Friday, November 25, 2016

Another Sick Week - Puking and coughing and headaches, O my!

Last Friday I had one child who was throwing up, Daniel. By Saturday he was done. A couple of us went to see a movie - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Everyone who went loves Harry Potter and we agreed it was an interesting dive into that world again. The rest of the family had time with Grandma during the movie. Saturday evening Daddy and I finished up Christmas shopping online. Now to wait for things to arrive and get them wrapped!

Sunday morning I added three more to the throw up group, Caleb, Oliver, and Mason. It was not a great birthday present for Caleb, who turned 6 that day. I also got sick but avoided throwing up - barely. The missionaries came over to help my husband give the sick ones a priesthood blessing.
At 11:00pm Tobias woke up and started puking. It was a very long night.

With the throwing up I had to cancel two of Mason's appointments at Children's Hospital on Monday and reschedule them. I also declared Thanksgiving break so we had zero formal lessons for school. Makayla kept working on her NaNoWriMo novel. She started the week about 2 days ahead of schedule to hit her 50,000 words by the end of the month. She also had seminary on Monday and Tuesday mornings.

Tuesday saw many of us recovered from the stomach virus but Emma just beginning. It was a laid back morning with kids playing Monopoly and building with Legos.

Wednesday Grandma came over to visit and make pies with the kids. They made a chocolate pie, a peanut butter pie, and another dessert called cranberry fluff. Illness wise, several people are still dealing with illness issues, tired, headaches, sore throat. Including me. Boo!

Thursday - Wonderful Thanksgiving at home with some of the extended family. Delicious food and leftovers for tomorrow. We played games, watched some dvds, and just kept resting because some are still sick.

Friday I took 3 oldest kids to the doctor. These 3 never threw up but all have headaches, congestion, and other symptoms that aren't easing up. Two have viruses we'll keep treating symptoms. Joseph has pneumonia. We just can't catch a break. We're trying antibiotics because he's also one of my kids dealing with asthma but if it is viral the antibiotics won't help. Only time will tell. He has inhalers and we also have a nebulizer for breathing treatments if need be.

It's Friday afternoon now. We are at home doing quiet activities like playing Dragonwood, building with magnet tiles and Legos, and watching the bonus content for one of our Star Wars dvds. Or napping - depending on how they feel. I'm going to be optimistic and do our December homeschool planning and preparations this evening.

Other things I've been doing:
  • Cleaning for the sick kids.
  • Laundry.
  • Christmas shopping. It's done and now I just need to get things wrapped.
  • Picking out a planner/calendar for next year because we've already got 27 appointments (including speech therapy for Samuel and physical therapy for Mason) scheduled in January and February.
  • Contemplating personal goals for the first quarter of 2017.
  • Tracking down pictures to print for my Project Life scrapbook. I've been pretty inconsistent with picture taking and printing. I want to spend December fixing that.

I hope that if you're reading this you had a wonderful week with no illness!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to pop in and share the words to one of my favorite hymns today for Thanksgiving.
Count Your Blessings

1. When upon life's billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings; name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings;
See what God hath done.
Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings;
See what God hath done.

2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings; ev'ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

3. When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.
Count your many blessings; money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

4. So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
Count your many blessings; angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Preschool for my Boys - My LDS Preschool

As a homeschool mother of nine children I have learned the value of investing in quality curricula. This frees me up to spend my time with my children instead of with stacks of books and planner pages. This year I have 1 high schooler, 4 elementary students, 1 Kindergartener, 2 preschoolers, and a 1 year old. My days are busy, fun, and little crazy. I'm pretty laid back on starting formal school work until a child is 6 or 7. At the same time I have all these little boys who want my focused time and attention. They ask to ‘do school like the big kids’. When they don’t get focused time with mom they find other ways to fill their time, usually with lots of mischief involved.

What’s a mom to do? I don’t have time to plan out activities and pull together themed materials that will interest my little boys. They like variety, mess, and movement. I’m not creative enough to come up with interesting activities every week in a variety of skill areas.  
I decided to look for a preschool curriculum to take the planning burden off my shoulders. I found many preschool curricula to be a stack of alphabet worksheets and printables that were exactly the same each week: trace the uppercase letter, trace the lowercase letter, count the themed items that start with that letter, sort the items by size, dot paint the letter, color a picture that includes the letter, glue things to a paper of the letter, cut up the letter into a puzzle and put it together again. Each letter had the exact same pages to do and no real activities, stories, or fun. That wasn't going to be a good fit for my active sons.

In my search I came across My LDS Preschool. It caught my eye with themes included scripture stories and gospel topics my children are familiar with. I started looking into it more and found that it was not just another stack of alphabet worksheets. My LDS Preschool is written for two days of preschool, lasting 3 hours each day. Because I’m doing it just with my own family I can break up the two 3 hour blocks of activities into shorter daily work. I have activities at my fingertips that are varied and engaging for my 5, 4, and 3 year olds sons.

Each week of My LDS Preschool has a theme. The free sample you can download covers A is for Ammon, with an emphasis on service. Each week covers both scripture stories and literature titles and includes calendar time, songs with music to download, full lesson plans, and printables to go along. The activities for this particular week are broken down into categories including:

·         Movement – The children learn to scatter and gather like the sheep in Ammon’s story. They make a sling and shoot cotton balls at a target on the wall (picture of the men scattering the sheep). They play letter detector while searching for hidden letter A’s. They have an apple relay race balancing apples on spoons.

·         Math – Hands on counting of sheep using cotton balls and clothespins, measuring when cooking apple pies, counting apples floating in water.

·         Arts and Crafts – This week includes an apple pie paper plate project and shaving cream sheep.

·         Story Time – Telling the story of Ammon and the King’s sheep, with pictures to help retell the story, time for kids to act it out,

·         ABC Time – The kids learn the letter and sounds it makes, find things that start with that sound, write the letter.

·         Snack – Ants on a log, mini apple pies. Each child makes 2 mini pies, one for them, one to give away.

·         Free Play – suggestions this week include flying around like airplanes or running a pretend apple stand.

·         Songs – This week you’ll sing several songs in calendar time (ABC song, Calendar song, Days of the Week song) as well as Do You Know the Letter A?

·         Literature – This week suggests Enemy Pie and has discussion prompts for relating it to the children and to the week’s theme.

·         Vocabulary – Word pairs introduced in context of the scripture story and a literature book are scatter/gather and friend/enemy.

My LDS Preschool is packed full of activities! And if you want the regular preschool-ish pages to print it has those too:

Each week has 3 PDF documents to download: Day 1’s lesson plans, Day 2’s lesson plans, and all the printables. In a day’s lesson plans it has a single list of materials to gather for different activities and clickable links to take you to each activity or back to the menu of activities for easy navigation. The printables file is in color but often there are black and white versions of the pages in the file to save on ink and offer kids who enjoy coloring pages that can be colored.

When you purchase a My LDS Preschool membership you get permanent access to the curriculum. There are no recurring fees each year, which I love! Right now the membership is $70, which breaks down to $2.50 for each week of lesson plans and printables. On the membership site you find each week’s material organized on individual pages with links to all files (lessons, printables, music) as well as links to videos of the literature books where available. They are also working to add a video to each week giving you an overview of what to expect in that week's lessons. As a member you also get access to a private Facebook group for My LDS Preschool that provides support. It is a place to ask questions, get help, and interact with others using the curriculum. Right now 11 weeks of the 28 week curriculum are already released on the member site. New weeks are released about once a week, with a break taken in December for the holidays, then picking back up with weekly releases at the end of December. The final week’s lessons will be released April 25th of next year. You can visit My LDS Preschool's website here. They are also on Facebook here.

I'm excited to be using My LDS Preschool with my younger boys! I decided to share our journey, so consider this your brief introduction. We're just getting started. I hope to share an update of our adventures in January. In the mean time, check out their website, ask me any questions you have through the comments, and be sure to read my Friday Mash Up posts going forward to catch peeks at what we're up to in our homeschool.

{Disclaimer: I received membership access to My LDS Preschool in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.}

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sick but Persevering - Another Homeschool Week Done

Sick. Still. More. Neverending. Okay, most of the kids are actually starting to get better now, and nobody threw up, even when a few felt like they might. ** Well, I spoke too soon. Daniel just threw up. Anyone want to guess how many kids will get this? **  I'm pretty sure Makayla has a sinus infection again, though, so we're getting that checked later today. We kept a very low-key week, applied essential oils, washed hands, ate good whole foods, and are praying things begin really improving for everyone soon. With all the sick kids I really didn't get many pictures taken but wanted to share some highlights from our week anyway, so those are sprinkled throughout this post.

Saturday Makayla, Joseph, and I spent the evening at a stake youth activity for church. These pictures were taken while youth began arriving and dividing into teams. There were lots of activities to try (archery, tractor pulling, goat herding, riding a mechanical bull, stacking bales of hay, etc) as well as dinner, a fire, and visiting.
Both Makayla and Joseph rode the mechanical bull. Makayla rode once (she's done it in past years) and Joseph ended up going back to it several times all evening so he rode 5 times.

I read a book just for me this week! I love when I get to do that. My book of choice was Heartless by Marissa Meyer. She tells the story of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland that - before she became queen. I really liked it!

Several people finished books this week in their reading time. Makayla finished The Work and the Glory book 5 and started book 6. Emma finished Frightful's Mountain. Daniel finished Ralph S. Mouse. We finished Prince Caspian as a family. It's been a bookish week. After finishing Prince Caspian we started our next homeschool book club title, Little Women. I decided to pull out an audio book for this one because sometimes mom's voice just needs a break.

One fun part of our family read alouds is seeing my children choose quiet activities to do while listening. This week that included origami, coloring, drawing on paper and the dry erase board, and using thinking putty.

Makayla has been interested in steampunk design for a while. Steampunk mixes old and new, the function of modern technology with the Victorian steam-powered era. There is an element of science fiction or science fantasy to steampunk books, fashion, and builds. We discovered one season on Netflix of a show to watch together - Steampunk'd. In the show 10 makers are divided into two teams and tasked to build a specific room for the manor house in a steampunk style. They also have to create fashion outfits and a story for their room. At the end of the episode one team wins, two top makers are chosen who will be the next week's team captains, and one maker is sent home. It was a neat way to wade into the steampunk design waters for most of the family.

Joseph has been busy building new Lego creations this week. Here is one of his most recent. I don't know how he comes up with these!

One new school activity for several of the kids this week has been using to practice math facts. The kids are at varying points in the mastery of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts. As the weather gets colder it always makes me think of things we want to work on improving. Right now our automaticity in math computation is what came to mind. I decided to offer an incentive. When each child masters a function (add, subtract, multiply, divide) on XtraMath, meaning they pass the level with all facts done in 3 seconds or less, they earn a small gift card. This is hard, it may take them weeks or months to complete a single level at that speed. I love that XtraMath is the one tracking and deciding when they're ready to move on, not me. I get to just stand back and be their cheerleader and encourager. They got a kick out of seeing me try the addition level the first day. I didn't pass, but came really close (all but 2 of the 100 facts came in under 3 seconds every time). I think I'm going to be doing the program as well since they enjoyed cheering me on too.

Well, that's all I have time for. Now for that doctor's appointment for Makayla . . .

(Linking to Weekly Wrap Up).

Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday Mash Up: Making Origami, Playing Dragonwood

Monday highlights - Tobias had a rough night that meant only one thing - his cough/congestion/runny nose had turned into a double ear infection. Poor buddy! Daddy and the kids did breakfast and chores while I was at the doctor with Tobias. By the time I arrived home most of the kids had already begun school work. I took care of new math lessons and oversaw our other usual lessons. We also started some interest based projects - stop motion animation, knitting a hat, making bracelets with the rainbow loom, and origami. Makayla had her online vet class mid-morning. In the afternoon we dissected a crayfish and discussed voting and elections. For dinner we made yummy chicken and black bean enchiladas.

Tuesday highlights - I was out the door before light to go vote. We then had a nice, slow and steady morning with chores and school work. I listened to Oliver read, helped several kids through math, oversaw lots of things, and took care of Tobias, whose super power today was dripping snot and drooling through multiple shirts and bibs. Gross, but sometimes that's a mom's life. Oliver and Caleb brought me scriptures to read to them and they chose the story of the Amlicites, (you can read it here). Definitely interesting to read on election day. Daniel and I have been buddy reading the Book of Mormon lately and finished Jacob chapter 5 today too. Then I had kids doing various interest based projects. More rainbow looming, more origami (a bat today). Emma decided that she wanted to draw for today. She created many fairies with a drawing kit we have. We read aloud two chapters of Prince Caspian. I helped Makayla with biology.

Wednesday started out tired. Tobias is still miserable with the double ear infection so night time sleep was only for 30 minutes at a time, then he was awake and in my arms for 30 minutes or more. Then he would drift off again. I had to be up at 5am to drive Makayla to Seminary so I really didn't get much sleep last night. Of course this would be the day that a certain child decided to argue over the necessity of chores. We had a discussion about the fact that chores are part of family work to care for our family, and that cooking food is part of family chores that mom mainly handles, and if you don't participate in your assigned chores you don't participate in the fruits of mine (the cooking). Sigh. The day did get better as it went on. The homeschool routine soothes even the cranky mother as we go through it. Fun project today - Daniel made a new origami project, the transforming ninja star. He even recorded it on video:

 We also got to play a new game today - Dragonwood. It was fun!

Thursday - Tired. That sums up how I felt on this morning. Add to it another child complaining of ear pain in both ears so another trip to the doctor to confirm a double ear infection and get appropriate meds. (The child actually told me one ear was hurting on Wednesday and we decided to wait a day to see if it got better, while managing the pain. By Thursday it was worse and in both ears.) In other areas school went well. Caleb is learning to count and write to 100. Yesterday was the very first day and after each row of 10 numbers he got up to do some physical activity and then ate 1 chocolate chip. His siblings were jealous of that! Oliver's reading curriculum introduced contractions this week and he really didn't get it until yesterday. Now he understands contractions using will (I'll, we'll, he'll, etc) and not (can't, isn't, hasn't, etc). We will keep working on the others but have moved ahead to reading a poem about a snake.

One thing I've been doing for my own enrichment is listening to audio books and talks at various points during the day and night (might as well if I'm up with Tobias, right?). I recently finished listening to Emma by Jane Austen. I've listened to the cds for Calm Parenting University (fantastic!). I'm currently listening to Eragon by Christopher Paolini, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, and talks from General Conference. I'm hoping to get time to watch some dvd workshops in the near future as well - Teaching the Classics: A Socratic Method for Literary Education (I've watched before, just want a refresher). I have a couple more audio cds from Celebrate Calm to listen to as well, including ADHD University.

We introduced Daddy to Dragonwood and the kids have been playing it together as well.

Friday - Tobias slept much better last night, which meant I slept better. Makayla also didn't have seminary this morning so the whole family got off to a slower start. As a matter of fact, we didn't do formal school today at all! Most of the kids were playing Dragonwood as soon as breakfast was over. I got some work done for a church calling. Then Grandma came over (my mom) and we spent the rest of the morning hours talking, laughing, and playing games like Simon Says, Zombie tag, and we also introduced Grandma and big sister Makayla to Dragonwood. After lunch together Grandma headed home and the kids and I have moved on with our relaxing day. I still have multiple kids coughing so we're using our favorite essential oils and trying to rest and recharge. We will do some reading aloud soon and maybe play another game together. I've been wanting to pull out Uno but they may overrule me for another round of Dragonwood.

(Linking up here.)

Friday, November 4, 2016

October Flew Past: Here's a quick review.

October is over and I didn't get to blogging as much as I had planned. Life is full and usually I am just too busy living it to stop and take time for pictures and writing a post. Our internet has also been very spotty for 6 weeks. That should be changing tomorrow as we switch providers. I hope. We've had two birthdays so Joseph is now 12 and Daniel is 9. In November we have two more birthdays (Tobias turns 1 and Caleb turns 6). Emma rounds out December turning 11 and we will finish the year with children ages 15, 12, 11, 9, 7, 6, 4, 3, 1. Until January when the birthday rounds begin again.

We have been plugging away at our fall homeschooling plans. The kids have read more books than I planned for literature, which is not unusual. We lost some time reading aloud history while I was sick and coughing for several weeks so I need to take a look at what we want to do about that. Our morning basket also needs reworked a bit for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's on my project list for this weekend.

My kids have been loving our current book club title - Prince Caspian. We've read it before but it has been long enough ago that many of the children do not remember it. It's making me want to have a Narnia party.

Writing has been going well. Most of the kids learned about writing a letter of invitation in October. November we're focusing on using humor in writing. Makayla kept working through The Power in Your Hands during October. At the end of the month we made a deal, one we often make for November - she can drop her writing course for the month of November. Why? Because she loves to participate in NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. She dives in to the full adult program and gets 50,000 words written in 30 days on a new novel. It is one of my favorite months because I get to hear her agonies and ecstasies as she writes and wrestles with her characters to tell their story.

Our first art class for November happened today and I'll try to share more about that soon. For now, just peek at the collage of pictures at the top of this post to see what we worked on.