7QT: Pre-College Curriculum

image
This is the t-shirt my college sent my son as a “thank you” for forwarding his test scores. Their admissions department is very clever.

As our oldest begins the college search, my head is full of all the things I have still to teach him.  So many things, so little time.  I can hardly believe it’s just a year till he graduates!  Here is a list of skills I would like him to master in order to be ready for college:

  1. Survival food: how to make a grocery list, navigate the grocery store, make a week’s worth of dinners and clean up the kitchen. So far he has mastered the grocery store, kitchen clean up, and making three of our favorite family meals.  There’s not a lot of motivation to conquer the making of a shopping list.
  2. Survival car maintenance: how to change a tire and how to pump gas.  He’s got the gas-pumping down.  For extra credit, he also learned how to get rid of the creepy gas-station-guy hitting on him while he pumped gas. (Of course, I just changed a tire but didn’t think to call him to come & learn how.)
  3. Survival finances: how to use the ATM, how to do mobile banking (can anybody remember using passbooks, or is it just me?), and how to make a budget and live within it.  Our bank offers kid accounts (both debit and savings) so he’s been managing his banking for a while.  I think he’ll be fine with the budgeting since he’s my frugal kid, but some of my future graduates may have a harder time.
  4. How to call for help.  4a. He called the bank to have an unauthorized charge removed from his debit card.  4b. He spent an hour on the phone with the IT department at the college where he’s taking classes next year to resolve the problem with his registration. 4c. He regularly navigates the online help lines for his computer and purchase-related problems. 4d. He knows how to call us.  What else should we be practicing here?
  5. Using Google maps.  A year ago, he was completely overwhelmed by driving at all. Now, he and his brother are comfortable setting off in rush hour with an address and an app to find a friend’s party in another town.  It’s amazing to me that we have come so far.
  6. How to play ultimate Frisbee. I didn’t say he has to enjoy it. He just has to know how.
  7. How to do his laundry. Cause there’s no way this mama is going to do it for him.

Okay, friends, what am I missing? Please let me know in the comments! (And better yet, if you’re interested in a good game of Ultimate, come on over!)

I’m linking up with Kelly @ This Ain’t the Lyceum for more quick takes, so go check her out!

7QT: Summer Screen Time

Although our weather doesn’t quite feel like summer yet (we had 6 inches of snow a week ago), the kids are in full summer mode, which means eating popsicles, staying up late, and trying to have non-stop computer time.

Last summer, we implemented a checklist in order to make sure our days had some redeeming qualities, amidst the hours of screen time.  It worked so well, I’m implementing it again.  This year I’m trying to hold them to the American Association of Pediatrics’ recommendation for no more than 2 hours* of screens per day, although some of us can do an hour just in the bathroom!)

image

So here, without ado, I present the 7 most common complaints in response to our summer screen time plan.

  1. Our friends can have as much computer time as they want! (I doubt this is true. In fact, I know it’s not true. It just feels true.)
  2. Owen’s been practicing for hours and won’t let any of the rest of us practice! (This one is actually true, and it’s why we now have two pianos.)

image

3. I’m doing __________ (swim team/ballet/gymnastics) later, so can that count as my exercise?

 

image

(The answer: not if you want to have computer time before you go.)

4. But there’s nothing to read!

 

IMG_3830

5. But the house is already clean! (Ummm….. no.)

6. There’s nothing to make! (How about breakfast? Or lunch? Or dinner?)

7. But I’m so booooooooooored! (Actually no one uses this one, because when you’re bored at our house, it means you get to clean the bathroom.)

What does summer screen time look like for you?  Are you texting your kids in the bathroom to tell them to slide the iPad out under the door?

Go check out Kelly @ This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Quick Takes!

*update: I had originally write 1 hour (the AAP recommendation for 2-5 years olds.)  My children were so mad about this that actually went and looked up the recommendation for themselves.  It’s two hours per day of any kind of screen, for children older than 5. And no screens in the bedrooms, because they’ve been shown to interfere with sleep.

 

7QT: the April blur

One: I can hardly remember back to Lent, even though we’re not a full two weeks into Easter.  I know I totally stank at my Lenten disciplines (does that mean I picked the right ones, since they drove me right into an awareness of my need for grace?). Instead, I spent every spare minute studying for my board exam.

image

Two: my friend Lori came to hang out with my kids during my exam.  (Excellent, but then I wanted to be with them the whole time!)  I should have the results just in time to register for the October exam again if I failed.

Three: One day while I was studying at Starbucks, a dog came in and got a puppiccino.  Apparently this is a thing.  And she liked it. A lot.

image

Four: I had a list of things as long as my arm that I’d put off whilst studying (think showering, cleaning, cooking, exercising, answering emails, and all the other work sundries that I wouldn’t let spill into our homeschooling time).  When I finished, however, I spent a week just reading novels because I was so fried.  This week I managed to drag on some clothes, do yoga twice, and put up our Easter tree.

image

Five: meanwhile, life marched on.  The girls had a dance performance at school.  Here’s Phoebe as Little Red [Riding Hood] and Moriah as a wolf (she’s the one in the furry legwarmers and scary make-up- second from the right):

image

Six: This week I am finally finding my groove again, though Sam traveled to the middle-of-nowhere FEMA training site to learn how to protect us all from Ebola.

image

Don’t you feel safer now?

image

They seem to be having a little too much fun.

Seven: Tuesday I got to watch my friends’ 11-month old.  He loves Moriah, so she did a bunch of the baby-toting, and to be honest, he slept a lot.  But when he was awake, I spent most of time trying to figure out how to baby-proof my kitchen.  It involved a lot of rubber bands and kitchen tools to prop open drawers.

Baby-proofing:
image

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?  Hopefully no Ebola.  Check out Kelly for more Quick Takes!

7QT: Spring break

This week was our spring break, so most of our time was spent pretending the children weren’t playing video games and watching bad Disney TV.  But I have a few photos to share.

One: Last weekend was Mo’s contemporary dance show, which involved transporting large numbers of costumes from the studio to the theater, and large amounts of dancing and portable snacks.  Not my strong suit.

image

Sorry for the blurry photo, but it’s actually hard to take photos in the dark.

Two: After the performance, we drove up to the mountains, where spring has hit for real.  The aspen trees are blooming (I didn’t know they did that, actually. Who knew?) and the snow in places was like mashed potatoes.  But still, skiing beats not skiing.

image

Three: The day all four of us skied, Phoebe spent the morning saying she wanted to go home.  We talked her into eating lunch on the mountain, and then she spent the afternoon racing us all down the hill. We are calling it a case of severe hypoglycemia-induced orneriness.

She was determined to ski her first black diamond, so we ended up on this horrible moguly run that had me frightened for her.  But when she saw a shortcut off it to the run next door (as it were), she stood up and skied bumpity bump off the mogul run, leaving me trying to catch up.  She did her first black without event, and then ran into a fire extinguisher getting out of the pool later and gave herself a huge egg on her head.

image

Four:  I’m not normally into movies, but this week we watched several.  First, we saw Hidden Figures.  What a great film.  How come I had never heard of these awesome women before?  (Because they’re black, that’s why. Our country is so messed up.)  The movie was great.

Five: Then we watched Wag the Dog, a 1997 comedy. (IMDb’s description: Shortly before an election, a spin-doctor and a Hollywood producer join efforts to fabricate a war in order to cover up a presidential sex scandal.)  It’s rated R, but without graphic visuals on anything.  The dialogue moves quickly and is so cynical.  The commentary on our political scene is prescient.  Who knew I’d ever be missing George W?  Next up: Dave.

Six: And because one dark comedy isn’t enough, then we watched Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb, a 1964 comedy about the insanity of the Cold War and fluoridation.

Seven: Now we’re headed down the mountain a day early, hoping to beat the storm that’s promising to freeze all the flowers on our peach tree.

image

Somehow the tree survived last year’s freeze.  And despite what I thought in 8th grade, we all survived the Cold War.  Here’s hoping.

7QT: Can we take the rest of the month off?

image

One: Our run of warm, dry winter days has ended.  Last Sunday, I saw these flowers coming up.  Today, our emerging tulips are frozen and buried.

image

Two: It’s February, which means everything feels like a slog. Why is that?

image

Three: We’ve been shaking up our school subjects in little ways, like multiplying with sugar cubes and writing poetry with magnets, but there’s only so much I can do to lighten the load for my high schooler.

image

image

Four: last week I registered him for the ACT, the SAT subject test and 2 AP exams. (Between his exams and my Boards, this spring is going to be full of bubbles.) It took me three hours just to register him, and I speak the language. I can’t imagine trying to negotiate this in a second language, or without experience.

Product DetailsFive: Meanwhile, we’re still plodding away on all our reading.  We listened to The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread (Kate DiCamillo) on the way to ski last week. It falls in the category of Good Books that Are Saving My Life Right Now.  Neither of the girls remembered it from the last time we read it.  The audiobook is fantastic; the story (and storytelling) are truly wonderful.

image

Six: The children have played that digital piano into the ground.  Two notes are malfunctioning, so it sounds just like a broken hammer on an actual piano.  Owen still plays it three or four hours a day.

image

Seven: We made it up to ski again, this time for an entire day. Phoebe did her first terrain park. I did not ski the box with them.

image

Now they want to know when they can ski without me. Just because I wouldn’t ski the box! So rude.  Soon they’re going to be asking me to drop them at the gondola.

Go check out Kelly for more Quick Takes.

SQT: Staycation

One: We had a delightful (and full) staycation with my brother- and sister-in-law and their three children.  The logistics of a house with 11 people in it can be challenging, but Matt and Jen are both so flexible and obliging that it felt like we had more adults than children. (Spoiler: we did not.)  I highly recommend, if you decide to have a staycation with 11 people, you invite my in-laws, because they will make it wonderful.

image

Two: The first day, the children decided to do a play. They chose Romeo and Juliet. Step one: I cut Shakespeare’s masterpiece down from 104 pages to 27 pages. Step two: We vetoed the idea of auditions. Step three: Matt negotiated the minefield of my children’s unkindness to help them through the trauma of casting.

image

Step four: younger children got very excited about a) costumes and b) killing each other with swords. Step five: All the children hung through 3 hours of read-through, in the original language.

image

Step six: We began staging. Step seven: Everyone abandoned the effort in favor of popsicles and running through the sprinklers.

image

image

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. — William Shakespeare

Three: We managed to take one hike.  It was raining as we drove to the mountains. It rained all the way home.  But miraculously, we had two hours of sun-dappled beauty in the pines without crowds or rain.  It was a gift.

image

Four: We celebrated Independence Day by picking the neighbor’s pie cherries (with his permission), listening to NPR’s annual reading of the Declaration of Independence, taking the citizenship test, cheering on the local parade, and watching the fireworks.
image

image

Five: What family vacation would be complete without a medical emergency?  Only one person had to be hospitalized, and she bore it with patience and grace.  Happily, she came home (healthy) to much acclaim and a hero’s welcome.

Six: We celebrated four birthdays and a baptism anniversary all at once.

Seven: The children finally managed to produce a full play, Rapunzel. We all agreed that the porch was equally perfect for Rapunzel’s Tower or Juliet’s balcony.  The witch was defeated before bedtime, and fun was had by all.  The end.

image

I can’t wait till next year’s Staycation.

Seven Quick Takes: Is school over yet?

One: We’re in the last days of school for the year.  Originally I had us going into the first week of June, but when I counted up the days I had two weeks extra.  Hooray for counting.  Everyone is squirrely (myself included).

image

Two: Jonah and Sam had a great time (four days’ worth) in Beijing.  The rest of us survived without them and waited each day for their photos to trickle into Photostream.  Now Sam is trying to get back on Colorado time, while Jonah had no problem.  Oh, to be fifteen.

image

Three: The lilacs and iris are blooming.  I managed to snag the landscapers at my neighbors’ house and got them to aerate my lawn for $10.  No appointment, no phone call.  Win-win.

image

Four: We haven’t been as lucky with the computer repair people, for whom we waited all yesterday.  Anyone else having trouble with Windows 10?

Five: Jonah is looking for a job, diligently making the rounds of all the local businesses.  Moriah has expanded her dog walking business and is enjoying her well-gotten gains. Yesterday after ballet she bought herself a lemon bar and then told the rest of us about it in excruciating detail.  Owen earns extra money by mowing the lawn.  Anyone have a suggestion for a job for an 8-year old who needs to buy her own lemon bars?

image

Six: I had the world’s worst run last week.  Well, that might be a slight exaggeration.  But everything bothered me: my new socks, the rock in my shoe, the waistband of my pants, the endless ballads that kept coming up Pandora no matter the station, the annoying podcast I switched to… Only the birds kept me going.  Look, goslings!

image

Seven: I spent so much time trying to explain why Sam and Jonah’s flight flew through the arctic circle to get to China I finally bought a globe.  Now for two weeks, we’re going to cram geography and nature walks.  What’s left in your school year?

For more quick takes, check out Kelly!