Thursday, May 30, 2013

Things No One Warns You About . . .

I'm having a painful few days here.  I have 2 canker sores in my mouth, plus I totally burned my poor tongue by drinking (really!) hot chocolate Sunday morning.

But mainly I'm sore because Drew chomped on me during the cold Friday night.  He wasn't so much hungry, and I was nursing just to keep him from crying to disturb the other campers, who weren't all that far away!  He bit down hard and then turned his head, pulling on me as well.  It hurt then, but boy, it REALLY hurts now!  I told the boys it would be like smashing their finger with a hammer, and then having to suck really hard on that finger every 3 hours or so.  Sometimes it bleeds, so it sticks to my nursing pad.  I'm just achy and crabby!  I've been taking motrin, but there's really nothing else to do, since it's internal bruising.  Unfortunately, Drew is teething his top teeth now, so he's been getting up at 3:00 and 6:00 the past few nights, so I'm not even able to go a long stretch. 

And thus, the huge downside of having early teethers . . .  I am pretty sure I had never heard anyone complain about this before I had Nathan!  Although, just to document for future purposes, Caleb, Anna, and Micah were my worst offenders.  Caleb and Micah were my earliest teethers (2 teeth at 3 months), and Anna was demonstrating her extreme displeasure about my milk changing when I unexpectedly got pregnant with Grace when Anna was 4 months old, LOL.  I had to stop nursing her at 7 months because she wouldn't suck long enough for me to let down before she would start biting!

So now I wait for Drew to wake up, dreading nursing with every fiber of my being.  I actually gave him a bottle yesterday because I was hurting so much and didn't want to deal with it!  He has been refusing bottles for the past several weeks, but I used a different kind of nipple, and he did take that.  Hmmmm . . . maybe I'll have the boys give him another bottle, and I'll head off to Sams . . . Who knew I would be more excited about Sams than nursing?!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Amusement Park!

Bob and the 3 girls got up early Monday morning, after our weekend of camping, to drive to the amusement park not far from his parents' house in PA!  The girls are the perfect ages for this park--it has a great kiddieland--and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.  It was cool, around 70 degrees, and cloudy.  Everyone had such a great time!  When they were eating dinner there, the waitress told Bob how impressed she was that he had all the kids by himself!  Ha!  Faith's favorite ride was the merry-go-round.  I could never tell what Anna and Grace's favorites were, but Anna was very disappointed that they took out the "Dizzy Lizzy" ride.  I don't even remember that one at all, so that shows how long it's been since I've been to the park, LOL. 

Since they had all had such a tiring weekend, they opted to spend the night in a hotel, visit Bob's parents Tuesday morning, then drive back Tuesday afternoon.  They were all so exhausted when they finally got back!  The girls had lots of special memories with Daddy though!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


This past weekend we went camping for 2 nights!  We used to camp all the time when we were stationed in Colorado, even once Nathan and Luke came along.  Then we would camp with the L's, and we had a great routine going, as far as who brought what.  It was great!  We camped a few times in Ohio, and then only one time once we moved here to VA--our eventful and rainy trip to Shenandoah back in May 2005, not long before I got pregnant with Anna.  I guess I don't like camping when I'm pregnant, and I've been pregnant 5 of the last 7 summers--and the 2 summers I wasn't pregnant, it was because I'd had a baby earlier in the year, so . . . camping just didn't happen.  Plus, we had outgrown our "7 person" tent, and finding a new tent to fit us all seemed like an insurmountable challenge. 

For the past 9 (?I think 9, anyway) years, our friends the H's have reserved an entire loop of a campground in Maryland for the whole weekend.  This year we were finally able to go, and we had such a wonderful, fun time!  We found a new tent at Costco, a "10 person" tent that fits 3 queen-size air mattresses!  That's where Bob, I, the 3 girls, plus Drew and Micah slept.  The other 4 boys slept in our older faithful tent from Colorado days. 

We were able to fit all the sleeping bags, tents, tarps, camp stove (thanks Ed and Elizabeth--that was one thing they always brought, so we don't actually own our own one, LOL--we had to borrow theirs!), equipment tub, food tub, cooler, etc.  only because of this wonderful thing called a "Stow-Away".  We actually bought it 2 years ago from someone in our homeschool group.  We went to get a hitch put on the big van, but we found out that because of the time someone rear-ended Bob, a piece was out of place, and so they couldn't get all the bolts on.  We didn't do anything more about it, except keep this big thing in the smack-dab middle of our garage.  Until 2 weeks ago, when we realized that unless we wanted to drive 2 minivans, we absolutely had to have some other place for cargo to go camping.  So Bob took the van into a place that hammered on the frame for an hour to get the piece back into place, and then they were able to install the hitch.  The Stow-Away worked like a champ!  It actually swings away from the back, so we can still get into the back of the van, even with it on. 
Here is a picture of our campsite.  We managed to get the 2 tents both on it with no problems!  The one on the left is the new tent.  It is really nice, although it is not anywhere as easy to set up as our old one.  That one goes up in about 2 minutes!
You can see the fire smoking away in the picture.  We had the fire going pretty much all the time Friday and Saturday.  That is because it was FREEZING cold!!  It was like we were back, camping in Colorado, except silly me, I certainly didn't pack like that!  Oh, how we all wished for gloves, hats, winter jackets, etc.  I think it was below 40 degrees Friday night, and it was sooo windy!  None of the kids in our tent slept really well because it was so cold, and by the (early) morning, both Drew and Micah were in bed with Bob and me.  Nathan was up around 6:00 to start the fire.  I had packed something like 35 packets of hot chocolate mix, figuring that would be more than enough for 2 mornings.  Well, we had hot chocolate Friday night and Saturday morning, and we used up all the packets, plus I was putting pieces of Hershey's chocolate bars in there to up the flavor!  We were so desperately trying to be warm!  A lot of us went into town for dinner at a restaurant, and we got some more mix at a store there for Sunday morning.  Saturday night was not anywhere as cold, though, and the kids all slept really well. 
Saturday before lunch we all took a hike to a waterfall.  It was not a hard hike to get to the falls, and then a lot of people climbed up to the top of the falls.  Unfortunately, Anna slipped off a rock and fell in up to her waist, so she was not a happy camper (ha!).  Bob had to carry her back, so he was not a happy camper either!  She is not as light as she looks, LOL, and we were all exhausted from our bad night of sleep!  I was stuck hiking back with Micah.  He trooped along for awhile, and we had a fun time looking at trees, birds, bugs, etc.  But then he wanted to stop and turn over pretty much every single rock and leaf on the ground.  I started to carry him, but he pitched a big fit.  Eventually he even laid in the middle of the trail for a bit!  Finally I picked him up, and he fell asleep, so we were making good time . . . unfortunately, due to all the distraction of a stubborn 2 year old, I completely missed the signpost where we were supposed to turn onto the trail back to the campground.  So I merrily followed the blue trail at a brisk clip, although I did start wondering why I wasn't seeing anyone else.  We had been going so slowly, I was sure Bob would have caught up to us . . . I called and left a message on his cell phone . . ."Ummm, are you following the blue trail . . .??"  When he called me back a few minutes, he was quite concerned, although I did explain that I wasn't technically lost, LOL; I was simply going on a different trail!  I retraced my steps (we really had gone quite a ways!), and Bob and the older boys met me right where I should have turned in the first place.  Just a little added excitement!

Sunday afternoon, after a little church service and lunch, a group hiked back up to the falls.  Twenty-two of them joined the "Polar Bear Club" and swam in the freezing cold water, including Bob, Nathan, and Jonathan!  Crazy . . .
The kids all had so much fun.  The McC's were there, as well as the M's, another Rivendell family.  These 5 girls had such a ball playing together!  Rivendell is going to be so fun when they all get old enough! 

I wish I had a picture of Micah.  He wore our trusty 3T USAFA sweatshirt--now on its 5th boy!--the whole weekend, since it was so cold.  He got tons of hot chocolate, as well as sticky marshmallow, syrup, and other assorted stains, on it.  It may never recover!  And he was so dirty.  This weekend was like his dream--be outside the whole time and get as dirty as he wants?  Playing in the dirt is encouraged?  What fun!  He didn't want to leave, LOL.  He followed the big boys around like a little man. 

Oh, a funny thing--he and Bob were walking around the loop, when another man struck up a conversation.  The man noticed Micah's USAFA sweatshirt and said he was an Air Force fan.  In fact, he had a son who had just graduated from AFROTC at Alabama . . . he was the dad of the former CAP cadet that Nathan had talked to last week when I was so late!  What a fun coincidence!
Finally Sunday afternoon it was warm enough for Drew to be able to sit in his bumbo without his huge fleece winter thing that I had fortunately thrown in at the last minute!  He rode around a lot in the front pack or the Ergo.  There were a lot of teenage girls around, and they did a fantastic job playing with him and holding him.  In fact, the H girls watched him Saturday during the hike so we didn't have to take him!  I think he enjoyed his first camping experience, although he was glad to get home to a warm bed, LOL.  He slept a good deal on Monday!

So now that we are back in the camping mode, we are hoping to do more of it.  The boys all really enjoyed it, and they were great helps with the fire, getting the tents up and down, etc.  We'll see!


With the end of testing last Wednesday, the year is officially over for us (exception:  Nathan, who has to take the SAT II biology and Spanish subject tests on Saturday)!  (Other exception:  not everyone finished their math and English books, so they have to continue working in those.  Also, we slacked off on Latin the last quarter . .  also history for the younger boys . . . ) Okay, we are never really done.  But my big responsibilities are done, so I am feeling light as a feather!

And it was just in time too.  I was starting to lose it, as evidenced by these 2 examples.  Last Tuesday only Nathan decided to go to CAP.  After a late dinner, Bob took the middle 5 swimming, so it was just Luke, Micah, Drew, and me at home.  Micah was filthy dirty, so I decided to give him a bath, and I knew he would just love being all by himself in the tub.  So I got him going and he was having a grand time in there--when I suddenly *really* looked at my watch, noticing the hour as well as the minute.  It was 9:20!  CAP ends at 9:00!  For some reason I was an hour off in my mind, thinking it was only 8:00, not 9:00!  Whoops!  I yelled for Luke to come get Micah dressed, and I leaped into the van, certain that Nathan must be frantic with worry.  I expected to have half a dozen missed calls on my cell, but to my surprise, there were none!  I called Nathan, who said if there had to be a night for me to be really, really late, that night was it.  A former cadet, who had just graduated from AFROTC at Alabama, was back visiting as he waited to get commissioned, so people were stayed late and talking to him.  So I pulled into the parking lot at 9:40, and Nathan wasn't even the last person there!  *Whew*

Then Wednesday afternoon, after testing was all over, Luke had an orthodontist appointment.  After he finished, we headed over to Sams to pick up some last-minute things for our camping trip (another post!).  I was so pleased to find my favorite cashier, and as I chose her line, I said, "I always pick your line because you are the best at packing my cart!"  She is a woman after my own heart--every item is placed, like in Tetris, into just the right spot!  A work of art!  Anyhow, after Zahida finished scanning everything, I was ready to pay--but I couldn't find my credit card!  I mildly panicked, but like I said to Luke, I showed it to the guy to come into Sams . . . where could it have gotten to?  That's when Zahida said, "Umm, isn't this your credit card?" sitting there on top of the machine?  Why yes, because I had given it to her before she started scanning everything, except I had no recollection of doing so, LOL.  How many years have we been Sams members?  How many times a month do I go?  Clearly I was cracking up, just a short step away fron the looney bin!  A nice long summer break is just what I need!

Testing actually went really well, I thought.  I think I learned a lot from last year, and this year a lot of new people got certified as testers, so that was great.  I felt more comfortable with everything, although I was still immensely relieved to send off that 25 pound box of tests Thursday morning!  Ahhh . . . summer break!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

AP Biology Exam

This post may not have a wide appeal, but I wanted to capture a few thoughts about the AP biology exam, before everything about the class drains out of my head!

The College Board redesigned the exam this year, based on a new curriculum framework that came out last year.  The idea was that instead of focusing on knowing a ton of random esoteric facts about biology (the old-style exam), the students would be more able to think and reason like scientists, within a framework of biological knowledge. 

No one really had any idea what exactly the exam would be like.  I am still praising the Lord for allowing me to get AP approved, so that I could access the practice exam!  But Nathan didn't really think the practice exam questions were all that helpful, other than helping with pacing.  The College Board sent out a second set of a little more than 30 practice problems, which I also sent out to the boys, and Nathan thought those were more helpful.  What was universally agreed that was NOT helpful were any of the test prep books.  We used Barrons, which came out in February, but they were just guessing on the questions like the rest of us, and their questions were still geared more to the old format.  People who used other books felt the same way though.  Hopefully the test prep companies will learn as well and offer better, more helpful books next year.

There were 63 multiple choice questions, and most of them had big, long sections of reading accompanying them, along with graphs or tables.  One big complaint from students on the collegeconfidential website, as well as from AP teachers on the biology discussion board (passing along their students' comments), was that they couldn't finish the multiple choice questions because of all the reading.  Nathan, Isaac, and Eric did not have trouble finishing the questions.  Apparently a lot of students felt like the multiple choice part was "the ACT science section on steroids".  Nathan hasn't taken the ACT yet, so I don't know, but it sounded like a lot of logic/reasoning/problem solving, more than just knowledge of tricky biological concepts.  A lot of students were upset by this, feeling like they could have just taken any honors biology course and done just as well.  Some teachers felt that students who slacked off in the course could potentially have done just as well as students who really studied, as long as the slackers were good test-takers.  Since the boys aren't supposed to discuss the specific questions, I don't know really, but from the sample problems, you did have to know the concepts to be able to make sense of the reading, and to do it in a timely manner.  I don't think someone could have just taken it cold and done well.  None of my boys thought the questions were as hard as they could have been.  Some kids on collegeconfidential thought they were really easy; some thought they were extremely hard.  I am glad that just in general we focus a lot on logic and problem solving around here.  Who knew it would be so helpful in so many different areas?  : )  As some teachers pointed out, we live in an age where we can easily look up random facts.  But being able to analyze data and draw conclusions is a more important skill for scientists.  Interesting to think about. 

In the first section, which was 90 minutes long, there were also 6 "grid-in" questions.  These are questions where you have to solve some sort of math problem, so the answer is a number, and you bubble in the correct number on your answer sheet.  Nathan again felt prepared for these.  There aren't tons of different math problem possibilities out there for biology, so it was pretty obvious to me that for example, one problem would be a Hardy-Weinburg problem.  And it was!  I was glad we hammered that!  The main problem experienced by kids was that at the end of the multiple choice section, there was a message that said "END OF PART A.  DO NOT STOP.  CONTINUE TO PART B."  Somehow, maybe just due to the stress of the test, a lot of kids saw that message, and thought the proctor would tell them when to move on to the grid-in problems.  So time ran out, and they didn't do them!  The good news is that the grid-ins were weighted exactly the same as the multiple choice questions, but still . . . the teachers said a lot of their best students didn't do the questions, which may cut their chances for a 5.  I had told the boys to do the grid-in questions first, since if they were running short on time, then it is at least possible to guess on multiple choice questions, unlike on grid-ins!  There is now a thread on the teachers forum about how to make the directions more clear (take out "STOP" completely?).  It sounds like this is partly a problem due to all the high-stakes standardized testing all these students take all the time--where they are conditioned to stop after each section.  Another advantage of homeschooling!

The last section were the essays or "free response questions".  In the new format, there are 2 long FRQs (which are supposed to take about 20 minutes to write the answers for), as well as 6 shorter one paragraph FRQs that are only supposed to take about 6 minutes each.  The College Board has released all the FRQs for the "Form O" test that most students took.  You can look at them here and ascertain for yourself whether or not you could answer these questions without a college-level biology course!  Nathan thought these questions were easier than he expected, and he wrote something down for each one.  Who knows yet what the scoring rubric will be, though, and if he put in his answers everything the readers were wanting to see!  The general consensus on collegeconfidential also was that the questions were not too difficult.  There has been a lively thread on the AP teachers' forum discussing potential answers to these questions!

So now we wait.  Scores are officially out on July 8, which seems a long ways away! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Micah and Drew

Micah turned 2 on April 9, and Drew turned 4 months on (*cough*) March 30, and today they finally had their 2 year and 4 month well-baby appointments this afternoon.  What can I say--April was a busy month!  I took Jonathan along as my designated older helper, and he was indespensible, as usual.  How did I do it without older helpers?!

We had the nicest doctor.  I know I always say that, but really, I love the pediatric doctors at Bethesda!  I was a tad bit worried because I knew that Drew hasn't gained all that much weight--he's only 14.1 pounds at almost 6 months.  He was in something like the 57th percentile for weight at his 2 month well-baby appointment, and now he's in the 7th percentile, LOL.  Sound familiar?!  But he is obviously healthy, active, and alert, and I told the doctor that this is generally how we grow kids.  It was a good thing I had Jonathan along as an example, because Micah weighs 29.6 pounds, and is in the 65th percentile for weight AND height!  He is such an outlier for our family.  He's going to pass up his older brothers in no time at all, while Drew will be the scrawny little brother forever, LOL. 

Drew now has his second tooth through, and he has been sleeping better.  Since he wasn't sleeping well the past few weeks, I started him on some rice cereal, which he likes, and now sweet potatoes, which he is not yet so fond of.  Now that the teeth are through, he is sleeping better again.  Yay!  He's pushing up on all fours, but if he rocks, he just topples forward.  He still won't roll from back to front, even though I think he could.  He loves the exersaucer, the every-faithful Johnny Jump-Up (now on its 13th kid!), and all his older siblings, who adore him back.

Micah finally started talking more a few months ago, although no one would ever say he is a "verbal" child, LOL.  But he's saying a lot more words, and putting words together.  He is very physically coordinated though.  Since he's big and coordinated, people think he is older than he is--until he talks!  Micah loves being outside.  He'd be out all day if I would let him!  He loves balls, the trampoline, his scooter, running around, pretty much whatever.  It also looks like he is outgrowing (has outgrown?) his milk allergy.  He's gotten into stuff like pudding lately and has not had any reaction.  I haven't actually tried straight-up milk yet.  Maybe now that school is done.  That would be so nice if he really has!  Anna outgrew hers at 2, so there is a precedent . . .

Micah and Drew got some shots today, which did not thrill either of them.  Amazingly, the immunization clinic was not busy at all, and we got in and out of there fairly quickly!  I left here at 9:00 for appointments at 10:00 and 10:30, plus immunizations, and we got back home around 12:30!  I think that's a record, LOL. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day(s)!

I have had a great weekend!  It started Friday, when I checked the mail.  There was a little package addressed to me from Joy down in Texas!  She and her husband Dan are friends with my brother and his wife, and they had stayed with us back in October when they came to D.C. for a little kidless vacation.  I knew Joy makes beautiful jewelry because I follow her business ("Wire We Here"--is that a great name?!) on Facebook, so I was cautiously hopeful that this mysterious package might contain something she had made . .  And it did!  She made a beautiful necklace with stones for all 9 kids!  I LOVE it!  And then I found out that her husband Dan had collaborated with Bob to get the birth months of everyone, so it was truely a group effort!  What a wonderful surprise!
Saturday night we all went out west to hear a friend named Katie play a benefit piano concert.  She's the same age as Nathan, and she is an incredibly gifted pianist, having won many, many awards, and played many special places, like the Kennedy Center.  She is going on a missions trip this summer, so this concert was to raise money for her team.  It was such a lovely concert.  I would have enjoyed it more without Drew and Micah, LOL, but it is good to expose everyone to good classical music!  Drew needed to eat in the middle of the concert, but unfortunately he did not want to just settle in and start nursing without fussing around and wrestling with the nursing cover.  So we beat a hasty retreat and I nursed him out in the foyer.  Micah made it 2/3 of the way through before he really just wanted to talk.  Not a ton, but considering the rest of the sanctuary was as silent as a tomb, except for the notes of the piano, it would have been distracting.  So Bob came out to the foyer, right about as I was ready to go back in.  Everyone else did just fine, I am pleased to report!  Still, it was a very refined and enjoyable way to spend the evening!  I will note that certain philistine members of the family were more concerned about the score of the hockey game, but even they listened politely . . .

Yesterday, the actual "Mother's Day", Jonathan made me breakfast in bed, and then he and Caleb gave me a massage!  I also got several lovely homemade cards from the girls, and Bob had already brought home beautiful roses.  In the afternoon, Bob grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, since I have absolutely no interest in going out to eat on a super crowded day with my huge clan, LOL.  I got to skype with my parents, which is always fun, and I also had a nice conversation with Bob's sister Jane, which was a treat!

Tonight just Bob and I went out to dinner (MUCH more enjoyable than taking everyone, LOL).  To be honest, we were also celebrating the end of my year of biology.  The AP biology test was this morning, so now it is officially all over!  Woo-hoo!!  We went to Genghis Grill, since we had a coupon for a free bowl for Bob's birthday.  Then we headed over to Costco for dessert.  Did you know that you can get these amazingly yummy hand-dipped chocolate-covered ice cream bars, rolled in chopped roasted almonds, for only $1.50?!  Bob and I shared one, and it was just the perfect ending to a great evening!

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Birthday Week!

Last week, we had 2 special birthdays!  Grace turned 6 on Wednesday, and Bob turned . . . well, a year older, on Thursday!  Those 2 days happen to be the busiest of our week, since Caleb and Jonathan have flag football practice those nights, and Bob is their coach.  That just meant we had to prolong the celebrations!

We kicked things off Tuesday by going out to CiCi's Pizza before dropping Nathan and Luke off at Civil Air Patrol.  Wednesday was even busier than usual because we had to have our second weekly biology class that evening, instead of Thursday afternoon.  But Grace picked the complicated dish of "hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls" for her birthday, so I did manage to make that for her, LOL. 
She opened presents after Bob and the boys got home.  She got some Lego Friends, a sparkling coloring pad, and a build-it-and-decorate-it-yourself birdhouse, which was from my parents.  This has sparked an interest in birds throughout the house, so we;ve stocked up on bird library books.  I have always wished I was more familiar with birds, like Amy, so maybe this is my big chance!  Even Micah is big into birds--he will stand looking out the storm door and say, "Bird. . .  bird . . ." all day if you let him!

The day was too much for Faith, and she missed out on the ice cream by falling alseep on the couch!  Everyone else enjoyed a ton of birthday ice cream flavors.  I actually picked them out a few days before.  One of them was Junior Mint.  I love Junior Mints, so I thought that would be yummy.  Well--it's not, LOL.  It tastes really strong.  Not bad, just more like eating Altoids ice cream, except without the nasty Altoids licorice flavor.

Poor Bob didn't even get his birthday dinner until tonight!  I actually went to the commissary on his birthday, where I picked up a turkey.  He loves turkey, but I didn't get around to putting the rub on and letting it sit in the fridge overnight until last night, so tonight was the big meal.  Everyone agreed, it smelled like Thanksgiving!  We had a modified meal--just turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, and green beans.

Last Friday we were finally able to make Grace's cupcakes and sing to her and Bob!  She picked green and purple frosting for her cupcakes, and she frosted them, along with help from various siblings.  That is why it looks like it could possibly be an ancient alphabet written on the tops, LOL.  They sure had fun decorating them!  Grace of course picked Funfetti as the cake flavor, even though Luke was rooting for her to pick chocolate.  But what girl can resist sprinkles?!  Bob was a good sport as usual in sharing his cake opportunity and agreeing to purple and green frosted cupcakes!

Breaking News!

Well, I never did get caught up!  Grace and Bob had birthdays last week, which I for sure will eventually blog about, but first, today was such an exciting day! 

The AP biology exam is Monday, and since it's a new exam this year, there are no released old exams to be found.  Even the test prep books, like Barron's and Princeton Review, are just sort of guessing what everything is going to be like.  That has made it hard for me to know if we are preparing well. 

Well, over the course of the past few months, I've been checking in on the AP biology 2013 thread over at collegeconfidential.  The past few weeks I've been hearing about a practice exam that AP teachers were giving their students, put out by the College Board!  And then a few nights ago, I happened to check the thread, and lo and behold, someone had posted a link to it!  I was soooo excited!  I bookmarked the link, sent it out to the boys, and went to bed just beaming!  What I did not do was save it to a file or print it off or anything, because it was midnight, and well, I just wasn't thinking, LOL.  So when I got up the next morning and told Bob my good news, he immediately said, "Save it!", and indeed, when I tried the link, it was broken.  I was crushed!!

Over the next few days, I searched and searched for the test online.  I found some other online practice tests that weren't too bad, but nothing official.  Drew has been sleeping really poorly the last few nights, and he's been getting up at 3:00 AM.  As I was nursing him last night at 3:00, it hit me--the way for me to get access to the unreleased practice test was for me to get my syllabus approved, so I would officially be an AP teacher.  That is what I did not do last summer, and that's why we can't officially call this biology course "AP biology".  Last summer I was absolutely not up to it, but now, having taught the course, maybe I could get something together.

Drew was up again at 6:00, and after I nursed him and put him back down, I came downstairs to the computer and got to work.  I found some syllabi online, which gave me a start, but then I looked at the College Board website and read all the actual details they want in a syllabus.  Gulp.  I pored over the 4 sample syllabi, and worked and worked on getting everything in mine.  I could not have done this last summer even if I had wanted to!  I wouldn't have understood enough of what they wanted to make it work, and it would have been such an exercise in frustration, I am sure!

It took me about 5 hours to finish the syllabus.  Then I made an account at the College Board website, where I had some difficulties because I couldn't figure out what "professional code" they wanted me to enter. I called Christine, since she got next year's econ course syllabus approved back in March.  She couldn't remember, but she told me it took several weeks to hear back from them with her approval.  That was discouraging, since the test is Monday.  But I figured I would press on because once you get a syllabus approved, it's good for awhile, and obviously I have a lot of biology teaching in my future, LOL.  After a few more minor technical difficulties submitting the syllabus (and 2 phone calls to the nice tech guy, LOL), everything was entered and pending about 11:45 AM. 

I took a shower and ate lunch, in preparation for our very last biology class this year, which was just  review for the test.  After that was over, I checked email.  I saw an email from the College Board, but in glancing at it, it looked like the automated "your syllabus is pending review" email I knew I had gotten.  But when I looked closer, the title actually said, "AP Audit--Your Biology Course Has Been Authorized".    It arrived in my inbox at 12:31 PM--less than an hour after I submitted my syllabus!!  I could hardly believe it!  I immediately started looking around, and *voila*, under the "secure documents" tab, was the AP practice exam!  Praise the Lord!  So I immediately downloaded it, and sent it off to the boys to take!  I hope it will be useful to them--I am very curious to see how they do!  And now I am all set for the coming years! 

I can't believe that when I went to bed last night, I had no thought of even attempting such a crazy thing!  And God was so gracious to allow it to get approved so readily!  Christine, Shannon, and I have been praying for the past few months as soon as Rivendell classes are over on Tuesdays.  I really feel that the Lord is answering prayer, and I am so very thankful!  We are so blessed!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Anniversary Celebration!

On April 17, Bob's parents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary!  This is a huge milestone, definitely worthy of honor, so we, as well as all Bob's siblings, had a party for them on April 20.  Bob's sister Ann did a wonderful job setting everything up!
 Bob's parents picked a nice restaurant, which had several big seating areas.  They set up 4 large round tables for us on a dance floor area.  The wood floor was surrounded by these metal arches.  Throughout the whole night, I would catch myself thinking these areas were mirrors, when in fact, they were open, so it was always a jolt to me to see my kids going right through them, LOL.
 Our kids took up a whole table!  Aunt Jane snuck in the picture too!  Bob and I, along with Drew, sat at the next table with some of his nieces and a nephew, as well as his brother Paul.  The food was really good!  I had roast beef, and Bob got "scrod".  We weren't sure what that was when he ordered it, but the restaurant said it was one of their most popular dishes.  It's a whitefish, we now know, and it was tasty.  The nicest part was dessert--the restaurant makes their own pies, and they were yummy!  There were a ton of choices--lemon meringue, apple, dutch apple, chocolate, coconut cream . . . I had chocolate, of course, and Bob had coconut cream, since he never gets anything coconut at home, unfortunately, LOL.   
 Bob's parents had a small ceremony, because Ann's mom had died just 3 months earlier.  They were married in their church, but they didn't have a reception or anything.  So Bob's sister Ann had the good idea to do the traditional reception things with them!  So Bob's dad took off the garter and threw that, Bob's mom threw a small bouquet of flowers, and they cut a cake Ann made and fed it to each other!  Then they even danced!
Jonathan caught the garter, and Anna caught the bouquet, so I hope no one else in Bob's extended family is hoping to get married anytime soon, LOL.  Jonathan gave the garter to Anna, who decided it made a better headband. 

It was a really lovely evening.  It was really nice to visit with all Bob's siblings, plus most of their kids.  My deep regret is that we didn't take any family pictures!  After all the reception stuff, the waitresses started clearing the tables, and a local band started setting up to play at 8:00.  So we all felt like it was time to leave, and I didn't even think about pictures until we were driving back to VA the next day!  So hopefully we can all get back together in 5 more years to celebrate their 70th anniversary, and then we'll take lots of pictures!

We actually went up to PA Friday afternoon, and we left Sunday afternoon, so it was a nice visit.  The weather was cold though!  I had to dig back out long pants for everyone!  Although it was colder, it was still sunny, so some of the kids and adults were able to go on walks.  Bob's sister Rose and her girls brought their dog Tucker, who was so cute.  At first the girls and Micah were really afraid of him, but they eventually warmed up and got a lot more comfortable with him.  They took a long walk Saturday afternoon with him, and another one Sunday!  And of course there was lots of food and card playing back at Bob's parents' house. 

Hello Again!

Hey, I'm back!  These last few weeks have been incredibly busy, but it looks like things are starting to slow down.  Whew!  This really has been quite the year!  Rivendell is almost over (2 more weeks!!), and the AP biology exam is next Monday (May 13).  Then standardized testing is the next week--I just got the big box o' Stanford tests yeasterday!  Now I need to go through them to make sure I got a test (and the right one) for everyone who ordered, and I need to rework the schedule and figure out which tester administrators go where.  I made a note to myself last year to "rework Tuesday", although unfortunately I neglected to write down exactly what the problem was, LOL.  Hopefully I will improve things, and not make them worse . . .

I'm going to do a few posts to catch up on things, because we did have some special occasions that need to be remembered.