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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What's up in your life?

How does school not being in session during the summer change your unschooling, or not? Do you experience the excitement and anxiety of structured homeschoolers as they begin preparing curriculum for their upcoming year?

What are your current interests? What are your kids busy with? What have you got planned for the rest of the month?

Miranda
 

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No change here in our life because of the school calendar. Our changes are much more seasonal. Time at the beach, bike rides, gardening, etc. are all on our agenda these days. We have been experimenting with a bit more set rhythm to our day and right now it seems to be making for smoother days and better moods on the part of everyone. We are doing more art because I want to and everyone seems to be enjoying it so we'll continue that until it we don't.

July is going to be a busy month for us. We have an annual trip to a nearby (2 hour drive) town where my husband helps run a kayaking symposium and we rent a cottage for the week and the kiddos and I just play on the beach and try to live outdoors as much as possible with no responsibilities. We'll have my sis-in-love and her 3 kiddos in town for a week's visit following that and then we'll head for five days to my hometown (8 hour drive) for a family reunion. Whew! I'm tired just writing it out. But it should all be fun (except maybe the drive but I'm hoping my youngest does better than in the past)!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
We're having lots of fun working on the new house, but the time we're spending there has so far felt pretty rushed. We haven't been staying overnight, so it's about heading down in the morning, usually with some used-furniture shopping or picking-up on the way, arriving late morning, running to building supply places and working and doing a quick grocery store run, and moving and cleaning non-stop for a few hours, then cooking and eating a late dinner and heading back home. Then repeating the next day.

But we now have a sleep-over bedroom made habitable. So in a couple of weeks we'll probably go down and stay the weekend. Ds18 and dd16 already have habitable bedrooms, as they're living there for the summer. It was the third "family" bedroom that was the challenge. There is another bedroom too, but it's going to take a ton of work. Rotting plaster-and-lath, ancient ceiling tiles, pressboard paneling, textured wallpaper and graffiti. Urgh.

So anyway, lots of home repair, cleaning and moving.

Also, music camp scheduling. A vast and complex job. Fiona does great data-entry and data-checking. She understands all the intricacies of the process. She's even starting to understand something about relational databases. Almost as much as me, which honestly isn't saying much, but still. We put a further 6 hours into it yesterday.

She has had two violin lessons with the new teacher. Really likes what she's getting from her. "She's seasoned. She knows what she wants, and she can explain it in clear ways. Today she told me something a conductor once told her about Mozart: that everything Mozart wrote was either dancing or singing in style. M__ tried to explain to me about Mozart opera, but she just said go and listen to some. I didn't know what to listen for. W__ knows exactly what to say to get me to listen and understand. See, this part [we're listening to a Mozart violin concerto as she's talking] is dancing. And ... this part: singing, totally!" So lovely to hear that they're finding a wavelength together.

The pins come out of her toes tomorrow, and then she'll have a couple of weeks to wiggle them a little before the cast comes off and weight-bearing and rehab become possible. It will have been a long 7 weeks.

She was asked to be the assistant at the Music Explorers program for 4 to 6-year-olds in a couple of weeks She's done this twice in the past. The first time she was just supposed to come and demonstrate her violin-playing for the kids, but she had such great chemistry with them, and the instructor was struggling with her health, so she was asked to stay and help out the rest of the week. She was such an amazing resource that she was asked back last year, and now the foot injury means that rather than being at dance camp herself that week, she's available again so the instructor was thrilled.

She was also asked to be the assistant during the younger kids' (age 5-11) dance camp week that follows Music Explorers. A 16-year-old dancer had been suggested, but the instructor, who was Fiona's stage jazz and hip-hop teacher last year, asked if Fiona was available instead. Fiona will be barely off crutches at that point, so she won't be useful as a demonstrator, but D. still wants her there to help out with the kids. I hope it works well. Fiona is keen but she's only a year older than some of the kids so the chemistry will be a bit different.

Recently she's been talking about pediatric nursing as a possible career. I think she might be onto something, due to her clear gifts in working with kids.

I have a symphony gig this weekend (alongside eldest dd who is playing principal second violin), one of those "instant symphony" gigs where they bring people in from far and wide to a community too small to have a resident orchestra, and there are four rehearsals and a couple of performances over the course of a day and a half. It's an outdoor concert on a mountain and should be fun: Beethoven #6 , the heinously difficult 1812 Overture, Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream Overture, some Peer Gynt, etc. I'm playing viola, so that's a challenge for me, since violin is my primary instrument and I've done very little orchestral repertoire on viola.

We're talking about getting Fiona a cellphone since the "town" house has no land line and it'll probably be cheaper and more useful to get her a mobile number than to pay for a land line. She will be there on her own from time to time, and while wifi is good for most stuff, when the power is out, or if there's ever the need to call 9-1-1, I think a phone is good to have. It will also simplify logistics when she's out and about independently and needs a ride or whatever. Our regular house is in a fringe area for cell reception, so we'll need to keep our land line there unfortunately. I'm guessing she'll be paid a few hundred dollars for her two weeks of assistantship at the summer arts camps, so she is thinking about possible going with a pricier smartphone that would not only be a mobile phone but would replace her aging iPod. She's got a good track record with her devices, caring for them well and using them responsibly, so I'm good with that.

It has been very hot here lately. Up to 37C (99ºF) last weekend, which for the mountains of BC in June is pretty mind-boggling. We've had some killer thunderstorms, too. Power has been out a few times. Big trees fell down on cars and houses within a block of our house in Town. We were lucky that there was no damage to our place.

And I've been loving my bike. I started using the Strava app to track my rides, and am enjoying using the data to see my improvements. There's a third-of-a-mile section of a hill near my house with a 6% grade that is a "segment," which is a sort of performance benchmark in Strava. I've knocked a full minute off my time there since I bought my bike in mid-May, and now have the fastest time posted of any woman -- though there are still 18 men ahead of me! Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with myself, particularly because although I have always had good endurance I've never been fast or strong. I'm realizing that all these years that I've thought of our area as not being well-suited to road biking because of the steep terrain, I really just haven't been strong enough. Now that I'm working on it, I'm starting to see gains and riding the 5-10% grades is becoming something other that torment.

Miranda
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Forgot to answer my own questions.

With the end of the school year Fiona's scheduled dance, parkour and gymnastics classes stop, so that means our weeks go from having almost daily commitments to being less scheduled. And the summer music camp (and other arts camps) allow for intensive if intermittent focus, and lots of socializing.

Summer also brings our Big Kids (dd21 and ds18, normally away at college) home, which helps create more intellectual and social stimulation at home.

We don't really have contact with structured homeschoolers, so we haven't noticed feverish curriculum-planning.

Miranda
 

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We've been in our house a little more than a month and I still feel like I don't really belong...slowly learning how to cook in the new kitchen (first apple pie was yesterday), thriving without a dishwasher (both because Son now lives in an apartment in the other town & Youngest is away so much that she isn't getting in much cookery). I'm enjoying the quiet...can hear the road from outside the house, but inside the only sounds are the washer and the refrigerator and sometimes I can hear a motor of some kind (well pump, heat pump?...I'm the only one who can hear this stuff...I guess it comes through the ground). This week's forecast for town ranges from 84-90F, 76-80F in my old neighborhod...we must be in the middle here, 200 feet above and 1.5 miles from the center of town (we dropped from 6200 to 5200 feet with the move). Anyway, we clearly aren't going to need AC, ever. On the other hand, the need for affordable heat looms ever nearer.

So I have this cat I tried to re-home in an outside colony, that is living in a cage in our new house because of his habits. Every night I take him outside for a while, and I practice mandola while he messes around. First I try to tune the mandola, which is a lost cause. (Someone has said that "mandolin" is Italian for "hard to tune instrument".) When you tune one string, the others change because you've changed the tension of the whole thing, and mandolin makers apparently don't think it's necessary to make the body a bit more rigid. But whatever. Last night I went through the Earl of Hyndford, La Bastringue, Joys of Québec, Ootpik, and tried and failed to remember Ronfleuse Gobeil, so I improvised for a while until it started getting too cold (it was full dark by this time), zipped the mandola in its gig bag, collected the cat, and went in.

Yesterday I spent some time in the sun room, taking paperwork and music/movies and boxes of photographs out...a lot of work to do, sorting and culling. I'm no longer feeling quite as frantic, now that it looks like most things are going to work out, even though I haven't given much (any) thought to the outdoor cat shelter yet. (On cue, White Paws shows up and climbs on my tummy. So I'm done here for now!)

Deborah

p.s. Youngest has been making herself useful...drives to the bigger town whether she needs to or not, to pick up car parts for my old chamber music friend...today he brought by brass tags for all the dogs, with our new land line number stamped on. We can see the cell tower from our house, but most of this area is No Service, so my tracfone has gone back to being just a tracfone. It would be nice to have a texting feature on a land phone, though...
 

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Summer is a dramatic transformation here, but only in part because of the school calendar. Everyone in the entire state of Alaska is running around like a maniac. Fishing! Gardening! Boat trips! Family and friends coming from out of state! Almost all-day light! Everyone who works construction, or fishing, or in the tourism industry (three big ones here) is swamped with work. Our town is swollen with summer people and casual visitors. For us, it means there are a lot more scheduled activities available (not all of which we attend), and those that we go to have more kids, more relative strangers, and more school-aged kids. So our weekly hike might have 6 adults and 14 kids, or 4 and 10, rather than the usual 2 and 5 kind of thing, and some of them are summer people we barely know.

I am currently interested in finishing the book manuscript I'm under contract to finish. And prepping for our upcoming expedition. And in being outside in every available moment. These interests are in conflict, of course.

The kids have gotten into a spurt of math lately, latching onto a 3rd grade "Beast Academy" book we have, and the extensive geometry section at the beginning. The problems are hard for the 6yo, but mostly a good kind of hard, since he can do many, but not all of them (I have to read it all aloud--he can't read). He likes making up problems for me too. The 4.5yo LOVES the comic book story and the characters, but the math is of course vastly too difficult, and I've not done too well trying to invent "geometry puzzles" that are at her level.

They're also both loving volcanoes at the moment, an interest that is well suited to both drawing (we have reams of marker volcanoes now), and to building erupting mountains in dirt piles and sand pits around the property. Good fun, but I really need to find some good popular science (adult, or at least in-depth) books about volcanoes and plate tectonics because my son just this morning took it upon himself to correct every other page of the kids "How Mountains are Made" I was reading.

Summer's also so great for naturalist style stuff. We spent all yesterday examining pond critters, and will go camping tomorrow for our biggest (-4.3) low tide of the month to examine all the intertidal critters.

And we leave in less than a month for a 2-month expedition to the Aleutian Islands. So, stuff is crazy. At least we have 2 grandmas around to help out!
 

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We don't have contact with many homeschoolers, unfortunately. I know where to find them in general, but it's hard to pin them (or us) down. Everyone's schedules (even those of us who aren't too terribly busy) clash just enough. I did get a request from my older dd to contact a gal who collects and sells minerals and has a daughter and some friends my girls have played with (and they even have some of the same food allergies-- a huge plus!)

DD8 is dealing with a bee phobia that is keeping her inside more than she wants. This is my busy girl, and it's cramping her style. Yes, she has been stung by bees (wasps) both times completely unprovoked, so she is freaking out a bit.

Fair excitement is reaching fever pitch, even though fair is weeks and weeks away.

Camping this weekend. My first Sunday off since February. Having to work evenings on Thursday and Saturday (yes, July 4th) to make up for it. One more week of this crazy work schedule (extended an extra week for camping) and then I will finally start seeing the results of less work! It still won't be until August that all the changes we are making are in effect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It would be nice to have a texting feature on a land phone, though...
[/LEFT]
That would be great, wouldn't it? But you can use email to text with most providers. This webpage explains how. Typically you send an email to [email protected] or something like that, where the numbers are the cellphone number and the domain corresponds to the network of the receiving cellphone.

Miranda
 

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I'd like to be able to GET texts on my landline! :)

Last night daughter (who has in the recent past announced that she wants to fill in academic gaps this coming year, and then take a gap year to prepare for whatever is next, said she wonders what I'd think of her moving to town (the bigger town) and getting an apartment? At first my knee jerk reaction was "I want to make sure that you are prepared academically in case you want to go to college"...but then of course my long practice of unschooling kicked in and I told her that a) actually you an do what you like when you are 18 and b) in my opinion there needs to be some sort of planning so that you don't get stuck in a dead end situation with no out (her job at the vet pays $13 an hour, so she's taking home twice as much as her minimum wage peers and she doesn't necessarily understand that a lot of people around here, including adults, are making less per hour than she is). Anyhow, I think (with her leave!) we'll start our "senior year" curriculum now, in case she actually finds a way to carry through with her notion. Husband was a little alarmed, but I said, you know, she can always move back in...son lived with us for half a year after he got out of college, and husband grumbled about his part time joblessness, but now it looks like that could be transitioning to permanent (fingers crossed and other superstitious rituals invoked here)...it might even be the sort of thing that would let him go to gradual, er, graduate school at the same time.

My youngest child has always been the one to push the independence envelope...the youngest to fly by herself (haha, and the only one that's ever flown a plane, although not by herself), the youngest to spend extended periods with friends (in our family, you can go home again...), the youngest to have a "real" job, to drive & buy her own car, the one who gets invited for week long housesitting gigs (and invited back), the one who brings back needed groceries and items for the house, the one who bought her brother a new tracfone (his had a broken screen and couldn't be used for texting) because he hadn't got his act together and replaced his, that sorta thing.

The middle daughter is well able to fend for herself, but in a more quiet way, arts focused. She spent her teen years figuring out how to get the training she wanted/needed. Middle is hyper competitive, even though we absolutely never compared our kids or their accomplishments with others. (I'm looking at husband and thinking this is genetic... ;) ).

For youngest, competition with others is irrelevant; she competes only with herself. She is enjoying showing a horse but doesn't care about how she places at all: for her, it's the discipline and knowledge and work needed to perform in the arena that drives her. It is interesting that, in terms of adult "competence", she is (apparently) more "adult" than her siblings.

All of them are so far "ahead" of me/husband when I was their ages that it's hard to see how they're related to us!

Deborah
 

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Unschooling in July

We are or at least I am thoroughly enjoying our summer holiday. The best thing that happened is Little made good friends with a boy who lives around the corner. They have known each other for years, but we're never friends. Little is so happy, his friend comes over around 5, and they head off on their scooters to the park and come back and go back and forth until dark at 9:30. It is so nice to see him so happy. He is learning a ton of social skills, because he is ready!
The teens are sleeping and doing art and staying up all night, and sleeping most of the day, but I told them starting next week they need to be up by noon.
I didn't think we had a schooly rhythm to our days, but Little has been uninterested in being read to since school ended, so I guess he felt that was schooly for him.
I am seeing how tired and burned out and whiny I was for the last couple months. And am really enjoying working and making my time decisions for myself. Also with the teens home all day, I have more freedom to come and go.
Anna
 

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Little still isn't socially savvy, but this year at home has given him a break enough that he was able to retreat, regroup, and try again. He isn't so defended, and he is a bit more forgiving. This friend he has made has changed his out look immensely, he is happier than I've ever seen him. It has been a culmination of a lot of things though. He's a bit older, so he has more freedom to go to the park by himself. His friend is almost a year older than him so isn't offended by his his inappropriate language and behavior. The friend used to go to the school little went to but moved to a different school so perhaps lost a peer group. It was a bit of the stars aligning. One thing I missed was, I kept thinking little really just needed a friend/playdate once or twice a week, a supervised playdate at that. When really he needed someone everyday, and freedom to go off and be little hellions, without me hovering.
Of course I may change my tune when someone comes knocking on the door complaining. :)
When I say he was ready, it is about he is ready to be tolerant, forgiving AND ready to stand up for himself, take a .5 second before reacting, not be manipulated, and overcome defeat when things go wrong.
Not sure how that applies to grown ups, or any other kid, just my observations on my guy, who may struggle socially his whole life, but there is a group for everyone, and I need to help him identify his.
Anna
 

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Thanks for your thoughts. I have had this on my mind alot? I see the way that kids/people are and it makes me think.

I went to a concert this week. The people that stood behind me kept talking the WHOLE show. I wanted to tell them to be quiet!!!! Why are they talking and not listening to the music?

Thanks again
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I told them starting next week they need to be up by noon.
What a controlling mother you are, lol!

We're dealing with similarly weird sleep schedules here. I've got two kids living at home. Eldest is up at 8 and sets to this rigid daily routine of practicing and fitness training and academic stuff, before heading to bed around 10:30. Youngest lazes in bed until close to noon, then kind of messes around all day, practices in the evening and Skypes with her friends until maybe 2 a.m..

Then there are my two living in Town. Dd is up at 7 or 8, off to work by 9 or 10, works, grocery-shops on her way home, cooks, hangs out with friends and heads to bed early. Ds wakes up when his sister gets home from work at 4 or 5 pm. He works on the house until dd tells him to be quiet because she's going to bed, then he goes out with friends until very late or else works on computer coding until his sister gets up.

Back from Symphony on the Mountain. There was a huge windstorm in town last weekend, and now this weekend there's a wildfire burning above town. Never a dull moment.

Surprise! We went to get Fiona's pins pulled on Friday and the ortho took the cast off too. She's been put in an orthopedic boot for a couple of weeks, but she can partially weight-bear and she can get the foot wet now. And, the best news of all: the tendon repairs look like they've both taken. She can wiggle her toes. Ever so slightly at this point, everything being stiff stiff stiff, but they move! Rehab will start in a couple of weeks. The amount of atrophy after just five weeks is amazing: she's going to need to work hard to get her muscle mass back.

Miranda
 

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That's great for Fiona, having a cast on in a heat wave sounds horrible.
This sleep thing is challenging for me. I know in my head it doesn't actually matter when people sleep and get up, but I still feel deep down, sleeping all day isn't right. I try to encourage the teens to decide for them selves, but then at the back of my head there is this little voice. DH has no such qualms, everyone up by noon, and chores everyday. I am lucky to have him bring balance to my universe. Last night he said he sent them to bed at 2, and told them they have all day to play wii. Well today they played wii from 4-7, which is usually his tv time. I had to laugh and tell him to be careful what he wished for.
It does make my heart sing to see them play together, and hear them laughing and joking.
Anna
Ps
Nazmum, those people were just plain rude, that sucks they were sitting right behind you.
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
As a musician, music teacher and music recital mom, it irks me when people show a lack of respect for performers and their art -- and for other members of the audience. I feel strongly about teaching children what good audience manners are, and the value in being a receptive, humble, patient and appreciative member of the audience. I think that when you attend a performance you're implicitly asking to be communicated with artistically in some way. To me that sort of behaviour is like asking a question and then turning aside and ignoring the answer to talk to your friend or text on your phone. It's okay not to care about what the artist is communicating, but in that case don't put yourself there in the audience with others who do care and an artist who is doing their best to reach out to you.

I suppose that some people come to performances with their consumeristic multi-tasking mentalities still in the fore. They figure "I paid for this, so I can do what I want." And "I talk while watching TV, so how is this any different?" A combination of ignorance, obliviousness to social graces, and lack of empathy. When I'm involved in the organization of the performance I do tend to chastise people with some polite sign-language, but when I'm simply another audience member I'm never sure how to react. Probably I should do the same ...

Miranda
 

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My kids are crappy audience members (at their ages, anyway). I try not to take them to any performances.

Miranda -- that's great about Fiona's foot!

It is interesting to watch social skills develop. I wish my kids could have friends they could independently visit, but that's not going to happen until they feel comfortable walking several miles on their own. They haven't seemed to mind yet, but it's logistically hard to make playdates happen. And both my kids seem to do so well with those. If I get one or two kids over here, they'll do that lovely "disappear for hours and play imaginary games in the woods" kind of thing, but at any group activity, both of my kids are much more clingy to me, hesitating to join in, talking to the adults exclusively, etc... Especially noticeable for my 4.5yo. She has awesome social skills one-on-one -- can engage any kid, any age, any time. But in a big group she'll usually refuse to even say hi. Even if it's the exact same kids!

Anna-- I haven't been reading much to my kids either this summer. And I remember the same last year. I think summer is just so outdoors focused and with so much family around, it's hard to make time. They usually have other things to do. Of course, my 6.5yo is getting closer to the age when people will start giving him grief about not reading himself... I try not to think about that.

But we're thoroughly immersed in camping and hiking and all the naturalist stuff. I think it's probably really good for them, partly because they get to see adults so engaged in hands-on-learning. I'm a tidepool geek, so they get to see me super excited to discover a new-to-me creature and go look it up, to wonder why the crabs are all weird colors this year, and what that shell is from. Or with my science co-leader at the pond, staring into our petri dish discussing gills and jaws and trying to identify the creepy crawly swimming in circles. Or my husband and his geologist friend staring at peat and ash layers in the hole they dug on the beach, discussing sea level rise. Whether or not the kids care about the particular bit of science at that moment, they do get to see that adults are also genuinely engaged in figuring out new things about the world -- learning isn't just for kids. And they do seem to absorb a fair amount of science geekery as well.
 

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Surprise! We went to get Fiona's pins pulled on Friday and the ortho took the cast off too. She's been put in an orthopedic boot for a couple of weeks, but she can partially weight-bear and she can get the foot wet now. And, the best news of all: the tendon repairs look like they've both taken. She can wiggle her toes. Ever so slightly at this point, everything being stiff stiff stiff, but they move! Rehab will start in a couple of weeks. The amount of atrophy after just five weeks is amazing: she's going to need to work hard to get her muscle mass back.

Miranda
Great!!!!
 

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I love going to concerts! Those people (adults) are beyond rude. It made me so mad. :hopmad

mckittre you do the coolest things.

Anna I feel the same way about sleep.
 
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