Saturday, July 13, 2013

Our Building Project

On Steve's first official day of the government furlough (*grumble grumble*), we decided to get the back of the van organized.
We have taken out several benches in our 15 passenger van so that there is a lot of open space in the back. The benches are in storage, and there is exactly enough seating for the eight of us now.
Up until our project day, the back of the van was filled to the hilt with big Rubbermaid containers filled with our homeschooling curriculum and supplies. This was beginning to turn into a disorganized mess, and everyone was feeling the effects of living with that disaster.
Steve came up with the idea of putting bookshelves in the back of the van. This was a great idea, but how do you put bookshelves in a moving vehicle and keep them from falling over?
So then my wonderful husband had the idea of building a wooden pallet for the floor and screwing wooden bookshelves into the pallet floor. Brilliant!
So off we went to Lowe's hardware store to buy lumber, screws, and a saw. We brought it all back to the camper and started building. While Steve and the boys built a wooden framework for the pallet floor, I worked on assembling some pre-made bookshelf kits. Before I was finished, they had attached the plywood floor to the framework and finished their floor!
Once the bookshelves were done being assembled, Steve used some L-brackets to secure them to the plywood floor.
So now the question became, how do we keep things on the shelves while driving around? The bookshelves had doors with handles, but they weren't going to stay closed while driving.
Steve once again came up with another brilliant idea. He had some extra strips of wood cut off from the plywood to make it fit the frame they built. He cut them to fit between the door handles and notched them to stay in place. When we are driving, those slide between the handles and hold the doors securely closed.
Today we went to Wal-Mart and bought a small area carpet to cover the plywood floor. Voila! Our mobile classroom is ready for the road!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Having Fun

Steve said that I make our blog sound like we are having nothing but drama and catastrophe in our lives, so I thought I'd write about the many FUN things we've been up to lately!

We took the kids bowling one evening here on base when there was a $1 per game night. The kids all enjoy bowling, especially our special-needs 10yo son.

(And until I figure out how to insert pictures among the text, I apologize for cramming all the pictures in at the end of this post.)

We also took the kids to the movie theater recently - a rare treat for us because it is usually so expensive for a family as large as ours. But we went to a mid-week matinee, so the cost wasn't too terrible. (Still nothing we are going to make a habit of!) Half of the kids saw Monsters University, and half saw Despicable Me 2. Both movies were good. I saw Monsters University with the kids, and I thought it was a very cute movie.

We also have a splash pad here on the base that is open for use in the late afternoons and evening. On really hot nights when nothing is going on, we like to take the kids there to cool off.

On Independence Day, we did a self-guided tour of the historic part of Ft. Sam Houston. We got to see all the old 1800's-style garrison houses, found the house that the General lives in, etc. Some of the highlights include the field where Foulois first flew military aviation, the house that Eisenhower used to live in, and the awesome "Quadrangle".

The Quadrangle is the remaining part of the original fort built back in the 1800's. It is a square stone wall with little windows for guns/cannons, as well as a bell/clock tower in the center of it all. Imagine our surprise when we wandered through the gate in the wall only to find a herd of deer roaming freely inside, a pond with fish in it, ducks and geese and chickens wandering about, and a flock of peacocks even!

We went inside the visitor center to learn that the Apache chief Geronimo was held prisoner here at one time, and local legend has it that he jumped out of the bell/clock tower. I don't think that's true, but it impressed the kids. Today the Quadrangle is the headquarters to the USArmy North.

On the evening of July 4th, we sat on the helicopter landing pad at the Quadrangle to watch the fireworks on display in downtown San Antonio. We had the perfect view without the traffic and crowds from downtown.

So I hope this evens out my tales of woe lately. We really have been having a good time. If we hadn't been, we would quit this grand scheme of ours and go back into a sticks-n-bricks house without looking back!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Homeschooling and Car Wrecks

How do you homeschool five/six kids in a tiny camper?  That's the million dollar question of the week.

We got back into the books on Monday, and Monday was a disaster. We were stumbling all over each other, tripping over stacks of books and papers, and rearranging our mess all day long. I couldn't remember where we left off in several subjects. I had no game plan. The kids were out of routine since we hadn't homeschooled since the end of March. It was terrible!

By Tuesday I decided we had to go somewhere else to be effective. So, we spent the morning at the park. I worked with the older boys at the picnic tables covering high school government while the younger guys played at the playground. At lunchtime we came home and ate. After lunch, we went to the library. The older kids found quiet corners to work in while I took a table to work with my younger two alternately. While I worked with one, the other could watch a movie picked off the shelf, then they would switch.

Worked like a charm!

However, on Wednesday we had to stay in the camper again. Laundry had to get done!

Thursday I wanted to resume my park/library plan because it worked so well the first time. We found a different park to try in the morning, came back to the camper for lunch, then headed off to the library again.


We never actually made it into the library. That day, the parking lot was completely full. There was not a single parking space to be found. As I circled around the parking lot, I accidentally clipped the back end of another car and took off their rear bumper. It was completely my fault since I was in the moving vehicle and that car was parked, but it didn't help that the other car wasn't in a designated parking space but rather was parallel parked along the interior curb of the parking lot, making the turn from one row to the other too tight for me to maneuver in my big 15 passenger van.

I left a note on the windshield, then came back home again. I didn't want to talk to them if they called until I had talked with Steve first. Well, I couldn't get ahold of Steve for several hours. In the meantime they called me, but since I didn't answer their call, they contacted the military police. Then I was getting phone calls from the MP's! Still,I didn't want to discuss anything until I informed Steve first. So for a few hours I was a fugitive of the law, and it was making me a nervous wreck!

When Steve finally got home and I told him everything, I just broke down in uncontrollable tears. (Geez! What's wrong with me lately? All this crying recently! I feel like such a ninny!)

And my wonderful husband made all the return calls for me, met with the other people to swap insurance information, and took care of it for me while I called my mommy and licked my wounds. *Rolling my eyes at myself*

Needless to say, no more homeschooling was accomplished that day.

On Friday, we stayed in the camper in the morning, but returned to the library in the afternoon - accident free.

Now here it is a new week. Yesterday (Monday) we did the park in the morning and camper in the afternoon. And since we are in a pattern now, I have to say that I had one of our best sessions EVER with my 10yo. He has intellectual disability, but yesterday he read an entire page out of his beginner reader, did an entire reading workbook page, did all his math flash cards (he's finally cementing his math facts into his head!), and practiced writing the capital letter "L" (he has extremely delayed fine motor skills). He rocked it yesterday!

So now it is 7:30 in the morning. Time to start again. Off to the park this morning, then to the library this afternoon, and hopefully we'll have another good day!