Friday, September 13, 2013

been super busy --- talking to President Carter

The past two weeks our schedule got turned upside down in our house when I got an email last week informing me I was a finalist to participate in a #CarterCenter G+ Hangout with President Carter on #globalhealth. That email began a very detailed and hectic busy-ness trying to arrange tests on internet connections and laptops and webcams etc to be sure I had the correct technology to even keep being considered as a panelist.

First, we tried to get this set up to occur at R's one day of school, Community Day, which meets every Tuesday at the Boys & Girls' Club in San Marcos. The G+ Hangout was scheduled for the middle of the day when we'd be at school. It was my plan that if I was selected we could have our middle school students watch live and then we'd use it to launch our school's brand new Kids For Peace chapter by discussing how they want to help children in developing countries.

Since the staff there was in the middle of quite a lot that week, it took a little longer than I hoped to get the test run. While I was playing phone tag (and starting to feel like a nuisance), a new email arrived. It was from one of President Carter's aides, asking of she could talk to me about being a finalist. ACK! I quickly changed out of my pjs into a dress, shooed R to the bedroom and prepared for a live G+ Hangout with the aide and a Google employee. So excited by this new development, I decided we better run a tech test here at home in case things didn't work out at the B&G Club.

Alas, the internet speeds at home were NOT at all up to snuff. : ( And when I was able to get in touch with the director of operations at the B&G Club, they couldn't get the test run, so we had to scrap that site, too. Ohh I was getting nervous - it was Friday by then and the Hangout was ONLY 4 days away!

Luckily, I asked my amazing darling to run the speed test at his office (knowing there was NO WAY the San Diego Supercomputer Center wouldn't be fast enough), and yeah! His office and laptop was perfect for me to use if I got chosen. But there was still a few other tests we needed to run with the tech company Google uses for these high profile Hangouts, so we had to go over there on Sunday afternoon to run those. Everything went fine, but they wondered if I had a webcam to try out if necessary. We did - somewhere at home.

Early Monday morning, after my Darling has already left for the office, I found out they needed me to go back to the office to run more tests WITH that webcam we hadn't located yet! R & I packed up some school stuff for him to do since once my Darling came to get us and take us over to his office, we'd be staying all day. Darling located the webcam and we grabbed our stuff and headed back out into morning traffic. On the drive over, the official notification of being chosen as a panelist came through on my phone!

We got to the office and decided we needed to find another space so I wouldn't be taking up my Darling's office for two days and disrupting his work even more. I ended up with access to one conference room, where we tried to set up and test before we learned it had no Ethernet without a 48 hour notice. We were given access to another conference room a floor up, and that one was perfect. I wrote in on the schedules posted on the doors "G+ Hangout with President Carter."

Monday was filled with rehearsals and finalization of tech details. And trying to get R to focus on school while we were in other offices and dealing with all of this. I still needed to find a minute to do a million other things AND write out my questions for the panel. Somehow I found time to get some really great questions tweaked and emailed. PHEW! Plus, I called my daughters and dad to let them know all about the Hangout. We emailed and called lots of folks, plus I started promoting it all over FB & G+.

As soon as I got up on Tuesday, I checked my phone and there was a request to revise & edit my questions! Now, I am an editor and I know it goes, so I rewrote two before I called the aide back to discuss the changes and where I was going with the third one. I left for the SDSC ready and nervous.

We got everything set up in the conference room and my Darling went back to his office & R so they could watch live from there. I had to move around the table until the folks at Google were happy with the lighting, the composition of the scene, etc etc. I had my revised questions printed out and folded over the laptop screen so I could see it without having to look down - there hadn't been a lot of time to memorize them with all of the tech stuff we had to take care of.

Minutes before we were going to go live, I noticed the laptop power cord was NOT fully plugged into the outlet so I pulled it out and firmly plugged it into the one next to it. OH NO! Wrong move! Everything went off! Now, usually one could JUST plug it back into the other outlet and get things turned back on in seconds....which I did, however the issue was that my wonderful, beloved Darling uses passwords I do not know and his computers keyboards are ALL set to Dvorak which I do not know. I began panicking and tried to get it to English, but no go. I called him and said "I need you now!" Darling ran all the way from his office up to the conference room and was sweating and puffing while he set everything back up so I could log back in to the Hangout.

I was horrified that I had blown it at the last moment. In the end, no one else even noticed I had dropped out of the screen. So lucky I had my own amazing tech guy who loves me so much. Other than that one terribly timed dumb move on my part, everything went smoothly.

The Hangout is on YouTube now and I am so thrilled to have been part of it. It's crazy the amount of prep time necessary to put on a 25 minute live event from multiple locations. Technology is brilliant to give us these opportunities and I hope to be part of many more such events.

Happy Roald Dahl Day!!!

To celebrate one of our family's favourite author's birthday, I decided to toss our lesson plan out the window & watch some movies based on his writing, even to introduce R to "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" so I went to Netflix & Amazon to see what was free. On Amazon, I was thrilled to find a three part series about writing techniques based on his writing!
We are going to watch these three episodes, move onto some creative writing lessons from our Composition, Grammar & Vocabulary classes and then watch at least "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," and "James & the Giant Peach" with our dinner tonight.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

This school year is taking R longer to get into the swing of things. Add to that doing the first week at his dad's, coming back for a week, then bounce! back at dad's again! Now he is home for a long stretch of three full weeks and we are combating not just the summertime blues, but the lack of consistency between the two homes.

There are lots of minor tantrums and lots of complaining - from both of us, I have to admit. We are also dealing with a heat wave and trying to adapt to a much smaller space for doing school. This week was a test for all of us and I am so glad the end is in sight.

I need to recharge and get a better grip on dealing with when R dawdles or wastes time. That is one of my biggest issues so far this year - everything he used to focus on and complete in a sensible amount of time can stretch for as long as three times longer to get done. It isn't that the work is difficult or that he doesn't understand, he is just being distracted by anything and everything. We need a way to deal with that before we both lose our minds.

Hopefully after a weekend without a million things scheduled will help us ease into next week.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Worst day (yesterday)

Yesterday was probably the the worst day ever school wise. The only thing I got done was an assessment and some questions I got wrong yesterday. Everything else was either partially done or not done at all. My mom had to take the things away so I couldn't waste more time. I'm supposed to have done more school today, but I'm not too sure I'll get it all done, especially since next week I'll be at my dad's house for my brother's wedding.

 Slacka-lacka- doo-dong!


Monday, August 19, 2013

today looked like this

sleeping in and cuddle time before school

mapping out the Ring of Fire with almonds
teaching himself a new song before the math Scantron

after test swim

pre-test prep -- Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D Minor

this is how we prep for the fall Scantron assessment test

Back to school, ehhh...

I'm in 6th grade ( Big deal). This new school year, despite mainly being review, is still a pain in the ass. I just finished mapping with almonds, but that was still a challenge. Usually, I just estimate the latitude and longitude numbers, but the hardest thing was keeping your almonds on the line of long and latt. Also, I just got an email from Gamestop to get some shiny legendary Pokemon (Yes, I am a die-hard Pokemaniac). The thing is I'm racing against time to do Scantrons (tests you do in the beginning of the year). The thing is if I finish the Scantrons before 4:30 today, I get to throw water balloons at the teachers at Community Day! I finished the Reading Scantron on Saturday, and then the website was down and acting up so I couldn't log back in to do the Math part. My mim thinks I have plenty o' time, but, I don't.



we're back -- bigger & better

It's our second Monday of the 6th grade. This is our fourth year of using K12's curriculum through CAVA (California Virtual Academy). We now have an extremely good grasp on how to work through the curriculum, how to make it more interesting when Rile gets bored, how to get a good day's work in under almost any situation. I have learned how to maneuver through certain parts of his curriculum to make them work better for us, to optimize the lessons, to work them into his novel writing and other interests.

We had a crazy time last school year when he broke his right arm (dominant, writing hand) on September 1st with two huge goals with deadlines --- to get all of the 4th grade curriculum completed before Thanksgiving break AND to write a 30,000 word novel written in the month of November as part of NaNoWriMo. I am happy to report he managed to get everything accomplished!

The past two years have seen a lot of upheavals and moving - we had to leave our Morning Glory Cottage when the landlord lost his own home and evicted us to move his family onto the property. Eldest daughter moved out on her own, Little Dude & I struggled to get by and when that fell apart, we moved out of the county to live with my mother's family & help care for my 93 year old grandfather, who suffers from dementia. When that ended, we were able to return "home" to San Diego. Luckily the job I took (with housing!) allowed us to begin attending our local Community Day program. That shifted our K12 CAVA experience into a whole new level and we are so thrilled by that.

Now, we have moved yet again, with another move just off in the wings. I am now more than just vocal about the option of online schools, I am officially a parent advocate and have been to Congressional offices to talk about it. Rile & I have set out new goals and are seriously looking at his path to med school (ACK!). We are starting a LEGO Robotics team at our Community Day, as well looking into another extracurricular STEM team activity. I will be writing for a Non Profit website & am beginning a personal business venture in great earnest this year, too. This may be our busiest school here to date. And it is certainly one we want to share with you in our blog. Rile & I have committed to updating on a VERY regular basis as part of our schedule. We thank you in advance for joining us!

K & R