Friday, May 28, 2010

Our Foreign Exchange Experience

The story I submitted to our local paper to tell our story and advertise for more host families in our area.

G T is the first Turkish graduate from H High School. A participant in the Youth Exchange and Study program, G has spent the last 10 months living in M, IN and attending H High School. The Youth Exchange and Study program is administered by the U.S. State Department. The program is vital in expanding communication between the people of the United States and the partner countries. By living with host families and attending typical American high schools, students come to understand American values and the qualities of leadership while helping educating Americans about their countries and cultures. G has been a wonderful representative from Turkey and has learned much about the United States.

As a student at H High School, G has participated in volleyball, German club and softball. She has taken classes in government, economics, U.S. History, chemistry, physics and biology. Through her daily interactions she has grown in her ability to communicate effectively in English and has a more complete understanding of what it means to live in the United States. "It was hard to understand people in H at first. Now that I know them better, I like them better. I’m sad that I need to go back home soon," said G.

G’s host family, the Js, has enjoyed hosting a foreign exchange student. "I didn't realize when we decided to host G how much we would get from the experience. I expected it to be about giving our home, our time and our family. Now we have extended family in Istanbul, Turkey. I never knew how many benefits there would be in sharing our home and our lives like this," stated R J.

The opportunity to share the United States with a student like G is available to anyone. The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), a non-profit organization, is seeking host families in southern Indiana. Students will be arriving in the United States prior to the start of school to spend the 2010-2011 academic year. CIEE exchange students hail from all over the globe and are eager to learn about the United States. Students live with host families, attend high school, and become true members of their new families and communities. The USA High School program provides an opportunity for host families to form lifelong relationships and unforgettable memories.

Students participating in the exchange are between 15 – 18 years of age, have studied English for a minimum of three years, have their own medical insurance & spending money, and have undergone a thorough personal screening and interview process. Many of these students arrive in the United States with dreams of immersing themselves in the American culture through living with a host family and participating in clubs, sports, arts, music and other activities. They return to their native land with improved English skills, a sense of independence and self-confidence, more maturity, and a better global understanding. Most importantly, they will have built American relationships that will last forever. Hosting a CIEE student is the perfect opportunity for communities to meet an ‘ambassador’ of an overseas country, and to develop skills as an ‘ambassador’ of the U.S.

To become a host family or to request more information on this rewarding experience, please contact:

Weekly Recap 5/24-5/28

Though our school year is officially over, we had a fun week and I wanted to share it.  It's been great for all of us to just take a break. 

I am even enforcing a break for myself.  No lesson planning or homeschool scheming or plotting until after the middle of June.  I have to admit I've caught myself a few times going for my well worn copy of The Well Trained Mind.  Habits can be hard to overcome.  I have enjoyed reading for pleasure alone and spending time just playing or doing nothing.  This is what summer vacation use to feel like.  Who knew homeschooling would help me recall that feeling of freedom.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer To Do List

This summer I would like to:
1. relax - by relax I mean read lots of good books, spend time in my hammock, enjoy my family and feel refreshed and renewed
2. take time to really write not just write a bit - writing tends to be what happens last in my world.  I'd like to find a place that writing will fit and stick it there in a permanent way.
3. learn to make pasta - I'm not interested in spaghetti or long snaky noodles.  I want to learn to make pouches and pillows and stuff them with delightful treats.  I want to learn to shape pasta and seal the edges to keep all the goodness inside.
4.  enjoy my garden - so far my garden has been a delight.  I do find myself holding my breath wondering if it's all going to turn out all right.  I want to be able to take delight in each and every plant and vegetable and glory in the entire process.  I don't want to be fearful of what might not do well and focus on what isn't producing.
5.  nurture those around me - my husband, my family, my friends, my children.  I desire to take special care of each and everyone of them this summer.  I'd like to find a place and time to share with them individually how much I appreciate them and what blessings they are to me.
6.  live with intention - choosing rather than falling back on the path of least resistance or doing what I've always done.  There are well worn paths that bring nothing but misery.  I don't want to wander down those again.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Weekly Recap 5/17-5/21

Our school year is complete!  This was our last official school day for the year.  We actually completed 180 1/2 days.   We do have a few field trips planned that will directly pertain to our subject content this year planned for next week;  a trip to the zoo and a trip to the science museum.  We've all decided they don't really count for school so we can celebrate today as our last day. 

I intend to do some summer learning activities.  We aren't talking about that yet.  I promised I wouldn't try to teach them in any way until the third week in June. 

It feels GREAT to have completed our first year of homeschooling and to feel a sense of well-being and satisfaction as we close the books on this year.

We spent much of this week finishing up tests, compiling notebooks, weeding out things we didn't need to keep and reviewing what we've learned.  I'm not sure our school room has looked this good since the first day of school.

I'm sure I'll be thinking more about what we accomplished and how we met our learning goals. I've got planning to do for next year.  I'll write more about all that later.  Right now, we are on vacation!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Odd Jobs

It was an odd request.  "I need to stop by and take a picture of your bathroom.  Would 4:30pm be a good time for you?"  Of course it was.  What would you really say to someone that needed to take a picture of your bathroom?  That kind of need is difficult to understand or deny.

And so, at 4:30pm I shook hands with a stranger.   I smiled, introduced myself and followed him to his bathroom.  Two pictures taken.  Pleasantries exchanged.  Goodbyes said.  We'll probably never see each other again but I'll always have those bathroom pictures.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Giving and Receiving

I love giving gifts to the people I love and know well.  I love finding just the right thing for just the right person.  I enjoy the Nancy Drew skills that are necessary to ferret out what a person would truly be blessed to receive.  I love listening and looking for clues concerning the perfect gift.  For me, there is a singular sense of satisfaction in knowing a gift was perfectly given and received.

I am, however, terrible at receiving gifts.  There is so little that I want and nothing that I need.  I am blessed on all fronts and my love language is not receiving gifts, it's quality time.  That pretty much counts out anyone not within 100 miles.  If I want something, I will tell the gift giver exactly what I want and expect to receive it, as described.  That rarely flies with my family.

A few years ago, my husband bought me an absolutely gorgeous past-present-future diamond necklace for my birthday.  It was beautiful and it wasn't what I'd requested.  What I'd really wanted was a new bedroom complete with bedding, freshly painted walls and a boutique hotel feel.  Since our master bath is attached, the new bedroom would have to spill over into a new bathroom.  I wasn't expecting a complete remodel, just a surface job but still somewhat pricey. 

As I opened the sparkling diamond necklace all I could think was, "It'll be another year before I can have my bedroom."  That's definitely not the response my darling husband was looking for when he selected my beautiful necklace.   I totally blew it.  I knew it at that moment and I know it today.

This year, I got money for my birthday from my dh.  He's not going to be guilty of selecting the wrong gift again.  I can't blame him.  It is beyond disheartening to anticipate the perfect gift and find it's disappointing to the receiver.  I am blessed that he thought of me at all and that he's so generous with his gift giving dollars.  I'm sad that I've made it difficult for him to feel joyful about giving me a gift.  I'm sad that I feel no joy in selecting a gift for myself.  I have bought a few things but I suspect the rest of the money will sit and wait for an emergency where a few extra dollars will come in handy.

Gift giving is a tricky thing.  Sometimes it is better to give than to receive and sometimes it's best to be a good receiver.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Winding Down

Our school year is coming to a close.  Officially we have three and a half days left.  Unofficially, I'm as terrified of the end as I was of the beginning.  What am I going to do with the time that won't be consumed with the focused effort of school work?  How am I going to convince them that all the fun, educational activities I've planned for the summer aren't really "school"?  What is summer going to be like for us?

I have dreams of the five of us learning to make pasta, pastries and all kinds of bread.  I picture us lounging on the hammock, reading Shakespeare aloud and listening to classical music.  I fantasize about learning to navigate using the stars and making our own maps using what we learn during our night time observations.  And then I take a deep breathe, open my eyes and look at  my real children and my real life.

Who knows what this summer will bring?  What I do know is that we have all been structured long enough and it's time to relax.  Yes, I have some plans and I'll follow through, but not for a bit and not in a militant way. I've spent much of this school year marching the kids toward the goals we'd set.  Completing the assignment, the curriculum, the designated number of days.  The learning was valuable but the attitude was sometimes frustrating (and frustrated).

 I hope to learn how to shepherd my children this summer, not march them.  My desire is to make plans that include them and then follow through in a way that proves enriching for all of us. I intend to invite them to set out with me and see where we go.  I can't wait to learn more about the stars and Shakespeare.  I am anxious to see where their interests will take them this summer.  Will they share my interest in astronomy and Shakespeare or set out on their own?  Will our activities follow a new and uncharted path between my ideas and theirs?  I have no idea what our time this summer will look like.  I do know that whatever we do, we will be spending time doing it together and that is what makes the time worthwhile.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Weekly Recap 5/3-5/7

This week was a little bit disjointed.  My children were able to share the stomach flu like they share everything else, generously.  S8 started it in the middle of the night on Sunday night.  K13 followed at about 4am Monday morning.  We had a day of recovery on Tuesday before I got it and M5 joined me.  H11 wasn't feeling so well on Thursday morning but by Friday we were all in top form again. 

We spent the first part of the week doing quiet things that didn't require much energy and didn't require too much of me. 
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H11 was an excellent nurse.
M5 made some impressive math progress.
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All of our extra activities were cancelled for the week so I have a feeling we'll all be ready to get out of the house this weekend.


Writing - Writing Strands 5
R&S Grammar 8 - Chapter 10
Lial BCM - Ch 8 Geometry
History - Review of Ancient History
Biology - The Human Body
Music - clarinet

R&S Grammar 5 - COMPLETE!!!
Writing - Writing Strands 4 - #4
Math on the Level - multiplication facts 0-7
History - Review of Ancient History
Biology - The Human Body
Music - Flute

Writing - COMPLETE!!!!!
R&S Grammar 2 - COMPLETE!!!!!
Math on the Level - multiplication facts 0-7
History - Review of Ancient History
Biology - The Human Body
Music - violin

Phonics Pathways
First Language Lessons - #42-46
Math on the Level - addition and subtraction, counting to 100, counting by 10s
History - Review of Ancient History
Biology - The Human Body

Monday, May 3, 2010

Requirements May Change Without Notice

If you were interviewing for a job and were told that your job requirements might change without notice, you'd probably have the sense to leave the interview and never return.  How does it happen that reasonable people have, throughout time, signed on for a job with no real, set in stone parameters and have continued to do that job day in and day out?

Today, my job included cleaning up after two very lovely and very ill children.  My job also included teaching and entertaining two very lovely and very healthy children.  The real trick was trying to keep the lovely and sick children away from the lovely and well children and to do it without the benefit of sleep.  Unfortunately for me, everyone else was well rested.

It is probably a good thing that no one made me believe that there'd be days like today when my husband and I were discussing the wisdom of starting a family.  We had lots of reasons for and against children on our list.  Vomit was not included.  My ability to clean a zoo's worth of stuffed animals never entered the discussion.  My husband's inability to deal with vomit or stuffed animals never entered the discussion.  So many really relavent and crucial facts never entered the discussion.

We were clueless and we probably still are.  We have so much to learn as parents and so much of our children's lives to get through.  Every time I think I've got something under control, the next child or situation comes along and reminds me that I am clueless.  I think the biggest thing I've got going for me is that I entered into parenthood willingly.  In fact, I came into this club with enthusiasm and joy.  Even on days like today, I am able to remind myself that my children are worth every dirty towel I washed and garbage can I emptied.

Sometimes it's impossible to plan for life.  Sometimes you make your best plan and just hang on for the rough parts because the requirements for life and parenting may change without notice.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Celebrate Today!

This was the slogan we saw over and over again as we made our way through the Magic Kingdom.  I brought some of that Disney Magic home with me and have continued to Celebrate Today as I've moved through the week.

I've celebrated spring.  Even if it's not quite as warm as it was in Florida.

I've celebrated being at home and enjoying time just hanging out.  Disney was amazing but it was constant motion.  It's good to spend some time hanging in the hammock and playing on slides and ladders and swings that are relatively stationery.  It may lack the glitz of Disney but the backyard playground is still a great place to be.

I've celebrated being a homeschool family.  We are only a few short weeks from the end of our school year.  Lessons, classes, outside activities are winding down.  We are all looking forward to having time to fill rather than trying to make time.

I've celebrated freedom and choices.   Will we take golf lessons?  See a movie?  Finish the book? Eat first or play first?  Life is full of great choices and it's so nice to recognize when all the choices are good choices. 

I've celebrated another week of not cooking a single meal.  There aren't many benefits of having dh out of town so I have to celebrate where I can.

What did you Celebrate Today?