Thursday, March 26, 2015

Oh, those perfect days...

Some days are just SO GREAT!  They make you remember and realize why you committed to this journey.  They are the days you dreamed about when you set out on this home education path.  They are, sometimes, few and far between.  But when they need to sit and savor it and reflect on it and bask in it.

Today was one such day.

I woke up at 7.  Had my coffee and overnight oats with chia seeds and dried blueberries.  And I disciplined myself to do yoga before the girls got up.  This is so key for me.  I always have good intentions, but I get lazy and then spend the whole ding-dong day thinking that I have to get on the mat--sometimes it's 7 or 8pm before I do!  But this morning, I did Yoga with Adriene's For the <3 of Hamstrings and Digestion Flow (I love the twists and the ab work makes me feel lean and mean all day).  When I was done with yoga, I found this...

Allie has chosen Animal Farm as her second selection from her Freshman Reading List.  She started it Tuesday and likes it, she is going to stick with it.  It's important to me that she pick the books and take time to make sure she wants to read them.  I believe coming to a book on your own will make it more meaningful to you.

Piper is really into the Sims, Minecraft, Garry's Mod and Roblox.  I am not sure if that makes her a gamer.  She likes creative kind of games.  For at least two years now, she has been using the money she earns tutoring and walking dogs to buy games and expansion packs and things like that.  We are a Mac family, but she found our Macs frustrating to use for gaming--apparently games are really designed for use with PCs.  So she has been using the ancient PC in our basement that is old and slow-and used as a hub for our modem and router- for games.  She has been asking for probably about two years if she can buy a new gaming PC and keep it in her room.  We had said no computers in your room.  We had said go outside and play.  We had said be creative.  But, we've been having a change of heart--Piper rollerblades or rides her bike to the neighbors' houses to walk their dogs every day.  The gaming she does is creative.  Heck, this kid has been into gaming since she was 2--I am not kidding.  She used to pull herself up on the computer chair and play "Barbie Make-up Game".  She blew her sister out of the water and very often amazed Jason and I at how she navigated around the computer--this was all before she even went to pre-school!  In a late-night phone conversation, her father and I decided last night (he is traveling for work) that we would help her buy a gaming PC.  She was still snuggled in bed this morning when I told her and we went and got the laptop to start researching.

Piper spent the day educating herself on processors and memory and Nvidia Geforce drivers and GDDR.  She had some sticker shock--some of these PCs can run $6000-$7000.  She does not have that kind of budget.  But we have some friends who have helped us figure out the things that are most important for the kind of gaming she does.  When Allie got her fish and hermit crabs and gerbils, she did a TON of research and Piper is doing a TON of research into what she needs and getting a good price on a gaming PC.

I had a plan for the day, but since Allie had been contentedly reading Animal Farm and Piper was happily researching gaming computers, I felt they were educating themselves and I felt good about abandoning my list of things I wanted them to do today for school.  I puttered around and did laundry, cleaned bathrooms, vacuumed.  I made us all some green juice.

I came back into the dining room to find that Allie was using the microscope and slides that I had left out (part of my original plan for the day).  I asked her to write a description of what she saw and told her we could call it Science and Writing for the day.  She liked the idea and spent about an hour looking at slides and writing descriptions.

Allie had an orthodontist appointment and we hit up Starbucks on the way home.  It's Starbucks 20th Birthday and they were giving away free samples of this hazelnut frappuccino with strawberry cream.  After trying it, Allie ordered one.  I stuck with my usual Pike's with coconut milk.  We sat at the counter and took a photo of her frappuccino next to the free sample tray and played around with filters and hashtags.  We chatted about other stuff.  We spent some quality time together.

When we came home, Piper filled me in on the kinds of computers her favorite youtubers use for gaming and the things that she felt were most important and what was good and what was better and what was best and where she felt she could sacrifice or skimp and where she really felt she needed to get the best.  She also got out all the cash she has been stockpiling because she didn't know what she wanted, until we said she could buy this.  She is SO my daughter!  I'm SO PROUD of that girl!!  She's frugal and she's a saver.  She won't buy anything without giving it a lot of thought and making sure she will use it and that it's the best use of her money.  

I gave Allie some Arnica (her braces hurt) and we read about the Russian Revolution.  So much is about the mysteries surrounding the Romanovs.  We weeded through until we found The Russian Revolution Explained: World History Review .  We took notes on the causes of the Russian Revolution (weakness of Czar, Bloody Sunday, WWI, Army, Duma, Leninism).  Allie looked up definitions for proletariat/proletarian, bourgeoisie and conscription; she also looked up Bolshevik, Communism and Capitalism.  Based just on the definitions she wrote down, we discussed obvious issues with communism and possible problems with capitalism based on the definitions and what she remembered from another history lesson.  I try not to interject my opinions on anything political, but to present honest facts from a variety of sources. Allie came up with a list of pros and cons for communism and capitalism and decided both have their flaws, but capitalism is probably the better system.  
Then I made Chunky Monkey pancakes (shhh...don't tell the green juice!).  I have been reading Heather Bruggeman's blog for a few years, but I recently went back and started reading her archives.  I signed up and shared the cost with a friend for her Whole Foods Kitchen workshop (we signed up BEFORE March 22).  I can't wait!

We ended the night with a little Gilmore Girls.

Perfect day!  The only thing that could have made it better was if Lorelai and Luke would GET TOGETHER already!!!!  We are constantly yelling at the screen:  Just get together already!!

I wish, wish, wish we could be unschoolers all the time.  But, math would not get done.  Italian probably would, as they really enjoy it.  I am too traditional, too conservative.  I want to know my girls are prepared for college.  And while I definitely think that self-motivated interest led learning COULD prepare kids for college, I just can't relax enough to do this ALL THE TIME.  I can't sit by while the girls giggle on Skype with friends for hours and put on make-up and try on outfits and argue with each other and watch stupid shows on Netflix and text friends.  I can't help but think that time is being wasted--don't get me wrong, some of that time is important, but HOURS and HOURS of it every day would not amount to the experience I want for them.  But that was not Piper learned about gaming PCs and the differences between Xeon and AMD processors and GDDR and memory on graphics cards and the differences between nVidia GTX and GTS and Allie spent hours reading Animal Farm and learning about the Russian Revolution and the connection between the two and describing the wings of different insects after looking at them through the microscope.  Today was a good day.  Today was perfect.  Today was true learning.

I logged in Allie's hour of science and her hour and a half of history.  I don't count reading on her own toward anything, but discussion of the book counted for a half hour of Language Arts (I counted the descriptive writing of the slides toward science) and looking up and writing down the definitions and discussing them counted for another half hour (I counted the reading and videos about the Russian Revolution and the discussion on that and the pros and cons of communism and capitalism as history).  Three hours of school on a day when we didn't do math or Italian isn't bad!