Saturday, December 30, 2017

January Homeschool Plans Until Baby Arrives

I made some relaxed plans for school to keep us in a bit of a routine until baby Rebekah arrives. We could probably take off most of January and February and still finish the school year on time since we started early but the lack of routine would be bad.

Core Subjects - All kids will continue math and either assigned reading or reading lessons. The 7th grade and under crowd is continuing history with the Liberty's Kids dvds. The 11th grader is continuing chemistry and writing.

Morning Basket - This will happen each day and has the following categories:
  • Hymn - This varies. We're starting with I'm Trying to Be like Jesus and Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words, but I'm also open to kid requests.
  • Prayer - We take turns praying as a family, a different person prays each morning.
  • Devotional - We're going to use 52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family (Amazon affiliate link). It's a simple book that has a theme for each week. The first week is Kindness. Each day of the week is a verse or set of verses to read aloud and discuss on the theme. The end of the week has a couple of questions to talk about and a general conference talk to take our learning further. The best part is the daily readings will be 5 minutes or less, just right for our morning basket.
  • Fine Arts - We will rotate through different things in this slot. For the first week I have: Picture study, Composer Study: Mozart, Doodle Prompt, Picture study, and Composer Study: Mozart.
  • Scripture Memory - We're starting with Romans 8:16 and will change our scripture verse every few weeks. We simply read it aloud together until we have it memorized.
  • Read Aloud - I decided to pull one of the history books on Makayla's shelf for this year to read aloud to everyone. It's set in the 1930s and tells the story of a Mexican family who becomes migrant workers in the US due to unexpected circumstances. It's called Esperanza Rising (Amazon affiliate link) and I love what I've read ahead so far!
  • Other - This will vary every week. This week the slots are filled with Mad Libs (Star Wars themed), Mathemagic, science exploration, Mad Libs (Mad Scientist themed), and a writing game.
That's it! The kids are always welcome to pursue their own learning interests, ask for resources to help with that, or pull out a game to play. They have a variety of interests and there is often something going on. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Homeschool Notes Week 22 - Christmas Break Continued

Saturday morning Makayla woke up with pink eye and we made a trip to the urgent care for eye drops. I'm hoping it doesn't spread between children. She called work and they told her to stay home, which was wonderful. We all needed a quiet day home as a family. Or mostly at home, as we had to pick up our online grocery order of course, and it was our family's turn to clean the church today. We got those things done and by the end of the cleaning I was having consistent contractions every few minutes. It's not time for this baby to arrive yet so we went home where I laid down, drank water to rehydrate, and then waited for contractions to settle down, which they did. Then I got up and packed my hospital bag a few days earlier than I had planned, just in case. I need to put a short list in the bag to remind me of things I need to grab last minute like a cell phone charger and phone.

Sunday found me with 4 hours of contractions, part of which was during our church service. It made for some really interesting reflections on the birth of Christ as I thought of Mary and Joseph welcoming Jesus. We had some extended family over for dinner, Christmas games, and gifts. It was a lot of fun and noise.

Monday was Christmas. We made cinnamon rolls and put them in to rise, then let the kids come downstairs to begin our morning and open gifts. This was our second year to open one gift at a time (before that we generally passed out a gift to each person and then everyone could open that gift at the same time). It went really well and Tobias did great waiting his turn and watching what each person opened.

The rest of the morning was spent building Lego sets, a giant train station, and just relaxing and playing together. Lunch was leftovers from Christmas Eve dinner - tacos - and Christmas breakfast - cinnamon rolls. In the late afternoon we watched episode 2 of Extinct (on BYU tv through our Roku) with the kids. It's fun to discover this show together. Most of the kids are interested, other than the littles who just played in the same room while we watched the show.

Tuesday we expected Daddy to be working (truck driver) but after showing up at the shop at 4am he was sent home, they were giving almost all the drivers today off too and he was one. So not too long before 5am he was back home and we made plans for a to-do list for the day. It had random things like taking a watch to the store to get links removed, picking up oil (we used the last of ours in waffles this morning), removing the a/c unit from our bedroom window (since the temps this week are staying below freezing even for the highs), grinding wheat, dropping the girls off at the movies, and doing a bit of organizing.

The day was uneventful and productive. Of course, it ended on a less than great note when Daniel started throwing up. The question being, is it just too much junk food in the last two days or is he sick and going to share? He did make it through the night without throwing up more, which was good.

Wednesday we kept to the calm and quiet routine. The plan for the day was to just rest, relax, and enjoy break. That is exactly what we did. There was no more throwing up. The oldest 3 kids had youth group together at church.

Thursday started with a checkup at my obstetrician's office. I shared that update in a separate post on the blog already, so here I'll just say things look good and baby Rebekah finally turned head down! After my appointment the kids relaxed and I did some January school planning.

Let's be clear - we started this school year on July 31st because I know what pregnancy and having a baby during the school year is like - all my babies but one have been born during a school year. My plan for January until baby is born is a relaxed form of school. We'll keep a core of lessons like math and then pick up a morning basket of riches to keep our weeks enjoyable. I'm also going to dive into a read aloud. We've taken a bit of a break on read alouds (other than listening to audio books in smaller groups or as individuals) and I miss it.

Friday morning some kids were up early while others slept in. We cooked breakfast and watched cartoons for a while. Then I got to work finalizing January morning basket plans, printing things, choosing a read aloud book, and so on.

We also got a phone call that Mason's new wheelchair should be ready in about 3 weeks. This is nothing short of miraculous. The process to order a new wheelchair when a child needs a bigger size is often 6-10 months long with insurance, and only after they have had their current chair for 5 years. Mason's paperwork got sent to insurance in early November and he's had his current chair almost 4.5 years but has completely outgrown it. The approval letter from insurance arrived last week and was dated Dec. 19th, just over a month after it was submitted. The vendor who will build his chair called us today to confirm what color he wants and let us know that it should be reading in 3ish weeks. If that is accurate the process will have taken just under 3 months.

We're ready for a family weekend enjoying the ending of 2017 and the start of 2018. Now to plan some games and snacks!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Pregnancy Update #14 - Contractions and Braxton Hicks

Well, that was unexpected. Up to now I've had mild contractions when I've done things like walking all over the grocery store. Not uncomfortable, just noticeable. On Saturday things changed. In came my first day with countable, timeable contractions. Uncomfortable ones. I drank water and laid down for a while and after 1 1/2 hours they spaced out and disappeared, because we don't want to deliver until I'm full term (minimum 37 or 38 weeks, and on this day I was only 35 weeks 3 days).

Sunday morning I woke to consistent, uncomfortable, timeable contractions every 4 minutes lasting a minute long. It went on for four hours! I'm doing my best to stay hydrated and keep an eye on things. I'm still early for labor and my doctor would want to stop labor (I'm 35 weeks 3 days on this particular Sunday). Rebekah is also still breech. We'll see what happens as the week moves forward. I'm really hopeful that my body will do this practice labor pretty regularly for the next few weeks and that when I'm finally closer to delivery day I'll have already done a lot of dilating.

Monday contractions didn't start until lunch time, then happened on and off the rest of the day. Nothing major, definitely just Braxton hicks. Practice! Tuesday was similar, more contractions as the day went on, but very much just practice, nothing to worry about. Wednesday followed the same pattern.

I am feeling better overall energy-wise now that my iron infusions are done and being used by my body. That is really nice.

Thursday (today!) I am officially 36 weeks pregnant. I had my weekly check up at my doctor's office. It was time for my Group B Strep test, results come in a couple days. I'm measuring where I should. I gained no weight this week which is surprising over Christmas, but fine with me. My blood pressure is up for me but still in the normal range (130 over 82 instead of my usual 110 over 62). I'm dilated 1 cm and expect to sit there for the next 3 or 4 weeks.  

I signed the paperwork for a VBAC delivery plan stating I'm aware of the potential risks, so that is in my file. This is my 3rd VBAC and so this is all routine for me and my doctor. He's on vacation next week, so I will see one of the midwives after my ultrasound.

The best news of the day was that baby Rebekah has turned head down! I suspected things were different when I woke up this morning and it's always nice to have it confirmed. I'm praying she stays that way right up to delivery. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Homeschool Notes Week 21 - Christmas Break Begins

Saturday morning Emma and I went to WalMart first thing to pick up our online grocery order. I have to say, this is so easy! 10 minutes from the time we parked to the time we were done and ready to go home. We don't always use this because I can technically spend less money by going to Aldi, however I've reached the part of pregnancy where it's becoming difficult to walk around a store and grocery shop for an hour or more. I end up with contractions and pains in various places. Right now spending a bit more on groceries is worth it.

Other things that happened today:
  • Makayla worked. Of course! Retail means she's working pretty much every Friday and Saturday right now.
  • Kids did their weekly 30 minute turn with the video game system we bring up from storage and plug in on Saturdays. 
  • The tub and shower got a deep cleaning.
  • Bills were paid. 
  • I checked the rest of our homeschool progress for first semester. We're done! 3 week Christmas and New Year's break starts now!
  • Daddy and mommy worked on wrapping Christmas presents. 
  • I started looking for a new printer. Ours has died, which means it needs replaced before we start school back up in January. 
Sunday we got to go to church as a family. Mason was feeling good so we decided to just make it work with the cast and the big wheelchair. I'm so glad we were all able to go together! After church (and choir practice for Makayla) the kids took turns wrapping the gift exchange gift they each chose for a sibling or cousin. (My kids and my sister's kids do a gift exchange so on Christmas Eve when we all get together the kids get to give a gift to someone special.)

After dinner we surprised the kids with a gift. This year we were able to buy a series of 8 'family gifts' and we will open one each day between now and Christmas. They are all games of some sort, for varying ages. Today's game was Uno Moo. Almost everyone teamed up to play (one person chose to just watch) and it was a fun introduction to Uno for younger kids.

Monday we decided to open the family gift right after breakfast before Makayla needed to go to work. This one was Harry Potter Clue. Oh my, this one is fun! It follows a traditional Clue game in some ways (figuring out who, with what, and where related to the crime) but has some special things going on. First, you have house points and can lose them with dark mark cards, unless you have a special help card that protects you from the specific events on the dark mark card. Second, there are four turning portions of the board that change things in the castle: opening and closing doors into rooms, opening secret passages, etc. The game is always changing! This game is definitely aimed at older kids because it takes time, you need to be able to read (Oliver was able to play on his own, Caleb and younger needed a buddy), and you need to understand how to track the clues on the cards as you eliminate possible suspects, items, and rooms. Samuel and Tobias chose not to play, they pulled out Uno Moo from yesterday instead. Mason made it through one game with a buddy, Caleb made it most of the way through two games before abandoning his buddy.

After that is was off to work for Makayla and chores and play for everyone else. I did some organizing in a set of drawers that needed gone through. We had lunch. Tobias napped. I did Mason medical care. Daddy baked peppermint chocolate chip cookies. After Tobias woke up Emma grabbed some younger siblings to play Uno Moo while Daddy and some more of the kids pulled out Harry Potter Clue to play again. I waited for the nurse to show up to do my iron infusion. As soon as that was finished I made Chicken Alfredo for dinner.

Tuesday everyone got up, fed, and dressed as we usually do. Then my nurse arrived at 9:30am for my next iron infusion. Really, that takes up about an hour and a half of my day. By the time she left I needed to get going on cooking lunch. Makayla was already at the veterinarian office shadowing thanks to an aunt who could drive her while I was still hooked up to an IV. We did our afternoon routine. The kids opened a new game: Knot So Fast. This one will be a challenge for everyone!

Daddy was home by midafternoon. Then we had dinner and family time and decided to try making cake batter in our waffle irons. It wasn't too bad, but doesn't get crunchy like a waffle. The sugar content is too high to cook it long enough for that without burning.

Wednesday was the first day of break from seminary. That meant I got to sleep in until 7:00am and it was wonderful! We had a slow start to our morning and opened today's family gift. This one was a hit with a lot of the kids: Dr. Eureka Speed Logic Game.

Today was IV iron infusion #4. It happened at lunch time. The kids are more fascinated by the IV process each day. Me, not so much.

Thursday started off with an hour drive to my obstetrician's office for a check up. I now go for a check up every week until this baby arrives. I posted on the blog about today's visit. Once I got home from that the kids were ready to open today's family gift. It was a simple game called Let's Go Fishin'. Noisy, hilarious, and fun. Tobias shrieks every time he manages to snag a fish with his pole.

Lunch was easy because I had tossed it in the crock pot before heading to my doctor earlier in the morning. I put a couple cans of green beans in the crock pot and laid out a sliced ham on top. It was delicious with leftover rolls from dinner last night (polish sausage and bean soup).

I've started thinking about January, new years goals, and what our homeschool plan will be until Rebekah is born. I have papers and notes around my computer with ideas and I'm praying over it all to see what rises to the top and what falls off the lists.

Friday is here! I woke up to contractions this morning (totally normal for a great grand multipara - someone pregnant with their 10th or greater baby). They settled down after a half hour or so while I was making breakfast. We don't have any big plans for today beyond opening our next family gift and playing games all day. I'll also put in my online grocery order for WalMart this morning so I can pick it up tomorrow.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Pregnancy Update #13 - Weekly Check Ups Begin

Today I'm 35 weeks pregnant. I will have my last iron infusion by IV this afternoon. I'm feeling pretty good compared to how I was, less exhausted.

I had a check up this morning with my obstetrician. I'm waiting to hear a couple results but things looked good during the visit. My blood pressure is holding steady at a bit higher than my normal but well within the normal range (mine tends to be low). I'm not sure how my protein level in the urine sample was yet. I'm weighing 222.8lbs, so almost 23 lbs gained this pregnancy. While this is equal to my highest weight ever during pregnancy (222 lbs) it is a lot less weight than I usually gain. Usually I gain 50-55 lbs. It will be interesting to see what my body does after delivery in the weight department.

Rebekah is still breech so we decided to add an appointment next week for my Group B Strep test instead of waiting another week. Why? Because at my 37 week appointment we'll do an ultrasound to see if Rebekah has turned head down. If she hasn't we will go to the hospital and attempt an external version to turn her. They want to know Group B Strep results before that just in case I end up in labor.

We also discussed the possibility that after a version baby could turn head up again before delivery. If so, we could do another external version but it would be followed by an induction at the same time. Or we could do a C-section. There are risks to all options of course, so we're praying to avoid it all and just have this sweet girl flip on her own.

I can't believe it is almost time to meet Rebekah Joy!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Homeschool Notes Week 20

Monday I really debated if we would even call this a homeschool week. I started the day with an hour drive to bloodwork for my pregnancy, and hour back to our hospital for endocrinology bloodwork, and so on. Then early in the afternoon I realized we would be making a trip to the surgeon's office for Mason (an hour away) because his cast was rubbing raw the back of his thigh. Mason and I went, got his cast trimmed down and padded, and made it home 2 1/2 hours after we left.

I decided to look at each child's work and see where they are in each subject. Everyone is pretty far along in most subjects, so we're in good shape. I decided to set some minimal school work just to keep a routine going this week.

Tuesday the kids started up the homeschool week. We decided we've read enough in history for the 7th grade and under crowd for our first semester and even part of our second. So the kids agreed to changing things up a little. We are going to spend the time between now and baby Rebekah being born watching the entire Liberty's Kids series. This cartoon walks you through the events of the American Revolution with 40 episodes. The first one is called "The Boston Tea Party" and when I turned it on lots of kids were commenting that they recognized that topic.

Other school things we plan to continue for now are math (review, not new lessons), chemistry, and literature.

Life is about to get even busier because my doctor called with more blood panel results and does want me to get IV infusions of iron. I need 5 infusions over a 2 week period of time and it starts tomorrow. The biggest blessing is that my insurance company is sending them to our home to do the infusions!

Something I don't want to forget: Oliver decided he's ready for chapter books today and grabbed a Magic Tree House book off our shelves that we've never read. He's reading it and telling me about it and enjoying himself. Yay!

Wednesday the kids got school work going right after breakfast. I baked 48 muffins for lunch at 9am so things were ready for me to be sitting on the couch having my iron infusion during that time. The infusion went well.

Thursday was a nice at home day with snow outside and warm blankets inside. Mason is doing pretty well post-surgery. He had some swelling in his foot so today we are going back to elevating his foot off and on throughout the day.

We spent the morning working on school together. Math review for everyone was crazy because they all decided to math at the exact same time so I was fielding questions from all corners. I finally told a few kids to do something else and that I would work with them after I finished helping one or two others.

Friday is here. It is still cold outside. School work took up part of our morning. As I type this I hear Mason teaching Samuel to count to 100. Makayla is at work. I just finished placing our WalMart grocery pick up order. It's one way I'm taking care of my family while guarding my own energy. A couple minutes on the computer and tomorrow we just park outside our local WalMart and they bring out our groceries to the van. They even load it all for me.

It's time for a slow weekend.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pregnancy Update #12 - Anemia and Iron Infusions

Picture of me taken today at 34 weeks 1 day pregnant.

I left off with week 33 in my last update. Blood work came back Tuesday and my iron is very low, so I will be having IV infusions of iron. My doctor expects me to have 5 infusions over a 2 week period. I got a call that we would begin these right away. A huge blessing - my insurance company is sending a nurse to do the infusions in my home! I don't have to travel an hour each way or find childcare.

My first infusion happened the next day - Wednesday.  It was interesting getting an IV done at home, surrounded by my curious children. The infusion of iron went just fine. I didn't have an allergic reaction (they send an epi-pen along in the large box of supplies and medication).

One down, four to go.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Pregnancy Update #11: Weeks 28-33

Week 28 is where I left off in my last pregnancy update post. I was given an iron prescription for my low iron and started taking it faithfully, with vitamin C, and not having dairy (calcium) within several hours of the iron.
Rebecca is a pretty active baby. She likes to be right under my ribs or turn sideways. It gets uncomfortable sometimes, but I'm trying to embrace every moment.

Week 29 I got a bad headache on Sunday, which is unusual for me. I did check my blood pressure (normal) and decided to just monitor things. As the week went on everything was normal.

Week 30 I had another pregnancy check up. Everything looks perfectly fine, we're cruising through third trimester. I scheduled the rest of my prenatal appointments for the pregnancy - unless baby decides to be especially late. I'll go in every 2 weeks for check ups through December and when January arrives we move to weekly check ups.

Week 31 was pretty uneventful. I'm just trying too enjoy each day of pregnancy. I am starting to have contractions every time I am out walking at the store or anywhere else for more than about 20 minutes. They settle down pretty easily when I lay or sit down for a while.

Week 32 I'm feeling gigantic. Just really big pregnant. Turning over in bed is awkward and uncomfortable. I'm starting to gather things for the end of my pregnancy:
  1. Dates - I eat 6 dates per day late in the 3rd trimester. There have been studies done that show eating dates for the last 4 weeks of pregnancy have a significant impact on increased dilation and going into labor on your own, as well as a shorter first phase of labor. 
  2. Red Raspberry Leaf Herbal Tea - This one is new for me. I'm drinking it beginning midway through the 3rd trimester. Drinking this during 3rd trimester can help strengthen the uterus (great for a VBAC mom especially!), improve the effectiveness of contractions, and reduce the rate of complications and interventions compared to women who did not drink this tea. 
  3. Postpartum wrap/support - As is normal for a woman who has had multiple babies I have diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles down the middle (vertically) of my abdomen. This places a number of movement and exercise restrictions on me (some things can make the split worse), makes me prone to back issues, and just isn't fun. Before this pregnancy I had worked to reduce my DR split from 4+ fingers wide to 2 fingers wide. However I'm pretty sure this pregnancy has undone all that work, and quite possibly has made things even worse. I have been looking into ways to help support my abdominal muscles and back after this sweet baby is born and then work to reduce the split again after the first 6 weeks postpartum. I've looked at a lot of different support belts/waist trainers/girdles/wraps and have narrowed down my options. Now to make a final decision and purchase. 
Week 33 - I'm 33 weeks and 3 days pregnant as I type this. I had a checkup on Thursday. Baby is currently breech (head up) but she flips around pretty often so we'll see what position she settles into as we get closer to delivery. I have officially gained 19 lbs for this pregnancy.

Several things came up in tests that we're now trying to figure out. First, I had high leukocytes and protein in my urine. That can indicate a UTI (urinary tract infection) or possibly preeclampsia. I'm to keep monitoring my blood pressure and symptoms to watch for preeclampsia. 

They also took blood to check how my body was responding to the iron pills I've been taking. I got a call the next day with bad news. My iron is still low - and not any better. Worse, actually. So tomorrow I head back to the doctor for more bloodwork to see what is going on. We will also be talking about whether we should continue iron pills or if I need to do iron infusions by IV. I'm guessing my doctor will want me to do the infusions because I'm so far into my pregnancy and the infusions are more effective quickly. I'm at higher risk for several things due to my age, pregnancy history (prior csection, 14 pregnancies, etc), and so on, and having really low iron is a bad thing for several of those risks. We'll see how things go!

Homeschool Notes Week 19

Monday was a mix of things that needed done woven in around school work. Things like phone calls, a trip to Social Security, a haircut, work for the teen, and so on. Also lots of hospital stay prep for Mason's surgery on Friday. Then we found out that Mason's new glasses were finally ready and so he and I made an unexpected 2 1/2 hour trip in and out of the city to pick them up. It was the only day before surgery we could do it, so I'm glad they came in.

Tuesday we kept up school, Makayla worked at the vet, and we had a usual day. I'm still planning and gathering and getting things ready for surgery. At the same time we are trying to keep some quiet time in each day to just relax as a family.

Wednesday dawned cold and sunny. School work happened around the table and on the couch and in bedrooms. Little ones played with puzzles and moved ornaments around on the Christmas tree (we put ours up last Sunday). Daniel's replacement pair of glasses was picked up. Makayla and Daddy each headed to work. There was Cub Scouts and our usual Wednesday night activities at church.

Thursday I had a prenatal appointment, which I'll talk about in an upcoming pregnancy update. Daddy oversaw homeschooling while I was gone. Then it was time to officially pack for Mason's surgery the next day.

Friday Mason and I headed early to the hospital. He had a knee contracture that the doctor did a hamstring release on. Basically a 'Z' shaped incision behind the knee from thigh to calf so various things in both areas could be cut down to the bone of the joint. Ow. Then he was put in a cast going from the top of his thigh to his toes. He did well with surgery and had a 1 night stay at the hospital.

Saturday we had it confirmed that Mason really was in zero pain from the surgery (all painkillers from surgery were long out of his system). It's a tiny benefit of the paralysis and nerve damage that comes with Spina Bifida. It's also a big drawback because he doesn't feel like he just had major surgery and needs to recover for a month. We got to come home in the afternoon with instructions to continue elevating and icing off and on through Sunday.

Right now it is Sunday afternoon. Mason is still doing well. Daddy and most of the children went to church. We're having a birthday party this evening for Emma with extended family because she turns 12 this coming week. The coming week has some uncertainties medically for me (again, I'll update in a pregnancy post soon) but other than that is pretty relaxed.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Homeschool Week 17 and Week 18 Notes

Week 17 - I popped in on the blog last week to mention that we were taking off the entire week of Thanksgiving. It was great! We had many things that needed done, a full work schedule for the teen, Thanksgiving with extended family, a trip to see Christmas lights, and kids beginning to come down with a cold.

Week 18

Monday started us off with a solid day of learning. Math lessons happened for everyone. The high schooler also had Latin with mom and did history, literature, and chemistry on her own. The middle schoolers had math, science, and grammar with mom and did history and literature on their own. The elementary schoolers did math, grammar, beginning reading, and science with mom and did writing, history, or literature on their own (different kids had different things scheduled here). Oliver and Caleb also started a math facts practice to really make sure those addition and subtraction facts are solid. I was just going to do this with Caleb, who is ready to move up to Math U See Beta, where you dive into multiple digit multiplication and subtraction up to very large numbers. Oliver is already ahead of that level into Gamma, which is multiplication. However it never hurts to review facts and Oliver and Caleb like the idea of working together on this, so I ended up with both boys.

Other things that happened today: Makayla got a bank account complete with debit card, and plans to set up direct deposit for her work checks this week. Daddy had physical therapy. We played Righteous: A Book of Mormon dvd game as a family in Family Home Evening. My husband's work schedule got changed to a weird 2nd shift-ish thing, which made me want to cry. I'm blaming it on pregnancy hormones. He'll leave at 11:30am and get home sometime after 9:30pm each day. Ugh. It complicates things like me being Cubmaster (and having 5 little children ages 7 and under who need watched while I'm doing scouts every week), medical appointments (when we're gone for 4+ hours those are a big deal leaving 8 kids behind), and even childcare for Mason's upcoming surgery.

Tuesday was a lot of trying to get things done before daddy headed to work. There were phone calls to make, a trip to the store and to mail a package, homeschooling, school work for daddy, dropping Makayla off at the vet for shadowing, and so on. After Daddy was off and gone for the day we had lunch, did Mason medical care, and then it was time for piano lessons. We have a sweet friend from church who comes each week to teach piano to the kids. Then it was simply survival while we all missed Daddy and tried to make it to bedtime with sanity intact.

Wednesday was life school. Meaning the kids could study anything they wanted while momma and Mason were gone for a morning appointment in the city before Daddy needed to go to work. When I got home I did some research on a vehicle we would like to one day move to (Ford Transit 12 Passenger Wagon). I was trying to figure out the cargo space and if it would hold a larger wheelchair as Mason grows. (Yep!) Now if only it wasn't $50,000+.

Wednesday afternoon the kids helped me gather supplies for tonight's Cub Scout Pack Meeting. It's a service project night and we're making fleece blankets for Project Linus. *Updated to add that we finished 5 blankets in one hour tonight! We had more fleece donated than we could finish so the rest will be a project for another day.

Thursday was back to the usual morning of school work after breakfast. I worked with most of the kids but a few went to Daddy too. He got to listen to beginning readers, which is always a fun exercise in patience. Joseph and Emma had quick appointments at the orthodontist today. Joseph will be getting his expander off and braces on in February and Emma is almost ready for the expander, probably at the beginning of summer. Our morning kept rolling along with a porch shoe cleanup, crafting, reading, piano practice, and fun.

Friday started off with Mommy not feeling good (lightheaded, headache). I checked my blood pressure and it was pretty high, but went down after sitting for a bit. I'm going to monitor it. closely for a couple days to see what is going on. Daddy and I did two quick projects. We pulled the 3T clothing bin out of the attic and found Tobias new long sleeve shirts because he has outgrown his 2T shirts all of a sudden.

The second project was changing out the toys in the living room cubicle. The little boys love when we do this, things seem all new again. This time we have out wooden food (one small bin), tools (half a bin), and Imaginext (two small bins). We try to be sure we have out few enough toys that the little boys can pick them up easily within 5 minutes or so.

After toys had been changed I sat at the table to be available for anyone needing help with school work. I quickly had several children around me with math work 'just in case we need you Mom'. Everyone worked steadily and finished by lunch time.

I made a phone call to one eye doctor to order replacement glasses for Daniel, whos frames haven't held up. Then I was called by surgery pre-op for Mason and answered a hundred questions for anesthesia. Currently Mason is on the schedule for surgery at 9am next Friday. We'll find out the evening before if his time gets shifted around at all.

It's mid-afternoon now. Makayla is off to work. Kids are watching a show on Amazon Prime (Dino Dan) or reading joke books to each other. I am going to get dinner cooking and read for a little while before the chaos of evening crankiness descends.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Milestone and a Quick Note

This week we reached a milestone. We realized it was time to move Tobias out of the crib we'll need for baby sister in 10 weeks or possibly less. On Saturday we set up a toddler bed in the 'big boys' room. All 7 sons now share the master bedroom by using two triple bunk beds and a toddler bed.

Of course, Tobias won't really fall asleep in his new bed well right away. I've been through this transition 8 times before and I know we will need every bit of those 10 weeks before baby to make the transition. Saturday night was our first night. We simply followed our 'usual' routine of holding him while he drifts off to sleep, but did it beside the toddler bed instead of beside the crib. The goal is to spend a week doing this and then start laying him down awake in the toddler bed and staying beside the bed to encourage him to lay down until he falls asleep.

As I type this it is Monday afternoon. Tobias is taking the bed and bedroom change without a fuss for stage one. Hooray! One thing we've been doing to help that is shorten his afternoon nap. Tobias is still a good napper and will sleep 3 hours most afternoons. To be sure he's feeling tired at bedtime we're waking him up a bit early from nap.

Also, a quick note: We're enjoying the week off for Thanksgiving, some doctors appointments, baking day with grandma, and so on. No homeschooling this week!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Homeschool Week 16 Notes

Monday morning school work started with Mason reading to me from his All About Reading book. Next I read Beep Beep Vroom Vroom to Mason and Samuel. It's a book from the MathStart series about patterning. We pulled out red, yellow, and blue bear counters to work on making patterns after we read the book. Other kids worked on independent subjects like reading for literature and history, grammar, etc. Then I was surrounded by those needing math lessons, beginning readers wanting to read to me, a teen ready for Latin, and so on. We worked through everything in a slightly chaotic mass.

Science for the 7th grade and under crowd happened around the table after morning snack. Today we learned about using columns in architecture for strength and support of a building.

We made paper columns in two heights (tall (11") and short (3")) and began stacking books on top. We used the tall columns first and kept adding books until the columns buckled and collapsed. Then the kids predicted if they thought the shorter columns would be weaker or stronger than the tall columns.

We stacked the exact same books in the exact same order onto the short columns. When we ran out of books we grabbed even more. The short columns won! We kept piling on books until those buckled and collapsed as well.

After that I read a page about floor plans from Architect Academy and passed out a copy of a small floor plan for the kids to complete. The basic outline was a four room apartment. They were to decide where to place doors, which room was bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen, as well as any features like sink, tub, and toilet. Kids rearranged windows and some went so far as to add furniture.

We got lots of other small projects done around the house today, daddy had a doctor's appointment and physical therapy, and we fixed my computer, which decided to have two different blue screen errors at once. There was laundry washed and dried. Makayla got the final element for her new snake habitat and set it up for Olympia her Ball Python. I started reading Renegades by Marissa Meyer because my library was able to get me a copy today.

Tuesday the first school I was a part of was listening to Oliver read about wombats in his All About Reading level 3 book. I also helped a couple kids with math and played with miniature trains with Tobias. Writing projects were started for the week (written narrations of any recently read history book). Latin translation happened with Makayla. The day was just a nice, normal Tuesday, including Makayla's usual shadowing at the veterinary office.

Wednesday the kids were willing enough to do school. I just wanted to read a book. It all got done in the end and the kids didn't mind a distracted mom one bit.

Thursday the kids had a day off of school. Mason and I headed out at 8:45am for Children's Hospital and didn't get home until 2:00pm. He had his yearly checkup with his developmental opthomologist (the one who did Mason's double eye surgery).

Both eyes are stable. Mason picked out new glasses, which will be ready sometime in the next month. Then he had blood work for his upcoming surgery. Thursday afternoon and evening were just quiet at home time as a family, my favorite!

Friday is here and as I type this the only thing left for school is some science with the younger kids. We've been busy this morning doing lessons. I've made phone calls to doctors and specialists. We have had lunch. Kids have been playing piano, drawing, painting, and reveling in their interests. It is a good day.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Homeschool Weeks 14 and 15

Week 14 was break week. This Sabbath schedule is lovely. We school for 6 weeks and take the 7th as a rest week. I know we won't be able to stick exactly to the 6 weeks on 1 week off schedule for the rest of the school year because of Christmas break and having a baby in late January or early February. I will just play that by ear.

The week was full of visiting family, doctor's appointments, and life in general. The only big thing of note is that we scheduled Mason for his 19th surgery. He'll be having a hamstring release on his left knee in early December because his knee contracture continues to get worse. Then he will be in a cast for 6 weeks, which brings its own challenges because of his lack of sensation and weak bones. The last time he was in a long leg cast he ended up with multiple broken bones in both legs, including one femur all from the casts themselves, not the surgeries. And we made the long drive every few days for a new cast because his kept slipping due to no muscle tone. It will be an interesting way to spend December and January. If all goes well we will be finished with the cast before this sweet baby girl is born in late January.

Week 15

Monday was our first day back to homeschool after break. I had taken the time over break to prepare so all I needed to do Monday morning was sit at the table and help kids as they needed me. I taught a bunch of new math lessons including multiplying by 6, subtracting 5, using the multiplicative inverse to simplify equations, conjugating numbers to remove radicals and imaginary numbers from the denominator of a fraction, and prime factorization.

This 6 weeks the oldest 4 kids (independent readers) each chose a literature book. Makayla is reading Fahrenheit 451, Joseph is reading 100 Cupboards, Emma is reading Five Kingdoms book 1, Daniel is reading Socks. The 3 beginning readers are working on their All About Reading books.

While most lessons just continue from where we left off one that doesn't is science for the 7th grade and under group. For this six weeks we are studying building and architecture. Here are the books we have on the shelf for this:
  • Architect Academy from Usborne books
  • Building Structures and Towers by Tammy Enz
  • Build It: Structures, Systems, and You by Adrienne Mason
  • The Story of Architecture by Johnathan Glancey
  • Peeking Under the City by Esther Porter
  • Curious Constructions by Michael Hearst
  • Building Big by David Macaulay
  • Earth-Friendly Buildings, Bridges, and More by Etta Kaner
The six weeks will be a mix of reading, hands on activities, and creative work. Today is a simple example. We read about footings and foundations today and then used materials to explore how a foundation helps support a building. We learned a bit about 6 historical buildings and 6 modern buildings. Then we learned that an architect makes a 'program' first. This is a list of wishes their client has for the building and it's surrounding's functionality and use. The kids each made a program (wish list) for a home. 

Makayla is continuing with chemistry and finished up her review of unit 4 today with me. Next up is chapter 5: Covalent Compounds and their Molecular Geometry. Other lessons that happened today include Latin, grammar, writing, handwriting/copywork, art.

Midafternoon found Mason and I at the physical therapist. Because of the upcoming surgery and time in a cast we are taking a break from PT starting now. We can work on his core strength and upper body strength at home. We came home to the smell of meatballs in the crock pot and just had to make a pot of pasta for dinner. Yum!

Tuesday school work was slow and steady. Kids did writing, reading, math, and more. Makayla was off to work for 5 hours in the morning so she did most of her work before she left. We had construction vehicles working on our street today and my little boys were thrilled to sit at windows and observe. We have no idea what is happening but there is digging going on and my boys couldn't be happier. Our dinner was polish sausage stir fry and fruit. Just keeping it easy.

Wednesday morning kids ate breakfast, got dressed, and started their day. Some did chores early, others dived into school work. Makayla had work again this morning. Dinner went into the crock pot (a beef roast for shredded beef sandwiches). I spent some extra time with Joseph and Emma on math today because this week's lesson just isn't sticking. It has a lot of steps for a single problem and they're not slowing down and writing out every step, which makes for more mistakes. Today we ditched the workbook pages and did each problem on the wall dry erase boards. They were required to write big (another issue, they try to cram things into a small space, which then jumbles letters and numbers together).

Caleb got to choose a writing prompt today. My younger kids do not often do writing beyond copywork, so when they get to they love it. We sat at the computer and he talked while I typed his words. He talked all about what zoo animal he would love for a pet, what he would need for that pet, how to feed it, what he would name it, etc. His animal of choice: a stingray. Oliver is excited for his turn tomorrow.

Thursday - I pretty much want a do-over. A long visit at the allergist with a teen who didn't want to be there. Doing homeschool in a scattered way after that with the rest of the kids. A husband who got home from work in time to turn around and go to his 3 times a week physical therapy (work related injuries) that went an HOUR over, two kids at each other, a husband who has to be in bed an hour before the kids because of his 1am wake up for work, and me - a too tired, cranky, needing a break mama. I finally laid down in the living room and napped in the middle of the chaos while kids played around me.

Friday was a nice, normal day. Kids were motivated to get school work done because it was the end of the week. I snuggled up on the couch early on with Mason, Samuel, and Tobias to read stacks of books. We moved through our day. Baked bread for lunch. Played games. Then we started a Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Marathon. We don't actually watch even an entire movie in one sitting, but for us it just means when the whole family is looking for some movie time together that is the set we are working through. My younger ones don't really watch, they're usually busy playing away from the tv but still in view of the family in our long front two rooms. It is always interesting to see which kids watch, who notices something new, asks a question about something in the movie, etc. Lots of interesting points for discussion when you watch a sweeping saga of good versus evil!

Saturday was grocery shopping day again. Joseph was my helper and we got all the food and nonfood items on our list and were home just a little bit after Daddy got back from dropping Makayla at work. Other things we did today:
  • Showed Mason how to use Lego instructions to build something step by step.
  • Removed all but one pair of shorts for each person and most of their short sleeve shirts from dresser drawers. Waking up to 22 degree F temps will make you admit winter is fast approaching. 
  • Completed 85% of the Christmas shopping online. Two kids left to finish up, which we plan to have done before the end of the weekend. Yay! I love having our shopping done before December so we can simply enjoy the season.
  • Cleaned the house. You just can't get away from cleaning with a large family.
  • Sorted clean laundry and sent it off with various kids to put away. 
The evening is winding down and it's time to get kids ready for bed so that's the end of my report for the week. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Looking Back at the Second Six Weeks

    This six weeks has been pretty smooth. Our routines are solidly in place to carry us through our days. Kids have gotten acquainted with each subject and how it works this year. One thing that has been really helpful this six weeks is that I try to sit down at the table for an hour or two in the morning so that I am ready to help any child who needs me during their individual work. When I'm up and doing other things it takes time to track me down, get my attention, have my help, and then to move on. When I am at the table for an hour or two in the morning kids can sit in a chair near me when they need help. They know where to find me. I am ready to help.

Is it hard to do? Yes. Some days I simply can't put off all the things I need to be doing to sit at the table and wait for someone to need me. But individual work goes much more smoothly when I commit to this simple habit. And when nobody needs me I'm reading or writing or playing with my younger (non-school age) children at or beside the table.

Books We've Read as Individuals or Together
This list does not include the many picture books read to my younger three boys. I don't keep track of that because there are too many. Also: Please remember that not all books are for all ages or families. And on my list are even a couple books that were just my own reading. Pre-read books to be sure they fit your family's reading guidelines for a child. An example from my list: We are cautiously allowing some of our children to read the Magnus Chase series, depending on maturity. There are some issues we discuss along the way, including a character who, due to their godly parent Loki, is gender-fluid. This means at different points in the books they are more female or male. I feel like the issue has been tastefully handled. One thing I have appreciated is that the entire series lacks the 'bedroom romance that shouldn't be in a teen book' for the characters. Yes, there has been an occasional kiss (maybe 2 per book). That's it. So, as always, preview books before handing them to your kids!
  • Who's Your Hero? Volume 2
  • Across Five Aprils
  • Kids on Strike
  • Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin
  • If You Lived in Colonial Times
  • If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620
  • How Do Birds Find Their Way?
  • A Nest Full of Eggs
  • Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll
  • What Will the Weather Be?
  • The Cloud Book
  • Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean
  • Awesome Autumn 
  • Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn
  • The Pumpkin Book
  • Pumpkin Circle
  • Pumpkin Cat
  • Why Do Leaves Change Color?
  • Max and Ruby Collection
  • Cobblestone Magazine (several issues on history related topics)
  • Rocks
  • Let's Go Rock Collecting
  • Dave's Down-to-Earth Rock Shop
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead 
  • Slayers
  • Slayers: Friends and Traitors
  • Slayers: Playing with Fire
  • Mary Poppins
  • Mary Poppins Comes Back
  • Mary Poppins Opens the Door
  • Mary Poppins in the Park
  • Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane
  • Gregor the Overlander
  • Gregor and the Prophesy of Bane
  • Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods
  • Gregor and the Marks of Secret
  • Gregor and the Code of Claw
  • A Meeting with the Principle: An Education to Usher in the Millennium
  • Five Kingdoms
  • How to Train Your Dragon series (several books)
  • Mathemagic
  • Fablehaven

We did not get through as many books in history as I thought we might this six weeks. I'm okay with that. Everyone enjoyed the books they had, they just wanted to keep choosing books without moving on to new events in the time period. We will pick up where we left off for the next six weeks. There will always be more good books to read than we have time for, so the task is deciding when to linger and read just one more, and when to move on.

One thing we simply did not do, that I had planned to begin this six weeks, was our Shakespeare study of A Midsummer Night's Dream. We had many different things going on and it just never fit in. I suspect this will happen during our slower winter days instead. I'm fine with getting to it when we get to it.

Other things we did:
  • Consistent progress in math by all children. Even in Algebra 2, hallelujah. 
  • Consistent writing or handwriting practice depending on age. 
  • Art! We did a big painted paper project, have done some drawing, and various kids have started projects filling up notebooks with their art. One child worked on stop motion animation as well.
  • Beginning reading progress by all 3 beginning readers. They still each love All About Reading and so do I! 
  • Latin. We are keeping a slow but steady pace. I was surprised to hear Makayla tell someone the other day that her favorite subject this year is Latin.
  • Chemistry is still going well. It has been a balance of independent work and working with me when there are concepts she doesn't quite understand. 
That covers our second six weeks of the school year. We have been on break this week and looking forward to the next six weeks. I'm off to gather books for that!

Read about our first six weeks here.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Pregnancy Update #10: Weeks 26-28

It has been a quiet three weeks. I'm growing, baby is growing. She likes to turn head up or sideways pretty often. My sciatic nerve has been decently good for the last three weeks which I am very grateful for. I'm still tired and hoping for a nap each day. My bladder is feeling crunched and I visit the bathroom frequently. Way too frequently. Heartburn is a daily companion. Yuck.

I had a doctor's appointment on Thursday. I'm 28 weeks pregnant. I weighed 215 lbs for a gain of 5 pounds since my last visit. My appointments will now happen every 2 weeks for a while, then we're at weekly appointments until this sweet girl arrives. It's flying past so quickly! At my appointment I also did the gestational diabetes test, which I passed for the 10th time. I got a Rhogam shot because of my RH negative blood type. I also found out my iron is low, so I'm starting treatment for that in the hopes of getting my iron level higher before delivery.

This Saturday a sweet friend from church is throwing me a baby shower, with help from my mom and sister. I'm feeling pretty blessed just that she thought of it! It has been twelve years next month since I had a little girl baby. We have long since passed along baby girl clothes to others, and worn out the rest of the baby clothes with all those boys. The best part will just be visiting with others who love me and want to celebrate this sweet little baby joining our family.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Homeschool Notes Week 13 - A Bit Late

We kicked the week off with Monday mayhem. There was seminary, homeschooling, Makayla's orientation for her first job, an endocrinology appointment for me, a work related injury evaluation for my husband, and more. Oh, and there are still a couple sick kids. Despite the list of things to do the kids were able to do their school work cheerfully and well. I think it helped to remind them that next week is break week. :) I know it helped me.

Our Tuesday was cold and rainy, a beautiful quiet morning. Kids worked steadily through their subjects with me. I took a mid-morning break to make a fruit salad. Today that meant cutting up:
  • 3 apples
  • 2 cups grapes
  • 3 kiwi
  • 1 pineapple
  • 3 oranges

Makayla shadowed the veterinarians as usual for several hours. Kids played, created, crafted, and relaxed. 

Wednesday we had more rain and cold. It's wonderful! The kids did schoolwork. We baked 48 muffins. I prepared the last bits for Cub Scouts Pack Meeting. Our theme was slingshots and catapults and it went great tonight! We had three stations for kids to work through:
  • Long Range Slingshot - Kids got into teams of three to use a waterballoon launcher with little plastic balls from a kiddie ball pit to knock over a wall of boxes.
  • Medium Range Slingshot - This had kids knocking over towering stacks of plastic cups. Their slingshots were made this way: Lay a chair on it's back. String two rubber bands, one milk jug ring, and two rubber bands together and slip around two legs of the chair. Add marshmallow to the ring, pull back, aim, and fire.
  • Short Range Catapult - Kids built their own mini catapults with craft sticks and rubber bands. Then they shot cotton balls through football goal posts made from craft sticks, standing up in balls of playdough.
Thursday morning I had to scrape ice off the van window before I could take Makayla to Seminary. Brr! The kids knew that Grandma K from Utah was in town so they got school done early to be ready for a visit. She came and spent the afternoon and evening visiting. She even taught the kids a new game (Farkle). We had an early Thanksgiving style dinner with a turkey I had in the freezer.

Friday morning was the last day of school for our 6 weeks. Hooray! I think this Sabbath schedule is lovely so far (6 weeks of work and 1 week of rest). I know it will break down a bit over the holidays and birth of baby, but I will be sure to err on the side of more breaks than fewer. We attacked our school work and got it all done. We spent a little time pulling papers out of binders for portfolios, I will finish that during our break week. Then is was just waiting for Grandma to arrive again.

*** So, life got away from me a bit and I'm just now posting this a few days after my last update. Such is life! ***

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Homeschool Notes Week 12

Monday was a bit more scattered than I prefer. I had a grocery pick up at 8am and bloodwork at 10:30am. In between those and after I helped kids with their new week of learning. I really prefer just being able to stay at home and do the school work uninterrupted. Daddy was home and so some of the kids just went to him for help when I was gone, while others waited for my return for things like a new math lesson.

In the afternoon Mason had physical therapy. I remembered to put dinner in the crock pot in the morning (shredded beef sandwiches) so it was pretty easy to come home from PT and finish up dinner prep. Right after dinner we spent some time outside just enjoying the chilly weather. Then it was inside to settle down before bed.

Tuesday we woke up to a gloriously chilly morning that was almost cold enough for snow. Hot chocolate, pumpkin bread, and banana bread were a popular breakfast. Unfortunately a couple of my kids are getting a cough/cold. In a large family that also deals with a lot of allergies it's a rare month when we don't have someone sick or at least miserable from allergies. Right now Makayla is still dealing with allergies but they are morphing into something respiratory. It seems Caleb and Tobias at least are getting sick with a cough. We've got essential oils helping to manage symptoms while we see where this goes. So far no fevers and no loss of appetite.

We still managed school work. Several of the kids did an art project using some of the painted paper we made two weeks ago resulting in new art for our art line. We also had piano lessons in the afternoon. Then we surprised the kids with dinner in the backyard with the fire pit. It was really simple - just hot dogs, tortilla chips, and smores. For about 3.2 seconds I considered adding a fruit and vegetable. Then I decided the kids would be just as happy to skip them.

Wednesday I sat down to pay bills (oh the fun of adulting) and Oliver sat beside me and plowed right through his school work. Other kids were busy in various parts of the house doing school work or playing. It was a predictable, quiet day. I even got a nap!

Dinner was homemade pizza. Now before you think this was a lot of work, remember I'm pregnant. We used garlic toast and English muffins as the crusts and everyone got to add sauce, cheese, pepperoni, etc. Easy.

Thursday was a nice uncomplicated day. School work happened all morning. I'm getting excited because I can see our next break week on the horizon. We just have one more week of school to go. In the afternoon my sister and her four kids came over. While kids visited and played we talked budgets and figuring it all out when you've just moved internationally, changed jobs, and are still waiting to get important information like just what the paycheck and bills will look like now. Yeah, I don't envy her right now. Talk about complicated!

During dinner prep I decided to work ahead. While I was browning up a couple pounds of ground beef and black beans for tacos (tonight's dinner) I mixed up another couple pounds of ground beef with some ground sausage and other ingredients and filled a pan with a meatloaf. That got foil on top and was tossed in the second refrigerator. It will be dinner tomorrow night. Two dinners (plus leftovers!) with just one time touching raw meat and getting a messy kitchen. Yay! The taco meat leftovers tonight can go in quesadillas tomorrow for lunch. The meatloaf leftovers will be lunch for the next day.

Friday the local schools were out so Makayla didn't have seminary. Sleeping in was the order of the morning - except most of my kids don't know how to sleep in, so I was still up at 6am. Oh well. We did do school work to finish off the week strong. Then Joseph cooked a bunch of different things for his campout tonight. By afternoon it was time to pick up two teen cousins and drop off my two teens and cousins for a youth activity at a pumpkin patch with a huge fun zone. Then it was back home for me to do afternoon medical care for Mason. My sister (mom of the cousins) was on pick up duty for the teens. I tossed the meatloaf in the oven to cook, fed most of the family dinner, then it was time to take Joseph and one cousin to their Boy Scout campout.

Saturday was filled with a library book sale, cleaning the house, cooking, meal planning, picking up the scout campers, grocery shopping, and realizing that Tobias, who has been coughing for a couple days, was not going to be well enough to go to church on Sunday. Saturday had a lot of other things in it like a trip to the bank, games, school for daddy, rearranging one bedroom, and laundry. It was just a full day.

That brings me to this morning. It is Sunday and most of my crew is off to church. I'm going to go snuggle Tobias for a bit and take it easy.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Homeschool Notes Week 11

The kids were excited to learn that this week is only a 3 day school week. We're taking Thursday and Friday off for various reasons (doctor's appointments, friends visiting from out of state, just because we can). We got the week started right with a good solid Monday.

Kids had new math lessons or math review. This looked as follows:
  • Algebra 2 - Review for Makayla and I doing lesson 6 review pages. 
  • Pre-Algebra - Joseph and Emma had a new lesson. They met Pythagoras and were introduced to the Pythagorean theorem, which quickly made clear just why they had been practicing squaring and square rooting a number. 
  • Epsilon - Daniel's new fraction lesson was his first introduction to dividing fractions using the rule of 4. We'll cover dividing by multiplying by the reciprocal later on.
  • Gamma - Oliver's next lesson uses the skip counting by 9's he learned last week as a stepping stone to learning the 9's multiplication facts. 
  • Alpha - Caleb is on the last few subtraction facts: 7-3 or 7-4, 8-3 or 8-5. 
  • Hands on math - Mason is still not using a formal curriculum, just learning math concepts in a hands on way.
There were writing prompts to choose or writing from last week to continue if you were really engaged in what you had been working on. Caleb and Oliver had the drawing portion of Draw Write Now today. One drew a sheep while the other chose a squirrel. Mason and Samuel had fun with dry erase boards writing letters as Daddy called them out. Mason's handwriting is becoming legible and his fine motor control is definitely improving from where he was at the beginning of the school year.

Makayla and I finished Unit 1 in Latin Alive 1. That means we spent time translating the story of the Trojan War (a very simplified version) and reached the Unit Review. In the Unit Review we begin translating stories from the history of Rome, which we will start this week. In Chemistry she was looking at light spectrums using a feather - crazy interesting what our eyes can see when we give it the right kind of filter!

Kids did their history reading. Beginning reading lessons happened for three boys with a fourth boy tagging along. Fix-It Grammar lessons were new topics for Joseph, Emma, and Daniel today. As I said, it was a solid school day.

I made tacos for lunch and we sat down as a family (remember, daddy is home on Mondays too! He switches between joining in with homeschooling and doing his own college class work). As we finished eating we sat around the table and did our reading in the Book of Mormon. Dinner was pancakes tonight.

Tuesday morning I was a bit grumpy and the kids were a bit loud and chaotic so we had a bumpy start. I really needed some more sleep but the 5am seminary wake up call couldn't be ignored. After a while things settled down and we got through all our school work. Momma also got a better attitude going after some snuggles and laughs with the littlest boys.

Lunch was leftovers - kids could add taco meat to a quesadilla or just stick with tacos. It was easy and everyone could adjust it to what they liked best.

Every afternoon I spend about an hour and a half doing medical care for Mason. During this time kids are allowed to use their Kindles and Tobias naps. It is a quiet time in our day. We decided today that at least once a week during this quiet time we will listen to the Book of Mormon on audiobook. There are a couple reasons for this. First, I have several who LOVE audiobooks and listening. Second, I'm generally the one doing the reading aloud during our regular scripture reading time, which is great, but I'm getting short of breath as baby gets bigger. The audiobook can go much longer than I can in the read aloud department right now! We live in a time with technology like audiobooks so I'm going to take advantage of it!

We had piano lessons in the afternoon. We are really blessed because our piano teacher comes to our house. The kids adore her.

A rainy Wednesday started off our last day of school for the week. The kids got things moving, worked hard, and reminded me to get to the music store to pick up the next level of piano books for those who need them. One fun thing we did today was get out water beads. I soaked them overnight so they were ready to play with once school was over.

Wednesday evening was youth activities, Boy Scouts, and Cub Scouts. I'm doing preparations for this month's Pack Meeting. We're having a slingshots and catapults night.

Thursday was a no school day. It was great! I spent part of the morning at a checkup with my obstetrician and shared a pregnancy update on the blog. Everyone enjoyed the day off. There was a lot of playing, building, and reading going on. Makayla had her first day driving with a driving instructor (it's a mandatory 8 hours in Ohio, in addition to the 50 you drive with your parents while you have a permit).

Friday we were thrilled to host a homeschool get together with friends who are back for a short visit from out of state. They were part of our book club and art class last year before moving and we've missed them. We had a houseful (20 kids and not even all the kids in our families were able to come) and one mom was missing - but she had a really good reason. She had a baby yesterday, 9 weeks early, so she's still recovering and baby is stable in the NICU.

Saturday started out with the whole family attending a baptism for two children we know. Then it was home for a bit before the teens (because Joseph turned 13 today!) and two cousin teens heading out to a youth fall activity at a state park. I placed my first online grocery order today. Our local Wal-Mart just started offering free grocery pick up. I decided that because walking long enough to grocery shop gives me contractions every week that we should try the pick up service. We'll see how it goes! I pick up our order Monday morning and I'll report about it in next week's post.

Now I need to get into the kitchen again because Joseph (birthday today) and Daniel (birthday in 4 days) requested that I make sugar cookies for their combined birthday party tomorrow. I'm making one batch of sugar cookies and they requested one batch with andes mint pieces, so I'll do a separate batch with that. We keep birthday parties really simple. Generally we just invite family over for dessert. Occasionally a child requests a birthday party with friends, but most of the time we're just as happy to keep it a small family party.

That's it for our week! I'm off to bake!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pregnancy Update #9 - Weeks 21 through 25

21 weeks - Lots of tailbone pain this week. I've had a broken tailbone a couple times in the past so tailbone pain during pregnancy isn't unexpected for me, this is just starting earlier than usual. It makes it hard to walk much, sit for long, or lift and carry Mason. I've had the occasional bout of heartburn. They're pretty much my own fault - I'll eat and then forget that laying down is a bad idea until things digest. The laying down is happening fairly often again because I'm tired. I need regular naps! They're hard to come by but I'm making an effort.

22 weeks - Tailbone pain has been better this week but heartburn has been a more frequent visitor. I'm trying to remember to eat smaller amounts and spread my drinking liquids out over the day instead of guzzling a lot at a time. Baby girl is moving around often.

Something new I haven't mentioned yet - my feet have changed sizes! I noticed over the last month or so that when I wear my tennis shoes they're too tight, even in the morning when I haven't been on my feet all day. I finally gave in a used a coupon at Payless shoes to buy a new pair of tennis shoes. I have no idea if my feet will go back to their old size after this pregnancy, we'll see.

Weeks 23 and 24 - Heartburn is a regular visitor when I lay down at night. Or for a nap during the day. I'm having some aches and pains with my sciatic nerve, pubic bone, and tailbone. It's all part and parcel of pregnancy, just showing up earlier than usual. Baby is active and growing.

Today I had my second doctor's appointment. I am 25 weeks along in this pregnancy. I had an ultrasound to do measurements of baby and check to see what is going on with my partial placenta previa. Happily everything looks good. Baby girl is measuring about 1 pound 13 ounces, all organs look good. My placenta has moved up and out of the way, so I am cleared to have a vaginal birth. This will be my 3rd VBAC. I'm measuring on target and gained 7 lbs since my last appointment. Baby was breech today, with her head up behind my belly button and her hands, arms, and feet up by her face.

The crazy thing is I've already reached the point where my appointments start getting closer together! I go back in 3 weeks, then will go back every 2 weeks for 4 appointments, then it is every week until baby arrives.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Homeschool Week 10 Notes

Saturday and Sunday my family enjoyed watching General Conference. There were so many wonderful things about it that I'm going to try to get a separate post up about that. So let's move on.

Monday morning school was helping one child after another with new math lessons, listening to them read aloud, or helping them choose a writing project. Because Daddy is home on Mondays we were able to do our family reading in the Book of Mormon at snack time.

For science with the 7th grade and under crowd we talked about migration today. I started by asking them what migration means. We brainstormed different animals that migrate including some birds, butterflies, salmon, and whales. We read a book about how birds know where to go when they are migrating. I loved that in the end the book admitted that scientists don't really understand how birds know where to go. They have some ideas, have done some studies, know some possibilities, but they haven't figured it all out yet.

After school was finished 7 of the kids decided they wanted to paint. We pulled out oil pastels and tempera paint and they set to work. A couple boys created dinosaurs, others made pumpkins or bats, and one child made a pumpkin coach like Cinderella had.

Tuesday - A lovely cold morning (41 degrees F) started off with taking Makayla to seminary at 5:40am as usual. Most of the kids were awake before 6:45am. People ate breakfast and did chores. I convinced a few reluctant ones to get dressed instead of staying in pajamas all day. Then I settled into a seat at the table and did school with Mason. Samuel joined us for some of the fun. Before long the table was filled with kids doing writing, math, and grammar.

After lunch Mason and I spent 2 1/2 hours doing a bracing appointment. We'll go back in a few weeks when the orthotist is finished adjusting the braces to do a final fitting and bring them home. Makayla babysat, much to her delight, because she earned money she's planning to put toward a new tank for Olympia, her ball python.

Wednesday - I had an extremely long night with not much sleep thanks to a cranky Tobias. I think he's feeling a bit under the weather. When I got a text at 5am (after about 3 hours of interrupted sleep) cancelling seminary for the day I cheerfully went back to bed. Of course, Tobias woke up again so I really didn't get back to sleep until about 6am and slept until 7:30am. Still not a full night of sleep, but enough to get by on.

Here is part of Joseph's Secret Codes writing project.
He used Pigpen code to write a note (and I replied in kind).
He also used pictograms one day and created a cipher another day.
The wonderful thing is that we're solidly in a routine for school. Even when my energy is low or I'm busy taking care of someone who isn't feeling well our days roll ahead smoothly. Routine and habit sees us through. This is one reason why I'm so protective of our mornings. I remember early in my homeschool years that I was more likely let others infringe on our morning hours. Now, unless it is a medical appointment I have no other options on, I do my best to keep mornings set apart for homeschooling.

Everyone did their school work with a minimal of groaning. Makayla and I worked together to review her chemistry chapter. She is less than impressed that chemistry involves so much I remember feeling the same way in high school.

Thursday - There was a lot of math today. It just boggles my mind sometimes jumping between all the levels. We got it done and everyone is pretty comfortable right now, including the high schooler doing Algebra 2. Slowing down the course has been the best idea ever!

There was a fair amount of finishing happening today. History reading books were finished. Writing projects were finished. Beginning readers were finished. To celebrate I played a game of Settlers of Catan with most of the kids.

In the afternoon while Tobias was napping I pulled out paint and set the kids to work making up a stack of painted paper. We'll be doing some art projects that use painted paper in the near future. To make this doable I used just a couple of supplies:
  • Plastic roll of tablecloth - Clean up was a breeze because my table was covered. Just throw it away! This was the best investment ever. I found mine on Amazon of course (aff). It is 300 feet long and 40 inches wide. We use just over 8 feet of it to cover our table so it should cover my table about 35 times. I got it on sale for under $14 so that's 40 cents per tablecloth. You can't even beat that at the dollar store. 
  • Food services bowls with lids - These are great paint containers! We poured in some tempera paint and water, then added a nice fat paint brush. The base of the bowl is wide enough that they don't tip over with a big paintbrush and little hands messing around them. When we are done you just pop the lid on and the paint doesn't dry out. We can use it for projects on another day. Again, found these on Amazon (aff). They are 16 oz bowls with lids and I found 50 for $14. 
  • Cake scrapers - Once the papers had been painted and were rather wet the kids used these to add texture and interest to their designs. Amazon to the rescue (aff). This set had 10 scrapers for $8.
  • Pacon sulphite paper - I get this at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon when we need it. Our painted paper is 12"x24".
  • Tempera paint - We have bottles of tempera paint from Hobby Lobby, again, purchased with 40% off coupons. These have lasted a LONG time (we're in year 2 of using them). We will run out this year some time.
Friday - Yes, we made it to the end of the week! I challenged the kids to get school done early. Most of them got to work before 8am. Everyone loves that feeling of finishing a good week of work.

Oliver's most recent copywork.
I noticed today just how much Oliver's handwriting is improving by using Draw Write Now - and made sure to mention it to him today.

Joseph helped me bake 48 muffins for lunch today. We went with pumpkin chocolate chip for half and banana chocolate chip for the other half. Mmm.


This week and last I have been working on my Project Life album. I'm not a scrapbooker - at all. I just don't have time for that. For Christmas almost 2 years ago I bought the basic materials to do a Project Life album. Basically, all you do is print 4x6 pictures and slip them into page protector pockets that are just the right size and already in a 'scrapbook layout'. The smaller pockets on the page fit little cards where you can journal about what is going on in the pictures. I had done some pages in my album but then ran out of printed photos. I'm not super consistent at taking pictures, much less getting them printed, so this put a halt to my Project Life work just a few months in.

Last month Shutterfly had a quick one day deal where you could print as many 4x6 pictures as you wanted for free, all you had to do was pay shipping. Well, that and survive the abysmally slow website because everyone was trying to do the same thing. I printed off several stacks from the last year and sat around waiting for them to arrive.

Over the last two weeks I have tried to take 10 minutes most days to sort pictures, slip them into pages, and then journal about them on the little cards. The kids have been fascinated to flip through photos of themselves and reminisce about things they may or may not remember doing.

That's all my notes for this week! I'm linking with Weekly Wrap Up.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Homeschool Week 9 Notes

Friday evening, Saturday morning, and Saturday afternoon were all about clothing shopping. It's exhausting buying clothing for 9 children! I was very ready to recharge my batteries by Saturday evening. It was perfect timing - it was the first session of General Conference, which happens to be the Women's session (for girls and women age 8+). My girls and I snuggled up on the couch with bowls of ice cream and paper for taking notes that evening and streamed it live to the tv. It was so encouraging and uplifting!

Sunday we packed in 3 hours of church followed by a double birthday party at my house for a niece and a nephew. The Bishop was one of our speakers in Sacrament meeting. He challenged us to use these last few months of the year to read the Book of Mormon again. There is just over 90 days until the end of the year. We're taking the challenge as a family. I love the Spirit I feel as I read the scriptures and talk about them with my family. For anyone who wants to read along, here are a couple ways you can break the reading down to finish in 90 days:

  • 531 pages = 5.9 pages per day
  • 239 chapters = 2.6 chapters per day
  • The audiobook version (free online or with the free Gospel Library app) is 26 hours and 29 minutes long = 17.7 minutes per day
Monday morning was a bit wacky. I had some running to do to prepare for Pack Meeting this Wednesday (I'm our pack's Cubmaster), as well as grocery shopping. I helped kids do school until about 10am, then spent 2 hours doing the running, and came home to help kids finish up what they had left of school. (Many had finished while I was gone.) In the afternoon Daddy took 7 of the kids to see the new Lego Ninjago movie at the theater. I finished up grocery shopping at one last store and Makayla kept an eye on Tobias while I did so. We did our family reading in the Book of Mormon over dinner.

Tuesday the kids got my attention when they needed help with school. The rest of the morning I was reading a book. Yes, really. I finished it too! The kids didn't seem to mind, I sat at the table and read. They worked at the table and sat beside me when they needed help. I promised I would give them an oral narration about what I read if they wanted me to... so I could call reading a book 'school' for me. I'm sure that is going to come back to haunt me when they realize I'll probably let them do the same thing sometimes.

Wednesday after school was finished the kids and I headed to the church. Tonight is Cub Scout Pack Meeting and I needed to do some setup. We pulled the crossover bridge out of the shed and brought it in to the stage, set up chairs and tables, brought in the flag materials for flag ceremony, and just made sure everything was ready. That made our meeting in the evening easy. We had awards for a number of boys, a crossover ceremony for one who has finished Cubs, and then it was on to the activity. All month our Cubs have been learning about germs, food, and cooking. We decided a fun way to celebrate that would be to do an Iron Chef themed Nachos and Sundaes night. Everyone brought ingredients to share and got to put together their own unique creations. Yum!

Thursday the kids only had history to do, then our book club friends came over. We had fun visiting and eating together. I was even extra productive in the morning before friends came over and put dinner in the crock pot. It's my own version of an Olive Garden soup I love, so here's my recipe:
  1. 1 lb ground sausage, browned
    4 cups chicken broth
    15 oz can tomato sauce
    15 oz can diced tomatoes...15 oz can kidney beanstwo 15 oz cans Great Northern beans3 carrots, sliced into coins3 celery ribs, sliced1 onion, diced1 T. minced garlic2 tsp. Italian seasoning1 tsp. oregano
  2. Dump all ingredients into a large crock pot and cook on low all day (8+ hours).
  3. Optional: Cook 1 cup of a small pasta like ditalini on the stove top an hour before dinner. Drain and stir into crock pot.
Friday was just a regular school day. The weather finally cooled back down from the upper 80s so all the windows were open and the morning started with blankets because it was only 44 degrees F outside. My favorite school moment today was hearing Daniel ask, "Mom, can I keep writing this story next week too? I'm not ready to move on yet." Yes, of course you can!

By early afternoon everyone was discussing what preparations still need done for General Conference this weekend. Where we live (Eastern time zone) the sessions go from 12pm-2pm and 4pm-6pm each day. That is right across lunch and dinner. We plan meals that are easy to prepare, like cinnamon rolls in the oven or something in a crock pot. As of right now I think the meals are going to be cinnamon rolls, chicken bacon ranch tacos, French dip sandwiches, and homemade pizzas. The pizza is still up for debate. The kids also decide if they want coloring pages, blank pages, or lined pages in a notebook to have with them during conference for any doodling or note taking they want to do. We print or gather those items today. Everyone also puts in a request for their favorite candy.

That's really our week in a nutshell. Now I'm off to make a shopping list.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Budgets and Clothing Shopping for Nine Children

We're a homeschool family so we get to skip the back to school shopping craze. We wait until it's time for fall clothing to come out of storage and do our shopping then. Living in Ohio where we get 4 full seasons of different weather we often get half a year of use out of long sleeves and pants. We aim for about 6 shirts and 6 pants for each child, though it varies some as they reach the age where they spend their budget or as they have specific needs. For example Mason tears through the knees in pants more often than most of my boys because he still crawls when playing out of his wheelchair.

We went through our bins of stored clothing in the attic earlier in the month. While we're good at saving clothing for use by future children things just don't last through 7 sons. Then there is buying for the oldest of each gender too. This year kids needed a variety of items, some just a few pieces, others nearly everything.

Paying for Things:

We set aside money in the months leading up to our shopping. Then we do our large shopping trip at one time. Money left over in the budget is used on an as-needed basis when a child has an unexpected growth spurt or ends up with holes in all their pants at the knees for the next several months. If the money isn't used it just becomes part of the next big seasonal shopping trip's savings.

Shopping trip details:

Pre-Trip Online Ordering: I had some Super Cash from my maternity shopping online at Old Navy so I ordered pajamas for the three littlest boys online using that (saving $40 off the cost of pjs that were also already on sale).

Trip #1 on Friday night: Me, Makayla (age 16), Emma (age 11). We went to a local Target and WalMart. They did their own shopping, I was along for the ride. It is so much fun to see their different clothing likes and dislikes and shopping styles. Emma had a list, tried on a variety of things, and found everything she needed except pajamas. She was done trying on clothing and didn't want to try on pjs. Makayla found a couple items, two of which she bought as 'maybes'. She said if she didn't find anything she loved more somewhere else she would keep these items, but if she loved something else more she would return them.

Trip #2 on Saturday morning: Me, Makayla (age 16). Resale shop day! Our first stop was Plato's Closet for Makayla, then Once Upon a Child (for Tobias, Samuel, Mason, Caleb, Oliver, Daniel). Makayla had a list she had been working from of needs and wants. She tried on a stack of things and made her choices. She compared a price with something at another store using my phone. Then she helped me shop for all the clothing for the 6 younger boys. It's so nice to have a good, helpful teen.

Trip #3 on Saturday afternoon: Me, Makayla (age 16), Joseph (age 12, or as he tells me now, 13 in less than a month). We went to WalMart for one exchange for Makayla, clothes for Joseph, and pjs for Emma and Caleb (because I didn't find their size earlier in the day). Joseph's shopping personality was agonizing for me. It was along these lines: Umm, what do I need mom? Will these work? Do I have to try them on? Are you sure?


Clothing budgets are a very personal and variable thing. Our general goal was to save $900, which works out to $100 per child. In reality, we then use that money based on each child's needs. We didn't need $100 to get the clothing Tobias needed (we didn't even need $50 for him this season). At the same time, we needed closer to $150 for the oldest two children, who are the first of each gender, and whose clothes cost more per piece than a toddler's, even at a resale shop like Plato's Closet.

What we bought:

Long sleeve shirts (tee shirts, sweaters, cardigans): 36
Pants (jeans, leggings, cotton pants, etc): 18 pair
Dresses: 1
Pajamas (long sleeve top and pants): 20 pair
Shoes: 2 pair

Total: 77 items

What we spent:

Between all 9 children we spent $567 for everything. We were $333 under our budget. That leftover money will be used over the next several months if needed or will roll into the next season's savings for clothing shopping.

Phew! That's our process. Do you have any questions? How do you handle clothes shopping for kids around the back to school or seasonal switch?