Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Mash Up: Feudal system, Owl puke, Speech Therapy, and a Leaky Roof

I sat down to write about our week and it felt a wee bit redundant as I shared this post Thursday about many of the things we've been learning. So go read that and come back, okay? I'll wait.... are you back now? Great!  Let's move on.

The younger kids (6th grade on down) and began learning about the feudal system of land ownership this week. We pulled If You Lived in the Days of the Knights off the shelf to go along with our King Arthur book. They helped me create this white board of the levels of people in the feudal system along the way.

We really did dissect owl pellets Thursday and the kids had so much fun taking them apart and discovering the bones inside. We used a chart to try identifying them and came to the conclusion that our particular barn owls had a mostly rodent diet with just one small bird skull in the mix. We added a skull or two to our insect collection hanging on the wall (I don't remember how many, daddy took care of that task).

Thursday also had Samuel and mommy's very first speech therapy appointment. He had an evaluation four months ago and they just this week got an opening for him. At the original evaluation he had zero consonant sounds. He simply used all vowels. Strange, but true. Over the last 4 months I have worked with him at home on speech therapy and he has progressed to putting together sentences but is still missing a lot of consonant sounds. Hooray for progress!

It was an underwhelming experience. The speech therapist and I didn't get along from the get go. She introduced herself to Samuel and I and told me I could walk to the door with them but then to go sit back in the waiting room. She assured me that parents were not allowed in the room for therapy because kids get distracted. I assured her that I was going to be in the room because I'm the one who can work with him on a daily basis while she'll only see him once a week. I sat quietly in a corner of the room until she asked for my help. Samuel was great, sat at his table and tried to do what he understood, but she didn't explain anything to him or speak in sentences to him at all, so he was confused. She held up cards and said one word repeatedly hoping he would mimic her. He named what was in a picture and even tried reading her the letters on the back of cards (naming them all correctly, I might add), but she didn't notice because she was aiming for a specific word for each card that was a concept (in, on, whoa) when the picture he would happily identify was more like cat (on a table), mouse (in a box), horse (with a rider who was saying whoa). I pointed out she needed to treat him like a person and talk to him in complete sentences to explain what she wanted him to do. And that he had been reading her the letters of the words, if she would take the time to listen to him. She seemed pretty young and inexperienced with kids. We committed to go back for a month or two and see how things go. If they don't make progress with her methods we will request a different therapist or just continue working at home.

Friday was one of our favorite days - Homeschool Book Club! We were supposed to have read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Honestly, our family only made it through half the book and none of the families finished the book. It was weird. We have done Jules Verne in book club twice before, Around the World in 80 Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth, and loved them. We just didn't fall in love with this book. We had a fun discussion anyway and the kids created a gallery wall that was a collection like Captain Nemo had on the Nautilus. We also introduced our next book club title - Rascal by Sterling North. Only Makayla has read it before of all the kids. We talked about baby raccoons and what it would be like raising one, tried to guess what could happen in the book, and then just had a great visit.

In other news we finally have a working dishwasher after 6 weeks, 4 visits from the repairmen, 3 parts, and some fairy dust. To balance that out we have a leak in our roof. In a place we can't get to. Of course. Waiting on insurance seems to be a past time around here lately for one thing or another.

Next week is the end of September. Tomorrow Makayla shadows a veterinarian. We have a couple medical appointments for Mason next week, speech therapy for Samuel, Boy scouts, Cub scouts, youth group, activity day girls, and it's time to get ready for General Conference! It is one of our favorite weekends of the year and my kids have been making plans already. They have food plans, snack plans, and activity plans. They're ready to decorate their notebooks for taking notes and drawing pictures. I'm trying to decide what our special display will be for making notes about each talk. In April's spring sessions we did paper flowers and wrote the theme of their message on one side of the flower and their name on the other. Then we use those for Family Home Evening topics or morning devotionals, and so on after conference.

A few more posts from the blog this week:

How has your week been? Are you ready for the last week of September? Do you have any family traditions for General Conference?

Linking to Weekly Wrap Up.

All Things Capsule Wardrobe: Part 2

If you missed part one of my capsule wardrobe posts go ahead and read it. Today I'll be sharing the online sources where I have learned about capsule wardrobes. I will try to share a short description of what you will find at each link.

My very first introduction to capsule wardrobes came from Project 333 at Be More with Less. When you click on that link you will find a place to sign up for a free quick start guide to capsule wardrobes. As you keep scrolling past that Courtney has shared a giant post with her rules, instructions for first timers, instructions for changing to the next season after your first capsule wardrobe, and links to a few starter articles.

Here is an article with superb visuals of how a capsule wardrobe gives you multiple outfit options with just a few pieces. It is a guest post from Audrey at Putting Me Together. She has a great series on Building a Remixable Wardrobe on her blog too.

Tabitha Dumas has several good resources on capsule wardrobes. Starting Your Capsule Wardrobe has simple steps and how she went about them. How to Get Dressed walks you through how she gets ready for the day, including ideas for choosing accessories. A Lesson in Contrast was really helpful to me - why do some things look right when put together and others don't? And why is it different on me than on someone else? A Lesson in Scale and Proportion was another great visual post about why size matters - size of items like a purse and size of prints you are wearing. Very helpful!

Greater than Rubies has a Fall Remix post that is really helpful. She shows you the 20 items she'll be using for a month of dressing. Then she links at the bottom of the post to each week's photos of her outfits (this was done in 2013). It's so helpful to visit each post and see how she took 14 tops, 4 pants, and 2 skirts and mixed them up all month.

The Elastic Wardrobe by Corina at Now That I Can Do is a 3 part series. She says it's not really a capsule wardrobe and I say it's pretty similar. In Part 2 she has great resources about choosing colors and a free worksheet to print. She also has a Mom's Wardrobe Basics series that is worth a look.

Into Mind has a giant 10 part series on Revamping your Wardrobe. I don't love every part of her series, it seems to drag on in places, but there is a lot of good food for thought.

Classy Yet Trendy has a 3 part series about Creating a Mixable Wardrobe on a Budget. It's a good series. Be aware that she also has ebooks she sells for various capsule wardrobes, so they're linked frequently. I've not purchased any, there are so many free resources online, but I know sometimes it is helpful to just have a guide to print out and go with.

Things to Consider:

  • Clothing bloggers come in a variety of sizes (though plus size is harder to find!) and price points (many of the ones I've come across spend a lot more money on items than would fit my budget - but if it fits their budget I say good for them). These bloggers are great for ideas! The implementation of what to buy to fit you and where you shop may vary.
  • You don't have to get an entire capsule at one time. Add a new piece each week or each month.
  • Neutrals are your friend! Buy basic pieces in neutral colors like black, gray, white, and brown. They will mix with any color and can be used for multiple capsule seasons. For example, I can use the same black slacks in fall, winter, and early spring with very different tops. I can use a white shirt in any season, with or without layers according to temperature.
  • Pinterest is also your friend. Do a search for capsule wardrobe and prepare to be amazed at the visual feast. Feel free to follow my Capsule Wardobe board on Pinterest. You can also search for specific ideas when you search "how to wear ______", such as "how to wear a striped shirt" or "how to wear a blazer".  It's a quick way to get a lot of visual examples of how to use an item you have in your closet but don't know what to do with.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What We're Learning Lately

I thought I would put up a quick post sharing some of the things we are studying or reading right now.

In family studies we've been learning the 10th Article of Faith, singing hymns we already know, and yesterday finished our study of artist Bev Doolittle. We also have "Who's Your Hero?" Book of Mormon Stories Applied to Children in our morning basket now. The fun cartoon illustrations capture even my younger boys' attention. Today was talking about courage and the story of Abinadi. We're up to Idaho in our 50 states study and the kids can also sing the 50 States song up to that point. We've been doing grammar together with Mad Libs and Ruth Heller's World of Language books. We've finished half of our first poetry book, A Child's First Book of Poems. We're on chapter five of our civics book, The Land of Fair Play. Our Ohio history story book about animals, Critters, Flitters, and Spitters, has been just okay, not great. We'll keep going with it for now but I've also pulled a new book into our basket that we use sometimes instead. That book is Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts & Pieces of the Natural World by Julia Rothman. It is beautiful and interesting in one.

Makayla is finishing Apologia Biology Module 10 this week about ecosystems. She's measuring angles in Geometry. Veterinary science has her comparing cattle and horses. She is shadowing a local veterinarian this weekend for a live presentation she'll do in her online class. In writing she's learning to write a persuasive essay. Makayla's current literature title is One Second After, a fascinating and all to realistic book about life after the collapse of society due to EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse) attacks. In history this week she's learning about the major points of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam to set the stage for her Medieval times study and the Crusades. One Thousand and One Arabian Nights and Beowulf are up next in her reading. Her third science course (after Veterinary medicine and biology) is herpetology. She's been learning about brumation in bearded dragons, as one of her beardies is brumating, right on schedule for her age apparently.

The rest of the kids decided to linger in King Arthur's stories this week. At the end of last week we did a discussion about the story arc of a narrative story (we used Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone). Then I introduced the idea of a framed narrative, where there is an overarching story but also short stories within that. We had reached the point in our King Arthur book where we had followed out the main narrative so this week we're in some of the shorter stories within the story. For example we read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Next week they will move into One Thousand and One Arabian Nights as well (fewer stories than Makayla). This book is also a framed narrative. You have the story of Sherazade trying to avoid being killed by telling stories. Then you have the stories themselves. 

This Thursday we're dissecting owl pellets for nature study. Why? It just seemed appropriate because we've had a lot of puke happening at our house with a sick baby, owl pellets are owl puke, and we read a cute book about an owl from the library. We're going to try to put a few skeletons together from the pellets and see what we find.

Math for younger kids is a mix of counting, adding, adding with place value, rounding, estimation, division, parallel and perpendicular lines, and adding decimals.

Literature is everything from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to Ranger's Apprentice, the One and Only Ivan, and The Sheriffs of Savage Wells (that would be mine).

Handwriting for Caleb this week showed me we may need to pull out our Peterson Directed Handwriting chants. He's drawing letters pretty well - but without an example in front of him he draws half of them backward! Neat and tidy, but backward. He loved using our large dry erase board to write them though.

Reading for Oliver is stepping along consistently. He's learned the first job of silent E, the consonant team 'wh', and this week is reading Skunk Hotel to me for lesson 20. Next is making silent e words plural.

Well, my time is up but that is a whirlwind tour of topics we're learning about this week! October is coming quickly. I'm not quite sure how that is possible, but my calendar assures me it is.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Unplanned Drawing Lesson - Snails

I love when my children learn something without me. Last night we watched Turbo, a movie about a little snail that ends up becoming fast enough to race. This morning Emma was up at 5:30am watching the bonus features, with permission. She was joined by Joseph before 6:25am and both of them had pencils and paper in hand. Why? They found drawing tutorials!

Some of these were direct tutorials, while other snails were just ones the kids made up after trying the tutorials. When kids have the time to explore their interests it is amazing what happens!  I could have just said no when they asked to watch the bonus features. Some days I would have. But they were so interested in the movie and how it was made and I remembered to just let them follow that interest.

Of course one shell had to turn into a skull, right? It is practically a law for boys!  I love that he also stitched the mouth shut on that snail! Little details make a difference.

This is the last page of snails from this morning, which technically has Emma's first snail drawing on it too.

Sometimes the best learning is unplanned! Drawing class - accomplished.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

All Things Capsule Wardrobe: Part 1

A couple years ago I came across an interesting idea for clothing - the capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is created by choosing items for your wardrobe that mix and match to create many outfit options. These items are the only ones in your closet, you get rid of excess and pack away out of season clothes. Some people give this capsule wardrobe a specific number, such as 27. That means your capsule for a season would include 27 items, a mix of tops (basic and more special, layering pieces like cardigans), bottoms (pants, jeans, skirts), dresses, shoes, and accessories (hats, scarves, necklaces or other jewelry, purse). It does not include pajamas, workout clothes, or underthings like bras and tank tops. Others are less picky about having an exact number of items. I'm on the flexible end of things.

What are the benefits?

Have you ever had the experience of standing in front of your closet and feeling like you have nothing to wear? I know I have even when hangers are full of clothes. It may be that there are good pieces but none of them go together, or there are a mix of items that don't fit, are in colors that I don't like, or are worn out and just need to go. It can even be that there are so many options I can't picture what to put together. A capsule wardrobe addresses most of these issues.
  •  The pieces already go together color wise because you selected them on purpose to do so.
  • The pieces fit because you made sure to use items that fit your current body shape in a flattering way.
  • The colors are ones you like, you selected them.
  • The items aren't worn out, you got rid of those.
  • The options are easy to find: choose one top, one bottom, one layer (in fall or winter), a pair of shoes, and one or more accessories. It helps if you hang items by those categories - grab one piece from each section and off you go.

How do I begin a capsule wardrobe?

I just went through this process for my first fall capsule so I'll explain exactly what I did. (I did a limited spring capsule this year but didn't go through these first steps I'm about to describe. I just boxed up things I didn't want to deal with instead of sorting and purging.

The first time is a bit more work because of the purge process.

Step one for me was to pull out all the clothing I own. I sorted it into piles by item type (tops, bottoms, skirts, layering pieces). I tried on every single piece. If it didn't fit and wasn't something I wanted to get altered it went into a bag for donation. This was a long process for me as my body has changed continually due to 13 pregnancies in 15 years and recently I've lost some weight. I had a variety of sizes stored. If an item fit but I didn't feel comfortable in it or didn't like it for some other reason, like color, it also went into the donation bag. Don't keep what you don't like wearing, it's just taking up space.

Once that step was finished I went through these smaller piles that no longer included donation items. Any pieces that are obviously spring/summer in nature went into a bin to store in the attic until that season. Now I was left only with the clothing that will work for my climate's fall and winter weather.

Now I was down to the actual capsule creation. I don't know about you, but my budget is limited. That means the first place I turn to is clothing I already own to begin building my capsule. I made a list of categories I wanted:
  •  10 tops (a mix of basic and special)
  • 4 layering pieces (sweaters, cardigans, etc)
  • 3 skirts
  • 4 pants or capris
  • 3 dresses
  • 7 accessories
I didn't have a category for shoes, I just don't enjoy shoe shopping. I have a few basic shoes that will go with things: a brown ballet flat, black boots for winter, and tennis shoes.

Let's Talk Color for a Moment

One key concept for the most mix and match potential in a capsule wardrobe is using neutrals and a limited palette of colors. Neutrals are white, black, brown, gray, and blue jeans. These colors will work with any other. I could pair pink with each of them, or neon green, or blue, or brick red. One way to simplify the planning process for a capsule wardrobe is to have all of one item in neutral colors. For my fall capsule I decided bottoms/skirts would be my neutrals. I would add color with my tops or accessories. I realized during  my sort that I have no fall dresses so I shunted those extra pieces into more bottoms/tops instead.

My skirts.

I looked at my pile of clothes and pulled out the following bottoms:
  •  2 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of black dressier pants
  • 1 pair of capris (these I've been wearing all summer and they're too big, but I'm not buying new ones this late in the season.)
  • 1 brown long skirt
  • 1 jean long skirt
  • 3 black skirts (I'm debating which I'll wear more, a maxi, a mid calf skirt, and a knee length with black lace overlay, two will probably be packed away.)
As I looked over my tops I thought about colors I like, that look good on me, and that say 'fall' to me. Olive and sage green, burgundy, dark orange, red, deep yellow, and a deep purple came to mind. I had been to a store recently and admired some green and burgundy shirts, so I went with those colors. I chose the following tops from my pile of clothes, a mix of neutrals and my colors:
  •  Gray t-shirt
  • Sage green t-shirt
  • Tan t-shirt
  • Plum and burgundy 3/4 length sleeve shirt
  • Brown shirt with details around the collar (in teal and burnt orange, so not technically my colors, oh well!)
  • Dressy collared tan shirt with black/tan/burnt orange pattern
  • White eyelet short sleeve shirt
My sweaters and pants.

I love sweaters/cardigans in cool weather so I had a stack to choose from already. These will layer over the short sleeve shirts and can even work over long sleeves on especially chilly days as fall wears on.
  • Gray loose cardigan
  • Tan loose cardigan
  • Black more fitted cardigan
  • Blue Ombre cardigan - this is totally outside my palette but I love this and want to wear it a time or two before the weather gets too cold for this lightweight fabric. It will go over my white, gray, or tan shirt and go with any of my bottoms. This is what capsule wardrobe fans call an outlier - it lies outside of your palette but you chose it anyway.
I also noticed that I have an olive green maxi skirt so I pulled that in for my capsule too. I like wearing skirts both at church and around the house - especially maxi skirts because they are so comfy! It almost feels like I'm wearing pajamas.

Have you kept up so far? That brings my capsule wardrobe amounts to:
  •  8 bottoms/skirts (I'm counting all 3 black skirts as 1, I'll put two away when I decide which to use)
  • 7 tops
  • 4 layering pieces
The only things I needed to add at this point were some tops and accessories. I decided I wanted 4 tops in my chosen colors of green and burgundy. In an ideal world I would love to get a black or charcoal blazer but I don't think it will fit in my budget this time. I also considered adding another neutral shirt in place of one of the colored ones if I could find one that was a bit dressier. For accessories I have a couple necklaces that may work but I knew I still needed just a simple silver or gold chain in a shorter length, and I would like some scarves that go with my colors. My budget for these items is $100. We'll talk more about money and capsule wardrobes later in this post.

Shopping Time

I went to only two stores for starters. I had been to Target recently and knew that it didn't have what I was looking for, and as I'm on a budget and wear plus size clothes I decided my best options were Cato and Wal-Mart. (I don't usually have luck at local thrift stores, mostly due to being plus size (I wear an 18/20 in bottoms and tops tend to be XL or 2XL depending on who makes them.) At Cato I tried on several things. I found only one thing I wanted, a leopard print tank top to go under cardigans. However it was $18 and that was more than I was willing to spend. Oh well!

(Samuel was my 'helper' to photograph my capsule, including these shirts. He's a cutie!)

At Wal-Mart I grabbed a cart to hold things I wanted to try on. I prefer to expedite the process by grabbing two sizes of everything I am considering and then spend a solid chunk of time changing in and out of things to compare it all. Here is where one of the strengths of doing a capsule wardrobe comes in. If a top was not in my chosen colors or a neutral color then I didn't bother trying it. Yes, other things were pretty, but for this season I only want things that I can mix and match easily. I had about 16 pieces to try on and in the end found 4 tops.
  •  Burgundy short sleeve peasant top with pretty detailing. ($12.88)
  • Dark green short sleeve peasant top with the same pretty detailing. ($12.88)
  • Burgundy cardigan/floral shirt combo (this is a faux cardigan, it's one piece, but looks like I've layered a cardigan over a shirt). This is long sleeved but lightweight. ($13.44)
  • Leopard print sweater with white button up shirt accents built in. Again, it looks layered but is one piece. ($14.96)
I also found one accessory, a simple short silver rope necklace. ($2.88)

That means I spent $61.18 with tax. I have $38.82 left for accessories (scarves for sure, possibly a fun chunky colored necklace). I don't think a blazer will fit in what's left of the budget, maybe some other season.

My first day wearing my fall capsule.

One thing to remember is a capsule wardrobe is flexible. It's just a tool you can use in the way that fits you and your life. I'm a stay at home mom slash homeschool teacher. I prefer comfortable clothing that is washable and have no need for office clothing. My mother, however, works in an office job and her capsule would look very different. Look at your life and your preferences and build the capsule from there.

What if you like too many colors? You could try two mini capsules! Select your neutral basic items (white, black, jean, gray, etc - I did my bottoms in neutrals). These will work for both mini capsules. Hang these in the middle of your closet. Then choose a small set of clothes in one color palette and hang it to the left of the neutrals. Choose a second small set of clothes in another color palette and hang it to the right of the neutrals. To get dressed each day you will grab clothes only from one side of the neutrals, plus neutral pieces.

A general tip I find essential to preserve my clothing is to have a couple of aprons and use them faithfully. Every time I am in the kitchen doing dishes, cooking, cleaning, or doing a messy art project I need an apron. It saves my clothes from so many stains and spills!

Money Questions

I have already shared my budget ($100) and what I've spent so far. Creating a capsule wardrobe can be as expensive or thrifty as you like. Look first at the items you already own and use those for the heart of your capsule if possible. Then add a few new pieces for the season. Remember, there is a big difference in price for a white tank top at Wal Mart or Target compared to the thrift store or to a more expensive store, but they are all just a white tank top. In other words, use your budget wisely. If you have more money in the budget for this season's capsule then you may have more shopping options.

What if you have a tiny budget, which could be as little as $15? You'll watch for sales or check local thrift and consignment stores. An example: I just went fall clothes shopping yesterday for 8 of my 9 children. After shopping our closets to see what we had, of course! We got all the clothing 8 children need for fall - 46 ITEMS - for $212. That is an average of $4.61 per item and was a mix of tops, jeans, jackets, and pants in sizes from toddler to 16 in boys. Many items were recognizable brands like Old Navy, Urban Pipeline, Osh Kosh BGosh, Aeropostale, American Eagle, and Gymboree. How did we do it? We went to 3 stores: Once Upon a Child, Plato's Closet, and Wal-Mart (when we finally didn't find 3 items we needed at the other two stores). The only person left to shop for is my teenage daughter, who wasn't up for a trip after having her wisdom teeth out this week.

Another possibility if you have a very low budget it so aim for a partial capsule. Select as many items you already own as possible that will mix and match. See what 1-2 items you really need to give you the most options possible and seek those out secondhand. For example, if I already owned a couple shirts and pants that would mix and match well, but many of the shirts are short sleeve and will not be warm enough for later fall days, then I would shop for one or two open front sweaters (cardigans? people call them both). I would want these sweaters to come in neutral colors like black, gray, brown, or white so that they would go over every single shirt. That would be it for the season. Another possibility would be to look for 1 sweater and 1 skirt, both neutrals, so that I could use the 6 tops I already owned to make 6 new outfits (top+skirt) plus altering the rest of my outfits by adding the sweater as a layer (if I owned 4 pairs of pants, 1 skirt, and 6 tops that gives me an astounding 30 outfits before adding a sweater on top or changing accessories (adding a necklace, belt, or scarf I already own).

I think I need a Part 2!

Okay, this post has become extremely long. If you have read this far I applaud you! In the next week I am going to share another post about capsule wardrobes. It will have a guide to online posts I have found helpful in learning about capsule wardrobes. It will also include photo examples of outfit possibilities with my current capsule. I might even share a bunch of template ideas that will make it easy for you to begin seeing how many possibilities come from just one capsule wardrobe. (A template might say: pant + print shirt + sweater + belt, or it might say: skirt + solid top + scarf + blazer. I'll give photo examples to go with them.) The templates may need to go in a third post, we'll see! 

Please share a comment telling me your thoughts on capsule wardrobes. If you have questions be sure to ask! I'll address them when I can, they may even make it into a future post.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Mash-Up: Keeping it Real - Illness and Wisdom Teeth

This week has been a doozy! Saturday we had sick kids - everything from asthma acting up in a couple kids, to a sinus infection in one, to Joseph, my 11 year old, spending several hours throwing up. In and around that we went through the attic clothing storage, tried on fall clothing, figured out everyone's size, and made notes about what items will need purchased. I'll be doing some of that shopping tomorrow at Once Upon a Child and Plato's Closet. Sunday we stayed home from church to spare everyone our germs.

Monday we got the scheduled surgery date for Makayla's wisdom teeth removal - two days later on Wednesday morning. That meant her school week was going to be exactly 2 days long. The best part is that homeschooling makes that no problem at all! She'll take a couple days off and when she feels up to working on something she can. On Monday night Tobias started throwing up.

By mid-morning on Tuesday he had thrown up 7 times and hadn't had a single wet diaper in 10 hours. A trip to the pediatrician and a prescription for Zofran to help the nausea was the plan - but we were told that if he didn't keep anything down by that evening we would be heading to the hospital for an IV of fluids.

The highlight of my Tuesday was that while I sat and snuggled Tobias (and got thrown up on multiple times) my house kept functioning. The kids made food, did chores, and did their homeschool work too. The few times they had questions they simply came to the couch where I sat with the baby and brought their work.

Wednesday grandma came over in the morning to cuddle Tobias and keep an eye on the rest of the kids while I took Makayla to get those wisdom teeth out. We got home at lunch time and she camped out on the couch with a movie. She slept a lot too.

Thursday we all took the day off too. Makayla chose to get up at 5am and go to Seminary despite being less than 24 hours out from surgery. I love her, but she's a bit crazy and hardheaded. I have no idea where she gets that from. ahem. The day was spent playing, creating, and resting. I got time to go through my clothing and plan a fall capsule wardrobe (I'll share a post this weekend about it all). Oh, and Thursday evening Tobias threw up again. On me. And my pillow. Naturally.

Friday morning Makayla went to Seminary, did a quiz for her veterinary medicine course, and took a nap. She's got a couple days worth left of heavy duty painkillers but she is planning to try switching off the vicoden, it's just really strong and knocks her out for a couple hours at a time. For the rest of the kids and I it was back to school work as usual. We enjoyed our morning basket time, math, literature, scriptures, and so on.

In the end this week was just one more reminder to me of the unexpected blessings of homeschooling. Makayla didn't get behind on multiple classes because we can simply wait until she's recovered from surgery to move ahead. All of my children have been immersed in real life - caring for a sick baby, working around distractions, motivating yourself to complete tasks, and recognizing when you need help and asking for it.

Sorry for the lack of pictures - I just didn't have an extra hand to use a camera this week!

This post is linked to the Weekly Wrap-Up.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday Mash Up: Labor Day, Storage Solutions, King Arthur, and more

For a holiday week this was particularly all over the place. Monday was Labor Day and we didn't have school. We did tackle a list of projects.  We spent time in the attic finding jackets and coats because we're antsy for fall to arrive. There was a grocery shopping trip (2 stores, 3 carts). I sorted clothing from closets into the attic tubs that are organized by size because next weekend it's time to figure out what fall and winter clothes we need for each kid this year. Meals were cooked, kids played, and I did 97,000 dishes by hand because our dishwasher that was 'fixed' last week isn't fixed. A new part has been ordered by the repair company.

We even got bedding changed on 10 beds and the removed bedding laundered. The laundered set of bedding for all 10 beds fits perfectly in my Large Utility Tote - let me know if you want more details on how to get one for just $10 this month! The next time we change bedding it will be so easy having everything in this one bag. I also got our daily medications together into the All-In Organizer. Do you have any idea how many daily medications a family of 11 has? Between vitamins, prescriptions, and inhalers we have tons. Before putting them in this Thirty-One Gifts bag they would fall out of the cabinet every day as people dug around looking for the ones they needed. Now we can just set the bag on the counter and grab out what we need. Did you know I'm an Independent Thirty-One Consultant? Yep, I love that their products are pretty and functional at the same time. You can click here to visit my website and browse the many fun and helpful products there. 

Tuesday was a regular old homeschool day - my favorite! Morning basket had us doing our 3rd civics lesson. This was about different types of government and was helped along by a dose of M&Ms to explain how different rulers or governments could handle the law making. Our laws all related to M&M access. Then 3 kids had to choose new literature books because they had finished theirs. Makayla is now reading One Second After, Joseph chose Ranger's Apprentice book 1, and Emma is trying How to Train Your Dragon. We had new math lessons today. This year we're trying something different and watching the dvd lessons together instead of just having mom teach the lesson. Then we work together on their first practice page.

Wednesday was our biweekly art class. So much fun! I blogged about it HERE. We also did some basic school afterward (history and math). History for the younger group (6th grade and under) is a new book, as we finished Beowulf last week. We're reading Roger Lancelyn Green's King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It's good!

Thursday was another out of the usual day. I had a dentist appointment in the morning to fix a filling that had chipped. We did school before and after my appointment. Makayla is sick and so she napped a lot of the afternoon away. That meant she and I were sitting on her bed at 7pm laughing over her first draft of an opinion essay - much later than school usually happens at our house. She's writing her opinion about whether teens should have credit cards or not.

Friday we got moving bright and early on school work because grandma will be coming over for lunch today. Kids did math tests, literature, scripture study, biology, etc. Makayla and I had a writing conference. I read history aloud while the 6th grade and under crowd drew and notebooked about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table so far. Our family movie today is The Sword in the Stone because they want to compare it to that portion of the book we read and find differences.

What We're Reading:

  • King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
  • The Vintage Wren
  • The One and Only Ivan
  • One Second After
  • Ranger's Apprentice
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • The Medieval World
  • Various Harry Potter books (2, 4, 5)
That's it for us this week! So far we're off to a great homeschool year.  How is your September going?

This post is linked to the Weekly Wrap Up.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Art Class: Printmaking, Chalk Pastels, and Drawing

Today was the second art class of the semester with our friends. In my first post about art class I explained that the plan is to complete some art each time we meet and begin other projects that will be completed at a subsequent meeting. This plan seems to be working well. A few other things I did differently today were:
  • Begin with our messiest project of the day and work toward our cleanest.
  • Only schedule one painting project for the day.
Today's first project was to use the flower collagraph plates they had made with cardboard and foam last time to print flowers. The process is simple. Use a paintbrush to apply paint to the foam flower. Press the flower plate onto your paper. Wipe the foam off with a baby wipe. Apply more paint in new colors to the foam and stamp again. And again. And again.

Some of our youngest children chose to just use paintbrushes and skip the printmaking. The youngest child to choose to do printmaking was my 4 year old Mason. The kids liked this project more than I expected.

Our second project was to finish up the value jellyfish. Last time we painted papers with increasing color values. Today we pulled out the chalk pastels to layer jellyfish on top of the dry background. My 15 year old taught this lesson to the rest of the kids (ranging in age from 2-11). She demonstrated step by step how to make a jellyfish, how to layer deeper values of color in the jellyfish itself, how to blend, and how to outline for more definition after blending colors.

The kids had a lot of fun with this project! Chalk pastels make it easy for even a novice artist to be successful.

Today's last project was new and only partially completed, with no pictures to share yet. We are making castles using template shapes to layer in towers all willy-nilly. These will then be colored with watercolor pencils, painted with water, and outlined with sharpie markers.To help the kids picture the many possibilities for a castle I had printed about 20 coloring pages of real castles. We had these spread on the table to look at, talk about, and enjoy.

Children decided if they wanted a tall castle or a wide one and turned their paper accordingly. I then demonstrated the beginning - tracing the squarish fa├žade (center where the door goes) onto paper. We added towers by tracing tall, skinny, short, and wide rectangles all over the page, always touching the side or top of another tower.

The kids looked at detail pages to get ideas on ways to draw a portcullis or gate, add rock/stone details, windows, flags, and more. Then they started adding details.  This is a big project (11"x18" paper so the kids decided to bring their paper home to finish adding details in pencil and bring their castle back to watercolor for our next meeting.

This project was really only attempted by kids ages 5 and up. The younger kids weren't interested. At our next meeting I will simply let them choose a castle coloring page to paint instead.

It was a wonderful morning of art, playtime, and shared lunch!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Have You Looked at Your Library?

I have loved the library since I learned to read as a second grader. I remember bringing home stacks of books from the library, wandering the shelves, rereading old favorites, and discovering new treasures. I am endeavoring to pass that love of reading and libraries on to my children.

As a homeschooling family we have discovered that the libraries of today are much different than the library I grew up with - even though our library is the SAME library I went to as a child. Have you looked at your library and asked them about the resources they have available to you? Do they have a website or newsletter that gives you updates? I just want to encourage you to take the time to ask your library what services and fun things they offer. You might be surprised!

Our library is an excellent example. It carries instruments, board games, books, dvds, audiobooks, playaway books, teacher kits, magazines, newspapers, passes to a local history museum, ebooks, downloadable audio books, Kilowatt meters (electrical), laptop lending, computers to use there, free wifi, classes, seed library for gardeners, test proctoring, Mango Languages, a genealogy library, online music and art lessons, access to World Book website areas, and more. Go back and read that paragraph again. Do you see what an amazing array of resources a library can offer? As a homeschool mom I try to take advantage of these free resources when they fit our family's needs and interests, and I try to regularly see what new offerings my library has.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bringing a bit of Life to History

Yesterday was the official kick off for our homeschool history studies this year. Yes, we've been back at the books for two weeks and doing history through all of that. It's been good. Our kick off had to wait because the event didn't begin until this week - a Renaissance Festival! Each weekend in September and October the action happens about 2 hours from our home. We had a grand adventure filling in our mental picture of things outside of our experience - swords, armor, knights, Vikings and pirates. We heard many people speaking in character and interacted with them.

There are some challenges that come with being a large family and the cost of tickets for events is one of those.  Tickets to get in would run close to $120 for our family. You are not allowed to bring any food or drinks into the park so there is a cost of water and food that is easily more than the cost of tickets. We've learned to look for special opportunities and the Renaissance Festival has one that is perfect - opening weekend kids 12 and under get in free and adult tickets are buy 1 get 1 free. We were able to get in for under $44 for the 11 of us. We packed a large cooler of food and drinks and other than some water purchased in the park we were set. We took a break partway through our day to go out to the van and eat.

There was so much to see and explore and I took zero pictures. I swiped these pictures from my husband and my mom (grandma and grandpa came along for the adventure). There were shows to watch, hundreds of people wandering the festival in costume and in character, activities to do, and shops to explore.

If you ask my children what their favorite thing from the day was you get many answers but there were several repeated mentions. The top event to them was the live joust. Really, who can resist a trial at arms? The knights performed several feats of skill before jousting.

You could even get up close and see their horses throughout the day.
At one point we got to see the parade of characters, including the queen on her way to the joust. The costumes were amazing!

The shops had everything from real weapons and armor to jewelry, books, clothing, and costumes. We had fun playing instruments in one shop. Kids did sword fighting in another. There was a blacksmith working and many other wonderful things to see.

The show that was my children's favorite was the pirate comedy show. It was truly hilarious! They were having a competition to decide who would become the first mate on the next voyage.

Tomorrow we dive back into our medieval studies with a but stronger mental image of things like swords, archery, knights, Vikings, pirates, and so on. It's going to be a fun year!