Thursday, October 20, 2011

What about the kids?

Are you wondering what the kids are doing while we are in class? Well, so am I! At the end of the day we get mini reports from the kids about what they learned that day. They are having a great time here, so I thought I'd share just a bit of what I know.

Hayden is in a 2's and 3's class. In her words, "there's 5 kids in my class, but Sadie Fletcher is not in my class.". Poor baby, she misses her best friend! She has a lovely teacher named Michelle. During the mornings the kids have a lesson, do a craft, sing and have snacks. She is learning a "Hayden-sized" version of what we are discussing in our classes. For instance, when we were discussing transition or stress she is learning "God cares for me". She is getting a solid foundation in who loves her and how she can be confident in that no matter where we go. In the afternoons the kids have to lay down for a nap time and that is NOT going well for Hayden. She hasn't had an official nap in nearly a year and she cannot understand why she must start now. They have all kids rest here because the altitude affects everyone and requires more rest than usual.

Cameron is thriving here, well, in class anyway. In the cafeteria she is struggling. I think she ate Cinnamon Toast Crunch for every meal the first 2 days we were here. I went to the store and bought here some Cam food, so she should have some balanced meals from now on. Anyway, in class, she is thriving. Cam is in a class with 2 other girls and she is loving her time with them. She marches into class every morning with no looking back so I am confident that she is comfortable here. Cam's lessons go a little deeper and she is learning to express her feelings better. I am grateful for this new vocabulary and the help in understanding how she is processing our transition time. Today both Cam and Jason's classes went on a surprise field trip. The excitement of the unknown was building for two days until today they realized that the unknown can contain really great things. The kids were taken to Garden of the Gods, a natural wonder of Colorado and they were able to learn, explore and climb.

Jason's class has three kids in it, one other boy and a girl. The three kids get along very well and they spend all of their spare time together. In fact right now they are in a fierce air hockey battle. He is learning so much about cultural differences and how to express himself. He will also be learning conflict resolution, friendship skills and many other skills that he can carry over to his new life abroad. I think Jason is a learning sponge and this time is fun for him. The kids will have two more field trips and they are very excited for them.

This time for the kids is invaluable. As a home school mom I constantly worry about how they will adapt to group situations, classroom dynamics or other authority figures. So far, so good. I am daily encouraged that our decision to home school didn't mess them up! I am also encouraged that our call to the mission field won't mess them up either. My home schooled, PK turned MKs will be all right!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Splice @ MTI

Welcome to the wonderful world of missions acronyms! The title of my post is the name of the program we are attending (splice) and our location (Mission Training International). Most of you loyal readers know that we have gone to Colorado this month, but I'm sure not many of you could explain why! We are here for training on how to leave our home culture and enter a new one. It may seem excessive to do training when we are going to an English speaking, western culture, but already we can see that this time will be a great benefit to us and we are glad to be here.

We drove for three days to get here, and the kids have been great. Not every moment, but for the most part they have been good travelers. Our first leg of the journey was on Friday and we drove from home to Las Vegas. The kids loved the lights on the Strip. Cameron kept exclaiming,"I LOVE Las Vegas!". Hayden kept asking, "is this Disneyland?". Jason was impressed with the giant sphinx, the Eiffle Tower, and the Statue of Liberty.

The second day of our trip was from Vegas to Green River, Utah. The drive was beautiful at times and incredibly boring at other times. The kids were very disappointed because the town and hotel were not nearly as exciting as Vegas. The third day we drove to Denver. The drive over the Rocky Mountains was spectacular. We especially enjoyed the Eisenhower tunnel. We arrived at our hotel and were happy to celebrate our arrival with a dinner at Chili's. The next day we had some free time before our check in at MTI so we took the kids to the Denver Aquarium. We saw the Mermaid Show and I'm pretty sure that the girls are now aspiring to be mermaids when they grow up!

I am very sorry that I forgot to pack the cord that connects the camera to the computer. When we get home I'll do a post of all pictures from the trip. Until then Darren will have to post pictures to Facebook for all the grandparents to get their fixes :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

field trippin'

This week I declared a break from formal school work.  We have completed 9 weeks of curriculum (one quarter) and the kids and I are zombies.  I wanted to take some time to enjoy learning so this week we are taking a different approach.

Step one:  Hit the library.  No, not the San Miguel library, the one that's the size of my living room with all the same books that we have been reading for the past 3 years.  We went to the big city and checked out books and movies about things that interest the kids.  For Cameron, we found art, ballet and fashion design books.  For Jason, we found books about how stuff works and history.  Every morning this week we have spent a leisurely morning reading and enjoying our special interests.

Step two:  Get out of the house!  This is a big deal for me.  With the recent death and resurrection of our car I had spent WAY too much time cooped up in the house with my lovely children.  On Monday we went to Avila Valley Barn for some apple picking and today we strolled around the grounds of the San Miguel mission.

I think the kids and I need two kinds of field trips.  We need trips that are fun.  These trips like apple picking appear to be only for our enjoyment but they secretly open the kids eyes about where food comes from and how it takes a lot of work to get it from the orchard to their plate.  The second kind of trip we need is one that makes connections.  I need to express to my kids that the history in their books is real and actually happened.  We can walk the grounds of historic places and talk about so many things.  Today Jason and I discovered that the California mission system was developed during the late 1700's to early 1800's.  Our mission was founded in 1776, the same year that the boys back in Philadelphia were literally sweating out our country's founding documents.  We also made connections between the mission and the cathedral he had visited in Glasgow.  We call our mission a "poor man's cathedral".  It is the same design idea constructed with our local materials (clay and straw).

While Jason made a lot of connections today, I could see that Cameron was still in fact finding mode.  She was creeped out while we sat in the sanctuary and talked about the pictures on the walls.   She liked the idea of Bible stories in paintings so that illiterate people could understand, but she DID NOT like the all-seeing Eye of God staring down at her from the front of the sanctuary (picture a fluffy cloud with sunbeams bursting out from behind it--not bad, but then in the middle of the cloud is a gold triangle with a giant eyeball staring out into the room).  She also had a big problem with the musty smells of the buildings :)

Tomorrow and Friday we will have more adventures.  Until then we will enjoy our fresh homemade applesauce and plenty of good books!