Monday, July 2, 2018

Notes for the End of June

Emma finished this manga version of Doctor Strange this week.
It has been a normal, quiet week at my house. There really hasn't been anything out of the ordinary for a summer week. I don't even remember what we did on Monday other than a trip to mail out items that sold on Ebay and Makayla going to work. It was just an ordinary day.

On Tuesday I had a Happy Homeschool Mom Moment - the last of our homeschool materials arrived! I pre-ordered The Good and the Beautiful High School 1 Language Arts on May 1st and today opened up a lovely box of goodness. Makayla is a senior and I'm finding it an interesting year to plan because we can focus on priorities and do things in the way that makes sense for her as an individual. I also decided what the base of her government and economics course will be. She's going to use two video series from Crash Course on YouTube:
  1. U.S. Government and Politics (50 videos)
  2. Intro to Economics (35 videos)
Homemade bread and playdough

Wednesday I got up and got productive. Makayla requested I bake homemade bread the night before, so I made it early before she headed to work. While the bread dough took time to rise I made three batches of playdoh for the younger kids. Kids did chores and played Pokémon. We listened to our current homeschool book club title, Swallows and Amazons, during snack time. The oldest 3 had youth activities Wednesday evening.

One day I snapped pictures while we were listening to
Swallows and Amazons. Kids were coloring or drawing.
Thursday arrived with sunshine and heat and another day of work for Makayla. Toys R Us closes this week so she'll be finished there and looking for another job. Mason and I headed to physical therapy as usual. It is an activity that he enjoys, even though it is hard work. His current PT is amazing at working with us to challenge Mason, explore possibilities, find his limits neurologically, and keep everything fun at the same time. She's also really open to my suggestions or to brainstorming with me to find solutions or to find the right questions.

Thursday I spent a chunk of time on homeschool prep and planning. I do a lot during the summer to get things ready for a smooth school year. One part of that is going through each child's course of study and pre-reading books, making notes on things, getting materials organized, and working out just what their day to day work will be. Some examples of that:

  • I need to pre-read the books that came with Makayla's The Good and the Beautiful course so that I am familiar with them. The books are: Just David by Eleanor H. Porter, Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington, The Story of John Greenleaf Whittier by Francis E. Cooke, Into the Unknown by Matthew A. Henson, Jacob Bull, and Bernadine Bailey, and Patterns on the Wall by Elizabeth Yates.
  • I make notes on things I am still sorting out, like creating a daily checklist for each child or deciding how to handle the cards for All About Reading and All About Spelling for multiple children in multiple levels. 
  • I get materials organized such as filling pencil bags with fresh pencils and erasers, getting books into each child's bin, and organizing our art bins.
  • I work out the day to day plans by deciding how often per week each subject or curriculum needs done for each child and sort that into how many weeks we will school. Some things I've used before so I already know what we'll do each week, but other materials are new to me so I'm starting from scratch. 
  • This leads to needing to decide when we will start our school year, finish our school year, what breaks we will take/how many days we have available to take off during our school year, and so on. I originally was planning to begin the first week of September but now I know Mason will be having surgery in September so once that is scheduled I will decide if we're going to start a bit earlier in August instead. 

Each child's books will be in a bin this year.

Friday morning between kids and chores I would pull out a child's bin of school books for next year and start reading through and making notes of things they will need (like tracing paper for Daniel). I'm also trying to get a feel for what their day to day and weekly schedules will be. A perk of homeschooling is the flexibility, but it also leaves me responsible for planning everything and making the decisions.

Saturday and Sunday pretty much flew by and here it is Monday afternoon. This morning I mailed 8 packages out (curriculum sales on Ebay), went grocery shopping, oversaw the kids making glitter slime, and now I've sent my husband off with the six oldest kids to see Jurassic World 2 at the movies while I hang out with the youngest four children. We are going to play ball in the house and do some art (aka. make a big mess with paint or glue).

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Homeschool Books for Sale and More

Yesterday I was able to sell some items we are finished with or not planning to use at a local homeschool curriculum sale. Today I listed the items I had left after the sale on Ebay.
Want to see what I have for sale? Come on over to my Ebay listings to shop! Just click here to see everything.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Two Quick and Eventful Weeks

Another two weeks have flown past. We have had the usual family of 12 life. Play, cleaning, chores, work and college for daddy, work for Makayla, church, and even a family trip to see Incredibles 2(minus Rebekah and Tobias, who hung out with Grandma instead).

 Last week Daniel and Oliver had Cub Scout Day Camp each day and I got to participate for two of the days. It was rainy some days and hot the others. This week Joseph is away at Raise the Bar Scout Camp. Today Makayla left for Youth Conference in Kirtland.

Tonight I have a curriculum sale I'm participating in with my sister  at the local homeschool group of approximately 120 families. I have two crates of materials we're ready to move out of our house, hopefully they will find new homes tonight.

We have had the police visit our home three times in the last two weeks as well. We've had mail stolen twice - and once the thief tried to alter and cash in a check for a bill we were trying to mail - but we had put a stop payment on it and the bank got lots of information and evidence to us that we had to pass along to the police.

Mason had a surgery consultation with one of his specialists. His right leg bone is growing unevenly (at an angle). He needs a tendon release around his knee and then hemi-epiphysiodesis surgery. A figure 8 shaped metal plate and screws will be placed over the growth plate of the bone to restrict growth on one side so the other side can grow and catch up to the restricted side, straightening out the leg bone. That will take a few months to a year. Then that figure 8 plate and screws will be removed in a second surgery. These will be surgeries #21 and #22 for Mason. We are hoping to schedule his first surgery in September, after summer fun.

 It has been a busy two weeks. I'll be glad when everyone is home again and we can catch our breath.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Summer, Our Anniversary, and Homeschool Plans for Next Year

Large family life doesn't always lend itself well to regular blogging! I know some of that is having a baby in the house again. Sweet Rebekah Joy is 4 months old already. She is rolling from her back to her belly, has great head stability, likes grabbing things and chewing on them, and is a cheerful girl most of the time.

I took a few minutes to get current pictures of my children and my husband and I and made it into a new header for the blog. Did you notice? Here is a smaller version:

Today my husband and I celebrate 18 years of marriage!

We finished up our homeschool year, had our portfolios reviewed by a certified teacher, and enjoyed some break time. We've been to the science center twice to enjoy the exhibits, especially the dinosaur exhibit. We enjoyed the zoo twice to see different animals (it's a big zoo). Grandma from Utah flew in to visit for a week and took everyone to ride some amusement park/carnival rides one day. We went bowling with friends. Cub scouts finished up for the school year and we're on break for the summer. My Cubs got a number of awards, but Daniel had an especially big day. Daniel received both his Webelos badge and his Arrow of Light. Oliver and Daniel head to Cub Scout day camp soon for a week of fun. Makayla has been working a lot, saving up money, and enjoying the last few days of being 16. She'll be 17 in just two days. The three oldest kids have also been doing projects to earn money for summer camp or scout camp.

In the homeschool zone:

Most of our homeschool plans for the fall are done. The kids will be in grade 12, 8, 7, 5, 4, 2, 1, K, PreK, and tagalong baby. That lineup is a little bit crazy and a whole lot of fun. We'll have our first graduate at the end of the school year, which I find amazing. She's one of my favorite people and I love watching her grow and mature.

Here are most of the homeschool plans for the year:
  • All About Reading - younger kids will use various levels of AAR. Once a child finishes level 1 they will begin All About Spelling as well. (Oliver and Caleb will start the year with AAS, while Mason will probably begin partway through the year.) 
  • The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts - Daniel, Emma, Joseph, and Makayla will use various levels of this. (Level 4, 5, 5, and High School). Each level includes literature, punctuation, poetry, memorization, writing, grammar, spelling, geography, art. This is a new pick for us. I think it will fit well for these four kids. 
  • History 1 from The Good and the Beautiful - All kids except Makayla will use this as a family study. Another new pick for us.
  • Government and Economics - This is one area we have yet to pin down for Makayla. I am currently leaning toward AOP Lifepacs for this course. 
  • Math U See - Mason, Caleb, Oliver, and Daniel will continue with MUS. 
  • CTC Math - Emma, Joseph, and Makayla will be moving to CTC Math for a year. Joseph and Emma are doing this specifically as a gap year before doing Algebra 1 with Math U See. I think both of them could use another year to practice their pre algebra and geometry skills and develop their logic skills. CTC Math is an online program that allows me to select lessons to fit each child's strengths and weaknesses. Makayla will use CTC Math as well to focus in on her weaker math skills. 
  • Handwriting Without Tears - Mason will continue to use this for part of the school year and Samuel will begin using HWT. 
  • Apologia Physical Science - This one is for Joseph and Emma. Makayla did this course in 8th grade so all I need to do is purchase a few experiment supplies. This will be their first dive into a full textbook course and will be an interesting transition, but one I like to make in the late middle school grades.
  • Science topics - The younger kids will learn about physical science topics that coordinate with Joseph and Emma's book, in a more elementary friendly way. 
  • Latin Alive - Makayla will continue Latin. 

Summer Fun:
We set a goal to play all of our board and card games this summer. I printed out a list and when we play one it gets highlighted. We have played 24 of our games so far, out of more than 80 games.

One fun thing many of my kids have discovered this summer is Pokemon. Netflix has a number of seasons of the Pokemon cartoon, which made the kids curious about the trading card game. So with the help of a secret friend cards arrived on our doorstep and away we went. I've even learned to play!

Well, my time is up for now. I'm off to make dinner, prepare for a birthday party, and help two boys pack for Cub Scout Day Camp. Happy summer everyone! 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Breaking Radio Silence... Briefly

It's been a couple of weeks of radio silence here on the blog. I basically fell off the edge of the earth for a bit and into my crazy full life. All things are good here, just the usual busy of a large family. We had school, I had my 37th birthday, Rebekah turned 3 months old, hubby had a minor surgery, and we've been doing recovery and family fun while he is off work. We met friends for bowling, we went to the zoo with cousins and other extended family, and I braved taking 9 of the 10 kids to the science center alone while Daddy hung out at home resting with baby Rebekah as his company. Friday morning I gave haircuts to all 7 of my sons - one of these days my hair clippers will burn out, but for now they are going strong.

On the homeschool front things are winding down for the school year. It's a sweet time where we look back at what we have accomplished and forward at what comes next. I need to get each child's portfolio prepared for our evaluator and sent off. My goal is to have it ready to go in the mail June 1st.

As summer approaches I have started thinking of simple fun we can have as a family. One idea that came to mind is free and I thought other families might enjoy it as well, so I'm sharing it here. I started looking around and noticed all the board and card games in my home. We love games and have collected a lot. This week I made a list of ALL our games and printed it out. We have 83 games - not counting card games we can play with a regular deck of cards. My goal is to play every single game with the kids between now and the end of summer. As a game gets played we cross it off the list. Yesterday I played Uno Moo with some of my younger children. 82 games to go!

One other thing I'm working on is re-working our chore distribution. Each summer kids get a new chore room to be responsible for. The idea is that by the end of their time in our home they will have personally cared for each area of the home for a year, truly mastering the tasks for that area. It has worked well for several years. I am considering mixing things up a bit for the coming 6 months. We shall see!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Homeschool Notes Week 35

We started the week off on Monday with homeschool, a dentist appointment, a doctor appointment, lunch, and surprising the kids with a trip to the zoo in the afternoon for Family Home Evening. It turned out to be a bit rainy but we had fun and saw a lot of animals in the hour and a half we were there. A short list of animals we saw:
  •  sheep
  • goats
  • pigs
  • chickens
  • miniature horse
  • swans
  • elephants
  • rhinos
  • langur monkeys
  • sloth bear
  • python
  • two kinds of bats
  • water monitor
  • all the fish and sharks in the aquarium
  • manatees
  • pelicans
  • sting rays
  • the reptile house full of frogs, turtles, lizards, and snakes
  • alligator
  • flamingoes
Tuesday dawned with pouring rain and stayed gray and chilly all day. We read the last of Esperanza Rising aloud today. It was a good book, but not a happy one all the way through. We had a lot of things we could talk about during this read.

The kids were thrilled to see that our caterpillars were all beginning to hang upside down and make their chrysalises. In the afternoon was piano lessons. Evening had my sister and her kids coming for dinner (Taco Tuesday!) and visiting.

Wednesday held homeschool in the morning. I made a couple yarn dolls as examples for our Book Club craft this Friday. In the evening I went bowling with my Cub Scout pack. Those boys are a riot!

Thursday I was out of sorts and overwhelmed. I just woke up feeling off and it lasted all day. Let's face it, sometimes that is just life. I'm almost 3 months postpartum and hormones are still shifting as cycles come back. Add in mothering a large family with diverse ages and needs and some days are overwhelming.

Mason and I had a challenging day at physical therapy (hard work for both of us, in a good way) and he's got some things going on that are going to lead to another surgery. We see his full team of doctors and surgeons next month but probably won't schedule surgery until September so he can enjoy the summer without a cast.

Friday my hormones were on a more even keel. We spent the morning preparing for Homeschool Book Club. Two families came over which put us at 20 kids ranging from teens to almost 3 month old Rebekah. We talked about Esperanza Rising, a good book that not everyone liked, but that gave us lots to talk about. Then we had two activities. Kids could make yarn dolls, which played a role in the book. They also had two fleece blankets to cut and tie, that will be donated to Project Linus. As the crafting finished everyone ate together and visited for a while.

It is now Friday afternoon and I have a partial grocery list in front of me, I've made a few necessary phone calls, and have a few more to make. It's also time to check in with each child and see where they are in their year's school work and choose our last day of school. Over the summer the only 'school' we do is simple:
1. Keep reading great books as individuals and for Book Club. Our next title is The Happy Hollisters. 
2. Do math 2 days a week. This is really just to keep everyone from forgetting what they've worked on all year.

That's it for our week! Happy Friday everyone!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Homeschool Notes Week 34 - Just the Highlights

Saturday's highlights started with a library book sale. Who doesn't love browsing books and coming away with an entire paper grocery bag full for just $5? We find a lot of fun books this way. Mid-morning was the weekly grocery shopping trip. It's always amazing to me just how much food I need to get to feed my family for a week.

Makayla and Colton
If you ask Makayla what Saturday's highlight was, she would say going to prom.

She found a great dress, a cute date, and they had dinner with friends and went dancing. How is my daughter already old enough for this?!

Sunday we started the day with church. That evening was the family birthday party for April. This month happens to be my husband and my birthdays. He turned 40 this week and at the end of the month I will be 37. We had chocolate éclair, lemon éclair and no bake cookies.

Monday the weather moved back to cold and snow. We hit the homeschool week hard and then had lunch a little early. Then we surprised the kids with a trip to the bowling alley at noon for Family Home Evening.

Today was the first day of their Kids Bowl Free program in our area. Every day between now and September our kids can bowl 2 games for free. We also paid for the family pass ($30) so that Jason and I, as well as Makayla, who is too old for the program, can bowl 2 games every day with the kids. The only cost is shoe rental, but we find it is much cheaper to just buy bowling shoes online and pass them down to younger kids as feet grow.

The day only got better because a surprise science kit arrived. It has been years since we have raised caterpillars and watched them change into butterflies. We've got 10 little caterpillars in the house now from Insect Lore.

Tuesday it was still cold and snowing off and on. It was a perfect day for a slow start to homeschool, lots of reading aloud (Esperanza Rising), and playing all sorts of board and card games.

Wednesday we rocked through homeschool before the kids insisted we open up our Art for Kids Hub membership and do some drawing tutorials. We had kids draw Black Panther, a scorpion, and pea shooter from Plants vs. Zombies. In the evening was the usual Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and youth group.

Oliver's current reading book.

Thursday I didn't get any notes written down. I know we had a pretty typical homeschool day. Mason had physical therapy. Oliver was telling me about the book he is currently reading while I made dinner. That's really all I remember!

Friday kicked off with a few kids sleeping in and others diving into school right away. Mason is working hard on his handwriting. He's had a lot of challenges with fine motor control that relate to his spina bifida and other diagnoses. When we started this school year he couldn't draw a circle or a straight line. Really. Everything was super wobbly and difficult. While he still has a ways to go, I was so proud of him today. This week he has been doing some drawing one on one with me, because it is another way to work on his fine motor control that doesn't feel like "we're doing handwriting' to him.

He's been fascinated with the circus ever since we say The Greatest Showman so today he requested we do a circus drawing. One thing I've learned is that you can't give him the option to erase! He needs to write or draw with pen, marker, or a pencil with no eraser. If erasing is an option he will erase over and over to get things just right. When he knows he can't erase, like with the markers he drew this tent with, he just does his best and accepts it.

Late in the morning Joseph started packing for his campout. He packed his food, including making 40 cinnamon rolls from scratch. We ate part of those for lunch today, he packed some for breakfast on the campout tomorrow, and the rest will be eaten as a snack by the family. Grandma came too visit in the afternoon. We had a lot of fun talking and laughing.

It is now nearly bedtime. Joseph is off to his campout. Makayla is out watching another play that two of her friends are in. We're heading into the weekend and it's time for some relaxing!