Friday, September 28, 2012

Our Big Hospital Adventure

We live FAR away from a hospital. This is something that keeps me on my toes. It dictates certain aspects of our lives - like not playing extreme sports, that's something people near hospitals can do, not us. One of my worst nightmares is having to rush out in the middle of the night to make the very long trip to the hospital, especially if I'm going there because something is wrong with my son. Two hours to get to a hospital, when you are scared for your child's life, seems like eternity.

Our week started out like any other week

 with a very productive Monday -

Lots of work with Probability in Math Class

 Vocabulary and Spelling 
with games instead of worksheets =
much more fun.

We started using the very effective method
of covering fingertips in aloe vera goo to stop nail-biting. 
It is really doing the trick. Soooo bitter.

Lu finished his book on Ancient Egypt.

We learned lattice multiplication.

I'd never learned it. It's great!
And Lu loves how much easier it is than the old way -
much clearer, and less mixing up carried numbers.

Why didn't they teach me this in school????

Then he sat down to his research report on Hawks...

and that's when the headache started.

So I thought we would take a little break
by throwing a blanket down on the floor,
closing our eyes, 
and listening to some Chopin.
And call it Music Appreciation Class.

After 20 minutes, the piece ended,
and I opened my eyes to find a very asleep Lu next to me,
which was strange because he's not a napper.

When he finally woke up, he wanted to go straight to bed.
The headache was bad. He didn't even want to eat.

On Tuesday morning he didn't want to get out of bed.
The headache got stronger and stronger.

I started thinking about meningitis.
We're hours away from the nearest emergency room,
so things like meningitis and appendicitis 
make me especially jumpy.

I looked at the meningitis checklist,
called a doctor friend to see what he thought.
He said it would be best to go.

I packed a bag, 
Cha called us a driver - cars are obsolete around here
because everything is so close, so we don't have one.
But there are lots of local drivers with cars
who can get us where we need to go - 
a pricey, but not impossibly, service.

We left our house at 3pm
and arrived at the hospital at 5pm.

I'm not going to go into too much detail about 
the conditions in Guatemalan public hospitals.

I'll just say that we were in one big room 
with a dozen other children, 
many of whom were screaming in pain, 
and there were blood stains on the sheet 
covering Lu's hospital bed.

I really don't like being in hospitals.

We were there for a total of 10 hours.

There was no chair for me to sit on.

By 11:30pm we knew it was not meningitis.
The headaches were being caused by sinusitis.
He was okay.

But we still couldn't go home,
because being on a Guatemalan highway
at midnight, is not where you want to be.

I squeezed into the hospital bed with Lu a few times,
my butt hanging off the side,
and even got a bit of sleep.

We waited until 3am to leave, 
and were home by 5am. Wednesday.
Lu spent the rest of the day in bed.

By Thursday (yesterday) morning,
the antibiotics kicked in and Lu was able to 
participate in his Youth Group's special activity
for the mothers.

The kids danced and recited poems for us,

and then we all played games together -
mothers and children,
it was lovely.

Today is Friday and I still feel dazed
from our big hospital adventure.

But I am grateful, so so grateful, that this was the first time in his almost decade of life, that I have ever had to take Lu to a hospital. Having to rush off to an emergency room 2 hours away when accidents happen is one of my biggest fears, as well as one of the biggest downsides of living where we live. We do all we can to keep healthy with natural medicine and preventative measures - safety, healthy diet, good hygiene... We also try to avoid antibiotics as much as we can. But when you really do need a doctor and an antibiotic, it's so good to have them. 

Happy weekend!

We'll be taking it real easy.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Puppy Love

Lu has been prone to puppy love since he was a toddler.

at the age of 4
they were married under the kitchen table
no adults were invited
but several other little friends did attend

she left that year, and his little bitty heart 
really was broken for a while.

But then he got lovesick for a little girl in kindergarten,
  when he was going to a school.

That one was pretty long-lived,
almost three years.

And then we started homeschooling,
and he decided that it was too complicated
since he would no longer be seeing her at school.

Back then, Lu's idea of having a girlfriend was liking a girl.
If you like her, she's your girlfriend - basically.

But things have changed.

Lu has a little friend who he likes very much.
He's invited her to an ice cream on a couple occasions,
and he boldly asked her father to use his restaurant's stoop
to sell his earrings, thus getting more chances to see her. 
(as well as a really good spot for making sales)

I needed to run over to the next town to do some errands,
and Lu thought it would be the perfect chance to
go on a real date.

 So I played invisible mom,
kept them in view,
but let them do their thing
(and stole a couple pics)

On their way...

After ordering food,
they played chutes and ladders, and gofish.
Lu packed a bunch of games for the date :)

Now, I know this is probably unheard of in some places,
but I actually left them there, at the restaurant, 
and went to do my errands, for about an hour.

And the fact that I can do this, and not get arrested,
is one of the many reasons I choose to live
on the fringes of the overdeveloped world.

When I came back, they were almost done eating.

We walked back to the boat
- which is our local transportation -


The boat ride back got a bit windy.
Lu offered his sweater
by placing it over her shoulders.

The sweater slid down,
but his arm stayed there.

Later, he told me he learned the move on
The Wonder Years.
(he's watched all the episodes twice)

It's puppy love, that's all.

Nothing more.

A simple crush.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

If only love could always be so sweet.

I believe that this experience teaches my son lots of things -
like being a gentleman, expressing his feelings, 
giving his full attention to someone else,
considering other people's feelings,
tenderness, and confidence.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Spending All Day Together

 I love spending all day with my boy. 

And it's not always the all-smiles I share here.

Sometimes we drive each other crazy. 

Sometimes we argue. 

Sometimes we yell. 

But I love that part too, because that's how I know that he is strong-willed, and that he will stand up for what he believes, and that he will voice his opinion. I would not want a child who was too afraid to argue with me, or who would just do as they were told always, without questioning anything. This is his education. He gets a say in it, even if I don't like it. But I get to question him right back.  
(So, added bonus, we're also developing our persuasive argument and debating skills as we go.)

It's all a part of the whole - being together, working together, learning how to work out our differences, picking good tomatoes at the market together, cooking lunch together, eating together, having conversations, dealing with bad moods, feeling lazy sometimes, needing and giving some alone time, being aware of the other person's feelings, remembering to drink enough water throughout our day, convincing, compromising, exercising, singing, dancing, playing, cuddling, remembering to be grateful... the list goes on and on. 

And even "bad days" are good days, 
because we learn and we grow from them. 

And even though I don't share them often,
know that we do have our fair share of "bad days",
although I'd rather call them "challenging days".

But luckily, today was a great day!
(as everyday can be if we focus on the positive)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

There was an impromptu music class...


There was the learning of the top row.

 There was the math (slight groan).

There were prepositions.

There was a quiz! 

Lu finished Farmer Boy yesterday, and I was dreading asking him to write a summary, especially since he'd been warning me that it wasn't so much of a story as it was an account of a family's year.

Which translates to:
"Mama, please don't ask me to write a summary."

So, instead of a summary, I got online and googled "quiz for Farmer Boy",  and sure enough, there are free interactive quizzes on pretty much anything you need.

How did people homeschool before there was internet?

Lu did this one

He did it in about three minutes, did great,
and I got reassurance that he is reading and retaining.

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Now he's onto this book - Tales of the Jungle

We've not been doing so well  for making time for writing in Spanish, so I'm having him write two "really interesting sentences" about what he reads. The sentences don't even have to be related, they just have to be good, complex sentences. 

Indeed, they were better sentences than the ones he usually writes in longer assignments. Quality over quantity. Let's say it together again. Quality over quantity.

The book - Tales of the Jungle - is a collection of short stories about jungle animals that tie in perfectly with all the other animal-y stuff we've been doing, like -

learning about animals from different biomes
around the world,

and watching the final episodes of  
The Life of Birds, with lunch.

After lunch, Lu continued his independent research
for his Hawk Report, and did some drawing.

He was especially proud of how the beak came out.

There was also soccer,

and a beautiful plate of griddled zucchini,
garnished with edible Chinese Lantern flowers
from the garden.

I love spending all day with my boy.

And, as a homeschooler,

I do it every day.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tests and Hawks

This week, we tested Lu's "standard" 4th grader skills. 

He did the language arts test in three sessions of 90 minutes each, and the math test in two sessions of 75 minutes. 

I mostly do this for the sake of learning how to take tests and not getting freaked-out-stressed-out-lose-your-head-crazy if and when the day come that he need to take a standardized test. And I don't spend any time on Lu studying for them, or prepping him in any way - except for the customary motivational speech on how tests are to help us see where we need to work harder, and not to make us nervous or scared.

Lu does NOT do well with tests. He'll have a full-on existential crisis if he thinks he doesn't know the answer to a question on a test. So I especially feel the need to do this a couple of times a year with him, and to work through the anxiety and fear. He did really well at learning to catch himself this time, and controlling the freak-outs.

We school from January-November, so we are at the beginning of our last trimester. I like doing the tests now so that we have time to strengthen skills, and the tests help me see which skills need strengthening. Of course, because they are not the official tests, I don't know how Lu really scores. I know how many answers he gets right, but I don't know what percentile he's in. And I don't need to know - as long as I'm sure that we've covered it all, which is really not a difficult or time-consuming thing to do. 

And you might just be starting to homeschool, and looking at all the stuff your kid is supposed to learn this  year, and you might feel overwhelmed... DON'T. It gets done. But you're not going to believe me until you've done your first year and realized that you had loads of time left over, and that there was no need to worry or rush.

It takes us five or six months to finish our standard grade level stuff, which leaves the other 6 months for fun projects, unstructured learning, and for practicing and strengthening skills. So now, knowing that we have covered almost all the standard stuff, this is what we've been doing:

We're using this new site for review and practice.

 Reading about Ancient Egypt.
In our History class this year, we studied the first humans all the way through the first civilizations. I had wanted to get as far as Greece, but it didn't feel right. Mesopotamia and Egypt were so mind-blowing, we decided to stick around a little longer. So we got some DK Eye Witness books on the ancient civilizations that we'd already studied, for Lu to read independently during the next three months. We'll start Ancient Greece in January, having really sunk our teeth deep into those first, awesome civilizations.

 Reading about Sailing on the Nile,
and explaining the keel of the boat to me.

We're using Khan for math daily, and we're finishing up our MEPYear4. I still can't believe that we're going to finish it! It seemed so impossible at the beginning of the year.

For Science we're watching BBC Life of Birds series, and the whole family (well, we're only three, but still...) has a new-found fascination for our feathered friends. Seriously, birds are awesome, and crazy, and do the most unexpected things. I'm totally tripping out on birds right now.

We're about half way through the whole series of 10 episodes, and the other night I told Lu that it'd be really cool if he could further research something from what we've recently learned about birds that especially interested him. 

Right away he said "Hawks!" 

The next day, he asked me if we could go by the stationary shop, and he bought a small notebook with his own money. As we were leaving the shop he told me that it was for taking notes for his research report! I was like - Dude, I would have bought that for you! And he responded: it's my education, I can put money into it too. 

Well, okay then! I can't argue with that :-)

Last year, Lu did an independent research report on the Saber Tooth Tiger.

I won't be helping him at all with this project - no editing, nada. It goes into our homeschool records as a true product of Lu's research and writing abilities. For me, this is the real language arts test. This is where I'll see how much he has truly retained.

("lover", hehe)

It's Friday. The weekend is here.
I'm going to go make myself a margarita now :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Let's Go Outside Now and Work Later

I'm trying to get into the habit of eating breakfast. It's been decades since I was a regular breakfast eater (OMG, I'm old enough to say decades... plural). Lu is really big on breakfast and usually has eggs and toast, but I can't handle that kind of food so early in the morning, so we've been having papaya with yogurt and granola. Mmmmm... And I have to say, I seem to be in a better mood in general since I started eating breakfast again.
 There was still work to be done on the dam,
so out to the river we went...

 After some rock-moving,

and some monkey business,

 we sat down to a picnic packed by Lu.

His cucumber-onion-ricotta dip was to die for!
He learned the recipe from a friend.
We were very impressed.

And back to work!
Once that end rock was in place,
 and the pool was deep enough,
it was time for some serious swimming.

 Minu joined us...

And then some more friends showed up.

It started raining, so it was time to come inside.

Lu and Cha got to designing an easel for
Lu's jewelry business.

He needs something to stand his display
on the street, fold-able and portable.

Then there was some reading,

and a really groovy crawler.

Lu pointed out that it looked like a narwhal
because of the unicorn-ish horn,
but this fellow has it on his back end.

 There was some writing
and doodling.

 And more reading...

 Weapons of war
from Ancient Egypt.

The afternoon was sunny and we went outside
to pick some jocotes (ho-có-teh).

Sometimes I think - "Oh, what a beautiful day. Let's finish all our work quickly and then go outside." But then it might get cloudy, or by the time we're done, we're tired and it's getting late. So I want to change this to - "Oh, what a beautiful day. Let's go outside now, and do all our work later."