Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Heartstopping Week that Turns Out All Right

Monday - We started our week off with a full morning of schoolwork before Mason and Mom needed to head to the hospital for yet another appointment (we were only gone for 3 hours, so this was relatively short compared to last Friday's almost 7 hours). Daddy is home on Mondays so we started with everyone gathered on the couch to read more in the Book of Mormon. Then kids scattered to the four winds to do their assignments, grabbing a parent when needed. I did a lot of new math lessons today.

Caleb pulled out five activity pages from All About Reading level 1 and read 20 different words, then found the picture they went with on those activity pages. He did great! Oliver read another few pages in Grasshopper on the Road. It was the end of the chapter about the beetles who love mornings. Daniel did his math on the dry erase board today and enjoyed the change, so I fully expect him to continue doing so this week.

Late in the afternoon things came to a stumbling halt. The orthopedic surgeon's office called. During the abdominal x-ray taken Saturday for today's appointment with a different specialty something was flagged. The people who read that scan flagged it because part of his thigh bone looks like it may have bone cancer (tumor). The x-ray that was done just happened to capture a partial image of his thigh bone and it is suspicious enough that his orthopedic surgeon wanted to do full x-rays asap. There were other possibilities, this is an area where Mason broke his femur 2 years ago so it may just be a bone callus. We already had a checkup with this doctor for 2 weeks from now, but they wanted to see him sooner. Wednesday. Two days from today.

Nothing like a reality check to shuffle the priority list, right? Perspective comes when we least expect it. I will share more about this another time.

Tuesday we had already planned to begin potty training Samuel, so that is exactly what I did. This was one of those mornings where I truly appreciate the routines and independence we have built in our home and homeschool. The kids did their chores, they helped one another, they worked without me needing to stand over their shoulder and keep them on task, and they came to me when they needed help or wanted mom to buddy up with them. I praised, encouraged, corrected, and spent a lot of time just focusing on making the potty training experience pleasant for my 8th child while keeping an eye on the other 8 children.

In the potty training arena it was a typical first day with a mix of peeing in the toilet and peeing in his underwear. I know that he will figure out his body signals and how to manage pausing those long enough to get to the toilet sometime in the next week. And my floors will get extra scrubbing for a while.

Playing Scrambled States
We cancelled school for Wednesday. Mason's appointment was not until mid-afternoon and we spent the morning playing, reading together, and just being a family. After lunch and a long drive to the surgeon's office Mason had several x-rays. Happily the doctor is confident that what we see on x-ray is simply the remodeling of a bone callus from the broken femur Mason had two years ago. Nothing to worry about. My heart started beating again. On the way home we made a stop at the orthotist to pick up some of Mason's braces that were getting adjustments.

Daniel made the Batmobile.
The evening contained youth activities, a Pinewood Derby for my Cub Scout, and school work for my husband.
The Pinewood Derby track.

Thursday morning brought us happily back into our routine. Seminary, breakfast, chores, and homeschooling were the order of the morning. Swimming or running at the Y for a couple of us in the afternoon. Then making caving jeans for Joseph's camping trip this weekend with the Boy Scouts They'll be camping in caverns in another state, doing a service project while they are there.

Caving Jeans for my Boy Scout
What are caving jeans? They are jeans that you've added carpet and fabric to the inside at the knees for built in knee pads to make crawling on rock more comfortable.

The Thursday potty training report is mixed still - he's had a couple times where he just peed in his clothing, and more times where he used the toilet. I left longer periods of time between required potty visits today because now that he's getting the idea of using the toilet he needs to take ownership of recognizing and responding to his body's signals. Again, it won't happen overnight, but Samuel is well on his way.

Tomorrow is Friday and it's time for our Homeschool Book Club to meet. This month we're hosting, we'll be talking about Little Women and doing some games they would have played at that time in history. I'm just going to go ahead and put this post up tonight instead of waiting for tomorrow.
My three youngest boys playing piano together.
And just because they're all super cute here is another picture from that piano playing session:
Yes, they really are that adorable.
Left to right: Tobias age 13 mos, Mason age 5, Samuel age 3.
Books I'm Reading or have Finished This Week - These are all mine!
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen - Finished. This is actually for my Reading Challenge for February. I love Jane Austen and had not read this book yet. Because I had so much time driving back and forth to the hospital with Mason in the last week and sitting in appointments I decided to start listening to the audio book. I plan to listen to it all the way through a second time during February before I share my review of the book. This one is FREE for Kindle and when you get the Kindle version you can then add the Audible narration (audio book) for 49 cents. I adore the Audible reader who does this one, Juliet Stevenson, she's my go-to narrator for Jane Austen's books.
  • The Landmark History of the American People: From Appomattox to the Moon by Daniel J. Boorstin - Still reading. This is the second in a series I'm considering using as a spine for our history studies. I've not read the first book, but this one came in at my library so I'm reading to see if I like it enough to share with the kids.
  • Becoming Beauty by Sarah E. Boucher - Finished. I enjoy fairy tale retellings and this one caught my eye so I picked it up on Kindle for 99 cents. It was a very interesting book, one I'll probably read again some time. 
  • A Spy's Devotion: The Regency Spies of London by Melanie Dickerson - Finished. I read this one at night when I was up with Tobias, my teething 1 year old. I've read some other books by this author and enjoyed them. This one was good mix of light romance, mystery, and history.
  • The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep - Finished. I picked this up when it was on sale for just over a dollar. It tells of an English woman who ends up in colonial South Carolina married to a stranger and caring for his young child. The romance was a bit more intense than I usually like, the history was really interesting as it was set during a time when Cherokee and colonists both loyal to England and readying for revolution were rubbing against one another and some characters straddle several worlds.
  • North and South by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell - Just Starting. In case you don't know, this is NOT an American Civil War novel, which the title might lead you to believe. It captures the uniquechanges industrialization brings to 1850s England. I've never read this one so I'm excited to finally do so. Note: You can get this Kindle book FREE and then add Audible narration (audio book) for $2.99. I got both because I can switch back and forth between reading at home and listening when driving and it synchronizes my position in ebook and audio book automatically.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mason - A Good Update

Just a moment to update – Mason does NOT have bone cancer. We’re praising God for health in this one area. The area on the xray is the remodeling of a bone callus from the broken leg he had 2 years ago. Thank you all for praying!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Prayer Request for Mason!

The last few days have been very busy for Mason! Friday he had Myelo Clinic and saw many of his doctors. We went with a few questions and got various referrals or answers. Then today we had a checkup with colorectal who he sees for bowel management. That triggered an unexpected result - another appointment with the words 'bone cancer' at the top of the reason list.

The abdominal x-ray that was done for colorectal just happened to capture a partial image of his thigh bone and it is suspicious enough that his orthopedic surgeon wants to do full x-rays asap. There are other possibilities, this is an area where Mason broke his femur 2 years ago so it may just be a bone callus. We don't know yet. Prayers are much appreciated! We're trusting that God knows what is going on and praying that x-rays will show no problems. I will update later this week when we know more over on his blog if you want to follow along: Mason's Spina Bifida Journal.

Snapshot by Child - A Journal Post

One of the homeschool forums I am a regular on had a check in thread this week. Many of us on the forum have been there for years. We like to follow up with each other and see how plans from the beginning of the school year go at the midpoint and end of the year. Once I had it all typed out I realized I wanted to edit it a bit and put it here on the blog as part of my homeschool journal. Posts like these are always fun for me to look back on and see growth and changes in my children.

Makayla, 10th grade – She’s been pretty independent this year except in math. That is Math U See Geometry and we’re working on it together. It’s definitely better than Algebra 1. She’s doing the Power in Your Hands for nonfiction writing this year and it’s a solid program that is teaching her academic writing forms like various types of essays. She took a break in November to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and has a couple novels in progress that she works on outside of school. Science has been reptiles (raising a ball python this year in addition to her two bearded dragons of last year), finishing up Apologia Biology, and doing a Veterinary Medicine course too. (She’s planning on being a vet…). History has been Beautiful Feet Medieval Senior High and she’s enjoyed most of the books so far.  She does art on her own mostly, she’s entered a few pieces in the local teen art show the last several years. She wants to learn to use watercolors so she is currently reading books about that. She’s picked piano lessons back up. Her current interests include sleeping (she is a teen after all), reptiles, and preparing for the spring track season (she runs with the local public school team).

Joseph, 6th grade – He’s my ‘plow through school so I can get back to my own interests’ child. He’s really enjoyed some of his literature books this year, with the Ranger’s Apprentice series being his favorite. History, BF Medieval Intermediate, done with all the younger siblings during 1st semester. He’s loving science this semester, we’re doing Apologia’s Exploring Chemistry and Physics as a group with 6th grade and under kids. Writing has never been a favorite subject but he’s improving. Math is MUS Zeta (Decimals and Percents) and it is going pretty well. We’re doing a mix of writing projects and notebooking with written narrations. Art is done every other week with another family, I teach a class for all the kids. He’s also enjoying Boy Scouts, is working on swimming skills, and has started piano lessons. Current interests include Legos and Star Wars.

Emma, 5th grade – Emma has always just done school with Joseph. They are only 13 months apart and they are in the same math level. She’s a very opinionated reader. She would be happy to stick with one main genre all the time. I’ve nudged her into other books part of the time this year and part of the time let her run with her own picks. She loves to read. She didn’t mind history and is really enjoying all the experiments in science this semester. Art is one of her favorite things, she’s always doodling, drawing, coloring, and creating. So she does more art than just our every other week class. She has also enjoyed the notebooking portion of our writing plan this year a lot. She’s not a big fan of writing topics I want her to write about (ahem) but she does enjoy writing some of her own projects. She has started piano lessons as well and is thrilled, she’s wanted lessons for a while now. She is also working on swimming skills. Current interests include Star Trek and fairy tale retellings like the Land of Stories series.

Daniel, 3rd grade – This year has been a struggle for Daniel, not academically, but emotionally. He would just rather not do some of our formal school work. He’s right in between the older kids and little kids who don’t have to do ‘school’ or aren’t reading independently. He does well in his school work once we get past the complaints. He loves science and reading. His favorite books have been The Mouse and the Motorcycle series and Half Magic. He would rather skip all writing, narrating, and math. He’s good at them, just doesn’t like doing them. He does the art class and enjoys some projects and not others. This year he’s in MUS Delta, which is division. He’s done a few writing projects and does notebooking pages as well. We partner on the writing part, some he writes and some he narrates and I scribe. He is also doing piano lessons now and seems to like it and enjoys Cub Scouts. He likes Legos and interested in neuroscience topics (think Brain Games).

Oliver, 2nd grade – Oliver has been enthusiastic for learning this year. He’s worked diligently in Math U See Beta (larger addition and subtraction problems). He’s been working hard on learning to read and is making great progress toward independence. He is using All About Reading level 2 and is reading aloud to me daily. He liked listening to our history stories but loves science more. He narrates his writing projects to me. For notebooking pages he narrates to me and I write his words on the board, which he then copies down onto his notebooking page. He likes art class and is looking forward to starting Cub Scouts next month when he turns 8. His current interests include Legos, specifically Mixels, and dinosaurs.

Caleb, Kindergarten – I’m pretty low-key in Kindergarten. Caleb has done math (MUS Alpha) and worked with letters consistently all year. He’s shown me in the last few weeks that he can blend and read CVC words so he just started All About Reading level 1. I love this because it has so many games to make the reading hands on. He’s listened to the history reading and really likes science this semester. He does notebooking pages by drawing a picture like the other kids and then he chooses a word or couple of words to label his picture as his copywork. In writing if he wants to participate he narrates to me and I write down his words. Some days he still just plays the day away and I’m just fine with that! His current interests are animals, dinosaurs, and Legos.

Mason, Preschool – I’m even more low-key for preschool than for Kindergarten. Mason was 4 years old until this month. There are no formal lessons. We read books, play with puzzles and playdough, use magnifying glasses and make messes. He’s started to do math out loud so I think he’s ready for some hands on math games soon. He is starting to recognize letters and will sometimes ask what a letter says. He’s also starting to write letters here and there for fun on his papers when he’s coloring or drawing. With Mason’s medical needs he also has physical therapy, lots of appointments, and a few learning needs are on our radar for the future. About 75% of kids with Spina Bifida and Chiari II Brain Malformation have specific learning issues in math, memory, and executive function areas. So I’m learning about what to watch, how to help, and just keeping an eye on things as we go. Mason’s current interests are Legos and Paw Patrol.

Samuel, Preschool – Again, super low-key. He is only 3. He likes when I read books to him, he loves playing and is a pretty self-contained boy who is just as happy playing on his own as with his siblings. He recognizes all letters and their sounds. He’s also got a speech delay and we did speech therapy for a while but it didn’t help really (the therapist was asking me for ideas as she didn’t know what else to try) and after tolerating it for a while he has totally refused to participate now for weeks. We’re taking an extended break and I’m still doing what I’ve done since birth – reading to and with him a lot, talking with him, encouraging him to use his words, try new sounds, repeat after me, sing, and play. We’re seeing some progress. His current interests are dinosaurs, Lego minifigures, Ninjago, and Paw Patrol.

Tobias, toddler – This little man turned 1 in November and he’s pretty much a climbing, into everything, happy little boy. He’s right in the middle of the action all the time. He loves books and has a couple favorites he brings to you to read over and over. As for current interests, Tobias is an equal opportunity player, he likes anything he can get his hands on. The most recent fascination is a battery powered train that he follows around.

General Updates:

1. We are getting ready to begin a grammar curriculum for a few of the older kids, and middle kids may tag along. I chose Fix-It Grammar because it will do double duty. The premise is that they correct one piece (sentence in the early levels) from a story each day (with the first of every 5 lessons being done as a group with the teacher instructing). Then they copywork this one thing into a notebook correctly. There is a vocab word you can define each day in the sentence too. By the end of the level the child has read, corrected, and written in their best handwriting an entire story they can read and enjoy.

2. I’m deep in college exploration and planning the last two years of high school with Makayla. We’re trying to be sure she has the courses they expect for incoming freshmen to be competitive at the colleges she is interested in, while also fitting in electives for topics she is enthusiastic about. It is interesting to be at this point. She’ll be taking the ACT this spring for the first time (end of her 10th grade year). We decided to do it cold, meaning no real preparation, just to see where she falls in each section. Then we’ll be able to use those scores and her experience with the test to know what areas she needs to study and prepare in to improve her scores and she’ll take the test again twice in 11th and possible in 12th if she still wants to improve her score. (We do know the scores her colleges of choice like to see for incoming freshmen, so she has a goal to aim at.)

3. I am working on planning next year’s curriculum! It will be an interesting year because I may divide the kids up into 3 groups (Makayla is one, Joseph and Emma will be 7th/6th and group two, and then the rest of the younger boys in 4th grade and under would be group three). We will still have the same history time period and some books will cross over ages but they’ll also have individual books. Science is where we will possibly split up more than we have before. We’ll see. Also, for next year I am planning our own history books instead of just using one curriculum guide. I’m working on those book lists right now too.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Weekly Review: A Puzzle, a Superhero, and Learning to Read

Tobias in a rare moment holding still for the camera.
January is slipping past and this week was no different. Monday we began learning about atoms, molecules, and compounds. Of course half the fun of chemistry is making reactions so we used yeast, water, dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide to create a foamy mess.

Math has found some of the kids moving ahead as usual and some slowing down for a concept. Daniel is working on long division with and without remainders. This was his topic last week as well and we didn't move forward as he still doesn't have it down. He is slightly frustrated as math usually comes easily. Makayla was introduced to combining radical numbers today. I decided to cover adding, subtracting, and multiplying radicals today.

Makayla and two of her reptiles - Olympia the ball python and Norberta the bearded dragon.
An exciting happening for Makayla today was that her veterinary medicine teacher from Landry Academy, which closed recently, opened the Veterinary Medicine 2 class up on a new platform and is holding it anyway. They are continuing their studies and dove right in to exploring different specialties this week.

Our family reading of the Book of Mormon is going well. We started the week at the beginning of 2nd Nephi. Our goal is to read about 6 pages per day, and to read extra on any day that it works out well to do so. That builds up leeway for days when we just don't get the whole family together in one spot long enough to read. As of Thursday evening we have finished 2 Nephi chapter 24.

Tuesday seems to be our smoothest day each week. We just slide along familiar tracks. We started the school day with more reading in the Book of Mormon. In science we built some atoms with candy and paper plates as we began learning about protons, neutrons, and electrons. The Periodic Table is next!

Math today included introducing division and simplifying radicals today for Makayla. It went well.
During the morning I also pulled out one of our Ravensberger puzzles to do at the table. Several children helped along the way and we finished this lovely pirate-ish puzzle.
We love Ravensburger puzzles!
My highlight for Wednesday would be the fun of listening to Oliver read aloud. He finished The Cat in the Hat yesterday and started Grasshopper on the Road by Arnold Lobel. He is starting to show more fluency (reading without sounding out) for words he had been sounding out before January began. Still a good ways to go but progress needs celebrated!

Oliver did math as Spider Man today.
By 7:30am Thursday morning breakfast and chores were done and 6 of the 7 boys were deep in the dress up tub working to become pirates, superheroes, and one member of the Wild Kratts team. Emma was practicing piano, Makayla was already reading her history book, and I was trying to find a few minutes to get myself ready for the day. We did a game to get to know the Periodic Table of Elements today.

Caleb started All About Reading Level 1 today. I am not sure exactly which lesson to place him into as he is already sounding out CVC words so we will just try a few different lessons until we find one with a concept he needs to practice. He loved feeding the monster bones that had words for him to read on the back today. Mason and Samuel were entertained using these lacing cards. They were quite serious about their 'school work'.

Everyone worked diligently today and we were happy to wave goodbye to this school week by the end of the afternoon. Tomorrow we're taking the day off! Mason and I will spend half a day meeting with most of his specialists for a 6 month team appointment and everyone else will relax at home with Grandma to keep an eye on them.

That's it for us! Have a great weekend!

Linking to Weekly Wrap Up.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Birthday and Lava Lamps and Snowmen

Our week began on Sunday with a great day at church. Our bishop challenged everyone to read the Book of Mormon in the next 90 days. I love taking any opportunity to read the scriptures more. We are taking the challenge as a family. That means each day the 11 of us gather around the table or on the couch and we read. Each person who can read aloud just goes until they want a break, be that 1 verse or 10 and then the next person begins reading from there. When we come to the younger boys who are not reading yet they have a helper and repeat the words of a verse after them. We also decided to read a little bit extra most days to try and get 'ahead of schedule', that way when days come where we just don't get to our reading we don't end up way behind. (Though really there is no excuse - we have the scriptures as an audio book too, so we can listen any time.) We are also continuing our own personal scripture study wherever we already were. So, for example, most of my kids are reading the New Testament right now, my husband is studying the Doctrine and Covenants, and I'm reading a little bit of everything.

In the evening we celebrated Mason's 5th birthday with cake and ice cream. He chose chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, and chocolate ice cream. With sprinkles on the cake. It was delicious! He enjoyed opening gifts as well.

Monday had chores and school of course. Today's end of the module science experiment was making our own lava lamps. Who doesn't love that?

This day also saw the oldest 4 children beginning piano lessons. Makayla can play piano already, she took lessons a few years ago and then spent time rotating with other youth to play prelude and postlude music at church services. She's missed lessons so she's taking them again, along with first lessons for Joseph, Emma, and Daniel. We have always told our children that our goal is that you will become comfortable enough playing piano to accompany singing at church if asked. Once you reach that level of proficiency you can choose to continue or stop lessons, so long as you maintain your skills. Makayla also has plans to begin guitar lessons soon.

Tuesday was cold and icy. It was also filled with music because kids were doing their piano practice. I finished my Reading Challenge book and posted about it. Tobias was a bit clingy with a runny nose so I applied some essential oils to help clear that nose up and we snuggled and looked at some books. Other children did school work at their own pace. I have done a pretty good job of remembering not to nag. We do morning basket work and science each morning and then I pass out their daily assignment list. After that they are responsible for doing their work, getting help as needed, or choosing not to do their work. The consequences of each choice are set and enforced.

Wednesday Mason officially turned 5 years old. I interviewed him over on his blog about some of his favorite things. The day started icy and then warmed up and rained all afternoon and evening. The day was filled with many of our usual things - school work, chores, cooking, cleaning. Mason also had physical therapy. He's working on using a walker, learning to fall, and doing exercises to strengthen his core and hip muscles.

Thursday we had a day off pretty much. Our only plan was to have friends over for art class. I shared an entire post about that with pictures, so I'll only share one picture here. Snowmen - on a day when our crazy Ohio weather got up in the 60s. By Friday morning it was below freezing again.

Friday you could see everyone's determination to plow through the entire day's work as early as possible. They just kept going from subject to subject instead of taking breaks to play or read or draw. One thing I finally captured on camera was Emma doing math. At the beginning of this week she asked if she could do her math work on the dry erase board and she has happily done so every day since. 

Oliver is still reading aloud to me every day for 15 minutes. He's more than halfway through The Cat in the Hat. It's always interesting to see how each reader develops differently. He's not independent yet, but he is well on his way.

Also in the reading department now is Caleb. This week we started building words with our letter tiles and he's reading them. The first few days we stuck with a word family each day. Monday was -at words, Tuesday was -op words, and so on. Thursday and Friday we started playing change one letter. We built a word, he read it, and then we started changing one letter at a time to cycle through a lot of words. For example you could go in this order: hat-ham-pam-pat-sat-sit-bit-big-pig-wig-wag-bag-bug. He's figured out blending of these CVC words so it's officially time to pull All About Reading Level 1 out of the attic and start it with him.

Shows and Movies this week:

Last week I shared books we enjoyed, this week I'll focus on shows. We watched these either on DVD or through a streaming option like Netflix or Amazon Prime.
  • Paw Patrol
  • Mythbusters
  • Alice Through the Looking Glass with Johnny Depp (this was a bit hit)
  • Gummi Bears
  • Zootopia
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
  • When Calls the Heart
  • Brain Games
  • Trollhunters
  • Cake Boss
Tonight or tomorrow we plan to introduce the kids to the Disney movie Newsies. It should be interesting to see what they think!

That's all for me this week! I'm linking up at Weekly Wrap Up, Homeschool Blog and Tell, and Homeschool Highlights.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Snowman Directed Drawing and Watercolor - Art Class

Today's art class started out with a forecast for snow - well, snowmen! We did a directed drawing with the children. Basically, one mom read directions and the other mom modeled the steps, pausing so the kids could each draw according to the directions as well.

The original drawing is in pencil. Sharpie traced over the pencil lines was the next step. Once everyone finished that step the sharpies were removed from the table.

Watercolor pans were brought out. This was the first time we've used pan watercolors in art class and it was a lot of fun!

Kids were instructed to paint the background for their snowman first. Then they painted the details. It was interesting to see the colors chosen. Many picked orange as the background color but there was also blue, yellow, and purple.

After our watercolor snowmen were finished we took a snack break, just one of the perks of homeschooling. During snack I read Over and Under the Snow (aff link) to the kids because we were beginning a second project today based on that book.

I'm not really going to share many details about that art project because we won't finish these up until our next class.

Today we painted background papers and did some large sheets of painted paper that will be cut into trees and other landscape features next week. The kids went home with the assignment to draw and color the animals they want to add over and under the snow. The only rule is they cannot use paper any larger than a 3x5 index card, so they can use several.

What art is happening at your house this week?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fire of the Covenant by Gerald N. Lund - 2017 Reading Challenge

I decided as part of my 2017 Reading Challenge that I would share a short review of each book I read for the challenge. You can read the details of the challenge for yourself, it's a mix of specific book titles and themed months. January is a theme month: A book already on your shelf that you've never finished.

I chose Fire of the Covenant by Gerald N. Lund. I have had this book on my shelf for at least a year or two but just never pulled it off the shelf to read. It is the story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies. If you have never read a book by Gerald N. Lund you may wonder how his historical fiction writing works. He inserts some fictional families into the historical events for us to journey with. It was very interesting to begin in Europe and watch the gathering of people from many countries who emigrate across the ocean. You follow them across a new country and learn of the preparations put in place for them, the decisions they faced, and the choices they made at each point.

Each chapter I would wonder what was a device of the author and what was based on actual events. I love that the author does his research and then shares notes and excerpts from actual pioneer journals at the end of each chapter. I would devour the notes for the chapter, read the journal entries, and then dive back in to the story for another chapter. By the end of the book I was in awe of the experiences of men, women, and children who were determined to gather together with their people.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy historical fiction!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Rookie Homeschool Mom Fail and Getting Back on Track

Me, all cheery, positive, and ready for January.

It's January! I love the fresh, open horizons of a new year! This week started off just like a typical year for us. Monday we had a solid day of homeschool work. We kicked off the day with our Morning Basket time. Today that consisted of:
  • Singing a hymn - Choose the Right
  • Reading aloud and discussing a scripture verse we will be reciting for a few weeks (memory work) - Helaman 5:12
  • Reading a few notes from the book This Day in History
  • Reading a bit about our new poet - Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Wait, you don't know who that is? Well, he also wrote under the name Lewis Carroll, of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland fame. We are using Poetry for Young People: Lewis Carroll. Each poetry day we read a bit about his life and then a couple of his poems.
  • Discussed what we know about bats and then looked at the pages on bats in Nature Anatomy.
This layered liquids experiment was a fun density exploration on Thursday.
This semester is our science focus for my 6th grade and under crowd. We began this next, while my 10th grader headed to her bedroom for some individual studies. For science we are using Apologia's Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. Today's lesson had us playing 20 questions to learn about properties and then experimenting with water, a graduated cylander, and a bullet to understand the property of volume (the space an object takes up). We also got into a discussion of density because the kids commented on how much heavier the bullet was than they expected. We pulled out a ping pong ball and a golf ball to show how they have nearly the same volume (size) but are very different weights because one has a greater density.

Other assignments today included math lessons, Oliver reading aloud half of Green Eggs and Ham to me, independent literature reading, scripture study, notebooking about something from their learning today, and listening to Little Women during lunch. My high schooler had geometry, writing, biology, literature, and art as well.

My husband's next semester of school also started today so he was on the computer navigating three new classes. He's studying to become a software engineer through BYU-Idaho. It's great for the kids to see Daddy working hard to study and learn for his classes!

Mason with the IV of medication for his osteoporosis.
Tuesday Mom and Mason spent half the day at Children's Hospital doing appointments for his osteoporosis, including a DEXA bone scan, checkup, and IV infusion of his medication. It was a no school day, which is always nice, to break the kids in gently to the every day school routine.

Tobias - look at that expression! It sums up Wednesday perfectly.
Wednesday the real 'back to school' attitudes hit. It wasn't pretty. Everyone realized that this wake up on time, do chores, do school, be productive and media-free until afternoon routine was back in place and nobody was quite ready for it. Whining, complaining, and dragging out work took up a lot of the morning.

We did do more science done involving density. Water, salt, and a grape tomato were ingredients to see if we could change the density of the water enough to make the tomato float. Then we colored four cups of water and put increasing amounts of salt in them. We used a straw to pick up each color/density of water, beginning with the least dense, and watching it stay in layers without mixing. Fascinating!

We got through school and by afternoon I recognized I had made a rookie homeschool mom fail - I was trying to herd everyone through their work, hovering, nagging, and not leaving the responsibility and consequences in their court. I apologized and told them I would not do that anymore. Instead, we will operate on the following rules:
  1. Breakfast and chores are to be done before 8am, when mom calls everyone together for Morning Basket.
  2. For the 6th grade and under crowd science will follow morning time, led by mom.
  3. After this everyone is responsible for doing the rest of their day's work. Mom will give each person a daily list of assignments. If you need mom's help you are responsible to go to her with your materials. (For example, Oliver needs me to do reading lessons with him, but is independent in scripture study because he can use his kindle to listen to and look at the scripture readers.) You can work on things in any order.
  4. When the alarm rings at 1pm anyone who has not completed their list of assignments (and their chore room) forfeits their personal media time for that day.
Caleb and Samuel were playing together and wanted their picture taken.
Thursday we began again. The kids understood that mom meant business, I was not responsible for dragging them through learning. I am happy to help them, team up with them, or stay out of their way. Everyone finished their work before the 1pm alarm. Some worked mostly independently on everything. Oliver grabbed me to read aloud to me from The Cat in the Hat for 15 minutes. Caleb brought me his alphabet game to play and asked me to sit with him for math. Daniel asked me to do scripture study with him. I helped older kids with math questions, and one biology question as needed. It was so much more peaceful! Nobody felt pushed, rushed, or dragged through the school day. Will it always go this smoothly? Of course not! Will someone miss the deadline? Yes, probably more than once. But that is their choice, and the consequence is attached.

In the afternoon Samuel was supposed to do speech therapy. He was not okay with that. He started crying when it was time to go to therapy. He sat in the chair crying or hiding his eyes and ignoring both his speech therapist and I, which he has never done before. Miss Sarah and I did the activities and played with the toys instead. He didn't care. We'll go back next week and hopefully he will be on board with it. However, I'm not too worried about it. He has been making some great progress at home over our Christmas break. If he truly refuses to resume speech therapy we will just carry on at home like we're doing anyway.
Emma's turn loading her boat. The boys were leaning over to see below the water surface.

Friday was cold and snowy. We had another uneventful day. The property of the day was buoyancy so we made aluminum foil boats to see how much weight they could carry depending on their design. One thing I want to remember - Oliver grabbed a set of actual scriptures to 'see if I can read them yet Mom'. Yes, son, yes you can. He made it through about 3 verses with some help on names and unusual words. He told me now he is going to read from them every day too, at least a few verses. Then listen to the scripture reader stories too.

Books this Week - Here are books that were read or listened to this week:

  • Little Women - Yes, we're still working away at this one.
  • Fire of the Covenant - I'm reading this one for my 2017 Reading Challenge.
  • Magic by the Lake
  • Eragon
  • Inheritance
  • The Ranger's Apprentice Book 2
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Snow
  • Three Little Dinosaurs
  • Winter Poems
  • Snow Globe Family
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Looking Ahead:

Next week is relatively quiet on the appointment front. We get to celebrate a certain little boy turning 5. We will be doing art class with friends. I'm excited for our projects but need to do a shopping trip to Hobby Lobby for a few supplies this weekend.

That's all for me this week! I'm linking up at Weekly Wrap Up , Homeschool Blog and Tell, and Homeschool Highlights.