Saturday, April 27, 2019

HMJ: Jobs, Updates, and a Word on Driving

How was your Easter?  I took the weekend off from blogging to allow time for soaking up the profoundness of the season.  It was needed because the last 2 weeks have been pretty busy and eventful...
Brooke went on another interview and GOT THE JOB!!!  She started working (training) this week and has quite the full schedule beginning next.  She is soooooooo excited and already plotting her savings plan so she can buy a car ASAP!  I won't complain, currently I am taxi-ing FOUR people with often overlapping schedules.  Hubby's car is down for another week or two but once his is back in commission, I hope he and I can share the load (and he won't be one of the FOUR, though I will miss our commute time together!)

ALL three of the kids still at home are working on their driver's licenses.  Ashley, almost 21 now, was struggling with neurological issues for years so we were all nervous for her to be behind a wheel.  However, we have since finally narrowed down the problem to temporal migraines and have implemented a sustainable maintenance plan so she will be safe to drive.  Brenden, soon to be 19, had no interest in learning until the past year!  Brooke, now 16, however, was determined to get that ticket to independence as soon as possible!!  A Teen Talk pop-out on this subject is at the end of this section.

With a job came her first bank account... Consumer Math in action!  She is VERY excited and even got a sign-on bonus of $30... such perks at a young age!

School is going well.  We agreed to forgo our "spring break" and finish a week early for the year instead.  We are currently plotting May 24th as the "Last Day of School"!  I've already begun planning next year's curriculum in hopes of catching some of the great sales going on right now.  As the details develop I will share them here!

The final stage of all the gas line debacle finally wrapped up this week when the gas company came and removed the front yard pipes.  Unfortunately for our neighbors, we single-handedly held up traffic on this busy stretch of road for almost 2 days!  Yet, even with the gas-line wrap-up, we are not out of the woods major issues.... the fire department was called by our security company in the wee hours last Tuesday morning when a carbon monoxide leak spread through the house.  It would seem all of the stress on our aging furnace as we worked out the gas-line problems may have cracked a heater core.  We are now without heat and heading into ANOTHER cold snap.  Waiting on quotes and work to be done to get us back up and running.

Never a dull moment.

All of this has delayed garnering bids for the roof leak into the walls.  Hoping to have a solid direction on those repairs in the next few weeks.

There is always hope ♥️

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A little side-note on teens and that sticky topic of DRIVING!  At times people are surprised I do not enroll my kids in Driver's Ed.  For the most part, it is a financial decision: the programs are not cheep!  As I have gotten older, there have been times where I wished I could hand them off to someone else with better experience and coping abilities... however, I reasoned that if I can homeschool, surely I can teach my kids to drive.

With my oldest, it seemed easy.  Either, he was just a natural, or, I was younger and more at-ease with the process... not sure which!  With my subsequent kiddos and the age gap between them and their older brother, much more time had passed... and we weren't living in rural Montana anymore where the biggest worry was a wandering deer.  No, we were now in a 'major' city with the highest rate of accidents in the state.  I began to wonder if blood pressure meds were in my near future!!

After a particularly hair raising practice-run on the open road with my 18 year old, I began to search for HELP.  I found "Teach Your Teenager How to Drive a Car" by Hank Wysocki who was a Driver's Ed instructor in NEW YORK of all places!!  I ordered his book along with these magnets and peace of mind began to find it's way back.

The book helped remind me of the order-of-operation in learning to drive.  It is easy for us parents to take for granted that which seems natural at our own stage of life.  It is a process and Hank does a great job of laying out a doable plan of attack with simple-to-follow advice in an easy-to-read format.

The magnets, once on the car, made a HUGE difference.  It takes a while to learn how to hold your speed, stay appropriately between the lines, negotiate turns properly, take care not to break too fast or too slow, execute lane changes and pop turn signals on in a reasonable time... The magnets seemed to alert other drivers that my kids were still figuring these key concepts out and, as a result, I notice the drivers around us become more patient and even gave the kids room (verses riding their tail when they went too slow or honking when trying to turn... yes, these things really happened to us).  

All of this worked together for a secondary benefit:  Remembering the order of operations, giving grace and driving with bright yellow magnets alerting the world as to our pilot... I had more confidence that drivers around us weren't going to be impatient and foolish, potentially causing an accident through unraveling my new learners.  My stress levels went down and my ability to be a better driver's ed teacher, increased.

Ultimately, I decided to use the removal of the magnets as a reward for consistent improvement and confidence.  While the kids enjoyed the same benefits I did with them on in the early stages of driving, as they improved they were excited to take them off and feel like "real" drivers!

Tips and Tricks I've Picked up Along the Way....
  • How is MY driving?  I've noticed that my kids brake, accelerate, and follow in the same manner I do.  Much like how our attitude as parents impacts their attitude... so does our driving impact theirs!!  (bonus tip.... if your kids aren't driving yet, begin adjusting your own driving now, if it needs it, so that you are modeling how you want them to drive when the time comes)
  • DON'T DRIVE AT NIGHT until they are very comfortable driving in the day.  The road may be well lit, however, other driver's headlights, dark driveways and lit signs actually provide MORE distractions for new drivers.
  • Practice in an empty parking lot.... a lot... before you go on the open road.
  • Hit the open road at lower traffic times of day for those first handful of drives
  • Muster every ounce of patience you can.  An irritable or yelling parent does NOT build driver confidence and, quite frankly, causes them to make poorer decisions, not better ones.  I have learned to literally sit on my hands when they drive and it seems to help me keep from wanting to grab the wheel or freak out!  Remember, IF there is a fender bender, that is what insurance is for.  Quite honestly though, I have yet to have a kid even come close to wrecking.
  • If your kids play video games, especially the racing variety, don't let them play for at least an hour before they are going to drive.  I have noticed that video gaming, particularly racing, directly and negatively affects HOW they drive behind an actual wheel.
  • Keep inside-the-car distractions at a minimum... turn down the radio and discourage talking unless it has to do with driving.... even among other passengers.
  • Pacing has been a GREAT way to teach my kids maintaining speed and proper braking.  Have them follow about 2-3 car lengths behind the person in front, match their speed and break when they break.  If the other person is turning where you are turning, have them follow through the turn as well (when possible).  My youngest was following a mailman through a stretch of round-abouts recently (every new driver's worst nightmare) and it actually helped her gain confidence in these normally nerve-wracking traffic circles.  My 18 year old also found his bearings about driving one day when following a semi-truck down a busy stretch of road.  Pacing with this practical wall helped him focus and find his rhythm.  He hasn't had a single problem with maintaining speed or staying in-between the lines since!! 
Have you found any tips which can help new drivers (and their parents)?  Whether or not you choose to (or can) do Driver's Ed for your teen, just know, you are equipped to help your 'child' learn this pivotal skill!
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How has your school week been?


Blessings,






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2 comments:

  1. Love your driving tips - passing this along to my husband as our teen will be driving soon (he could have his permit now but wants to wait).

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I hope they help. I have found there are quite a number of 'kids' waiting to drive until they are 18, 19, and older (not sure how old your teen is). It seems better to wait until they are ready and comfortable, if possible.

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