Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Just a little update... and some rambling thoughts

Just a little update...

Our obligations here in San Antonio are officially done.  As of last weekend, our 13yo and 15yo sons had their Boy Scouts Eagle Court of Honor (we now have FOUR Eagle Scouts in our family!), and my 15yo son came home permanently from working at summer camp.  We are now all eight of us together again... just in time for...

... THE HEAT!

I know, I know.  You're tired of hearing about it.  But it is SO HOT lately! (said in my incredibly whiney voice)  I just can't stop complaining about it!  Our normal temperature for this time of year is 95 degrees, but we have been consistently 5-10 degrees hotter than that.  We have broken record after record, and even yet again today!  Right now it is nearly 5:00 in the evening, and it is 103 degrees outside.  Hence, we are at the library.  Again. 

So our strategy for dealing with the heat while in an RV is this:  We run the main AC and the AC unit in the boys' room all morning long, along with the box fan to even out the interior temperature.  In the afternoon, we completely close off the boys' room and switch to the front AC (along with the main AC) so we are cooling less square footage.  Around 7:30 in the evening, when the sun starts to slip below the tree line, we start to cool the boys' bedroom again so it is cooled off enough by bedtime.  In the meantime, we try to come to the library... or the bowling alley... or ANYWHERE where there is free AC.

Yesterday I went out to the car and noticed that the driver's side lock was messed up. Someone tried to break into our van! I'm sure this happened when we went off base the day before to grocery shop (because the commissary was closed due to the furlough and we were out of food!). But had the would-be thieves been successful, the joke would have been on them! There's nothing of street value in our car. They would have found only boxes of dissection specimens and textbooks!

Update on Steve's job:

We still don't know if he will be allowed to "telework" while we are on the trip or not.  It sounds like his bosses are willing to let him telework for three days per pay period, as well as let him work on days that he is doing site visits at the Air Force bases around the country.  All the other days would be "leave without pay".  This would work out well for us because it would still keep a bit of a paycheck coming in while still giving us flexibility for the trip.  As well, this allows Steve to keep his job so he will have a job to come back to.  HOWEVER, his bosses wanted the legal office to look over this idea, and the legal office is hemming and hawing over it.  I'm sure they are going to nix the plan.  So we are less than two weeks away from when we want to leave, yet we don't know anything.  I have a feeling that he's going to just end up quitting, which might be a HUGE mistake financially, but a risk we're willing to take in order to make memories with the kids.

In other job related news, the furlough days have been cut back to only six days, so the next round of furlough will (hopefully) be his last.  (Although if he ends up quitting, this will be a moot point.)  I hate when politics affects me personally.  I wish Congress members would stop playing chess with our lives.

And speaking of income (and complaining of the government - haha), the Veterans Administration has kicked back Steve's disability claim for further review - again.  Now it is not projected to be ready until February-July of 2014 - nearly TWO YEARS after his military retirement.  Unbelievable!  We were hoping to have that entitlement money while on the trip, but it sounds fairly certain that it will not be available to us for quite a while yet.

Okay, before I burst a vein, let's change the subject...

The older boys and I went to the dentist this morning to get a clean bill of health before hitting the road (and possibly losing our dental insurance).  No cavities in any of us.  Yay!  The younger boys are scheduled to go the pediatric dentist next week, and hopefully we'll get more good news on that front as well.

We are still hitting the books.  The older boys are getting caught up in some things.  Here's what each one is working on right now.  (Keep in mind that some things are done and we are waiting to start the new school year.)

17yo twins (finishing up 11th grade):
Physics (Apologia) - finishing up last year's curriculum; going at accelerated pace
Pre-calculus (Saxon) - one boy is nearing the end, one is barely starting it (sigh)
Economics (Notgrass)  - we just started this semester course; hope to finish it in a month or so
Apologetics (Various) - just need to finish off this elective from last year

15yo (finishing up 9th grade):
Biology (Apologia) - finishing up last year's curriculum; slow-going
Algebra (Saxon) - working at an accelerated pace to get caught up
Geography (A Beka) - working at an accelerated pace to get caught up
Grammar (Rod & Staff) - slogging through it
Vocabulary (Vocabulary from Classical Roots) - finishing up last year's; should be done soon

13yo (finishing up 7th grade):
General Science (Apologia) - finishing up last year's curriculum; accelerated pace
Pre-algebra (Saxon) - going at an accelerated pace
Grammar (Rod & Staff) - nearly finished with last year's curriculum
Vocabulary (Vocabulary from Classical Roots) - should be done soon
Spelling (Spelling Workout) - about halfway done

10yo (special needs):
Reading (Stevenson) - just chugging along; reading has improved greatly
Arithmetic (Semple) - nearly done learning the addition facts
Handwriting (Handwriting Without Tears) - ugh, he hates anything that involves writing

7yo (finishing up 1st grade):
Grammar (First Language Lesson) - about halfway through 1st grade year
Spelling (Spelling Workout) - about halfway done
Reading (Phonics Pathways) - about halfway done

I know it sounds like we are way behind, and well, I guess we are if you look at it in terms of finishing curriculum.  But I also know that these kids are doing well academically, so I'm not sweating it.  Heck, even if they all take an extra year before they head off to college, I'm okay with that.  It is what it is.

Oh, and speaking of college...

One of our 17yo sons is honing in on engineering college.  (This is the boy who attended the NASA course this summer.) The other would like to go to college for creative writing, but he's less focused on his goals.  He's actually considering joining the military instead of going straight to college after graduation.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  After all, it was good enough for Steve and me, but when it's your own kid???  Hmm.  Just not sure.  Actually, he's not really sure either.  Who knows what will become of this kid?  Time will tell.

Sometimes I look around at my kids and can't believe my eyes.  They aren't my sweet, innocent little boys anymore.  Now they are... well, practically men!  They are at least as tall as me, if not taller.  They are shaving.  They are opinionated.  They follow politics and world events.  They earn paychecks.  They look at girls. 

One night I went to bed a newlywed young mother with a circle of toddlers and babies around me; the next morning I woke up and found that nearly twenty years has passed. 

And THAT is why this trip is so important to us.