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11/15/2008 12:00:00 PM
After about 3 1/2 months we are starting to feel at home in our house and surroundings.
NEW PHOTOS ON OUR WEBPAGE www.lawur.com!!!
After about 3 1/2 months we are starting to feel at home in our house and surroundings. By mid October most of the bigger move-in things were finished, there are still a few things missing (like more pictures, décor, some lamps,..) but for the most part of it and the daily, comfortable, cozy living we are done and feel very happy about it!
Pretty much at the same time when the 'moving-in-around' part at the house was done, some things happened on the homeschooling side. I had made contact with one of the mothers (I had gotten her e-mail address from a nice secretary at school) and after a few mail conversations and weeks later we joined in on our first group meet. I was amazed and happily surprised to hear that in Topanga alone there are about 30-40 homeschooling families - so we are not alone!!! :o))))
It is a very established group of families, many of them have been doing it for the last 10 years, so some of the older kids are already going to college! It is a very tight group, but we had a very warm and open welcome as newcomers. What they have been putting together are private courses almost every day at either somebody's home or at a community place. There are either moms who are putting their talents/profession or friends who have a special knowledge, out there and teaching it to the kids. One has to try to make time for school at home... And not try to overbook the days. In the beginning I was a bit overwhelmed with the concept and never would have expected such a close net and variety! Many have asked me how a day/week at homeschooling looks like, so here is a 'rough' overview of our week, hoping that it'll give you some idea:
Once a month the boys separately (on different Mondays, which leaves that day with the other one to work with on a one to one bases) with their own age groups participate at a 'wilderness day'. They do a field trip with an educated nature guide to the various nature reserves around the area doing themed activities like cooking with nature, trash clean up at the condor (an endangered species) reserve and breeding grounds, camouflage and observe animals in the wilderness, re-planting nature,...
Once a month we join a history club with a big group (about 20 kids in all, age groups 8-16) at a families house right around the corner from us. Every body studies the particular chapter at home and then we get together for a discussion, art and play time as well as a potluck lunch (mostly with meals from that country we've studied the history from)
At the moment we signed up for a 6-week course at again a private home here in Topanga: natural philosophy and art, which is taught by two former teacher/friends. It is not known yet if it will continue after mid December so we'll see where this is leading us. It is mostly Benjamin's age group but by now Sebatian's has found his nitch as well and is happy to be 'a bigger one' for a change. After the courses we stay a bit for lunch and play time, so our social contact doesn't really lack... ;o) Benjamin especially gets along well with KK, the son of the house, and since it has been in the past that Sebastian always was the first one to find closer friends, it is now Benjamin's turn and we need to honor that.
That is 'parkday' which means a big gathering at the park with homeschoolers from Topanga and the 'valley'. Prior to that we participate in a geography class (2 hours) which a mother leads, that has taught for 10 years in South Aftrica. It is only 5th grade and up, so this gives me a few hours alone with Benjamin to work on his school work. Afterwards everybody meets at the park and besides a lot of play, talk and mingleling time there again are many courses offered:
1x a month we have a 'heros class', where a designated hero is studied at home (Mother Theresa, Martin Luther Kind, Dalai Lama,...) and then we get together for a discussion group (5th grade an up) for about 2 hours to exchange likes, ideas, inspirations,.. About this hero. It is cool to see how well these kids respect each other and all have something so valuable to share with everybody.
Twice a month the teenagers have put together a programm where all ages can join in. It is called KFESA (Kids for enviromental and social actions). They basically do fund rasers for different organisations (with bake sales, concerts,..), clean up parks and public areas, help out at homeless organisations,... So far it has only happened a few times due to the fires and other things but I am sure that the boys will enjoy it a lot since they like to help others and nature as well as do things for a good cause.
They are even more classes like sign language, fencing, chess, shakespeare,... But one has to stop at some point.
THURSDAY and FRIDAY:
These are our days at home to do our 'normal' program as well as their guitar lesson, that they have a lot of fun with. For the school materials I ordered the same as the one we had when on the boat, which we worked well with and was easy to follow. We are doing so many things that do not require a lot of sitting down at the desk that it is quite alright to have 2 days with a bit more structure (as much as possible ;o). Sebastian did his testing to see if he could jump 5th grade and did very well, hence he is using the 6th grade curriculum and I am certain he will get into the grove quickly. They both have been good about doing their math right in the morning before we leave for our different activities, let's home it lasts!
Well so there is always something going on and keeping us busy. A few weeks back we joined on an overnight trip under the theme "live in a time capsule". We visited the Mission in San Juan Capistrano (about 1 1/2 hours South of here) and then spent 2 days on a 'ranch' living and doing activities from the Indian time (the original Californians), the Mexicans (the Spanish missionary influence) and the Pioneers (gold rush and European immigrants). It was a great trip - besides meeting part of the group (we were 30 kids and 10 adults) a bit closer we also enjoyed all the games, arts and group activities.
I am very happy that there are a lot of boys (and girls... ;o) with whom the boys get along very well. It's understood that one cannot make close friends that quickly but all the kids have embraced them very openly and taken them under their wings. Also the mothers are all very nice and let me join into their group, and as often in live with some it clicks right away and with some one has to first get to know each other a little better to find where one belongs...
Also at soccer a few friendships have been made and first play dates and sleep overs have been arranged, much to the boys delight. Both of their teams are doing well and next week we have the last league games of the season. We'll see which place they'll take and let you know in the next report. Practice will still be going on during the week but at least our weekends won't be filled with multiple games for a while - that'll kick back in in January.
Our visitors of the last few months were Bob and Maura together with both dogs Broesel and Percy for a few days while visiting her cousin in the outer LA area. They came in their small camper van making themselves at home right in our front yard. While they were gone to her cousin's they left Broesel with us which was wonderful to have her and 'dogsit', it felt so familiar and she was easy to handle. It was sad that Robert had to be in Europe at that exact time but we all enjoyed ourselves together specially since Maura and Bob had not seen the boys for more than 3 years!
Then Bonnie and the kids (Phoenix and Griffin) came for a weekend, together we went to a Galaxy game (the LA soccer team where David Beckham plays, unfortunately he was in the UK then..). Other than that we stayed at home enjoying ourselves and quality time. Also our friend Luke came for an overnight a few weeks later, hoping next time we'll get to see a bit more of him, but luckily he'll come to LA more often on business and family matters.
Robert is pretty busy and occupied at the office at the moment, and lately has to attend to some work for a few hours on the weekends even. Yet he still enjoys the challenge a lot, which I guess is the most important part. The last 10 days he spent in London and on the weekend decided last minute not to fly to Vienna but to the Canaries to visit our cruising friends on "Ohana Kai" (www.ohanakai.net). The Martins are still on their way and will do the Atlantic crossing in about 3 weeks! He had such great fun to see everybody after more than 2 years and felt right at home again on the boat and water. I was so happy for him to have had this chance, which the boys and I weren't able to conquer due to many different reasons this summer while they were in the Meds. This way at least one of the Schmids was able to reconnect with them and hopefully we'll get another chance when they make their way closer to us and before their trip around the world will end next summer...?!
Weather wise we have gone through some strange periods of absolute heat waves (still up in the 30degrees!) and then bone chilling cold days and nights - often accompanied by strong winds (like a few weeks ago) that put out fire hazard notes. So no need to put the summer clothes away yet, but I am also keeping a pair of gloves in my car already - one never knows...
I did not think that there was that much to talk about... But since so many asked about our school situation I thought it would be good to go into a bit more detail...
Ok, wishing you all a great fall season - although the stores are putting up Christmas deco already now (every year it seems to come out a bit earlier than the one before, maybe well get to buy X-mas stuff right after Easter soon?). We are looking forward to some replies and read about your lifes,
For now dear greetings from "Obama land" (it was exciting, interesting, a formative experience to be here the last few months during the campaigning and are looking forward to the changes and hopeful swing for the better with Americas new president)
So long, yours the 4 Schmids Niki, Robert, Sebastian und Benjamin
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