Sunday, July 28, 2013

Project: Kitchen Cabinets

My most recent project has been to reorganize my kitchen. The geniuses that installed the cabinets decided to use plastic shelf supports, instead of metal. This of course means that they only last so long before they break, because plastic does that. It started with a shelf falling in the cabinet with the glasses. As is to be expected, several glasses broke. Next, the shelf with the slow cookers went, while I was putting one of the slow cookers away. The shelf, which is pretty heavy even without the weight of two big slow cookers, fell on me. I finally found the metal shelf supports I wanted, in a package size that made sense, and for an affordable price. In true style for this house, they didn't fit. The holes were not deep enough for the supports, which made them stick out so the shelves wouldn't fit.

Now, I know how to use tools. I have my own toolbox (though there is almost nothing in it anymore, since everyone regularly raids it because it is the easiest one to get to), my own drill, my own tools (which are scattered around the house where everyone else left them), have been using using tools for many years, & was fixing things for myself before my husband came into the picture. However, this house is cursed. Every single time I try to do the simplest thing, I end up needing tools that should never be needed for that job, tools end up broken, or other odd things happen. I mean things like needing a hammer to change a doorknob, needing a chisel to put in a new lock, breaking a drill bit in the wall, and finding a sheet of metal inside a wall while trying to hang a picture. This house sucks, and every time I pull out a tool, it vows revenge. So, I have decided to let my husband drill the holes out for the pegs.

So far, I have managed to get him to do 3 of the cabinets. There are 4 more I want done within the next week or so. Replacing shelf supports really shouldn't be this big of a job, but then again changing the doorknobs in the bathroom shouldn't have required a hammer, 2 different screwdrivers, and 3 hours. I guess this is just what happens when you live in a house with a portal to Hell in the basement (which is really strange since I don't believe in Hell).

The whole sprained wrist thing isn't exactly helping, either. My husband has been doing the dishes for me, but isn't totally keeping up. I really hate to ask him to to do the cabinets while he is already trying to help more with the regular housework. Plus, with him not staying caught up in the kitchen, there isn't enough clear, clean counter space to put the stuff from the cabinets. So, it looks like the cabinets might not be done for a few weeks.

Week 11 Grade 4

Monday is a not great day. I am exhausted, as happens when you don't fall asleep until after 5am & your child wakes you up 7 times by 9am. I put out a To Do List for him before I went to bed, but he decided to blow it off for a while, doing nothing on it beyond brushing his teeth & hair. Around 10am, I make him deal with his laundry before reading his newest required reading book. Today, he starts reading The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World. He is enjoying it so far. After lunch, he does Logic, Math (he is now doing LOF Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology), and then decides to watch a tv show, even though he was told he also had to do his pronoun worksheet before taking a break. After his show, he does his pronoun worksheet, reads a book for Science, watches an episode of Walking with Dinosaurs (also for Science), and vocab games on the computer. After another short break (he ate dinner while watching Walking with Dinosaurs), we do Latin (chap 28), ASL, and Mad Libs.

On Tuesday, I am still struggling to get him to use his To Do List. Today, I separated it into 'Before Breakfast,' 'After Breakfast,' and 'After Lunch.' My hope was that this would help him see what needed to be done & when. However, he is still trying to take breaks whenever he feels like it, regardless of what the list says needs to be done. In the 'After Breakfast' section, I included some schoolwork that he can do independently, so he could get started on school before I was fully functional. He tells me, "I'll do three things, then take a break." I tell him that he will do all the stuff in the 'After Breakfast' section, except reading & can then take a break until 10:30, his regular reading time. So, he does Math (chap 6), ASL (the puzzle book), & Art (Color Your Own Van Gogh) & asks to watch tv. I ask if he did everything in the 'After Breakfast' section, & he replies, "I did three things." I remind him that I said he needs to do all of it. I check the list & tell him he needs to do his pronoun worksheet, because that is also in the 'After Breakfast' section. He gets that done & then goes in the other room to play. By this point, he has asked to watch tv at least 4 times. If he asks again, there will be no tv for today. After he finishes reading, it is time for lunch. He asks to watch the next episode of Walking with Dinosaurs while he eats. I say yes because we were planning to watch it today anyway, so we might as well watch it while we eat. After he  eats & cleans up his mess, I let him go on the computer for fun, educational games until we get back to work on school. After a break, he does vocab games on the computer. He has a quick snack & heads into my room to read Bones Rock! We do Spelling (AAS5 step 4), Mad Libs, and discuss the use of Venn diagrams in the planning stages of writing.

Wednesday, we take a lazy day. We skip school. We watch The Day After Tomorrow. Jay plays & I finish up a few things I've been working on.

Thursday we get schoolwork done, all the work from Wednesday except Spelling. I sprain my wrist/hand when trying to fix the cat tree. Typing hurts.

Most of Friday is spent running errands. We spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to choose shampoo & body wash for my husband & body wash for Jay. Most men's body wash & shampoo scents are awful. They stink! Most of them are really strong, too. We stopped by the school supply aisles, since I can't resist school supplies. I really needed a new pencil sharpener, though, which was my main reason for stopping by that section. The kids & cats kept knocking my pencil sharpener off the end table, and it finally died. I was using it & it started making strange grinding noises & smelled like burning. We then spent almost an hour looking at cat food options because one of our cats seems to have become intolerant of the food they have been eating. The company apparently made some changes to their formula & he has been throwing up since then. While doing the grocery shopping, I decide we should get a watermelon, because they are on sale for $0.39 a pound. A 17.5 pound watermelon is really hard to pick up with a sprained wrist.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

High School Prep Genius, a Review

Through Let's Homeschool High School, I got the opportunity to review the book High School Prep Genius from College Prep Genius. When it showed up, we were out of town, so I didn't get to start on it right away. I had hoped to have my daughter read it & add her review to mine, but she didn't have time before leaving town again. So, I guess you are just getting my opinion today.

I didn't read this book from front to back. I hopped around, reading chapters in order of their importance to me & our situation. The ability to do this makes the book a more effective resource. You can pick it up & go exactly where you need to go, without constant references to things in previous chapters you have not yet read.

One of the first things this book talks about is creating a College & Career Notebook. This is a great organizational idea. The book gives samples of tables & charts for each recommended section. You can use the tables & charts as a basic template to create your own or just copy the pages. This allows for greater flexibility. Since we do not follow the typical school plan & both kids intend to graduate early, we would need to tweak some of these tables & charts, but others may choose to use them just the way are. The College & Career Notebook is basically about organizing the information colleges will want, as well as information about your college search, in one convenient place. The book also has a timeline starting with planning in middle school and then year-by-year for high school. The timeline has information for the student & for the parents. This way, you both know what to expect & what you should be doing to get your student closer to their goals of college & career. This is all just the Introduction!

The chapters are written to the student. After reading the chapter, there is homework for the student to do. Following the student homework is a guide for parents, including a homework assignment for the parents. Having homework for each chapter keeps you & the student more involved and not just passively reading. The chapters are short, each taking merely a few minutes to read. Since the book is meant to be read by parent & student together, the chapter length is great. It is far easier to schedule both of you to read the chapters & do the homework with the chapters being just a few pages than if they were long chapters, especially with busy schedules that include school, work, volunteer work, sports/music/drama, and social lives.

The chapters cover becoming an adult, having hobbies, health, personal finance, studying, test prep, choosing a college, and more. The chapters give only basic information. So, don't expect the chapter on health to be a comprehensive resource on nutrition. They are good starting points, though, and several list ideas or resources to help you go further into the topic.

There are also 5 appendices providing even more information. The appendices cover how to build a homeschool transcript, a list of great literature, help for test anxiety, and more. As with the chapters, the information is not exhaustive, but is solid.

There is some information in this book that is specifically aimed at homeschoolers. Most of the information, though, would be useful regardless of where your child is educated. Of course, not every piece of advice will work for everybody, which is exactly why the book suggests that you "...feel free to ignore or adjust accordingly if any part of this guide does not apply to you."

Over all, I would say this book has plenty of solid advice, good ideas, and some great resources. With one child already in high school & the other approaching middle school, I am happy to add this book to my personal library. This book is, by no means, the only resource I will use in our preparations for high school & beyond, but it is now in my arsenal.

Monday, July 22, 2013

First week back to school

It is tough getting back into the swing of things. Jay spent a few days last week visiting his grandma & Dea won't be back from her grandma's until this weekend. So, we didn't really do any school last week. This means that today is Jay's first full week of school in about a month. It is a little difficult to get back in the swing of a regular week. I slept like crap last night, which doesn't help. He had a To Do List on the table this morning, but blew off most of what was on it until I forced him to start working on it. He spent some time in his room because of attitude today, as well, which just ate up more time he should have been using to do what he needs to do. I'm really hoping that we are back to normal by the end of the week, especially since Dea starts a new term next week.

This is actually a big reason we don't do the big summer breaks many others do. If we take big breaks, it is very difficult to get the kids back to our school schedule. We normally break up the bis stuff, like visits with out of town family, instead of lumping it all together. This year, though, it all just happened that the only times that worked were one right after the other.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I'm Back

Sorry I have been MIA lately. I spent a week & a half at my grandpa's house, and he does not have internet. We didn't get a lot of school done while we were there. Jay did, however, finish LOF Elementary Physics & read a historical fiction for History. We didn't get home until late Sunday night, so I did not get this week planned out. He is getting some work done, but not a full week's worth. Dea left Monday night to spend the night at her grandma's before they headed out to a week long camping trip. So, she isn't doing any school at all this week.

On Saturday, we went to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. It was a great day. We got to see all the stuff we didn't get to when we went earlier this year. We took about 500 pics. I will try to post some later.

Jay's thrilled right now because he started Pre-Algebra this week. He is so happy & proud. He really loves Math & is currently on track to have Calculus as his 8th grade Math.

Anyway, just wanted to say something & let you all know that I am still here.