Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Where's the Mail?

We got back from a week long trip to Florida this weekend. As is typical when we go away, we had a pile of boxes waiting for us when I made it over to the post office on Monday. Half of them were full of food, and the other half had homeschooling stuff (mostly books). Everything was fine with all of them.

Today, though, I went to check the mail again and had a first: an envelope that was opened, resealed, and completely empty. The books missing were a couple of used science books I'd bought from someone, so it wasn't a big loss. It's crazy though - we've had three computers shipped here now (two laptops and one desktop), and every single one made it through fine. Of all the things to steal...

Mail here is decent, all things considered. Sometimes, we get packages that are clearly handled poorly. I've had containers of dishwasher powder and laundry soap beat up so badly they were spilling powder everywhere. A few other things have had dings and such, and we've gotten a few boxes that were mashed or partly open. Never had anything stolen outright, though (unless you count two boxes from Amazon that vanished, never to be seen again - no idea what happened there, although the replacements came just fine).

I did notice there was no customs form, so maybe that had something to do with it? This was a package that had been taking far too long to come, so I had already pretty much given up on it. It was weird to find the empty envelope in my mail.

And I just watched a helicopter carrying a torpedo fly by our house.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thoughts on My Spanish

So, I've been studying my Spanish rather hard the last few weeks. Between podcasts, a grammar book, and reading Spanish language blogs, plus the kid's books I bought to use later with the boys, I'm happy to discover I haven't lost nearly as much as I thought I had. I am, however, completely baffled as to how I managed to pass two college-level Spanish literature courses in college (one of which required me to write analysis papers in Spanish). I either had some very understanding professors, or I've lost more than I thought I have.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Orders Update (Sort of), and Other Stuff

First off, I learned recently that Oliver's orders are being modified, as we expected. I'm biting my fingernails because there's the chance he will lose his boast and get something else. Hopefully, that doesn't happen because I've gotten rather excited about this particular set of orders.

However, since I have, as usual, no control over the outcome, I am not going to worry about it. I'm typically one to obsess over things, so this ability to roll with the punches is fabulous. Much as I wish this time in the Bahamas had been more about being a tourist and getting to experience local culture, I cannot overestimate how much good it has done for me in some very surprising ways.

Still, sometimes you need to escape the island life, and we're burning some leave in a condo in Orlando right now. I find it sort of amusing that Oliver has never been in danger of losing leave before, even back when he was on the submarine and it was extremely hard to find opportunities to do so. It's fairly easy to take leave here, but he doesn't do so unless we have plans to fly off-island. It seems silly to take leave when you live in the middle of everyone you work with and a ten minute walk to your office...

We actually managed to go to church today. First time in a year. It was kind of nice, although my dear, sweet four year old spent the car ride there proclaiming how he "hated church". What he actually means is he hates any situation that is new and requires him to be away from his family (needless to say, this child is thrilled by the idea of homeschooling - not only because he will be learning at home, but because his brother will no longer spend so much time away from him; he really misses Wyatt when he's at school). The last time we regularly attended church, he was not even two years old and still hated being left in the nursery. He's gone maybe three or four times over the last two and a half years, the last time being last summer.

So, I gritted my teeth and hoped for the best. Overall, they both did okay. Wyatt leaned over about twenty minutes into Sacrament Meeting and asked how much longer before it ended. I decided it wasn't a good idea to tell him we still had over forty minutes to go... Oscar went to Primary, and I didn't have to sit with him. He wouldn't sit with his class, though, but was sitting with his brother when I left. About ten minutes later, someone brought him to me in my class because he'd been crying inconsolably. He took one look at me, asked for his little stuffed bear, which I had in my bag, then went back to class when I handed it to him. He had no more issues, other than a bathroom break I helped  him with. Maybe moving back and attending church regularly won't be totally miserable at first. I'm crossing my fingers on that one.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Teaching Spanish

Wyatt has a PE teacher who speaks Spanish, I believe, as his native language. Last year, he'd give the kids a mini vocab lesson before they went out to do whatever was on the schedule that day. Wyatt loved this, and would come home excitedly sharing whatever word he'd picked up that day. Oscar picked up on it, and will now walk around the house proclaiming "doce" whenever he feels like it. Both the boys will often ask me what something means in Spanish, forcing me to search my atrophied Spanish background to try to remember what that is.

Now that I'm working on a study plan for the boys, it struck me that I could probably introduce them to Spanish in a more formal way. I started looking for a program geared toward young kids, and found it far more painful than I had hoped it would be. I have zeroed in on one, though, although I'm going to wait a bit to order it in case I happen across something else. I found a bunch of exceptionally cheap Spanish early readers on Ebay to supplement it. I figure I'll go with that, and see how it is.

The main issue, though, is that I don't think I can really expect them to actually learn the language if we don't use it at home. This means I need to be able to speak to them. So, I bought a book to review my own Spanish, and have been listening to the Notes in Spanish podcasts to help me regain some of my ability (which are an absolutely amazing conversational resource, by the way. They have worksheets, too, and I very much want them, but since they are sold by a couple in Spain, they are going to be far too pricey with the exchange rates between the Euro and dollar right now) . I'm pleasantly surprised at how much I still remember, and I'm hopeful I'll be able to keep us all talking in Spanish at home, even outside of lessons.

I do, though, worry about making sure they can hear the correct accent, which is why I'm going to be using a lot of listening and video activities. My accent was decent when I was learning, so that's a good thing now, but was kind of bad for my confidence when I was studying it because people thought I could speak the language far better than I actually could. They'd start speaking a mile a minute and I'd freak out. The best thing about teaching my own kids is that I don't at all feel the same pressure to speak well that I crippled me before. I'm just going to give it my best and see how it goes.

I was happy to find out there are quite a few websites now where you can hire a tutor to either give you lessons or practive conversational Spanish over Skype. The ones coming out of South America are pretty cheap, only about ten bucks an hour. When we move back to the States and have a decent internet connection again, I think I'm going to sign myself up for tutoring.

Oliver made me rather happy the other day, too, by saying he's thinking about studying Spanish a bit, too, so he can jump in. He speaks Portuguese, and lived in Brazil for a couple years, so it shouldn't be all that difficult. The two languages are VERY close. I can often understand him when he throws a phrase at me and vice versa. Our ultimate goal at this point is to take a family trip to Spain in a couple years.