No, that’s NOT a leak!

Okay, here is the leak update.  We don’t have one.  (fanfare, cheering, ticker tape parade!)  Our situation is more challenging.  It turns out, we have an issue with condensation.  When we run the heater in the evening the boat heats up, but the air outside does not.  The boat cools, and we get condensation in out of the way spaces.  The condensation pools, and we get rain inside the boat even when it’s dry outside.  Science is so cool.

The solution is ventilation.  With that we are installing a fan in a high point on the boat.  Fingers crossed that this will work!

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There’s a Leek on Your Boat!!

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Wait, that was supposed to be “leak”, not “leek”.  Aren’t homonyms fun?  Finding new homonyms has become something of a passion for my youngest.  This is one of her favorites.  While I’m a fan of the produce, water making it’s way inside my boat is more than an annoyance.  We have been trying to track down this leak for a while.  It only happens when it rains.

Dousing the decks and all areas outside with a hose doesn’t recreate the problem, but with the slightest cloud-based sprinkle I’m battling indoor rain.  Let’s just say it’s intensely frustrating.  It’s practically impossible to get to sleep with a constant drip, drip, drip.   Then there’s the psychological impact: the mental association of water with a necessary trip to the restroom.

Drip, drip, drip…  I leap out of bed with a bladder emergency, every few minutes.  Totally uncool.

At any rate, while it has all the makings of a snipe hunt, we will continue to pursue this leak.  Thoughts and prayers are appreciated.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, all this water talk is having the usual effect.

Whalefest 2018

What to do on a Sunday?  We had no plans, and it was a beautiful day.  Heirs to our Oceans sent me notice of this event, so we decided to check it out.  The drive to Monterey, California isn’t terribly long; only about an hour and a half.  It’s a drive that I thoroughly enjoy, as the scenery is breathtaking.  Unfortunately, while driving, I was unable to take pictures.

Forests gave way to inviting sand dunes and the kids became antsy to explore.  Admittedly, I was keen as well, but we were on a time crunch.  Making our way down the main street, it wasn’t long before the wharf came into view.  I parked the car and we began our adventure.

Loads of vendors were represented: various Marine Science camps for kids, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Marine Mammal Center, Sea Shepherd, and a host of others.  Naturally, there was a lot about whales and cetaceans in general.

We headed to the theatre to catch the presentation by Heirs to Our Oceans.  For those who have not heard of them, they are an impressive group of kids.  We learned about the extent of the damage being done to our oceans and how essential healthy oceans are to well-being of our planet.  It was incredible to me how much we didn’t know.  My kids were inspired not just to learn more, but to DO more.  (I’ll blog on that topic in the near future.)  To see kids standing up and taking ownership of problems they didn’t create was very powerful.

The rest of the afternoon, we spent meandering through tents of vendors.  There were a few other presenters I was interested in seeing, but the kids needed to move.  I bought them lunch, and both of them informed the server that we would like our beverages without straws.  “It’s a single use plastic, Mommy.  That’s bad for our oceans.”  What a proud moment for me!

At the end of the day, we piled into the car.  It felt wrong to be driving a vehicle running on fossil fuels after attending that event, but I was heartened that we were even thinking about it.  Now the big question is, what next?

*Am so sorry at the lack of pictures.  I was focused on keeping track of my kids!

Turpins Were Not Actually Homeschoolers

It’s taken me a while to be able to write this post.  When the news stations came out with the Turpin abuse story I was horrified.  As I learned more and more of the details of the inhumane treatment of these kids, I was physically sickened.  Then, the initial shock wore off.  I saw heroes coming forward espousing the best of humanity:  love and compassion.

As the situation was brought under control, the children sheltered from their deranged parents and filthy living conditions, a new dialog began to form.  Before I knew it, the Turpins were being held up as an example of “Homeschooling” gone wrong.

Let me be clear here.  What happened in that household is beyond criminal.  I feel, however, that I need to speak up on this.  Homeschooling has nothing to do with chaining and torturing kids; it’s about preparing children to go out into the world and live healthy, happy, independent lives.  Many of the kids I know have sever sensory or attention disorders (some even kicked out of school because of it) .  Their tremendously devoted parents live EVERY DAY to meet their children’s needs.

Now the legal requirements for Homeschooling in California  are under scrutiny.  Yes, it is a relatively simple process with pretty much no oversight.  Usually, there isn’t much need for it.  Most parents I know are not doing this for fun.  It would be much easier for us to drop our kids off at the local school and get on with our day.  We are Homeschooling because our kids have unique challenges, situations, religious beliefs, or our available public school is not up to our standards,  and the cookie cutter solution doesn’t work for us.  Someone I know mentioned that a lot of homeschoolers would love to take a few classes or be involved in sports through the schools.  Once we go down the homeschool path, though, we are not typically welcome.  Want to keep tabs on us?  Make it possible for us to join the party on our terms.  Isn’t inclusivity and diversity supposed to be a primary focus these days?  Don’t attempt to use more legislation, that’s the last thing anyone needs.

Let’s look at the most popular alternative, public school.   Why is it that school shootings are still happening  despite our schools efforts?  Please explain to me why I keep seeing in the news some sick person who happens to be a teacher has abused one or more students.  The frequency of these reports is incredible.  We don’t, however, blame all the teachers and administrators for this.  Most of them are great people, doing the best job they can do.

The same is true in the homeschooling community.  The real issue in the Turpin case isn’t that they claimed to be homeschooling, it’s that no one in the community spoke up when they saw something odd.

In my own community, when my girls and I aren’t seen for a while, I’m questioned.  “Where have you guys been lately?”  You know what?  I love it.  The girls tell about trips we have been taking and new stuff we are studying.  We are missed when we are not around.  This is what was lacking for the Turpin kids.  Nothing about their interactions with their community was even remotely approaching normal, not to mention their relations with their extended family.

Just last night, a beloved neighbor of mine expressed to me how she hopes this case doesn’t affect what I’m able to do with my kids.  Another neighbor chimed in with an effusive review of the results of my labor.  I’m sharing this not to toot my own horn, but to highlight that this lifestyle does not typically create shy, social outcasts.  My kids are well-liked, bright, and happy.

I’m hopeful we can all realize that the Turpin case was not a Homeschool fail, but a failure of an entire community and the few schools they attended, to ring the bell for these poor kids.

Field Trip – Point Reyes

On the coast of Northern California is a lovely spot called Point Reyes.  It’s a place that is noted for thick fog, punishing winds, and loads of whales.  Our experience, however, was lovely weather, but cold, weather.  The history and geology of the area is remarkable.  I was particularly surprised to learn that it moved north 21 feet in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake!

 

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Happy cows do indeed come from California!  Look at their view!

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We admired the ancient sedimentary rock formations, delicate rock dwelling plants, and spotted a handful of cetaceans.  Then we made our way to the lighthouse.  While its history was fascinating, I found myself fighting an urge to re-in-act the scene from Pete’s Dragon when Mickey Rooney and company were cleaning their lighthouse while performing a song and dance.  Sigh… another lost opportunity to showcase my innate lack of talent.  We climbed the inordinate number of stairs back and made our way to the parking lot.

As we passed by one of the docents, we were informed that just up the road was a colony of elephant seals.  That seemed like a pretty good idea to us, so we made our way there.  What a fantastic experience!  The docents were full of awesome information, and had set up high power binoculars for the public to get a better view.  Happily, we even got to see some babies!

 

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Not a baby, but look at that sweet face!

 

Enjoying our day, we decided to check out the boathouse.  There we were able to get even closer to the elephant seals, while staying a safe and respectful distance away from these incredible creatures.  Honestly, I was amazed at how big they really are!  Having sufficiently exhausted the kids, we hiked back to the car and headed home.

 

 

 

A November to Remember

As you may or may not know, I homeschool my two DDs aboard a 40 ft cruising catamaran in the San Francisco Bay Area.  This can be challenging due to space constraints and losing internet connectivity when the tide goes out or when we go sailing.  (Not so bad now that the harbor has made some upgrades, but still worth noting)

I’ve owned homes before and there were always tasks that needed to be completed, but this in no way compares to a boat’s fix it list.  Our catamaran had a massive issue that needed to be fixed.  It turned out to be covered by warranty.  This was phenomenal news as extensive work needed to be done.  That usually means expensive.  Our boat manufacturer sent two workers from Europe to Alameda for a week to get the job done.  The nature of their work would leave us homeless for about a week; the week of Thanksgiving.  Naturally we decided to visit family out-of-state.  Amazing how things come together!

We put all the cogs into place.  Then the manufacturer called.  They would be delayed until we returned.  What was I saying about things coming together?  Things were now falling apart.  We were going to have to live in a hotel for a week.  My feelings of happy anticipation now were clouded with dread.  Homeschool in a hotel?  How exactly does that work?  I put that out of my mind and focused on enjoying our family in Washington State.  Ever the committed educator, I sussed out local museums and got to work getting the kids out.

We visited MONA, the Museum of  Northwest Art in La Conner.  It’s a great art gallery that features artists from the Northwest.  They made a wonderful effort to include the kids, giving them a nicely put together activity sheet.  The girls were encouraged to ponder the images in front of them, and I was appreciative that all of the art was  family friendly.  I have not had this experience in every gallery we have visited.  “Mommy, what is that?”  Ahem.  Hello awkward silence.

Next on the list was the Anacortes Museum.  This was a very small museum, but so well done we spent over an hour there.  The steam paddle wheeler was closed for the winter, but we made the best of what was available to us.  Being originally from the area, I was surprised at how much I didn’t know about this little town.  It really is worth stopping by if you have the opportunity.

With still more time to kill, we headed to the Skagit County Historical Museum back in La Conner.  This was probably the largest of all the museums we visited.  They have a great collection of Native American artifacts and document the history of the differing populations really well.  The combined history is celebrated in what seems to be a very honest and balanced manner; neither whitewashing atrocities, nor vilifying an entire populace.  We left with a greater knowledge set than we had when we came.

The time in Washington came to an end all too soon.  We headed back to the Bay Area, homeless.  Stopping by the boat prior to checking into the hotel, I got to work packing up.  Clothes were easy, activities even easier; the challenge was what school work to bring.  While homeschooling on a boat can be difficult, whittling down to bare necessities for hotel life was daunting.  Obviously, it was time to rely more heavily on the internet.

We focused on computer programming and reading/English.  Code.org and ReadingEggs.com mixed with reading time and lengthy walks to the park ate up our days quickly.  We utilized Starbucks, libraries, and the hotel lobby for work spaces.  It worked out great!  When the time finally came for us to move back aboard, though, I was ready.

Typically, I think of living on the boat as being in a  small space, but after being in a hotel for a week and a half, it felt luxuriously huge.  Everyone had their own space again, with a door!  We sailed back to our home port, happy to have put that experience behind us.

 

Where Have We Been?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and all I can do is offer apologies.  What has been going on?

On the Homeschool side, I think I have finally cracked the math nut.  My goal has been to make math fun; that’s where Beast Academy has served us very well.  Unfortunately, we need to do more practice questions.  This typically equals “not fun”.  So, for my tactile learner, we have started Math-U-See.  We took a step back in our math so that I can figure out how to teach this new curriculum. This tactic also provided us with an opportunity to improve already learned skills.  Two thumbs up.

For the book learner, I added “The Life of Fred”.  It’s about a little boy named Fred.  Mathematics are taught in an entertaining story format that was a pleasure to read.  The story engaged BOTH kids and I can now use our math curriculum as a REWARD.  Seriously, where was all this stuff when I was growing up?  I missed out on being a mathematician!

At any rate, we are now using all three math curriculums concurrently to complement one another.  “Math-U-See” works well for introducing the initial concept and practice, “Beast Academy” works for teaching creative problem solving, and “The Life of Fred” shows situational math.  The last two listed are really fun.

So our biggest Homeschool challenge thus far appears to be resolved.  On the boating side things have been really hectic and worthy of another post.