Monthly Archives: February 2007

Schedule getting back to normal

I’m back! I’ve really missed blogging these last few days; I feel like I have so much I want to write about!

So why wasn’t I blogging if I wanted to? Well, two weeks ago, I was asked to be a contestant in a motivational speech contest being held at my Toastmasters club, which was scheduled for tonight. I told him I really didn’t have any interest in competition, but I would be happy to speak – but also that I was really, really busy, and didn’t know when I would make the time to prepare. (Not that I usually prepare much before I speak, but for a contest I felt I should.)

Anyway, the first week and a half was so busy that I couldn’t even think about it. These last few days, I have been feeling really pressured at the idea of speaking, getting more and more pressured as the contest was coming closer, and my opportunities to prepare were quickly disappearing. And every time I thought about writing something on my blog, I felt guilty that I wasn’t using the time instead to prepare my speech, so I didn’t blog or prepare. :) Finally, I thought of what I wanted to speak about at 5 pm today – and the contest started at 7. No, that’s really not ideal. :) Anyway, I quickly typed out some thoughts, and tried to put them together into something coherent. The goal I had for myself was to give a good speech that would offer value to the audience, it wasn’t about winning at all – just not humiliating myself next to the other two speakers, who put weeks of preparation and practice into their speeches. I’m glad to say the speech was quite good, even though I didn’t win; I was pleased with how well it went over. I got some very nice feedback from a professional speaker in the audience.

And I’m even more glad that the contest is over and I can go back to blogging and other things without any feelings of guilt!

To update you:

We reupholstered all seven chairs (we got eight, but in the business of bringing them all in from the van to the house, as well as all the groceries from our huge shopping trip, it apparently was left outside – and someone driving by must have thought it was being given away), and then went on to reupholster a three piece bench set in matching fabric. We were working on them Wed/Thurs. nights, and then on Friday. It was a very big job, but they all look great (dh insisted on taking before and after pics of the benches, he was really sorry I hadn’t taken of the chairs before they were done because it was such a huge difference). It was very empowering for the kids to see how their effort resulted in something that substantially enhanced the look of the room. I would love to post the pics for you to vicariously enjoy, but haven’t yet learned how to post pics on a blog. Probably like everything else computer related, not a big deal when you can have someone show you, but since there’s no one to show me, and figuring it out for myself hasn’t yet made it’s way onto the list of things I want to spend time on, you’ll just have to take my word for it that the chairs and benches all look very nice! It works out well that one chair was taken, actually, since otherwise it would be too crowded around the table. As I said, it is a large table, but the new chairs are 1.5 the width of the old ones, so we don’t gain as much seating space as we would have if we kept all the old chairs. The benches are great – they really maximize space. We have a bench that will fit three youngish kids, and one that fits two kids or one adult, so that compensates for the wider chairs and leaves us with the same amount of seating we would have had with the narrower.

I took the kids on a tour of the State House yesterday, where we got to sit in on a session of the Senate, and were able to see where the House of Representatives meet. It was a lot of interesting info, but something that’s I’ve noticed that is unfortunately very common is this: the tour guides, who know they are talking to children and presumably are used to talking to children (especially since in the 4th grade in our state is when these topics come up in public schools and a lot of groups that age come through), don’t speak appropriately for their audience. There are very interesting things to learn, but they speak too fast, use vocabulary that is too high, and try to cram too much information into the tour instead of giving the kids more time to look around and absorb what they are learning. My kids have a very strong vocabulary, and they are interested in lots of things, but a tour like this is, frankly, a turn off to learning. To my kids’ massive gratitude, I told the tour guide that I wouldn’t be staying for the entire program- after an hour and thirty minutes, I felt I had enough (and I knew they had)! I told her that they needed a chance to take in some of what they learned and that we would have to come back at a separate time to do the second part.

Then an hour after getting home from the above, we spent the afternoon at a homeschooling gathering, getting home late in the afternoon and rushed to get dinner on time. First thing this morning, two dds went to a class at the science center, which they enjoyed. Every week used to be filled with days like this, doing trips, activities, lessons, getting together with friends – but now it’s an exception. Personally, I’m glad everyone has enjoyed what we’ve done in the last two days, but I really enjoy the days more when everyone is home together and there isn’t such a fractured, rush-from-here-to-there feel about it all. I used to do a lot of trips and activities for the kids, and every year, I gear down. And every year just gets better and better, as I cut out more and more of the extraneous stuff that doesn’t contribute much to the quality of our days. It’s simply more sane. The pace of life today is so fast that I think parents need to make a very conscious effort to change that, or they will get swept up by it all.

I ended up writing most of this and then interrupted myself because I had a chance to talk with my mom (for quite a while), which was very nice. But now I’m really ready for some sleep and I’ll have to get back with all of you tomorrow. :)


Our algebra curriculum choice

After lots of mind numbing review (to me, anyway), I finally decided what algebra program to buy for ds. He was working on a pre-algebra text that neither of us were happy with, though it’s a popular choice. I decided to skip him up to algebra, since he was halfway though pre-algebra – it didn’t seem fair to start him at the beginning of another text, but with most programs, it’s really difficult to start in the middle.

The new program arrived yesterday, and I hope it will be a good fit for him. There are so many choices, and honestly, reading algebra books to figure out which is better just wasn’t much fun for me. Neither was reading endless reviews online of the various different choices a relaxing way to spend my time. It’s great to have so many choices, but in a way, it just makes it so much harder than it used to be – there used to be two or three main math programs, and you just had to choose the one you disliked the least. With so many choices now, it leaves you feeling you can match your child’s personality perfectly and should make the effort to spend as much time as necessary until you find the perfect match. That feeling isn’t productive after a certain point, and I definitely reached that point. So what I told ds, after all my exhaustive reviews, is that this is the program and that’s it. It’s a good program, I’ve done all the research into it I’m going to do, and if he doesn’t love it, well – he doesn’t have to love it. He just has to do it. :)

For those of you homeschooling older kids, and who may be interested, what I chose was Teaching Textbooks. I like texts that are written to be read by the child, and are user friendly for them. This seemed to have a pleasant, non intimidating tone to it. They also have cds available to supplement the main text, and the cds have lectures for each lesson. You don’t need to use them, but it’s nice to have to help a child help himself when he gets stuck on something. It’s not cheap, but then again, most textbooks at this level aren’t! (The book on it’s own is $80, including shipping; it’s over $100 more with the cds.)