Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Warmth Please

A few weeks back, we had temperatures of almost 80 degrees in Northern Virginia.  Needless to say, temperatures the last few days are giving us all the incentive in the world to get out of Dodge and move South.  A couple days ago we got a dusting of snow (luckily it melted hours later) and today we had a bit of sleet and just generally cloudy skies with cold temps. 

We are at that point now where we are so close to being ready to go that we can taste it, yet hubby is now getting inundated with work which makes it hard for him to get those last few things done before we go.  We've also been asked by friends and family in the area to stick around for certain functions that are happening over the next couple weeks.

I'm not sure how much of it we will stick around for, but I can guarantee you this... if the temps don't get back up toward that 80 degree mark soon we'll be South by Easter. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

If you've read my posts lately you know that I recently started using a system called Accountable Kids.  The first couple days went quite smoothly.  The last couple days were a bit more problematic.  Yesterday, I was continually reminding my 4 year old that she needs to do her chores.  I got up this morning and decided not to do that today.  I told her that I wasn't going to remind her today and if she didn't get things done she would not get her ticket.  So far, so good.  She's earned her first ticket for the day without any prodding from me, so that's progress.

My 7 year old, on the other hand, seems to be in the mood to hoard his tickets.  He's not sure what he wants to do with them so he's just "collecting" them.  That said, when I took a ticket away today because he was copping a 'tude with me (something that was instituted on day 2 of the program) he flipped out.  He also gave me grief about school today... going so far as to say I was a horrible teacher.  Come to find out he just didn't want to do school today; probably because he knew that once he finished school he'd get another ticket for his collection.

I can see the potential this program has, so I have no intention of giving up any time soon.  If anything, the reactions from the last few days have shown me that I need to be persistent so that the goal of responsible, respectful, and accountable children will be accomplished.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Was I Thinking?

Last night the family went out to dinner.  It had been a long time since the 4 of us had gone out to dinner and I was looking forward to it.  The food was good as was the company.  The only problem was that I made a mistake.  Not something I do often.  OK, so maybe I just don't admit to it often, but I admit it this time.  More on the details of the mistake later.

Normally when I go to bed, I read for about 15 - 30 minutes and then I turn the light off and crash hard.  That didn't happen last night.  Right after I put down a 300+ page book that I started and finished last night (and early this morning) it came to me.  The reason I was having trouble sleeping was the tea I'd had with dinner.  You see, I know better.  I went to a coffee shop around 2PM yesterday and made sure to order decaff, so it's not like it hadn't been on my mind earlier in the day.  I just spaced it out.

The good news is that I'd had the book on hold for 2 weeks at the library and I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to finish it before we head South.  Not an issue now.  The bad news, is that now I'm trying to go about my day on about 4.5 hours of sleep. 

Have you done anything like this before? 

"The difference between greatness and mediocrity is often how an individual views a mistake." --Nelson Boswell

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A New Normal

My kids have been watching WAY too much TV and have been whining and giving me 'tude.  I think they are related, so I've decided to do something about it.  I have a couple of friends who've been using a system called Accountable Kids for a while, with pretty good success.  I'd gotten the basics on how the system works from them and even found the companies quick start information on You Tube.  I fell in love and decided to buy it.  (I even found one kit on ebay for less than half price, so score one for me!)

Accountable Kids recommends instituting their system in 4 stages.  We started stage one yesterday and I must say it's been eye opening.  Each day the kids are responsible for a set of chores (simple things like brush teeth, get dressed, etc).  Upon completion they receive tickets.  Those tickets can be redeemed for things I'm trying to limit their time on (like TV time) or other things I think will help motivate them (like time playing games with Mommy).  They've been doing great doing their chores.  Those tickets are quite the incentive.  The most surprising thing is that neither of them has used their tickets to watch TV.  Instead they've been interested in playing games with me.

This has been a good and bad thing.  They have been TV free for over 24 hours now (good).  It's also meant I've been able to spend more time with my kids (also good), but it's also meant I've spent less time getting other things done that I've been needing to do (there is no laundry fairy so that's bad).  I'm hopeful that things will soon stabalize and I will not be requested quite so much.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the fact that my kids are enjoying the "new" responsibilities they have as well as the responsible choices they are making.  I can't wait to see how step 2 goes.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Good help is so hard to find...

but when you do, it's great.  A few weeks ago I mentioned that hubby and I had been having some trouble with DMV.  I then explained that sometimes all you need is to find the right person who really knows what they are doing.  On Thursday I got to experience that again.

You see, the weather was so nice and we'd been learning about the different types of animals (reptiles, mammals, etc) that I decided a trip to the zoo was in order.  Even though Friday's weather was going to be warmer I decided to go on Thursday; that way I could avoid the heavy traffic on the way back home.  Unfortunately I didn't realize there was a bunch of construction, so a trip that Google maps said would take just over an hour took 2 hours.  When we got there we were the 5th person turned away from the last parking lot with space.  Arghh!!!

Then my daughter proceeded to tell me that she needed to use the bathroom.  Of course?!?!  I knew that I would not be able to find a place to park in DC much less a place with a public bathroom, so I ended up parking in the bus zone and found a zoo employee there and told him what happened.  He told me that I could park there while we used the bathroom.  When we got back to the car, he told me to follow him over to a lot nearby, because 3 people had just left the lot.  He ended up moving the cones and let us park (one of the best parking spots I've gotten there too).

We then spent 4.5 wonderful hours at the zoo looking at animals and enjoying the weather.  The National Zoo is still one of my least favorite zoos that I've been to, but this trip certainly did help me to appreciate it a bit more.

Being that I'm a cat person, seeing the 6 and 7 month old lion cubs was a plus too.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Hubby has set a departure date... Saturday, March 19.  Needless to say this has me scrambling a bit.  I'm frantically trying to make sure all paperwork that requires my physical presence to be completed, packing things for storage or in the camper, figuring out what other things we might need to make life on the road easier, and visiting one last time with friends and family... all while trying to keep things as normal as possible for the kids.

This has been quite the feat I must say, but things are going well so far.  The weather has turned warmer and dryer as of late which makes getting outside and doing things much easier.  The kids have also been a bit more cooperative, making errands a bit easier and faster.  Perhaps they realize that once we head South we will be able to visit beaches and some really cool museums and parks that we just don't have access to here. 

I think they are also getting a bit tired of the life of a nomad and they realize that although we will be living in a camper and driving across the country, this will ultimately put us one step closer to our ultimate goal of moving into a house (be it in Australia or somewhere in the US - but where it is warmer).

As much as I'd like to update you more, I should probably get working on my to do list, so that when Friday comes around I'm not running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Back on track

A quick update:

The water heater is now fixed.  We are moving forward again, but obviously our plans have been delayed a bit.  We are hopeful that we will be on the road very soon.  More to come.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Strike that....

Well, it would appear we now have a water heater issue.  I guess we're not going to be leaving quite as soon as we'd hoped (again).  Update to come as soon as I have one.

Almost Ready - We think

Well, it looks like we are about a week away from having the camper ready for our trip South.  I think we have now dealt with all the recent problems we've discovered with the main systems (water, heat, AC, etc) and are now just down to working on those things that will make living in less than 400 sq ft for the foreseeable future a bit more comfortable.

I'm excited because we are about to embark on an adventure.  I'm a bit scared because we're about to embark on an adventure.  I'm a planner and I like to know what I'm getting myself into.  I don't know anyone who's done what we are about to do.  I've tried researching ideas on how to organize the camper so we can sleep, eat, teach, and work from it, but I haven't been able to come up with anything.  I'm also stressing a bit over the fact that we will no longer have access to a library to check books and DVD's out once we are on the road (a staple so far while homeschooling).  Not only that, but gas prices are skyrocketing and I'm just watching our bills go up with each place we are thinking of driving to.  It's making me think our adventure will be a bit more subdued than originally planned.

Who knows, maybe I'll keep a journal of things learned and done while on our adventure and I'll write a book about it.  Perhaps we will be the beginning of a trend where people try to work while on the go in their camper.  I'm certainly hoping so, since we've made some modifications to the camper designed for that purpose.

Friday, March 4, 2011

They're Watching

I haven't been at this blogging thing for very long and when I first set it up, I did so very quickly and without really thinking much about how I wanted it to look and what information I was willing to let people know about me.  Over the last few days I've been looking at some of those things.

For example, I've changed the design that appears in the background.  I've updated some of the personal information about me, and I've removed the list of names of people who are "following" my blog.  I still have a few more things I want to do, I just haven't had the time to get to it all.

Today I discovered that basic information is being collected about how many times each blog entry is read (the most popular being my tribute to my mom - which I think is really cool).  It can even tell me what kind of computer most of my followers use (Mac) and which web browser is the most popular (Firefox).  Don't worry, if you are not one of those people who is "officially" following my blog, I have no idea who you are.  All I know is what county you live in (most popular is US, but there is at least 1 person from 9 other countries that have at least looked at one of my blog posts).  Kinda cool since I can only account for 2 of them.

It is amazing to me, how computers and the Internet has made such things so easy.  (To be honest, part of me thinks it's cool and another part is scared!)

I am surprised though, that anyone who doesn't know me would even be interested in reading anything I've written.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have considered doing this if I was worried people would stumble across what I've written.  It's just that I'm writing stuff about my daily life and I just figured it's not that interesting to people who don't know me.  That said, maybe those people who are considered paranoid because they are convinced people are watching our every move are onto something.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Change of Plans

One of the reasons I liked the idea of homeschooling (for this year in particular) is that it allows me to be flexible in where and how I teach.  After helping my son with homework last year I realized that he learns better if things are made a bit more fun.  Doing pages and pages of seat work is not appealing to him (and I get that).

Yesterday, we learned about the classifications of animals.  I let the kids go through magazines and cut out pictures of different animals and then we glued them onto pages based upon their classification.  My son enjoyed the project so much that he made a book out of the pages and then started to add facts to the different categories (e.g. birds all have feathers).  Yesterday, was one of the longest "days of school" we've had to date, but he didn't complain because I'd found a way to make it fun.

This morning we learned about George Washington Carver.  My son has always been into inventing and making things so GWC, was of particular interest.  It didn't hurt that we got to shell and eat peanuts while watching a DVD about him and some of the things he invented. 

We are currently taking a "break" from school for today (another benefit of homeschooling).    You see, I've also learned that sometimes a break helps him focus better (and it can help me focus better because I can get a few things done now and then without feeling like I'm ignoring his schooling).  After lunch we will start up again and do a few worksheets and read a book before heading out to the playground and the library.

Another benefit to homeschooling is that when a child is sick on the day of a scheduled field trip, you can change the date on said trip.   You see, today I was going to take the kids to the zoo in DC.  I figured it would be appropriate since I've been teaching the kids about the different categories of animals.  Luckily I did not tell my children of my plans.  If I had, there would have been a LOT of complaining when we didn't go.  You see, when we went to bed last night, I was still not confident that I should be taking my daughter 1.5 hours away from home since she hadn't been feeling well lately. 

Today, she seems to be doing much better.  It's too late to go to the zoo today, but since it is so nice out I think I will take the kids to the local playground and the library (which is a couple blocks away) instead.  

I'm still hopeful that we can get a trip to the zoo in soon (Saturday looks nice - but more crowded of course).  Who knows what will happen.  Things can change, and probably will between now and then, but that's ok.  We're homeschoolers and we can roll with the punches.