We woke up late again. Even I didn’t get up early this morning. When I finally woke the kids up before noon they were STARVING! Even Sophia who almost never eats. Sean commented on the way over that the entire trip the 4 of us are looking for something to eat. LOL, that’s what traveling with a 15 year old boy is like. I get distracted along the way.
Sean need a pastry appetizer to eat on our way to the restaurant.
Sophia’s huge pot of soup!
There is a big soccer game tonight. The Bilbao fans have been celebrating since we got here. The red and white shirt are the Bilbao fans. The red and blue shirts are Barcelona. We learned today that Kate is having a boy, so we bought him a Barcelona team outfit, with Messi’s name on it!
The kids wanted to go back and nap (so did Jim).We came back and I washed the second load of clothes.They dry the old fashioned way! The photos are on the wall behind where I am hanging clothes out. The kids are napping on the sofa bed together but there are three beds and three bedrooms. There is also a kitchen with all the appliances. The location is 2 and 1/2 blocks away from Gaudi’s La Perdrera. It is in a great location. I originally wanted to stay in the Gothic District. I am glad we didn’t. Every time we have been down there it has been really crowded and noisy. We are in the Modern District (named for all the Gaudi buildings in it). It is a litlle over a km to the Gothic District. Perfect! Here is a link to the apartment, https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/308166.
Our host Carlos.
La Perdrera by Gaudi. The kids were seriously too hungry to go inside. They woke up from their nap starving AGAIN.
Casa Batillo, this is only about 4 blocks from where we were stayingg
Sean preferred the building next to it, below. He told us he likes symmetry.
Barcellona is a lovely mix of old and new. There are Roman walls with an oldchurch restored with Gaudi’s help alltogether. (Blair, “I will not stop sightseeing to eat, unless you let me get a photo of you two!)
Our table at the restaurant. I thought of Mark Klitsie! I should tellyou it is about 10 p.m.that we are eating dinner. It stays light until 9 p.m.here.
How much did we like dinner last night? Enough to eat here again on to night.
The owner of our apartment invited us to go listen to his band, Son de la Rambla play. They played traditional cuban music. There were some wonderful dancers at this. It got off to a slowish start because of the big game where Barcelona beat Bilboa 3 to 1. Everyone was watching it. It was the national championship. They play next week for the European cup against Italia. Once the game was over the party began! That is our host in red doing a rap number. It was a wonderful night. We got to sleep about 3 a.m. The band played until 4 a.m. The kids were tired and wanted to leave. I made them promise they would go to see Gaudi in the morning if we did!
We woke up feeling pretty good. Sean immediately wanted to go deal with tickets to Primavera Sound.
My shoes for the day. I would be back after getting the tickets to the concert. They looked so comfortable when I bought them!
We figured the subway out. Once again I understand the language better than anyone else. Sophia and Jim were both going to brush up on
their Spanish, but we are having to wing it on my high school and college Spanish. Jim and I like to take it easy the first couple of days, and then go like the wind the rest. When we got in the train we all were a bit grumbly and it was then I realized we were not quite as alive as we felt upon waking. (Dropping grumbly teens off in a foreign country at one of the largest music festivals with about 110 rules to follow seemed good in some ways and worrisome in others.)
There was tight security and the crowd looked nice. There were people from all over the world, judging from the accents we heard & many groups looked about the age of our kids. They did make Jim pay for a ticket and take the
kids in, but Sophia’s ticket was free so it worked out to what we expected in the first place.
With the kids deposited, Jim and I went back to the apartment, washed a load of clothes, and went to the Gothic District. The Gothic District is the old part of Barcelona built by the Romans. It has the narrow streets, cobbled walkways, twisty turns, and old buildings I love to see. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothic_Quarter,_Barcelona
The lovely church spire was designed by Gaudi (more on him tomorrow).
Here is a photo of Roman ruins that are being excavated.
I am a vegan and a foodie. Before becoming a vegan, it was hard for me to figure out what restaurants we were going to go to. Now I have many fewer to choose from, so it is easier. We went to a superb!!! restaurant last night. I am known among my friends and family for my healthy eating. I cannot get too far off my diet when we travel if I want to feel good. I have found that none of us feel good after 1 week if we eat too differently. So we stick as close as we can to what we eat at home.
Barcelona is a good city to be getting over jet lag. It stays open late and doesn’t get started early. Every one but me woke after noon, and we are staying up until the early hours of the morning. The time in Barcelona is 9 hours off that in California.
Check out my post on the way from San Diego to Barcelona here.
What a crazy month April was. We moved for the third time since the summer of 2012, and we aren’t in the military. First we moved from the mountains to San Diego where there is a larger homeschool community. That house was too far inland, so we moved closer to the coast. That house was too far from rowing and our adult kids, so we moved closer to both. As you can imagine our friends and family think we’re crazy, or that we really like to move. I feel the feather in Forrest Gump. In addition to moving, we spent time on the road at away races. We have a new granddaughter/niece (depending on who you’re talking to.) I wrote a blog article that led to the formation of a new group, Secular, Eclectic, Academic Homeschoolers, which has kept me busy. I have also been working on instructions for the illustrator for Astronomy and Earth Science, and anytime I read over my work I edit it. It’s enough to keep even an energizer bunny like me busy!
Last month Sean began writing the code to design a website. He continued working on and enjoying that project. He also signed himself up for the Coursera Course: Malicious Software and Its Underground Economy: Two Sides to Every Story, https://www.coursera.org/course/malsoftware. The professor teaching it, Dr. Lorenzo Cavallero, assigns technical academic reading from peer-reviewed journals each week of the six-week class. This gave me the opportunity to work with Sean on how to read technical academic writing. I had several professors in college assign scientific papers to be read and disseminated. It is a skilled type of reading that most people outside of scientific communities don’t have much experience with. That’s too bad, because many issues we make decisions about in our personal life are based on the findings of scientists. If you aren’t able to understand what scientists are talking about in their writings, then you have to rely on others to interpret those writings for you. That said, I’m a scientist, and it didn’t occur to me until this week that I should start working with Sean so that he has experience with this type of skilled reading. If you’re wondering what he thinks of the readings, he finds them dry, very dry. Sean is slogging through them though. When he finishes an article, I have him explain to me what the authors’ points are and what the focus of their study is. I was very pleased with his answers. (Even though, I didn’t really understand what he was talking about. Seriously, botnets?!?) Here is a link to an article someone sent me about how to read scientific papers. I didn’t use it, because I had already finished tutoring Sean on how to do it, but I read it and thought it was good. http://violentmetaphors.com/2013/08/25/how-to-read-and-understand-a-scientific-paper-2/.
This year math has clicked for Sean. He calls it his easy subject. It began when he started using a calculator for simple calculations. Once those sort of simple calculations were out of the way, Sean gained more confidence, because he could see he was good at the more difficult steps. It has been frustrating over the years to deal with this. I have told him for years he is better at math than he thinks he is. He saw that he got the problem incorrect without recognizing he did everything correct except calculate 5*7 correctly. (For some reason 5*7 is often a problem for him.) So he thought he was bad at math. The complicated, multi-stepped problems that he knows he has to pay attention to, he does well at. The problems that focused on simple calculations, he would often get wrong.
It took me a while, but I have come to be much more accepting of computerized systems in our homeschool. Why not use Dragon software for dictation if you struggle with handwriting, a calculator if you struggle with simple calculations, spell check or grammar check if those are weak areas for you? I’m not suggesting people don’t learn basic math, spelling, or grammar. I’m suggesting that if a student is struggling with a subject there is an argument to be made for eliminating the specific area they’re struggling with to focus on the larger picture. Students can continue to work on the areas they’re struggling with separately. Although you know if you follow this blog, I told Sean that unless he took the time on his own he was never going to have his multiplication tables mastered, and we left those behind. At some point, life is too short.
This was an interesting month in science for us. Last month we decided to spend the rest of this school year studying astronomy. At the beginning of this month I gave Sean a list of astronomy questions to answer. These were in areas he expressed interest in previously. He researched the answer to each question and then worked on writing strong paragraphs with good topic sentences to answer them.
While Sean worked on this, I looked over the text I am writing to make sure it was realistic to use it as a high school level course. As I have said before, astronomy, cosmology, and earth science could easily be called applied physics and chemistry. By including more applied math, and some more technical modeling exercises it was surprisingly easy to bring Astronomy and Earth Science 2 to a high school level. Interestingly, I found myself in conversation with someone who was a very well regarded high school physics and chemistry teacher. She is now running the science department for a private school in California. When I told her what I had been working on her response was, “That makes sense. There isn’t much difference between high school and middle school labs. If you included more math and focused on modeling and data analysis, you could definitely use a middle school course for high school.” It is interesting how often these sort of coincidences happen in life, isn’t it 😉
Sean spent the last part of the month reviewing the early chapters in astronomy, but this time with more math, focused modeling and data analysis, and with research questions woven through. We were both happy with the results.
The focus of language arts this month was on nonfiction writing and reading. Most of Sean’s language arts has not focused on nonfiction writing, because he prefers fiction. I warned him the focus on nonfiction writing and reading would be the situation through most of 10th grade. As usual when asked to do something that is not his ideal choice, he grumbled a bit and then with his characteristic good humor got on with the task at hand. It helped that I had him focus on 3 areas that interest him.
Astronomy: He researched and wrote about parallel universes, dark matter, and black holes.
Volunteer/Travel: He spent time learning more about the Oglala Lakota tribe and the situation on the Pine Ridge Reservation, which is an interesting but depressing topic.
Politics: As with science, I gave him a series of questions to research and write about. Here is a list of the questions. I told him that if he had any problems filling these out, he should call the local Democratic or Republican headquarters and they would be able to help him answer the questions. (I am sorry to share these and not the astronomy questions, but I keep all my original work very close to my chest until it is published.)
What are the names of all the political parties who ran a candidate in the 2012 presidential election?
How many of these parties already have a declared candidate as of 4\16\2015?
What are the names of the candidates who have already declared their candidacy?
What is the procedure for declaring your candidacy for president?
Are there differences for declaring your candidacy depending on your party affiliation?
Are there differences for declaring your candidacy depending on the state you are from?
Does it cost money to declare your candidacy? If yes how much? If yes, what do you think about this policy? If no, do you think there should be a fee? We will be discussing your answer to this. I will be taking the opposite position, so be prepared to defend and discuss your position.
What does the term platform mean when referring to politics?
A lot of strategizing goes into how a candidate runs their campaign. What do you think the thinking is for someone who declares their candidacy early, or first?
Some candidates are predicted right away to have a good shot at winning, and others are predicted to have no shot at winning. It costs a lot of money, both your own and donated, to run for president. Why would anyone donate money to someone who is not predicted to win? (Hint: think about platform issues.)
This sort of spin happens to all candidates. What do you think the effect of misleading or untrue spin is on people’s attitudes toward the political process as a whole?
Sean also signed up for the Coursera Course Online Gamers: Literature, The New Media, and Narrative. He really wanted to take this. This course requires Sean to read Lord of the Rings, play the online game called LOTRO, and possibly do some writing. I’m not completely sure about that. This course started at the very end of the month. We will see how it goes. As long as he can get to all his other subjects, he can keep on doing this one, https://www.coursera.org/course/onlinegames. It’s a good course, but I think Sean might have signed up for it so he has an academic excuse to play video games 😉
History, Law, and Unsolved Crimes
We continued to work on and review Pandia’s Level 3 American History course. We should have been done with it, but Sean got sidetracked studying about the plight of Native Americans. We are taking this area of study slow; because the injustices done to them make him so angry, it can sidetrack the day.
Sean started a new course through Crime Scene Camps. We are going to be sorry when Sean has taken all of Thom’s courses. They are so good, and Thom is a master at focusing in and digging deeper. We use the courses for discussion purposes. I haven’t had Sean do anything beyond reading and discussing them with Thom and me. Sean has learned so much through them. The new course is Unsolved Crimes. So far Sean has learned about Jack the Ripper and Lizzie Borden. This class is fun! I am reading along with him!
Here is the description of the course from Thom’s website.
Unsolved Crimes: Update–In my work on the Zodiac case, I have uncovered new clues that have never been discussed previously. The first place I shared this information was with my current homeschool session of this course. This course is a homeschool version of one of my most popular college courses. We will look at iconic unsolved crimes and apply modern techniques to our analysis of each case. Each week, we will read about one of the cases, do our own research, and then discuss various hypotheses. The cases covered will include Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, The Black Dahlia, The Zodiac, the Lindbergh Kidnapping, and others. While some of these cases have a high level of violence, I tone it down, even in my college classes. I am more interested in solving the forensic puzzle.
Jim and I chaperoned one of the away races this month. It was a blast. I rode on the girls’ bus and Jim rode up on the boys’ bus. We left the clubhouse at 4 a.m. I sat right behind the driver. I should tell you that I am an early riser. I am also the type of person to ask about and honestly want to hear the story of someone’s life. While every other person on the bus tried to sleep, I learned about the driver’s interesting and inspiring life. He had been violent in his youth and had been in and out of prison because of it. Somewhere along the line he turned his life around. He has done a good job of raising his children and the children of his various girlfriends and wives. He is still close to all of the children even the ones that are not his. He helped any of them who wanted to go to college to do so. One of the times when he was in prison, one of his ex-girlfriend had twins without letting him know. When the twins were 3, he was contacted by the state of California to pay child support for them. At that time the twins were homeless. This was the first he knew about them. He fought for and was granted custody of them. Even as I realized that his voice was very loud, and that there was grumbling on the bus all around me, I did not stop him in his story. It really was that interesting, and I am not good at stopping people when they are on a roll. I lost my privilege of riding behind the bus driver forever! LOL‼
For the first time since he joined the team, Sean experienced burnout. It lasted about a week. The week before he loved crew and wanted to go to a college with a crew team. The following week he was done with crew and didn’t want to ever row again. The next week he loved crew and wanted to go to a college with the crew team. This used to happen toward the end of the ski season too. Crew has a nine month season. It is probably lucky that April was month eight of the season.
We have 4 weeks of school before we leave for Spain. Beginning on the 27th of May we leave for Spain. I will be blogging every day about our travels.
This is the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara Sikh Temple. But first…
We started the temple tour with a mosque. The mosque is the Jama Masjid, it is the largest mosque in India. It was built between 1644 and 1658 during the reign of Shah Jahan. It is in old Delhi. This is a predominantly Muslim area. In Delhi all the religions live peacefully together. There is a cupboard at the mosque which houses a red beard hair of Muhammad’s, his footprints, and his sandals.
The approach to the mosque is through Old Delhi. This must be where people come to get old car parts.
This is from the steps of the mosque looking back down into Old Delhi.
We have to take our shoes off to go into the mosque.
The photos below are from the courtyard at the mosque.
Check out my shirt. I was taking a nap and was woken up and told I was late to leave for the temple tour. The women had to wear our salwar kameezs, so before napping I took my top off so it wouldn’t wrinkle. On the way in to the mosque Wendy noticed that my shirt was inside out. Vicky looked at me and told me to leave it that way until we reached the Hindi Temple.
These are Korans.
Blue lines are painted at the mosque when someone dies.
The actual mosque, Muhammad’s beard hair is in there somewhere. The call to worship from this mosque sounded quite different from the one we heard at the mosque in Dubai.
This is Lalit who works for CCS. He is showing us how this sundial works. This is in the mosque.
Everywhere we go, people want a photo with Alecia.
Now we are on our way to a Hindi Temple.
The Hindi temple was so large it was impossible to get it all in one photo. It was beautiful inside, but we were not allowed to take pictures.
Hathi at the temple. Hathi means elephant.
The swastika has been used by people of the Hindi faith for millennia. When it is on a location it draws the attention of the Gods to the location.
The Hindu temple we went to is called the Lakshmi Narayan Temple. The temple has shrines to many of the Hindi deities.
The Hindi temple has a shrine to The Lord Buddha.
A photo as we left the Hindi Temple. Next we went to Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, the Sikh Temple.
The Sikh religion was founded in 1469 A.D. in a village near Lahore, Pakistan. Sikhism is another religion whose basic tenet is tolerance to all people. There is no discrimination between the sexes and there is no caste system.
Sean and Jim had to put on head-gear at the Sikh Temple. How is that for equality! It’s about time.
Vicky is Sikh. His head-gear is way cooler than ours.
I am washing my feet to go into the Sikh Temple.
Going into the Sikh Temple.
We finished the tour with a trip to the food kitchen in the Sikh Temple. Both the Sikh Temple and the Hindi Temple had huge areas set aside for pilgrims to sleep and hang out. This is where the Sikhs feed pilgrims and anyone else who needs food. Anyone of any faith can volunteer at the food kitchen. Check out how huge the pots and pans are.
I want one. Before leaving I bought yet again another cooking dish. When Jim saw what I had bought he said, “Blair, you are a woman with a lot of pots.” LOL.
I want to volunteer here just so I can play with these big pots, seriously.
A vat of dal
A vat of roti
This is the food hall where the people from the food kitchen eat.
We got back and the CCS cooks were making naan in this. Okay, forget the pot, I want one of these.
Those are the little naan balls. He is about to throw the one in his hand into the naan cooker.
Then the naan is thrown into the hot naan maker and it sticks to the side. It is peeled off when it is done.
Check out part one of today’s blog here and tomorrows here.
Here we are dressed and ready for our placements. Delhi is a place full of color similar to our outfits. Now, Sean was not feeling well, but decided to go and sit with the kids. He loves this.
Check out the suit on Sean’s left. That little boy is so cute. The volunteers call him suit guy.
This is Richie with some of the kids. Richie is with a group called Children’s Hope. He seems great. He worked on Corey Booker’s campaign registering first time voters in Newark. He just graduated from college and is figuring it out. He hopes to get a job with CAP, The Center for American Progress. He made a point of telling me the slums of Trenton are not that different from Delhi when it comes to opportunity for the children in them.
Rats it is dark. Here I am with the kids I am working with. Richie and I are working with this group. Sean has moved over to the little kids exclusively.
I taught the girls how to take selfies. They were very curious about my phone/camera today.
Anil is the teacher I am helping.
Here are Jim and Alecia with their group.
Next are a series of photos as Sean and I walked through the slum. We went over to check out the computer lab. Unfortunately the students work in this lab later in the day, too late for us to help there. They really wanted our help there, but it was not to be. CCS want their volunteers to take the time to learn about the culture in the afternoon.
The central square
A communal water pump
The walkways are narrow.
I love this color.
Here is the computer lab. About 20 to 30 people use this lab in the afternoon, taking turns to learn basic office skills on these.
Off the main alleyway there are even more narrow corridors.
Back again, isn’t suit guy adorable.
Alecia is so good with the little ones.
Drying wheat to make roti. After this we went back, had lunch, then I took a nap. Later we went on a temple tour, which I will put in another post later today.
Check out yesterdays blog here and check out tomorrows here.