Schooling on Vacation

We get asked a lot if we take normal breaks at Christmas time.  The longer we’ve been educating our kids, the more difficult I find that question.  The question seems to assume that school for us is always sitting and reading books, or doing worksheets with me at some writing board and all.  Visions of school desks found at garage sales run through my mind as my students “work hard” at their learning.
Our school just isn’t like that.  We do some sitting work at the dining room table, but not every day.  Most days, but not every day.  We read everyday whether or not we are on vacation.  I would imagine that many families are like that.  We read school books on vacation.  Does that mean we’re “doing school?”  
There was an afternoon a few days ago when Silje and David were just silly and (frankly annoying) as they were overwhelmed with new fun things down here every single day.  They needed a little forced “down time” so we brought out the math workbooks and had them each do a math sheet.  It was a bit of “normal” for them in the overstimulating environment of vacation and it did the trick.  They were much more themselves after that.
Our chosen curricula is sometimes multiple grade levels ahead of their peers so if we’re “behind” of the set schedule it doesn’t bother me.  Sometimes we’re ahead, sometimes we’re behind of the prescribed schedule.  It’s been really hard for me to realize that if we’re learning every day, then we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.  
So if you ask me if we’re learning everyday while on vacation, I’d say YES!  So on our learning adventure this week the big highlight was our “school” field trip to the Grand Canyon.  Our principal (Knut) declared the field trip and so our little class along with 2 added chaperones (Grammy and Papa) headed out.  It was our family’s first time there.  Knut and I had last visited it when we were Silje and David’s age.  (Although we didn’t visit it together.  We had no idea who each other were at that time.)
It was fun to hear the variety of languages there, and see license plates from as far away as Alaska.  I think anyone who has ever been there would agree that there are no pictures that can capture this sight.  We just saw a little tip of it on the South rim, but it was still a sight to behold.
The weather was ideal (60 degrees or so) and Silje and David did so well.  David was a little nervous that he would fall in, so he was pretty cautious the whole time.  Silje was adventurous and really wanted to hike down to the bottom.  Unfortunately we didn’t have time for that.  
The tough part of the day was that Elias did not enjoy a single second.  His grating whine was in full force and he was just having a tough time handling himself the whole way. 

There’s a reason Knut and I sort of wish that our kids would skip over the age of 3 and go straight to 4.  I know that sounds bad, but all of our kids thus far have had a tough time with that age, and grow out of it by 4.  We finally got to a little shop and found a place for him to just sit and decompress. 

So Knut took the older 2 and saw a bit more of the canyon as my mom and I took the little ones to more indoor places. 

I ended up getting a school book for next year.  Next year we’ll begin studying early American history, and I found a book put out by the council for Indian Education talking about the nation’s move to their designated reservation and adapting to their new environment and new way of life.  It’s called Navajo Long Walk and is from the perspective of a little boy.  I’m hoping it will be a good supplement for next year.

On a side note, I find it so interesting that down here, Indians call themselves Indians.  You see it all over signs for their shops and different places.  In the midwest where we live, saying “Indian” is wrong and you’re supposed to say “Native American.”  I have yet to see any term of that sort down here and wonder if the tolerance and need for political correctness varies from Indian/Native American nation to nation.  Sorry…just some random observations.

On another side note, on our trip down here to Arizona we stopped at a little Indian shop because one of the kids thought they were going to throw up from car sickness and we all needed to stretch our legs.  We stopped and Silje found a map poster in the shop of Indian nations and their original location all across the United States.  It’s a fascinating map, so for $4 we got that also to supplement our school year coming up.

Now back to our field trip.

Knut got a trail guide book there to study for the next few years as he plans a big trip to the bottom.  No one in my family seems interested in going with him, but Silje really wants to.  It would be a big overnight adventure, so maybe when they’re a tad older, and the trip is mapped out.  Half the fun is anticipation anyway, right?

Here’s our dreamy principal.  There was no way he could get me to pose over the cliff like that.  I stayed nice and firm on the paved sidewalk thank-you-very-much.

Resource:  Often there are online promo codes available for educational supplies or travel, to save on home schooling experiences.

Picture Round Up

Vacation pictures seem to pile up pretty quick.

 We’re keeping busy, that’s for sure.

 My sister’s twin girls have gotten so big since last year.  There were very few pictures that I actually caught them in together as they seem to always be running in opposite directions.

 On Christmas Eve day it’s become a new tradition to go Frisbee golfing.  I caught an action shot of Knut, playing and still wearing Solveig on his back. 

 Silje is looking more and more grown up as I see her with her younger cousins. 

 Let’s not forget my nephew, who is a pretty cool 4 year old!

 We’re realizing Solveig really knows how to work a crowd and get everyone doing her bidding with very little effort.  We’ll have to keep an eye on that.  (Psst…isn’t my sister gorgeous?)

 The cousin picture didn’t work out so well this year, but I’m still looking through all the shots and trying to figure out a way to make it work.  They’re a squirrely bunch. 

 The boys are having fun with their new toys.  I did finish Silje’s homemade present finally, and she loved it so so much.  I’ll have to post pictures of her gift soon since it was handmade.

 On Christmas day we were gathered with extended family at my aunt’s.  One of my cousins who is now in college was there.  He’s half Japanese and half American and now lives in the states going to school, but his parents are now back in Tokyo.  He was handing out treats from Japan (just like I remember getting from my uncle as a child). 

 Elias was having the hardest time understanding that some of the candy had edible wrappers made of rice paper (which is basically taste-less) and the wrappers just wouldn’t come off.  No matter how my cousin Josh tried to explain that you just eat it with the wrapper on, Elias felt he knew better and spent a good deal of time trying to get the wrapper off, without success.

 Josh got such a kick out of this, and Elias got such a kick watching Josh pop candy in his mouth with the wrapper on over and over in an attempt to show him that it was in fact, okay.

 In the end, Josh won him over.

I’ve never experienced the technology we had going on in that house Christmas Day.  My uncle in Tennessee Skyped in, and then so did my cousin in China, aunt and uncle in Japan, as well as a phone call from another uncle in China.  We had all these iPads and laptops open in the middle of the coffee table as we sang Christmas carols.  It felt so oddly science-fiction to have us all together like that.

We’ve also squeezed in some cousin bowling, girls night out for coffee, and a mini-road trip (within our road trip).  I’ve been trying to take pictures, and still be disciplined to leave the camera at home and just live a bit.  I’m at that part of vacation that I’m in overload of things to blog about and no time at all to share it all.  What normally ends up happening is I go home, pass out from exhaustion from the relaxation that being a mother on vacation always brings, and just move on.  I end up skipping all those lovely little details without record.  And you know what?  That’s okay. 

Yarn Along

It’s Wednesday, so that means I’m writing about knitting and reading along with Ginny.  I’m on vacation this week and I ironically that does not mean a lot of knitting.  I am happy to report that I’m finally able to knit without my arms hurting and I could not be more happy about that.  I think my rest paid off.

I’m working on my first ever felted project.  It’s some slippers for me using the hopsalot pattern.  I actually have some ideas for slipper patterns, but before I burn out from pattern writing, I was craving some no-brainer pattern for vacation that I could easily knit without any paper in front of me. 

As for reading, I’ve being flipping through the high style magazines that my sister brought over to my mom’s place.  I’m really not in the fashion loop ever, but my sister is.  She always looks gorgeous so I feel when I’m around her that I should step it up somehow so I don’t look like the frumpy-farmer’s-wife sister straight off the pasture.  Ironically, I go past the make up tips and shoes and go straight to any ads or write ups on sweaters.  I study the pictures and see what’s in, and deconstruct each sweater in my head to figure out how it is made, or how I would “improve” it.  I’m hopeless, really.

So that’s the Yarn Along from my mother’s kitchen.  My parents just informed me it’s time for me to go to bed. 😉  Just when you think you’re a grown up, married with 4 kids…

Christmas Blessings

This Christmas, I was showered with blessings.  As an adult, it seems that there aren’t many presents for me under the tree anymore, but several sitting around it.

This Christmas, I feel especially blessed to see my grandma and grandpa.  In their late 80s, they are still an amazing treasure to me.

Grandpa still read the Christmas story.  He’s had an up and down year health wise.  It’s all stable now.  Some days it feels like we’re losing him in bits and pieces instead of all at once.  It saddens me to see how much he ages from year to year.  He was much better than I had prepared myself for, though.

My grandma can’t see much anymore, but she’s still a treasure as well.  It’s so funny to me that I wasn’t close to her much when I was a child, but as an adult we’ve formed this amazing connection.  Grandpa was always the darling of the kids, and we all knew that anyone who hung out with Grandma ended up doing chores.  As an adult, I treasure the skills she has given me, and her deep desire to bless others.  It’s so hard that our visits are limited to once a year because a year brings so many changes at their age.  I’m so blessed to have them, though.  They are my Christmas present.

If you’d like to share your blessings too, it is always fun to share.  Leave a comment with your Christmas blessings, or a link to your blog post following the I’m Blessed guidelines.  It’s a fun little party.