Saturday, February 18, 2017

Making Changes

It's the year of the plagues here!

Again this week Amber had to miss her physical therapy appointment on Monday due to illness. She had a sore throat all day Sunday that she thought was nothing, but she went to bed Sunday evening with a fever. Monday we cancelled physical therapy and instead went to the pediatrician. Co-op classes are too important to Amber to risk being infectious on that day, so we went right away for a rapid strep test and antibiotic if needed. It wasn't strep (yay!) and since it was likely viral we pushed fluids and rest and more rest. It's all that we seem to do lately.

Of course, my symptoms of the same virus showed up on Monday, which meant I could verify it was definitely more than just a random sore throat.

Normally I expect Amber to complete the majority of her co-op homework over the weekend so it does not interfere with our regular home lessons. However, this past weekend we were resting and doing things as a family so I made time in Amber's school schedule for the week to do her co-op homework. Then sickness hit and she did no school work on Monday at all and eeked out the bare minimum of her co-op homework on Tuesday afternoon. We spent the rest of that afternoon sitting in the guest bedroom with Biscotti (yes, he's still sequestered) watching movies on the laptop.

With all of this down time due to illness, I have had the chance to re-evaluate how well Amber's high school plans have met her needs. While we would not say that it has been our best year, things have gone moderately well. However we still feel behind quite often and that is no way to spend your high school years.  To me that says I need to adjust facets  of Amber's high school courses or even the actual courses themselves.

Lots of streaming while we've been sick: A new movie called Non-Transferable, and the most recent episode of Murdoch Mysteries.
Amber and I have spent a good deal of time this week discussing her future plans and changes we think will still give her a well-rounded preparation for college while reducing her course load. Although Amber still would like to complete the rather ambitious course she set for herself before ninth grade started, realistically it is not attainable in the four years of high school for a student with chronic illnesses. We knew this to be true and it was the obvious flaw in her plan, yet we allowed Amber the opportunity to reach as far as she could.

Now that we know those plans are not feasible, instead of allowing Amber to feel disheartened that she will not be able to complete every subject in her planned high school course, we decided to revise her entire high school plan. Her courses will now be tailored more specifically to her intended college major while still looking to provide a well-rounded education, within reason.

For example, mathematics.  Amber is actually rather gifted in math, but despises the subject all the same.  She needs a single college math course for her intended degree program. Therefore, we have decided that attempting to complete calculus in high school is not a realistic or needed goal. Instead, Amber need only complete the two remaining math classes through pre-calculus. She can take as much time as needed over the next three-plus years to finish those math classes. This will keep her from losing her math skills, while still reducing her course load and stress.

A few bright spots: We finally saw the Lego Batman movie, but we had to take a picture with the Lego Ninjago sign! She's not in the least excited about Ninjago. Nope.
 Plus, we had lunch at a new bbq place on the way to OT.
Amber will focus the majority of her school time on English language courses, including creative writing, as well all of the foreign languages in which she is interested. Of course, she will need to complete science, history, and the standard electives still. However they will all take a back seat to her preferred subjects. Thankfully, we already have a fairly decent handle on science topics that will interest Amber while not causing undue stress or anxiety.

Since Amber takes quite a few enrichment classes at our homeschool co-op each semester, we will attempt to focus those into the credits needed instead of creating an excess of elective courses. These classes are the largest variable, honestly. Since it is a true co-op, the classes offered are entirely dependent on the willingness of parents to teach the classes. For example, this semester there is no middle school / high school art class, while there is an overabundance of high school level content courses (history, science, health, foreign language, etc).

If you can't tell from this vague description of our upcoming changes, it also means that we are going to need to become more eclectic homeschoolers again and give up classical homeschooling. Although we may feel like classical homeschoolers in our minds, it is not the best education style for Amber in every subject.  (Which means I doubt we will use Tapestry of Grace next year, but it is my backup if a suitable history replacement is not found.)

Look what unexpectedly arrived early! Amber is anxious to start this week. Look for the review in April.
My forced relaxation time with Biscotti over the next few weeks will be spent organizing a more manageable high school course load for Amber while also finding more suitable curriculum for her current learning style.  And if you have any feedback on the curriculum we were considering for a few specific subjects from this post, it is all still under consideration. So comment away.

That is the biggest news of our week. We accomplished little school, but made a lot of decisions.

Linking With:

Weekly Wrap-Up  Homeschool Coffee Break

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Movie Recommendation: Non-Transferable

Well, we are sick here again. This time it looks like a viral thing that's causing exhaustion and sore throats. So, what are a homeschooling mom and her high school daughter to do when we're too sick for school and on Valentine's Day, no less?

Rest, drink plenty of fluids, and watch movies / TV shows online.  We're still spending time in the guest bedroom with our sequestered kitty, but the re-introduction with the other cats is going better. We were not up for a lot of activity today, and started out the afternoon watching a few extra web episodes from some of our favorite TV shows, and a new movie just released today.

Unexpected Homeschool: Movie Recommendation of Non-Transferable

Which leads me to a movie recommendation: Non-Transferable.  This is not for younger kids and probably should be rated PG-13 / TV-PG (I think TV-14 is too strong of a rating for it). It is not rated, that's why I'm giving my feedback. I was fairly certain from previews and the people involved in creating the movie that it would be safe for Amber, which is why I went ahead and let her watch it without previewing first. It was fine. She's seen worse in the Marvel movies.

If you watched the online web show The Lizzy Bennet Diaries (and if you are a Jane Austen fan and you didn't, why not?), then this movie is for you. If you watched all of the Pemberley Digital web shows, you will definitely recognize many of the actors. It was like a little Pemberley Digital reunion.

The movie is available for online rental or purchase through the normal outlets, but we use Amazon Video for all of our online movie rental. Just to be clear, this is not a paid or sponsored review. I had just been eagerly anticipating this movie for a while after being a huge fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved (... and a moderate fan of Frankenstein, MD).

So, what is Non-Transferable? The premise of the movie surrounds a girl named Amy who books a complete vacation in Europe for her boyfriend and herself, only to have her boyfriend break up with her. Since all of the tickets and reservations are non-refundable and non-transferable she either loses the money spent on the vacation or needs to find another traveling companion with the same name as her now ex-boyfriend. Hilarity ensues while she attempts to locate a suitable replacement along with some fun adventures during the trip.

Amber and I had a relaxing and fun afternoon watching Non-Transferable. We laughed often and the movie ends with a Marvel-like credits teaser that indicates there may be a followup movie! Yay!

While this movie isn't going to win an Academy Award and won't be the highest grossing movie of the year, it made for an entertaining afternoon viewing and lived up to all my expectations.  It was well worth the $5.99 rental fee.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Week 23 - Sickies and Kitties

We started out the week in grand fashion with a tummy bug for me (seriously, I'd like to feel well for more than 3 days in a row).  Amber has been having increased symptoms of her gastroparesis which makes it hard to tell when she is sick with a virus  At least we think it's the gastroparesis, although it could be her gallbladder polyp.  At any rate, by lunchtime on Monday Amber decided her she probably had the same virus as me.  It was hard enough to decide that I had a virus given all the IBS flares I've had recently, but deciding Amber definitely had a virus was nearly impossible. But... we both went places Sunday while probably contagious, so sorry everyone.

Weekly Happenings:

I cancelled Amber's physical therapy for Monday because I was in no shape to drive Amber there. I also rescheduled her Tuesday dentist appointment because with my luck the tummy bug would last until Tuesday (it did) and then I'd get charged for a no-show. Turns out, Amber's dentist was also sick and we would have been called to reschedule her Tuesday appointment anyway. It actually appears our entire county is sick. One local private high school cancelled classes today because too many students and teachers are sick. Just reading Facebook posts from local friends indicates a near plague level epidemic of either the stomach sickness (which lasts a good 5-6 days) or the actual influenza. The uptake here is: don't visit our area.

Sick day board games - Battleship and Lego Minotaurus
We still managed some school on Monday because with all the digestive issues we deal with, Amber and I have developed stomachs of steel and powered through our stomach virus. It wasn't a huge amount of school, but it was more productive than most other days this week. Amber finished and turned in her paper for Pride and Prejudice, worked on two grammar lessons, and a bunch of Home School in the Woods Ancient Greece (review coming later this month).  Much of that was done in the guest bedroom with Biscotti and me. Monday was not a day that I much minded having to recline on the bed and rest with my kitty.

Tuesday was our February "Amber and Mom Day", where we don't worry about school for day and do fun things together. I've been giving Amber coupons for these once a month days as Christmas presents for the past several years and she greatly looks forward to our special day each month. Some days we just play video games all day, while on other days we have special outings or events. This month, since we both were still recovering from feeling pretty yucky, we had a fairly low-key day of video games and resting with the sequestered kitty. However, it was a fun bonding time for us where I wasn't the teacher and she wasn't worried about school assignments.

Wednesday was not only Amber's flute lesson, but I had a very early morning MRI at the main hospital.  All of us were up ridiculously early and the day was not a spectacular one. My mom did come sit with Amber while Fred took me in for the MRI. It was just a follow-up to check out a kidney cyst seen on a CT scan for another issue and although this MRI was mostly clean, I will still need another follow-up ultrasound in three months on the kidney. I still need the MRI of my c-spine to help figure out my migraines. It seems this is my year for medical tests and imagining. I go in spurts. I'll have a really bad year and then either manage to stay healthy the next year or forestall the inevitable for a while. 2015 was not a great year while I managed to push off most things in 2016. 2017 is looking to be one of the unpleasant years.

Yes, Amber is starting to look sickly again most days. But here she's cuddling Biscotti and then a picture of Rosetta who is as cute and cuddly as ever.
This was the type of week when I am grateful that we homeschool and have the ability to make up for weeks such as this at other times. Today we didn't even attempt school. I think the contagious part of the virus passed for both of us days ago and we did attend co-op yesterday. However, it takes us forever to heal from anything that affects the GI track. Which means we will feel yucky for a while still and we definitely do. As long as we don't eat, things go great until we are starving.

Kitty Update:

Biscotti had been doing better with his reintroduction until Tuesday evening. There had been no hissing or growling at either of the other cats for several days when the door was cracked open as wide as it could go without our smallest cat sneaking through. This included coming nose-to-nose with the other cats several times and playing with each other through the door opening. We even left the door cracked open for many hours on end, while one of us monitored. Then Biscotti's desire to leave the room on his own terms became too great.

He barreled past me and Fred Tuesday at bedtime when we were refilling his water.  It would have been okay had Biscotti only run into Rosetta, however Milori came from out of nowhere to charge and attack Biscotti.  It took us quite a while to calm everything down and we were all up late on a night when we needed to go to bed early. Biscotti was never the aggressor this time and was fleeing Milori's constant onslaughts. I was able to return Biscotti to his sanctuary room fairly easily once Milori was contained, but that turned out to be the most difficult task. Fred ended up injured from containing Milori, and he even used a blanket. Now we are back to some hissing and growling through the door crack and according to the vet Milori will need to work on his reintroduction to Biscotti and not just Biscotti working on his introduction to the others. Sigh... just, a very big sigh.

Being playful with Amber. He loves to lick forehead and hair.
We are working closely with the vet on this to ensure that the cats are able to live harmoniously in the future. Tomorrow Milori and Rosetta will spend the afternoon in the guest bedroom while Biscotti gets the rest of the house for a few hours. Today he was too nervous to leave his room without me by his side. Poor kitty.

Curriculum / School Update:

As you might have guessed, we did not get back to Tapestry of Grace this week. We did not do anything except the work on Monday and co-op classes (and even at that Amber skipped her first class of the day). Amber and I did discuss what about TOG is bogging her down and we didn't come up with any clear answers. She likes all of it and doesn't want to lose any part of it, while at the same time she acknowledges that she is unable to move through it properly. We will have to think harder about this situation.

It was warmer today and he was happy basking in the sun.  He looks grumpy, but was actually happy. The right side is not angry, but he's trilling.
I'm working on research for next year's school curriculum in order to be prepared for the courses Amber wants and needs to take in tenth grade. We may allow her to focus her work a little more on where she wants to go instead of it being a broader education. I'll see. I'm starting to rethink history too. I did talk about what I'm researching earlier in the week. If you have any input on the curriculum I'm looking at, please comment.

That's about it for here. Time to rest and recover from the week. 

Linking With:

Weekly Wrap-Up  Homeschool Coffee Break

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