Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Writing home

The phrase "something to write home about" becomes real when you live many miles and eight time zones from home.

I have been trying to think of a format to make it easier, something like "7 quick takes Friday" or a day book, like some others do, but I find that I usually would come up short when I have to fill out their empty spaces.  So I think I will make something up as I go along, using some of their ideas hoping that they will not mind, and aim to write home once a week.

Because I write these posts specifically to keep my family and friends back home up to speed with what we do, you might find this a bit weird or personal if you stumble upon my blog.  I decided that I can live with that.

The weather

Everyone has been going on about the great weather we have had in Austin (if you misspell that, spellchecker throws out Rasputin - that's funny).  I must say that a spring like this would have made our transition here in 2009 much easier.  For almost two months now, temperatures have been between 24 and 27 degrees most days (Celsius, of course!), and at night temperatures drop below 20.  We even had quite a bit of rain, and the grass is green, the flowers are out, and we know that we should appreciate this while it lasts!  In future, I will try to be more specific.  Especially if I do this every week, then I could come back and read my blog for gardening purposes.

During one of the rainstorms, a huge branch broke off one of the trees in our backyard.  Two of our neighbors came with chainsaws to help us clear the branch away. I love that about America.  While they often publicly complain that they are all so self centered and that there is no sense of community, we have been surrounded by kind and caring friends and neighbors from the day we landed, much like we were in South Africa.

Our house

While I write this, we will be closing tomorrow. Finally.  They have been promising that we will close "tomorrow" for about a week and a half now, but this time I think they are sure.  The move will wait for a bit, we have paid rent for another month (signed the contract one year ago), and I am planning on moving slowly, and doing most of it by ourselves.  The house is as close to our "American Dream" as I could have imagined: Two story, wrap around porch, big lot, big trees.  It is in a pocket where there is no homeowners' association, yet the homes around us are beautiful with tidy yards.  We are on a dirt road, there is electricity but no water or gas from the city.  That is part of the reason why it took so long; the owner had to drill a well to ensure water supply to the house.  I will miss my gas stove, but I can live without it. Best of all is that we are still close, we are not out in the country, and most of our friends live within 15 minutes' drive. As much as we complained in the beginning, this city with its quirky neighborhoods is really starting to grow on us.

We are getting 7 gallons/minute, they say that is as good as it gets in Texas.

A view of the  fenced-in backyard

At school this week

I have succumbed to another new curriculum:  Beast Academy.  At the moment they only have a third grade curriculum, but since we finished Jean's Singapore curriculum for third grade and I prefer to go deeper into the topics rather than rushing through them, I ordered this from The Art of Problem Solving website.  Melva is currently doing an online course in pre-algebra through their website, and Beast Academy is in a way a curriculum to prepare younger students to approach math from a different angle.  The guide books are written in comic book style, while the practice books have a more regular format.  I highly recommend these,  the problems are challenging but fun to solve, and the child walks away knowing what an acute angle is just as well if not better than one that had to repeatedly label angles either acute or obtuse.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Jean can read the smaller font if the material is interesting enough! What a little skunk, if that were a regular story he would have said that he cannot read it.  He prefers his stories to be read to him, he will read non-fiction.

I also started to read to Jean from "The Story of Science" by Joy Hakim.  It is a secular text, but it states openly that origins belong to the realm of philosophy rather than science, and treats religion with respect. It describes the development of science and different theories from the earliest times - I believe there are 6 books in the series, and I once again recommend them.  I am influenced by both the Classical Model and by Charlotte Mason when I choose curriculum, and I like the way science and history are combined in this series of books.  Somehow Jean recalls history facts better when he has fun science related facts to pin to his  history facts.  Melva read the book on her own, I should order the next one in the series for her.

What I am reading 

I add this to hold myself accountable.  I am currently not reading "The Paris Wife" and looking forward to the day I will stop watching silly programs on Hulu, and start to read.  I have seen all of Downton Abbey and it exhausted me, but at least I am not ashamed of watching it. (I know that I am not the only one!)  I am ashamed to say that I also watched all 8 seasons of Bones in 3 months, every single episode.  It is just so much easier to watch a TV program than to pick up a book; it is absolute poison.  I guess that is what I have been doing while I wasn't writing home. Sorry.

One "Before and After"

I am getting good at cutting their hair.  I like doing it myself.  I feel that, by now, I do it as well as a rushed Good Clips trainee does it, and it saves me $13. (Doesn't he have great hair?)

And that, in a nutshell, is what we have been doing, more or less.  I have been knitting too, of course, but more about that tomorrow.


  1. oh wow, welcome to your new home emma and family, it really looks beautiful there. so much busyness, i don't know how you find time for knitting too. but then i guess i did at one time a million years ago :)

    you did a great job haircutting, and yes he does have gorgeous hair!