Sunday, September 23, 2012

Not Back to School--still

I felt it building when 7th grade loomed and the questions started in earnest in 8th grade--"Are you going to keep homeschooling through highschool?"  There was an article about this circulating around FB recently.  I don't mind the question, since a lot of people we know don't homeschool and  have been fine with the fact that we do.

I do find it a bit funny sometimes, because it sounds like I'm the one who's going to highschool.  No thanks!  Once was enough. I also find it funny because I'm asked as though it's 100% my  decision.

Maybe they share the same anxiety I have about teaching highschool?  I'd hate to have to teach highschoolers.  Good thing I informed my kids long ago that I have no intention of teaching highschool.  And what that looks like is lots of things happening outside our home.  We've always road and field-trip schooled, so this is not a huge shift, but it does seem to entail a lot more driving around.  I don't know, maybe it just seems like more because these activities for older kids don't need me to do much--drop and go for a good many.  But that's not always practical since I also need to pick back up.  So I hang around with not much to do--especially if there's no wifi--The Horror!  I'm lucky in that I like most of my kids' friends' parents.  But it's even harder now to get any kind of housework or yard work done.  It's also been complicated by the fact that so much else has been going on around here that routine has been hard to come by.

In case you haven't kept up with our current events, the end of our summer looked like this:
  • Went to take a look at the layout of a house in a neighborhood we'd been looking in.
  • Liked the house so much we decided to put in a bid but had to close quickly to get a good price and because I was going to leave town the last week in August
  • Spent the next three weeks running around trying to get mortgage info together and to get anything we could get done on the old house and packing
  • On pins and needles for a week wondering if the funding would come through
  • Mortgage set, closing date set
  • Do final walk through the morning of closing--Liz breaks ankle while checking caulking in the jetted tub
  • Wrap up ankle and go to closing, then to doctor, then for x-rays
  • Next day--movers arrive at 9am, get a call that new x-rays are needed, Jeannie to the rescue to take Liz for more x-rays
  • Next day--Liz off to orthopedics to get giant boot--gives up any hope of heading out of town
  • September arrives--we go to the not back to school potluck with no intention of  starting the school year yet.
  • Next week--Pete has planned sinus surgery
  • Liz's mom arrives to save the day-unpacking, cleaning and laundry-doing ensues.
  • Sept 10--Katie gets her braces off!
  • Sept 19 Liz's mom returns to her own calm, much less work involved life
  • Continued cleaning, repairs and work on the old house to get ready to sell it and unpacking the new house
And now we've gotten a bit into the fall groove.

For those interested, Katie and Zack are taking
Marine Biology from the Smithsonian
Katie has two once a month book clubs
Katie will do Girl Scouts again, which is now conveniently right across the street
There's a free digital movie making class from Microsoft that one co-op is doing
We joined the secular co-op (scoop) where they take yoga and zoology
Then there's Teaching Textbooks Algebra I and Rosetta Stone Italian and, if I ever get my act together, Bravewriter Highschool writing.
Plus teen group and park day and possibly parkcour for Zack in the winter.
And Doctor Who

Pete is still recovering from sinus surgery and is enjoying breathing easier, but not enjoying continued headaches.

I was driving myself insane booking speakers for the VaHomeschoolers Conference and also coordinating the conference itself, but then I regained my senses and got more help.  It's going to be a great conference, you should come.

The old house is about ready to get on the market--cross everything you have that it will sell quickly!

Hope you are enjoying the cooler fall weather.  I am enjoying the bright blue sky I can see through my uncurtained windows.

Our next adventure--furniture and rugs--and selling the old house.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Readers Digest version life from Sept 2011-Feb 2012

According to the calendar and my bad memory, this is what went on:

Sept 2011
  • The new school year activities
  • Algebra I with Teaching Textbooks
  • Zack taking sword fighting
  • Katie starting Girl Scouts
  • A co-op to focus on unit studies, a different one about every six weeks
  • A teen group, mostly socializing
  • Katie continues with Art Class

Pete is still working at the Census and traveling a bit for work.

Park Day is still on the calendar, but we don't go very often.

  • Same as Sept, but added skating some weeks.
  • We did a corn Maize, which the kids rolled their eyes about but then ended up having a good time. There was a giant bounce floor that we all had fun on but got me kinda sea sick after a while.
  • Kids and I went to see a butterfly exhibit at the Smithsonian
  • Katie's best friend stayed with us for about a week and a half and it was fun having three kids around, considering they all got along pretty well.
  • Halloween!  Our neighborhood isn't very good for Halloween, so Katie made plans to spend the night with a friend and Zack, Pete and I went over to JM's.  We got there pretty late but Zack and his pal went around to get candy.  I think this may be the last year for it.  Maybe a party next year.


More butterflies


The teens went to Cox Farm's fall festival.  Here are K&Z being king of the haystack:


(it's possible this was Oct...)

Just before Thanksgiving the kids and I went to MIT Splash with friends.  They had a great time, but Zack ended up sick after the first day, so skipped class the next morning.  Zack's been having some hard luck traveling lately but we're hoping things will get better.

Then Thanksgiving with G&G Nuwayser.

Fairly typical month and a low-key Christmas.  Grandma came in for the holiday and headed out to LI the next day.

Our typical watch TV New Years Eve with mom and the kids.

All through these months, I was planning, planning, planning for the VaHomeschoolers Conference being made to look very good by the team of volunteers working in all the leadership roles.

And that was the end of the year and start to 2012, in which I hoped I would be better about keeping up with the blog, but so far, not so much.



So--think back to that almost winter we had back in late Jan/early Feb.  After winter 2011, I decided that I really liked getting away to someplace warm in winter time.  Didn't know if my mom was going to go back to FL in 2012, but just in case, I started brewing the idea that we would work in a trip to see Harry Potter at Universal if we did go down that way. the time mom decided not to go, I was enjoying the idea of harry too much and we decided to go down anyway--but only to Universal.

Well...then I looked at the calendar and realized that we were heading down to Orlando during Disney's homeschool days and that the kids could take a class while we were there!  I couldn't say no to Disney at open class enrollment but I did spare Pete the Disney experience.

Started with a stop off at mom's for a brief visit and drop off Toby.


We had to pick up our tickets so we could do early entry the next day so I booked dinner at Wilderness Lodge.  We had a fun time at the restaurant then caught a ferry over to the Magic Kingdom to pick up our tickets.  The kids decided we'd go back to the room, rather than watch the fireworks from the gates, but instead we got a great view of the show from the ferry back to the lodge!  It was a really nice way to get into the Disney mood of the trip.

First day, Magic Kingdom! 

 I was extremely brave and rode both Splash Mountain and Space Mtn.  Would have gone on the 3rd mtn too (Thunder) but it was closed for refurb :(

A not very good shot on Splash Mtn.

Otherwise a pretty typical day at MK.  Pineapple whip, Pirates, Peter Pan and a good peek at the Fantasyland extension and top of the new Beauty and the Beast Castle.  Katie will need to go back when it's finished.

Next day was the Chemistry class at Epcot.  Got there very early and I stayed for the very beginning because of the tickets.  Once they went off with their teacher, I ran to get some fast passes and to ride all the slow old lady rides that I never get to go on.

They really enjoyed the class.  Zack has wanted to do another Kim Possible mission so we went over to World Showcase to do two of those.  Then, I think we went back to the hotel for a bit. 

Trying to figure out the next clue.

After hanging out with some friends.

Back that night for dinner with Mickey and friends.  We almost lost our ressie due to a very slow moving line at Test Track but we dashed through the park and made it.

Next day, Animal Kingdom

I was not as brave and Katie and I passed on Expedition Everest, but here's Zack "enjoying" himself!

We did  enjoy Dinosaur

Saw a rhino!

 We actually didn't go on too many rides at AK, but did catch the shows this time, which were surprisingly good.  Surprising because the shows at Hollywood Studios were so bad when we saw them.

AK closes early so we ran over to Hollywood to see if we could catch the new Star Wars ride.  We made it in time to go on and I think Zack went on the Twilight Zone ride while Katie and I went on Toy Story Mania.  Long wait but fun.

Last day at Disney but ended on a great note with Pete getting in town!


Up early and through the gates at opening.  We knew the shortest route to the Wiz World.  I had been advised that if the wait for Forbidden Journey was anything less than an hour, it was worth waiting.  We hit the jackpot day, we never waited more than 10 mins for any of the rides.

Got to the gates and it truly is magical.  The music is playing, the Hogwarts Express is there and the Castle is ahead and you do feel like you just walked into the movie.  Katie was on the moon and the rest of us were smiling too.

We headed for FJ first and since the wait was so small, did the ride line first.  It is an AMAZING ride.  I was so glad I was able to ride it. 

On to Ollivanders and our first try of butterbeer while waiting in line.  Got one frozen and one not.  I liked the plain a bit better but wasn't blown over by either.  Kids liked it though.   Against my hopes and expressed wishes, the kids bought wands right away.

Second round of butterbeer
 We also tried Pumpkin Juice which I thought was a gritty horror but everyone else liked a lot.  blech :-p

Spent the morning exploring WWOHP, then headed out before the crowds grew too unbearable.  Can't remember if we had dinner at the Three Broomsticks that night, but I think that might have been later in the trip.

The rest of the park is fine, but too many stores and no magic like in Disney or at WWOHP-which is really like a different park than the rest.

Katie getting her Greek on at Sinbad

Boris and Natasha have a secret meaning for us ;)

Ripsaw Falls-just K&Z

 Just did Islands of Adventure that first day.  Enjoyed the Bilge Rat Barges and the Spiderman ride and Pete and Zack went on the Hulk and liked it but that was about it.  Went back to Harry to shop a bit more before leaving for the night.

That night, Zack's first swish and flick of his wand, snapped it in two and Katie decided she wanted a different wand (hmm, if only they had waited a bit longer before making their purchases....).

Next day we went to Universal Studios and Pete and I both enjoyed the theming better.  The streets were wider and we both enjoyed the movie themes, a lot of which we knew.

I went directly to the gift shop to return the broken and unwanted wands and they were terrific about it and gave me no trouble with the returns.

A highlight was when Pete got picked to play a role in the Disaster show!  Sadly, they don't let you take video, but we have the one shot of him above.

In keeping with my bravery theme of the trip, I actually rode the Mummy roller coaster ride.  It goes backwards very fast so Katie and I were unsure of it, but Pete and Zack tested it out for us and we had a blast!

Pete and Zack did Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, and we all rode the Simpsons Ride and ET (yawn).  Pete decided to skip Men in Black, which was a very dizzy ride.

The Terminator show was terrible--as we found with ALL of the shows at Universal.  I can't imagine why people talk about the shows there when they were beyond corny.  They were dated, dusty, hokey and cheap looking.  Waste of time.  

The food was overall unremarkable.

A tired crew at the end of the day.

The next day we hung around the hotel and then let Pete rest while Katie and I went shopping and Zack went to Disney Quest.

Next morning Pete flew off for his west coast tour with The Jet Age.

We went back to the parks and to do the Jurassic Park section of IOA.  I wasn't feeling so great (bad reaction to the anti vertigo patch I'd used the previous two days) so I didn't do rides and took it easy.  Katie and Zack did go on the Jurassic Park ride and loved that.  We all enjoyed the discovery center they have there too.  I also took a nice slow walk through the tour-only line of FJ while the kids rode the ride again.

I know we ate at the three broomsticks on this day and I tried pear cider, which was wonderful.  We saw the Sinbad show, which was atrocious.

We crossed over to the Studios to see the cute, but still not as good as the Disney bird show, animal show and to do the Simpsons ride again and even I rode the Mummy a second time.

That evening, back over to WWOHP for new wands, pumpkin juices, chocolate frogs and cauldron cakes for ourselves and friends back home.

It was a nice note to end the Universal section of the trip on.

Back to NC and grandma's house.  Good to see Toby, who was happy to be spoiled while we were away.  Since Pete was going to be away all week, we took the opportunity to have a nice visit with grandma.

Even during the mild winter, it was nice to get away to shorts weather and I am hooked on warm weather trips in winter now.

Next, I'll do a brief recap of the first half of the year and show some photos of our more recent NC and NYC trips.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Quick and Dirty finish up of Banff

So, I don't remember when we did what anymore, or even what all these pictures are of, but I'll take a stab at it.  Oh, and if you just want to see the picts, I think if you click on the first one, you can scroll through the others...

We climbed Telegraph and the next day we climbed Sulfur Mtn.  It really does smell like Sulfur, but not too bad.  That was a MUCH longer hike and it was fun when we got high enough to see the top of Telegraph and realize that we had thought THAT was a big climb!  Katie and I are not fans of cable cars but were tired enough by the time we reached the top, to brave the car back down.  It was fun and not very scary after all.  Or maybe I was just too tired to care.

This might be a photo of Pete and the kids on the way up Sulfur Mtn.
  That night Pete and the kids indulged me and stopped at the Fairmont Hotel to look around at the historic hotel.  It was lovely and had a nice view of the river we were looking at as we hiked all day.

Here are some views from the mountains, including one of the Fairmont:

We found a great place for dinner this night and we hit it again on our way back out of the park after Jasper.  I wish I could remember the name of it.  Coyote Grill maybe?

The next day we headed out to Lake Louise, where we were staying at the Fairmont there.  Everyone else thought the LL one was prettier than the one in Banff, but I liked the Banff one better.

I realized that we would pass Lake Moraine on the way up, so we stopped to look around there before going to Lake Louise.  According to the guide books, some people find Lake Moraine prettier, but I was not overly impressed.  It did become obvious over the course of the trip that I don't find lakes and mountains that interesting overall though, so maybe I'm not the best judge.  Don't get me wrong, they were all beautiful and shockingly blue, but once I've seen them, then I don't need to hang around and stare.

Pete, however, enjoyed them immensely and had a great time hiking around or looking at the many lakes, mountains and glaciers we saw all through the trip.

These are all probably Lake Moraine:

These  could be Lake Moraine, or maybe another lake we stopped at off the highway.  The kids had not spent enough time honing their stone skipping and Pete gave a few lessons on the trip:


I know we took pictures at Lake Louise, but I can't seem to find any right now.  It was very pretty and very blue.  We ate lunch one day overlooking the lake and it was very lovely, but also rather busy.  It is a big tourist spot.

That day Zack and I had had enough of big steep hikes.  We started up the tea house trail with Pete and Katie, but were both bitching and moaning and basically making Pete miserable.  I suggested that he go on alone and Katie decided to join him.  Again, I know there is a beautiful picture of Katie having tea at the top, but can't find it.  Will add later if I do.  

Zack and I walked around the lake for a while and went back to hang at the hotel.  My feet appreciated the time off.

This is when I really started to enjoy the trip.   It turns out I am a holes in the ground and running water girl.  We headed out of Banff and up the Icefields Parkway toward Jasper.  Lots of mountains and lakes, very pretty:

Views of glaciers-meh--

But also, Althabasca Falls and other falls that I forget the name of--yay!  The family indulged my love of rivers and canyons and we hiked down to the river of...I can't remember the name of it...but very fun, loud and beautiful!:

Look how happy I am!
We also saw some wildlife, although, despite what the guidebooks said, it was pretty scarce.  We even tried backroads and doubling back.  :(

I did see a black bear for a second, but not long enough to alert the rest of the family. :( :(

We stayed at a great little cabin campsite in Jasper.  We all liked Jasper more than the uber-commercial Banff and if we ever go back, I would definitely fly into Edmonton spend more time there and skip Banff and Calgary.  I think this night Pete and I went back out to get some food since our cabin had a kitchen.   We got lucky and saw a coyote!
The shopping went strangely.  We had to pack lunches for the glacier hike the next day and wanted something to make for dinner one of the nights we were there.  The food prices were killing us on this trip.  But I guess the main grocery store had closed early that night, so we were shopping in a convenience store.  I found tunafish, but no mayo or may just a huge jar, so we asked if we could have some packets and the nice clerk gave us a ton of them, free!  Plenty for tunafish sandwiches--score!
I didn't realize is that the Athabasca Glacier is about half way btw Banff and Jasper.  I was under the impression it was much closer to Jasper, so the next day we had a good ride back down the Icefields Pkwy to get to the glacier where we had booked a guided hike up the glacier.  The closer I got, the more scared I became.  I kept hoping I would be disqualified for some reason and not have to go.  I kept my cool though, so that the kids wouldn't back out of the climb.  I knew this could be a once in a lifetime adventure for them and judging from the melt markers on the road, certainly this glacier will be gone in their lifetime. 
I have never been so terrified for so long (3 hours) in my life and I will never climb a glacier ever again. BUT--I was pretty proud of myself for not having a complete freak out.  I did get pretty close and tears were shed.
The camera ran out of juice not too far into the hike, so not many pictures.  Here's a lovely little sink hole that goes a good 500K down to the bottom of the glacier.  These can open up at any time, so it's wise to follow directly in the footsteps of the person in front of you.

The guide chiseled in a little step at the side of this one so you could hold his hand and lean out over it.  I declined, but you can see Pete and the guide's shadows.

It's much more beautiful in person and there is water flowing into it so it sounds lovely too.
Back up to Jasper and I think we ate dinner in the room this night and went down into town for ice cream.  Pete was pooped and grouchy, next time he'll stay in the room for some privacy and a nap!  The ice cream was good though.
Next day on our way back down, we stopped in Johnston Canyon.  I loved this--woody climbing, a river, a tiny cave and lots of waterfalls!


I don't have a picture here, but there are a lot of wooden walkways built along the canyon walls and they we very echo-y.  I enjoyed belting out Oklahoma! to see how much I could embarrass Katie and Zack and they did not disappoint!

Back to just outside Banff and a trip to the hot springs.  Phew!  Smelly sulfur!  The warm water was great and strangely buoyant.  They are outside so you are warm in the water but freezing out of it.  We stayed a while, it was pretty crowded.  Worth the visit.

My hair smelled of sulfur for the next week.  The bathing suits took 3 washings to lose it and most of the rest of the cloths in the suitcase had a bit of a sulfur smell as well.

Back to Calgary for the night before catching the flight back home.  We passed the Olympic park again so drove around it to take a look.  The only things we could really see were the ski jumps and part of a bobsled track but it was interesting.

So, all in all a memorable trip.  Good thing, since I took so long to update this blog!!

Next up--Universal and couldn't stay away from Disney.