Wednesday, August 17, 2011

School Has Arrived

As much as I'd like to post pics of our school days, there is just not a lot to post right now considering we're mostly boxed up and ready to move any day now.  But I can definitely give you an idea of what our school days have been looking like so far.

We officially started up our homeschool two weeks ago.  The first week was probably the most difficult as we needed to sort out methods for making everything run smoothly.  At this point I think I have a reasonable system that works, at least until the move, and even then, it's versatile enough where we should be able to easily get to our things and keep our system running without needing an elaborate school set up.  Sure, it would be nice to have everything in place and be comfortably learning at a decent, well-lit desk with bookshelves for our material...but it's a no-can-do for now, and we've found that two medium sized cardboard boxes and a kitchen table work just as good!  At least until we move.

I'll post a page soon of our curriculum picks for this school year, but here's what our basic schedule looks like:
8:00- up, shower, breakfast, devotional with Daily Audio Bible for Kids
Block 1:  Language Arts (Grammar, Spelling, Writing Workshop, Handwriting, Literature)
Block 2: Math
Block 3: History or Science
Block 4: Art, French, or Music (music appreciation or piano lesson)

Once a week we introduce a "hymnal of the week".  I realized just how important it is for my kids to understand their roots and to learn many of the hymnals that were commonplace to me in my upbringing.  I don't want my kids to lose out on that.  Simple hymns such as "Just As I Am" aren't ever sung at most of the churches we've attended because we generally don't attend traditional services.  As much as we like the contemporary style worship, there is absolutely nothing that can replace the beauty of simple hymnals and I find it kind of...well...(shameful?) sad that my kids have never heard of "What A Friend We Have in Jesus".  Know what I mean?  So we started to introduce this concept of  a "hymnal a week" to reinforce that.  Mainly I just have Ny write down the words to the first verse only in her notebook, have her listen to the song online and learn it.  Then we sing it together.  Each week we learn a new one and review the older ones from previous weeks.

This year we're also studying California History...which I'm a bit nostalgic about it because I also studied California History in 4th grade! (We lived in Atwater back in the late 80's).  A friend is going to sell me her "My Golden California" curriculum which she says I can adapt to Ny's level. Until then, we're  using the plenteous resources available to us at our local libraries.
You wouldn't believe the TONS of info on your own state until actually deem it important to go looking for it...and boy is it everywhere.  Between the libraries' avid "state" collections and resources, the local museums and aquariums, and welcome centers,  I think we have enough resources at our disposal to keep us on California history for more than a year...but we're going to only plan on studying it until December.  We'll see where our interest leads us into the new semester.

For literature, we're reading classics and doing book reports.  Right now we're reading "The Secret Garden". I wanted to place more focus this year on teaching Ny to practice writing, writing, writing, and learning the elements of literature.  This means I've decided to go back to some curriculum which in the past I totally disliked (Shurley English) but with time I've learned to adapt to our needs (in other words, I don't follow the curriculum word for word!)  We're currently finishing up Level 2 with that. Yep, the same level 2 we started two years ago!  But that's okay, it's definitely on target for her now.

I dunno...what else should I say...
Oh!  Almost forgot...we are starting Classical Conversations in a few days- a total excitement hub for our kids since they haven't been in a "co-op" of any sorts since our move to Cali.  While CC isn't necessarily a co-op, it definitely will feel somewhat familiar to us (morning assembly and prayer) and it is Christian which helps me feel more at ease that we'll meet and befriend other families of faith.  The kids are just super excited!  And we'll go clothes shopping this weekend for a few more items (didn't I just buy Ny some bluejeans two MONTHS ago??!!!)

One more thing I wanted to add...
Probably even more than Ny, I am really excited about galloping around town to learn about California so if I ever sound super nerdy and start spouting off some facts about the history of Monterey, just know that I can tend to really GET INTO things.  Maybe overkill.  But I will be SURE to share with you EVERYTHING I learn about this state.  Yep.    Just thought you may want to be sure to stay tuned for the upcoming history lessons ahead.
All joking aside, I am seriously REALLY looking forward to this upcoming homeschool year (or months or whatever).  I have learned long ago to never plan too far in advance so the week and months that I have today with my kids in home education, I appreciate them all the more.  And if ever/whenever they do go off to some private school or what not, I can at least say "remember back in the days when we homeschooled?"

So, I want to make the most of the days ahead.

Bye bye summer break...

I can't believe school has started back already...but here we are.  I've been thinking about how quickly our summer flew. Brief recap:
My birthday- yay 34!

Visits to the Aquarium

Our local library's 100th birthday party

My hubby's birthday @ Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

A beautiful sunset on the beach

Fun on the coast

My daughter's birthday at Chuck E Cheese
Then there was Disneyland and American Girls and Ny's brief stints at ballet and Z's sudden realization that we were here in Cali to stay for awhile and her transitional probs.  (Glad to say things have settled down with her and she's back to her normal self again- talking, laughing, and amazing me more each day!)
Amazing how the summer quickly came and went.

But Back To School we are.
Next post, what our school is looking like these days.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Moving again.

Well, goodbye summer.
Didn't I just write a post only a while back entitled "Hello Summer?"
We started our homeschool back up this week and, yep, school's back in full swing for the Zinga clan.  I'm planning to write up a post soon on our curriculum for this year.
Anyhow, things are still constantly evolving in our home.  As you know, we just moved to Monterey (well, Pacific Grove really) about 5 1/2 months ago.  We've been living in an apartment right by the ocean and acclimating ourselves to the new climate, culture, and community (the 3 c's!)...BUT...there has been some missing elements to our family life here.
  1. We suffer from sticker shock.  A growing family of 4 with kids living in a tourist-enabled city doesn't quite equal to "family friendly" in my book. (Imagine no Target...but you do have a Macy's.  No Chick-Fil-A...but you have a nice mom and pop shop that will charge you 3 times the amount for a chicken burger).  Time to relocate.
  2. We miss the warm weather.  It's the middle of summer.  I am happy, ReALLY happy, if we can shed our sweaters because the temp hit 67 degrees. A far cry from last summer's 107.  Can you tell I'm slightly homesick?  Okay, not to the point of desperation...just a twang of "ahhh...remember the days".
  3. Space.  Need I say more?
So, okay, I have an aggressive house hunter hubby, and he's really been wheelin' and dealin' to get us a home a few miles inland from the coast.  It's about a 20 minute drive from his work here and really, I feel it's the best of both worlds.  God is so good (and no, I didn't always feel so positively about this move at first, but I've worked it through it). We'll still be an active part of the community here - because, hey, let's face it, it's a BEAUTIFUL place to work and visit and have a lot of fun in- but we'll definitely lower our living costs and have more space at what will be our new place of residence.  Did I mention that we'll have a Target and Walmart?  Okay that's a big deal for me. Not that I don't appreciate what makes Monterey unique (kayaking and surfing on the beach, scuba-diving, surfing, paddle-boating, fishing, upscale shopping if you got the moolah, cycling, riding surreys, a good city transit, ethnic restaurants of all types, and if you're into wine - which I'm not- you can have a field day as each restaurant thinks their selections are better than the next) there are a lot of good things about this place.  But on to why we're moving...
Did I mention that it's warmer?  Plus we'll have more space.  And we'll be in a house and I won't need to use the community laundromat anymore.
 I'm a sight to behold- 5'0" woman lugging  backloads of laundry in my husband's military bag up and down a flight of stairs every week- oh, you better believe I'm looking forward to having my own washer and dryer again!!!!  (You never what you're missing until you miss it.  The next time I see my own washer/dryer unit, I won't be complaining about how much laundry I have-- I'll be breathing thanks to God that I don't have to go up and down a flight of stairs for 3-4 hours each week, waiting on my turn for the dryers which never dry properly and cost a pretty penny).  So I'm excited. :-)

As for our moving prep, at this moment our apartment is nearly boxed up.  We've been living on temporary mode these past few months anyhow since we knew we'd be moving I didn't unpack everything to begin with...but I'm really surprised at how much I DID unpack.  Thankfully I kept all my boxes. 

As for homeschool, like I mentioned earlier, we started this week with Ny's 4th grade year, and Z is officially our preschooler.  Ny is really excited because she'll be starting Classical Conversations here in Monterey in a few weeks, and the cool thing is that there are a few families there who also live in the community we're moving to- so maybe we'll connect?
Connecting is still a major activity on my list of must-do's...I think because it's the only way I feel anyone can truly survive a move- whether it's to a new city or out of country. I'm finding that on days we don't go anywhere the whole family is cranky. Really.  It's just not our cup of tea...and I really do like being out a lot- exploring the sights and sound of the world beyond "home". There's so much history and culture to learn about here that we've decided for Ny's first semester we are studying California History.

However, Z has been having a really tough time lately with all the sights and sounds of Cali.  After 5 months of what in her 3 year old mind was one big vacation, she finally woke up to the understanding that we are here for a long time. When it dawned on her that our apartment is not a hotel and that we haven't seen her grandparents and her favorite friends back home in a really long time, she suddenly coiled into a shell and became our  baby all over again.  Lots of tears, not wanting to sleep alone, not wanting to feed herself or dress herself, and even lost interest in play...I tell ya, it's been a rough few weeks.  Then...she up and decided that she just didn't feel like speaking anymore either.  And that was the hardest of all of her symptoms for us to deal with. The day we quit hearing her voice, we knew there was a major problem and it hurt beyond hurt.  A friend of mine suggested that what she was going through may be very similar to grief.  Z was experiencing separation anxiety mixed with some fear and probably a dose of anger too, because she just didn't have it all sorted out yet.  My friend reminded me that in her small world, everything is larger than large, and her perception of the move was completely different than ours.  Whereas my 9 year old has come to terms with leaving her friends behind and is now making new friends and attempting to make the necessary adjustments to move forward, it doesn't quite work that way when you're just 3, and all you know is all you know.  And suddenly everything you see now doesn't add up in any way, shape, or form to the home you once knew.  Like the sights of ocean water on a beach and the smell of salt water in the air.  Or the sound of sea gulls, the feeling of cool, gusty breezes against your skin in the middle of summer.  What used to be your lone house surrounded by a huge yard to romp and play, collect rocks, and dig dirt has suddenly turned into a 100+ resident apartment complex featuring neatly numbered carports neighboring restaurants, businesses, hotels,and other apartments. Looking at life through her lenses, I am able to better understand what Z might be going through right now.
Granted, she is now talking to us again and eating just fine (praising GOD!!!!)-- although she still comes to sleep in our room some nights, and that's okay.  My main thing for her transition right now is just to help her to feel safe and to try to develop some form of routine for her.  Which is pretty hard right now (the routine part, that is), considering things won't be the same a few weeks from now after our 2nd move.  But we'll just have to take it one day at a time, one week at a time.
So, please keep us (and all our moving) in your prayers...and next time you think about us shoot out a small prayer on behalf of my kiddos and their transition into our new school year.
Hope you and yours are doing great!
Til next time...
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