Friday, July 28, 2017

Homeschooling - Yearly and Daily Schedule Changes

A new homeschool year arrives on Monday at my house! In this post I'm sharing about some new things we're trying out this year. Coming soon will be a post about our curriculum choices for 2017-2018.

Our Yearly Schedule

Usually we just school until I feel like we need a break. This is good (flexible) and bad (if I don't pay attention we can get burned out because I forget to take a break). This year we are beginning with a purposeful work and break plan. We're doing a Sabbath week schedule. We will do school for 6 weeks and then take a break for the 7th week. This means I will do my planning in 6 week chunks too. I've got an overall year's plan, but I only have to work out specifics for 6 weeks at a time. The break week will be a wonderful time to regularly evaluate how kids are doing on reaching their goals and choose new goals when needed.

Our Daily Schedule

We've always been pretty scheduled with set wake up and school times. The high schooler is up at 5:20am and out the door by 5:40am for a seminary class, then returns home around 7:15am. The rest of the kids are up around 6:30am and our day runs from there with breakfast, chores, and school.

For the first 6 week term this year we are trying something a lot more relaxed and outside my comfort zone. We aren't changing our summer wake up time. Kids have to be out of bed by 9am. Now, many of my children still wake up between 6am and 7am, but some do not, and in winter more are likely to sleep past 7am. The high schooler is welcome to go back to bed and sleep after seminary until 9am if she wants to.

Once 9am is here kids are up and need to eat breakfast and start their school day. I will be available to help as needed. Group subjects will happen after anchor points like snack time. School will trickle over into our afternoons - unless a child happens to be one of the early risers who wants to start school before other kids are awake. I'm great with that too.

I do have a couple reasons I wanted to try this daily schedule change. Here are some of those reasons for the curious:
  • Sleep - Who doesn't need more sleep? Makayla specifically doesn't get enough sleep during the school year and it shows in her health, constantly dealing with one cold/cough after another once her allergy season begins. I could use a bit more sleep sometimes too, being up early for Seminary and up at night with little ones.
  • Better attitudes - while some of my kids wake cheerfully there are a couple who are best left to themselves to wake up in the morning. 
  • Flexibility - some of my kids work best first thing in the morning while others really hit their stride late morning or even early afternoon. 
  • One on One Lesson Time - I'll be able to do one on one lessons spread out over more hours of the day, when each child works best. This will hopefully ease up the queue of children waiting for mom too because I know some will keep doing early morning school work while others won't get started until the early risers are finishing up.
Those are the big changes this year. We will reevaluate the daily wake up plan after our first 6 weeks to see how it is working. I'm excited to see how things go!

What is your yearly or daily homeschool schedule? Are you trying anything different this year?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Pregnancy Update #6: Goodbye Nausea?

My nausea has taken a big dip most days and I'm feeling human again. I hate to jinx it but the last few days I really haven't been nauseated at all. I have never had this happen before 16 weeks in a pregnancy, and usually closer to 20 weeks. It's wonderful! I'm still dealing with a major food aversion to chocolate and for the 3rd time in a row couldn't eat pancakes. Other foods are hit or miss. I've been loving hummus in several flavors - plain, garlic, roasted red pepper, and cilantro jalapeƱo.

My energy levels have been all over the place. Some days I have a lot of energy and get tons done. Other days I'm napping mid-afternoon just to make it to bedtime. Or napping mid-morning!

I still haven't gained any weight. Don't tell that to my belly though! Here is my view looking down toward my feet. Or where my feet should be. I'm 14 weeks pregnant now and called my obstetrician today to get on his schedule. My first appointment isn't until mid-September when I am 20 weeks pregnant. I'm going to continue having my hypothyroidism monitored locally by my endocrinologist. It's just easier to hop over to the local hospital for lab work every 4 weeks and I'll have continuity of care post-baby too.

I'm not having any new symptoms. Yes, I am counting my blessings!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Week-ish in Review: The one with an exciting happening!

Monday Makayla left for Girl's Camp with the young women of our extended church area. She's in her 5th year of camp and is a Youth Camp Leader. She's been working and planning for several months with other YCLs and their leaders for this week.

Also on Monday was physical therapy for Mason. His PT is leaving to work in a school system so he's only got 1 more day with her next week. It's sad but change is pretty constant in medical providers. His new PT will join us for therapy next week with his current PT to help the transition. I'm hoping she and Mason hit it off.

I spent a lot of the afternoon making phone calls to doctors and medical suppliers for Mason. We got unexpected good news (a new dynamic stander approved by insurance) and several appointments scheduled for the next 3 weeks.

Other Monday activities this week were cleaning, cooking, and piano lessons. We got into the attic to change out some of our books for the upcoming school year, which is always fun. The kids are trying to browse random new titles on the shelves and so I have two shelves that are off limits as school books I know we'll use this year. By the time we start up in 2 weeks the kids will be more than willing to start so they can crack open some of those books.

We finished off the evening with 50 cent frostys at Wendy's. Yum.

Tuesday started with exercise (me), breakfast, and chores as usual. Most of the kids disappeared upstairs to play Guillotine (aff). I baked muffins for lunch, which I haven't done in a while. I also spent time organizing the history books we pulled down from the attic yesterday. I'm making a list putting them in roughly chronological order so that during the school year I don't have to think about what comes next, it will already be there for me. I also am grouping books together that are on the same topic because then it is easier to decide who will read which books. Here's an example:

Under Civil War I have these books:
  1. If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America
  2. Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
  3. If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War
  4. Abraham Lincoln by D'aulaire
  5. Just a Few Words Mr. Lincoln
  6. Escape North
  7. If You Grew Up with Abraham Lincoln
  8. Amos Fortune, Free Man
  9. Freedom Train
  10. Across Five Aprils
  11. Rifles for Watie
  12. Stonewall
  13. The Red Badge of Courage
  14. Uncle Tom's Cabin
  15. Gettysburg Address
Those are roughly in order by age group - so younger children would be books 1-7, middle children could do books 8-12 in addition to the first 7 books, and older children could also do books 13 and 14. Number 15 is the actual Gettysburg Address, which I feel all ages could read or listen to. 

My 7th grade and under kids will begin with Native Americans move forward through Columbus, Pilgrims, Colonies, French and Indian War, American Revolution, and the founding of America, Lewis and Clark, the War of 1812, the Alamo, and Westward Movement. Depending on how slowly or quickly we go through all of that they may move on into the Civil War and so on. 

My 11th grader has chosen to begin at the Civil War and move to the present day, mainly focusing on the 20th century. She will cover topics like Civil War, Inventions, Labor strikes, Transportation changes, Ellis Island, Immigration, the Titanic, the Spanish American War, WWI, the Depression Era, Migrant Workers, WWII, the Space Race, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, Vietnam, etc. 

Other Tuesday fun: It was Taco Tuesday! The kids love being able to make their own tacos with toppings of their choice.

Wednesday was my 'get to things I've put off ' day. That meant finally sitting down to organize the 5 older kids' portfolios from last school year so they can be mailed off to our assessor this Saturday. I spent about an hour in the morning doing this.

In the evening I had Cub Scouts with my little Wolf den. We're working on Code of the Wolf, which involves different ways we can use math. On this night we talked about making predictions based on gathered information, for example weather predictions. Then we learned to draw our own graphs. Each boy drew two blank bar graphs. Then I handed them one of the 'fun size' packets of M&Ms. They opened it and graphed how many of each color M&M were in their packet. We compared information and each boy made predictions about what would be the most and least found color in their second packet. Then they opened a second packet and graphed it. We compared the results. Then they counted how many M&Ms had been in each packet total and we compared the results, found an average, and made a prediction as to how many M&Ms we would find in another packet. Of course they got to eat their candy along the way!

Thursday started off with breakfast (biscuits, sausage gravy, and fried potatoes) and chores. Joseph and I ran to the orthodontist for the next step in the creation of his palate expander while Emma babysat. (The orthodontist's office is 5 minutes from home, which is really helpful.)

The boys decided today was haircut day, so we spent time in the back yard while I cut hair for 6 of the 7 boys. Tobias really doesn't need a haircut yet, he still has wispy baby hair.

Friday saw Grandma arriving at our house at 6:30am. Mason and I left the house at 6:45am to head into the big city Children's Hospital. He had appointments with a couple of his doctors, several x-rays, and we're waiting on news with a plan of action or more tests ordered. We got home 5 hours later in time for me to drop him off and go pick up Makayla at the church, where she had just arrived from Girl's Camp.

The afternoon included our usual hour and a half of medical care for Mason, playing Sleeping Queens (aff) with Caleb and Oliver, cleaning, cooking, and a little bit of rest. Daddy came home in time to grill hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner.

Saturday is our one video game day. The rule is you have to eat breakfast and get your chores done first. We pull the Wii and Xbox out of the basement and hook them up to the tv. Kids get 30 minutes to play a game. Then it all gets packed away in the basement for another week. We have a new addition to the game options. One grandparent gave us their virtual reality headset recently because they just don't use it. My kids are having a good time exploring that.

A quick library trip happened this morning. This was also grocery shopping day of course. I have to admit that even with one child coming along to help I just don't enjoy grocery shopping. Many people have suggested we try out online ordering but our main shopping place is Aldi and they don't offer it. The price difference between Aldi and other grocery stores is big when you buy food in the quantity we need. I can easily spend $75 less just by shopping at Aldi. The convenience of online ordering is trumped by the budget. The rest of Saturday was more family time.

Sunday we had church of course. It was a good but bittersweet day. I was released from my callings as a Primary teacher and a Wolf Den Leader. I'll miss them. I'm still going to be busy though because I got a new calling - Cubmaster! Yes, really. I've never done that before and have many things to learn, but I'm glad I still get to work with the Cub Scouts. Our Raingutter Regatta (boat race) is this week so we are busily getting ready for that.

Sunday afternoon and evening were family time. We helped Joseph finish packing for Scout Camp and watched a movie.

Once the kids were in bed I worked on our homeschool schedule. Here are cards I made with the lessons that need to happen in a single day (excluding things like art, P.E.). Each column is a different student, so left to right it is Makayla through Mason. The two preschoolers don't have official school work. Some of this work is one on one, some is done as a group, and there are subjects here they do mostly independently too. It's going to be a great year!

Monday we waved goodbye to Joseph as he headed off to camp. His troop is going to West Virginia to camp at a lake and will attend the National Scout Jamboree for 3 days as visitors as well. It's a big deal and only happens once every 4 years. Joseph is excited for the many activities they will do!

The morning was spent working on a project from my things to do before baby list. We pulled a couple of unsorted bags of clothing from the attic, sorted them into the appropriate size bins, and cleared out some things from the attic while we were up there.

In the afternoon I got to do something exciting - become an active Thirty-One consultant again! I've got a website to make shopping easy for my US friends. (International friends I'm sorry but I can't ship outside the US.) I saw the new Fall/Winter catalog that just opened this week and couldn't resist. There are some beautiful, functional items I can't wait to add to my home. I've also got my eye on several items that will be fun gifts during the birthday and holiday season. This week you can also still shop from the Spring/Summer catalog and snag some of the retiring prints and items before they are gone.

Here is a sneak peek at some things you'll find at Thirty-One.

And one more!

Tuesday is here and our morning has consisted of play, puzzles, and dropping Makayla off to work at the veterinarian office. It's a cloudy gray day and I've got some school planning to do. I think the kids want lunch first, so I'm off to cook.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Long Overdue Week in Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pregnancy Update #5 - Projects and Theories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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