Delights and Surprises

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If you know me, you’ve probably heard me complain about living in SW Florida.  If you know my hubby, I’m sure he’s made his distaste for this place known to you as well.  We’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to get out of Florida for years.  For whatever God’s providential reasons, this is where we are and we’ve spent the last year trying to shake off our discontentment and try to enjoy what we do have here.  While crazy heat, humidity, flat lands and beaches are not our thing…we’ve found that kayaking, SUP, and our developing relationships with friends and our family are worthy of enjoying.

10268582_10203705950835154_6948292242184439554_nYet, it was truly a delight to go visit some place more geographically to our liking.  John and I both love North Carolina, with its deciduous forests, hills, mountains, and true seasons.  My kids, the Florida children they are, have no experience with these things.  Cold to them is 50 degrees.  A hill is the bulge of the septic tank in the yard.  And their only understanding of seasons is wet season and dry season.

They loved it.  Of course, for my children, their excitement for NC was not the land, but the cousins we stayed with.  Did you ever have a cousin you idolized?  Maybe just a few years older than you, super cool in your mind, and gosh…you wanted to be just like them?  These are those cousins and it was delightful to watch my kids be so easily entertained by them.  My boy, Isaac, was very clear in saying he was going to stay there forever and we could mail his clothes.

They played.  We hiked.  We got hot, we got cold.  We dressed in layers.  We were 5 minutes from stores and 5 10256895_10203705947475070_4614461834407590344_nminutes from the country.  It was a wonderful place.

On our way home, we talked about moving.  We talked about pros and cons.  And for once, surprisingly, we both had true cons to moving.  This year, we’ve made some very real personal investments in our lives here…and we would be sad to lose them.  It was good, in this way, to see how we have grown in this area of our lives.  We decided to leave it in the Lord’s hands for our future.  But we plan on visiting North Carolina very soon.

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Lessons applied

My formal home school year is done.  I say formal, because the benefit of being Principal and Administrator and Teacher of our little Ruff House Academy is that we school all year-long.  We have a lighter load outside of our Classical Conversations year…focusing on just the basics like math and reading plus any fun electives we didn’t have time for during the formal year.

This year, my daughter finished her first year of Essentials.  This is the pool’s deep end of grammar and language arts, folks.  Sentence diagrams until your brain hurts.  Sentence structure and terms memorization (as in all the irregular verbs).  Editing exercises and various papers to write.  It was so good!  As a public school product, I never had any of this stuff…so you can imagine my anxiety over trying to teach it to my girlie.  Fortunately, we learned together…sharpening each other and laughing at how I didn’t know this stuff either.

But, like all school things, there is always a slight disconnect until it’s used in life.  I mean, she can fly through the lesson when it’s time, but to do it outside of school?  That’s knowledge application!  That’s understanding.  And, right now, not all of those connections are easily made.  Let’s face it…she’s 9.  So, in an effort to combine the application of her new-found writing skills as well as our summer elective of typing, she has her very own email address.

I was a bit hesitant about this step.  Yet there is much to be said about computer skills being instilled early.  But have you seen the spam in your inbox lately?  Did I really want to risk that?  Or what about those pop-up ads?  I had fully expected to have to preview all mail in her inbox as well as daily remove spam so she didn’t accidentally open it.  Yet, lo and behold, there are children safe email accounts.  I opted in the end for Zoobuh!, although if you google them you’d find others as well.  It’s a nominal fee for her account, and I get full supervisory access, ad free and highly spam free.  I can approve of contacts, messages, hold them if they shouldn’t be sent.  I can set her contact list to where she can’t add contacts without my approval.

But the best part has been watching her type her messages to family and friends.  She is so excited.  Her first few messages were written in such a way that I printed out her messages and made her go back and edit them.  Her sentences were not complete, punctuation was off and subject lines were blank.  I could almost see the lightbulb switch on as she connected her thoughts of real writing with school writing.  It gave me the platform to demonstrate that what is taught in our lessons has everyday meaning.  I watch her now, a week into the whole emailing thing, and she painstakingly types her messages, reads them and edits them more carefully.

Now if I can just convince her she doesn’t need to email her whole contact list every day!