Friday, November 19, 2010

How does a homeschooler change a light bulb?

I'm not sure where this originated, but I've seen it a couple of places and got a laugh out of it--soooo true. We can make a unit study out of anything...

Q: How does a homeschooler change a light bulb?

A: First, mom checks out three books on electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life.

Next, everyone studies the history of lighting methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles.

Next, everyone takes a trip to the store where they compare types of bulbs as well as prices and figure out how much change they’ll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99 and pay with a five dollar bill.

On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money and also Abraham Lincoln, as his picture is on the five dollar bill.

Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed.

And there is light.

Music at our house

I thought I should clarify my last post regarding all the musical instruments. Yes, we currently have a lot more instruments than we have musicians. Actually, the only one of my children who has taken music lessons out of the home is Lily, who has taken violin, piano, and cello lessons (although not all at the same time, I was trying to give her a feel for both string instruments so she could choose herself what she wants to study; I would like all my children to have some basic piano competency.) I tried to start Luke in violin lessons last fall, but he wasn't quite ready to stay still and pay attention. I play violin and viola, and especially enjoy playing in groups when the opportunity arises. Most of the instruments in my house are not in current use--I basically have one in each child's size, and one in each future size because I found instruments I liked at a good price. And yes, I have duplicates of a couple--because I found something better later! I'm working on finding new homes for the duplicate sizes, though I sometimes loan an instrument to a friend to help them get their child started--I think the whole world benefits when more children are exposed to music.
I have a hard time explaining why music is so important to me. I am far from being the most musically accomplished of my own family, and am definitely not professional musician caliber! I always loved music, but lacked the discipline to practice consistently. I still love music, and still lack discipline--I guess some things never change! I especially enjoy ensemble playing. From the time I was 7 or 8 my siblings and I played trio and quartet music together, especially at Christmastime. As more children joined in (I am third of ten children) the ensemble grew. At home we stuck to violin, viola, and cello, although in high school I enjoyed playing flute in the band (we had a really awful band, but it was fun anyway). In college I played in a couple of orchestras and for one semester in a small celtic ensemble. I have since found opportunities to play in community and church orchestras, and very much enjoy them.
So when I think of music for my own family, I imagine a whole family enjoying making music together. I suppose that is why all the various sizes of small instruments have been so tempting for me--somehow I feel that if I at least provide an instrument (yes, even for the baby...) I can make that vision a reality. If any of my children become serious musician that will have to be through their own drive and ambition--if that is their calling they will know it. What I want to do is make music a part of our lives, part of our family, something that we can share with each other and with those around us.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Moving and Music

Well, everything is boxed up, the big truck is coming the morning to take it all kids have been having fun climbing on all the boxes!
Yesterday when the packers were here I went through the house making an inventory of "high value" items (defined as anything worth more than $100 per pound). The inventory was mostly musical instruments...6 violins, 2 cellos, 1 guitar and 1 trombone. There's also a piano, but that goes on a different inventory. That, by the way, is in addition to the 3 violins and 1 viola that are going with us in the car, and 2 small violins I just mailed to my nephews. My poor husband, before we were married, pulled me aside one day and told me he wasn't sure he could afford to buy string instruments (my parents had just given me a new bow for Christmas and he was shocked to learn how much it cost!) With visions of a small family orchestra dancing in my head, I just can't seem to help acquiring instruments in various sizes when I find a good deal!

I'm looking forward to a Christmastime reunion w├Čth my family and lots of music!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Oh boy am I going to miss Trader Joe's. The adventuresome trader has apparently not set up any outposts in Utah yet--too far in the back country I guess.
The kids and I went grocery shopping today. Here are the things they begged me to buy:

brussel sprouts
butternut squash
cheese puffs
gummi bears

Yes, my kids really do beg for brussel sprouts. We cooked them tonight with daikon and portobello mushroom soup. Yummy! I hadn't have daikon in a long time--I should buy it more often.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The only constant in life is change

So, we really are leaving California.
I know, I haven't blogged in months. Blame it on the new baby. Or the 7 week business trip that took us to Alabama and back, putting several thousand miles on our van and sorely testing the patience of both parents and children (actually, the kids turned out to be incredibly good travelers--the long car trip was a lot less stressful than I expected.) Or the news that my husband has a new job assignment in a different state and all the complications that come with getting ready for a move.
Alternatively, you can just call me lazy.
We enjoyed our cross-country adventure. I even took a few pictures, I'll try to post some here soon. We drove through most of the southern border states--California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. We didn't do much site-seeing along the way, although we did make time to see the Alamo in San Antonio. We also visited lots of family, in Texas and in Alabama. I'm not sure about my count, but I think we managed at least brief visits with about 24 of my kids' 30+ cousins. We love cousins and look forward to getting better acquainted with some of them in the near future.
We had a wonderful visit with my husband's parents and other family members in the Houston area, and had the privilege of holding a baby blessing (a child's first ordinance in our church) for baby Mark with his grandfather and great-grandfather participating. Then we went on to Alabama, and the kids and I hung out at the hotel pool and enjoyed the Montgomery Zoo while Dad participated in a leadership course. I was thoroughly impressed by people's friendliness and hospitality in Alabama--truly worthy of emulation!
We found out during our first week in Montgomery that my husband had been selected for a 2 year career broadening assignment at Hill AFB in Utah, and they wanted him to report there in November. So we're moving--Thanksgiving week. We're excited--both Dan and I have family in Utah, and we've been looking for a long time now for a way out of California. Don't get me wrong, we've thoroughly enjoyed our time here--but the cost of housing makes a growing family really hard to sustain. We're ready to move out of two bedrooms! Utah is way more affordable, even if we do have to leave our perfect weather behind. Actually, I think my kids are looking forward to having some snow to play in--hopefully they still feel that way in March!
So life continues to be busy--we're packing up, trying to de-junk and get rid of whatever we can; moving is great motivation for letting go of stuff. We're sad to say goodbye to friends, but hope to stay in touch--and we're ready and excited for some new adventures!

Election results etc.

Well, we went and voted last night. I did my part. Can't say I'm happy with the results posted for the Golden State this morning--I don't think a single one of my candidates won their race. I'm particularly unhappy about this state's choice of governor and lieutenant governor, although I would also have dearly loved to see someone new in our Senate and House positions.
Oh, and property management just raised our rent.

That's it, I'm leaving California!