Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Back to blogging?

It's been a while since my last post. A LONG while. We've been in Hawaii for almost half a year now, and we're feeling more and more settled. Additionally, it's that time of year when people boldly state that they will do good things, go forth in the excitement of their resolution and do them twice, then quit. So, I thought I'd let you in on some of my resolutions for the new year - not necessarily in order.

1) Eat local eggs. So far, I've been doing much of my grocery shopping at Costco, over 14 miles away from our house, where the prices tend to be more reasonable than at many local grocery stores. Costco, of course, carries large quantities but less selection, and in the egg department, you can choose between conventional mainland eggs and organic mainland eggs. But when I think about how much space 3 dozen eggs a week takes up, shipping them from the mainland is pretty much equivalent to sending our entire family back to the mainland several times a year. That's not ecologically responsible, so I've resolved to prefer even conventional Hawaii eggs over mainland eggs. This idea extends to noble plans to seek out CSAs and maybe even a local dairy (I believe there is precisely one on Oahu), but as I haven't made good on those yet, they don't count as "resolutions."

2) Blog more regularly. I've had P11 and E9 post on private, non-searchable blogs on a weekly basis with the exclusive goal of allowing them to share their school writing assignments with their grandparents, aunts and uncles. This allows them to receive feedback from someone other than me, but doesn't expose them to the risks of posting things that can be googled. So my plan is to blog as often as they do. I didn't do this during our first week back of school, but starting with the second week is better than not starting at all!

3) Build a beehive. This one is pure fun. The children are studying insects this year, and ever since I decided that we'd be focusing on that topic, I've been toying with the idea. Ari's brother and sister-in-law have kept bees for years, and the honey they've given us has been utterly scrumptious. And there are always flowers in bloom in Hawaii! In addition, this gives me the opportunity to give E9 some hands-on experience with using math to solve real-world problems.* We're planning to build a top-bar hive (loosely based on's plans), so he'll have the opportunity to build skills in scale drawing, measuring, geometry, estimating budgets and amounts of wood needed, and other skills I probably haven't even thought of. And of course, we're hoping to reap rewards, not only in terms of honey, but in terms of understanding more about these amazing insects. So far, I've changed E9's daily math assignment format from 5 review problems a day plus instruction, to 2
harder problems a day plus some time working on the hive.

*I saw a compelling argument that essential math skills consist of 4 stages: clearly stating a problem, translating it into mathematics, calculating, and translating the answer back into a solution to the problem. Traditional instruction focuses almost exclusively on the third stage, calculation, which is the only stage that can easily be automated (computers, calculators, etc.), but what students really need is practice with stages 1, 2, and 4 - then they can teach a computer to do stage 3 for them. I want my children to be able to calculate, but if they can code a solution, that'll show that they understand the problem without having to suffer through pages of grunge. We might make coding a part of next year's course of study.

4) Get to bed at a decent time. This is the one I have the hardest time with. Ari's long commute means that he gets home late, and the children need to see their Daddy which translates to a fairly late bedtime. Once they're asleep, it's so relaxing to sit still for many consecutive minutes without needing to jump up (as I did at least 12 times while typing this up) to solve a child-related disaster, that I frequently give in to the temptation to keep reading, playing piano, or working on the computer until much later than is healthy. So I've resolved to be off the computer by 10, and ideally on my way to bed by then. This hasn't always happened so far this year, but I'm trying to form new habits. I know it's a blessing to Ari when he's sleep deprived from his long hours to know that I'm not and he can depend more on me. This is one I've been praying about for a while, and given previous answers to prayer, I know I'm going to do better this year: "This is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:3a).

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