Monday, November 20, 2017

A Milestone and a Quick Note

This week we reached a milestone. We realized it was time to move Tobias out of the crib we'll need for baby sister in 10 weeks or possibly less. On Saturday we set up a toddler bed in the 'big boys' room. All 7 sons now share the master bedroom by using two triple bunk beds and a toddler bed.

Of course, Tobias won't really fall asleep in his new bed well right away. I've been through this transition 8 times before and I know we will need every bit of those 10 weeks before baby to make the transition. Saturday night was our first night. We simply followed our 'usual' routine of holding him while he drifts off to sleep, but did it beside the toddler bed instead of beside the crib. The goal is to spend a week doing this and then start laying him down awake in the toddler bed and staying beside the bed to encourage him to lay down until he falls asleep.

As I type this it is Monday afternoon. Tobias is taking the bed and bedroom change without a fuss for stage one. Hooray! One thing we've been doing to help that is shorten his afternoon nap. Tobias is still a good napper and will sleep 3 hours most afternoons. To be sure he's feeling tired at bedtime we're waking him up a bit early from nap.

Also, a quick note: We're enjoying the week off for Thanksgiving, some doctors appointments, baking day with grandma, and so on. No homeschooling this week!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Homeschool Week 16 Notes

Monday morning school work started with Mason reading to me from his All About Reading book. Next I read Beep Beep Vroom Vroom to Mason and Samuel. It's a book from the MathStart series about patterning. We pulled out red, yellow, and blue bear counters to work on making patterns after we read the book. Other kids worked on independent subjects like reading for literature and history, grammar, etc. Then I was surrounded by those needing math lessons, beginning readers wanting to read to me, a teen ready for Latin, and so on. We worked through everything in a slightly chaotic mass.

Science for the 7th grade and under crowd happened around the table after morning snack. Today we learned about using columns in architecture for strength and support of a building.

We made paper columns in two heights (tall (11") and short (3")) and began stacking books on top. We used the tall columns first and kept adding books until the columns buckled and collapsed. Then the kids predicted if they thought the shorter columns would be weaker or stronger than the tall columns.

We stacked the exact same books in the exact same order onto the short columns. When we ran out of books we grabbed even more. The short columns won! We kept piling on books until those buckled and collapsed as well.

After that I read a page about floor plans from Architect Academy and passed out a copy of a small floor plan for the kids to complete. The basic outline was a four room apartment. They were to decide where to place doors, which room was bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen, as well as any features like sink, tub, and toilet. Kids rearranged windows and some went so far as to add furniture.

We got lots of other small projects done around the house today, daddy had a doctor's appointment and physical therapy, and we fixed my computer, which decided to have two different blue screen errors at once. There was laundry washed and dried. Makayla got the final element for her new snake habitat and set it up for Olympia her Ball Python. I started reading Renegades by Marissa Meyer because my library was able to get me a copy today.

Tuesday the first school I was a part of was listening to Oliver read about wombats in his All About Reading level 3 book. I also helped a couple kids with math and played with miniature trains with Tobias. Writing projects were started for the week (written narrations of any recently read history book). Latin translation happened with Makayla. The day was just a nice, normal Tuesday, including Makayla's usual shadowing at the veterinary office.

Wednesday the kids were willing enough to do school. I just wanted to read a book. It all got done in the end and the kids didn't mind a distracted mom one bit.

Thursday the kids had a day off of school. Mason and I headed out at 8:45am for Children's Hospital and didn't get home until 2:00pm. He had his yearly checkup with his developmental opthomologist (the one who did Mason's double eye surgery).

Both eyes are stable. Mason picked out new glasses, which will be ready sometime in the next month. Then he had blood work for his upcoming surgery. Thursday afternoon and evening were just quiet at home time as a family, my favorite!

Friday is here and as I type this the only thing left for school is some science with the younger kids. We've been busy this morning doing lessons. I've made phone calls to doctors and specialists. We have had lunch. Kids have been playing piano, drawing, painting, and reveling in their interests. It is a good day.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Homeschool Weeks 14 and 15

Week 14 was break week. This Sabbath schedule is lovely. We school for 6 weeks and take the 7th as a rest week. I know we won't be able to stick exactly to the 6 weeks on 1 week off schedule for the rest of the school year because of Christmas break and having a baby in late January or early February. I will just play that by ear.

The week was full of visiting family, doctor's appointments, and life in general. The only big thing of note is that we scheduled Mason for his 19th surgery. He'll be having a hamstring release on his left knee in early December because his knee contracture continues to get worse. Then he will be in a cast for 6 weeks, which brings its own challenges because of his lack of sensation and weak bones. The last time he was in a long leg cast he ended up with multiple broken bones in both legs, including one femur all from the casts themselves, not the surgeries. And we made the long drive every few days for a new cast because his kept slipping due to no muscle tone. It will be an interesting way to spend December and January. If all goes well we will be finished with the cast before this sweet baby girl is born in late January.

Week 15

Monday was our first day back to homeschool after break. I had taken the time over break to prepare so all I needed to do Monday morning was sit at the table and help kids as they needed me. I taught a bunch of new math lessons including multiplying by 6, subtracting 5, using the multiplicative inverse to simplify equations, conjugating numbers to remove radicals and imaginary numbers from the denominator of a fraction, and prime factorization.

This 6 weeks the oldest 4 kids (independent readers) each chose a literature book. Makayla is reading Fahrenheit 451, Joseph is reading 100 Cupboards, Emma is reading Five Kingdoms book 1, Daniel is reading Socks. The 3 beginning readers are working on their All About Reading books.

While most lessons just continue from where we left off one that doesn't is science for the 7th grade and under group. For this six weeks we are studying building and architecture. Here are the books we have on the shelf for this:
  • Architect Academy from Usborne books
  • Building Structures and Towers by Tammy Enz
  • Build It: Structures, Systems, and You by Adrienne Mason
  • The Story of Architecture by Johnathan Glancey
  • Peeking Under the City by Esther Porter
  • Curious Constructions by Michael Hearst
  • Building Big by David Macaulay
  • Earth-Friendly Buildings, Bridges, and More by Etta Kaner
The six weeks will be a mix of reading, hands on activities, and creative work. Today is a simple example. We read about footings and foundations today and then used materials to explore how a foundation helps support a building. We learned a bit about 6 historical buildings and 6 modern buildings. Then we learned that an architect makes a 'program' first. This is a list of wishes their client has for the building and it's surrounding's functionality and use. The kids each made a program (wish list) for a home. 

Makayla is continuing with chemistry and finished up her review of unit 4 today with me. Next up is chapter 5: Covalent Compounds and their Molecular Geometry. Other lessons that happened today include Latin, grammar, writing, handwriting/copywork, art.

Midafternoon found Mason and I at the physical therapist. Because of the upcoming surgery and time in a cast we are taking a break from PT starting now. We can work on his core strength and upper body strength at home. We came home to the smell of meatballs in the crock pot and just had to make a pot of pasta for dinner. Yum!

Tuesday school work was slow and steady. Kids did writing, reading, math, and more. Makayla was off to work for 5 hours in the morning so she did most of her work before she left. We had construction vehicles working on our street today and my little boys were thrilled to sit at windows and observe. We have no idea what is happening but there is digging going on and my boys couldn't be happier. Our dinner was polish sausage stir fry and fruit. Just keeping it easy.

Wednesday morning kids ate breakfast, got dressed, and started their day. Some did chores early, others dived into school work. Makayla had work again this morning. Dinner went into the crock pot (a beef roast for shredded beef sandwiches). I spent some extra time with Joseph and Emma on math today because this week's lesson just isn't sticking. It has a lot of steps for a single problem and they're not slowing down and writing out every step, which makes for more mistakes. Today we ditched the workbook pages and did each problem on the wall dry erase boards. They were required to write big (another issue, they try to cram things into a small space, which then jumbles letters and numbers together).

Caleb got to choose a writing prompt today. My younger kids do not often do writing beyond copywork, so when they get to they love it. We sat at the computer and he talked while I typed his words. He talked all about what zoo animal he would love for a pet, what he would need for that pet, how to feed it, what he would name it, etc. His animal of choice: a stingray. Oliver is excited for his turn tomorrow.

Thursday - I pretty much want a do-over. A long visit at the allergist with a teen who didn't want to be there. Doing homeschool in a scattered way after that with the rest of the kids. A husband who got home from work in time to turn around and go to his 3 times a week physical therapy (work related injuries) that went an HOUR over, two kids at each other, a husband who has to be in bed an hour before the kids because of his 1am wake up for work, and me - a too tired, cranky, needing a break mama. I finally laid down in the living room and napped in the middle of the chaos while kids played around me.

Friday was a nice, normal day. Kids were motivated to get school work done because it was the end of the week. I snuggled up on the couch early on with Mason, Samuel, and Tobias to read stacks of books. We moved through our day. Baked bread for lunch. Played games. Then we started a Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Marathon. We don't actually watch even an entire movie in one sitting, but for us it just means when the whole family is looking for some movie time together that is the set we are working through. My younger ones don't really watch, they're usually busy playing away from the tv but still in view of the family in our long front two rooms. It is always interesting to see which kids watch, who notices something new, asks a question about something in the movie, etc. Lots of interesting points for discussion when you watch a sweeping saga of good versus evil!

Saturday was grocery shopping day again. Joseph was my helper and we got all the food and nonfood items on our list and were home just a little bit after Daddy got back from dropping Makayla at work. Other things we did today:
  • Showed Mason how to use Lego instructions to build something step by step.
  • Removed all but one pair of shorts for each person and most of their short sleeve shirts from dresser drawers. Waking up to 22 degree F temps will make you admit winter is fast approaching. 
  • Completed 85% of the Christmas shopping online. Two kids left to finish up, which we plan to have done before the end of the weekend. Yay! I love having our shopping done before December so we can simply enjoy the season.
  • Cleaned the house. You just can't get away from cleaning with a large family.
  • Sorted clean laundry and sent it off with various kids to put away. 
The evening is winding down and it's time to get kids ready for bed so that's the end of my report for the week. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Looking Back at the Second Six Weeks

    This six weeks has been pretty smooth. Our routines are solidly in place to carry us through our days. Kids have gotten acquainted with each subject and how it works this year. One thing that has been really helpful this six weeks is that I try to sit down at the table for an hour or two in the morning so that I am ready to help any child who needs me during their individual work. When I'm up and doing other things it takes time to track me down, get my attention, have my help, and then to move on. When I am at the table for an hour or two in the morning kids can sit in a chair near me when they need help. They know where to find me. I am ready to help.

Is it hard to do? Yes. Some days I simply can't put off all the things I need to be doing to sit at the table and wait for someone to need me. But individual work goes much more smoothly when I commit to this simple habit. And when nobody needs me I'm reading or writing or playing with my younger (non-school age) children at or beside the table.

Books We've Read as Individuals or Together
This list does not include the many picture books read to my younger three boys. I don't keep track of that because there are too many. Also: Please remember that not all books are for all ages or families. And on my list are even a couple books that were just my own reading. Pre-read books to be sure they fit your family's reading guidelines for a child. An example from my list: We are cautiously allowing some of our children to read the Magnus Chase series, depending on maturity. There are some issues we discuss along the way, including a character who, due to their godly parent Loki, is gender-fluid. This means at different points in the books they are more female or male. I feel like the issue has been tastefully handled. One thing I have appreciated is that the entire series lacks the 'bedroom romance that shouldn't be in a teen book' for the characters. Yes, there has been an occasional kiss (maybe 2 per book). That's it. So, as always, preview books before handing them to your kids!
  • Who's Your Hero? Volume 2
  • Across Five Aprils
  • Kids on Strike
  • Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin
  • If You Lived in Colonial Times
  • If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620
  • How Do Birds Find Their Way?
  • A Nest Full of Eggs
  • Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll
  • What Will the Weather Be?
  • The Cloud Book
  • Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean
  • Awesome Autumn 
  • Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn
  • The Pumpkin Book
  • Pumpkin Circle
  • Pumpkin Cat
  • Why Do Leaves Change Color?
  • Max and Ruby Collection
  • Cobblestone Magazine (several issues on history related topics)
  • Rocks
  • Let's Go Rock Collecting
  • Dave's Down-to-Earth Rock Shop
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead 
  • Slayers
  • Slayers: Friends and Traitors
  • Slayers: Playing with Fire
  • Mary Poppins
  • Mary Poppins Comes Back
  • Mary Poppins Opens the Door
  • Mary Poppins in the Park
  • Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane
  • Gregor the Overlander
  • Gregor and the Prophesy of Bane
  • Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
  • Gregor and the Marks of Secret
  • Gregor and the Code of Claw
  • A Meeting with the Principle: An Education to Usher in the Millennium
  • Five Kingdoms
  • How to Train Your Dragon series (several books)
  • Mathemagic
  • Fablehaven

We did not get through as many books in history as I thought we might this six weeks. I'm okay with that. Everyone enjoyed the books they had, they just wanted to keep choosing books without moving on to new events in the time period. We will pick up where we left off for the next six weeks. There will always be more good books to read than we have time for, so the task is deciding when to linger and read just one more, and when to move on.

One thing we simply did not do, that I had planned to begin this six weeks, was our Shakespeare study of A Midsummer Night's Dream. We had many different things going on and it just never fit in. I suspect this will happen during our slower winter days instead. I'm fine with getting to it when we get to it.

Other things we did:
  • Consistent progress in math by all children. Even in Algebra 2, hallelujah. 
  • Consistent writing or handwriting practice depending on age. 
  • Art! We did a big painted paper project, have done some drawing, and various kids have started projects filling up notebooks with their art. One child worked on stop motion animation as well.
  • Beginning reading progress by all 3 beginning readers. They still each love All About Reading and so do I! 
  • Latin. We are keeping a slow but steady pace. I was surprised to hear Makayla tell someone the other day that her favorite subject this year is Latin.
  • Chemistry is still going well. It has been a balance of independent work and working with me when there are concepts she doesn't quite understand. 
That covers our second six weeks of the school year. We have been on break this week and looking forward to the next six weeks. I'm off to gather books for that!

Read about our first six weeks here.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Pregnancy Update #10: Weeks 26-28

It has been a quiet three weeks. I'm growing, baby is growing. She likes to turn head up or sideways pretty often. My sciatic nerve has been decently good for the last three weeks which I am very grateful for. I'm still tired and hoping for a nap each day. My bladder is feeling crunched and I visit the bathroom frequently. Way too frequently. Heartburn is a daily companion. Yuck.

I had a doctor's appointment on Thursday. I'm 28 weeks pregnant. I weighed 215 lbs for a gain of 5 pounds since my last visit. My appointments will now happen every 2 weeks for a while, then we're at weekly appointments until this sweet girl arrives. It's flying past so quickly! At my appointment I also did the gestational diabetes test, which I passed for the 10th time. I got a Rhogam shot because of my RH negative blood type. I also found out my iron is low, so I'm starting treatment for that in the hopes of getting my iron level higher before delivery.

This Saturday a sweet friend from church is throwing me a baby shower, with help from my mom and sister. I'm feeling pretty blessed just that she thought of it! It has been twelve years next month since I had a little girl baby. We have long since passed along baby girl clothes to others, and worn out the rest of the baby clothes with all those boys. The best part will just be visiting with others who love me and want to celebrate this sweet little baby joining our family.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Homeschool Notes Week 13 - A Bit Late

We kicked the week off with Monday mayhem. There was seminary, homeschooling, Makayla's orientation for her first job, an endocrinology appointment for me, a work related injury evaluation for my husband, and more. Oh, and there are still a couple sick kids. Despite the list of things to do the kids were able to do their school work cheerfully and well. I think it helped to remind them that next week is break week. :) I know it helped me.

Our Tuesday was cold and rainy, a beautiful quiet morning. Kids worked steadily through their subjects with me. I took a mid-morning break to make a fruit salad. Today that meant cutting up:
  • 3 apples
  • 2 cups grapes
  • 3 kiwi
  • 1 pineapple
  • 3 oranges

Makayla shadowed the veterinarians as usual for several hours. Kids played, created, crafted, and relaxed. 

Wednesday we had more rain and cold. It's wonderful! The kids did schoolwork. We baked 48 muffins. I prepared the last bits for Cub Scouts Pack Meeting. Our theme was slingshots and catapults and it went great tonight! We had three stations for kids to work through:
  • Long Range Slingshot - Kids got into teams of three to use a waterballoon launcher with little plastic balls from a kiddie ball pit to knock over a wall of boxes.
  • Medium Range Slingshot - This had kids knocking over towering stacks of plastic cups. Their slingshots were made this way: Lay a chair on it's back. String two rubber bands, one milk jug ring, and two rubber bands together and slip around two legs of the chair. Add marshmallow to the ring, pull back, aim, and fire.
  • Short Range Catapult - Kids built their own mini catapults with craft sticks and rubber bands. Then they shot cotton balls through football goal posts made from craft sticks, standing up in balls of playdough.
Thursday morning I had to scrape ice off the van window before I could take Makayla to Seminary. Brr! The kids knew that Grandma K from Utah was in town so they got school done early to be ready for a visit. She came and spent the afternoon and evening visiting. She even taught the kids a new game (Farkle). We had an early Thanksgiving style dinner with a turkey I had in the freezer.

Friday morning was the last day of school for our 6 weeks. Hooray! I think this Sabbath schedule is lovely so far (6 weeks of work and 1 week of rest). I know it will break down a bit over the holidays and birth of baby, but I will be sure to err on the side of more breaks than fewer. We attacked our school work and got it all done. We spent a little time pulling papers out of binders for portfolios, I will finish that during our break week. Then is was just waiting for Grandma to arrive again.

*** So, life got away from me a bit and I'm just now posting this a few days after my last update. Such is life! ***

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Homeschool Notes Week 12

Monday was a bit more scattered than I prefer. I had a grocery pick up at 8am and bloodwork at 10:30am. In between those and after I helped kids with their new week of learning. I really prefer just being able to stay at home and do the school work uninterrupted. Daddy was home and so some of the kids just went to him for help when I was gone, while others waited for my return for things like a new math lesson.

In the afternoon Mason had physical therapy. I remembered to put dinner in the crock pot in the morning (shredded beef sandwiches) so it was pretty easy to come home from PT and finish up dinner prep. Right after dinner we spent some time outside just enjoying the chilly weather. Then it was inside to settle down before bed.

Tuesday we woke up to a gloriously chilly morning that was almost cold enough for snow. Hot chocolate, pumpkin bread, and banana bread were a popular breakfast. Unfortunately a couple of my kids are getting a cough/cold. In a large family that also deals with a lot of allergies it's a rare month when we don't have someone sick or at least miserable from allergies. Right now Makayla is still dealing with allergies but they are morphing into something respiratory. It seems Caleb and Tobias at least are getting sick with a cough. We've got essential oils helping to manage symptoms while we see where this goes. So far no fevers and no loss of appetite.

We still managed school work. Several of the kids did an art project using some of the painted paper we made two weeks ago resulting in new art for our art line. We also had piano lessons in the afternoon. Then we surprised the kids with dinner in the backyard with the fire pit. It was really simple - just hot dogs, tortilla chips, and smores. For about 3.2 seconds I considered adding a fruit and vegetable. Then I decided the kids would be just as happy to skip them.

Wednesday I sat down to pay bills (oh the fun of adulting) and Oliver sat beside me and plowed right through his school work. Other kids were busy in various parts of the house doing school work or playing. It was a predictable, quiet day. I even got a nap!

Dinner was homemade pizza. Now before you think this was a lot of work, remember I'm pregnant. We used garlic toast and English muffins as the crusts and everyone got to add sauce, cheese, pepperoni, etc. Easy.

Thursday was a nice uncomplicated day. School work happened all morning. I'm getting excited because I can see our next break week on the horizon. We just have one more week of school to go. In the afternoon my sister and her four kids came over. While kids visited and played we talked budgets and figuring it all out when you've just moved internationally, changed jobs, and are still waiting to get important information like just what the paycheck and bills will look like now. Yeah, I don't envy her right now. Talk about complicated!

During dinner prep I decided to work ahead. While I was browning up a couple pounds of ground beef and black beans for tacos (tonight's dinner) I mixed up another couple pounds of ground beef with some ground sausage and other ingredients and filled a pan with a meatloaf. That got foil on top and was tossed in the second refrigerator. It will be dinner tomorrow night. Two dinners (plus leftovers!) with just one time touching raw meat and getting a messy kitchen. Yay! The taco meat leftovers tonight can go in quesadillas tomorrow for lunch. The meatloaf leftovers will be lunch for the next day.

Friday the local schools were out so Makayla didn't have seminary. Sleeping in was the order of the morning - except most of my kids don't know how to sleep in, so I was still up at 6am. Oh well. We did do school work to finish off the week strong. Then Joseph cooked a bunch of different things for his campout tonight. By afternoon it was time to pick up two teen cousins and drop off my two teens and cousins for a youth activity at a pumpkin patch with a huge fun zone. Then it was back home for me to do afternoon medical care for Mason. My sister (mom of the cousins) was on pick up duty for the teens. I tossed the meatloaf in the oven to cook, fed most of the family dinner, then it was time to take Joseph and one cousin to their Boy Scout campout.

Saturday was filled with a library book sale, cleaning the house, cooking, meal planning, picking up the scout campers, grocery shopping, and realizing that Tobias, who has been coughing for a couple days, was not going to be well enough to go to church on Sunday. Saturday had a lot of other things in it like a trip to the bank, games, school for daddy, rearranging one bedroom, and laundry. It was just a full day.

That brings me to this morning. It is Sunday and most of my crew is off to church. I'm going to go snuggle Tobias for a bit and take it easy.