For reasons unknown I am unable to post my usual way to the Blog, so I have found a workaround but until we get this resolved or move on to Astana where I might not be able to post photos :-( Sorry!
We had another little bit of news today, we will now be delayed 4 days and have to leave on the 13th for the US instead of the 9th. A problem with address registration crept up and has caused the delay. I am not really angry or upset, a little bummed maybe but not much that can be done about it so what's the use in fussing? But I'll admit, I am very, very, very, very tired and feeling more so by the day. Sleep is still very sketchy, maybe that will chance once Dominick gets back. I am worn down, but we are handling it all well enough and looking forward to going home...someday...maybe before we are forced to apply for citizenship! Hahaha :-)
It has been a quiet couple of days. Yesterday we visited with the Yagers all afternoon which was a real blessing and we enjoyed it very much. The boys were so good and hung out in the hotel room most of the late afternoon and evening while we adults yacked, and they quietly played games and watched movies. I appreciate their patience and understanding that Mommy needed a little grown up time. I think the boys really enjoyed horsing around with Mike some, as they have really missed Dominick a lot.
Today was a school day. We are in Kazakhstan where the kids all go to school on Saturdays...my boys are Kazakh/Kyrgyz...why not do school then? hahah! We got a lot accomplished I think, but then I always seem to question whether we are getting enough done or not even though we probably are. Maybe it is because it is disjointed and unscheduled a lot. When it is warmer, we take time off and get outside when we can because most of the time it is just too cold so we have to take advantage of it when possible. Sometimes our visits with the girls are at different times. Sometimes we do school at night, or split shift or whenever we can. It isn't always easy, but we are somehow getting it done.
Speaking of schooling, I had a funny moment with Matthew the other day. It is time to put together a learning plan for the 2nd semester through the Vision program, and he is sitting at the kitchen table with me working on his William the Conqueror comic book while I am quizzing him a bit about what we might accomplish the 2nd semester. We talk about his math and how much ground is realistic for him to cover, and move on to writing and I was asking him if he had learned outlining skills and note taking yet.
Then I ask him what he'd like to study in social studies, if he had any preference or ideas to use as a starting point. Without missing a beat or looking up from his drawing he replies "Yea, the Cuban Missile Crisis." WHAT??? Where did he even hear about that?? I then said "OK, umm...anything else interest you?". He glances up at me and says "I think the fall of the Soviet Union would be a good one after this trip. We can come up with a few other things too after we study those two."
Well. Okay. Can you hold on a semester so I can go take a college course or two and catch up with you?
It should be an interesting 2nd semester!!! Hahaha!
We have elected to go with a Pass/Fail grading system until high school, and it was pretty easy to see that was the best choice for us for a couple of reasons. First of all, since we are working mainly one on one, correcting any mistakes so the material is really learned and not moving on until we know something is firmly grasped, what is the point of grading it?
Matthew and Kenny both made another good observation that had me thinking a lot in general about "grades" and what their real value is with Joshie's first report card this year. They both looked at it and saw that Joshie didn't get the best grades in all the behavior categories. As an aside, why I ask do schools grade behavior? That one still rankles me a bit as being a bit too parental and shouldn't be coming under the realm of "education"...just as I don't think it is the public education system's job to teach sex ed other than as part of a biology class nor do I think they need to measure my kids BMI and record it for all time...it is stretching their role FAR too much...but then if parents would do THEIR jobs.... Now, I personally totally understand that teachers are leaving room to show growth in all the categories and how can you do that if you give a kid the highest grades at the beginning of the year? I tried to explain this to Matt and Kenny. But I have to admit, it was my 10 year old sons who brought me up short on that one saying "So, he is super good in class and on the playground, never once been in trouble, and at conferences you were told he is a really good boy...so WHAT does he need to improve on, Mommy? That is dumb and not fair just to show him improving later on, he doesn't even need to be any better behaved then he already is! That makes no sense." They went on and on over that one. Funny how they never felt that way about their own report cards but when it came to Joshua they were quite miffed at this common practice in all schools. And no Mrs. Weber, you do not need to change any grades :-) Just food for thought for all of us on this subject.
Personally, at home, we have already started down the path of not even caring much about grades at all but more about what skills have been mastered and learned in general. For our unique situation, we really NEED to embrace new ways of viewing education so we can help our 3 English Language Learners move forward with confidence despite some difficult trials. I have never cared if my kids were straight A's or straight D's if they tried their best, and have quickly seen how grades at all have harmed Kenny's perception of himself which is utterly unfair and it is impossible to grade his work in a meaningful way. Grades, basically, are meaningless except for use by a system which insists on using them to categorize learners...and I have and will have learners who simply can not be categorized or graded in any way at all that makes sense. Grades don't measure intellect and it doesn't really accurately measure what has been learned. Matthew got straight A's on a couple of report cards last year and yet we come to find after testing this year that he is working at a high 3rd grade level on certain writing skills...something we quickly corrected but had no clue of if we only looked at grades. Education...learning...what the brain has taken in and processed and can use later on...how in the world can that really ever be measured or quantified? And based upon WHOSE yardstick?
Ahhh...I must have way too much time to think here.
So we are hanging out, doing our thing, waiting and waiting and waiting. Eating Ramen Noodles, crunching Kracks, trying to keep the boys occupied as best I can and the girls happy while visiting. Today we played Rummikub for a chocolate bar...winner takes all! We also took a chocolate bar and broke it up into pieces and played "Hide the Chocolate" which surprised me by occupying all the kids quite happily for about 45 minutes. We all had a good time, laughed like crazy, and it is funny how without language we all resort to the stupid juvenile jokes to help us bond and get to be more and more comfortable with one another. We got to witness Olesya's first burp, proudly ripped out for all the world to hear and she was SO excited! Hahaha! We joked about Joshie's potty dance. Kenny cracked up about smelly feet. We have already corrupted them. Real mature humor, I know, but it works and we all are laughing a lot together, which is what we need most right now I think. Sort of like Kenny and the Hiney Doll on his second day with us! Whatever works until real life begins...