here but we got good views of the 85%-obscured crescent through welding glass, and it was pretty awesome.

Miranda
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Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
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#30 of 38 Old 08-26-2017, 10:54 AM
 
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best wishes to the new baby and his/her family ... from Europe ... where i was just ... being curious and in expectation of the new ....
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