Friday, September 22, 2017

Homeschool Week 7 and 8 Notes

 Week 7 was our lovely break week which brings us to week 8 already. Here's how it went:

Monday was the first day back after a break. It's often hit or miss on how that will go, trying to get back into routine, facing math again, and so on. This was a pretty successful Monday! Over the course of the morning I gave six new math lessons. Makayla and I conquered the portion of lesson 5 in Algebra 2 that had us stumped before break. I spent an hour figuring it out myself over break so we were able to walk through it together today. We will practice lesson 5 all week to solidify things.

Joseph, Emma, and Daniel all started a new history read - Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin. I had offered them all four different books and let them each choose which one they wanted to read. Everyone chose the same book, so they're taking turns with our copy until the library gets us an extra copy. I also read aloud to everyone a chapter about Leif Ericson from A Child's First Book of American History.

I did Latin with Makayla. I went over writing options with Joseph, Emma, and Daniel. Each chose a writing prompt to work on this week. There was reading with Caleb and Oliver.

In the early afternoon I went for more thyroid bloodwork (things still look great). Mason and I headed to physical therapy in the middle of the afternoon. By the time we came home dinner was ready. I love crock pots! We put green beans and ham in the crock pot this morning so all we needed to add at dinner was some biscuits.

After dinner the girls and I made a quick trip to the grocery store for thing we are running low on (milk, bread, lettuce, etc).

Tuesday was a lovely morning working with my kids on their learning goals. Usually a day has at least a few complaints or a child who is less than chipper about getting their work done. Today was one of those rare won't-happen-again-for-months days when everyone peacefully worked through their assignments without grumps. I helped when needed, cycling through listening to beginning readers and doing math with each child as well as some chemistry review with the oldest.

Makayla did her usual shadowing at the veterinary office. The rest of the kids and I baked magic cookie bars with some changes just for fun. The basic idea: graham cracker and butter crust, chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, coconut. Our version today had a graham cracker and butter crust, chocolate chips and Andes mints pieces, sweetened condensed milk, and crushed pretzel topping.

Right before bed Mason and Samuel decided they wanted to do some more reading practice with our All About Reading level 1 activities. Mason is sounding out CVC words pretty well and Samuel can identify letters and sounds but isn't blending yet. Samuel is also not doing ANY formal lessons but he likes to take a turn sometimes.

Wednesday was another writing day for Joseph, Emma, and Daniel. Joseph and Daniel each chose the same writing prompt on Monday, where they tell about an experience from the point of view of an appliance. Emma's choice was to write and illustrate a 4 frame comic and today she finished up two frames. Meanwhile Mason practiced writing capital letters and reading, Oliver and Caleb read to me, and all the usual subjects happened. It was a straightforward day. Nothing terribly memorable, good or bad.

Thursday had me wishing for Friday. Math with two children had me biting my tongue to keep from sharing my frustrations with their forgetting past learning or repeated mistakes due to not writing out their work in a readable way. Ugh. Once math was finished for the morning I celebrated by baking two loaves of banana bread and two loaves of pumpkin bread. We demolished over half of those for lunch. Yum!

Friday we got off to a good start, got derailed by a visit from grandma, and then picked up the pieces when grandma left. We had a great visit and then finished out the school week with a solid effort. Our afternoon was quiet, with a movie and snacks in the living room. Daddy was home in time for dinner tonight (yay!) and then the girls and I headed out to the stores to get started on fall clothing shopping. That was exhausting! I'm not a fan of clothes shopping but it must be done. This year the kids over age 9 have a budget and after going through their clothing are given the reins on their shopping. They get to make the hard choices about what to buy and where to save money. It's interesting watching their shopping processes.

That's it for our week!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Peek Ahead: Our Studies for the Next Six Weeks

I thought others might be curious what is coming up for our homeschool in the next 6 weeks. I'll try to share it here, with links to make it convenient for you to learn more about anything you may be interested in. None of the links are affiliate links.

Math - Each child just keeps moving forward in their Math U See curriculum. We've got everything from addition, subtraction, and multiplication to fractions, prealgebra, and algebra 2.

Grammar - For those using Fix It Grammar I've printed the next 6 weeks of work. Joseph and Emma are on weeks 15-20 while Daniel is on weeks 7-12.

All About Reading - Oliver is moving right along in level 3, currently on lesson 7 out of 54. Most lessons are taking him a week to master. Caleb is in level 1 at lesson 27 out of 49. His lessons take 1-2 weeks each. Mason is in level 1 but not in a specific lesson. Up to now he's simply been doing activities from the binder from lessons 1-18. We are going to begin more methodically going through the lessons this six weeks, starting around lesson 4. I know that some of these lessons will be quick (just a day) while others will take longer, depending on how well he has already mastered the topic.

Latin - Makayla is at chapter 4 of Latin Alive 1. We are doing this together and slowly getting in a good routine.

Writing - Makayla is in chapter 4 of 13 in Writing Fiction in High School. She stays independent in this. Joseph, Emma, and Daniel are doing some creative writing with Spin A Story (I got when it was free) and a writing prompt calendar from Write Shop. Oliver and Caleb are continuing copywork with Draw Write Now. Mason is still enjoying Handwriting Without Tears.

History - Makayla is finishing up her last book on the Civil War. Next up is reading Kids on Strike, a book or two about the Wright Brothers, a book on the Titanic, and then on to World War One. The rest of the kids are moving into reading about exploration and the American colonial days. We will meet people like Pocohontas, John Smith, and William Penn. There will be Puritans and Quakers and Pilgrims. We're not using a formal curriculum for anyone for history this year, just reading and narration.

Science - Makayla is almost finished with chapter 2 of Discovering Design with Chemistry. Each chapter takes about 2 weeks time. The rest of the kids will choose from a variety of books I've gathered on harvest, pumpkins, animals, why leaves change colors, and so on. We'll be watching our birdfeeder as fall sets in and we see flocks traveling south for winter.

Shakespeare - For this six weeks we are going to dive into one of the bard's comedies: A Midsummer Night's Dream. Shakespeare was alive during the time period most of my kids will cover in history this six weeks. We will learn about the man himself, the Globe theater, and then use Shakespeare in Three Steps from Simply Charlotte Mason to study this play. I like the setup of this. You read a story version of the play first (in this case one written by E. Nesbit around 1907). Then you work through each act of the play reading along to an audiobook performance (we are doing one from Arkangel productions that is available on Audible). Finally, you watch a performance of the play (live or dvd) and the SCM book has reviews and suggestions for versions to watch based on ages in your family.

Phew! We will also do some art projects, look at art, listen to music, sing hymns, study scriptures, and more. Nature study will happen. Books will be read and discussed. Games will be played. It's a wonderful learning adventure!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Looking Back at the First Six Weeks

If you are reading this post we are on our Sabbath week break. That means we've finished the first 6 weeks of the school year. We will take a week to rest, store away papers for our portfolios, and change out the books on the shelves to reflect the topics of the next 6 weeks of school. I thought this would be a good time to look back and evaluate how our first six weeks have gone. There are so many ways to do this. I could talk about how each child's work has gone or their progress toward their big goals for the school year. How our schedule has worked. If we got through the books I planned or if we changed any curriculum plans.

Books we've read as individuals or together for school during this 6 weeks (not counting reading for fun):
  • Across Five Aprils
  • Indian Captive
  • The Sign of the Beaver
  • Paddle to the Sea
  • Stonewall
  • Tuesdays at the Castle
  • Henry and the Chalk Dragon
  • If You Lived with the Sioux Indians
  • If You Lived with the Iroquois
  • If You Lived with the Hopi
  • If You Lived with the Cherokee
  • If You Lived with the Indians of the Northwest Coast
  • The Indian Book (Childcraft annual)
  • The International Space Station
  • Mission to Mars
  • Floating in Space
  • Glow in the Dark Constellations
  • What the Moon is Like
  • Zoo in the Sky
  • Once Upon a Starry Night
  • Meet the Planets
  • Beyond the Solar System
  • Earthquake
  • If You Lived at the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake
  • Sections of several books on bald eagles
  • There was also a host of picture books read to Mason and the younger boys. I didn't keep a list because we tend to read 4-6 at a time and repeat some over and over. 
Let's hit some highlights for each child. We'll start with the youngest school age.

Mason - He is working on his fine motor control and getting started with handwriting. He adores Handwriting Without Tears. He likes working on beginning reading with All About Reading level 1. He is using a lot of math manipulatives, has a cutting book he likes, and an Usborne first coloring book he works on a little bit each week. He likes being read to and would say science is his favorite. He loved the eclipse and enjoys all things space right now.

Caleb - He is trotting right along in Math U See Alpha and doing well with subtraction. He likes the drawing part of Draw Write Now but isn't up for the four lines of copywork. We made a deal that he could work up to it. This 6 weeks he's doing 1 line of copywork. The next 6 weeks he will do 2 lines, and so on. He enjoys All About Reading and is making steady progress. He likes science more than history.

Oliver - He has been doing great with beginning multiplication. He likes Draw Write Now but would be happy to skip the copywork portion. He does it anyway and has taken to using his drawings as the front and back cover of his binder, so he's proud of his work. All About Reading level 3 is going great. He liked learning about the different Native American tribes and how their homes/food/clothes/live were similar or different from each other and from us. He likes science too.

Daniel - His introduction to Fix It Grammar has been great! He's getting grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and copywork in one swoop. He completed two writing projects this 6 weeks. The first was his letter box, where he sent and received letters for several weeks. The second was an animal report on bald eagles that he researched and wrote. Math has been easy going, he's picking up fractions well. He adores science and is always asking for more. He has enjoyed his history reading.

Emma - She has had a good first 6 weeks with no math meltdowns in PreAlgebra. She has really loved her big writing project because she could create any creatures/cultures/histories she wanted for each island in her imaginary island chain - including artwork of them. She doesn't mind Fix It Grammar. She has liked her history reading and our science topics but has burned out a bit on space, so I know she'll be happy when we move on for the next 6 weeks to a new area of science.

Joseph - He has been my steady worker as usual. He just plows through the school work so he can move on with his day. He's doing okay with PreAlgebra and Fix It Grammar. He liked the book he chose for history, liked science, and liked the topic he chose for writing (Great San Francisco Earthquake) while not really enjoying the writing process. You win some, you lose some!

Makayla - Her first 6 weeks has had it's bumps. She is doing fine in each subject but doesn't necessarily want to do each one. Chemistry has had some interesting hands on things and we both like Discovering Design with Chemistry by Jay Wile. I'm not sure if she likes Latin Alive or just tolerates it, but we do it together and that is fun. She has kept true to form with Writing Fiction In High School and stayed as independent as possible, not wanting me to participate in the writing lessons. I'm fine with that. History reading has been good. She did say she doesn't like one of the books she's reading for the Civil War (Across Five Aprils) but I reminded her that we don't have to like every book we read to learn from it, so it is good practice for college.

The biggest problem subject has been math. The Math U See Algebra 2 lessons seem to have a TON of parts in a single lesson. They all build on each other but in past books this would have been done over several lessons. Makayla and I are not fans of this compression. We have decided that our brains have a limit of how many new math things we can cram into them each week, so we're slowing these extra full lessons down and taking longer than a week. We'll just plan for Algebra 2 to last more than a single school year. Better to slow down and learn it well than to rush ahead half-understood just to maintain some artificial schedule. #perksofhomeschooling

Other Thoughts

Overall our first six weeks has been great. We've done a later start time and while I still don't love it, it works really well for some of the kids. The kids who prefer getting started earlier just go ahead and do that.

We are all getting better at remembering that mommy can only help so many people at one time. Kids are noticing more often if I'm already busy with a sibling and just moving on to other independent work instead of interrupting. I'm remembering to ask if anyone needs me when I finish helping one child.

We really haven't done a morning basket this 6 weeks. I've added things in to our days a bit more free-form while we really focused on getting a handle on the main subjects. For the next 6 weeks I will be trying to put one or two morning basket type items into each day. We're going to study a Shakespeare play in the coming six weeks as well.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pregnancy Update #8 - The Halfway Mark and Ultrasound

18 weeks. Tired. I'm wondering if my iron is low and plan to have my doctor check it when I see them in a couple weeks. In the mean time I am eating iron rich foods and making sure to keep my calcium rich foods at separate meals (inhibits body's absorption of iron) while having vitamin c rich foods with the iron foods (aids in the body's absorption of iron).

All food aversions are gone. I'm happy to eat just about anything. I'm sure you know where this is going, right? The scale has finally moved. I've gained a couple pounds in the last 3 weeks. I went 17 weeks without gaining any weight, which was a really interesting experience in pregnancy.

In week 19 I started feeling the baby move every day. I love that. I have been dealing with tailbone pain. I have broken my tailbone a couple times in the past, so late pregnancy tends to make that hurt again.

Week 20 started last Thursday. It is hit or miss how much my tailbone hurts when walking. Longer days on my feet tend to make it worse. For example we walked all over the zoo last Saturday and by the late afternoon I was hobbling around.

As of today I am 20 weeks 5 days pregnant. I had my very first doctor's appointment for the pregnancy today. Their scales put me at 203 lbs, matching my own scale this morning.

I can officially say that I am pregnant with one little girl! We had a quick ultrasound today, we'll do a more extensive anatomy scan in 4 weeks. Baby is measuring right where expected. She's a feisty little girl currently laying transverse (sideways).

One minor issue is that I have a partial placenta previa. I had this with Tobias as well. Basically, the placenta is covering part of my cervix - baby's exit route. It should move out of the way over time, but until it does we will have ultrasounds every month to check. It moved out of the way in Tobias' pregnancy. If the placenta does not move out of the way I will be having a C-section, there are major risks to baby and I both in a vaginal delivery with a partial placenta previa.

We are thrilled to have gotten a peek at our precious little baby today!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Homeschool Week 6: Phew!

Sunday was a nice, normal day with family and church. I did have a meeting for Cub Scouts right after church to plan the coming month's meetings. Back at home we spent the evening outside with the kids (gaining mosquito bites) to use the big bubble wands and solution we picked up at the Renaissance Festival the day before.

Monday was Labor Day, no school for us. It worked out well because Saturday we were at the Renaissance Festival and I needed to grocery shop today. Emma and I did a really big shopping trip, stocking up on a lot of things. Our usual weekly budget is $200 and this week we spent $352.79. That means we won't need to buy the following things for a while because I stocked up (amounts noted):
  • 12 cans corn
  • 24 cans green beans
  • 12 cans pears 
  • 12 cans peaches
  • 24 cans pumpkin
  • 1 mustard
  • 3 ketchup
  • 10 lbs. sugar
  • 10 lbs. ground beef
  • 3 lbs. ground sausage
  • 4 bags chocolate chips
  • seasonings(garlic, steak seasoning)
  • sauces for stir fry (three flavors)
  • 1 large peanut butter
  • 2 large beef broth
  • 24 tomato paste
  • 2 large cans hot chocolate
  • 2 large jars dill pickles
  • 2 family packs sausage patties
  • 3 lbs bacon
The rest of the month our weekly budget will be adjusted to reflect what we spent this week. So we'll use $150 per week instead of $200. 

Monday afternoon the cousins, aunt, and uncle came over to visit. They just moved back to Ohio from Germany a few days ago and we're so happy to have them nearby! We visited, the kids played, and everyone just relaxed.

That evening I spent a little bit of time updating the kids' homeschool assignment sheets for the week. I can't believe we're finishing our first 6 weeks and about to take our Sabbath week break! Next week off will give us rest time and time for real life. We have 12 medical appointments scheduled, mainly dental cleanings. We plan to make a trip to the zoo if we get a good weather day too.

Tuesday was what I call 'typical'. We did school. Makayla spent a couple hours at the vet office shadowing. We cooked dinner and did family time. I did spend time on the phone tracking down doctors to refill prescriptions, called the pharmacy to see if one backordered prescription is available yet, etc. After dinner I was able to pick up several of the prescriptions.

Wednesday morning started extra early for me when the car Jason is driving wouldn't start. I drove him to work at 4am. Then there was driving Makayla to and from seminary and the day was off and running. By 9am kids were well into their school work and I had a load of laundry going. We got all the school work done.

Wednesday evening is our activities night so we picked up one of the cousins and headed to the church for the following: Iron Chef night for Joseph, Makayla, and cousin. Activity day girls for Emma. Cub Scouts for me, Oliver, and Daniel. Daddy and the rest of the crew were at home together.

Thursday we woke to 48 degrees Fahrenheit outside - deliciously cool - and because the windows were open a bit during the night the house was about 64 degrees. I loved it! The kids reminded me we need to pull some fall clothing out of the attic as they curled up under blankets. Sigh. Just thinking about it makes me tired!

Our process goes something like this: We go to the attic and pull down bins of clothing (sorted by size). Each child will find the size clothing they need and we'll try on the stored items. I'll make a list of things that we don't have enough of (with child's size included). Then it will be fall clothes shopping time. At the same time we pack away some of the warmer weather clothes, making space in the dressers for some fall clothing.

The school day was straightforward. We dug in, worked steadily, and got it all done. I think every child commented that they are excited for break next week, that it doesn't feel like we've been doing school long enough for a week off, but they'll take it.

Friday, O how I love thee! Then end of the week means motivated kids diving into school early and working steadily to get it done. I think everyone was finished by lunch time - including the high schooler. It was super satisfying to close the books and tidy the shelf.

We spent part of our evening beginning the fall clothing switch. We made it through 5 boys and the teen girl before bedtime. I'm hoping we get the last three kids done this weekend. Then it will be time to go clothes shopping. We've decided that once we know what we have each child will get a budgeted amount to fill in gaps - and the older kids will also have the responsibility to make their own choices on what gaps to fill. For example, they may choose to spend more on a couple items they want and not get everything on their list. But then they have to make do without anything they chose not to buy. It should be interesting!

Saturday (today!) we started our break week with a trip to the zoo. The weather was perfect. We saw so many animals being playful in the cooler morning. The only sad blip of the trip was Oliver getting stung on the lip by a bee. I keep Benadryl on hand along with the epi-pens we carry for various kids allergies so we gave him some Benadryl and visited a couple more animals before we headed home for the afternoon.

That's a wrap! I have a post coming in the next week looking back at our first 6 weeks, sharing how we're liking various materials, what we plan to study for the next 6 weeks, and an update on goals. I'll also have a pregnancy update post sometime next week.

Linking to Weekly Wrap-Up

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Homeschool Week 5: Laundry and Learning and a Festival

Saturday we had one big project - washing and changing bedding on all 10 beds. Usually I try to spread this out over more than one day but this week I decided to tackle it all at the same time. It started early and took all day. After switching the first load to the dryer and starting the second load Emma and I left at 7:30am for grocery shopping. When we got back we helped Daddy pack everyone up for a field trip. An airport in a nearby city was having a big World War II day. They had planes from WWII flying in, vehicles, the traveling WWII Memorial Wall, and many things to explore. It was a lot of fun!

In the afternoon Makayla and I ran to the library to return books and pick up a few more. She also needed to run to the farm store for heat lamps for the bearded dragons (she's trying a different set up). Grilled hot dogs were dinner. Then it was time to put the bedding back on all those beds. What a workout! I made sure I wasn't the one climbing up on the triple bunk beds to do the top bunks.

After beds were made I sat at the computer to update our homeschool assignment sheets for the coming week. It took about 10 minutes to figure out who needed to do what assignments on which days, taking into account 4 eye checkups, on hospital clinic visit for Mason, an orthodontist appointment for Joseph, and Makayla's regular Tuesday shadowing at the veterinary office. Thankfully 5 of the appointments are on one single day when Daddy is home too.

Sunday was a nice day at church with encouraging messages and great discussion. Dinner was put in the crock pot in the morning (green beans and ham) so I decided to bake in the afternoon. I made a batch of chocolate cookies that taste a lot like brownies. It's a recipe the kids made for the first time with my husband's mom (Grandma K) on her last visit. We spent the evening playing card games with the kids. Uno was up first and is crazy with that many people! Then we did Guillotine, followed by Capture: A Book of Mormon Game.

Monday morning began with oatmeal and my usual scripture study. Then I helped various kids with school work before packing up Mason and I for his long appointment at dermatology clinic an hour away at the hospital. Daddy held down the fort and made sure the rest of the homeschool day was finished while I was gone. Mason's appointment went pretty well, with only 1 new prescription added. We got home in time for Daddy and 3 other kids to head to the eye doctor for their yearly checkup.

While Daddy cleaned up the after dinner dishes I mixed up a double batch of homemade granola bars. This time it's chocolate chip raisin cranberry bars. Yum! The games came out again - this time Gubs. I love that the kids enjoy playing games. Really, I do. But there are some days when I just don't want to play with them. Today was one of those days. I smiled and said, "This is one of the reasons you have siblings. Ask them to play this time." Just keeping it real!

Tuesday's chilly morning was glorious, though the day warmed up eventually. It was a smooth start to the day with math, reading, history, writing, Latin, and so on. Last night we started another history book read aloud - Paddle to the Sea. My kids were fascinated and it was the first thing they asked to read this morning. The illustrations are beautiful works of art and every bit as engaging as the story itself.

Makayla headed off to the veterinary office mid-morning to shadow as usual. The rest of the kids finished up their school work and enjoyed the early afternoon. The rest of our day was pretty relaxed, family time, playing, and watching a movie together (The Spy Next Door).

Wednesday was a foggy morning on the drive to Seminary. I love fog, though riding along with my teen as they drive in it makes me love it just a smidge less. We saw a skunk on the way.

The morning was a slow pace for me, playing with my younger boys for a bit after breakfast. They don't always include me in their play so when they ask, "Mommy, do you want to play hide and seek?" I say yes. Then remember that my pregnant self is really limited on hiding spots. Ahem. But they had fun and that's really all that matters. We also played with a couple doll babies we pulled out of the attic recently and talked again about the baby growing in mommy's belly.

The older kids did their school work around us, interrupted when they had a question, and just generally got things done. Or distracted each other for a bit and then got things done. Whatever works, right? We read two chapters in Henry and the Chalk Dragon today because we just hadn't gotten to it yesterday.

We finished off the day with most of the family going to Cub Scout Pack Meeting (we were minus Makayla and Joseph, who had youth activities). Our pack meeting was a tour of one of the local fire stations. It was really interesting!

Thursday began with school. I helped kids as needed, which today meant several things with my teen (chemistry, Latin, algebra 2). She doesn't always need me so I try to enjoy the times when she does. It's not so easy to enjoy algebra 2. I love doing Latin with her - I love languages.

Daniel and I used the hands on fraction overlays with his Math U See to see how to make different fractions into the same kind of fractions so we can add or subtract them. Ex: how do we add 1/3 and 2/5? Change them to the same kind... 15ths. That would be 5/15+6/15=11/15.

I had All About Reading with Mason, Caleb, and Oliver. Each are at a different point so it was one after the other, sounding out words or listening them to read a story. They are each doing well at their place in the levels.

In the early afternoon Joseph had yet another orthodontist appointment. This every other week appointment for his palate expander is getting old fast! We are hopeful that we are close to the end of the every other week appointments. Grandma stopped in for a quick visit and dropped off lots of bananas and a bin full of apples from Great Grandma and Grandpa's tree.

The kids then spent an hour playing at the table together. The Spirograph sets came out for some of the kids. I joined in this group. Other kids grabbed our bucket of thinking putty containers. This is a popular activity for my hands on kids! We have a variety of Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty (aff). We even bring this stuff along on doctor's visits.

In the evening I spent some time working on Cub Scouts. I'm the new Cubmaster for our pack and there is lots to learn and some areas that need some tweaking to get working better.

Friday was gloriously chilly all day. We had all the windows open to enjoy it. Kids got right to work on school - even the teen. She had us finishing Algebra 2 before 9am. Oliver and Caleb each finished the lesson they were on in All About Reading. Joseph, Emma, and Daniel finished reading their independent read chapter books for history this 6 weeks.

I reminded kids the washer was available if they need to do laundry(some children took advantage of that), cleaned out the upstairs closet (holds medical supplies, extra bedding, and I would love to fit towels in here), and then Emma came to me asking for ideas of something to do. I suggested she cook lunch. I didn't have any specific plans and she decided that I should help her make cinnamon rolls. So that is what we did!

Saturday we spent the entire day a couple hours away at the Ohio Renaissance Festival with our 9 children, 2 nephews, and grandma. 11 kids age 16 and under. It was such a fun day! We saw several shows including a sword fighting show, a real joust, and a human chess match. We wandered in and out of shops. We went out to the van to eat the lunch we packed (no food or drinks can be brought into the festival, though they sell a lot of options of course). We talked to people. We bought things. We came home exhausted but with many wonderful memories.

Linking with the Weekly Wrap Up.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Homeschool Week 4: Feeling Like Fall

Saturday daddy had a driver's meeting at work. The kids did chores and then their Saturday game time. Makayla and Mommy went to the reptile show to pick up bugs and rats for Makayla's reptiles - and Makayla drove the hour to get there in the big city! Grocery shopping was done in the hot afternoon. A thunderstorm rumbled and poured later in the afternoon and into the evening. We met another family with a child who has spina bifida like Mason and were able to pass his outgrown dynamic stander on to them in the evening. Everyone played and relaxed the evening away and then it was up to bed for some sleep before Sunday.

Sunday is always my favorite day of the week. Why? It's my day of rest! Now, as a mother to nine children my definition of rest isn't quite the same as it was when I had no children. There are still mouths to feed - but we try to keep preparations simple and work together in the kitchen. But the regular chores don't happen beyond keeping up with dishes. We wake up and everyone gets ready to be out the door at 9:30am for church. Church is from 10am-1pm.

The first hour and 10 minutes of church isn't as restful with children - it is Sacrament meeting, where the entire congregation sits as families to partake of the sacrament, sing hymns, and listen to the speakers. Today, for example, we had 3 speakers, a youth, a missionary serving in our ward, and the father of one family in our ward. (A ward is a local congregation.) Keeping all the children in Sacrament meeting makes a little more noise but less than you would think. The second and third hour are classes.

Hour two is Sunday School. There are classes for adults, youth, and children. The youth are divided into classes with two ages together in a class (12/13, 14/15, 16/17). Joseph is in one of these, Makayla in another. The children's classes have just one age per class, so those turning 4, or those turning 7, or those turning 11. Samuel, Mason, Caleb, Oliver, Daniel, and Emma are each in one of these. There is also an optional nursery class for children ages 18 months to 3 years old. Tobias enjoys this because they have toys, lesson, snack, music time, and lots of fun.

Hour three all the children meet for Primary where they have a sharing time lesson and singing time. The youth meet separately as young men or as young women, ages 12-17. The adults meet separately as well, women in Relief Society with men in their own class.

After church we come home, make lunch as a family, and spend time together. We take care of the usual afternoon medical care for Mason (takes about 1 1/2 hours) and Tobias naps. We often will play games as a family on Sunday afternoon. We talk and laugh and rest. Today we also made no bake cookies. Yum! On this particular Sunday there was also a Stake fireside for youth ages 12-17 with their parents. (A stake is a collection of congregations in a larger area.) I attended with Joseph and Makayla.

Monday started extra early for some of us because it was the first day of early morning seminary for Makayla. Up at 5:00am, out the door at 5:40am, Monday through Friday for the entire school year. At the moment she doesn't have her driver's license (she's got her permit) so we're still driving her. We share rides home with another family right now, until their daughter or ours get their license. Makayla is home around 7:10am from seminary.

Monday was also eclipse day of course. It was a school morning as usual for us. Kids got their work done and then we spent the afternoon in the backyard to view the eclipse and eat popsicles. It was really neat to watch the progress of the moon over the sun. It made me grateful again for a God who has set in motion the planets and planned every tiny detail to work together. Amazing!

In the late afternoon I went to the hospital for blood work. The doctors are monitoring my thyroid every 4 weeks through the pregnancy. Things look great so far, my medication dose is doing it's job.

Tuesday most of the kids got to work early. As in, Oliver was doing school at 6:30am! Three of us had eye checkups scheduled for mid-morning. I really don't like having our school morning broken up by appointments but sometimes it just can't be avoided.

Makayla decided to tackle chemistry early today so this is what was going on in our kitchen. Any time there is a fire the kids are drawn to it like a moth. I think almost every child stopped in to see what was going on.

I made a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for lunch today and we listened to Tuesdays at the Castle (aff). The day went on as usual and we finished off our evening listening to the last two chapters of Tuesdays at the Castle with Daddy. Hooray for finishing the book!

Wednesday morning was chilly and held the promise of cooler fall weather. It made me so happy that I baked biscuits and made two soups for lunch. We spent our morning doing school work as usual. Latin, math, history, writing, astronomy, reading, chemistry, art, grammar -- we worked through it all. I will go through it by child:
  • Makayla and I are almost finished with chapter 2 of Latin Alive 1. We've started conjugating verbs. We're making our way through lesson 4 in Algebra 2 and surviving. She's reading history on her own. For writing today we discussed motifs and things appearing in 3s in fairy tales, as well as discussing those things in the movie The Princess Bride. She did chemistry on her own today. 
  • Joseph read his history chapter book. He's doing well in PreAlgebra and Fix It Grammar. He's started typing his report on the San Francisco earthquake in preparation to do edits. In science he created a piece of art related to our theme of space.
  • Emma is also doing well in PreAlgebra and Fix It Grammar. She's on country 3 or 4 in her writing about an imaginary island chain. She was thrilled to have art included in science today - and couldn't resist adding a small starship Enterprise and a Borg ship to her space scene. She's still reading her history chapter book too.
  • Daniel moved on to a new writing project this week. He finished up the letter writing last week and now he's researching bald eagles and writing a report about them. He has decided he likes Fix It Grammar, which doesn't surprise me. He's in Epsilon for math so this week has been learning about equivalent fractions. He read another chapter in his history book and did an art piece for science today too.
  • Oliver is working with oa and ow words this week in All About Reading level 3. He is multiplying by 2s and converting quarts to pints because there are 2 pints in every quart. He did a drawing of a cactus today from Draw Write Now and tomorrow will add the copywork to the page. His art project for science was the solar eclipse seen through the glasses we bought. 
  • Caleb did two pictures of the solar eclipse for science. His reading is working on beginning blends in words. He's on subtracting nines, lesson 22 in Math U See Alpha. He also drew a cactus today from Draw Write Now and will do the copywork sentences for it tomorrow. 
  • Mason chose to use a dry erase book today as part of his handwriting/fine motor skills work. He used pattern blocks for math. He also worked on naming the sounds different letters of the alphabet make. Each letter was covered by a chocolate chip and so he would pick a chip, move it, say the letter sound, and eat the chocolate. He drew the solar eclipse as well today. 

I remembered a dvd we have called Your Backyard: Identifying 18 Common Feeder Birds (aff) and we watched about half of that today. It's all about identifying birds by sight and by their calls. What surprised me the most was that Tobias, Samuel, and Mason loved it. There is another dvd in that series about Monarch butterflies. We've not seen that one. We have noticed a number of butterflies lately though.

Thursday started with a doctor's appointment for two kids before gathering up everyone to head to book club. We made it there and the kids played, had fun, and talked about Tuesdays at the Castle. Some decided they would like living in Castle Glower, while others thought it would be weird.

Our afternoon and evening are kind of a blur in my memory... I was so tired. 18 weeks pregnant on this day and growing a baby is hard work.

Friday schoolwork was finished by lunch time. I tell you, the kids are super motivated on Fridays, and I love it! We started reading our next title for Homeschool Book Club over morning snack. We're doing Henry and the Chalk Dragon by Jennifer Trafton (aff). So far it has some fun word play and hints at favorite books we've read in the past.

As I type this I hear several kids playing upstairs together - that means Legos. I also hear Joseph and Daniel debating over a game of Gubs. Tobias is laying on the floor chewing on a Duplo vine.

I'm going to go read a book just for myself until it is time to make lunch. What book? Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors(aff). I'm so excited because my launch team copy just came in the mail this week and I've been counting down the days for it to arrive. The book officially releases on October 3rd (and you can already pre-order it on Amazon). This is by the author of the wonderful book Kisses from Katie (aff), a book I reread every year.

That's it for us this week!

Linking to Weekly Wrap Up.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Homeschool Week Three: Keeping Busy

Monday was a no school day and it turned out to be pretty busy. Mason and I were into the big city early at the wheelchair vendor for a couple things. First we picked up his new Rifton Dynamic Stander because he outgrew his other one last January. (Yes, it took insurance 7 months to decide he needed a new one.) We also started the process to order Mason a new wheelchair because he has gotten too big for the orange one he has. He got that when he was 18 months old so it really isn't surprising that he's outgrown it at age 5 years 7 months. The process to get a new wheelchair approved by insurance and then built is every bit as long as the process to get a stander - and probably longer. Today's appointment had us choosing wheelchair brands, designs, accessories, pieces, parts, paint color, etc.

Makayla got some fun mail on Monday. She wrote a letter to Christopher Paolini, the author of the Inheritance Cycle, two weeks ago. He wrote back and sent her several things. She was thrilled - and surprised.

Once we got home from our morning appointment I ran to the store for a prescription refill. Kids played outside. We ate lunch and did the usual afternoon medical care. Then it was off to physical therapy for Mason and I. We got home just as Tobias threw up. The poor guy had been 'off' all day and it went downhill. He threw up and a fever started. He threw up again later in the evening. We spent a lot of time just snuggling - including all night long because he didn't sleep much. I was a tired momma!

Tuesday Tobias was still not feeling great so we did homeschool while I held Tobias. Makayla worked at the veterinary office. Kids had piano lessons. I prepared our homeschool notification paperwork for the year. By evening Tobias was feeling better and playing. He slept through the night peacefully. So did I.

Of course that meant Wednesday we woke up to Samuel with the same fever Tobias had - but no throwing up. He seemed to rally by mid-day. I ran to the post office to send in our homeschool notification papers and picked up denatured alcohol for Makayla's alcohol burner to do her chemistry work. Kids did their school work. Makayla baked a cake just for fun (spice cake with lemon frosting). The oldest two had a youth activity that has become a tradition at church as schools are getting ready to start again - a color war. Basically any game they can do outside with an added dose of water and paint.

Thursday started off with paint by the youngest boys because that's what sounded fun after breakfast. Who am I to disagree? We made a joyful mess and will use their painted papers later in art projects. Kids were mostly off to a slower start today. They might have been up early but they didn't get to school work until 9am. Our slower start schedule is working well - so long as I remember not to nag them about getting a move on school work before 9am. I'm still working on that.

Oliver was the most excited of the kids today during school. He got to start reading the first story in All About Reading level 3. It's called Train Cat. I was slightly worried when we opened the book that he would panic about the smaller text and more text per page. He didn't. He read steadily, sounding things out as he went, and a couple pages in asked to finish the story tomorrow. So that's what we decided to do.

After a relaxed afternoon I baked chicken legs for dinner. The sauce was simple: soy sauce, ketchup, and honey. Daddy got home from work after dinner and the little boys asked to paint again - so out came the mess.

Friday started with oatmeal for a few of us. I'm in denial that it is summer for another month and I am ready for fall. My kids are pretty chatty about the solar eclipse coming up on Monday. We ordered solar eclipse glasses 2 months ago because I knew they would become very expensive and hard to find if I waited for the last minute(yes, they're safe, I triple checked) and so those are waiting in our science bin. We did try them out by looking at the sun this week. One of my kids said, "It looks a lot smaller this way."

Several of my boys got to work as soon as possible on school today. They love getting things done early on Friday. Who doesn't?! This picture shows Mason working in a coloring book, Daniel writing a short story about a homesick duck, Caleb and Joseph doing math, and Samuel and Tobias drawing on the chalkboard.

By mid-morning we were nearing the end of the school work when grandma called to see if we were up for a visit. She had a half day off from work. Hooray! Makayla just did her Algebra 2 while grandma was here to commiserate that it was something grandma had never used in her 50-some years. We talked, laughed, played, and had pizza together. Oh, and put together a peanut butter pie in a 13x9 pan (because a real pie is way too small for a family of 11). It's chilling in the fridge for after dinner tonight.

It's Friday afternoon and this post is ready to publish. Next up on the agenda - dinner prep.

Linking to Weekly Wrap Up.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Pregnancy Update #7: The Happy Middle

A picture of me today, 17 weeks pregnant.
My last pregnancy update was at 14 weeks pregnant. Today I am 17 weeks along and in what I call the 'happy middle' of pregnancy. My morning sickness has disappeared and my food aversions are pretty much gone. At the same time I've not reached the late pregnancy stage with the aches and heartburn yet. It is a glorious time!

My only real symptom right now is exhaustion. This baby growing takes a lot of energy. I am doing my best to eat well, drink lots of water, take my vitamins, and just embrace each day. I have not been exercising much because it is making the exhaustion worse.

There really isn't anything else to share. My weight is steady at 198 lbs, still below my starting weight. I'm still not gaining weight but I know it will start happening soon. I've not been to the doctor to hear the heartbeat or see baby on an ultrasound yet, though that appointment is getting closer.

Do you have any pregnancy or baby related questions for me? If you do just leave them in a comment!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Homeschool Week Two: Rolling Along

Saturday morning I did our school preparations for the next week. Then I was out the door for grocery shopping. I made it home around 9:30am. Saturday was part of tax-free weekend in Ohio. We really didn't need school supplies but a couple of the kids needed new tennis shoes. I happened to have a 20% off coupon and when we got to Payless Shoes all the red tag sale items were also on special for the day and were only $10, no matter what price the tag said. We were able to find most of the shoes with red tags, only Joseph, who is wearing men's sizes now, had more to pay. In the end we got 4 pairs for $48. Not bad at all.

Right before lunch Makayla went to get a haircut. She hadn't been in so long that the salon had sent her a postcard for a free cut and she was ready to use it. Then it was off to the church where Makayla played the piano for a baptismal service.

The afternoon was family time. We played games, laughed, and cooked. I had done the school prep for the next week in the morning. That took about 15 minutes - just long enough to adjust kids assignment sheets with the new week's assignments.

Sunday our big activity is church from 10am-1pm. The morning is spent getting the 11 of us awake, dressed, fed, and out the door. Don't worry, it's pretty easy at this stage of the game. Everyone knows the routine so I really only help very little people get ready. Church was great, as always!

Monday was the return of the school week. Tobias has been waking up early lately, between 5:30am-6:30am. Today was 6:10am so that is when my morning began. The early morning was a mix of waking children, breakfasts, and some people doing their chores. The kids can do chores any time before 1pm. If not done by then they stop what they are doing and get their chore room done.

Being Monday there were new math lessons to go around. Subtracting 0 or 1, multiplying by 0 or 1, fractions, double negatives, and manipulating rational expressions. There were All About Reading lessons for Oliver (level 3 lesson1), Caleb (level 1 lesson 22), and Mason (level 1 lesson 1). Kids had copywork or Fix-It Grammar. They continued their writing projects.

Grandma stopped in for a short visit before and during lunch. The kids love seeing grandma any time but when it puts school work on hold for a bit they love it even more. ;)

After lunch Makayla and I focused on chemistry. It was a good lesson on basics: working on accurate measurements and converting measurments. For example we worked on converting something that was in cubic meters to liters involves converting cubic meters to cubic centimeters, which are equal to milliliters. Then you convert the amount in milliliters to liters.

After chemistry she and I dove into Latin Alive 1 for our first day. I'll be honest, I was a little disappointed that they do not have a daily work schedule in the book for you. Instead they present an entire chapter (in the student book, teacher's manual, and on dvd, depending on your preference). A chapter should take approximately a week to finish the book in one year. We worked together (using books, no dvd today) and just picked a stopping point when our brains needed a break. We will review that material tomorrow with the dvd before moving forward. This first chapter is packed full on basic Latin information on pronunciation, syllabication, and where to accent the words, so we want to stretch it out over 2 weeks to be sure we really master it before moving forward. For those who are curious, I did 3 years of Latin in high school, 2 years of Spanish in high school and a year in college, and I'm familiar with ASL because we used it a lot with one child from age 2-5. I love Latin and can't wait to dive back in and rediscover it with my daughter!

Later in the afternoon while Tobias was still napping Jason and I went to the attic. I love that our attic is a great storage space. I hate that it has become a mess. We're starting to tackle organizing and decluttering the attic in sections when we get cooler weather days. We did a lot of the clothing storage a couple weeks ago. Today was going through the toy storage. With 9 children we have a decent amount of toys but we don't keep everything out. Kids do so much better picking up after themselves when they have a limited set of toys out at any one time. We rotate toys in and out of the attic every month or so. Today we decluttered toys that we have found the kids simply don't play with when they are out, had the kids go through their stuffed animals, and loaded the items we removed into Jason's car to donate.

Tuesday was a bit chaotic in the morning. Kids were doing school everywhere except we really don't have a huge house to spread out in (really - maybe 1500sq ft including the not finished basement and attic) so when one or two kids are chatty or goofing off they tend to distract kids who are trying to work. In the end the main instigator was sent to play and told he would spend the afternoon doing the rest of his school work instead. Everyone settled in to work or play depending on age.

This is my view as I pick up Makayla at the vet office. 
I know she is inside somewhere learning and 
having a great time.

Midmorning found me taking Makayla to her regular Tuesday shadowing activity at a veterinary practice. Then it was back home to make lunch for everyone else. Later that afternoon I picked Makayla up and then she did Algebra 2 while dinner was cooking. After dinner everyone put away laundry because we somehow had 3 loads washed today.

Wednesday had the nice quiet at home morning I love. I caught this picture of most of the kids working away at the table at once. The only ones missing are Makayla, who was upstairs doing her writing, and Oliver, who was behind me reading a book. Our assignment sheets keep us from missing anything (aka. pregnant mommy brain doesn't have to remember what needs done each day because it is already written down).

The afternoon was filled with phone calls as I scheduled eye checkups and dental cleanings, among other things. We have 28 medical appointments (including physical therapy for Mason) in the next 6 weeks and expect at least 2 more. Life is never dull!

Thursday I saw a pattern happening. If Samuel is around when Mason sits at the table to do school he wants to do it too. I've had some kids do this before (insist on tagging along with an older sibling) so I'm just rolling with it. He gets a turn with anything we have out that day if he asks. He has also been enjoying puzzles this week. We pulled a few out of the attic that he had not seen before and so he is doing them every day happily.

Chemistry with Makayla
The day's school work was uneventful. We read a book about what it is like to be an astronaut and the effects the lack of gravity have. We're further along in Tuesdays at the Castle, our book club title. Chemistry is going well for Makayla. Here is a quick picture from her work on accurate measurements and using volume and mass to calculate density.

Friday started early. I think my kids have a sixth sense about the fact that it is Friday and the earlier they get their school work done the earlier they are free for the weekend. They are quick to wake up, eat, and get to work. It's great! The only one not early out of bed today was my teen. No surprise there. She's soaking up what sleep she can get before early morning seminary begins.

I grabbed this cute picture of Tobias reading to himself on the couch this morning. I love that he sees this modeled by his siblings and follows along. He's enjoying Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?

It is evening as I edit the last notes for this post and we're watching Hidden Figures (aff) as a family. The conversations that come up around movies like this are so interesting! It seems like a different child has a question or thought to share each time. Dessert just came out of the oven and that is my cue to hit publish on this post. Have a great week!

Linking with Weekly Wrap Up.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The First Homeschool Week - Complete!

Here is a picture of Daniel's assignment sheet.
This is actually for week 2. 
Every child has one of these so they know
what to do each day.

Monday - The first day of our homeschool year started out with homemade doughnuts. Yum! Kids woke up at their own speed. Some started right into school work while others took their time. It was a bit chaotic because everyone needed me to show them their new papers/subjects/books as they were ready for them. Monday is new lesson day for math so I do a lot of one on one teaching on Mondays. We made it through and just enjoyed ourselves. Midafternoon found me grocery shopping and then heading to physical therapy with Mason. We finished off the day by surprising the kids with $5 pizza. :)

Tuesday - The second day of the homeschool year and the first day Daddy was back to work for the week was lovely. The kids knew what to do for most things so they didn't all need me at the exact same moment as often. I only forgot to prepare one thing - Makayla needed a newspaper for writing today. I ran to the store and grabbed a local paper and a national paper. At 10:30am it was time to run Makayla to the veterinary office she's working at (shadowing) every Tuesday. I don't know how many more weeks she will continue but for now they're happy to have her and she is happy to go. On the way there she shared that one thing she loves about it is that every day is different. You just don't know what you'll see in surgery or appointments until it happens.

Some of our space books for science this month.
The rest of the kids were happy to learn that our first science topic is space. We gathered around the table and I passed around stacks of books on all sorts of space topics for them to peek at. Some of the books I will read aloud while others they will read on their own based on interest in the topics. I told them we plan to do stargazing and to observe the solar eclipse this month. We will also observe the moon phases this month starting tonight. The full moon is in 6 days and then we will watch it slowly disappear. 

More of our space books.
I also started reading aloud a constellation book called Zoo in the Sky (aff) that has shiny silver stars on the illustrations. Here is a picture from the book:
Shiny stars in the constellations.

Piano took up our midafternoon hours and then it was dinner time. I made taco meat and beans for Taco Tuesday of course. Some kids do tacos, others do taco salad. I even have a few who prefer to have just cheese and lettuce in their tortillas and then eat the taco meat/black bean filling with a spoon.

Most of the kids have a binder for their school work on this shelf. 
Makayla keeps her work somewhere else. 
These are some of our books for this year.
Wednesday began with an orthodontist trip for Joseph to get his palate expander installed. By the time we got home several kids were already doing school work, one had opted to begin his chores first, and the littles were just playing. It's a beautiful thing to see kids dive back into routine! I sat and checked over math, did reading lessons, and then worked through Algebra 2 with Makayla. Stretching those math muscles - ouch. After morning snack I gathered the history group and we read about the Chippewa Indians. Our first read aloud for history is The Indian Book, a Childcraft Annual from 1980. The 3 oldest in this group are also reading a book independently for history. Joseph chose The Sign of the Beaver while Emma and Daniel chose Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison.

Joseph is doing the research phase of his writing project right now (from Brave Writer's Faltering Ownership, it's a report). He's chosen to write about the San Francisco earthquake in 1906. He's reading a book about it as part of his research.

Just like every other day this week we also listened to a chapter of our current book for Homeschool Book Club. We are working through Tuesdays at the Castle (aff) by Jessica Day George. We usually listen during a meal or snack time because full mouths = quieter kids.

Dinner tonight was pancakes and bacon. Yum!

The kids played a game most days once their work was done.
This is Forbidden Island. They were happy to win and make
it off the island before it sank!
Thursday - A nice at home day that started with breakfast (of course). I bounced between kids as they needed help. Oliver had a big milestone - he finished up his very last All About Reading level 2 lesson! He's excited to move on to level 3 next week. Caleb is loving his Draw Write Now for copywork. He draws one of the pictures one day and does the copywork the next. Today he drew several birds in a tree.

Emma started plotting the map for her writing project. She chose to write about an imaginary island chain (Brave Writer project from Partnership Writing, but she doesn't want me to partner with her, she can do it on her own). This project is neat because she will create a map of an island chain where each island is a separate country. She will then make individual maps for each country with geographic details and write a history or dossier of each country (what it is like to live there, the government system, religions, animals, laws, etc.). It's a pretty big project so she's planning to work on it for our first 6 weeks.

Dinner tonight was lasagna, rolls, fruit, and salad. I'll be honest, 6 kids don't like it, 3 do. I happen to love it, so I still make it occasionally. They get the option of just eating their allotted rolls (yep, we have limits - picture 3 rolls per person x 11 people = 33 rolls.), fruit, and salad. They tend to top their rolls with a nut butter of some sort, butter and honey, or jam.

This is our homeschool mascot Arnold.
He is a pygmy puff from Harry Potter. Cute and snuggly!
Friday - Today just sort of happened. Nothing out of the ordinary, just following the routines of our homeschooling and home. It's a comforting end to the week. Everyone was happy to finish the first week back to school. There is just something satisfying about checking off those assignment boxes.

Daniel's mailbox he made for writing.
Daniel is enjoying his first writing project - it's a Letter Box (found in Brave Writer's Jot it Down book, though he's doing all his own writing at his age). He delivers letters to people and then watches for the flag to go up on his mailbox when he receives letters in return.

Dinner tonight was crockpot beef stew. I love when I can spend five minutes putting food in the crockpot in the morning and then voila - dinner cooks itself!

We made it through the first week! I love homeschooling - it's a blessing I don't take for granted. If you are interested in our curriculum plans for the year check out this post: Our Homeschool Curriculum for 2017-2018.

PS> Want to see what is up with our family and homeschool more often? I'm trying to post on Instagram this year to capture the everyday moments along the way. You can find me as @tristanrowlee there.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Our Homeschool Curriculum for 2017-2018

One of the best and hardest parts of being a homeschool mom is you are the one in charge and ultimately responsible for curriculum choices. I've made decisions based on my own individual children's needs and interests. Here's what we're going with this year:

Mason is 5 and a half years old. In Ohio that means he doesn't need to be registered with the state yet. It frees me up to give him a true, simple Kindergarten year. We have 3 areas we will focus on: learning to read, learning to calculate (math), and learning handwriting. He will join in for other things as he chooses to: listening to stories, doing science, history, or art. Mason will use All About Reading level 1 at whatever pace he is ready for. He knows most letter sounds and is starting with blending 3 letter words. Math will be Math U See Alpha with a caveat. We always spread Alpha out over 2 years. He will spend the first part of the school year doing hands on math with many materials while we work on his handwriting. Then we'll pull out MUS and get through about half of the book by the end of the year. Mason will be my first child to use Handwriting Without Tears because I think it will address his fine motor needs.

1st Grade
Caleb is 6 turning 7 in November. His focus areas are to solidify his handwriting, do consistent reading lessons, and keep making progress in math. He will do the second half of Math U See Alpha and possibly begin Beta. Handwriting/Copywork this year will be using our Draw Write Now books. One day Caleb will draw the picture and the next day he'll do the handwriting for the picture. For reading Caleb is already using All About Reading level 1 and will continue with that. He will also do some Brave Writer projects. At his age the BW program is called Jot it Down. It has the child narrate their writing to you, their transcriptionist. They illustrate and create the final product with your support. He'll participate in our family history and science studies, which I'll explain later.

3rd Grade
Oliver is 8. His focus areas are to master independent reading, increase his handwriting stamina, and begin to write down his own words instead of relying completely on a transcriptionist (mom). He's using All About Reading level 3, Draw Write Now for copywork/handwriting, Brave Writer projects, and Math U See Gamma. We also like to use Multiplication in a Flash during the Gamma year. He will be in our group history and science studies.

4th Grade
Daniel is 9 turning 10 in October. His focus is to improve his writing stamina and confidence. He's really comfortable in all subjects but writing, where his perfectionism paralyzes him. He'll use Brave Writer at the Partnership Writing level and Fix-It Grammar. He will have a list of literature to work through. He is on Math U See Epsilon this year so all things fractions. He is part of our group science and history studies.

6th Grade
Emma is 11 turning 12 in December. Her focus is to improve her spelling, math skills, and math confidence. She will be using Math U See PreAlgebra this year. She'll do Fix-It Grammar, Brave Writer at the Faltering Ownership level, a literature list, and All About Spelling. She is part of our group history and science studies.

7th Grade
Joseph is 12 turning 13 in October. His focus is to improve his writing stamina, spelling, and math confidence. He's in Math U See PreAlgebra. His language arts plan is All About Spelling, Fix-It Grammar, Brave Writer at the Faltering Ownership level, and a literature list. He's the oldest in our group science and history studies.

11th Grade
Makayla just turned 16 this summer. Her focus is to improve her math flexibility (knowing what to do when), and consistency in all her other subjects. She is starting out trying Math U See Algebra 2 but we will review Algebra 1 if needed. (Last year was her Geometry year, so she may need to brush up on some Algebra 1 concepts.) She'll use Writing Fiction in High School and read through a literature list. Science is Discovering Design with Chemistry by Jay Wile. She's finally decided on a foreign language so she'll dive into Latin Alive 1 this year. We've created a history plan this year that has her reading a spine book and a literature list that progresses from the Civil War through the present day with a heavy emphasis on the 20th century. We have a list of movies and documentaries to explore as well. One other thing Makayla has been doing is shadowing at a veterinary office weekly this summer. She is still continuing that for now.

Family Science Studies
The 7th grade and under group will do science together. This year we are working through a variety of topics with a base of living books and hands on experiences or experiments. Our first topic is space and we've got books on everything from planets, the sun, constellations, and the Mars rover to astronauts and the international space station. Different kids will read or look at different books based on their age and interests in the topic. There are many experiments and demonstrations we can do for astronomy, we will choose as we go. We also plan to observe the solar eclipse this month and do some stargazing with our telescope. After a month or 6 weeks of study we will move on to a new science topic. This will be the pattern all year.

Family History Studies
The 7th grade and under kids will all be studying early American history this year. I have a mix of books for each age - everything from picture books and biographies to historical fiction and nonfiction books. We will read some things together and many books will be done on their own according to age and interests. I also have dvds we can watch to go with topics, from Liberty's Kids episodes to movies and lectures from The Great Courses.

Other Studies
Under this wide umbrella we have art, music, picture study, scripture study, hymns, composer study, physical education, and more. These are generally done as a family in a 'morning basket', though the time we use the basket varies. We use so many different materials that I'm not going to list them. We do not use any formal curriculum for these. I may get together a post about them later and I am sure I will mention some in the weekly review posts as the school year moves forward.

That's all I can think of at the moment!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Homeschooling - Yearly and Daily Schedule Changes

A new homeschool year arrives on Monday at my house! In this post I'm sharing about some new things we're trying out this year. Coming soon will be a post about our curriculum choices for 2017-2018.

Our Yearly Schedule

Usually we just school until I feel like we need a break. This is good (flexible) and bad (if I don't pay attention we can get burned out because I forget to take a break). This year we are beginning with a purposeful work and break plan. We're doing a Sabbath week schedule. We will do school for 6 weeks and then take a break for the 7th week. This means I will do my planning in 6 week chunks too. I've got an overall year's plan, but I only have to work out specifics for 6 weeks at a time. The break week will be a wonderful time to regularly evaluate how kids are doing on reaching their goals and choose new goals when needed.

Our Daily Schedule

We've always been pretty scheduled with set wake up and school times. The high schooler is up at 5:20am and out the door by 5:40am for a seminary class, then returns home around 7:15am. The rest of the kids are up around 6:30am and our day runs from there with breakfast, chores, and school.

For the first 6 week term this year we are trying something a lot more relaxed and outside my comfort zone. We aren't changing our summer wake up time. Kids have to be out of bed by 9am. Now, many of my children still wake up between 6am and 7am, but some do not, and in winter more are likely to sleep past 7am. The high schooler is welcome to go back to bed and sleep after seminary until 9am if she wants to.

Once 9am is here kids are up and need to eat breakfast and start their school day. I will be available to help as needed. Group subjects will happen after anchor points like snack time. School will trickle over into our afternoons - unless a child happens to be one of the early risers who wants to start school before other kids are awake. I'm great with that too.

I do have a couple reasons I wanted to try this daily schedule change. Here are some of those reasons for the curious:
  • Sleep - Who doesn't need more sleep? Makayla specifically doesn't get enough sleep during the school year and it shows in her health, constantly dealing with one cold/cough after another once her allergy season begins. I could use a bit more sleep sometimes too, being up early for Seminary and up at night with little ones.
  • Better attitudes - while some of my kids wake cheerfully there are a couple who are best left to themselves to wake up in the morning. 
  • Flexibility - some of my kids work best first thing in the morning while others really hit their stride late morning or even early afternoon. 
  • One on One Lesson Time - I'll be able to do one on one lessons spread out over more hours of the day, when each child works best. This will hopefully ease up the queue of children waiting for mom too because I know some will keep doing early morning school work while others won't get started until the early risers are finishing up.
Those are the big changes this year. We will reevaluate the daily wake up plan after our first 6 weeks to see how it is working. I'm excited to see how things go!

What is your yearly or daily homeschool schedule? Are you trying anything different this year?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Pregnancy Update #6: Goodbye Nausea?

My nausea has taken a big dip most days and I'm feeling human again. I hate to jinx it but the last few days I really haven't been nauseated at all. I have never had this happen before 16 weeks in a pregnancy, and usually closer to 20 weeks. It's wonderful! I'm still dealing with a major food aversion to chocolate and for the 3rd time in a row couldn't eat pancakes. Other foods are hit or miss. I've been loving hummus in several flavors - plain, garlic, roasted red pepper, and cilantro jalapeƱo.

My energy levels have been all over the place. Some days I have a lot of energy and get tons done. Other days I'm napping mid-afternoon just to make it to bedtime. Or napping mid-morning!

I still haven't gained any weight. Don't tell that to my belly though! Here is my view looking down toward my feet. Or where my feet should be. I'm 14 weeks pregnant now and called my obstetrician today to get on his schedule. My first appointment isn't until mid-September when I am 20 weeks pregnant. I'm going to continue having my hypothyroidism monitored locally by my endocrinologist. It's just easier to hop over to the local hospital for lab work every 4 weeks and I'll have continuity of care post-baby too.

I'm not having any new symptoms. Yes, I am counting my blessings!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Week-ish in Review: The one with an exciting happening!

Monday Makayla left for Girl's Camp with the young women of our extended church area. She's in her 5th year of camp and is a Youth Camp Leader. She's been working and planning for several months with other YCLs and their leaders for this week.

Also on Monday was physical therapy for Mason. His PT is leaving to work in a school system so he's only got 1 more day with her next week. It's sad but change is pretty constant in medical providers. His new PT will join us for therapy next week with his current PT to help the transition. I'm hoping she and Mason hit it off.

I spent a lot of the afternoon making phone calls to doctors and medical suppliers for Mason. We got unexpected good news (a new dynamic stander approved by insurance) and several appointments scheduled for the next 3 weeks.

Other Monday activities this week were cleaning, cooking, and piano lessons. We got into the attic to change out some of our books for the upcoming school year, which is always fun. The kids are trying to browse random new titles on the shelves and so I have two shelves that are off limits as school books I know we'll use this year. By the time we start up in 2 weeks the kids will be more than willing to start so they can crack open some of those books.

We finished off the evening with 50 cent frostys at Wendy's. Yum.

Tuesday started with exercise (me), breakfast, and chores as usual. Most of the kids disappeared upstairs to play Guillotine (aff). I baked muffins for lunch, which I haven't done in a while. I also spent time organizing the history books we pulled down from the attic yesterday. I'm making a list putting them in roughly chronological order so that during the school year I don't have to think about what comes next, it will already be there for me. I also am grouping books together that are on the same topic because then it is easier to decide who will read which books. Here's an example:

Under Civil War I have these books:
  1. If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America
  2. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
  3. If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War
  4. Abraham Lincoln by D'aulaire
  5. Just a Few Words Mr. Lincoln
  6. Escape North
  7. If You Grew Up with Abraham Lincoln
  8. Amos Fortune, Free Man
  9. Freedom Train
  10. Across Five Aprils
  11. Rifles for Watie
  12. Stonewall
  13. The Red Badge of Courage
  14. Uncle Tom's Cabin
  15. Gettysburg Address
Those are roughly in order by age group - so younger children would be books 1-7, middle children could do books 8-12 in addition to the first 7 books, and older children could also do books 13 and 14. Number 15 is the actual Gettysburg Address, which I feel all ages could read or listen to. 

My 7th grade and under kids will begin with Native Americans move forward through Columbus, Pilgrims, Colonies, French and Indian War, American Revolution, and the founding of America, Lewis and Clark, the War of 1812, the Alamo, and Westward Movement. Depending on how slowly or quickly we go through all of that they may move on into the Civil War and so on. 

My 11th grader has chosen to begin at the Civil War and move to the present day, mainly focusing on the 20th century. She will cover topics like Civil War, Inventions, Labor strikes, Transportation changes, Ellis Island, Immigration, the Titanic, the Spanish American War, WWI, the Depression Era, Migrant Workers, WWII, the Space Race, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, Vietnam, etc. 

Other Tuesday fun: It was Taco Tuesday! The kids love being able to make their own tacos with toppings of their choice.

Wednesday was my 'get to things I've put off ' day. That meant finally sitting down to organize the 5 older kids' portfolios from last school year so they can be mailed off to our assessor this Saturday. I spent about an hour in the morning doing this.

In the evening I had Cub Scouts with my little Wolf den. We're working on Code of the Wolf, which involves different ways we can use math. On this night we talked about making predictions based on gathered information, for example weather predictions. Then we learned to draw our own graphs. Each boy drew two blank bar graphs. Then I handed them one of the 'fun size' packets of M&Ms. They opened it and graphed how many of each color M&M were in their packet. We compared information and each boy made predictions about what would be the most and least found color in their second packet. Then they opened a second packet and graphed it. We compared the results. Then they counted how many M&Ms had been in each packet total and we compared the results, found an average, and made a prediction as to how many M&Ms we would find in another packet. Of course they got to eat their candy along the way!

Thursday started off with breakfast (biscuits, sausage gravy, and fried potatoes) and chores. Joseph and I ran to the orthodontist for the next step in the creation of his palate expander while Emma babysat. (The orthodontist's office is 5 minutes from home, which is really helpful.)

The boys decided today was haircut day, so we spent time in the back yard while I cut hair for 6 of the 7 boys. Tobias really doesn't need a haircut yet, he still has wispy baby hair.

Friday saw Grandma arriving at our house at 6:30am. Mason and I left the house at 6:45am to head into the big city Children's Hospital. He had appointments with a couple of his doctors, several x-rays, and we're waiting on news with a plan of action or more tests ordered. We got home 5 hours later in time for me to drop him off and go pick up Makayla at the church, where she had just arrived from Girl's Camp.

The afternoon included our usual hour and a half of medical care for Mason, playing Sleeping Queens (aff) with Caleb and Oliver, cleaning, cooking, and a little bit of rest. Daddy came home in time to grill hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner.

Saturday is our one video game day. The rule is you have to eat breakfast and get your chores done first. We pull the Wii and Xbox out of the basement and hook them up to the tv. Kids get 30 minutes to play a game. Then it all gets packed away in the basement for another week. We have a new addition to the game options. One grandparent gave us their virtual reality headset recently because they just don't use it. My kids are having a good time exploring that.

A quick library trip happened this morning. This was also grocery shopping day of course. I have to admit that even with one child coming along to help I just don't enjoy grocery shopping. Many people have suggested we try out online ordering but our main shopping place is Aldi and they don't offer it. The price difference between Aldi and other grocery stores is big when you buy food in the quantity we need. I can easily spend $75 less just by shopping at Aldi. The convenience of online ordering is trumped by the budget. The rest of Saturday was more family time.

Sunday we had church of course. It was a good but bittersweet day. I was released from my callings as a Primary teacher and a Wolf Den Leader. I'll miss them. I'm still going to be busy though because I got a new calling - Cubmaster! Yes, really. I've never done that before and have many things to learn, but I'm glad I still get to work with the Cub Scouts. Our Raingutter Regatta (boat race) is this week so we are busily getting ready for that.

Sunday afternoon and evening were family time. We helped Joseph finish packing for Scout Camp and watched a movie.

Once the kids were in bed I worked on our homeschool schedule. Here are cards I made with the lessons that need to happen in a single day (excluding things like art, P.E.). Each column is a different student, so left to right it is Makayla through Mason. The two preschoolers don't have official school work. Some of this work is one on one, some is done as a group, and there are subjects here they do mostly independently too. It's going to be a great year!

Monday we waved goodbye to Joseph as he headed off to camp. His troop is going to West Virginia to camp at a lake and will attend the National Scout Jamboree for 3 days as visitors as well. It's a big deal and only happens once every 4 years. Joseph is excited for the many activities they will do!

The morning was spent working on a project from my things to do before baby list. We pulled a couple of unsorted bags of clothing from the attic, sorted them into the appropriate size bins, and cleared out some things from the attic while we were up there.

In the afternoon I got to do something exciting - become an active Thirty-One consultant again! I've got a website to make shopping easy for my US friends. (International friends I'm sorry but I can't ship outside the US.) I saw the new Fall/Winter catalog that just opened this week and couldn't resist. There are some beautiful, functional items I can't wait to add to my home. I've also got my eye on several items that will be fun gifts during the birthday and holiday season. This week you can also still shop from the Spring/Summer catalog and snag some of the retiring prints and items before they are gone.

Here is a sneak peek at some things you'll find at Thirty-One.

And one more!

Tuesday is here and our morning has consisted of play, puzzles, and dropping Makayla off to work at the veterinarian office. It's a cloudy gray day and I've got some school planning to do. I think the kids want lunch first, so I'm off to cook.