Friday, August 31, 2007

O's foot is not quite so gross today, but to make sure it actually heals, I'm having him rest completely. Which means a lot of video game and tv time, again. I did suggest we "start school" a few days early, but it didn't go over too well, lol.

I am really looking forward to the new school year, even though I'm already having to rearrange our schedule and turn down field trips and events. We've never yet managed to get out to a "Not Back to School" picnic, and this year will be no different, thanks to the 2.5 hours a day that my boss has scheduled me for next week, 2.5 hours right smack dab in the middle of the day, sigh.

I do want to make sure we make a library trip as soon as possible into the school year, and since our books are due on the 5th, it gives me a good excuse to push O out of the house and into the actual (gasp) outdoors. I'm hoping to brainstorm a booklist with him this weekend, for the first month or two of school. I have some suggestions in my list, but unschooling would go a lot more smoothly if O had an opinion as to what he was going to do!

Big Owie

O has absolutely mangled his foot! He is actually missing a large patch of skin on the top of his foot where he got the huge scrape last week. It is beyond gross, the "skin", if you can call it that, in the infected patch looks like the interior of an eye socket (and yes, I know what that looks like, my bf when I was a kid was blind and wore glass eyes, she had to take them out nightly to wash, the inside of a human eye socket without eyes is fish belly white with hundreds of tiny red capillaries running all over it.)

He can't really walk or get around well right now, which is something I should be used to by now, he's incapacitated about 1/3 of the time lately, this year alone it's been a broken collar bone, sprained ankle, strained back, sprained the other ankle, and now his foot looks like a special effect from a Wes Craven movie, yeeeuuch!

Between his franken-foot and my migraine yesterday, we've pretty well been wallowing in the frat boy lifestyle (we actually ate potato chips for dinner last night, and even that was too much for me, the crunching hurt my head and jaw sooo bad. I hope to never have another migraine as long as I live, and with the memory of how bad yesterday's one was, I'm even trying to stick to my diet now.) I now have to work afternoons for most of the month, though only 2.5 hours most days. I have to do some major hiring again, but will hopefully be able to fit that in to the catering I'm doing.

This will all, of course, impact the schedule I have planned. A week until school starts and I'm already starting to drop stuff, lol!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I do this every year!

I'm already hating the schedule I came up with! I do this every year. I hate how sloppy and disorganized we are, so I spend weeks coming up with schedules, plans, lists, and then I hate following them by two weeks into the school year.

This time around, we haven't even started the school year, or the schedule, and I'm already chafing under my own bit. I don't want to go to bed early, I don't want to get up early and get busy and be productive. Well, I want to, but I want it to be easy and fun and involve late night tv.

I think it's the tv thing that's really bothering me the most. I like tv, I like vegging out and watching tv. That's the problem. We would both happily sit in front of the box passively absorbing entertainment rather than do anything. When the tv is gone, we are suddenly way more productive, reading, writing, going out, listening to the radio, documentaries, discussing and debating stuff. The tv has to go. I know this. O knows this. But neither of us want to be the one to cut the ties. It's like having a really fun but really irresponsible and crazy room-mate who always has something fun and stupid to do, and you know you have to kick him out and get on with a grown-up life, but life without him is totally lame. And since I have been the irresponsible and crazy room-mate in most of my friends lives, it's ironic that I'm the one to have to show tv the door.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Things to do at a cabin

I wish I'd sent the camera along with O to the cabin, then I could post some pictures. I'll have to make do with O's description of his week, which consisted of driving a golf cart around 5 gravel roads near Grand Beach around and around for 12 hours a day. Ahh, the freedom of the open road.

There were 3 of them, O, his 12 year old cousin K, and her 13 year old friend S. As O bragged to me, "I only feel off 3 times, K only fell off twice, and S only ran over my foot once." Also, K apparently nearly drove the cart into the lake several times, and just nearly missed a boat (oh, how I'd love to hear the conversation with the authorities on that one! At least, for once, it wasn't my kid injuring himself and laughing hysterically doing something simultaneously stupid, dangerous and pointless.)

On another topic, the new household rules are really working well, O is fine with cutting off the cable (they only had the 4 basic local channels at the cabin and O apparently rediscovered how much he likes to do things other than tv, yay!) O recognizes that we have to get a little more disciplined around here, just doesn't like having to do it. I still have to wake him up with food in my hand or he'll just burrow under his blankets, but the whole change in routine is doing both of us good.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I love books but I hate spending money...

I finally ordered the History Odyssey level 3 Ancients study guide book last night. I love looking for curriculum and books and things we might use, but man, do I hate having to actually fork over the money for it. I checked out all the books used in the program on different sites, looking for the best deal and checked out the lesson plans and book list soooo many times, mulling it over and over. And I still didn't buy the full program, just the study guide that cost me all of $40.

Since we already have most of the books used (yeah, I just happen to have a copy of Gilgamesh kicking around, that's how freaking geeky we are), I'm just going to try to cobble together the rest of the books, depending on how much of the program we wind up using.

Ooooh, I forgot to mention I received the Teaching Company set I'd won on Ebay, an older set of lectures on Islam, which will go nicely with the History of Religion course I'm planning for this year.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Folk Fest stuff

O and I have been going to Folk Fest since he was 5 or so. When he was younger, we rarely left our compound in the campground. We camped with a bunch of friends and neighbors with young kids, and were surrounded by many other similar compounds, so the kids would wander the field, stopping in and chatting, playing games, getting snacks and generally ruling the roost in a dozen different campgrounds.

Now that O is a teen, the Festival itself is folding a bit more interest for him. It was really cool this year, since he was a lot more aware of bands before going in and was far more interested in the performances (and the occasional bikini-clad, fairy-wing wearing teenage girl), than he was in the back stage kitchen or campground shenanigans that held so much interest for him in years past.

We were really looking forward to The Earl Brothers and were not at all disappointed by their show, even if they did get stuck in the 11am Shady Grove spot performing for the most hung-over crowd in the place. That One Guy, whom I've been raving about here, was a gem of Fest discovery. He played the mainstage on Saturday night, never one of my favorite parts of the fest to begin with, and he didn't impress me much, but then played at the Pope's Hill stage in the campground at a 1am show and it was just amazing. Total perfect blend of music, venue, audience, and artist (he was accompanied by film collage shorts put together by a Winnipeg Film Group artist, totally surreal 70's tv animated collages.) The crowd was just going nuts, at one point That One Guy remarked "This is epic" and it was. He plays a really dancy, electronica kind of music, but uses a "magic pipe" he built himself with strings, horns, tape loops, effects pedals, etc, all on it, so that he builds up and layers sound into something totally indescribable (so I'll stop trying.)

O was so glad he'd stayed up for the campground performance. He was just going to sit back in our little nook in the campground, playing "will it burn" with the guys across the path from us. As much as throwing pennies and various bits of camping equipment into a fire was appealing to him, he enjoyed the show even more. That's the great thing about Folk Fest, though, is you never really know what you're going to see, enjoy or get into before hand. There were a few shows that sounded great in the program, but we didn't really get into (and I can't even remember the names of the bands now), but it's always the stuff you didn't expect to be amazing that jumps out and grabs you (like T.O.F.U. at last year's Fest.)

Other than the shows, O bought himself a didgeridoo and has successfully been able to produce a drone in one note for several months now. I'm really looking forward to a 2 note drone (as are, I'm sure, the neighbors.) We enjoyed the back stage food prepared for volunteers, as always, and I ran into an old friend who told me that his wife is pregnant. I'm so excited for them and I'm already trying to put together a pattern for a skull and crossbone baby blanket.

Folk Festin' is hard work

A truly horrible picture of a truly fantastic show, this, cause you probably can't tell, is That One Guy with his Magic Pipe homemade instrument

The Earl Brothers Rock!

Fire dancers in the campground, unfortunately O was so tired from his wanderings that day he slept through the whole thing!

Looking cool!

His folk fest buddy C. spent most of the weekend trying to get O to take off that hat, until some girls in bikinis told him they thought the hat was cool. Then he spent the rest of his time trying to steal the hat.

The quiet, the quiet!

So O is at the cabin with my sis for the week. It wound up that I have to work a few says this week and couldn't go, but I'm really enjoying the time alone I'm having. Spending so much time with O and on parenting and homeschooling, I tend to forget to have a life of my own sometimes.

I've spent the time cleaning up and sorting out our place, and trying to plan out some work areas so they will fit how we actually use them. We, and O especially, are function over style kind of people, but we're also clutter-bugs and our work areas quickly get over-run in crap like pamplets and magazines (me) and video game cheat sheets and food wrappers (O). And we usually tend to just put a table in the corner and leave it there, even when it doesn't really fit how we're using the space. So, while O's gone, I'm going to work on getting rid of some of the crap and move stuff around. It's not that he gets in the way when he's here, it's just that, when he's around, things seem to never get done, I don't quite know why. Not to mention moving the computer table will necessarily involve turning off the computer, something that doesn't happen often while O's awake.

I've also put some time into coming up with a suggested reading list for the year, or at least the first few months. I'm wanting to put on a lot of classic gothic horror kind of books for the fall, to fit in with the weather and general dark and brooding kind of tone Winnipeg takes on in October and November. I'm having trouble coming up with lists of classic books for teenage boys, though. When I google, I get loads of "great books for girls", and few, desultory book lists for boys that either have books on it that O read in grade 3 or so, or are totally loaded with the "adventure" books (meaning 3 word sentences and lots of action that publishers think boys want to read.) I'm looking for a good list of classic books. I know what I would suggest for a teen girl, but I have no background in the good old swashbuckling kind of lit, and after putting down the obvious ones like Frankenstein and Ivanhoe and some R.L. Stevenson books, I'm kind of stumped. It's crazy that the librarians are a bit stumped too. There's been so much emphasis on trying to get boys to read, that they seem to have forgotten the boys who actually do like to read.

O's rate of reading has slowed down in the last few years. That one year in junior high really killed his love of reading for a while. His interest in books is slowly rekindling over the last year of deschooling, and, since I'm gong to be seriously restricting tv and video games for at least the first few months of the new school year, he should be back to reading several novels a week, which means that I'm going to be back to my almost constant hunt for good, interesting and well-written books. It seems that at the teen age, though, publishers are focusing almost exclusively on girls.

I've narrowed down some choices for books this year, got to take a good look at some recommended physics books, and realized one was far too advanced for O, too much math for the guy right now. I'm going to pick up a copy of the other one I was looking at, Science 101 Physics, it covers exactly the sort of wave and matter questions that O has been wanting to get into lately. Though O really wants to get into electronics and electrical engines and stuff like that, I'm hoping to also delve into energy a bit more too, specifically energy use and efficiency. I'm hoping to tie this in to doing a deep study of our own energy use and waste and figure out how to run our household as efficiently as possible.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What we've learned this summer

Wii's are fun:

Cats are wierd:

Chicks dig hats:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

September plans

So I've been looking forward to using September as a special project month for O and I, but he put a crimp in my plans when he announced that he's not really interested in animals anymore, but wants to learn more about physics. Huh? The kid who read paleontological textbooks as bedtime reading when he was 4! The kid who always told me that "physics is boring and I never need to learn it"!!! Now he wants to learn about electricity and wave behavior (!!!!)

So, there goes all my plans for nature observation and writing a guide to the natural environment of our neighborhood. In come plans to design and build evil looking, but probably entirely useless, electronic devices.

I hope, also, to delve a little more deeply into astronomy than we have in the past, O is interested, but has never been really willing to do more than just learn names and places before now. I'm hoping that his newly discovered interest in the physical, and not just natural, world will lead to a deeper understanding of the physical universe. I've been dying to try using a set of lessons and experiments from UC Berkeley, At Home Astronomy. The astrolabe and measuring type lessons are especially up O's alley, and I hope will also provide a path into more advanced math work for him. He's been doing great in picking up his basic math skills to a more functional level, so hopefully he will be able to re-kindle his interest in the more abstract math stuff now that he can do some of the actual math work involved.

For Language Arts, we will just continue in the very low-key way we've been doing things this summer, reading through our TBR lists, reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as our read-aloud, and doing journal writing using A Writer's Notebook. While O still doesn't enjoy the writing process, it's becoming much less of a onerous burden, and a little more of a mild annoyance for him. Because he had such serious problems with the actual physical part of writing, and such bad experiences in public school, with the resource and classroom teachers telling him he would never learn to write, ever, just getting to the point where he will grumble a bit and dash off a quick paragraph is a huge victory for the both of us. Now I'd just like to make sure he can communicate clearly when writing (legibility is still a huge concern), and can write a few basic essay formats if needed.

For math, we're still both loving Math-U-See and O will hopefully be finishing up Delta by October and be ready to start Epsilon, which will be mostly review for him (fractions.) I want him to do this level, though, because he still has some odd gaps in his skill level, dividing fractions, and some of the more functional type of skills, percentages, stuff he'll need to understand statistics when he comes to it. I'm hoping to get him through 3 levels this year, bringing him up to Pre-Algebra in time for grade 10, and then aim to work through Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 next year. That will allow him to be finished up through Pre-Calculus almost in time to graduate at 18. If he takes an extra year or two to be ready for college, though, I would rather he go to university mature and prepared, and have had some more fun time and time to himself, than be " ahead of the game" and go to university too young.

For Phys. Ed. I still have to go down to the high school I've chosen to discuss the possibility of O competing on their sports teams while still homeschooling. This school used to have an innovative homeschool program, and it was cut by their current principal when he took over. He's notoriously not homeschooling-friendly, but I'm hoping the fact that their football team graduated all their large players last year and is having to rebuild for size will help our cause. It doesn't hurt that the school is one of the football powerhouses of the province, and has a very active, and very vocal, alumni who want to see results. I'll be curious to see if greed for a good player will overcome the principal's principles.