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.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Family Life as July Ends and August Begins

It's been a couple weeks since my last update. When I left off we were waiting for the insurance adjuster and the roofers to come check out our new leak. In preparation for that I nudged my husband and kids to come up to the attic with me and declutter. We have a semi-finished attic that we can use for storage but isn't finished enough for living space. It had become a bit of a tornado zone with paths to navigate between boxes, bins, and stuff. A couple of hours work and we cleared out a lot of the mess, labeled some boxes and bins that had escaped labeling, and organized it into areas with homeschool materials, toys and games, stored clothing, coats, and linens, medical equipment, Christmas décor/wrapping paper, etc. It makes me happy every time I go up there to get something. In the end the roof issue was not covered by insurance, so we paid the roofer to fix things. Drat our old slate roof.

On Friday last week homeschool friends came over for book club. Our book was Swallows and Amazons and it was not a hit for any of the families. That happens occasionally. Everyone had a lot of fun just being together. Our next book is Island of the Blue Dolphins.

On Saturday I got to take Makayla and Emma to a special showing of Newsies on Broadway in theaters. We drove about an hour away, visited a Barnes and Noble, then went to the theater. It was so fun. Newsies is one of our favorites! Meanwhile Daddy and the 7 boys enjoyed a game day at home, and Rebekah just did what 5 month olds do, smile, play, and sleep.

Sunday Joseph gave a talk in church. In our church the first Sunday meeting is called Sacrament Meeting. Everyone (children, youth, and adults) attend this together. Speakers each week are from the congregation, as invited previously by the Bishopric. Joseph was asked a few weeks ago to speak and prepared around the theme of becoming more like the Savior. He also taught his youth class a few weeks ago. And a few weeks prior to that Emma, Makayla, and I each spoke on different days in Sacrament meeting, Emma helped teach her youth class, and Oliver spoke in Primary (children ages 3-11). It's just a normal part of church and I love it. I think the time studying and preparing to share a message with others is always a great way to strengthen our own testimonies.

Sunday afternoon I started preparing dinner. It took several hours because I was trying a new recipe that I have taken 18 years to get brave enough to attempt. The recipe is lumpia, a fillipino dish a relative brought with her when she married into my extended family. Think egg rolls without egg. There is a lot of dicing and cooking filling and wrapping rolls before deep frying them a few at a time in oil. It was delicious and hopefully I will get quicker with practice and kid helpers.
Partway through frying everything.
Ended up with 60 lumpia.

We watched a movie on Vudu with the kids that had and interesting sci-fi spin but made some of us cry at the ending. It is in the Children and Family section of movies that are free with ads, and is called Passage to Zarahemla. Basically it asks the question - what if a time bubble began growing in one area after an earthquake and people could go in or come out of it from the history of that area. We decided to try it because it combines current times with people in ancient America described in the Book of Mormon. I would definitely preview it before watching with kids under age 12 as it is a bit scary in parts.

Monday this week we are 2 weeks out from our first day back to school. I pulled all sorts of science materials from various boxes and bins as I gathered experiment supplies for chemistry for Makayla and Physical Science for Joseph and Emma. I made a trip to the store for a few items. I prepared activity pages for the last half of All About Reading level 3. There was fresh salsa making and cooking and cleaning and more cooking and more cleaning. Family Home Evening was about prophets.

It was a rainy Tuesday. Kids did some math or reading practice this morning to keep skills sharp before play time. Most of the kids got out Legos, a few played with wooden trains, one wrote 3 1/2 pages of a theory related to an upcoming movie, and two had a Pokémon card battle. Over morning snack we started listening to Island of the Blue Dolphins. In the early afternoon piano lessons happened. Shortly after that was finished Caleb came to me with painter's tape in hand asking for a place to play with matchbox cars. I handed him one roll of painters tape and I used a second and we made this maze of parking and roads on the floor.

Wednesday I created some planner pages for me, weekly school checklists for various kids, and just about anything I could get done on the computer. Makayla got a new job, which she starts next week. The older kids had the traditional color war the youth group does before back to school and came home wet and colorful.

Thursday was physical therapy day for Mason. He's got just a few more visits before we take a break for surgery. It was really a quiet day around the house. We refilled our read aloud bin, which was the highlight for the kids. It is a simple ice cream bucket we've used for a couple years now. Inside we put all sorts of candy. When we read aloud as a family the kids who choose to sit down and listen get a piece of candy at the end of a chapter or two.

Thursday was also National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, so I'm sure you can guess what we ate after dinner. Yum!

Friday I spent a half hour downloading and organizing art files while listening to the Book of Mormon. We have a Deep Space Sparkle membership and it was time to download some new art lesson bundles. I've got them all sorted out and need to decide how often we'll have art class. I'm leaning toward having Fine Art Fridays a few times a month where the kids do math and then the rest of the morning is for art projects and music.

It is already Friday afternoon. We've listened to Island of the Blue Dolphins and talked about it. The kids are intrigued by Karana's plight being alone on the island. They have all sorts of suggestions for what they would do. Knowing the story is based on a true story adds to the interest. We will learn about the real life events after we finish the book.

That's all for this week. Rebekah is awake and ready for some play time! Happy August everyone!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

July's Updates in a Nutshell

In case you haven't noticed, I don't blog a ton during the summer. Ha! We're more than halfway through July and it has been a relaxing summer overall. Makayla and Emma just finished Girl's Camp so we are officially done with camps for the summer. This post will include a few things I want to remember from July as a series of random updates.

One morning my sister, her husband, and their 4 children came over, as well as my mom. Grandma had gathered the materials to do tie dye with the grandchildren and my house and backyard were chosen as the site for the mess making. It was a lot of fun and much easier than I expected. I scrounged in my camera and found a few of my kids in their tie dye shirts for this post.

Throughout the month of July we have listened to our current book club title Swallows and Amazons. This was has not been a big hit. While it is charming there is simply too much detail on sailing to hold the interest of most of my kids. We will finish listening to it over snack this week in time for our book club meeting and will not read the sequels.

Rebekah is 5 1/2 months old. She's interested in everything going on around her, rolls over all the time, and likes to chew on anything she can grab. Samuel turned 5 in July and we had our usual Sunday family party to celebrate. He's a fan of Legos, dinosaurs, stuffed animals, and the cartoon PJ masks, so his gifts from family reflected that.

We discovered a leak in the roof and are in the process of getting the insurance adjuster out here and the roofing contractor. There is damage to one bathroom ceiling as well as whatever needs done up on the slate roof.

I've gone through our homeschool materials for this school year and wrapped my head around most of it. I've come up with weekly lists for each child showing how many days per week to do each subject. I think for our first 6 weeks we will try having 4 days for the main chunk of the week's school work and the 5th day lighter in work, to see if the kids like that. Then if they want to spread out more of their subjects into the 5th day to even things out they can.

I have printed a few things and have a few more to print. I think we will be ready for our August start in a few weeks. I'm hoping to get everyone into a solid routine before September 7th. On that day Mason has his next surgery and the best way to keep school moving without major interruption for most of the kids is to get those routines in place.

This week's bag of veggies.
One fun thing we've done this summer is participate in a weekly local farm's crop share program. We purchased a share in the farm over the winter for this year, providing the growers with funds to start out their growing season. Then we receive a weekly bag of fresh produce from the farm for 20 weeks (late spring, all summer, and into fall). It's a lot of fun and challenges us to eat more vegetables, try new vegetables, and find new ways to make those veggies. After several weeks heavy on zucchini that we fried, made into noodles, roasted with parmesean and garlic, and stir fried, I introduced the kids to zucchini bread.

All but one of them loved it and wondered why we hadn't been using the zucchini this way all along! This morning I made fresh salsa with the tomatoes and onions from this week's bag and the fresh garlic from last week's bag, plus some jalepeno, lime, and cilantro from the store. Tonight we'll enjoy the sweet corn. Tomorrow I'll put the green beans in the crock pot with some ham to be ready for dinner after church. My personal culinary challenge this week is to find a yummy way to make those eggplant. It is a vegetable I have never made and liked, but I'm sure that can change!

Other random things from this month:
  • Makayla finally took the ACT for the first time. She wasn't impressed with hours of testing and had really done zero preparation. My goal was just to get her to do it. She'll then use the results to guide her in what math areas she needs to study this year on CTC math, because we know math is her weak area. 
  • I prepared and mailed in our yearly homeschool notice to the school district. 
  • We have played 44 of our more than 80 board and card games in the house. And then friends gave us 3 more games - which we also played. I'm not sure we will finish playing every game before our summer is up and we start back to school, but we sure have had a lot of fun trying! 
  • My 100 days of scripture reading is going great. I'm reading the New Testament in 100 days for the summer, as well as The Book of Mormon. I'm a bit ahead of schedule and enjoying it. 
  • We took the family to see fireworks. Everyone liked them, Rebekah fell asleep during the fireworks, and Mason was able to enjoy them with earplugs solidly in place to help with the noise (because of his hydrocephalus, shunt, and brain shape differences from spina bifida he struggles with noise, both too loud noise and specific sounds at lower volumes). It is the first time we have been able to go see fireworks in years.
Ok, as fun as it is to sit here and type I really need to get out the door and do some grocery shopping. Happy July everyone!

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!