Thursday, September 13, 2018

2018-2019 Week 5: Post Surgery Week

I left off last week with the day before Mason's leg surgery. Friday was surgery and Mason and I were at the hospital until Saturday afternoon. Surgery went well and he's in a long leg cast for about 3 weeks. Sunday Daddy took most of the kids to church. Mason needed to stay home and keep his leg elevated and ice on an off, so he, Rebekah, Tobias, and I were home. It is a pretty quiet, trying to keep him entertained life right now.

Monday was a school as usual day. Mason is not thrilled with sitting around on the couch so we're trying to vary where he is at and what he is doing. School went just fine. We also had a dentist appointment and an allergist appointment. In the evening was Family Home Evening with a fun game (LDS Shout Out) and a chance to learn more about the Prophet and Apostles leading up to General Conference next month. We learned some fun facts about them.

Tuesday was a slow start for some of the kids while others were up by 5am and 6am. School work happened as usual. My favorite thing has been listening to Mason the last week or so do his reading. It has started to really click and he is sounding out a lot less and just reading words a lot more in All About Reading 1. He read a funny story about a boy named Frank who drank pink milk and shrank. There are adventures and then a return to regular size. Mason decided he would not want to shrink like Frank. Over lunch we listened to more of Wonder, our book club title.

Wednesday the majority of school went fine. History, however, not so much. For some reason half the kids were loud, chatty, and not interested at all in listening. I dragged them through the lesson. I totally looked at one child and said, "Just sit down and don't talk for 5 minutes please. Not a sound and stay sitting!" That was the last subject of the day. Tomorrow's plan is to do history earlier in the day. The rest of our afternoon and evening were family time, youth group for the oldest 3, and lots of play on the couch with Mason. Dinner was vegetable beef soup in the crock pot with some French bread.

Thursday kicked off with kids sliding right into school. I made the general announcement that we would do history at 9am and they would all be expected to meet on the couch, pausing whatever they were working on. It went really well today. We finished Unit 1 in The Good and the Beautiful History 1, which goes from the Creation through Ancient Egypt's history. Today we talked about Moses and the Israelites, then an overview of the conquering nations and dynasties in Egypt's history from 600BC to modern times. Next week we move forward in time from Ancient  Egypt to the Middle Ages and Renaissance. We will hit some of the following topics for unit 2:
  • Early Britain
  • Stonehenge
  • Spread of Christianity in Ireland (Saint Patrick)
  • Christianity going to England
  • Saint Augustine
  • Feudalism
  • Life of a Knight
  • Life in a Monastery
  • King Alfred the Great
  • William the Conqueror
  • The Magna Carta
  • Chivalry
  • Joan of Arc
  • The Black Death
  • The Scientific Revolution
  • Isaac Newton
  • Galileo
  • The Huguenots
We have one field trip planned during this unit, to the Ohio Renaissance Festival. We have gone the last few years and it is so much fun! Real life jousts on horseback, shows, shops, and a queen - the kids enjoy it almost as much as the adults.

Mason has graduated to less time sitting with his foot elevated and more time in this borrowed wheelchair that has a foot rest for his cast.

Tomorrow Daddy is off and taking over the homeschooling while Mommy and Makayla make a college visit for Buckeye Preview. Then it is the weekend and family time!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

2018-2019 Week 4: Sick and Surgery Tomorrow

Dragon fruit

I left off last week sick and that was really how I spent the week, slowly working through my summer cold. Monday I felt pretty miserable but we carried on anyway. There was a new week of school work to do. Yes, it was labor day, but we planned to take Friday off instead (surgery day for Mason), so our morning was school work. Just before lunch we headed down the street to watch the Labor Day parade in the heat. The kids enjoyed it and that is what matters, right? In the evening we tried a new fruit - dragon fruit. None of us had eaten it before. We cut it open, spooned some out to eat, then blended some up in a green smoothie to try it that way. The texture is reminiscent of kiwifruit.

Tuesday: A normal school day, mommy feeling a smidge better, piano lessons. I got on the phone today and made 13 medical appointments, including eye checkups for 9. I still have 9 dental cleanings to schedule. It truly is never-ending.

This Week's School Books

Wednesday I'm still having headaches (sinus pressure). It poses a bit of a challenge when listening to child after child after child telling me things, asking me questions, or reading to me because it simply makes the headache worse. Reading aloud is also a bit challenging. We made it through school anyway, because routines carry us through. The only modification today was I paired Joseph and Emma to read aloud to each other instead of reading with me.

The bins that keep each child's school
work organized. Total sanity saver!

Thursday was our Friday for school. Kids diligently worked through each subject. There was a failed science experiment with Joseph and Emma (twice!) and a successful one with Makayla. There were math lessons and reading aloud and grammar and spelling and on and on. It was wonderful!

Rebekah turned 7 months old today. She's crawling all over and into all the things. She sits herself up and plays and if she gets too excited still falls. She's tried sweet potatoes and liked them.

We got the official surgery time for Mason tomorrow and it is in the afternoon. This is good and bad. Good because we get to sleep instead of leaving at 4:30am to drive to the hospital (our usual for an early morning surgery time). Bad because Mason will be awake for hours and hours without being allowed to eat while surrounded by kids who are able to eat. We head to the hospital an hour before lunch. I don't know yet how many hours the double surgery will take.

The rest of our Thursday will be packing for the hospital, meal prep for those left at home, and family time.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

2018-2019 Week 3: Random and Routine

Sunday evening I reminded the kids that I would be gone part of our school day with Mason for his pre-op appointment, so they needed to do school right after breakfast or in the afternoon if they needed me. Most of the kids chose to schedule their Monday as a lighter day of work and we were able to get through their lessons that needed taught by 10am (other things, like independent reading or handwriting could be done while I was gone). Mason and I got back from his appointment 3 hours later.

For Family Home Evening we did a bowling and junk food dinner trip. Bowling happened before dinner time and when we finished we picked up a bunch of French fries at Wendys along with their 50 cent frostys. Yes, dinner was fries and ice cream.

Tuesday and Wednesday were a continuing of the routines. Each morning kids pulled out their self-designed schedules and got to work. I sat at the table or in the living room available to help as needed with lessons. There were also piano lessons on Tuesday and we have one new student - mommy. I took piano lessons for about 6 months in my late teens and then life happened and I never got back to it. I decided I can surely fit 30 minutes of piano practice into my day around mom and wife life. It may be early, late, or broken into 10 minute segments, but it will happen. My goal is to be able to play from our church hymn book. I have a long way to go!

Dinner Wednesday evening was beef stew in the crock pot. As soon as dinner was finished I gathered up books and made a mommy-only library trip. I posted about it HERE. Makayla and Emma helped host a family history and indexing event at the church while Joseph went fishing with the Scouts.

Thursday felt like one eternal round of reading for me, homeschool, chores, piano, reading to kids, cooking, and more reading. In the evening Daddy and I spent 40 minutes with the three youngest boys going through clothing bins from the attic to find what fits and what we need to buy for fall and winter. It was a good regular day.

Friday I was exhausted before the day began. Rebekah is following the pattern most of my kids have followed - when she is going through a large physical developmental leap she stops sleeping well. She woke up three separate times last night (11:30pm, 1:30am, and 5:30am) and Tobias added a random wake up in there at 4:30am so I was up a lot. Thankfully the kids were motivated to get school done because the cousins and aunt (my sister) were coming over in the afternoon. Thank goodness!

We had a fun visit with the cousins and then it was dinner, veggie pick up, library book pick up, and crashing hard for mommy. I managed to get a summer head cold.

Saturday morning I finished going through clothing in the attic to check what we still need for each child for this fall/winter. Later that morning Makayla and Emma were my helpers on the fall clothing shopping trip for the family. Thank goodness for the girls, because I still wasn't feeling great and they did a lot of the shopping. We hit several stores including Once Upon a Child, Plato's Closet, and Target. We found almost all the clothing needs for 10 children, stayed under budget (spent $395), and will finish filling in the last few items later this month. Then we will look at who needs new shoes...

 It is Sunday morning as I get ready to hit publish and I'm still feeling really sick, so I'm sending daddy off to church with the older 8 kids and I will keep the 2 year old and 6 month old home with me.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Using the Public Library to Expand Our Shelves

Our library shelf. The kids know this is where to find
any library books we have checked out -
and where to put them when they are finished reading.
I have shared before that we live in a smallish 3 bedroom house for the 12 of us (think 1200 sq. ft. of living space outside of the icky basement and unfinished attic). We own more books than the average family, I suspect, but even so, we make regular use of the library. We check out stacks of books, especially picture books or titles we wouldn't spend money on but the kids enjoy for a season. My kids like taking stacks of books to bed to browse through for the hour of flashlight time they have (8pm-9pm). I thought I would share this week's library haul. Of these books, only 2 were reserved ahead of time, the rest I found simply by browsing the shelves.

  • Poppy and Vivaldi by Le Huche - We actually found four in this series at our last trip and the kids love them. These books play sounds, integrated with the stories, and focus on composers and their musical pieces, or groups of instruments. The kids wouldn't let me return them yet.
  • Big Book of Pirates by Vinyoli - Thirteen suspenseful pirate tales for my pirate loving boys.
  • How the Sphinx Got to the Museum by Hartland - This fits in well with our current history studies.
  • PJ Masks Race to the Moon (and one other PJ Masks book) - This early reader is a great example of a fluff book we wouldn't spend money to add to our personal shelves, but that are a current favorite character for some of my littlest boys.
  • There's No Place Like Space - This is a Cat in the Hat Learning Library title. These are always fun and educational.
  • Hark! A Shark! - Another in the Cat in the Hat Learning Library.
  • A Castle Full of Cats by Sanderson - The Queen's cats try to befriend the king, with mixed results.
  • Nanuk the Ice Bear by Winter - We have polar bears at our zoo so it is a familiar favorite.
  • Melissa's Octopus and Other Unsuitable Pets by Voake - A cute story of kids with very unusual pets.
  • Goodnight Ark by Sassi - A laugh out loud tale set on Noah's Ark.
  • Castaway Cats by Wheeler - Fifteen felines are marooned on an island and make a new home.
  • One Night, Far From Here by Wauters - A trip through different biomes with see through pages.
  • Seadogs: An Epic Ocean  Operetta by Wheeler - An interesting mix of comic book style illustrations with poems and songs along the way.
  • The Whole Foods Diet by Mackey - One of the books ordered ahead of time, for me. 
  • Land of Stories: Worlds Collide by Colfer - I found this one on the new titles shelves and picked it up for Emma, who loves this series.
  • QB: My Life Behind the Spiral by Steve Young - The second book I ordered ahead of time, for me. 
  • Dalmatian in a Digger by Elliot - Cute picture books with animals and a construction project.
  • Over Under in the Garden by Schories - An alphabet book of plants with insects hiding on each page as well.
  • Pirate Puzzles by Maidment - 30 puzzles to solve to follow the adventure of Pip.
  • Cowboy Puzzles by Maidment - 30 puzzles to follow the adventure of Rocky.
  • Curious George early readers - I grabbed Fire Dog Rescue and Dinosaur Tracks.
  • Big Size Surprise by Baruzzi - This is a fun board book where each page shows a picture and then the page unfolds to expand that picture into something new. Tobias adores this one and also loved Look, Look Again by the same author.
  • Picture Puzzle Book by Usborne - A very large board book with things to find on each page. As you will see in the next several titles of the list, I pulled a stack of search and find style books at this library trip.
  • Under the Sea Picture Puzzle Book by Usborne - Another large board book with colorful illustrations to search through.
  • Color Camouflage by Schuette - A spot it book where each two page spread has items jumbled together all in one color family. At the end of the book are extra challenge lists for the very enthusiastic.
  • Very First Book of Things to Spot Out and About by Usborne - A board book with less cluttered pages for younger kids new to search and find books. This includes question prompts for me to ask my little ones to find something specific on each page, like who is wearing red boots or find a car with two passengers.
  • Let's Find Pok√©mon by Aihara - My pokemon loving kids can find their favorite characters.
  • Where's Waldo? Deluxe Edition by Handford - It was time to introduce some of my younger children to Waldo. Mason and Samuel are loving it! This is the first Waldo book that was created, with a few fun extras.
  • Where's Waldo? The Wonder Book Deluxe Edition by Handford - Under the flap of each page of the deluxe editions is a list of more things to find in each puzzle. 
We still have some books from an earlier library trip up in the kids bedrooms. I know Makayla has a stack of chapter books and Emma probably has a few as well. Sometimes I order a lot of books ahead of time and pick them up at our library's drive through window. Our library has no late fees and large lending limits (99 books out per card). They have many other things available to borrow, including instruments, dvds, music cds, and board games, but we mostly stick to books. 

What are some of your currently checked out library titles? Have your kids read any of the ones on my shelf right now?

Friday, August 24, 2018

2018-2019 Week 2: A Good Week

Mommy and  Rebekah

I have come to accept that Mondays will simply be crazy days in our homeschool. My husband is off on Mondays so it tends to be a day with doctors appointments. Jason had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon and came away with cortisone shots in his shoulder and knee. Mason had to get blood drawn and a urinalysis for his fast approaching surgery. Then there was errand running to the post office, UPS store, and pharmacy. We discovered a monarch caterpillar making a chrysalis outside. He had gorgeous yellow, black, and white stripes. We plan to transfer it to our butterfly habitat after the chrysalis has hardened for a few days. A large part of the day there was homeschooling to do. Today lessons included:
  • 8 math lessons (3 on CTC Math, 5 taught by me)
  • 4 reading lessons using 3 levels of All About Reading
  • 2 Physical Science lessons for the middle schoolers
  • Group science for the 5 elementary ages
  • Latin with the senior
  • The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts lessons (each has a host of parts on any one day that may include grammar, punctuation, spelling, dictation, writing, reading, art, geography, poetry memorization) for the oldest 4 children
  • Scissors practice for the Kindergartener
  • Handwriting practice for 3 students
  • Group history lessons for 7 students
  • Art History for the senior
  • Literature for 5 kids
  • Piano practice for 6 kids on their own level, from very beginner on up
 I absolutely love it. Being here when someone struggles and conquers a concept, listening as they share insights, learning together, diving into interests, disagreeing over things, finding ways to work that fit the child - it is all good. A simple example, this evening my senior came to me and let me know the math we have started with is not what she needs for her goal of improving her ACT Math score. She wasn't sure what she needed, just that where we placed her in CTC Math isn't it. I had been working on a plan so we dive into focused ACT math practice tomorrow, finding the types of problems she needs to work on and then pulling from past ACT tests, Khan Academy, and CTC Math for that practice. 

Makayla doing Chemistry
We ended our evening with Family Home Evening. Tonight was a discussion of the sons of the people of Ammon, who defended their families during some of the Nephite and Lamanite wars recorded in the Book of Mormon. We sang, read scriptures, talked, and then had ice cream. After ice cream we brainstormed activity ideas for future family home evenings, because we like a mix of lesson and activities. We were able to get input from everyone and now have a list of ideas ranging from going on a picnic to baking treats and delivering them to friends' families, to attending a local high school play, having a fire and smores in the back yard, and learning to play badminton with a set a neighbor gave us. 
Daniel doing math

Tuesday it rained off and on. The highlight of the school day for several of the kids is the fact that we are currently in  Ancient  Egypt in our history study and we recently went to see actual Egyptian  artifacts (including a mummy and sarcophagus, pottery shards, things with hieroglyphics, and a replica Rosetta Stone). Yesterday history included tasting fruits of Egypt while learning about life for the commoners and drawing maps of the Nile and surrounding places. Today we talked about things like grinding grain, a shaduf, hieroglyphics, and the Rosetta Stone. Some of the kids wrote their names in hieroglyphics, while others translated hieroglyphics into English.

Samuel practicing reading
Tuesday evening the kids asked me to print out the instructions for Hero Kids. It's a role playing game for kids similar to Dungeons and Dragons. I've had the files for a long time now and  just never had a group of kids interested in trying it. I'm going to read over the manual and then try setting it up for the kids. After a practice adventure or two I'll turn over the running of it all to them.
Tobias enjoying some puzzles

Wednesday the clouds were fluffy and the temperatures were a cool 72 F. Early morning seminary started back up for Makayla. This is a 6am scripture study class with other high school teens from church that happens Monday through Friday for the entire school year. The early start time means she is up at 5am to get breakfast, get dressed, and get out the door to drive to class. She gets home around 7:10am. We plowed through school work in the morning and headed into the backyard in the afternoon. In the evening most of the boys and I did our first Hero Kids game before the oldest three kids headed to youth group. I didn't take any more notes on our day than that.
Joseph reading physical science
Caleb doing math

Thursday was the last big work day. Remember, everyone was trying to have a light workload for Friday because of Homeschool Book Club, so they loaded extra on the other days of the week. We plodded through Thursday. I really felt like I was going to be working with children forever. It is easy to bounce between helping several children at the same time around the table when they are closer in age, but when you toss Makayla's upper level courses and Joseph and Emma's middle school work it gets harder. My brain feels stretched thin by the end of it. I decided that I wanted to free up some Saturday time so I sat at the computer and placed a grocery pick up order with Wal Mart to get Friday evening after our Veggie CSA pick up.
Mason reading aloud to me

Friday I was up around 5am, visited with Makayla for a few minutes, then Rebekah woke up at 5:30am (typical for her) so I went back up to my dark bedroom to feed her and get her back to sleep. I came down and swept floors, did my own scripture study, and waited for kids to start waking up. Most kids had just 2 subjects to do for school today: math and one other thing. We got that work done before our friends arrived for book club. This past month we read Island of the Blue Dolphins. We decided today that our next read is Wonder.
Oliver reading aloud to me

It is now early afternoon. Rebekah is up from a nap. Makayla is at work. Mason and I are doing afternoon medical care. The other kids are having some time on their Kindles (Mason is too). Then it is dinner and CSA pick up at the farmer's market and grocery pick up at Wal Mart.

Emma doing physical science reading
 I'm going to sign off here and add some pictures to this post that I've taken this week.

Happy Friday all!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Homeschool 2018-2019 Week 1: And So It Begins

Monday - Phew, I'm exhausted. The first day back is so much work for me. We could have done a slow re-entry and add in a new subject every couple of days, but Daddy was home after a morning MRI. I knew that the littlest ones had Daddy to meet their needs. I could focus on taking each child through new subjects. I was busy all day long but the kids had breaks while I helped others. It worked out in the end and by mid-afternoon we had finished 8 students and a full load of subjects.

Each child has a page listing their subjects. A number by the subject tells them how many days to do that subject each week. There are boxes for Monday through Friday. I sat down to help them assign work to each day. If they have to do handwriting 3 times they choose which days and mark those boxes with an "H". If Spelling is 4 days they'll mark it to do on 4 days and choose 1 day off of spelling. This gives them some practice planning their weeks. They can learn to spread things out evenly or to load up a few heavier days if they have a day they want lighter in work, like Fridays. I have 3 group subjects. Group 1 is history for 8th grade and under three days a week (I choose when to schedule this and everyone writes it on their own schedule). Group 2 is science for 5th grade and under twice a week. I schedule this. Group 3 is Physical Science for my 7th and 8th graders. It happens 4 days per week and I lead this but they decide what day to take off that week.

For Makayla, she is simply doing her scheduling in a planner. She has to take into account her work days. She can arrange her school work to be heavier on non-work days and lighter on work days, or not. At her new job she can be at work as early as 11am on two days of the school week. On other days she won't go in until 1pm at the earliest. This business closes at 5pm most days. She has the most flexibility and the heaviest course load. I work with her during Latin, oversee Chemistry experiments, and then help when consulted in other subjects.

Today if a child tackled a new course, book, or program I walked them through how to do it, or I taught a lesson if needed. Three kids got login information for their online math programs and I showed them where to find their work and the expectation - 30 minutes of work using a timer. I taught new math lessons to the other 5 kids. I did reading lessons with four kids - including Samuel, who is a brand new Kindergartener and super excited for his school work. There were Chemistry and Physical Science experiments to oversee. Stoichiometry equations to review in chemistry with the senior. New language arts programs for the oldest 4 kids to explore. New literature titles were chosen for a course reading challenge for several kids. Here are the books they chose:
  • My Father's Dragon series by Ruth Stiles Gannett - Oliver
  • Homer Price by Robert McCloskey - Daniel
  • The Fairy's Return by Gail Carson Levine - Emma
  • The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron - Joseph
  • Hue and Cry by Elizabeth Yates - Makayla
Once all the school work was done we relaxed for a bit. Then Jason and I told the kids to get ready because it was time for Family Home Evening. The theme was For the Beauty of the Earth. We picked up some pizzas and headed to Dawes Arboretum. Dinner in the shelter house was followed by a hike in the woods on the Story Trail. Wheelchairs don't off-road well, but we took our time and enjoyed discovering things in nature. We did some cloud watching, saw fungi, butterflies, and so many trees, plants, and wildflowers. Next up was a visit to the swamp. Finally we drove the auto tour path to the tower, climbed the tower, and saw the hedge letters, and finished our auto tour through the park. 

Tuesday most of the kids fell right back into school routines. We don't have a specific wake up time this week. Kids can sleep until whenever. Most were up by 7:30am. They ate breakfast, got dressed, and started working through school subjects. They took breaks when they needed it or when they were waiting for me to finish working with another child. It was much smoother than Monday! Makayla headed to work at 11am, having planned a lighter course load for the day and completed it. My last lessons were a science experiment with the K-5th grade crowd and then All About Reading and Handwriting Without Tears with Samuel. He's so stinking enthusiastic about doing school that it makes me laugh. I was done at 2:15pm. Half of dinner was put in the crockpot . . . by my 5 year old Samuel. Yes, he volunteered. Meatballs and spaghetti made for an easy dinner.

Wednesday I started to see a few things that need adjusted.

Makayla asked for a more specific schedule for her high school language arts from the Good and the Beautiful. I found one online and printed it, but told her I'll tweak it this weekend and have an updated one for her next week. The mom who shared hers has scheduled a few things differently than we want it done, but it is great to have a jumping off point.

Joseph and Emma had chosen the shorter Elementary Geometry course in the middle school section of CTC Math to start with but neither liked it. I haven't previewed the lessons for that one yet so I can't jump right in to teach it a different way to see if it clicks. Emma decided to try the Elementary Measurement course today, which starts with circles, degrees, and converting degrees of a circle to fractions. Joseph decided to try the PreAlgebra course today. We will see where each of them settles in. Our entire goal this year is to solidify math skills up through PreAlgebra, so we have some flexibility.

I'm seeing personalities emerge in how kids work at their current ages. Caleb (age 7, grade 2) escapes upstairs to play after every single subject and doesn't do any school unless I require him to begin. Not surprising to me at all. He needs a lot of movement and likes to run laps around the inside of the house before he sits down to work. Daniel (age 9, grade 5) plows through several subjects before taking a break and talks a lot. A whole lot. He pretty much never stops and is a big source of distraction for some of the kids. Mason (age 6, grade 1) and Samuel (age 5, grade K) do school cheerfully when I call them and play in-between. Oliver (age 9, grade 4) likes to do his work right after breakfast, the sooner the better. Joseph (age 13, grade 8) paces his work out evenly with breaks. Emma (age 12, grade 7) is slower to begin but then doesn't want to take a break until everything is done. Makayla (age 17, grade 12) will work anywhere except the table. The couch, the floor in her bedroom, her bed - just don't ask her to come to the table. She sat at the table only once that I noticed this week - and only because she needed my help on chemistry.

As for me (age 37, grade Neverending) I'm just going non-stop. Today I went from language arts with a middle schooler to listening to a beginning reader to helping someone with math to my favorite part of Latin with Makayla (translating passages of a story that is ongoing through her course and almost always involves someone killing, dying, or getting injured - those bloodthirsty Romans!). While we were laughing and translating Samuel and Tobias were cooking and serving us toy food from the play kitchen and Rebekah was babbling at our feet. Then I was holding Rebekah and teaching history. I was doing math with Mason while overseeing Samuel and Tobias doing patterning with bear counters (aka. playing with math concepts). Handwriting and sentence dictation and spelling were all mixed together. After Makayla headed to work I got Rebekah down for a nap, made lunch, and listened to more of The Island of the Blue Dolphins with the rest of the kids. I'm typing notes for this post during the hour and a half afternoon medical care I do with Mason every day. The only school left to do is All About Reading with Samuel, a 10 minute activity that he'll happily do when I call for him. Chore time will happen around 2:30 this afternoon and between kids and I we'll knock out everything in about 25 minutes. I think for now I'm just going to close this computer and play chess with Mason while we wait through his care. He asked me to teach him chess over the weekend and we've played twice since then, in between other kids taking a turn with our chess set. Doesn't every 6 year old want to learn chess?

Thursday was smooth sailing. I keep waiting for the meltdown. I know that at some point it will sink in for various children that we've got school almost every week for the next nine months. Then there will be pushback and grumping and tears while they come to terms with life. It happens with at least one child every year. My job when that happens is to just hold steady, love on them extra, and remind them that we're in this together. We get to learn about things they love and are curious about, and we also get to learn those basic foundational subjects like math and writing because we'll use them for the rest of our lives.

Mason had his last day of physical therapy for a while. He's taking a break for surgery and we don't know how long after surgery the doctors will have him wait before picking it back up. There will be some changes when he does start back to PT.

Friday was interesting to watch unfold. Some of the kids had the foresight to schedule heavier days earlier into their week so they had a lighter school load today. Others had a heavier workload today. A few had an average workload. Kids finished at various times. They were all  happy to have survived the first week back. I asked several of them what they liked and what they aren't sure about liking yet and got some interesting responses.

One last thing we did today - we finished listening to Island of the Blue Dolphins. It was a great book with lots of things to make us think. We had some interesting conversations about what it would be like being alone on an island for years.

I have a full list of work that I need to do before I can call my week finished. I have today's papers to check, a language arts schedule to create for Makayla, some pre-reading to do, food to gather for a history lesson next week, science experiments to pre-read (supplies are already gathered), and papers to file from this week. I also have a primary lesson to finish preparing so I can substitute teach in Oliver's church class on Sunday, and papers for my Cub Scout Den Leaders to prepare for our planning meeting. Right now it is Saturday morning so next up is grocery shopping and a library trip. Next week I will try to get some pictures during homeschool, but really, unless I magically grow a third arm, it isn't very likely to happen.

How was your first week back to school? Do you have any questions for me about homeschooling a large family? Leave a comment!

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Week Before Homeschool Starts Back Up

Next Monday we begin our new homeschool year. It's bittersweet. I have a senior this year but at the same time I'm enjoying the glorious firsts with a 6 month old baby, with every age in between. Here is how this last week of summer break went:

Monday I spent some time preparing for the return of Cub Scouts. For those new to my blog I'm a Cubmaster for the pack chartered by our local church congregation and our pack meets from September - May. I also spent time looking at the actual lessons for each child for next week in homeschool, prereading them and reminding myself of what we will be studying. I made sure folders and files were cleaned out and ready to go.

I started the book A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley on Sunday and continued reading it today. It's interesting! The book is about learning and brain science, applied in many ways to learning math and science. It is aimed at a high school and adult audience. She has an extremely popular online course at Coursera, a Ted talk, and more. This week her book Learning How to Learn releases. This covers the same general material as A Mind for Numbers but is aimed at middle and high school ages. My copy of this new book arrived Monday evening. I plan to read it after A Mind for Numbers and then will assign one or the other of the books to Makayla, Joseph, and Emma this year to read.

Monday afternoon we had a water balloon and squirt gun battle in the back yard as a family. It was the perfect way to get outside in the 90F heat for a bit.

Tuesday started early when Rebekah decided 5:30am was morning. I don't mind, I'm an early bird by nature, but it did feel a bit unfair when she then drifted off for her first nap at 8:30am while my day was running at full throttle. The kids did chores in the morning and at snack time we listening to more of Island of the Blue Dolphins while I baked 48 muffins for lunch. Makayla had her first day at a new job today. We also had our piano teacher in for lessons.

By late Tuesday afternoon I was feeling sick. It got worse all evening and continued Wednesday. If I moved I felt like I was going to throw up. My stomach hurt. I had chills and just wanted to crawl in a dark hole and not move. Of course mom life isn't very conducive to that option, especially when the oldest teen is working. The other big and middle kids pitched in to help and I did the bare minimum of movement. By Wednesday evening I could eat and move more, though the nausea was still present. We had fun planned for Thursday so I needed to get better quickly!

Thursday Grandma came over in the morning. She and I took the kids to COSI, a science center an hour away. COSI was celebrating Farm Days with booths, tractors, and giant farm equipment for kids to explore and climb in. It is truly amazing for my non-farming family to see up close these machines that have 6 or more steps/ladders to climb up to get in the cab. With Mason that meant Mommy climbed up too! There was a milk cow and a calf with their farmer and the kids got to pet them and ask questions of the farmer. We learned some neat things from him! After our time outside we went in the science center to visit some exhibits, including our three favorites: an Ancient Egypt exhibit with a real mummy and sarcophagus on display (on loan from the Brooklyn Museum), the ocean area (we like the Poseidon themed half, but the other half is neat with a submarine theme as well) and the Dinosaur Gallery (created by the American Museum of Natural History for COSI).

Also on Thursday we learned that my grandfather's health is declining. He had been in the hospital recently and was home just a short few days before things started getting worse. He is back in the hospital now with two hemorrhages in his brain. We are praying for him and waiting to see what happens next.

It is Friday morning right now and my kids have been watching our friendly window spider eat. We have a large spider with an even larger web outside our living room window. He's been there for a couple weeks and we've watched him weave and repair his web regularly. This morning we found our spider in the middle of his web on our side. We can see the beautiful patterns on his back and legs now and have been watching him work on his breakfast. The kids are enthralled.

I'm planning on finishing my summer reading of the Book of Mormon today. Originally my end date was September 3rd, but when we moved our school start date up to August I also moved up my reading schedule. I am still working my way through the New Testament at a slower pace too. I love reading the scriptures and peace I feel. I learn so much about God and his love for us, as well as how everyday people walked out their faith throughout history.

Happy End of Summer Break everyone! It's back to the books for us next week.