Saturday, October 11, 2014

I excel at getting totally sidetracked

This past week, the laptop computer that Charlie gave me for Christmas last year, crashed. The good news is the logic board just needs to be replaced and experts think my hard drive is still intact. The reason that's good news is because all of the pictures and memories that I've captured since December 25, 2013 through approximately October 1, 2014, have been stored on that laptop computer and not backed up.

We have a device that backs up computers ... I think it's called a "Time Capsule." According to the people at the store, it's very user-friendly and intuitive. Despite that tag-line, I have no idea how it works. Thankfully, my husband does.  He'll plug some cord in to some USB and click a few things and then voila! everything is backed up.  Whenever I've tried to plug cords in and click buttons, I've erased everything on my computer and everything on the Time Capsule and so I just default that responsibility to Charlie.  Now, I just need to remember to remind him to back up my laptop, because even he forgot.

My laptop will be back sometime next week. Until then, I'm posting this blog on our desktop computer that is otherwise the computer our children use to practice their math.

Yes. Math, on the computer!

Maybe I'm not turning Amish after all. 

When one day, last week, one of our fourth graders was struggling with their homework and couldn't recall how to do basic skills that they'd learned how to do in second grade, I fell in to a pit of despair where life choices were called in to question, specifically the full-time career that has me in the office, or traveling all over the northern hemisphere and removed from my children for sometimes much of the school week.  In that moment, I flash backed to when I was in fourth grade and first started to fall behind in math, and thus begin a slow descent in to special education and years of private math tutors and a diminished self-esteem that didn't rebound until I was in college.

Yes, in that moment, I felt like a totally disconnected parent that is blind to how well their children are performing in school and where they might be struggling. So I devoted the next three hours (one hour per nine-year-old child) to reviewing material with my fourth graders and trying to get a better handle on where exactly they need additional support.  That three-hour session led me to a free session on and after the free session abruptly ended, and I was hooked on the awesomeness of this program, I paid for one year access to the website.

Since then, I've had to monitor and regulate when the children can take turn practicing their math skills because they tend to get very territorial (aka: obsessed) about when they can play. The geniuses that designed the IXL program have prizes at the end of each 30 or so math question session, and I'm happily surprised at how insanely motivated our kids are to win those "prizes" at the end.  It certainly works better than me sitting before them with a pile of multiplication flash cards and having to take deep breaths and bite my tongue from saying out loud, "SERIOUSLY? YOU CAN'T REMEMBER 4 X 5?"

It would seem that anything electronic or technologically oriented gets them excited, even if it is math.

At the rate they're progressing through the different sessions, I expect Henry will be doing Geometry by next spring and the triplets will be on Pre-Calculus.  No, not really - but if they can easily round numbers and recall fractions, it'll be worth every penny that I paid for the year subscription and I will gladly relax my adamant opposition of children using computer technology.  

You know what's interesting?

I wasn't planning to write about any of that when I logged on to write this blog. I was planning to just post a picture of one of the world's newest and cutest Tiger Cubs.


Our "Honowawy Cub Scout" is officially now one!