Homeschool + Unschool + Online School = Smartschool!
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I haven’t talked much about this yet, if at all, but I have been teaching my lil’ man at home.  Some call it homeschooling, yet, he is online.  Technically he’s enrolled in a public school, but, I don’t follow the “path” the way they want it followed.  He is way ahead in Math and Science and maybe a little behind in writing.  I completely dismiss the Music and only brush upon the Art, skipping the actual “Art projects” altogether, because he is not at all interested in Art…unless of course, he is at an Art Museum, like the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston… he loves.  We sort of unschool, as I give him plenty of leeway in navigating his learning, but not completely, as there are some things that he may not want to do, but he still must.  I guess I’m winging it in a kind of way, because I just do whatever I think is best for him as we move along….Smartschooling!

He started school at home last year because he HATED first grade. Just a few day ago, we wrapped up second grade.  He thrived in kindergarten the previous year, but first grade was an utter disaster.  In all honesty, I was completely freaked out at first.  The thought of teaching him myself scared the crap out of me.  But, I really had no choice.  He was having horrible anxiety issues over changing schools and being in a new environment.  He likely would have overcome the issues, as most kids do, had the school handled the problem correctly, but they really bollixed up the whole ordeal…horribly.  This certainly isn’t my first rodeo.  After all, I have 5 kids, the other 4 are in high school.  None of them did school at home.  Between raising my own kids and years of babysitting when I was younger, I have plenty of experience and insight into what makes kids tick.  That’s why I was fairly confident when my intuition told me that the situation with my lil’ man wasn’t going to be easily resolved.    I won’t get into the wretched details, but after 2 weeks of him feeling miserable about school and me being sick over bringing him (all reinforcing what I have always known- a good or bad teacher can make or break a kid’s school year) I made the excruciatingly difficult decision of pulling him.  But, it had to be done.  He was needlessly unhappy.

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I have always stood by the notion that everything happens for a reason.  In the end, this is all well and good, as I plan to be up, out and about, just months from now. He would have been schooled at home, when the time came, anyhow.  This just fast tracked the inevitable.  Lucky for me, he’s a bright kid, so teaching him has been a lot easier than I realized.  In fact, now that I can see the light for what it really is, I am happier than ever that it played out like it did.  He can avoid years of learning useless information.  He can excel at what he enjoys.  He can move ahead at his own pace and take more time when he needs it.  He can concentrate on his strengths and interests.  He has one-on-one attention.  And, best of all, he gets real life knowledge.  What a perfect way to learn…Smartschooling!

 

Indecisive…
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There aren’t very many times in my life, thus far, that I have been able to say that I really didn’t know what I wanted.  Generally, I’m a fairly focused type.  I do some research and figure out pretty quickly what’s for me.  Even when I was shopping for the boat, I sorted out relatively fast which boat I wanted.  Not the case at all with this RV plan.  I thought I had decided on a particular model, the Durango Gold M-G382MBQ, because it has a bunk room for the kids, a loft for my Mom and what really sold me is the rear deck off of the living area.

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The problem is, this fifth wheel is really large.  We won’t fit into many RV parks.  I could be fine with not being able to get in everywhere, like boats, that’s what you’re buying into.  It’s all trade-offs.  You have to decide what’s most important because you can’t have it all.  Although, my Mom really doesn’t want us to be locked out of some National Forests and oceanfront campgrounds because we are too big.  We have really been on the fence with whether to go for the comfortable living or the size convenience.  I could also be fine with getting an older/ smaller/cheaper RV, doing some light renovation and being able to sell more easily if/when I decide to change direction again.  At this point, I’m not sure what we will choose.  It’s a good thing I have a few months to decide, because if I had to buy something right now I’m not sure what I would get.  We thought it might be best to look around at some more RV’s, so maybe we can get better clarity on which way to go with this.  So off we go, checking out more fifth wheels and travel trailers in smaller sizes and with different layouts.

 

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My Mom is trying to see if her bunk area has a window.

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My lil’ man loved this table in his bunk room.

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Love your feedback! Leave a comment and your 2 cents.

 

 

Coyotes, Rocks a Volcano… and Sheer Panic!
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I think I have officially conquered my coyote fear.  Where I come from these guys are scary.  They eat little moving things: cats, small dogs, and even little kids on occasion.  We had a real bad bout of coyotes a few years back.  They were in our back yard daily.  I was afraid to let my little man, who was 2 or 3 at the time, play in the yard.

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We were hiking today at Lake Calavera, and there they were.  A family of coyotes.   When I saw them my heart sunk and sheer panic rushed over me.  We had to get out of there quick, without running.  I didn’t want us to be chased. I stood…frozen…watching the coyotes, as they watched me.  I scanned the ground searching for a large branch, a rock, anything that I could use as a weapon.  Nothing was there, but my little man had a stick in his hand that he had picked up a ways back and was whacking trees with as we navigated the trail.  I quickly took the stick from him.  Some locals turned the corner on the trail just ahead of us. What a relief… more people…power in numbers! They were pointing to the coyotes.  They must have seen the terror on my face because as they approached us, they chuckled, “Don’t worry, they won’t come after you.”  They told us that they walk this trail frequently and the coyotes don’t bother anyone.  I believed them.  I snapped a photo of one of the coyotes, then stood and watched until the coyotes walked off.  Then we continued along the path.  I can’t say that I’m completely comfortable with them, but I no longer feel that there is a reason to fear them.  I think that there is a big difference between the city coyotes that I am familiar with, the ones that eat pets and are fed by neighbors who condition them to become brazen and unfearful of humans, and the rural coyote who lives in his natural habitat and eats small wild animals and doesn’t view people as a food source.

So, on with the hike…

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This was an active volcano at one time.

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America the Beautiful – National Park Pass
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We got our National Parks and Federal Lands Pass!  Well…my Mom got it.  The senior lifetime pass is 10 bucks, but really it’s 20 because they also charge a $10 document processing fee.  This fee is going to increase by the end of the year.  It’s going to 80 bucks so we wanted to get it before that happened.  The pass provides free access to over 2,000 federally run recreation sites across the country.  This includes BML land and national forests.  Besides free entrances fees, it’s great for RVers as it gives a discount on camping, swimming, boat launching and tours. It covers the entrance fee for everyone in the vehicle, not just the owner of the pass.  We got ours (my Mom’s) from Cabrilllo National Monument.

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After we got our pass, we took a stroll on the the Bayside Trail.  It was a beautiful hike with outstanding views.

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My little guy got a kick out of chasing lizards all over the trail.

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There was even an opportunity for a bit of rock climbing along the way.

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Be warned though… after hiking the canyon DOWNHILL for a mile, you have to turn around and take the same trail back UPHILL for a mile.  We didn’t realize this when we started the hike.

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Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

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Old Pastime, New Pastime – Hiking!
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I haven’t really been hiking since I was a kid and I loved it then.  Not really sure why it hasn’t occurred to me to hike all these years.  Even when my kids were little, I don’t think that I ever once took them hiking the Blue Hills, where my Mom frequently took me as a kid. I certainly did take them on plenty of long walks.  When I think of hiking now, I think of extreme sporters in very remote areas, with zero cell reception, dangling from the side of a cliff.  But, my interest in hiking has suddenly been revived.  Not exactly sure why….I guess because I am finding myself wanting more than day after day of the beach.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m a real beach bum and always will be, but I would like to see and try some new stuff that isn’t necessarily coastal.  After all, I know that soon we will be traveling and I will be away from my beloved ocean.  I want satisfaction from Mother Nature in ways other than salty feet.

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The other day I was talking to someone that I have recently met.  She was telling me that she and her husband had taken their kids hiking and how much fun they had.  All of my childhood memories came rushing back; twigs snapping below my feet, toads, boulder navigating.  I love hiking!  I went home and researched trails in my area and that same weekend, this past weekend, we were out.  Out hiking!

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Look familiar?  Where am I?  Let’s see if you can guess?

Time for a New Blog Name?
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Hello folks,

This chronicle of written life events is about to take on a major transformation.  We are no longer 5 kids and a boat.  We will be traveling by land on wheels, and there will not/should not, be 5 kids aboard.  Some should be college-bound.  I am excited about what is to come.  I won’t need a captain for every move I make and I will not be learning to operate a 63′ yacht.  I already know how to drive, all I have to master is how to navigate 50′ of vehicle.  I’m certainly not going to underestimate the complexity.  I know it will be no easy feat, but will pale in comparison to running a small ship.

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I’ve been thinking lately as I will soon start counting down to take off.  This school year is almost finished.  I have next school year, and then, the 12 months following, I will make my purchases.  There will be a lot of shopping around to be done and I want to give myself plenty of time to make the right choices and get both of my new vehicles (new-to-me-vehicles) ready to hit the road.  I like to view time in terms of months, rather than years when I’m ready to go but forced to be patient, because the wait seems more palatable in months.  If all stays well, then my 24 month count down to the next chapter will start this summer 🙂

But, what about the blog name?  Seems we may need a new name… and… possibly a new web address.  Any ideas?

 

What do you think of a new name? Any thoughts? Love your feedback.  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.

 

Let the Planning Begin!
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Well folks, I have given the boat/rv decision a lot of thought and I… THINK…I am going to go with the rv for now.  The biggest factors in this decision were:

  1. Maintenance – I have heard that rv’s will require less maintenance than a boat
  2. Ease of use – I won’t need a captain.  The learning curve to drive the thing is much easier than a boat.
  3. Cost – The acquisition cost is much less and the living expenses can be much less.
  4. Accessibility – I can travel to more places with an rv, as opposed to being” water locked”

With this decision the only real con, and it is a biggie, is that I really LOVE being on the water.  But, it’s ok.  I can park my rv on the water 😉  So, the new plan is to take the next 24 months or so and figure out all the stuff that I need to figure out in regards to used or new rv, what kind of truck I’ll need, so on and so forth.  Then, make my moves (purchases).  My older kids will be out of HS and on to college (hopefully) soon and I should be ready to roll then.  I do plan to full-time rv and I do plan to be on the move.

So friends… let the planning/learning/shopping begin!  This ought to be interesting.  If any of you out there have any experience with rving, and would like to give words of advice, please do share.  One thing I know is that when I was buying my boat I got a lot of good advice from a lot of different people.  Likely saved me from making some dumb learning curve mistakes.  So I am always very open and appreciative when I receive knowledge from those who are doing what I am planning.  So, don’t be shy 🙂

 

(maybe I should change my blog name….hmmmm)

 

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What do you think of my decision?  Love your feedback.  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.

Water or Wheels?
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I can’t believe that I haven’t written a post since November!!!  We are doing GREAT here in San Diego.  My kids love the lifestyle.  They frequently go to the beach for gym.  They swim in the high school pool every day.  They have bomb-fires on the beach and all that fun California stuff that teens do; stuff that you would never in a million years get to do back home in Boston.  The sunsets are amazing.  The weather is a dream.  The waves are INSANE!  Not a single day passed this winter when I didn’t open my front door in amazement and complete appreciation that it was 72 degrees.  Every day!!!  What a beautiful freakin’ thing; consistently amazing weather.

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We have been having fun selling all kinds of stuff online on Ebay and Amazon.  We are just a few minutes away from direct supply of handcrafted goods from Mexico: blankets, serapes, hoodies, and we have recently discovered the wonderful world of wholesale LA and ventured into shoes.  Who would of thought this real estate junkie would be suddenly entrenched in the world of fashion.

But…all good things will one day change.  My oldest son will be applying to college next year.  Soon they will be off.  Or at least some of them will be off and I have been thinking a lot lately about whether to jump into another boat or maybe try an RV.  I know that I swore I would never step foot in an RV again, but, I must admit that I have been intrigued by the fifth wheel lately.  The newer models are just like apartments.  An RV, would allow for interior exploration of the country.  Problem is, I really am a saltwater fool.  I’m just not sure how long I could be without the ocean.  I miss my Hatteras and the kids miss her too.  But, on the other hand, an RV would be much less maintenance and upkeep.  I’ll need to give this more thought.  But I know one thing for sure.  We’ll be taking off again soon enough….

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What do you think?  Boat or RV?  Love your feedback!!!  Leave a comment and your 2 cents.