Friday, April 21, 2017

This Week's Notes, Boy Scout Rank Achievement

Monday was day 1 of the last 6 weeks of the school year. We hit the ground running. Math, science, reading, literature, grammar, writing, and even an art project with our fingerprint Usborne book as the inspiration. The kids took a break at 10am when my visiting teacher came to visit and headed outside to run off their energy.

Also on Monday:
  • Thyroid bloodwork for mommy - and a follow up appointment next week.
  • Track practice for Makayla.
  • A mountain of clean laundry was put away - because we just didn't get to it over the Easter weekend.
  • Feeding people. Why do they insist on eating 3 meals a day?
  • Thinking about the homeschool convention. I head there on Friday with a friend. It is going to be a fun 2 days!
Tuesday started early as usual with taking Makayla to Seminary. I was home by 6:05am and realized it was time to start putting things in order for the my trip to the Midwest Homeschool Convention. I printed directions and a parking pass, double checked my hotel reservations, and started a packing list. The day then moved into breakfast, school, dropping a meal off to someone, and more school.

We're into physics for science with the 6th grade and under crowd. This week we've been learning about Isaac Newton and his laws of motion. Today we explored force and inertia.

In a moment of clarity today I realized just how refreshing it was to take a week off for spring break. Everyone is cheerful and diligent in their school work again. It confirms the plans I made to put our homeschool on a Sabbath week schedule next fall. We will school 6 weeks and then take the 7th week off for rest. We will have an 8 week summer (all of June and July) and start things back up in August.

I spent part of the afternoon outside with the kids, took Makayla out for some driving practice in the mid-afternoon. In the evening she had another track meet.

Wednesday some of the kids got up earlier than usual, including Tobias (age 17 mos), who was up at 5:00am for the day. My alarm doesn't ring until 5:20am. I missed those 20 minutes! Oh well. We were rolling along pretty well before 8am with school work. I just went with it. Most of the kids have taped their weekly assignment sheets on the dining room wall so they flit between the wall, book shelves, table, couch, floor, piano, and bedroom - depending on where they are most comfortable doing each assignment. Emma prefers to do math on the couch, for example. Makayla does most of her work other than math and piano in her bedroom. Caleb does everything at the table. And on it goes.

Boy Scout Court of Honor tonight - Joseph earned two ranks (Tenderfoot and 2nd Class Scout) and one Merit Badge. It is so strange to see my little boy is taller than I am. Sigh. They just keep growing up.
Joseph pinning on my Mother's pins for the ranks he's earned.

Thursday was a blur with the last school work of the week, grocery shopping (because I'll be gone Saturday), and packing for the homeschool convention.

As I type this is it 4:14am and I'm heading out the door shortly to pick up my friend Jessica and go to our teacher development weekend in Cincinnati at the convention. We have literally hundreds of classes to choose from (and will probably get to 10 or so), hundreds of curriculum vendors to browse, and a lot of fun to enjoy!

Monday, April 17, 2017

School Goals for the Next 6 Weeks

We've reached the last 6 weeks of our school year and so I sat down and set goals for each child to work on. I thought I would share those here for my own records.

Makayla (10th grade)
  • Finish The Magna Charta and read The Scottish Chiefs.
  • Continue with The Power in Your Hands
  • Math U See Geometry - finish.
  • ACT Math Review - 3 practice problems per day.
  • Veterinary Medicine online class - keep going to the end.
  • Literature - Read 1 chapter daily (currently working through The Work and the Glory series)
Joseph (6th grade)
  • Literature - Finish Ranger's Apprentice book 3 and move on to book 4.
  • Math U See Zeta - finish. Then begin review.
  • Fix It Grammar - Keep going.
  • Writing - In the next 6 weeks write: a book report, a movie review, a story, and an essay on a science topic of his choice.
  • Science - Move into physics portion of our study.
Emma (5th grade)
  • Science - Move into physics portion of our study.
  • Writing - In the next 6 weeks write: a book report, a movie review, a story, and an essay on a science topic of her choice.
  • Fix It Grammar - Keep going.
  • Math U See Zeta - finish. Then begin review.
  • Literature - Finish Eldest and begin Brisingr.
Daniel (3rd grade)
  • Literature - Finish Classic Bedtime Stories and then read Poppy.
  • Math U See Delta - Finish and then begin review.
  • Writing - In the next 6 weeks write: a book report, a movie review, a story, and an essay on a science topic of his choice.
  • Science - Move into the physics portion of our study.
Oliver (2nd grade)
  • All About Reading - Finish level 2.
  • Math U See Beta - Finish and then begin review.
  • Science - Move into physics with older kids.
  • Writing - Team up with mom to write: a book report, a movie review, a story, and an essay on a science topic of his choice.
Caleb (Kindergarten)
  • All About Reading - Continue with level 1.
  • Math U See Alpha - Continue.
  • Science - Join older kids for physics fun.
Mason (PreK/K Transition)
  • Finish learning ABCs and their sounds.
  • Practice cutting with his Kumon workbook.
  • Handwriting -practice one letter per day.
  • Story time - Rotate through Aesop's fables, fairy tales, Beatrix Potter with Mom and younger brothers.
  • Science - Join older kids as desired.
Samuel (age 3) and Tobias (age 17 mos) do not have formal school lessons. They like to join Mason for story time and Samuel sometimes joins in science. Mostly they play. A lot of Mason and Caleb's day is still play as well. The rest of the kids finish lessons and are free to explore their own interests or play. Homeschooling is a wonderful life!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

He is Risen!

And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise. (Moroni 7:41)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Makayla All Dressed Up

I promised a few weeks ago to share photos of Makayla in the dress she found for prom. Tonight she's dancing away at this prom hosted by our regional church youth groups.

Makayla had very specific ideas of what she was looking for in a dress (colors: blues or greens).

She also found a couple hairstyles on Pinterest and challenged me to try them on her very curly hair. I think it was a success.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Our Spring Break Week - Family Fun

Saturday we kicked off our family spring break with a trip to the zoo. It was really the perfect weather and we saw many animals that were more active than they will be during the summer heat. So many fun animals and family memories. Favorites ranged from the penguins, anaconda, bats, and kangaroos to the many monkeys and apes - including 6 month old JJ the gorilla.

We finished Saturday off with a shopping trip for Makayla to find a bolero and shoes to go with her dress for Mormon Prom - 5 stores and 90 minutes later we found the perfect items. The rest of the evening was just relaxing at home as a family.

We had a quick family counsel before bed to discuss the plans for the week. We do have some regular life things still going on. Notably - 6am seminary for Makayla, track practice and meets, and  two doctor's appointments, a date night for mommy and daddy, Scouts, a pioneer activity for Emma, and... you get the picture. We challenged the kids to start thinking tonight before bed about some fun things we can fit in around all of that. They started sharing ideas like playing outside, doing a campfire, having a family over to visit, and playing games. We will see what ends up making it into our days. We also have some house organizing and cleaning projects we'll tackle as the week goes on.

Sunday was a peaceful Sabbath day. We had church from 10am-1pm, came home and made lunch, then spent the rest of the day quietly.

Monday was a work project day. Here are some of the jobs we accomplished:
  • scrubbing bathrooms
  • mopping floors
  • washing bedding for 6 of the beds and making beds again
  • switching out the kid's winter clothes for spring
  • decluttering 6 bags of kid clothes
  • working with Emma on cleaning out her area of the closet shelving (the girls have a shelving unit in their closet for things, not clothing.)
We got a new table today. Our giant round table is still in good shape but we need more floor space to make it easier for Mason to use his wheelchair through the downstairs. We switched to a rectangular table that is 8 feet long and 3 feet wide (affiliate link)thanks to Amazon's handy free shipping. It has been wonderful because we can also now play board games more easily! The kids have been doing chess tournaments every morning after breakfast too.

Monday was also date night for my husband and I! We don't always get out of the house for date night, usually we just stay up and do an at home date night. Today we got to go out to dinner and do some shopping.

Tuesday started way too early with Daniel waking me at 4:00am to say he had a headache and felt like throwing up. We got a bucket, started diffusing peppermint oil to help with the nausea, gave him some ibuprofen, and set him up downstairs on the couch just in case. And I moved downstairs to be nearby. He never did throw up, which I'm grateful for.

It rained and thunderstormed until lunch. Of course today was one of the days I had to be out and about. Makayla had an eye doctor appointment, we picked up a few groceries and medications, and stopped at the pet store to price frozen rats for her snake.

Lunch was banana bread and pumpkin bread that daddy baked while we were gone, with fresh veggies and grapes on the side. The afternoon was relaxed, some cleaning, some card games, lots of legos. 

Makayla had a track meet all evening and was in three events again. I attended the last 2 hours of it (saw 2 of her events) while Daddy stayed home and did movie night with the rest of the kids.

Wednesday morning kids did chores while Daddy rototilled a garden area and some flower beds. The kids have gardened off and on through the years and this year we've made plans to garden again. I have a really poor track record with plants so if anything survives or produces it is likely due to the kids' efforts. More things we did on Wednesday:

  • Driving practice - Makayla left the parking lot for the first time. How do teens ever go from driving around large parking lots to driving on the roads? It was an interesting experience for both of us.
  • Yogurt making - I was given a yogurt maker quite a while ago and this week I pulled it out and made a batch of yogurt, something I haven't done in a long time. It's pretty yummy!
  • Haircuts for 6 of the boys while we played in the back yard. Tobias is the only one who missed out, he was napping.
  • Cub Scouts - we are working on Howling at the Moon so we did some improvisation games (acting), practiced run ons, and planned out our skit for Pack Meeting.
  • Youth activites

Thursday started out with some garden planting (cool weather crops like spinach, broccoli, collards, carrots). Then Tobias and Mommy went to a checkup at the pediatrician's office. We're pretty relaxed about checkups, after the first few months they only happen when I think of them. We're also a slow vax family - we vaccinate but on a slower schedule (generally no more than 2 vaccines per visit).

The kids spent the afternoon outside in the nice weather. They weren't impressed that the bees have come out for the year but they enjoyed the sunshine. Daddy got a project done bricking around the fire pit.

Family movie night happened tonight as well - we watched Hidden Figures. The only person who had already seen it was Makayla, who went to see it in theaters with two of her friends. Many of the kids were in and out during the movie, watching and then playing upstairs, but some of us watched from beginning to end. It was a good movie!

Friday felt like it was Saturday. We had a slow morning where I spent time doing 'office work' - figuring the last of the year's taxes, going through files and shredding old papers, and listening to my kids practice piano.

We had a campfire lunch and roasted hot dogs and smores. It was our first campfire of the spring and everyone loved it. My favorite thing was actually that Tobias is not putting every single thing he picks up in his mouth. He's running and climbing and exploring. It makes it much more enjoyable for me!

In the afternoon Makayla had me try a few new hairstyles for her because tomorrow is Mormon Prom. I think she has narrowed down the possibilities to one hair style - but she could always change her mind tomorrow.

Our evening tonight has some youth work projects to earn money for camp, a movie night for Makayla at a friend's house to watch Les Miserables, and menu planning for me. I'm going to go ahead and press publish on this post so I can get the last 6 weeks of our school year prepared. It's hard to believe we're to that point, but we are.

Linking here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Homeschool Planning for Next Year - In Process!

One of the fun parts of homeschooling is being able to read, research, and plan out our studies each year. Being mother to a rather large family makes it even more fun because I have so many learners to enjoy. This fall I will be working with 7 official students in K, 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 11th, as well as two preschoolers tagging along. Yes, really. We're creeping oh so close to graduating our first child - something that was hard to picture more than a decade ago when we started doing our little homeschool preschool lessons.

I decided that since this blog is partially a journal of our homeschooling that I would record here the current plans for 2017-2018. Some things may change, and as you will see, some things are not yet decided. Next week I head to the homeschool convention where I can get my hands on some things I'm waffling over and hopefully firm up decisions.

There are some easy decisions. We'll keep using Math U See for everyone. It will be my first year teaching Algebra 2, which will be interesting. I remember graduating high school and saying something along the lines of never wanting to do Algebra 2 again, despite my A grade. Now it looks like I'll be going through it 9 more times. Oh the irony!

My younger boys will use All About Reading until they are solid readers. Those already reading fluently will have a list of literature to choose from all year and usually read a chapter a day from those and narrate what they are reading.

For my middle kids (Joseph, Emma, Daniel) grammar, copywork, vocabulary, and handwriting are all rolled into one curriculum - Fix-It Grammar. Younger ones (Oliver, Caleb, Mason) will do handwriting via copywork that I write out or print for them using StartWrite software. Makayla may use one of the levels of Fix-It Grammar as well.

Language Arts is one area I am still waffling a bit though. I'm considering the Good and the Beautiful curriculum for some of the kids. Maybe. Writing for the 4th grade and under kids might be Brave Writer materials or projects of our own based on Brave Writer methods. I am considering Cover Story for my 6th and 7th graders, but may just stick with Brave Writer. Or use the Good and the Beautiful. Ha! We will see. My 11th grader is going to use Fiction Writing in High School by Sharon Watson, will probably participate in NaNoWriMo again, and Camp NaNo, and has a large file of stories and novels in various stages of writing.

Science for the high schooler is Discovering Design with Chemistry by Jay Wile. Science for everyone else is undecided. The rest of the kids will most likely use one of the Apologia Exploring Creation science texts. They've used the Anatomy and Physiology and are currently using Chemistry and Physics, so that leaves Botany, Astronomy, or one of the 3 Zoology books.

History this year will be my own mix of books. My high schooler has requested American History from the Civil War to the present day. She'll use Smithsonian's Children's Encyclopedia of American History as her spine and will read a variety of books to flesh out the information. Some on her list so far are: War Horse, The Green Glass Sea, Brown Girl Dreaming, Hidden Figures, The Endless Steppe. The rest of my children are doing American History from pre-Colonial times up to the Civil War. Their spine book is A Child's First Book of American History. There will be a variety of books based on age, everything from picture books to chapter books for reading aloud or independently.

Fine arts for the family will vary based on age and interest. Children will continue piano lessons. We will study a couple composers and several artists. The middle school and under crowd will continue our art class I teach using our Deep Space Sparkle membership. My high schooler will use books and Craftsy classes to continue to develop her art, and I suspect Emma, who will be in 6th grade, may begin using some of the Craftsy classes as well. They both need to look at the options and make their own decisions.

Health and P.E. are still undecided. Makayla's electives are also undecided. She needs to do a foreign language. I am familiar with Spanish, American Sign Language, and Latin. She is interested in Gaelic. She has a wide range of options for electives - I'm pretty flexible so long as it's affordable. I have no idea what she'll choose yet.

I'm probably forgetting several important things. That's another reason I begin planning early, write everything down, and pray about it all.

Have you used any of the materials I've mentioned? Are you already planning next fall's homeschool curriculum?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Usborne Books - My Experience and a Giveaway!

I've been a homeschooling mom for a long time. Books have played a large part in our days and more than once I've found treasures at library book sales. Usborne books have often been those treasures. Recently I placed my first order of Usborne books through my friend Anna Case. She's been helpful through the process - and is offering a giveaway to one of my readers. I'll get to those details in a moment. First let me share a bit about my experience and the books I chose.

The Usborne website is full of so many books: fiction, nonfiction, activity books, wipe off books, chapter books. It can be a bit overwhelming keeping track of books that catch my eye. Anna reminded me that the wishlist feature can keep track of things for me. I spent time browsing Usborne categories over several weeks while I was thinking about my children's interests. When I came across a title that sounded promising I added it to my wishlist.

The Usborne website doesn't offer a detailed look into their books. There is a description and sometimes an extra picture or two. Once again, she was a great source of help - she pointed me to YouTube. Many Usborne books have been reviewed by people on YouTube. These video reviews share footage from the inside of books, comments about the book from someone holding it in their hands, and sometimes comparisons of Usborne books on similar topics to explain what age each book would fit best. I took my wishlist and spent a week checking YouTube for videos to see inside each book I was considering. That helped me narrow down my list to a more manageable size. I had a specific amount of money budgeted for Usborne books and stayed within that amount. Are you curious about what books I purchased? I'll go over them in groups!

Board Books

My youngest children are 1 and 3 years old. While the 3 year old can be trusted with paper pages, the 1 year old is not gentle enough yet. Both boys are enjoying these books. My 3 year old has some speech delays that we are working on. These board books are sturdy enough for my 1 year old but my 3 year old and I are using them as part of his speech therapy practice. The first book has many familiar things for him to identify or answer questions about. The second book has lifelike pictures of 1000 animals divided into broad categories. There are even some animals I've never heard of!

Activity Books

I chose two color by number books. One is aimed at younger children with bigger pieces of the picture to color in at a time, some portions already printed in color, and younger-child friendly themes. The other color by number has more detailed pictures to color. The smaller books are also activity books. The crossword book begins with simple crosswords of 6 words that grow larger over the course of the book. One hint I have for doing crossword puzzles with non-spellers - have them figure out the answer and you write it in. Simple and fun! The 100 Logic Puzzles has spent more time in my children's hands than on the shelf so far - it has a variety of colorful puzzles and mind-benders to solve.

I have lots of kids who love art and drawing. I have recently introduced some of my middle readers to children's manga books and they are fascinated by the comic book format. This book walks you through comic book creation with doable activities. Fingerprint art will be a fun addition for my littles who love messy art.

We love story telling games and I couldn't resist a storytelling book. You choose a character at the very beginning and on every page you are prompted to choose a path and add to your story. There are boxes prompting you with things to describe or decide. The illustrations are colorful and interesting. We used it as a group our first time through. Each person turned a page and made the decisions for the story, told us what happened next, and then passed the book to the next person, who turned the page and kept things rolling.

Learning Books

The Academy series is part activity book, part unit study. Kids are introduced to many topics related to the career theme. I LOVE these books because they pull together so much information on topics for me. I've taken some pictures from the Architect book to show you what I mean:
  • Top Left: How to Build a Model House - Yes, it shows them how to plot out a house model on grid paper and cut it out to build. 
  • Top Right: Climate - This is talking about how to make a house fit for the elements it will be in. This page includes some science investigations about insulating materials.
  • Bottom Left: Offices - this explains many of the things an architect must keep in mind when designing a functional office complex. It also introduces kids to the Pentagon. (Earlier in the book children are introduced to other famous structures in relation to architecture. 
  • Bottom Right: Area and Perimeter - Putting math to use in a real, applicable way.

Above and Below is a beautiful book about a variety of biomes and habitats. The bottom half of each page has a section that turns over to reveal the below the surface environment and creatures.

I like this book and card set to add some fine arts to our days. Lots of information in the book and on the back of the art cards. We will probably use these in our Morning Basket in the fall.


Who doesn't love a giveaway? My friend Anna has generously offered to allow one winner a $25 shopping spree in Usborne books, which she will ship directly to the winner. There are lots of ways to enter, so use the Rafflecopter below.
This giveaway will end on April 15, 2017. Books will only be shipped within the continental US(sorry, this is not for international friends).

Ready to make an order already? I would love it if you shopped through this link - I'm hosting a party through Anna right now.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Spiritual Boost - General Conference Weekend

Watch the talk this quote comes from here.

One of our favorite weekends has come again. We spent part of Saturday morning cleaning, moving things to the attic, and preparing food. Then the sounds of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir began streaming from the television and we gathered as a family in the living room for General Conference.

I'll be honest, it is never completely quiet - I do have nine children after all. We listen, some people take notes, others build with legos or draw while listening. In years past we have used a variety of things to help children of all ages to stay relatively quiet for each 2 hour session of General Conference. We have done printed activity pages, notebooks and colored pens, activity stations that include playdoh, and so on. It used to take a lot of effort to prepare for conference.

In recent years our preparations have become simpler. We gather in the living room together and I remind everyone that they are welcome to stay if they can be mostly quiet, or they are welcome to go upstairs to play. However, the rule is that you only get to eat the General Conference candy when it is passed around if you are in the living room with us watching conference. If you are upstairs we won't be calling you down for candy. And candy gets passed around at random times - you never know when mom or dad will decide it's time.

It works surprisingly well. We have watched General Conference as a family for years and even with little ones they quickly become happy to join in. Right now the kids are 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 15. During the two sessions on Saturday (4 hours total) only the 3 and 6 year old wandered off for a bit to play upstairs, missing a round of candy. They soon returned and stayed for the rest of the time.

Another thing that helps - we live in a time zone where meals fall during each session of Conference. The morning session starts at noon (lunch time) and the afternoon session goes from 4pm-6pm and we have dinner at 5pm in the middle. General Conference is the only time of year when we eat in the living room for our meals, picnicking on the floor.

The talks were inspiring. I love hearing stories, thinking about things in different ways, and seeing what captures each of my children's attention.

Sunday's morning session had some of my absolute favorite talks of this conference. I can't wait to study them! If you are looking for one to start with check out this one, or this one, or this one. During this session the kids were a little bit louder than yesterday, not unusual for hours 5 and 6 of conference. They still listened, laughed, asked questions, and felt the spirit.

Sunday's afternoon session saw a return of quiet listening. I think the kids were simply worn out! By the end of the weekend I had 14 pages of notes - and I know there is so much more studying to do. The videos are already available to rewatch online and within the week each talk will also be linked in written and audio form.

We keep food simple for General Conference. Lunch each day was lunchmeat subs that you could heat up in the oven if desired, with chips, fruit, and veggies. Dinner on Saturday was pizza. Sunday dinner was homemade cinnamon rolls with your choice of cream cheese, chocolate, or lime frosting.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Watercolors, Driving Permit, and a Relaxed Week

Our schedule is wacky this week. The local schools are on spring break so Makayla does not have early morning seminary - but her daily track practice is from 9am-11am during prime schooling hours. We are still having school a few days this week because Daddy is on vacation (and break from his college classes) in just 2 weeks, so we want to take our time off with him. We are also winding down to the end of the school year and so some lessons will begin dropping off naturally. It's the hardest time of the year to be consistent for some of my kids - and the easiest for those motivated by closing in on the end of lesson books.

Watercolor Starship Enterprise by Emma
Monday ended up full of friends. The morning was spent at home cleaning and reading books (except for Makayla, who had track practice, then came home to do her online veterinary class for an hour and a half). Then we did lunch and medical routines before heading to our friends' home to visit. We talked, ate dinner, had Family Home Evening together, played outside (including in the forest with the goats), and ended the evening with ice cream. I had some sleepy little guys by the end but we had a wonderful time!

Tuesday began with school work and track practice. After lunch Makayla and I went to her Seminary teacher's house for a dress fitting - her formal dress needs hemmed and that is far above my skill set. After the fitting Makayla took her driver's permit test and is now officially able to learn to drive. She and I went to a large, empty parking lot for her first lesson. She's learning to drive in our giant 12 passenger van!

Watercolor bird by Mommy
Tuesday afternoon the kids from Caleb to Makayla got to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We popped popcorn and enjoyed it. Only Makayla, Emma, and Oliver had seen it in theaters with Jason and I, so it was new for several of the kids. The youngest three boys, Mason, Samuel, and Tobias, simply weren't interested and played instead.

In the evening we got a box of books from the friendly UPS truck. I'll be sharing more about those books in a future post but just so you know - I will be having a giveaway soon related to them! Watch for that post in the next week.

Watercolor peacock by Makayla
My girls and I also spent some time painting with watercolors on this evening. I scattered those pictures throughout this post.

Wednesday started with chores, school, and track practice. Routines are really what keep this house running. I rarely mention the normal routine of laundry, but just so you know, two loads were done from washing to putting away. Sometimes we don't get it put away right away. I'm trying to change that so we for sure get laundry put away before bedtime each day.

It was a pretty laid back day. Kids did a lot of reading, asking questions, and playing. Makayla worked on homework for her vet class. Some were busy with art projects. I got some reading done in a new book - Lisa Murphy on Play: The foundation of children's learning. That evening my two Cub Scouts and I enjoyed a night of games. We did discus (large foam frizbees), javelin throw (pool noodles), and 2 man downhill skiing (on wood/rope skis), as well as a couple minute to win it type games.

Thursday the kids mostly took the day off, other than some math work for Makayla. They played multiple card games in various rooms of the house. We have been listening to The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell during lunch each day this week - our next book club title. Tobias was especially cranky today - he's got a runny nose and it looks like he's working on getting several teeth. He's been my slowest teether yet - at almost 17 months old he only has the front 4 teeth on top and bottom. I held him most of the morning and he napped early and long.

In the afternoon Makayla and I went out for driving practice again. Our next stop was WalMart. We needed to pick up a prescription and some food and candy for this weekend's General Conference sessions. Remember, you can watch General Conference live online both Saturday and Sunday. There are a variety of viewing options including a live stream on the home page of We always plug the laptop into our tv with an HDMI cable so we can watch on a bigger screen. General Conference is one of the most uplifting weekends of the year at my house! Listening to prophets and apostles teach and testify of Jesus Christ encourages me in my day to day life.

Friday is just getting started. I made baked oatmeal for breakfast. Yum! I would really like to tackle some spring cleaning projects today after school work is finished but it will all depend on how Tobias is feeling. I've used up my blogging time for the week so I'm going to go ahead and push publish on this post and get moving on my morning.

Quick note: I also shared about an unexpected blessing on the blog this week - check it out here.

* Links in this post are often Amazon affiliate links. When you shop through my links Amazon pays me a small fee - that goes into my homeschool budget. Thank you! *

Linking to the Weekly Wrap Up.

Unexpected Blessing

Have you ever had a week where you have a hard time fitting your food from a grocery shopping trip in your refrigerator and freezer? That is an every week occurrence at my house, even with a chest freezer to help with overflow. Face it, fresh fruits and veggies, milk, dairy, and meat for 231 meals (11 people eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 1 week - that doesn't take into account any snacks) takes a lot of space. Often we have to split our grocery shopping into two trips each week when space is freed up in the fridge.

Our fridge has seen a lot of use. The produce drawers are held together by duct tape. One shelf in the door has had the rail completely replaced by duct tape.

We've just made do because there are always other places to spend money instead of replacing the fridge. Having enough money to purchase a second refrigerator so we can fit a week of food has been even less of a possibility. We also are at a premium on space in our small 3 bedroom house, which meant fitting a second fridge was unlikely. We had one space with very specific dimensions.

I've prayed for solutions. I've let God know that I'm willing to just keep duct taping our current refrigerator but at the same time I would love to have more fridge space. I've been praying about this for several years, especially on Saturdays when I do my main grocery trip.

Last Saturday we picked up a new-to-us fridge. A family at church was giving away this like new appliance. We were pretty sure our old fridge was going to be moving out. The space we have for a second fridge is too narrow for most refrigerators, my husband assured me. Then we found that the new fridge was too tall for the alcove where our current refrigerator sits in our small kitchen. I asked him to just try pushing the chest freezer over and trying to put the new fridge beside it in our 'second fridge' space.

It fit. Perfectly. God is amazing.

I'm still figuring out what to keep in each fridge. I'm getting used to the idea that I can purchase everything fresh or perishable we need for food for a week - or even close to two weeks - instead of making a second grocery trip each week. It makes me nearly cry each time I pull something out of the second fridge - a fridge we had no way to buy but that God dropped in our lap when another family no longer needed it.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The First Week of Spring - Pictureless

Sometimes I'm just too busy living my life to take pictures. Enjoy this ramble of notes from my week and create your own mental pictures.

Monday was the first day of Spring and we celebrated with our usual trip to Dairy Queen, who offers free vanilla cones on the first day of spring. We sang Moana songs in the van. We also got our new mailbox set up - the old one was falling apart. I picked out this one because it is wider than average and will fit some packages.

School today went pretty much as follows:
  • Makayla did seminary, piano practice, literature, writing, vet class, piano lesson, and ACT English exam practice. (She decided she wanted to study before she takes the ACT test so we grabbed a book and started it a couple weeks ago.) She also went back to track practice today - her vertigo is improving. She got dizzy a couple times but was able to make it through practice.
  • Joseph did scripture study, literature, Fix-It Grammar, math, piano practice, and piano lesson. He also loved snuggling up with Samuel (age 3) to read Dinosaur Named Sue - a photograph filled book about the discovery of the most complete T-Rex fossil.
  • Emma did piano practice, literature, math, scripture study, Fix-It Grammar, and piano lesson.
  • Daniel did literature, math, piano practice, scriptures study, piano lesson.
  • Oliver did math, reading, scripture study, piano practice (he does a little each day because he wants to), and a 5 minute piano lesson.
  • Caleb did reading, scripture study, piano practice (he does just a little each day because he wants to), math, and his 5 minute lesson with our wonderful piano teacher.
  • Mason and I read some books together (along with his younger brothers), he built things out of Lego, we did patterning and math with unifix cubes.
We played several rounds of Sleeping Queens today. It is a fun little game with rich illustrations and addition options. Makayla and I fit in a grocery shopping trip in the early afternoon. The kids asked to watch The Jungle Book today. Dinner was soup and rolls, filling and warm for this not-very-warm first day of spring.

Tuesday we made sure to dive into school early and steady because Joseph and Emma both had orthodontist appointments just before lunch. Neither have braces yet, but both will need them. Joseph's final baby teeth just came out, Emma still has 6 or 8 baby teeth. We also learned that Emma has NO wisdom teeth. Interesting!

Mason's school today was themed around the letter C. He drew stripes on caterpillars (fine motor practice), we read My C Box, My Six Book, and practiced writing the number 6 and his name. My learning to read boys both read to me today. Oliver is getting to the point where he's needing very little help. Caleb is doing well with short lessons and he enjoys All About Reading.

Makayla and I did some dress shopping in the evening. She's got a Spring Formal coming up. She found several dresses she liked and took home her favorite today. No pictures until the dance - sorry!

Wednesday we had puffy white clouds and blue skies but cold temperatures again, starting the day below freezing. School happened as usual. We finished reading our Book Club title - A Wrinkle in Time. It's such an interesting book. Most of the kids liked it. The only eventful happening was realizing two tires were going flat again. With all the getting people places that I do we can't just wait around and let that go. It was past time to replace the tires on the van so we got that done today. The 12 passenger van uses light truck tires - news to me. I just want tires that

Wednesday evening is our usual activity night. I've just recently been called to work with Cub Scouts as a Wolf Den Leader. It's a lot of fun to be in there and Daniel and Oliver seem to like having me in Scouts too. The last time I worked with Cub Scouts I was 18 years old and fresh out of high school. Tonight we had a craft and then played soccer. Whew! Those boys can run circles around me but we had a lot of fun.

Thursday the kids were on the ball with school work because Friday we have Book Club all morning. That means Thursday is the last day of seatwork and as soon as it is done they are free for the weekend. Oliver and Caleb each finished a story in their All About Reading readers. Math was plowed through. Books were read and discussed. Various children worked on piano, art projects, writing, and the usual assortment of lessons. Preparations were begun for a Boy Scout campout. Makayla found out she will be running in her first relay ever at her first track meet of the season this Saturday.

One other thing of note today: I devoured a new book in one day - Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull. Emma is reading it now and I can't wait to talk with her about it. It was great to dive back into the Fablehaven world. I may go crazy waiting for the next 4 books to come out. I love a series like that!

Well, most of my children have just headed to bed to listen to their audio books, read, or write on a novel depending on their age and interest. I'm going to snuggle up with a few little boys, read a couple stories, and lull them to sleep. I love my life!

Linking here.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Learning, Vertigo, and Growth

Monday we slid right back into our school routine after a restful weekend. Several of the kids are inching toward the end of their math books and so we've got interesting topics thrown in. Daniel is learning Roman numerals, Makayla's week was spent reviewing axioms, postulates, and theorems in Geometry, and Joseph and Emma are learning about probability.

Oliver was able to skip the next lesson in All About Reading (-ar) and go right to reading a story with -ar words. Caleb started reading The Tan Hat and giggling at a cat that was wearing a boy's hat. I read Max's Bunny Business to the little boys. Big kids read Praise to the Man, Ranger's Apprentice book 3, and Eragon.

I tried to be sure and capture at least one picture of each child this week.
Some were more or less enthusiastic about that.

Tuesday we woke to snow and cold - a perfect day to make potato soup in the crock pot. The house smelled delicious all day. Kids dove into school work early and plowed through. I love days like that because everywhere you look someone is reading or writing or learning. Some of the learning got derailed a bit when five packages arrived in the late morning. Many held books and various children wandered off to read. I can't say I blame them, new books are wonderful!

We did some music appreciation a la YouTube today. I picked a song to start us and then the kids shared some that I had not seen before. We also checked in on the live stream of April the Giraffe who is due to calve any day now.

Wednesday I surprised the kids with a day off. It was the day I woke up with a headache that just wouldn't go away and the second day that Makayla was dealing with being dizzy and practically passing out. We spent 4 1/2 hours in the emergency room for Makayla and they were essentially no help.

How can these kids be growing up so quickly?
Thursday we did school. My favorite part of the morning was when Mason and Samuel grabbed stacks of books and asked me to read them all to them. Yep, we snuggled right up and read every single one. Tobias joined us for a couple of the books. I also took Makayla to the pediatrician, who was much more helpful. He gave her two prescriptions, explained several things, and is scheduling a visit with a therapist who is familiar with the Epley Maneuver (supposed to help vertigo). We had just heard about it the night before from someone else, so we called them for some tips to try it out while we wait for an appointment with the therapist. She can't run track until this is sorted out, so we're exploring all possible avenues.

School fun!
Friday is here and we just pulled two loaves of banana bread and two loaves of pumpkin bread out of the oven. The picture collage just above shows some of the learning activities the younger boys did early this morning. Mason put numbers in order from 1-12 and then Samuel put those numbers into the clock puzzle. Mason decided that he should learn to read right now since Caleb has started. He insisted I make some words with the letter tiles for him to try. Lo and behold, he can blend sounds! He read all three words - cat, mat, and sat. I'm just going to follow his lead on this. When he requests reading lessons I will oblige, but for now I won't do them unless he asks.

Growth I've noticed this week in each child:
  • Tobias is trying to say words when he's pointing things out. He also started giving kisses voluntarily.
  • Samuel has been talking up a storm and pretending. He's still got a long way to go at mastering some consonant sounds but there is progress.
  • Mason is starting to learn to put his own pants on. I know that seems like something a 5 year old should already be able to do but for Mason it is really difficult. He can't feel anything from about his hips down and has weak core strength and balance. Putting on pants for him takes a lot more coordination and step by step work than it does for you or me because he has to pick up his leg with one hand, slide it in the pants (being held by the other hand)while not falling over, etc. Once he gets things straightened and mostly in the pants he still has to maneuver to get those pants up his legs, under his bum, around his hips, and up to his waist - all while sitting.
  • Caleb has been super helpful in the kitchen both with dishes and cooking. He usually prefers to play, but this week he has wanted to be involved in the work mommy is doing.
  • Oliver made some great progress in math this week, doing multiple digit subtraction with borrowing to the thousands place.
  • Daniel has embraced his big brother role at cub scouts - guiding Oliver through learning how to do the flag ceremony and encouraging him when he forgets what comes next.
  • Emma is more independent in her school work, often starting it early in the morning so she can get it done and move on to her own interests.
  • Joseph has been doing really well with Fix-It Grammar. He enjoys defining the vocabulary word each day and finding what needs fixed in the day's assignment.
  • Makayla has been doing really well with her Veterinary Medicine class. She's got a perfect score in the class, including all the tests and quizzes. She's learning a lot too!
Linking here.

Friday, March 10, 2017

March-ing through Another Week

March is here and we are moving right along with our learning plans. We just keep marching along. I'll share by child this week, youngest to oldest.

Tobias loved drawing with oil pastels today.
Tobias woke up tired and a wee bit cranky on Monday. He napped early. Tuesday he was happier and into everything. He's made quite the art of climbing and opening things. He has also started looking at books with paper pages without eating them, which is wonderful! By Wednesday however he started what looks to be a new habit - waking up at 5:00am for the day. Why, oh, why do I have so many early risers? Early morning is my favorite time to have some quiet. I have gotten some extra snuggles from him this way though.

Samuel started the week playing with swords and Legos. He has been extra close to Mason this week, playing with him specifically, which is fun to see. The kids often have different best buddies in the sibling group and when they shift it is interesting. Samuel and Mason have been more buddies and less antagonists this week. His favorite book this week was My "M" Book. He loved the part where monkeys end up in the mud. He tried out painting with q-tips Thursday.

Mason's school still involves lots of snuggling up to play or read - which we did before it was officially called school, but to him the name makes a difference. We read about the letters O and M this week and we read in Childcraft about our bodies, plants, and a couple classic stories. Samuel listened to some of this as well. Mason has been fascinated with building robots this week with legos. His favorite project was painting his name with a q-tip in orange and black - his favorite colors.

Caleb is in All About Reading Level 1 and finished reading aloud his first story in the Run, Bug, Run reader. He is learning to skip count by 5s this week in math, which for some reason has been challenging. Today to finish out the week he wrote the entire 5's skip count from 0-100 on the chalkboard. As he finished he said, "That was a lot of work. Nobody better erase this for a week!" His favorite thing this week was joining Mason and Samuel in the q-tip painting.

A page from what Oliver is reading.
Oliver is in All About Reading Level 2 lesson 30. His reading has grown by leaps and bounds from our two months spent just having him read aloud to me from Dr. Seuss books and Grasshopper on the Road. Math this week for Oliver is learning the order of the months and how many days they have, days of the week, ordinal numbers (first, third, ninth, etc), and how to use tally marks. He skips Thursday most of the time, which I find funny. I think we need to have some regular activity to look forward to on Thursdays to help him remember it.

Daniel is reading a book of classic bedtime stories for literature right now. In math he started learning about a fraction of a number (MUS Delta lesson 27). He's been editing sentences this week to find grammar, mechanics, and spelling mistakes - something he really hasn't done before but is doing well. He is also the first child to ask others to play a game. He has absolutely loved the new box of games we got a few weeks ago. He makes sure we play at least one or two games every day. He's also the one who makes sure we do science - we've nearly finished the chemistry portion of Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. We're talking about mixtures right now.

Emma is still reading Eragon for literature. She has been drawing a lot recently, filling up page after page in her notebook. She is using some doodle prompts for March as well as drawing her own ideas. In math she's learning to find the mean, median, and mode of a group of numbers. She moved to week 2 of Fix-It Grammar.

Joseph is reading the third Ranger's Apprentice book. He's also finding the mean, median, and mode in math, and doing week 2 of Fix-It Grammar. He was happy to get his cast off this week. He'll wear a splint for at least 2 more weeks to let the arm finish healing. He has been listening to The Hunger Games for the first time. It is so interesting to see the differences in children. Makayla was very chatty when she read this book for the first time, wanting to discuss it all. Joseph is much less chatty - short descriptions for the most part. He is enjoying the book.

Makayla did a 10 minute live presentation to her Veterinary Medicine class (online) on Monday. In geometry she's learning about 30-60-90 right triangles and how to find the length of the sides based on whatever information is given. She's reading Praise to the Man for literature and The Magna Charta for history. Writing is moving along with The Power in Your Hands. She has been practicing piano and this week practice started for track, so she's gone every day for that.

Fun Movie of the Week: Moana - This was a movie we didn't make it to theaters to see. Emma got to view most of it at a birthday party recently and assured us we would enjoy it. I've not really processed it all yet, I want to watch it again. However I will say that we all laughed hysterically at different parts and enjoyed the movie. I loved the music.

Games this week
  • Forbidden Island - This was our first week playing the game and it was fun from the start. I love having some cooperative games where we are a team working together for a goal.
  • Gubs - Still enjoying this creative card game. Of course sometimes we get some feuding going on between two players who steal gubs or trap them.
  • Sushi Go - This is a great filler game, quick to play and lots of active changes with passing the hands around the circle so much.
  • The Scrambled States of America card game
  • Chess - the kids have been pulling this out at the breakfast table and fitting a game in before chores.
Linking here.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Happy Baptism Day Oliver!

We've had a lovely day as a family. I just wanted to pop in and share a picture from Oliver's baptism today. He's 8 and chose to be baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He's such a sweet, silly little man who is growing up so quickly! I love when we capture family photos. These people are my happy place!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Goodbye February, Hello March - Week in Review

It was already a full Monday on paper before it began. There were places to go, things to do, and people to see. The final three cleanings at the dentist happened today. A trip to WalMart. Phone calls to schedule appointments. A trip to the local high school to get papers for Makayla's sports physical because she runs on the local track team and the season begins next week. Vet class online for Makayla. Chores. Playing Sushi Go and Gubs (card games). Then the kids called down the stairs to tell me Samuel, the 3 year old, was asleep on his bed an hour before lunch time. That was my warning. A three hours later Samuel threw up, went back to sleep, and slept most of the day. Our visit to friends was cancelled. Not a great beginning to the week because in a large family you just have to wait and see how many other people are going to throw up. We can drag this out for weeks or have 11 people down at once. Which will it be?

Tuesday morning the sun rose and nobody had thrown up overnight. Samuel was feeling well enough to eat today. He didn't play much, but he was feeling better. I headed back to the dentist to get some fillings replaced that had broken or chipped. Not my favorite activity, but necessary. We listened to our book club title for 2 hours (Peter and the Starcatchers). Makayla worked on her veterinary medicine homework. We tried a new recipe for dinner with modifications to fit what we had in the house. 6 of the kids liked it, which is success in my book.

Wednesday we got down to the business of doing formal academics. By 8am I was knee deep in math with 6 children - mostly bouncing between them when they had questions, which were thankfully few today. It's quite a brain workout for me to go from teaching the 6 year old skip counting by 5 to figuring volume with the 9 year old to finding the surface area and volume of unusual solids with the 15 year old to factoring and converting decimals to fractions and percents with the 11 and 12 year olds and then to subtraction with borrowing with the 8 year old.

Makayla turned in another essay to me for writing. She's using The Power in Your Hands by Sharon Watson. This time she needed to write a persuasive essay that used compare and contrast. She pulled the imagery and experience of a prisoner in a medieval dungeon to that of a pet reptile cared for by someone uneducated in the habitat and feeding needs. (Too cold, not enough or right foods, wrong materials in habitat, wrong/poor lighting, etc).

The day just went along like normal with lots of books, lots of learning, and lots of laughs. Late in the afternoon Makayla and I went to the doctor for her sports physical. Much to my dismay she's quite enthusiastic about running track on the local public high school team again this year. I don't mind track but I really hate the busy days it brings with daily practice and 1-2 meets per week. Pretty much every Monday through Saturday until June Makayla will be running - and I will be driving her to and from. She enjoys it, so track is part of our springtime routine.

Wednesdays end with activities - youth group, scouts, and activity days. I love that our church has all the kid/youth activities on the same night!

Thursday I didn't even remember to write down any notes - which means I pretty much can't remember what happened beyond the usual - school, chores, playing games, and family time.

Friday we headed to a friend's home for our homeschool book club. We just finished reading Peter and the Starcatchers this week, in time for book club. Our next book will be A Wrinkle in Time. As I type this Tobias is napping, Mason and Samuel are building with Legos, Makayla, Joseph, and Emma are watching the Sound of Music, and Daniel, Oliver, and Caleb are playing chess. I'm going to join the movie watchers and sing along. Happy Friday all!

Oh, and by some miracle, nobody else has thrown up this week. Which is lovely because tomorrow Oliver is getting baptized! We're so excited for him!

Games this week - We try to pull out board and card games regularly. It's just one of our winter habits. This week we played the following games:
  •  Gubs - A fun, imaginative card game we are learning.
  • Sushi Go - This is a cute card game with some strategy involved, fast to play, and it is making my kids curious to try eating sushi.
  • Journey Through Time: Eye Found It - My kids love this 6 foot long cooperative board game. The board is so detailed that we could play it for weeks and still not know where all the tiny items are.
  • Chess - Most of my kids know how to play. This week it was mostly Daniel, Oliver, and Caleb.
  • Checkers - A nice solid classic.
  • Ticket to Ride: First Journey - We still love this one!
  • The Oregon Trail card game - My kids can't seem to resist seeing who will make it to the Willamette Valley and who will die along the way from Dysentery.
Next week I'll be introducing the kids to a couple new games.

Linking to Weekly Wrap Up.

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Homeschool Mom Hint: Go to Library Book Sales!

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to build a family library is to buy used books. Most library societies have book sales when they cull their shelves or when donations are turned in to make a bit of money for the library. Our local library used to do these yearly and now have a sale a couple times a year. I try to put these events on my calendar and set aside a little money to spend at the sale. Pricing can vary widely. Currently our library sale charges $5 per bag for books. I knew this and budgeted $15 to spend. I also brought along Makayla, my 15 year old, who is building her own personal library.

This time we came away with 45 books between the two of us, for an average cost of 34 cents per book. Makayla was most excited by the Merck Veterinary Manual she found. She started exploring it from the moment we got in the car after the sale, sharing facts and asking if I remembered how to convert Celsius temperatures to Farenheit.

I was most excited to come away with this nearly complete Childcraft set from 1976. It is missing two books (Volume 5 About Animals and Volume 15 Parent Guide) which are on their way to my house thanks to Amazon's used vendors. I've already started reading Volume 2 to my younger boys each day. Today was The Ugly Duckling, which had a mix of drawings and actual photographs of ducklings and swans. The little boys loved it. Middle kids are exploring different volumes based on interest - Daniel was giddy about Mathemagic. I'm also really excited to use The Indian Book in our history studies this fall.

Our children's education is worth investing in - but sometimes the wisest investment is spending a little time browsing used book sales.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Warm February, Cub Scout Cake Baking, and Art Class

Me snuggling Tobias on Monday and ignoring my To Do list.
I love being a mom!
We enjoyed a 4 day weekend from last Friday through Monday. Random things were accomplished amidst playing outside in beautiful weather. Joseph had his 3rd Merit Badge Pow Wow for Boy Scouts. Makayla had a girls camp planning meeting. Daddy had school work. Grocery shopping was done. Church on Sunday. A Daddy+7 kids trip to the movies on Monday to see the new Lego movie. Piano lessons. A library trip. Just a nice long weekend of family life.

Tuesday we dived into school as usual. I think my favorite part today was hearing from different children about the books they are reading and the books on their ever-growing to read lists. My younger boys got the giggles when I read The Greedy Python to them. Daniel and Oliver made official decisions for their Blue and Gold Banquet cakes.

Wednesday we did life school, meaning the kids did their own choice of activities so long as there was some educational aspect. They were pretty creative in their explanations of what could count for school. I got to play Ticket to Ride: First Journey with several of my boys for geography - and by the end they were getting pretty good at remembering the names of the cities on the board and I had shared interesting information about them. ;)

Makayla spent the day shadowing a local veterinarian for a project. She loved it! Between watching appointments and surgeries, taking notes for a presentation, and asking questions she learned a lot. They invited her to come back any time. She saw a variety of surgeries - everything from declawing, spaying, and neutering, to the removal of an eye - and she still wants to be a vet.

Daniel and Oliver baked their creations for the Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet and decorated them. The theme is Wild West so Daniel made cowboy cupcakes with cute hats and a couple teepees.

Oliver made a cake with teepees and two fires for the Native Americans of the wild west. The evening had a lot happening including Oliver getting his Bobcat rank and Daniel getting 4 achievement belt loops. We were also treated to the Order of the Arrow dance group performing tonight - then joined them in a dance. They boys had a great time and have been dressed up as cowboys and Indians ever since.

Thursday was back to our usual school plans. One fun thing we've added to our week is YouTube videos. There are so many interesting topics my kids want to learn about or I want to introduce and videos are sometimes a great way to do that. For starters Makayla will be working through the Crash Course Intro to Psychology videos (40 videos). The rest of the kids chose to start with Crash Course Kids Space Science: The Sun and Its Influence on Earth videos (14 videos).

A lot of the morning Star Wars music could be heard from the direction of our piano. Joseph, Emma, and Daniel have been trying to play the theme (a very simplified version). They've made requests for music from Disney, Star Trek, and Harry Potter as well. I love that they are enjoying piano lessons!

Makayla also got to work on the PowerPoint slides she'll use in her live presentation for the online veterinary medicine class. She did this last semester too, so she's ready to dive in and get it done for the semester.

Friday (today!) we had Art Class with friends. It's been ages since we were all healthy enough to get together and everyone was thrilled to be together again.

We finished up an art project based on the book Over and Under the Snow, which felt rather ironic because we're having a snow-less, record-breaking highs February. The kids took the painted paper they created last time and cut out trees, added animals they had made at home, and then covered the entire collage with mod podge we had stirred glitter into.

Our second art project was to create moving fish. These fun little bony fish can bend and twist and flex. Sometimes it is the simplest things that are the most interesting.

The youngest kids needed a buddy to help with some of the work on the fish but were thrilled with their final product.

Our third project today was a Dr. Seuss inspired directed drawing. Half the kids chose to draw fish similar to the ones in One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

The other half chose to draw Seuss inspired cities. They were allowed to choose just drawing or to add color with chalk pastels.

Dinners this week + A Couple Comments

I don't know what dinner is like at your house. I'm just a regular mom with a larger than average family to feed. Sometimes I make easy meals or use kitchen tools that simplify the cooking process. Other times I choose slightly more labor intensive meals. This week had a mix of both.
  • Chicken and broccoli stir fry and rice - This was an easy night. I put rice in the rice cooker which took all of 3 minutes hands on time. Then I put water, stir fry sauce, and some frozen chicken breast in the Instant Pot. Hands on time - 3 minutes. Broccoli was steamed on the stove top. Hands on time - 5 minutes maybe?
  • Meatloaf, potatoes, corn, and green beans - The meatloaf went in the oven, mixing it up took about 4 minutes. Potatoes went in the Instant Pot, all I did was wash and cut them in half. Hands on time 3 minutes. Corn and green beans - we opened a couple cans and heated them up on the stove. Hands on time 1 minute.
  • Chicken Enchiladas or ground beef tacos (depending on preference) - This is a more time consuming meal but will be eaten for leftover lunches for another day or two. I make the enchilada sauce from scratch in one pan while browning the ground beef in pan #2 and heating up canned chicken with some more ingredients for the enchiladas in a third pan. Hands on time: 20 minutes. When the beef is done I add black beans, spices, and tomato paste and let it simmer while wrapping the chicken enchiladas and putting them in the oven. Hands on time for this portion: 8 minutes.
  • Leftovers or Cereal - I needed to clear some space in the fridge so I offered all the leftovers from various meals as well as fruit, salad, and cereal. Now I have space for more cooking!
  • Tonight we will probably have pancakes for dinner. It's an easy meal that we always have ingredients for. I'll add sausage patties and fruit to the plates and we will be set.
I'm linking to Weekly Wrap Up.