Learning Notes 12/15-12/19


We started the school day outside after frantically trying to catch up on some overdue chores, and take care of sick Daddy. Eventually, we made it to the backyard for the daily readings then some nature journaling.  There was a strong breeze which I found lovely but caused some anxiety in the kids that the tallest bamboo would crash down on their heads.

Back indoors, we sat in the livingroom while the kids gave oral summaries of a book of their choice, one that they had read spontaneously over the weekend.  The 5th grader chose a book about George Washington and told us all about his life, with a little prompting for chronological accuracy.*  The 3rd grader spoke about First Light, which I have mentioned here; she didn’t particularly like it, oh well.  The 2nd grader told the story of The Empty Pot, by Demi, which he loved.  He thinks it ought to have won an award.


From there we moved on to Math.  I had made some practice sheets up of my own, to target areas of particular weakness and then we moved on to a short lesson each in their respective RightStart lesson books.  The 2nd and 3rd graders played a math card game afterwards for subtraction practice but when the 2nd grader was repeatedly stumped by simple difference problems (what is 9-2?  8-4?—yikes!), I figured it was time for a snack break.

We read some Johnny Tremain out loud after a snack, with a lot of interjections to translate complex vocab and plot points, and then broke for lunch.  The 2nd grader made us our lunch so that my hands were free for some more chores.  (I am feeling the time-crunch leading up to the arrival of the in-laws later this week!)

The two other kids explored Google maps a little, now that Saipan has had a visit of the “Google car” and that was good for a few minutes of fun.  Then we had a brief quiet time and a swim during the hottest part of the day and came back inside to work on journal prompts.  Today’s was: “Imagine you are an explorer (underwater, on an old sailing ship, or in a submarine) and all of a sudden you are surrounded by whales.  Tell the story.”  They loved this assignment (which is funny: I never can tell which ones they will love and which ones they will find boring, I really can’t) and produced very impressive work.  The girls used this for handwriting practice and the boy dictated to me, as per usual.

We read a few more chapters from Seabird which has taken a plot turn and is now no longer relevant to our study of the whaling industry, oops.  However: it has two chapters with titles relevant to another critical writing piece I have been waiting to introduce.  “The Sea is an Enemy” and “The Sea is a Friend.”  We’ll revisit that tomorrow, hopefully.

L. practiced for her piano recital on Friday.

Everyone completed their chores, and extra.

Daddy is still sick.  I overdid it with the housecleaning and now my injured shoulder (from a weekend hiking trip when I tried to climb up to a higher ledge in a cave) hurts more than ever.  I will need to rest it more tomorrow.


Daddy is awfully sick today.  I went off to get some meds for him first thing in the morning and the girls stayed behind to start in on Math practice, with yet another card game (hurray for RS for making learning Math fun!).  I arrived home to find the girls ecstatic to show me their progress in learning their multiplication tables, but my husband worse than ever, on his fourth day of this illness and begging me to take him to the ER (which I found to be a little dramatic, but I gave in anyway).  We grabbed some library books to return, and the usual water bottles and sunblock and I drove him into town.

To kill time, we did some errands and traded in library books for new ones, got a sandwich and then killed some more time.  At the library, I introduced the new writing and reflection question of whether the sea is “enemy or a friend” and the kids groaned and barely cooperated.  So much for my brilliant plan of inspiring them with that question; looks like we’ll have to work harder at connecting the dots and demonstrating how extensively they are able to respond, now that we have studied the physical ocean in such depth.

Finally, we returned to wait at the hospital for Daddy to be discharged, only to learn that there was legitimate reason to suspect that rather than an ordinary icky virus, he may just have more exotic illness, picked up during our recent travels.

Ah.  That had not even occurred to me when I came home to find him pale and writing on the floor in the bathroom this morning.

We got home around 3pm to a house roasting in the heat.  This will end up being logged as a half day, for sure.


I woke up with a plan and kept to it.  The night before, it had become clear that one of the kids desperately needed some TLC that would require a change of routine.   As much as I hated to pitch the lesson plans so carefully crafted last Saturday, I knew it was the right thing to do.  Without calling attention to my plan, I instructed the girls to get dressed up, and then we all piled into the car.  We ate breakfast at a place we’d never been to before, out on their patio, then we dug a bit in the sand at the beach until it was time for manicures (at $5, it’s one of the Saipan’s only cheap finds!**).  We tried to shop for Christmas decorations but we ended up only buying a single string of lights.  I just can’t seem to find any reasonable prices on anything.  We will try one more time at “fake Kmart” tomorrow, since they are only open Thursday-Saturday, starting at 11 and for 3 hours (I mentioned this store here, awhile back).

Luckily we had made some lovely paper snowflakes on Tuesday evening so after going to piano lessons, we came home and strung those up along with the lights, got a little creative with some candles and japanese bowls, and by the end, the house is looking more festive.


Thanks to our fellow Saipan-ian Kirstin, we made some Christmas cookies which only require 3 minutes of bake-time, which is a must when the cost of running the oven is about $1/minute.

By the end of the day, feeling pampered and happy to be crafting AND baking, the child in question seemed much more like herself again so I feel hopeful that tomorrow we could snuggle up on the couch for some book-learning (and also maybe a pencil for some Math practice?), and still be happy and well.

Meanwhile, Daddy is still quite ill and will go in for more lab work tomorrow in order to rule out Southeast-Asian hitchhiker-bugs.  Phew.



And that is exactly as far as I got on my logging for that week, folks.  We did end up doing a bit more schooling, and then some cleaning and grocery shopping to prepare for our guests.  But I don’t remember much else and I am MUCH too late for the link-up now.  Oh well.

Jeremy stayed sick for weeks and even still is not back to 100%.  Maybe it was dengue fever?  We will probably never know.  But he was flat on his back for several weeks straight which was a new experience for him, and the rest of us.  His parents, having traveled several thousands of miles to see him (and the rest of us, of course) were a tad disappointed, to say the least.

We still had a lovely Christmas and enjoyed as many beach swims and snorkeling trips as we could squeeze in.  Because why on earth pretend that we could even try to replicate a traditional celebration?

At the library, I made sure to gather up some books on George and Martha Washington over the weekend to became part of our “strew” pile, since I am not sure how else we will incorporate the U.S. Revolution part of the 5th grade curriculum.  So far, it seems to be working pretty well. 

** Milk is $8/gallon, or more, and gas has been around $5.20 up until last week.  If you want to eat local veggies, that is possible, but too bad for me because most of my family dislikes: pumpkin, eggplant, bitter gourd, okra and Chinese long beans.  We do all like pechay so that’s nice.  Hey, at least it’s 1 out of 6, right?  Oh, we like “morning glory,” too, also called “King Kang” or “Chinese water spinach” but I still haven’t cooked it at home with any success.  Help?

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