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.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Long Overdue Week in Review

Ha! Pregnancy certainly takes a lot of energy in the beginning and I found this post just languishing in my drafts. The last general week in review update was in mid-June! I figured I ought to just update this quickly and post it.

The week of June 19th started off with a surprise trip to Ye Olde Mill for ice cream cones on Monday. The kids chose quite the variety of flavors from vanilla and chocolate to Moose Tracks, Blue Moon, and Superman. I had peach - it was delicious!

We are still doing our summer learning several days a week. That means kids are reading scriptures, reading a literature book, and then doing 1 other activity. Math one day, writing one day, art or some other subject one day. We pulled out the oil pastels and watercolors on Thursday to get creative.

The week of June 26th flew by with extra chores for me. Why? Because Makayla was been gone all week at EFY camp - Especially For Youth. That leaves 1 crab, 1 snake, 2 bearded dragons, a colony of dubia roaches, superworms, and a cat to feed and take care of. Oh, and tadpoles. We still have tadpoles. Some of the pet chores other kids have pitched in to help with, like feeding the cat and tadpoles, but others really take someone older to do carefully.

The kids still at home have enjoyed a relaxing week with summer learning several days, tons of Lego building, reading great books, play, and a daily movie in the afternoon while I nap (more on this in my most recent pregnancy update). We're still reading aloud My Side of the Mountain and it always surprises me the connections kids make. We read about Sam meeting a raccoon and right away the kids start talking about our reading of Rascal and the live raccoon we saw while we were reading that book. We read it last October!

The week of July 3rd Mason got his next IV infusion at the hospital for his osteoporosis. He did pretty well with that and his side effects in the following days were minimal, just tired and achy. We kept a pretty low profile that week as a family and did a lot of playing games together. We also spent one afternoon and evening without power after some big storms.

Last week (July 10th) we took the week off from summer learning just to relax and enjoy our days. Makayla has still been shadowing a group of veterinarians each Tuesday and loves it. Joseph started the process for braces. He's getting a palate expander put in over the next few weeks and will use that for a while before the actual braces. I'm still doing Cub Scouts along with Oliver and Daniel. We also had Homeschool Book Club last week to talk about My Side of the Mountain. Our next book is Tuesdays at the Castle and it sounds great!

That brings us up to date! We have these last two weeks of summer and then plan to begin our school year the first week of August. I'm knee deep in preparing our school shelves with the books for this year. As a matter of fact, I need to get back to work on that right now. I'll try to post about our school plans soon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pregnancy Update #5 - Projects and Theories

This update covers about 2 weeks and on my mind has been projects - as in projects to be done before baby arrives. This baby will be born on the heels of the holidays and adds an 8th birthday to the 5 month birthday streak we have from October to February. Here are projects that are now in progress or on my to do list:
  • Decluttering. Again.
  • Buying birthday presents and Christmas presents early. This needs to happen in September/October.
  • Going through kid clothing to weed out what is stained/torn/no longer useable, as well as get item counts to a good number (one child in one size won't need 18 t-shirts, but somehow things add up). We started this weekend with going through everyone's current clothing. We have a plan to tackle the stored off season clothing over the next few weeks.
  • Figure out a better clothing solution in bedrooms. Fitting clothing for 12 in our 3 bedroom house with very small closets needs worked on because fitting clothes for 11 is a struggle right now.
  • Baby wish list - I've started a wish list on Amazon to remind me of the things we need to get for this baby. There are also things I'm interested in checking into more for baby but that may not make the cut. Once we find out baby's gender we will also need baby clothes, ours have pretty much been used up after 9 babies. And with the last 6 babies in a row being boys I don't even own anything for a girl if we end up having one.
I did start one other project. Choosing recipes for freezer meals and preparing them for the 3rd trimester and after baby. I got a start on this by choosing new recipes and preparing 13 meals on Monday with my hubby. We will use them over the next few weeks to see what everyone likes and make more before baby arrives. The meals were a mix of stir fry sets with different meats, sauces, and veggies, apricot chicken and green beans, company casserole, chicken noodle casserole, a taco bake, balsamic beef roast and carrots, etc.
Symptoms for the last two weeks

My nausea has been less constant. There have been moments and sometimes hours of each day where I actually don't feel sick to my stomach. I still have a few foods that make me gag, the chief among them being chocolate. I am not having any food cravings.

I've not been as sleepy in the afternoons. By bedtime I'm worn out, but I'm not napping during the day. I'm not sure how that is working because I'm not sleeping as well at night. I'm waking pretty often right now.

Exercise - I finally decided that it was time to get back to exercising despite my morning sickness. I know what a marathon pregnancy and labor are and need to be in decent shape for that. I aim to be more active. Some days I wore my Garmin Vivofit to track my steps. It gives you a little notification (a red line) that gets longer the more you are sitting, so with a quick glance I can see if I need to get up and move. Other days I did exercise dvds. I have TTapp dvds, Walk Away the Pounds dvds, and others. I kept my exercise bouts to about 20 minutes.

Weight - I still have gained no weight this pregnancy and just in the last week have lost a pound. This makes the next item pretty funny.

This was me before this pregnancy one pound heavier than I am today. This is me at 200 pounds.

This picture is me yesterday at 11 weeks 4 days pregnant. I weigh one pound LESS than I did in the pre-pregnant picture, 199 lbs. I've got a very obvious pregnant belly now. I have a couple of theories about how my body can make such a big change without gaining weight:
  1. My muscles have waved the white flag of surrender and given up. This is totally possible for a 14th pregnancy. This is the theory I'm most in favor of.
  2. My body is sucking the weight from elsewhere on my body as my belly grows. Also possible I suppose, but not likely.
  3. I'm pregnant with twins. This is the least likely possibility but the one that some of my children are very much in favor of. I have zero history of twins in my family. This theory is highly unlikely but could explain the quick belly growth. I can't rule it out until I get an ultrasound, which won't happen until I actually tell my doctor I'm pregnant - probably in about 2 months.

There you have it, my pregnancy update! Feel free to leave a comment with your most likely theory about how I can be so obviously pregnant without gaining any weight. ;)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Pregnancy Update #4: Daily naps

As of yesterday I'm 10 weeks pregnant. The biggest symptoms I'm having are still nausea and exhaustion, but exhaustion has taken first place this week. A daily nap is a must right now. I simply can't stay awake and do the mothering of 9 children without a solid nap. That means each afternoon I turn on a movie for the kids while Tobias is napping, I curl up on the couch, and I tell them not to talk to me until snack time. Movie going, kids making noise, it doesn't matter - I'm asleep quickly.

I tried to eat meatloaf this past week. I don't know what I was thinking. It was a really bad idea and I barely gagged one tiny bite down before giving up. And the mere thought of chicken makes me shudder. Thank goodness for beans.

Other pregnancy related symptoms:
  • I'm doing great at drinking lots of water therefore I'm in the bathroom a lot.
  • While constipation tends to be a pregnancy issue I'm not dealing with it this time. Two factors are playing a part in this - all that water and the probiotics I'm taking.
  • Headaches - I've had a couple headaches lately. Not usual for me and annoying. It's meant I've been double and triple checking what essential oils I can use while pregnant to get some relief.
Looking Ahead
The kids are having a lot of fun suggesting names for this baby. Mason is convinced I'm having twins, one boy and one girl, and that he gets to name the boy. Ha! I'm not sure how people manage two newborns at once. As I have no history of twins in my family I'm pretty sure this will be just one sweet baby - and I'm great with that!

I've started thinking about when to move Tobias out of the crib and just where we're going to put him. He is almost 19 months old and still sleeps happily in the crib in our bedroom, so we'll probably leave him there for a while yet. When we move him out he will most likely join his brothers in the boys' bedroom. We don't have a bed for him though. The 6 older boys are on two triple bunk beds. There is room for a toddler bed so that is probably what we'll get for Tobias.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pregnancy Update #3 - 9 Weeks and Food

Well, my nausea just keeps increasing. I feel pretty miserable most of the time. That is normal for me, my nausea increases for several weeks until about 12 weeks pregnant, then it just hangs out there until 18 to 20 weeks pregnant. I am 9 weeks pregnant today.

The magnesium and B6 supplements do not seem to be helping but I'll keep using them and we will see. I have found that the following 3 flavors help:
  • peppermint
  • sour lemon
  • dill pickle
Pretty much any time I want to be sure to be able to get food in without gagging I have to start by eating one of those flavors. I also have to keep my meals small or the nausea is worse.

Food Aversions
One weird food aversion so far this pregnancy - chocolate. I just don't want it and if I try a bite of it I gag. Ick! It even extends to things like Nutella. Most meats are also on the 'please don't make me smell that or eat it' list but it is pretty random which meats make me gag on a particular day. One day I can grill a hamburger and eat it and the next I'm dry heaving at the thought of beef. Strawberries have been really hit or miss for me too, usually I pass on eating them. They just don't sound good.

I don't throw up. Sometimes I wonder if I would feel better for a while if I did. Oh well.

Exercise has simply not happened. Other than the usual on my feet caring for my large family I'm not getting any exercise.

I've also had more exhaustion. I'm falling asleep any time I get to curl up on the couch. I'll cook for the family and then go nap while they eat. Obviously this baby is doing some growing and making demands on my body right now.

Weight gain so far hasn't happened, which is a good thing! I'm still sitting at about 200 lbs. My body shape is changing and things are not fitting. Anything with a waistband make the nausea worse so I spend a lot of my days in maxi skirts or dresses.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Hot and Busy Week

Whew! I'm glad we made it through last week. We started with our 17th wedding anniversary on Saturday June 10th, church on Sunday (with Daniel home with a headache and throwing up - I suspect migraines with this boy.) and a birthday celebration on Sunday evening for Makayla's 16th birthday on Monday. Daniel and Oliver had Cub Scout Day Camp every day this week so there was driving them to the drop off and picking them up each day. It was a hot week, in the 90s every day. Makayla is shadowing several veterinarians in a large practice every Tuesday this summer so there was driving her there and back. Grocery shopping. Piano lessons. And then taking my pregnant self to Cub Scout Day Camp as an adult helper on Friday. What was I thinking?!

Saturday was a craft day at church to end the week.  Here is what I made at the craft day:
Have you ever done string art? I made this CTR shield for the girls' bedroom.
CTR stands for Choose The Right.
The blue one is for my boys' bedroom.

This is a large pillow cover (22" square) that I painted
with the word "READ". The kids are only allowed to
snuggle up with the pillow when they are reading.

It ended up being a great week and an exhausting one. So exhausting that I didn't get around to posting this until a few days later. Look for a pregnancy update later this week!

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Great Summer Chore Switch

If you are new around the blog or just don't remember how chores work at my house please go read Chores at Our House. I really lay everything out there. This brings me to the big to-do at my house today - changing our yearly chore assignments. We make this change each June.

Here is the breakdown of the chores for each person for the coming year:

(Tobias age 1 and Samuel age 3 help people for fun, but they do not have a room assigned.)

Mason age 5 will be cleaning the living room every day. This involves picking up toys and books as well as vacuuming the floor.

Caleb age 6 will be cleaning the half bathroom and alcove it is off of. This means wiping down mirror, sink, and toilet, emptying trash, and sweeping floors.

Oliver age 8 will be cleaning the laundry room/pantry and taking out the trash. The laundry room/pantry gets shelves wiped down and floors swept.

Daniel age 9 will be cleaning the full bathroom. He'll wipe down mirror, sink, toilet, tub/shower, empty the trash, and sweep the floor.

Emma age 11 will be cleaning the kitchen. She'll clear counters, wipe down counters, sink, stove, microwave, and sweep.

Joseph age 12 will be cleaning the dining room. He'll put away items from the floor or table, wipe down the table and chairs, and sweep the floors.

Makayla age 16 has graduated from our room assignments. She's able to do all the rooms in the house. This year she's officially taken on the role of chef. She's responsible for cooking 5 meals (lunches and dinners, any mix she chooses) as well as baking 1 thing each week (bread, rolls, dessert, anything). That leaves the other 15 meals of the week to me.

Other Chore Changes or Details:

We've streamlined the kitchen helper task for the coming year. Each child has 1 day per week as the kitchen helper. They do the dishwasher and help whoever is cooking that day with any meal prep that are asked to do. We start with Makayla on Sunday and go down in age each day until we reach Saturday where Mason is the kitchen help. Again, Samuel and Tobias can help, but aren't assigned because they are younger than 4.

Laundry continues to be done by the kids. One of the older kids in a bedroom starts the laundry, a middle kid switches it to the dryer, and everyone puts their own laundry away. That means I only handle the laundry for my bedroom (me, daddy, and Tobias).

Wait! What else do YOU do Tristan?

Maybe you noticed that I really don't do much cleaning beyond a load of laundry and cooking. Does that surprise you? As mom I'm working to make myself obsolete. I'm equipping my children to be adults. I encourage. I pitch in and help. I can sweep the dining room an extra time after yet another meal with messy little eaters. I do the daily medical care Mason needs. I budget and make sure the bills get paid on time. I also do the majority of the homeschool teaching, though daddy helps on Mondays. (Daddy also works full time and is going to college as well.)

Oh, and right now I'm growing a baby. My tenth! It's something I'm pretty good at and it comes with a wonderful child to love and teach. ;)

How do chores work at your house? Are you still doing most of the chores or are your children learning some of the skills they need to be independent adults through regular required chores?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Summer Week Report with Tadpoles

It's been a great summer week and I really don't remember a lot of it because I'm deep in the fog of morning sickness that lasts all day and all night. I'm grateful for children who do their chores to keep the house running. I'm cooking meals but that's about it and there are days when cooking makes me start gagging and heaving. Here is what I do remember from our week:

Nature Study - We acquired a host of tadpoles from a friend and set up a nice habitat for them. The kids love watching them and looking for changes. Just in the last day or two we've noticed legs beginning to grow!

Summer learning happened - because my kids are great at following routines. Once you get them started they just take a routine and run with it.

Physical therapy - Mason got to start physical therapy again. We took a nearly 6 month break waiting to get in to the dermatologist to find solutions for his eczema issues. He can't wear his braces for standing/walking when his skin is a wreck. He's quite happy to be back to PT. We're focusing on several things: balance when sitting (never-ending issue because he's got nerve damage up through his core muscles), walking with a walker (safely, navigating around obstacles, building strength in upper body to handle the hard work of moving a lower body that can't move on it's own), falling safely (he's a boy, his willingness to take risks often outstrips his common sense), and more.

Cute tadpole close-up!
Cub Scout Carnival - The whole family (minus the 12 and 15 year old, who were in the same building doing a self defense class) got to enjoy the games the Bear den pulled together for the carnival. It was a lot of fun!

Reading - I've been speeding through books while sitting very still on the couch and trying not to throw up. I finished up the 12 book Ranger's Apprentice series and the first two books of the companion Brotherband Chronicles. Now I'm waiting to find books 3-6 of Brotherband Chronicles inexpensively. Sigh.

Food from the Garden - We have been picking some things from the garden and eating them. So far we've had lettuce, blackberries, and mustard greens.

Tomorrow my husband and I celebrate 17 years of married life! I've almost been married for half of my lifetime. Two days later Makayla turns 16 years old. Time is flying past.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Pregnancy Update #2 - Morning Sickness

Right on schedule for me based on past pregnancies I started having morning sickness at 6 weeks pregnant. I woke up just after midnight at the 6 week mark with nausea. Well played, God, well played. As I mentioned in my first pregnancy update I have had morning sickness in every pregnancy lasting well into the 2nd trimester. With so much experience I have also tried many different things to help the nausea - with little luck. I'm trying two new things this time around to see if it will help at all. I'm taking a B-6 vitamin supplement each day and using a magnesium oil spray.

I will be honest, I look forward to the nausea beginning each time because it is one symptom of my hormones rising appropriately for pregnancy. It's something to celebrate! I just wish it wouldn't hang around for more than 3 months...ahem.

I'm eating when I can keep food down, drinking water, and just trusting that this all has a purpose. Some smells are making me gag - including meats - so cooking for the family is interesting.

Funny Moment:

Day 1 of morning sickness I had mentioned feeling like throwing up and my 9 year old Daniel apparently was listening.
On day 2 of morning sickness I was breathing deeply in the kitchen trying to quell the nausea and Daniel asked what was wrong.

Me: "Nothing, I just feel like I'm going to throw up."
Daniel: "Didn't you feel like that yesterday? I hope you feel better soon, Mom."
I start laughing and say "Daniel, I'm going to feel like throwing up all day and all night for the next 3 months. It's just part of pregnancy for me."
He was aghast. "Then why would you keep having babies, Mom? That's horrible!"
Me: "They're worth it, I promise."
Him: "If you say so Mom."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Summer Learning So We Don't Go Crazy

I don't know how other families do summer but at my house after about 2 weeks of no school routine the kids get antsy. They love the freedom to play but the arguing picks up when their entire day has no requirement beyond chores. It's too much free time, too much of a good thing.

Our solution is a minimal summer learning routine that helps keep basic skills from atrophy. They rotate through the following list each week, not everything in one day.
  • Scripture study (generally daily)
  • Reading a book chosen from Mom's list. Beginning readers work on lessons with me.
  • Writing something.
  • Math practice.
The kids chose their books from my list on this day. They will work their way through their chosen book whenever it is assigned and when they finish they choose another book from the list. Here are their selections:
  • Makayla - Fahrenheit 451. She is also reading The Screwtape Letters because she wanted to.
  • Joseph - Treasure Island. He was excited for an adventure tale.
  • Emma - Sherlock Holmes. She had already started this but it is on my list of options so she chose to keep going with this one.
  • Daniel - Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book. He loved the idea of reading less sanitized versions of fairy tales.
  • Oliver - He's finishing up All About Reading 2 and will then dive into reading from a list I have created for him. The goal is to be reading easy chapter books by the end of the summer.
  • Caleb - He's doing All About Reading 1 and we have yet to hit a lesson that slows him down.
  • Mason - He's started All About Reading 1 and is blending pretty well.
  • Samuel - He's trying to blend CVC words when Mason is doing his lesson, I'm just letting him play with it. 
  • Tobias - As the resident 18 month old he's just bringing books to be read to him often.
I'm reading aloud My Side of the Mountain to all the kids for our Homeschool Book Club. Some of the oldest kids remember it but it has been several years since we read the book. I also cozy up with all the kids who are not independent readers each day to read them a chapter book (we're starting My Father's Dragon) and stacks of picture books they pull from the shelves or we bring home from the library.

The kids are free to choose when they do their chores and summer learning list but that if it isn't finished before lunch there are specific consequences triggered (like missing out on Kindle time during Mason's hour and a half afternoon medical care). It is always interesting to see my kids as individuals and how they handle time management. Some dive right into the work to get it out of the way, others do 1 task then a break, then another task, until it is finished, and there are even those who put it off and then push through things right before the deadline. To each their own!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Pregnancy Update #1 - The Back Story

I've decided that I'll share some irregular pregnancy update posts this time around. If you're not interested then you can safely skip these posts, I don't mind. They're as much for my own journaling as they are for others. I know that I love reading about other people's pregnancies and it is rare to find a large family mom blogging about pregnancy. I would love to read it if someone else wrote it, so I might as well share my own.

A bit of pregnancy background:

This is my 14th pregnancy. If all goes well we will welcome our 10th child next January. I have had 3 miscarriages and 1 ectopic/tubal pregnancy with an accompanying emergency surgery that left me with one less fallopian tube. These have been spread over the years as pregnancy number 2, 5, 8, and 12.

I have had morning sickness in every pregnancy. It lasts all day and usually begins around week 6. It ends between 16 and 20 weeks. Nothing gets rid of it. I've tried pretty much every suggestion out there over the years.

My first 6 babies were born in a hospital with a midwife. My body does not sustain contractions - so I've had Pitocin for some portion of every labor. An example, I had my water break with one baby and walked into the hospital dilated to a 7 - the part where you are supposed to be in the agony of transition - with no contractions. My body is weird and I just accept that. I haven't had an epidural - I would rather hurt than have a needle in my spinal column. Just a personal preference.

My 7th baby was a bit different. We knew during my pregnancy that he had serious medical needs (spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and more). It meant changes. No more midwife. I had specialists and many appointments. I was high risk. He had a delivery team. We had to deliver a bit early because of the fluid increasing on his brain. Because his spinal cord was open and outside his back we knew we would have a C-section and I had a spinal block for that. (He was my first breech baby as well).  Let me just say that recovery from surgery while you're in the NICU with a child who had his first surgery at 7 hours old and his second at 7 days old isn't fun.

My 8th and 9th babies left me with a dilemma. Did I want to continue to have C-sections now that I had one or did I want to find a doctor who is pro-VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean)? I spent a lot of time on the phone talking to doctors, nurses, hospitals, and friends to find a doctor and hospital that are truly VBAC friendly. I found my high-risk pro-VBAC doctor and hospital 45 minutes away from home. Baby #8 was a successful VBAC, and so was baby #9.

That brings you up to date. I'm doing things a little different this time around. I'm still planning to use the same doctor group and hospital, but I'm not going to begin appointments until close to the halfway mark of pregnancy. Baby #9 was the one after my ectopic pregnancy and emergency surgery so we had lots of early and frequent appointments to monitor things. I don't want to deal with that this time around, so I just won't contact my doctor until late this summer. They can't do anything for me anyway. The only thing I do need monitored is my thyroid levels because I am hypothyroid and my endocrinologist is doing that. I'm having blood work every 3-4 weeks so she can adjust my medication as needed.

How I'm Feeling:
Right now I feel fantastic. I think I am about 5ish weeks along. I'm not having any morning sickness yet. I'm exercising regularly, drinking lots of water, and eating well. I'm not starting this pregnancy off at a healthy weight, unfortunately. We've been dealing with my crazy thyroid for the last year trying to get my medication right - after 6 months of having my general practitioner mess with it the wrong way I finally got in with an endocrinologist. During all those medication changes I gained 20 lbs and am currently 200.8 lbs. It was really frustrating. It means that I will need to be especially consistent in my exercise and eating well to keep my pregnancy weight gain from going crazy.

 I'm excited to be adding another child to our family. I'm also always aware of the fact that things may not go as we hope. In the last 13 pregnancies I have only ended up with 9 babies to hold and raise. Four times I've had empty arms and tears. But God is good all the time! He has a plan for me and for these babies he sends. I try to enjoy every minute of pregnancy so that I have no regrets.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Summer Break Week 2 - The One with Thanksgiving

We kicked off our second week of summer break with a Saturday Thanksgiving meal with family. My sister, her husband, and their 4 kids are still visiting from Germany so we decided to celebrate. I have to tell you, my house smelled so good with a turkey roasting! Yum. We shared some exciting news with family, which I also posted on the blog. Go ahead and read it, I'll wait. Yes, it's that exciting!

Sunday we had our usual Sabbath day with a quiet morning getting everyone awake, fed, and dressed for church, then church from 10am-1pm.The kids were excited that two of their cousins joined us for church. The afternoon and evening were restful. I even got a nap. Yes, that's an ideal Sunday afternoon!

Monday morning dawned early so I could get my exercise in before too many kids woke up. Of course, by 5:50am when I made it downstairs two kids were up. My early risers. They happily ate leftover cinnamon rolls from last night's dinner while I did my T-Tapp dvd (18 minutes) and 1 mile of a Walk Away the Pounds dvd. Before I was finished 3 more kids were awake. It wasn't even 7am. I then spent 2 1/2 hours driving and doing an appointment at the wheelchair vendor getting repairs done for Mason's wheelz. Mason wasn't needed so he stayed home and I listened to an audiobook for all that driving. Sometimes it is nice just to have a bit of mom time.

Monday afternoon was grocery shopping, which is always a lot of work. Keeping the 11 of us fed is a never-ending task but I am beyond blessed to have food in the house.

I also had to run to the hospital for thyroid bloodwork, which I'll do every month during pregnancy. I'm curious - would anyone be interested in reading blog posts chronicling my pregnancy? I'm debating on putting them here on the blog.

Monday evening was a family hot dog roast and smores. The weather was perfect - 72 F with the occasional breeze. We played Would You Rather after everyone had eaten. It's an informal game where people ask a question beginning with "Would you rather..." Some examples:
  • Would you rather live on a space ship or in a submarine?
  • Would you rather have a giant hamster or a tiny rhino?
  • Would you rather be invisible all the time or be able to read people's minds?
  • Would you rather live in a world with dinosaurs or dragons?
We also had some discussion about questions like these:
  • What book world would you love to live in for just one day?
  • What movie would you like to be in for 24 hours?
Tuesday started with my early morning exercise and then a surprise double dentist visit. Emma needed a baby tooth pulled that had wedged one root in and was bothering her. Caleb flossed his teeth after breakfast and then brought me a piece of filling that fell out. Nothing like keeping our days interesting! They were quickly finished and home again. Then I was able to pick some homeschool books from the shelves of a friend who is moving and had sold all she could a few weeks ago. She also had a few dvd sets from The Great Courses to pass along, so those are on my shelves ready to explore.

I started listening to the first Ranger's Apprentice book today. Joseph had encouraged me to begin and as I am between books it seemed a good time to begin. Well, it was so interesting that I found myself listening or reading (we have the audio book and a print copy) on and off all day between my usual mothering tasks. I finished it around 6:15pm. That's a good book!

Wednesday I did a 2 mile Walk Away the Pounds dvd to get my morning going. We had a relaxed morning (hello summertime!) with reading and play, dress up, sword fights, drawing, and disagreeing over Legos. My sister's family came for their last visit before they return to Germany. We had sad goodbyes with one child sobbing, but we know we will see them again in a few months.

Being Wednesday, our activity night, I had Cub Scouts to teach. We learned about fossils. I have a great book about Sue the t-rex that we worked through and discussed things like tools that would be used at a fossil dig, how fossils form, and just how big a t-rex was.  Then we made an edible fossil dig. Each boy had a small clear cup, animal crackers (our fossils), pudding, whipped cream, and crushed oreos to layer. We let these sit while we played our dinosaur memory match game we made last week. Then we ate our fossil dig and finished up the last few pages of the book about Sue.

Thursday was gray and rainy so we settled in for a slow summer morning doing chores, reading books, building amazing Lego creations, drawing, and reading more books. I finished the fourth book in the Ranger's Apprentice series. Yes, I read quickly. That was 4 books in 3 days. I don't often get to do that, but early summer is a great time. The only problem is that there are several books left in the series and I don't have them! I'm going to try and get to a Half Price Books store soon to see if I can find the rest of the series. That's where we got the first four books.

Thursday evening was Makayla's Track Banquet. We're officially finished with the track season. She had a great second year running on the local public high school team, improving her best times in each of her 3 events over the season.

It's Friday morning and I'm hoping to hammer out our yearly chore changes today. The kids have done well with their room assignments for the last year and it's time to move everyone to a new room for the next 12 months. The only other plan is to bake some banana bread and pumpkin bread today. Yum! Have a lovely weekend!

Fruit Report - Here's the fruit we ate this week:
  • 6 lbs apples (less than usual because we had so many other wonderful options in the fridge.)
  • 1 cantaloupe (we will probably eat the second one today)
  • 6 lbs grapes
  • 2 pineapples
  • 8 lbs strawberries
  • 1 watermelon
  • 1 container of blackberries
  • 6 kiwi
  • 18 bananas (8 were eaten and we'll use 10 in banana bread and pumpkin bread today)

{Linking here.}

Friday, May 19, 2017

First Week of Summer Break

Our first week of summer break slipped away quickly - I didn't even pick up my camera for most of it. We spent time outside. The weather was sunny, hot, and there were even a few thunderstorms. We had several visits with my sister and her family. It's is so wonderful to see cousins together! We will miss them when they fly back to Germany.

One day this week I got to meet another mother with a son who has Spina Bifida. We passed on a walker that was given to use last year while waiting for Mason's insurance approval for his own.

I spent some time working on portfolios for the kids. It is a lot of sorting through papers, typing up pages sharing an overview of the child's work done in each of the required by state law subjects, and reminiscing. I love the reminiscing part!

I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society this week just for me. This one just got added to the list of possibilities for Makayla's WWII reading. It was such an interesting book, written as letters between a variety of people on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel, to a writer, about the German occupation of their island during the war.

Cub Scouts this week focused on Digging in the Past. We did:
- Learning about dinosaurs - the boys already knew a good amount so they taught each other, discussed differences in information, and shared their favorite dinosaurs.
- Make your own new dino and tell others about it. They had been given a week to think about this, so today they drew their dinosaur and shared about it's features, habits, and diet.
- Create a dino game and play. I had printed dinosaur pictures and outlines. They colored, cut out, and created cards for a matching game, which we then played as a den.
- Make fossil casts with air dry clay. We discussed how fossils are formed and what we can learn from the impressions left behind. They were then able to make a disc of air dry clay and imprint it with various seashells and coral I brought with me.

There was book club and farewell to one book club family who is moving out of state. It's always hard to say goodbye to friends.

Friday is half over and tomorrow we're having a Thanksgiving dinner with family since my sister's family is still here. I need to go check my pantry to see if there is anything I need to pick up at the grocery store. Better do that now before I forget! Happy Friday to you all!

{Linking here}

Monday, May 15, 2017

Homeschool Freedom - School's out!

Friday evening we got the news that a member of the extended family had passed away (my brother-in-law's mother). Less than 48 hours later my sister, her husband, and their 4 children were arriving on U.S. soil from their overseas military base to stay for 2 weeks. It has been a year since we've seen them. I quickly realized that we were officially done with school. While I had 2 weeks on the calendar yet to go, we had more than passed the 900 hours required in Ohio (we don't have a number of days required, just a number of hours). School's out!

I'm thankful for the freedom and flexibility homeschooling gives our family. We choose our schedule and fit it around our real life. My children have learned that when they work consistently in the small everyday things it accomplishes large amounts. They see that sometimes they are doing school when the local public school friends are not, but that it works in reverse too, sometimes they are off when others are still working. It has been a glorious year of learning together!

Now we're on summer vacation and planning to soak in as much family time in these 2 weeks as we can. I'll spend some time pulling the kids portfolios together in the next few weeks. I'll update Makayla's transcripts.

Some things don't totally go away during the summer. After the first two weeks of total break my kids will still be reading books. They will also have some math review and math games a couple times a week to keep skills sharp. I'll have them journal or write twice a week - anything! It could be a blog post, a letter to a friend, an impassioned plea for yet another reptile pet, or even a complaint list.

We also do chore training boot camp each June. My kids get a new chore room and keep it for a year. We'll decide who is moving to which chore and train replacements. It has been one of the best things we ever chose to do with chores!

That's the plan, now I'm off to visit with family!