Thank you Neil Patrick Harris

It was late.  I wanted to watch something prior to getting to bed, so we perused the latest on Netflix and started watching “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”.  The entertainment value was high, my favorite actor was brilliant, and I discovered the show was based on a kids book series.  Now before people start cursing me for exposing my kids to something other than “Little House on the Prairie”, let me just say that I’m a cautious parent.  I also realize that keeping my kids in a bubble is not healthy; we discuss things as they come up to contextualize.  Kids are happy, we are happy, it’s all good.  (we finished the “Little House on the Prairie” series a while ago BTW)

Anyway, we checked out the first of the books from the library, and my older daughter is hooked.  This book appeals to her outrageous sense of humor.  Thank you Neil Patrick Harris.  I’m not certain I would have encouraged her to read this series if you had not done the show.  BTW:  If you ever read this, I admire your many talents and have had a healthy (non-stalker, non-creepy) appreciation of you since I was younger than I care to think about.

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It’s Raining Again….INSIDE?

It seems like not so long ago when everyone was complaining about the drought in California.  I can say with confidence, it doesn’t feel like a drought anymore.  In fact, we have more water now than we know what to do with!  Dams and reservoirs are overflowing, and yet the rain is continuing to bucket down.  Guess I have no excuse not to wash the boat this summer.  haha.

When the weather is not so great outside, it makes a perfect opportunity to do boat work inside.  Usually I catch up on baking, and hubby does something with his tools.  I make every effort to stay out of his way; Lord knows I don’t want to get roped into one of his multiday projects.

I was on my way to bed, and noticed water dripping from above.   Actually, it was more than a drip.  It was raining inside.  This had to be rectified and quickly.  The next morning, we pulled out the ceiling panels and opened up crawl spaces to track down the source of the water.  It was condensation, and LOTS of it.  We racked our brains trying to figure out what would cause that much moisture.

As I was checking out the crawlspace behind the oven, I happened to look down.  The oven wasn’t vented.  When propane is burned (like in a propane oven) there are two byproducts: carbon monoxide, and water vapor.  Bingo.  We opened all the access panels, plugged in the dehumidifier, and hopped online to order the necessary bits to fix this.    The boat dried out overnight, but I was banned from using the oven until it was vented.  This is a big deal, as I bake a lot of gluten/dairy free foods for the kiddos.

Finally, our order arrived.  Guess who spent the weekend with half their body  shoehorned into a crawlspace, and the other half dangling out over the sink?  That would be me.  I drilled a hole into the outside of the boat (SCARY) and hubby and I worked together to get the vent line in.  We caulked the outside hole and pronounced our project complete.  Firing up the oven for a test run only confirmed the high quality of our work.  Yay us!

The condensation issue is not completely resolved, but we put a big dent in it.  I think we are going to install a small fan later.  Until then, I’ll fantasize about a back massage and ice the new bruises that have sprung up.

History Curriculum

Frequently I’m asked what I use for curriculum.  The truth is, I don’t.  When I find something that works for us, we use it, and then move on to the next thing.  Initially, I made up my own “curriculum”.

We are heavy into history, because I feel understanding the past helps us to deal with the present.  One day, a friend of mine mentioned “Story of the World”.  Open to any and all suggestions, I checked it out.  Low and behold, everything I was doing had already been done!  I decided to purchase this curriculum and have been mostly pleased.  For an in depth study of history, it falls woefully short.  For two young kids who are being exposed to history for the first time, it’s great.

So there you have it, my history pick of the moment.  What do you use?  Comment below with why, someone might benefit from your experience.

xxoo!

Field Trip: the state Capital

Hubby had a an extra day off due to his birthday.  Normally we would take an opportunity like this to drop the dock lines and raise the sails.  This time, however, it was really cold on the water.  Freezing for days is not my idea of family fun.  Hubby, therefore, thought of another plan.

Off we went to the capital of California.  Annoyed at the thought of dealing with notorious Bay Area traffic, we opted to take the train.  The kids were stoked.  We seated ourselves comfortably, enjoyed the scenery, and two hours later arrived in Sacramento.

 

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Inside the Sacramento Train museum is AWESOME!

 

The station was about a 15 minute walk from the Embassy Suites.  We checked in, left our luggage, and decided to head back to track down the source of an intoxicating scent we passed along the street.

It didn’t take long.  The restaurant was called Lotus.  It was fabulous Thai food.  If you happen to make it there, take the restauranteurs suggestion regarding wine.  It had the feel of a family run place.

 

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Incredible Thai food

 

We then made our way to the Sacramento Train museum.  My my my how times have changed!  Before our eyes, trains morphed from experimental curiosities to beautiful works of art, and ending with the industrial behemoths of today.  Sleeper and diner cars set for guests invited us to imagine the experiences of a by-gone era.

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Leaving the museum behind, we took a walk through Old Sacramento, and then to downtown.  Passing the Wells Fargo office, we noticed a mini museum in the atrium.  That was five minutes very well spent.  An old Wells Fargo stagecoach was surrounded with artifacts from the wild west.  We continued our walking tour of Sacramento.  As I looked up the road, I saw a building that looked like it belonged in Washington DC.  Once we made it there, we googled the structure and found we were on the steps of the State Capital Building.  Not only that, but it was open during the day with tours available.  Homeschool Score!

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The next day, we hotfooted it back to the Capital Building; arriving just in time for a tour.  We began with the Governors offices from 1906.  The offices were classically and tastefully furnished.  Our attention was then directed to the stunning architecture.  Truly every where the eye turned there was a something to delight it.  Mosaic and tile floors beautified the hallways.  Our heads were crowned with elaborate crown molding, and the dome was absolutely spectacular.  We visited the Assembly room and were given a crash course in California State politics.

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After that, we headed back to Old Town to do the Sacramento History Museum.  The city  built itself up over 12 feet to save it from flooding back in the old west.  We learned a great deal about Sacramento, and I highly recommend this museum.

Next up, we went to the schoolhouse.  It’s a recreation of a one room schoolhouse from the 1800’s.  The kids loved ringing the school bell and writing on slate chalkboards.  I was stunned at the number of rules that teachers had to follow in their personal lives.  They couldn’t even go to the local ice cream shop!

We had some dinner, then went back to our hotel and CRASHED.  What a great day!  In the morning, we packed up, had breakfast, and walked back to the train station.  Getting off at Jack London Square, we met family for lunch, and headed home.  What a fantastic trip!

What’s it like on a boat in a storm?

Everytime there is a storm, I’m asked what it’s like being on the boat in that kind of weather.  So, I figured I would break it down here.  Keep in mind, this is while we are docked.  It’s a whole nother matter at sea.

  1. It’s loud.  Not like “Oh it sounds like there’s a storm outside” loud.  It’s more of a “storm- of- the- century- ushering- in- armageddon” kind of loud.  Every. Single. Storm.
  2. Since we are on a catamaran, we don’t move a whole lot.  We do, however get occasional gusts that  nudge us.  There’s not a lot of movement, but just enough to remind you that you are not on land.
  3. Wind whistles through trees, but it screams through our marina.  It literally sounds like someone opened the Ghostbusters containment system next door.
  4. Halyards slap against masts, and canvas flaps struggling to cling to its vessel.  The water of the marina is whipped up into small waves that beat against the hull with a repetitive splashy/slappy sound.
  5. It’s really, really loud.
  6. Zippers scrape the deck, blocks rattle, and the whole boat feels the vibration  of the lines oscillating in the wind.  It makes an annoying humming sound.
  7. Not sure if I mentioned it’s kind of loud.
  8. Rain sounds like we have a tin roof, so conversations tend to become polite yelling matches as we struggle to be heard over the din.
  9. Everyone in the marina hunkers down in their little boat cocoons giving the area an uninhabited feel.
  10. It’s loud

Guess who doesn’t sleep when there is a storm raging outside?  That would be me.

Testing, Testing, 1,2,3 now we’ll try a spelling bee!

As a kid, I loved tests.  It always felt like a game to me.  While that does probably make me strange, the positive results could not be denied.  With rare exception, I was at the upper end of the class.

Fast forward to now.  Part of my has an issue with testing, as now it’s referred to as an “assessment” test.  I already know the value of my kids, thank you very much.  They are invaluable; unlike my car for example.  What I’m interested in is my childrens’ education level.  Thus, I ensure my children are tested three times a year.

Since we do the testing at home with an adaptive computerized test, I can see my children’s test taking techniques.  My younger child takes after me:  testing is a fun game.  My older child is sullen, annoyed, and simply clicks boxes to get through the process.  Let’s just say the results reflect their attitudes.

Homeschooling them as their teacher affords me a window into what they know, so I can compare their results with my insight.  This has been enlightening to say the least.  I pretty much just leave the little one to her own devices, as when she finds something she doesn’t know, she goes and researches the answer.

The older one shrugs her shoulders and goes back to whatever she was doing to begin with. I have found, however, a secret weapon.  She has discovered she loves bees.  (yes, the insects, but also of the spelling and geography types) It started with a spelling bee she begged to be a part of.   She enjoyed the process and the event itself so much, that she insisted on doing the Geography Bee.   This has motivated her to study in a way that a computerized test never could.  Incidentally, the bee itself lends itself to a testing format that works better for her.  It might be feeding her natural competitive spirit, but as long as she is a good sport I can live with that.  So there you have it, our testing solution.

 

Actually, no. That was not a homeschool fail.

My seven year old was in the shower, I was washing her hair.

“Mommy, did you know that sometimes one plus one isn’t two?”  My heart sank to my stomach.  Talk about a homeschool fail.

I responded as neutrally as I could, “Is that so?”  My thoughts quickly turned to all the math material I have onboard and how I could have taught something so basic so very very wrong.  This was something that had to be corrected, and quickly.

“Yes, in dropland one plus another one is a bigger one.” She was obviously pleased with herself.

Wanting to get to the bottom of my epic homeschool fail, I pressed further.   “I don’t know about dropland.  Can you tell me about that?”

My daughter pointed to the water droplets that remained on the shower wall.   “Look Mommy,” she said.  She proceeded to touch one, causing it to zoom down the wall until it joined another drop.  “See?  In dropland, one drop plus another drop makes a bigger drop!”

“Oh,” I responded.  “So in our land one plus one is ALWAYS two, but in dropland one plus one is a bigger one?”

Triumphantly, she proclaimed, “YES!”

I was initially quite relieved, but then realized the significance of this conversation.  That’s pretty deep thinking.   We never know what is going on in our kids’ heads, but if we take the time to listen and ask probing questions, we are likely to end up with something noteworthy.