Thursday, June 14, 2012

Almost there.

I’m so ready to be done with the boys’ work this year, but they still have a couple of things to finish up, including a few math lessons left in their Saxon Math books. I love that program. Most people I know that don’t like it, don’t like it because the lessons are soooo long, and toooo repetitive. I think this is one of the program’s strengths, however this late in the year even I’m getting a bit weary of the many division problems and mixed fractions that keep popping up over and over again. And I’m not even the one who has to solve the problems!

In any case; apart from putting together their grade folders, which I will do when we get back from Italy, we only have a few math lessons left, a couple of pages in William’s special English book, and two more one-day history projects to finish, and we’re DONE.

Almost. There.

Almost. There.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Our school year is coming to an end...

“Do you take breaks? Do you have summer vacation?” someone asked me, related to our homeschooling, the other day.

Well yes, we most certainly do. We take lots of breaks; when we need them, AND during holidays and the summer and whatever. We don’t take AS long breaks as the schools here, since I find that the boys lose quite a bit of momentum and knowledge if our breaks are too long, but I think our breaks are more frequent, and natural – less tied to some external event (like Ramadan) and more dependent upon effort and rhythm. I tried half-heartedly to explain our idea that education does not start and/or stop, but is a continuous process that doesn’t end just because it’s June. We have official “contact days” because we have to, but our school year is in no way limited to these. We do have periods of less intense instruction (between grades, naturally), but when your entire every-day set-up is so very different, the overall structure will be as well. A history lesson in our house doesn’t end when we close the book, but whatever the current topic is, it pops up in connections and comments everywhere. Not only do we relate anything and everything that surrounds us to our learning, but we correlate our family life– as much as we can, of course – with our children’s education. Our family vacation this summer is a great example of this: “incidentally” after having studied ancient times intensely this semester, we are going to Rome. “Coincidentally,” right after finishing up our studies of Pompeii, Ancient Rome, the Coliseum, etc. we are going out of our way, spending our entire summer budget, to visit these sites in Italy.

I’d like to just point out here – for the record - that we are far from infinitely wealthy. In fact, we don’t have money to travel the way we would like to. How are we able to visit Italy? What we do, is make a lot of sacrifices; mainly material. We don’t own anything; no car, no house, not even furniture, really. All our money these past years have gone towards, first, an education of ourselves , and then towards visiting family and/or seeing the world with our kids, along with a focus on their education. This year we sacrifice seeing our family – or at least sort of, since the money we’ve saved up wouldn’t be enough to go to the US anyways, or visit Sweden properly.

I guess what I’m saying is; yes, we take breaks, but not to be all officially school-like, but because it’s normal to have highs and lows. Also, our breaks are… different.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fruits in season

I wouldn’t call the current fruits in season my absolute favorites (I have this thing for strawberries and gooseberries), but there’s no arguing about it: biting into a juicy, ripe, soft, light sweet peach, or filling your mouth with large, firm, heavy sweet, dark-red cherries is a divine experience. The earth stops spinning for a moment, and everything else fades away. 

Yes, the fruit is *that* good here in Lebanon.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Relocation time (not ours)...

It’s getting to be that time of the year again. After the semester is over, some people don’t just leave for the summer, but for good. The boys are losing a couple of really good friends this year, who are going back to Canada. They are upset of course. They’ve seen these girls almost every day for well over a year, and have done so many things together with them; sleepovers, birthday parties, Halloween celebrations, lazy Sundays, Christmas…

The boys are good at making friends - very good friends quickly - but as expat kids in a community where most people are in a temporary position, they’ve also ended up losing friends, often and quickly. These are what you could call “Easy come, easy go-friendships.” The friendships are not easy as in shallow – in fact, they are often quite intense, since without close family or other networks nearby, you end up spending a lot of time together. This makes the goodbyes very difficult, of course, and it will take the boys some time to adjust to life without their favorite girls.

The boys understand that this is the way it goes though, when you live the way we do. In fact, they’ve never known a different life. Sometimes I wonder what it means and how it will affect them when they are older. Will they have trouble establishing long-lasting, meaningful relationships with people? Will they feel disoriented as they go through life without a solid geographical point of reference?

What is your take on this?

Friday, June 8, 2012

The challenges 1, Jennifer 1

Nope, I haven’t been able to post all that frequently. Almost all my computer time these days involves work exclusively (yes, with a glance at Facebook here and there). We have been planning our summer vacation – our upcoming trip to Italy – and seeing the budget that we will have to have available is a great incentive, let me tell you, to make some extra money. So I work as much as I can. Sometimes it’s exciting – I just read about something in the news that I had translated the presentation for – and sometimes it’s a little less stimulating and very technical (heavy machinery equipment maintenance manuals, anyone?) but it’s really a great job - it is! - because I can work when and where I want. Also, my new laptop is being quite cooperative, which makes everything a lot easier.

Well. Other things happen in our lives too, of course.

Prof. Husband went to Turkey for a conference for a week. Now he’s giving exams and writing a paper that is due around the time we get back from Italy (which means he has to finish it before we leave). This means he has been and will be pretty much OOO these weeks. Sigh.

The boys (and I with them) are working hard to finish up this academic year’s school work; finalizing projects, filling out gaps, reviewing. We’re of course also going over the history of Italy –covering all areas, including art and music - extra carefully, in anticipation of our trip.

Abraham has gone through a few weeks of some kind of Terrible Threes Project, where he spends a lot of time trying to make a mess, as big as possible, and then when you start cleaning it up, he takes off and makes an ever bigger mess, somewhere else. We’re not talking little spills of milk in the kitchen here, but more exciting endeavors such as soaking an entire clean and folded but not yet put away batch of laundry in the sink, or pouring out a big tub of wooden blocks and then running through them, kicking them and spreading them all over the house in under 10 seconds. Another favorite is opening as many packages of pasta as possible before mama finds out, or getting a juicebox out only to pour its entire content over the couch. I’ve therefore spent a lot of my time lately cleaning up messes and trying to entice Abraham with more appropriate activities, like painting, play-doh, duplos, peg art, or I sit with him and his toys, and show him how to play nicely, by example, and put things away afterwards. The boys are also teaching him the first pumsae, which I think is good for his body-mind connection and coordination. In all, I don’t think it’s an attention-thing (he gets a lot of attention from all of us), and I don’t think he’s bored. I think he has just been exploring his independence and testing borders, a bit, to figure out what he can get away with, what is appropriate, and what will put him in the much-dreaded time-out. Whatever it is, I hope it passes soon, because I’m getting tired out…