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About Alice

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  1. Yep. We have to a meet this summer for the first time in like 10 years. We’re going to a family wedding. My oldest is buying his own plane ticket and flying up the day of the wedding so that he can still go to the meet. The younger two are angry that we’re not letting them do that as well. My daughter’s reactions was “wait, is summer school like a punishment?” I also was laughing because the swim people are all obviously a little bit in the same cult. We’re all like, “it’s a ton of time and work and you’re at the pool all day and you’ll smell like chlorine all the time and have wet towels perpetually in your laundry room and have to stand outside in the sun for hours at a time...and it’s AWESOME”.
  2. Thanks Evanthe and MysteryJen! I have an eighth grader who I think is vying to take down your kids for the laziest teenager/homeschooler award. I’ve been really struggling with the idea of whether or not I can homeschool him for high school. His brother is a junior and is a super motivated self-directed kid. He’s not perfect but has been fairly easy to homeschool. Added to that is the fact that he and have very similar personalities and learning styles. I hasn’t been a breeze but it’s been relatively smooth. Enter the eighth grader who has a totally different personality and learning style. He is an out-of-the-box thinker. He definitely has ADD as well, but is adamantly against taking meds. So far, I’ve mostly been ok with having a different approach with him. But I think as we’re looking at high school next year I’ve started to feel anxious about it again. I might not let him read your posts but it’s good to know that there is hope for a kid who comes home from swim practice, makes himself an enormous breakfast using every dish in the kitchen and then spends hours on the couch with his coffee and his dog before he is ready to think about maybe starting the school day.
  3. I’d make sure your younger kids can use the pool, if they won’t all be on on the team. If you can ask other parents I’d look for a coach who has the goal of making it fun and having the kids love the sport. The coach pretty much sets the environment. I personally think adult coaches who are more experienced are better than college students, but a lot of times it’s college students. We have the benefit of having a coach who has been around forever and has a good perspective on life and swimming. That’s not to say college students and high school students can’t two teens coach but they do so under the guidance of an adult who shows them how to be a good coach. I think the swimming culture is different in different places. But in general, I’d see if there are teams that are known for being really intense or being “fastest” or the “top” teams. I would personally avoid those. 🙂 They tend to be much more intense experiences. That might not be an issue where you are. Here, summer swimming is all through private swim clubs. There are ones that are known for always being at the top. There are people who want to join those and go on long waitlists to do so. And there are others of us who like the slightly more laidback experience. The same goes for the winter teams here. Ask up front what other commitments there are for you. Are there meets? How often? Do you have to volunteer? Hidden costs- (team suits, social activities that everyone is doing but cost money, etc)?
  4. We are a swimming family and I read your thread title to my two boys and they died laughing at how obvious a choice it was and then were appalled when I told them everyone so far had said summer school. There aren’t a lot of things I can say anymore that leave two teenage boys speechless, so that was fun. 😂 In all seriousness, we have loved swimming. We’ve done swim team every summer since my oldest was 6 or 7 and he is now 16. All three kids swim. My two oldest coach. My oldest is a lifeguard. My daughter also dives and loves that. Summer swim has also grown into a year round sport for us, my oldest will likely swim in college. They all sort of smell like chlorine all the time. That said, I do understand that families are all different and it’s not for everyone. I have friends that absolutely love various things that I think are as crazy as they think swim team is. Pros of swim team for us... *It’s a sport where all the kids can do it at the same time in the same place. We tried other sports that meant we had to be at three different places at the same time. With swimming, we are all at the pool together. Meets are at the same time, regardless of age. Social events are the same, regardless of age. *When they were younger, I did stay at the pool during practice. Mostly, I didn’t mind it. When my younger kids were two little for swim team, I would hang out with other Moms with little kids or play in the pool with my kids. It was a great summer activity for us and relatively cheap way to get out of the house every day. I’m an introvert and like staying home but I also appreciated having a place to go and socialize. I have a lot of “summer friends” now that we are close to and enjoy spending a LOT of time with for two months a year. *Because of the all-age thing, my kids have made friends of different ages. And they also have had the chance to be mentored by older kids and now to be coaches and mentors for younger kids. That’s a great opportunity and not one you see in a lot of sports. It’s almost homeschooler like. My kids all love our summer team and some of their closest friends are from that, even if they don’t see them as much during the school year. *It is a great sport for exercise. I love that it emphasizes the individual within the context of a team. You can always push yourself to get a best time even if you aren’t the star swimmer. Cons of swim team.... * It is an intense season. Here, we end up in practice M-F and then there are two meets a week in the summer. Add social activities to that and it can be a lot. Again, for the most part that has been a good thing for us. Partially that’s because we lead a more relaxed life in the school year. We’ve also developed a rhythm where late May/early June and August are very relaxed months for us and then we have an intensely social and physical summer and a more academic school year. *You will almost certainly be called on to volunteer. Or you have to be there. I know for a lot of parents that’s a deal breaker. *That’s really all the cons I can think of....maybe all the wet towels. And the perpetual chlorine smell? 🙂
  5. Of the Williamsburg/Yorktown/Jamestown trio, I like Jamestown and Yorktown a lot more. I’ve never been a big fan of Wburg. To me, it’s just too Disneyfied. But I know I’m in the minority there. Regardless, I think you will find it really hard to do it as a day trip from DC, and even harder to do it as a day trip and then fly out from Richmond. You might want to consider staying outside the city, wherever you are and planning to use public transportation to go in. For example, I just stayed at a hotel in Fairfax for $59 a night with breakfast included. It was a room with a king bed and a sofa pullout. It was a Hotwire blinded rate. Hotwire has recently made it super easy to figure out what hotel you are going to get, even if you do the blind rates. It only takes a little poking around and you can figure it out so then you can make sure you are on the Metro line. Staying somewhere further out but on the Metro would save a lot over staying in DC itself. We are going to Boston in June and doing something similar. I found a hotel room on Hotwire for our family for way cheaper than anything on Air BnB or in the city. It’s about 20 minutes out of the city but on the public train line so we can just commute in. I also wondered the same thing as Farrar, if renting a car for part of the trip might be cheaper than multiple train legs.
  6. I looked at the title and thought...nope, mine will be a senior. And then I remembered my second son will be a 9th grader next year!!! Ack! The first step will be making sure he wants to homeschool. We’ve been talking about it all along. We let the kids decide when they get to high school. I think he will probably choose to stay home and I think it is be the best option for him, but I’m open to him going to public school if he wants to. He’s the most out of the box kid I have so I’m really not sure what we will do if he does stay home. I’m thinking about using Farrar’s Global Perspective Studies class for both him and his brother. He’s doing Derek Owens Algebra this year and it’s working so unless something changes we would probably stick with that for Geometry. He really likes ASL, so we’ll likely have that be his language. And that’s all the thinking I’ve done so far.
  7. I have a junior. It’s a tough year, even homeschooling. Pretty much all the juniors I see as patients are crazy stressed. It’s partially workload. It’s also starting to think about college. For my son it’s also a bunch of other added things...he is taking driver’s ed, he is trying to get a certificate to enable him to have a certain job for the summer, he said yes to a staffing/leadership position within Scouts (that is taking up multiple weekends), he is thinking about swimming in college so having to negotiate writing to coaches, he has other fun thing he wants to do, there are social pressures. It’s an increase in responsibility on all levels. On the flip side...I see him rising to those challenges. He’s stressed a little but he’s also thriving. So it can be a really exciting time. I think there is also some degree of stress involved in coming towards the point of a big change in your life...ending high school. People put so much emphasis on the whole college search process and what you will do and it seems like this make or break point. We’ve tried really hard not to do that and I think our son isn’t too worried about where he will go. Our emphasis has been that there are so many good schools and there is one that will be a fit for him. And we’ve talked a lot about fit (financial, personal, academic) over reputation of the schools. But there is some stress just in the uncertainty aspect of it all. I just asked my son why he thinks junior year is stressful and he said “because everyone else makes it stressful.” 😀
  8. I went to University of Richmond. I also grew up in Richmond. I loved UR and thought it was a great experience. I’ll share my thoughts, with the caveat that it is all from a long time ago so things may have changed quite a bit. I was on a full scholarship (not from UR, a separate private scholarship). I also had a lot of friends on scholarship as I was in a honors/scholars program. I never really felt like most of my friends or people I knew were wealthy. I am definitely not from a wealthy upbringing. I knew going into college that I had to get a scholarship or likely wouldn’t go to school. I honestly can say it was never an issue for me while there. Most of the students do come from outside Virginia. When I was there (and I think it’s still about the same even though that was a long time ago now), many people were from New Jersey or New England because relatively speaking UR was much more affordable than the schools up there. UR is very much a campus school. We spent very little time off campus and being in the West End really doesn’t impact life. There is the city (which is way more hip and arty than when I grew up or lived in Richmond) but you will have to have a car to go downtown. You kind of have to drive to go anywhere, so being in the West End doesn’t make things cost more. There is a Greek system and when I was there frat parties were a big thing on the weekends, but not the only thing by any stretch of the imagination. Rush happens in the spring so you have the whole fall to make friends before you join a sorority (or don’t). There are also no sorority houses (at least there weren’t then) so it was kind of just another club. My roommate for most of my time (sophomore through senior year) was in a different sorority than me and our other two roommates were not in the Greek system. I was a Biology and Chemistry double major. I had a fantastic experience. I had a lot of friends who went to UVA or W&M and I got into both of them but chose UR for various reasons. When I talked to them and compared our experiences in the sciences, I felt like I had a much more personal experience. At the time, the only large classes I had were freshman bio and chem. Everything else was small. I was able to do fairly significant undergraduate research for three years and two summers. I got paid during the summers for the research. Because there were no grad students, I basically just approached the Biochem professor and asked him I could work with him and he said yes. I knew all my professors really well. We would go to their houses for dinners. One of the Chem professors had us to his lake house every summer, we would all as a department go tubing on the James River. We had Tshirts made one summer and all went to Kings Dominion together (with the professors). I went to Florida with several professors and some other students over Spring Break one year to present at a national conference. Yes, all very geeky...but heaven for me. Because of the honors program I was in, I was able to take upper level classes in a lot of other departments and had great experiences in Studio Art, Theater, English (I had enough credits for a minor but not the right classes) and Women’s Studies. My roommate was almost exactly the opposite, as far as majors, a Art History, English and Women’s Studies major. She had similar relationships with professors in her fields. I knew other people who had similar experiences in Physics, Math, Psychology, Sociology. It’s a great school. I’d be happy if my kids when there. It doesn’t have nursing though, so that is a definite downside if she is interested in going that route.
  9. I’ve written recommendation letters for a lot of people because I teach a high school class at our co-op. Once I’ve written one, it’s easy to send it again, even if I have to modify it slightly for a new thing. One thing that is super helpful to me as a writer is when the student tells me things that the scholarship/experience/competition is looking for. Then I can add a few sentences about how the student meets those characteristics. And then change them for the next letter. But leave the main body of the letter the same.
  10. I think the main issue that makes it hard to recommend things is that independent/accountable to someone else tends to be expensive. Cheaper options are going to take more work on a parent’s part. It’s not clear to me if the main hurdle for you is expense or time (or reluctance on your son’s part to have Mom as a teacher) and so it’s hard to know what to recommend.
  11. I did my own Letter of the Week “curriculum” with all three kids for preschool. I got books out of the library based on the letter of the week and thought up a few activities we could do around that letter. So for example A was apple, ant, alligator, etc. Activities were apple prints with paint, apple picking (or just eating), apple pie making, ant watching on the sidewalk. B was bears, books, berries, bees...We sang the bear hunt song and acted it out, ate berries, ate honey (for bees), went to the library to get books. You get the idea. With my oldest we did tons of activities. With my third it was one or two per week. For me it was a way to plan out a few easy activities I’d do with my youngest and for them to have something special of their own. My youngest liked workbooks and having her own thing to do. She really liked the Explode the Code workbooks.
  12. To my office Secret Santa: Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman To my Mom: Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More than Ever by Gavin Edwards To my Dad: The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by David McCullough To my husband: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat To my 16 year old: Math with Bad Drawings by Ben Orlin and Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephan Dunbar To my 13 year old: The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek by Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal To my 10 year old: Guts by Raina Telgemeier and Best Friends by Shannon Hale I don’t have any specific books I hope to get. I did get a gift card from a local bookstore from the nurses at my office which is about the best present ever.
  13. Our state also requires a copy of the high school dilpoma when you send in your notification to homeschool. When my oldest was kindergarten age and I had to send it in the first time I couldn’t find it and my college one was at my parents house and not easily accessible but I had a copy of my Medical school diploma. I stressed and stressed about it because I’m a rule follower but finally dh convinced me to just send it in. He was like “Seriously, let them try and argue with you that it doesn’t meet the requirement.” He was right, it was fine. 😀
  14. I have another one with very high scores (99%) but who likely won’t make the cutoff in our state based on past years. He missed 4 questions total. I could tell he feels bummed although we’ve tried really hard to downplay the test. Most of the schools he will look at don’t give much in the way of NM aid and he knows that. And I told him that it’s a great score and missing 4 questions is amazing!
  15. I have read this whole thread and I think I have won the Thanksgiving lottery this year. We had extended family Thanksgiving a few weeks ago because our niece and her just turning one year old baby were coming to town for baby’s first birthday from Utah. All the rest of her siblings came from far away and they all requested Thanksgiving meal while they were here. They wanted to have it at our house and it was a Saturday I had to work. I said sure, it could be here, but I wouldn’t be able to cook or do anything. We typically do a potluck style meal anyway. So I had kids help me clean on Friday, then dh did all the set-up and some cooking and everyone else brought food. I came home in time to eat. And for tomorrow, we are going to a good friend’s house. I had happened to mention to her that I wasn’t sure what we would do for real Tgiving since we were having the early meal. Plus, I also have to work this holiday so I wasn’t really up for cooking a big meal. She invited us to her house and told us not to bring anything. This is the kind of friend who I know really means it. And we’ve hosted her and her large family (7 kids) for holiday meals and told them the same thing and meant it. So just eating for me this year!
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