Monday, February 29, 2016

LA Arboretum and F.F.F

I've never heard the term 'forced family fun' before I saw my cousin use it in a facebook post this last weekend. It was exactly the way to describe how our Saturday activity went down. We had to go 'down the hill' to pick up a suit Johann had altered, and Johann wanted us to go to the Arboretum again before our passes expire at the end of March. I said I was for it but since we left later than we planned I was actually kind of cranky about it, and wasn't looking forward to getting back home with no time to accomplish some work at home. Once we got there though, it turned out to be a lot of fun, and unlike the last time we were there, there were hardly any geese around and therefore hardly any goose poop to step in. We had a good time exploring sections we had never been too. I think the herb garden is my favorite. It smells amazing, and is so beautiful. Glad Johann forced the family fun this weekend. I think it's his official job in our family. 

 We stayed in this area for a while and the kids played 'Little House in the Big Woods.' I was so proud. 

This sculpture is called, "Abundance." Poor California. 

Moving in: phase one

We officially moved in/started sleeping here three weeks ago today. I thought I better get pictures of what it looks like before flooring, and countertops are installed in a week. 
In no particular order, and definitely not photo ready: 

Master bathroom. Both bathrooms are going to need new tubs (there is a part in the center where water pools), and while we're at it, hopefully we'll retile the showers too. And the floors. And replace the vanities...
We need to replace this toilet soon because it's an old school one that takes a lot of water to flush. It also has a mismatched seat. 

The vanity is separated from the shower and toilet and there is carpet. If/when we retile the bathroom we'll do this area too.

In the master bedroom we have doors to the back slab, and yard. I think chickens must have exceptional hearing because these stupid fowl are always wherever I am peering in through the door. Uhg.

Ceiling in the master. I actually like the cut out, but we need to get rid of the popcorn (Johann doesn't mind it but *I* do), and get a new light/fan.

The master bedroom

Thea and Leo's room. Sorry for the dark picture, too lazy to go do another. 

Hall/kids' bathroom

Henry's room. Blinds should be coming this week. His bedding was being washed.

The fourth room, or 'the study' as Johann is trying to get everyone to call it. I keep calling it the storage room, for obvious reasons. 

Hall way. I actually have the bottom cupboards filled with almost all our linens, and blankets. I've been doing a lot of washing since they were sitting in the shed for three years. It's fun pulling out the quilts young women leaders made, and blankets, and quilts from baby showers gone by.

Entry way which will be getting tiled as well as the hallway above.

Living room. A tv stand is finally on it's way because I couldn't stand having the kids scooting right up to it all the time. I wanted to try to be awesome, and frugal, and find one at a garage sale but, it's been driving me nuts for three weeks. It's worth it.

 Family room/dinning room. Also to be tiled.

The kitchen. New countertops, sink, and tile going in. It's going to be so nice to not worry about what germs are hanging out in the grout! At some point I want a new range, and dishwasher to match. But since they're both new we'll use them as long as we can. I need to find another oven rack though since this one only has 1 for some reason. At some point we need to do recess lighting and get knobs/pulls on the cabinetry.

Finally, the garage. Once I see if Henry's blinds fit correctly I'll order a second pair for the garage. Eventually I'd like to do shutters throughout, but that may always be so far down the list that it doesn't happen. It'll be nice once I can move the kitchen stuff in (since most of it is in boxes still until the counter is done) and have a big open space in the garage.

Well, there it is. I'll get a picture of the yards at some point too, but those are also kind of on the back burner for now. I have to keep telling myself that everything we want to do doesn't need to be done in the first year or even first years, and that I need to breath.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Homeschool Testing

One of my least favorite parts about homeschooling through a charter is doing state testing. We got Henry's results today so I thought I'd talk about it a little bit for my homeschool post this month.

I always hated state testing growing up. I got nervous, and I never did exceptionally well. I was pretty disappointed when I learned it would be part of homeschooling Henry if we wanted to use the charter since I had never had a great experience with it. But now, two times a year, September, and January or February (the testing window was recently moved up) Henry has to sit for testing.

The first test he took for first grade was done while I met with his educational specialist. The last three he has done I've administered at home. It's great because we can test over a period of about four or five weeks if we want, he can stop for a snack or restroom break, and we can do a little bit a day if we want. It's horrible because I have to deal with all the whining and frustration when he doesn't know something, and wants me to help when I can't.

This is the first time we've spread out the testing over more than a couple of days. I thought we would give it a try to see if it lessened the frustration and whining on Henry's part. It was somewhat successful. I didn't know the test would 'spoil' itself if it was started, and not finished within 22 days. We got to about 40 percent done with his language arts testing, went back to work on it some more, and it was gone. Thankfully, he remembered most of what he had already read, and redoing the first chunk wasn't as bad as I feared.

It's interesting to be able to see the test questions, and answer options. It reinforces by belief that standardized tests are not very helpful for finding out what a kid knows. Just one example: the literature comprehension passages were on the Trojan horse, and sirens. Henry already knew about both of those stories so he didn't really even have to read them to answer the questions. Subsequently his 'comprehension of literary texts' score is skewed really high, because while his auditory comprehension is really high, he sometimes needs to go over written passages more than once to understand them. I know if he had had to actually read that text he wouldn't have scored the same.

Then we come to math, which he is much more natural at than language arts, and he tested right at level on 'algebraic thinking' because the questions used specific jargon that I hadn't taught him because we don't learn math with a test in mind. It's frustrating because I can see how a teacher overwhelmed with so many students might have to go by placement results in tests, and Henry would end up in a group too low for math, and too high for language arts.

The moral of the story is, I'm glad that even though Henry has to test, I'll never have to use that as my end all, be all for what I should teach him. I have a way better understanding of what he does, and doesn't know because I am teaching him, and seeing all his work. It's also nice that I can tell him the tests are not the most important indication of his abilities, and he doesn't have to compare with other kids in his class, and somehow think he is better or worse than them. I'd be lying if I said I don't care about what his results are, but homeschooling helps me not to dwell on them, and to focus on the most important thing at hand, which is actually an individual, and his individual development, and growth.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Goals Update

I thought it would be good to start every month with a goal check to keep myself on track instead of just forgetting, and getting to the end of the year, and feeling bad I didn't do anything. So here is the check-in for February.

1. Attend the Temple 8 times
We haven't gone yet but are hoping once we've moved out we'll be able to convince my mom to watch the kids because she'll have actually had a chance to miss them. 

2. Make a monthly budget and keep a record of all spending throughout the month
I printed out some spending tracking sheets and we did really well for the first half of the month. Then it got crazy and I was pretty negligent. Starting off on the right foot this month but I know it'll be hard because of all the purchases we'll have to make with moving in to the new house.

3. Be more supportive of others' creative endeavors by subscribing to podcasts, blogs and webcasts. Be involved by commenting and contributing etc. 
I think I've done a good job with this one. It's slipped a bit towards the end of the month, again, because things got really busy. But I feel like I'm doing well here. Anyone need some creative support? I mean, I can't actually do anything except be supportive, but I can do that.

4. Make a family photo album
Haven't started

5. Finish transcribing my dad's first journal
I think now that the ward we will be in is at 9am I'll have time after church to work on this, and other family history stuff. I want to get one of those awesome scanners to start getting all our family pictures saved digitally. Let the money rain down.

6. Read President Hinckley's biography
Hopefully I'll start this during summer.

7. Have six lessons (one per month) on baptism for FHE to help prepare Henry
We didn't do one for January because I was counting the '8 is Great' baptism preview as his January one.

8. Buy a house (we're in escrow right now, but until we've moved in, I'm going to hold my breath!)
Done! We should be fully moved in over the weekend. We've just been taking a few loads every day or so with the van and actually have most of our stuff out, we just need the day to day things, and the beds and dressers. It's nice to finally feel excited about it after all the holding off, and waiting during a long escrow because the house was a foreclosure owned by Fannie Mae. 
I also want to make a note on the whole buying a house thing. We received help from our parents to make this happen. We've been with my mom the last three years to save, and pay down student loans, and Johann's parents provided the down payment for us. I feel it is important to acknowledge this firstly to say how grateful we are for supportive parents who still continue to sacrifice for us; and secondly because it drove us nuts for a long time when we felt like the only ones our age not buying a house. We thought we must be doing or have done something terribly wrong financially or otherwise. Then we thought, why are we living in California where even in the desert houses are so expensive?! (Answer-because this is where Johann has the most earning power and it's close to family) Then we would find out that in almost every single instance there was financial assistance from family. So we aren't awesome money wizards who have it all together. We could have found a place with a down from the money we had saved after living three years with my mom paying minimal rent and utilities, but it would have been a significantly less nice house in a significantly less nice area because most of our savings went towards paying down loans and then the van when we had Leo is 2014. So we are very thankful Johann's parents offered to help after we had started seriously looking at houses, and applying for loans. It's because of my mom we can even get a house, and it's because of Johann's parents we can be in one we feel we can make our home. 

9. Blog 4 times a month, once about homeschool
I did it!

10. Take family photos!!!
We took some with the Simonds side when Johann's brother Derek was here over Christmas break but I want to get some ones probably this April right before all the kids have their birthdays of us and our kids. 

11. Exercise 3 times a week
Yeah, this was one I forgot about. I've mostly been trying to not eat junk since Thanksgiving through Christmas was basically having too many treats around all.the.time. I've been making an effort to be more active but I haven't had set working out time. Hopefully once we settling into the house. 

12. Read a book a month
I finished volumes 1 and 2 of "The Portrait of  Lady," by Henry James. I didn't like it as much as I was hoping, and sometimes the narrative was so bogged down, and frankly boring (this from someone who likes Russian lit, so that should say something) that I would go a day or two without picking it up. With that said, the parts that were not boring or cumbersome were excellent, and there were some wonderful characters like Ralph Touchett, and Henrietta Stackpool. It was also easy to hate two of the characters you were meant to hate. 
I needed something a little more simple so I picked up 'The Paris Wife,' and it's definitely much easier reading but I'm already depressed for this woman knowing how Hemingway's romantic life turns out. 

So overall, not failing. Whoop.