Friday, March 31, 2017

Watercolors, Driving Permit, and a Relaxed Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linking to the Weekly Wrap Up.

Unexpected Blessing

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

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

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

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

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

It fit. Perfectly. God is amazing.

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The First Week of Spring - Pictureless

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linking here.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Learning, Vertigo, and Growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

March-ing through Another Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Happy Baptism Day Oliver!

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

Friday, March 3, 2017

Goodbye February, Hello March - Week in Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linking to Weekly Wrap Up.

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Homeschool Mom Hint: Go to Library Book Sales!

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

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

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

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