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Everything posted by Alice

  1. I really enjoy the book club I am in. I've also enjoyed small groups from our church that meet to discuss a book or topic. For example, every summer our assistant pastor picks a book and we meet weekly to talk about it, chapter by chapter. We've also done a group that pairs a book with several movies that we watched together and discussed. The trick is picking a book that is meatier and asks to be read slowly and discussed. One good thing about this approach is that there is an obvious end if it's not working well...and if it is working well you can pick another book or topic. I would enjoy a walking/hiking group for the accountability of exercise but I do that with dh now so don't need one. I would also probably join and enjoy a group that did some kind of service together. I was very involved with Habitat for Humanity for awhile and that was sort of a social group in that the same people went weekly. We have started volunteering semi-regularly at a food bank and it's obvious that the regular volunteers know each other well and it's sort of a social thing as well as service.
  2. Mostly communal. Years ago, when ds was starting kindergarten I started a first day of school tradition where we do a treasure hunt and the treasure is some kind of cooler supplies (nice colored pencils, fun pencils, markers, etc) and usually a favorite candy. I skipped it this past year thinking they were getting too old and everyone (including the 13 year old) complained and missed it so we'll go back to it. That has been one fun way of giving them each something special. (They still go the special things last year, just not as a treasure hunt....but apparently you don't mess with tradition in this house.) We have a bookshelf where we keep our supplies. Each of them has a cubby (the shelves are square) and they keep their special things there on in their rooms. Everything else is kept out for anyone to use. Except the G2 1.0 Bold Gel pens. Those are mine and woe to he who takes them.
  3. I am sort of. Dh is very good at opening the fridge and cooking something interesting and tasty out of whatever is there. I have gotten much better at it after years of being married to him. Within certain foods that we eat fairly often I am good at winging it. If I want to cook something different what I do is google a bunch of recipes for something new I want to try and then take parts of each one based on what we like or what I have. Knowing a few basic techniques also makes a big difference in feeling comfortable going rogue. I have a cookbook from my Great-Grandmother's church. It makes me laugh because every "recipe" assumes that the reader is a cook. It will say things like "add some sugar". Or "bake until done" with no time suggestions or even temperature. I say it's a "suggestion" book instead of an actual "recipe" book.
  4. My middle schooler mostly reads on his own. I usually read the same materials and then we meet and discuss it. I have found that in middle school my son both wanted independence and still wanted to do things together. A lot of it was finding the right balance. For example, we read his logic book together (I read out loud and we discussed as we went). He was perfectly capable of just reading it and doing the exercises on his own but I could tell he still liked the time it took to hang out on the sofa and read together.
  5. I've done it twice. Once when I was a teen and once with dh. Both were great trips and very memorable. I would love to do it again.
  6. I would do it. I am not a particularly aggressive driver and I've driven in Manhattan several times. It's not that bad. And I loved visiting the library in NYC. Have fun!
  7. We have a pool membership that costs a little more than that a year. But it is our summer. My kids do swim team and we are there literally every day. My daughter also does dive team and there are tennis and water polo teams as well. Being on the teams makes us go every day and means the kids have lots of friends I am more of an introvert so I spend a lot of time in the shade reading. But even so over the years we've made summer friends. I'm not sure I would spend the same money if we didn't have the teams. For us that is the anchor that has made it worth it.
  8. We are on a 10 day trip in California right now and having a fabulous time. We are also from the East Coast and it feels like a different world here. The landscape and flowers and wildlife are all amazing and not like home. If you want specifics of our trip I can share. We basically flew into LA, are driving to San Francisco and will then drive back to LA through Yosemite. I agree with Laura that part of travel imeans being willing to experience things that are not like home. That said we've never had problems with toilets in Europe. Some were gross, just like public toilets in the US. in Paris they have open public urinals in some areas (not the most touristy areas) and using one was perhaps the highlight of the trip for ds10. He thought it was hilarious. We have also done laundry all over Europe and on longer vacations in the US. You can find places to do your own or if you are willing to pay you can drop off and pick up. One advantage of Air BnB or renting an apartment is having a washing machine. It sounds to me like the scariest part for you is being away from home. Maybe pick a closer location and go there to practice travel without having to also deal with the logistics of the travel itself. Without knowing where you are or where you have been, Chicago, Washington DC, New York, New England/Boston, New Orleans could all give you experiences of being in an unfamiliar city but may be doable in a shorter amount of time. It sounds to me like you are nervous about being gone a long time so maybe doing a 5 day closer to home trip then seeing what you enjoy and making the jump to a farther away place.
  9. I have several patients who have taken Lupron and did well. They were slightly different scenarios (precocious puberty at a very young age and early puberty in a developmentallly delayed girl) but as far as the meds similar. Both were on them 1-2 years and did well with no major side effects.
  10. Embassy tour Building Museum Renwick museum (art and modern crafts, near White House) Newseum National Geographic society If you like art Phillips gallery is nice Library of congress...gorgeous buildinG and interesting exhibits
  11. We don't have assigned chores. Instead everyone helps out as needed, including me and dh. All three kids (7,10, and 13) can do laundry, dust, vacuum, clean after meals, swee, etc. After a meal we all clean up together. On a laundry day I will ask whoever isn't doing work to help switch loads if I am busy. We all fold together sometimes or it just might be me or dh or sometimes just kids and then everyone puts their own away. We typically clean on Fridays. I make a list of what I need help with and we all work on it. Evening routine: we eat, clean up together, go on a walk in good weather, get ready for bed and read our current read aloud. Some seasons the oldest has more outside evening activities so if he isn't home we might rad picture books instead. Our morning routine is that dh and I wake up early and walk together. Then I shower and go round while he wakes up kids and gets them breakfast. More often now they get their own breakfast. Then they shower and get dressed and start school.
  12. I agree that if you are only going to go for 5 days I would pick one country and use a major city as a base and maybe do one or two small day trips, depending on the city. As an example: We went to Iceland and Paris last fall with our family of 5. That was a great trip. We picked Iceland because of the very cheap flights there and then from there to locations in Europe. We did a total of 10 days. Two were travel. Two in Iceland at the beginning, five in Paris and one in Iceland again at the end. In Paris we mostly stayed in the city and picked one day to go on two day trips...in the morning to Giverny (Monet's gardens) and afternoon to Versailles. Few other random thoughts: *Public transportation in Europe is mostly very easy. If you are going to travel from one country to another consider trains. Dh and I did a trip before kids that was mostly in Italy but then we ended in Amsterdam (we were visiting friends). We did an overnight train from Italy to Amsterdam where we could sleep on the train. That was a great way to maximize our sightseeing time (and the train was an experience/adventure in itself). *We used Air BNB in Iceland and Paris and had great experiences. We have also stayed in several traditional B&Bs in England and various accommodations in Italy (a convent, hotels, etc). In general, rooms are smaller. We always had double beds or it was specified ahead of time. The shower in Paris was miniscule, like hard to turn around in tiny. But it became a big family joke that we still laugh about. Things will be different but that's part of the experience. *We did not feel unsafe saying in the middle of major cities (Rome, London, Paris, Amsterdam). We also are comfortable in US cities (Chicago, NY, Boston, DC). *I have never felt taken advantage of in all our travels. We have found people to be kind and welcoming. I've never worried about what I'm wearing. I figure I look American and it's ok. We are tourists so why try and hide it. We try and speak the language when we can and always ask politely if someone speaks English instead of assuming. We try not to be "good guests" and we've found people to be good hosts. *Tap water is fine in Europe.
  13. Singapore. No regrets. It has worked great for three kids of varying math abilities. I like the way it teaches problem solving, mental math and basic number sense. I did very well in math in school but all my kids are better than me at manipulating numbers in their heads. I credit that to singapore.
  14. We don't and don't have any desire to own one. My parents actually just inherited a house at a beach from my aunt (it was my aunt's primary house of residence and it's an average house not a big "beach house" kind of place). They are considering keeping it and wanted to know if we would want it one day (I'm an only child.) For many reasons I think it's a bad financial decision for them to keep it but that's their decision. I did tell them that we didn't want it ourselves. I do know people who have vacation homes. The people I know seem to be people who prefer to go to the same place over and over or to do a specific activity. A doctor at work has a house at a ski resort. They go there almost every weekend in the winter and her kids are really into skiing. They spend Thanksgiving and Christmas there with extended family. It's the kind of place that also has summer activities so they go there in the summer as well. A nurse at work and her husband have a condo on Hilton Head. Before they bought it they went there at least once a year already and loved it. I would bet they will eventually retire there. Dh much prefers to travel to new places so a vacation home wouldn't work for us even if we could afford it. My parents rent a place at the beach every year and we go with them but dh often only stays a day or two. For him there isn't a lot of fun in going back and doing the same things every year. Plus, he's not really a hang out at the beach for a week vacationer. I like both kinds of vacations (travel and the more relaxed beach kind) so it works well for me and the kids to have been able to do this with my parents.
  15. I didn't quote because I wasn't sure what you wanted to erase later. It's standard for any doctor who sees adolescents to not do drug tests against their knowledge. It's actually a pretty common request (a parent who wants a teen drug-tested without their knowledge). We won't do it. It's pretty standard for docs to consider it unethical to do so. What I do is offer to be the one to talk to the teen with or without the parent present (parent's choice). I usually am straightforward: "Your Mom has told me that there have been some things she's seen in your behavior at home. Do you know what she is worried about?" I give the teens a chance to answer in their own words what they think the issue is. If they don't or depending on what they say I add something like "Your parents are concerned about your grades slipping and xyz." Then again I give the kids a chance to respond. Then I would say "As a doctor, when we see someone who has a change in their behavior we worry about a lot of things. One of those things is drug use. Your parents have requested that we do a drug test and I agree that is a good idea." Then I give them a chance to express how they feel about it. I respond..."I understand why you are upset...." Then we would talk about how regardless of the results of the test there are obviously some underlying issues and we discuss how to address those (whether that is psychiatric care or family therapy etc.)
  16. Yes! I like this. I think this is why I've always thought that emphasizing the difference between "demonstration" and "experiment" is unnecessary. I feel like for so many people that the process of doing science is sort of a mystery. I see this in fellow homeschoolers who tell me how they hate doing science labs because "it doesn't work". It never "doesn't work"....what happened is what happened and science is about figuring out why what you expected to happen didn't happen or being excited to see that what you expected to happen did in fact happen. In the labs we have the students do in Chemistry I look for a Purpose to say something like "To analyze the effects of varying the concentration of the reactants or the temperature of a reaction on the reaction rate. The rate of the reaction is expected to increase with increasing concentrations of reactants and to increase proportionally with the temperature." Actually, the lab we just did is a good example of a high school lab where the outcome was not expected. They all expected that as they increased the concentration of each reactant that the reaction would go faster. In fact, that is not what happened. When one reactant is increased the reaction goes slower. Part of their conclusion was to analyze the results and explain why that was. Technically, the outcome was "known" since it is a well described reaction and a chemist would have known that increasing the concentration of that reactant would slow the reaction. But for the students it wasn't known and so for them it felt like a true experiment and for all intents and purposes was one.
  17. I grade lab reports for our co-op Chemistry class. (Technically I am the assistant which means I help on lab days and then grade reports when the main teacher lectures.) They aren't really doing experiments in the sense that the outcome is unknown, but it doesn't bother me if they use that word. My goal with the lab reports is mainly two: 1) Learn the proper structure for writing a formal report. There are quirky things about science writing that just take getting used to (like using the past passive voice and never saying "I" or "you".) They need to learn the difference between results and conclusions. Or procedure and results. You would be surprised how long that takes for some of them. 2) Having them stretch themselves mentally and write conclusions where they really think about what happened. For example, in our last lab they did an iodine clock reaction. The simple conclusion would be "The reaction goes faster when more of ____ is added." (Really that is just stating results in my mind and not a true conclusion.) A good conclusion should explain WHY it goes faster. We usually have them write a Purpose instead of a Hypothesis since it's pretty much known what will happen.
  18. Yes, technically the parents of patients. Although I think, like a lot of pediatricians, I kind of think of the parents as patients also. Sure, it's fine for them to tell dh whatever they want. It's just usually funny because they assume he already knows and will make references to things that he is then confused about. Sometimes he doesn't even know that the kids are patients at our office so he's been really confused.
  19. This has also happened in our house. I'm a pediatrician and some of my patients are friends or acquaintances. Because of HIPA I don't even mention that I saw them in the office, much less why. But often the person assumes I've told dh. Which can lead to some funny conversations for him.
  20. In my mind there is a difference between secrets, privacy and confidentiality although I can't exactly define what it is. I tend to think of "secrets" as something potentially harmful. That could be because it is overt (an affair, a spouse spending something) or more subtle (keeping something that you are concerned about from your spouse for a long time). I had an ex-boyfriend contact me a few years ago several times in a weird way. It wasn't anything overt but it was odd. That would be an example of something I think could potentially lead to being a harmful secret. Privacy is just being respectful. Most of our texts or emails aren't truly secretive, but I wouldn't read his without telling him out of respect. (Sometimes I accidentally read them because we share a computer and use the same email provider so I will sit down and pull up email and not realize it's his account. But then I tell him that I read a few messages.) I don't feel like I have to know everything he is thinking or doing. Confidentiality is being respectful of other people's secrets. I don't tell my friends secrets or issues to my dh and he doesn't want to know. I don't want to know his friends issues. It's a little trickier with our kids. At times one will be embarrassed about something they did wrong and ask me not to tell dh.I always reply that he needs to know because he is their Dad. But there have been other times that they've asked me not to tell him something out of embarrassment (think wetting their pants when they were little) and I said sure. At times one of them has confided in me something and I will ask them if it's ok to tell dh. I feel like that respects their privacy but also sends the message that it is normal to include him because he loves them. I would be ok if one of them told him something in confidence and they didn't tell me. When we have talked about puberty and sex with them we have said that they could choose to only talk to one of us if they had an issue and that we would keep it private if they asked. I can see things that the boys might want to only talk to dh about (and vice versa for my daughter eventually). But since I am a doctor there have been things they are worried about with their bodies and they have just talked to me.
  21. Thanks, Tania! This exactly. And I'm sure you know exactly which private high school I am talking about. :)
  22. Thanks for posting. I have a son who sounds so much like this. He will run out of the door every time I leave to give "one last hug". He wears crazy socks and a treasured possession is his rainbow squid hat. I don't want him to lose his goofy lovable personality but it's also always good to hear about kids who managed to grow up and take on responsibility and still stay zany. :)
  23. Thanks. We are in a great co-op. We've been in it for about 7 years and it's where most of our friends are. It has a very active high school group in particular so there are options as the kids get older. We do classes that are mostly fun or that are kind of nice icing on the cake kinds of things. It's a great fit for us and actually provides a good community and support. I think the particular sadness/frustration/whatever this week came because I was at co-op on Thurdsay and had conversations with 4 different families who are leaving and going to the small private school near us next year. None are our closest friends but it just got to be kind of too much. And then I talked to a friend who is seriously considering putting her son in private school for high school. He is a good friend of my son. (Although kind of a funny aside...I found out that they had a debate at Scouts about homeschooling vs. private school. On one side was my son and another homeschooling friend. On the other was a friend who used to be homeschooled and in the co-op but is now at the private school. Apparently the homeschool side was more persuasive...the Mom said he wants to homeschool although I don't think she is 100% sure what she wants to do.) I was affirming to all of them when we talked about doing what was right for their family and there being lots of good options, etc, etc. But when I got home I was feeling just overall kind of discouraged.
  24. Thanks everyone. I should probably sheepishly admit that most of our close friends are still homeschooling. All the kids have a fairly good core group of friends and I have homeschooling Mom friends in our co-op. So we are definitely much luckier than many people who I know are much more isolated than we are. I think what got me today was while I was at our co-op I had conversations with 4 separate families who will be sending their kids to the particular private school next year and one Mom of a very good friend of my son's who is considering the private high school. To them I was supportive and affirmed their choice but it was just a little much. I appreciate the hugs...it's nice to know that other people get it.
  25. I'm feeling particularly sad this year about the number of people I know who are going to be putting their kids into school next year. I am not a die-hard homeschooler myself and can understand the myriad of reasons why people make a choice not to homeschool. I firmly believe that everyone should choose what is best for their family. But it's also getting to the point where I feel this sadness in my gut every time someone that tells me they are putting their kids in school next year. Probably the main reason for the sadness is that most of them are putting their kids in one of two schools (one is a elementary/middle, one is a high school). Both are private schools where we know a lot of people. The elem/middle school is one that is a lovely school and where we could probably financially swing the tuition. It is literally about 5 minutes from our house and many of our closest friends go there, including people from church. I'm sure our kids would like it. We choose not to go there because we like homeschooling although if we ever switched we would likely look seriously at it as a school. The high school is also one we know a lot of people at. Financially it would be a strain so I'm not sure we would even consider it if we wanted to not homeschool. I know my kids are thriving and I know that homeschooling is our choice. I like homeschooling and I don't really have any desire not to do it. My kids seem happy and have friends and want to keep homeschooling. So that isn't an issue. I know that other people's choices shouldn't matter to us and that they should choose what's best for them. I think it's just that since we know so many people at the one school that sometimes it feels like a club that we are excluded from (granted a club that we choose to not join). It's not infrequent that I'm in a social setting (book club, coffee with friends, lunch with friends from church, other church events) where the conversation turns to this school and I get left out. It's not intentional on their part, its' just something they all have in common. The only reason I'm posting here is really because I just felt the need to tell someone. My two closest friends who I usually confide in both go to this school (one is actually a teacher there as well). They would try to reassure me but they wouldn't really get the feeling. Dh is great but he wouldn't get it either. One of his favorite things about homeschooling is being sort of an outsider. He loves being outside the box and unconventional. I can deal with it but I don't love it. So I thought I'd share it here and just get it off my chest.
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