Friday, November 9, 2018

2018-2019 Homeschool Week 13

Another week has flown past! Sunday we celebrated November family birthdays. Monday we had 7 dental appointments, ran errands, and were on the go most of the day.

Tuesday Tobias turned 3 years old. He's such a sweet, spunky, fun little man. He talks more than Samuel did at this age but has a long way to go still. He likes dinosaurs, Paw Patrol, and PJ Masks. He giggles, runs, hides, and chases. He is a pretty non-picky eater and will try almost everything. He loves salsa and hummus and anything you can dip in those.

Rebekah turned 9 months old on the same day. Her second  tooth came in this week. She cruises the furniture all the time and will let go and stand there for a few seconds before grabbing on again. She is generally happy and has favorites among her siblings depending on the day.

School on Tuesday was an exercise in patience. It felt like dragging certain children through the morning. I can tell it is time for a solid break soon. We are going to take the week of Thanksgiving off, which leaves us this week and next to get through.

Wednesday was a much smoother day. People trekked right through their work in a cheery mood. There was reading and history and math and all the usual subjects with no grumps. The evening had our usual church youth activities and Cub Scouts.

Thursday one grump surfaced. It is just a fact of life in a large family - there are so many personalities and so many feelings swirling around. Rarely will we go through an entire day without someone being out of sorts for a bit, and that is okay.

My husband and I had a budget update meeting together in the evening. It isn't the most exciting thing to do together but I love that we stay on the same page with our money.

Related to that, we also got my husband's official surgery dates. Yes, plural. He will be having knee surgery January 2nd and shoulder surgery January 30th. The surgeon expects him to be off work for 4 months. For one-third of the year we will have no income. That is a very overwhelming idea for a family of 12. It isn't the best news in the world, but we are doing all we can to prepare for this adventure. For most of that 4 months he won't be able to lift the little kids, including all the lifting we do multiple times a day with Mason. It limits a lot of things, like me taking a short term job while he is off work, because he won't be able to take care of the kids. We are looking on the bright side and plan to enjoy the extra family time this winter with Daddy home!

It is Friday afternoon as I type this. One child is practicing piano, three are playing Legos, two are drawing, one is at work, one is cruising the furniture, and two are discussing a favorite show. Dinner is in the crock pot and it is time to hit publish on this post. I'm going to turn on some Christmas music and gather some helpers to put away the laundry.

Happy November everyone!

Friday, November 2, 2018

2018-2019 Homeschool Weeks 10, 11, 12

Three weeks have passed since I last checked in here and it is all a bit of a blur. We started with a trip to the Ohio Renaissance Festival. It is always a fun adventure with lots of people in costume, a live joust, acrobatics, sword fighting shows, a village, shops, and games. The kids all had spending money and came home with a variety of items from handmade leather notebooks to wooden swords and shields. We have had a host of bruises, bumps, and bandages since!

The blur comes because in 3 weeks we managed to have TWENTY doctors appointments. We have at least seven more appointments next week.

We did all our school work, the house was relatively tidy, and everyone was fed each day. It is hard to imagine but we are done with 3 months of school work already. We have had a few adjustments here and there, but overall we are still using the curriculum we started the year with. I absolutely love The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts and History. From my perspective the Language Arts is much more streamlined in hitting all the different things we want without hopping between different curricula for writing, literature, grammar, etc. The History is a great mix of reading, audio stories, notebooking, activities, and research. I like that there are extensions for different grade levels in the notebooks to take things deeper but that we can still have a group lesson for topics. We have also learned a few interesting things, like the fact that Makayla does much better with Trigonometry than she did with Algebra 2, that Emma loves writing and hates writing assignments, and that noise cancelling headphones like you would wear at a gun range are a great tool for Daniel when it's time for school.

The biggest event in  the last three weeks for us was that Joseph passed his baked egg food challenge at the allergist. After 13 years of a total egg ban in our home we are now introducing eggs into our family's diet in a limited way. Joseph and Mason both have passed the baked egg challenge so they need to eat something with eggs in it at least 3 days per week for the next 6 months. Baked egg means some foods are still restricted: eggs cooked on the stove top like scrambled eggs, omlets, French toast, pancakes, waffles, ranch dressing, mayonnaise, fresh pasta, etc. Most everything else is fair game. So far we have tried doughnuts, meatloaf, snickers and milky way candy bars, corn dogs, and Hawaiian rolls. Cookies is next. In six months Joseph and Mason will each be eligible to try a soft cooked egg food challenge at the allergist's office.

I panic every time we eat something new, checking frequently that each child is not having a reaction over the 3 hours following consumption. I think after everyone has eaten a food item once and survived I won't worry about that food item the next time. It is going to take a while to get there.

Happy November everyone!

Friday, October 12, 2018

2018-2019 Homeschool Week 9: Still Sick, Plodding Along

We had a wonderful General Conference weekend as a family, watching each session, taking notes, feeling the spirit, and having our testimonies strengthened. I have twenty four pages of notes with things I heard and inspiration I received as I listened to God's prophet and apostles teach and share truth. Now our family will study these messages alongside the scriptures for the next 6 months until the next conference!

The rest of this week has been a blur. We still have sickness wandering through the ranks, coughing, fevers, runny noses. We have simply slowed down and focused on essentials. We are doing 4 day school weeks for the next 5 weeks. The reason is simple - we have more than 30 medical appointments scheduled between the 12 of us in those 5 weeks. Those are eye checkups, dental cleanings, allergy appointments, orthodontist, post-surgery checks for Mason, and other specialists. Every Monday has at least five appointments. We will take a week break somewhere in there because we have already finished 9 weeks of school without a break.

The kids did just fine on their school work this week. Every day was the usual round of lessons, reading, and learning. We finished listening to Wonder and watched the movie as a family because our book club day keeps getting pushed back due to illness. It was a good book and we enjoyed the movie too. Mason's only complaint was that the movie left out a few parts from the book. On Friday after school was finished most of the kids spent 2 hours drawing together. We have a membership to Art for Kids Hub thanks to a grandma. While you can see most of their art tutorial videos on their YouTube channel, the membership keeps the videos in a safe website with no ads and no way to click into the seamy side of YouTube. It also includes printable coloring pages and drawing tutorials. I will link to the tutorials the kids did today on YouTube. Please don't let kids use YouTube without direct adult supervision!
They really liked the folding surprise ones. Basically, you fold the paper so that you can make a drawing with the paper folded and when you pull it open all the way the drawing has more hiding inside the fold. 

As much as I would love to write more, I have a baby to snuggle and a toddler to wrestle into using a tissue for his runny nose. Got to go!

Friday, October 5, 2018

2018-2019 Homeschool Week 8

Monday one child had a meltdown (not even over school work) that lasted over an hour. It is just a fact of life in a large family that not everyone is going to be in a good mood every day. Despite that, school work went on cheerfully for most everyone. Daddy taught or guided some lessons for the younger boys, while Mommy guided the rest. In the afternoon I had an endocrinology appointment.

Our Family Home Evening was called General Conference Guesses. Basically, I created a single page printable with questions and we talked about how we would answer those questions from last April's General Conference. Then we turned everyone loose to make their guesses for the General Conference happening this weekend. Everyone will be watching all the sessions of conference to see if any of their predictions were correct. Here are the questions, in case anyone is curious:
  • What color robes will the choir wear?
  • What songs will be sung?
  • How many talks will there be in the entire conference?
  • Will they announce new temples? If so, where?
  • What topics will be spoken about?
  • What will be some themes repeated across several talks?
  • What news or changes will be announced?
  • What people from the scriptures will be mentioned?
  • What scripture stories will be told?
  • What scriptures will be quoted or mentioned?
Tuesday kicked off with Tobias wandering downstairs in the morning with dried throw up on his cheek and shirt. Upon investigation it was also on his pillow, sheet, and blanket. Apparently he didn't care or didn't notice that he'd thrown up in the middle of the night. Ick. I spent the morning doing extra laundry and he spent the day laying on the couch watching cartoons. He also took a 4 hour nap.

Around that regular life went forward. We elected to cancel piano lessons to keep germs to ourselves and proceeded with a relaxed morning of learning. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that I have intimate knowledge of each child's learning journey. I know what they are enthusiastic or curious about. I know where they struggle or when we need to approach something in a new way. I get to see the big and little moments.

Wednesday Tobias's fever had broken (yay) and two children were coughing and one had a sore throat. Apparently everyone is going to get in on these germs this week. We listened to Wonder (last week we decided to wait to finish once we realized illness was pushing book club back a couple weeks). There was a chemistry experiment with Makayla, fun reading lessons with younger kids, math, writing, and more. History today was about William the Conqueror. We learned about him and then compared his rule to the rule of King Alfred the Great.

Thursday it was almost comical. The prior day's sick kids were still sick and another one joined for sure and a second was a maybe (slowing down and laying around by mid-day, but no fever yet.) I'm trying to keep track, and so far the only ones who have not had at least a fever are Joseph, Mason, and Rebekah. We did a morning of school, listened to Wonder at lunch, and a bit more school in the afternoon. I also put a call in to the surgeon's office because one of Mason's incisions is looking pink and angry with some discharge. For now we are monitoring it and watching for any stitches to come to the surface. I've been instructed to pull any stitches that do.

Friday is here. School work was completed, mostly. We just didn't get to history today. Everyone has been fed. Looking back over the week it has been exhausting with the sickness trickling through. I've not gotten enough sleep because naps have happened at weird times for a few little ones and then they are up until nearly midnight. I'm not a night owl so it's rough. Rebekah has also been waking up some time between 3:30am and 4:30am every day. By the time I get her back to sleep it is nearly time for me to get moving for the day. This is just real life as a mom of many. If it isn't illness messing up sleep schedules or babies with their own unusual waking habits then it is teens who get home late and then are ready to talk to mom and dad. I'm blessed, thoroughly, wonderfully, exhaustingly blessed! 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

2018-2019 Homeschool Week 7

Can we just cancel Mondays? I feel like I'm always running behind on Mondays with multiple kids asking for help with new lessons at the same time. Then there is hubby needing time to do his own school work, so I'm running interference to get kids to stop talking to daddy (we don't have a room he can go to with desk/table space other than right where everyone is already homeschooling). Add in appointments like today's bloodwork (me) and surgeon appointment (daddy). We learned that Daddy needs surgery on his shoulder and may have to take a full 3 months off work after surgery due to lifting restrictions. Rebekah also started climbing stairs and cruising furniture. It just feels crazy.

We did get all our school work done, as usual. We are still listening to Wonder and will finish it just before Book Club on Friday.

Tuesday was the day of phone calls to doctors checking on test results, reordering prescriptions, setting appointments, and getting information. School work happened. Brainstorming budget ideas for taking 3 months off work happened. I cooked some yummy pork fajitas for dinner. By evening Caleb was laying around with a fever and saying his head hurt. It's never good in a large family when someone gets sick. Just waiting to see how many this takes down.

Wednesday it was still just Caleb feeling sick. We took the day off of school to celebrate Mason getting his cast off (and to facilitate the 3 hours during the morning that I was gone with Mason to get that done). He now has a knee immobilizer (basically a Velcro cast) that we will use for a while, decreasing as healing continues. He was so happy to be able to take a bath today! One child DID do some school today because he is in the middle of a project and wanted to work on it.

Thursday was back to the usual learning routines. Kids juggled their Thursday and Friday schedule to even things out. Caleb's fever was gone but more kids started them. We cancelled Book Club for Friday so we don't share whatever mild germs are working their way through our house. Grandma (my mom, the kids call her Gwa) came over just before lunch and visited for a couple of hours.  It was so nice! Some weeks I miss adult conversation and having it randomly one afternoon was wonderful.

Friday's highlight was a date in the early evening for dessert with my husband. It was so nice to get dressed up and go out together without kids. I don't even have any other notes for Friday beyond more kids having fevers and laying around in blankets.

Saturday was grocery shopping and laundry and homeschool prep and an afternoon nap and family movie night. We popped popcorn and watched A Wrinkle in Time because it has made it onto Netflix. It was good and weird. It is Saturday evening and time to hit publish on this post so I can get kids to bed.

Friday, September 21, 2018

2018-2019 Week 6: Routine and Cast Problems

I left off last Thursday with the fact that Daddy was homeschooling most of the kids on Friday while Makayla and I were going on a college visit. Friday went well, everyone learned a lot and had a good day. The college visit was great, we got some questions answered, had a lot of information given to us, and it made it seem a little bit more real that my first baby is almost finished with her homeschool journey (sob).The weekend was quiet and home based - just the kind of weekend I love.

Monday Daddy's college semester began and the kids and I got busy on another homeschool week. We started our study of the Middle Ages with an overview of the Ancient Britons, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and some of the mythology of King Arthur. We looked at maps and enjoyed the stories.

I am seeing definite patterns emerge in the scheduling styles of my children. Each week I have a few kids in each of the following groups:
  • Spreading all work evenly over the week, not overloading or making light any days.
  • Concentrating their work in mainly over the first 4 days of the week, leaving a much lighter Friday. One child takes this to the extreme, with all possible subjects done every single day until the last two days of the week, where Thursday becomes lighter and Friday has even less. 
  • Keeping Monday's workload light, to start off their week a bit slower.
I love that they can take responsibility for this. It makes for great life lessons as their week unfolds. 

Other Monday things: Dinner was chili and cornbread. It rained all day long and just felt like a good  soup day. After dinner was cleaned up we had Family Home Evening. For the family business portion of the evening everyone shared their ideas for food and snacks for General Conference weekend. I wrote it all down and we will refer to it the grocery shopping trip before conference weekend. After that we played Pictionary with a set of cards I bought a while ago from Chicken Scratch and Sniff. It has great themed cards like temple, prophet, Bible, King Benjamin, Joseph Smith, Jonah, and prayer.

Tuesday morning was filled with reading lessons, language arts, science, Latin, and math. There were many children to teach, help, and listen to. By lunch prep time I was ready for some quiet. I banished everyone from the kitchen while I made lunch and ate a pumpkin chocolate mug cake. For total transparency, I doubled the recipe for the mug cake and used a bowl. It was my lunch and totally worth every bite. I didn't share with my kids either. During lunch and again later in the day we listened to Wonder, our book club read aloud.

The rest of Tuesday involved emailing a college about how they prefer to receive homeschool transcripts (and if they have any other specific things they require for homeschoolers beyond that), sitting on the phone on hold with a medical supplier for way too long, and piano lessons. Daddy got home an hour after dinner time (remember, he is up at 2:15am and out the door for work by 3am) and basically sat down at his computer the rest of the evening because the new semester has started and he's doing college 1 or 2 classes at a time. It feels like it will take forever (he's been doing classes for 3 years I think) and I'm not a huge fan of being a single parent during the school semesters but you do what you have to do, right? This semester is an accounting class (last semester was too). I sat down with several of the kids to watch part of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Wednesday rolled out with a tired momma. Rebekah was awake more than once last night so my sleep was less than stellar. We did school and I just took a deep breath whenever I got frustrated with something and plastered a smile on my face, reminded my kids they are great at learning and that mommy was tired but loves learning with them.

History was a really fun lesson today on the spread of Christianity into Ireland and Saint Patrick. My little boys, who don't always choose to listen to our history stories, loved that pirates were involved in the story. My other kids (and I) loved listening to the story told with a beautiful Irish accent. We had an interesting discussion afterward. A few things we touched on:
  • God speaking to people in dreams. We brainstormed examples from the scriptures. This tied in well with Joseph, son of Jacob/Israel, who also had dreams and was sold into slavery like Patrick.
  • Sharing Jesus and the gospel message with others. Again, we came up with a list of examples, ranging from Ammon in the Book of Mormon and the Apostle Paul in the New Testament to daddy, who served a 2 year mission to Nevada. 
  • The reality of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as separate individuals, united in purpose. This meant explaining what 'trinity' means to some Christians (as referenced in the story) and discussing why we believe differently. We also reinforced our recurring discussion that when people don't agree on something or believe differently we still love them and are friends because we are all children of God and that matters most. We can disagree without being disagreeable. 
In the later afternoon I finished watching Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom with some of the kids. We got to watch some of the bonus features as well and it was fascinating to see the way they put robotics and puppetry together in the scenes for some of the actor work with dinosaurs. In the evening was youth group, Boy Scouts, and Cub Scouts. Fun and tiring all in one.

Thursday felt super relaxed at first. The learning unfolded one lesson at a time. Kids got along all morning. I didn't feel like we were in a hurry to finish something. Kids wrote poetry, created watercolor pictures, made maps, and generally just enjoyed their school work. Then Mason's toes started swelling on the leg that is in a cast. A lot. We ended up making the hour drive to the surgeon's office so they could bivalve his cast (cut it from top to bottom on both sides, loosen, and then tape at the bigger size). We go back again next week to get the cast removed and see what things look like and decide what to do next (another cast for a short time or a knee immobilizer).

On Thursday we also made reservations with an Airbnb place for a family trip next summer for 14 of us (grandma and grandpa are coming with us). We're going to Palmyra, NY to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant. It's amazing. I went as a teen with my own family and we went many years ago when Makayla was a tiny tot. The Pageant focuses on sharing stories from The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. It is on a 10 level stage with more than 650 costumed actors. There are also historical sites in the area from our own church history to visit, and a beautiful temple. It is going to be a lot of fun!

Friday afternoon is here already. There have been science experiments, Latin parsing, math problems, reading lessons, and more listening to Wonder. Our routine has carried us through the day smoothly and we have just completed our first 6 weeks of school. Last year we did a 6 weeks on and 1 week off schedule. Right now nobody seems in need of an extended break yet so we'll just keep plugging along. I know in winter we are likely to need more breaks for illness because large families can take a month or more to get through one cold being passed around the family.

I suppose that's enough typing for now. I'm off to enjoy some family time!

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!