Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Peek Ahead: Our Studies for the Next Six Weeks

I thought others might be curious what is coming up for our homeschool in the next 6 weeks. I'll try to share it here, with links to make it convenient for you to learn more about anything you may be interested in. None of the links are affiliate links.

Math - Each child just keeps moving forward in their Math U See curriculum. We've got everything from addition, subtraction, and multiplication to fractions, prealgebra, and algebra 2.

Grammar - For those using Fix It Grammar I've printed the next 6 weeks of work. Joseph and Emma are on weeks 15-20 while Daniel is on weeks 7-12.

All About Reading - Oliver is moving right along in level 3, currently on lesson 7 out of 54. Most lessons are taking him a week to master. Caleb is in level 1 at lesson 27 out of 49. His lessons take 1-2 weeks each. Mason is in level 1 but not in a specific lesson. Up to now he's simply been doing activities from the binder from lessons 1-18. We are going to begin more methodically going through the lessons this six weeks, starting around lesson 4. I know that some of these lessons will be quick (just a day) while others will take longer, depending on how well he has already mastered the topic.

Latin - Makayla is at chapter 4 of Latin Alive 1. We are doing this together and slowly getting in a good routine.

Writing - Makayla is in chapter 4 of 13 in Writing Fiction in High School. She stays independent in this. Joseph, Emma, and Daniel are doing some creative writing with Spin A Story (I got when it was free) and a writing prompt calendar from Write Shop. Oliver and Caleb are continuing copywork with Draw Write Now. Mason is still enjoying Handwriting Without Tears.

History - Makayla is finishing up her last book on the Civil War. Next up is reading Kids on Strike, a book or two about the Wright Brothers, a book on the Titanic, and then on to World War One. The rest of the kids are moving into reading about exploration and the American colonial days. We will meet people like Pocohontas, John Smith, and William Penn. There will be Puritans and Quakers and Pilgrims. We're not using a formal curriculum for anyone for history this year, just reading and narration.

Science - Makayla is almost finished with chapter 2 of Discovering Design with Chemistry. Each chapter takes about 2 weeks time. The rest of the kids will choose from a variety of books I've gathered on harvest, pumpkins, animals, why leaves change colors, and so on. We'll be watching our birdfeeder as fall sets in and we see flocks traveling south for winter.

Shakespeare - For this six weeks we are going to dive into one of the bard's comedies: A Midsummer Night's Dream. Shakespeare was alive during the time period most of my kids will cover in history this six weeks. We will learn about the man himself, the Globe theater, and then use Shakespeare in Three Steps from Simply Charlotte Mason to study this play. I like the setup of this. You read a story version of the play first (in this case one written by E. Nesbit around 1907). Then you work through each act of the play reading along to an audiobook performance (we are doing one from Arkangel productions that is available on Audible). Finally, you watch a performance of the play (live or dvd) and the SCM book has reviews and suggestions for versions to watch based on ages in your family.

Phew! We will also do some art projects, look at art, listen to music, sing hymns, study scriptures, and more. Nature study will happen. Books will be read and discussed. Games will be played. It's a wonderful learning adventure!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Looking Back at the First Six Weeks

If you are reading this post we are on our Sabbath week break. That means we've finished the first 6 weeks of the school year. We will take a week to rest, store away papers for our portfolios, and change out the books on the shelves to reflect the topics of the next 6 weeks of school. I thought this would be a good time to look back and evaluate how our first six weeks have gone. There are so many ways to do this. I could talk about how each child's work has gone or their progress toward their big goals for the school year. How our schedule has worked. If we got through the books I planned or if we changed any curriculum plans.

Books we've read as individuals or together for school during this 6 weeks (not counting reading for fun):
  • Across Five Aprils
  • Indian Captive
  • The Sign of the Beaver
  • Paddle to the Sea
  • Stonewall
  • Tuesdays at the Castle
  • Henry and the Chalk Dragon
  • If You Lived with the Sioux Indians
  • If You Lived with the Iroquois
  • If You Lived with the Hopi
  • If You Lived with the Cherokee
  • If You Lived with the Indians of the Northwest Coast
  • The Indian Book (Childcraft annual)
  • The International Space Station
  • Mission to Mars
  • Floating in Space
  • Glow in the Dark Constellations
  • What the Moon is Like
  • Zoo in the Sky
  • Once Upon a Starry Night
  • Meet the Planets
  • Beyond the Solar System
  • Earthquake
  • If You Lived at the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake
  • Sections of several books on bald eagles
  • There was also a host of picture books read to Mason and the younger boys. I didn't keep a list because we tend to read 4-6 at a time and repeat some over and over. 
Let's hit some highlights for each child. We'll start with the youngest school age.

Mason - He is working on his fine motor control and getting started with handwriting. He adores Handwriting Without Tears. He likes working on beginning reading with All About Reading level 1. He is using a lot of math manipulatives, has a cutting book he likes, and an Usborne first coloring book he works on a little bit each week. He likes being read to and would say science is his favorite. He loved the eclipse and enjoys all things space right now.

Caleb - He is trotting right along in Math U See Alpha and doing well with subtraction. He likes the drawing part of Draw Write Now but isn't up for the four lines of copywork. We made a deal that he could work up to it. This 6 weeks he's doing 1 line of copywork. The next 6 weeks he will do 2 lines, and so on. He enjoys All About Reading and is making steady progress. He likes science more than history.

Oliver - He has been doing great with beginning multiplication. He likes Draw Write Now but would be happy to skip the copywork portion. He does it anyway and has taken to using his drawings as the front and back cover of his binder, so he's proud of his work. All About Reading level 3 is going great. He liked learning about the different Native American tribes and how their homes/food/clothes/live were similar or different from each other and from us. He likes science too.

Daniel - His introduction to Fix It Grammar has been great! He's getting grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and copywork in one swoop. He completed two writing projects this 6 weeks. The first was his letter box, where he sent and received letters for several weeks. The second was an animal report on bald eagles that he researched and wrote. Math has been easy going, he's picking up fractions well. He adores science and is always asking for more. He has enjoyed his history reading.

Emma - She has had a good first 6 weeks with no math meltdowns in PreAlgebra. She has really loved her big writing project because she could create any creatures/cultures/histories she wanted for each island in her imaginary island chain - including artwork of them. She doesn't mind Fix It Grammar. She has liked her history reading and our science topics but has burned out a bit on space, so I know she'll be happy when we move on for the next 6 weeks to a new area of science.

Joseph - He has been my steady worker as usual. He just plows through the school work so he can move on with his day. He's doing okay with PreAlgebra and Fix It Grammar. He liked the book he chose for history, liked science, and liked the topic he chose for writing (Great San Francisco Earthquake) while not really enjoying the writing process. You win some, you lose some!

Makayla - Her first 6 weeks has had it's bumps. She is doing fine in each subject but doesn't necessarily want to do each one. Chemistry has had some interesting hands on things and we both like Discovering Design with Chemistry by Jay Wile. I'm not sure if she likes Latin Alive or just tolerates it, but we do it together and that is fun. She has kept true to form with Writing Fiction In High School and stayed as independent as possible, not wanting me to participate in the writing lessons. I'm fine with that. History reading has been good. She did say she doesn't like one of the books she's reading for the Civil War (Across Five Aprils) but I reminded her that we don't have to like every book we read to learn from it, so it is good practice for college.

The biggest problem subject has been math. The Math U See Algebra 2 lessons seem to have a TON of parts in a single lesson. They all build on each other but in past books this would have been done over several lessons. Makayla and I are not fans of this compression. We have decided that our brains have a limit of how many new math things we can cram into them each week, so we're slowing these extra full lessons down and taking longer than a week. We'll just plan for Algebra 2 to last more than a single school year. Better to slow down and learn it well than to rush ahead half-understood just to maintain some artificial schedule. #perksofhomeschooling

Other Thoughts

Overall our first six weeks has been great. We've done a later start time and while I still don't love it, it works really well for some of the kids. The kids who prefer getting started earlier just go ahead and do that.

We are all getting better at remembering that mommy can only help so many people at one time. Kids are noticing more often if I'm already busy with a sibling and just moving on to other independent work instead of interrupting. I'm remembering to ask if anyone needs me when I finish helping one child.

We really haven't done a morning basket this 6 weeks. I've added things in to our days a bit more free-form while we really focused on getting a handle on the main subjects. For the next 6 weeks I will be trying to put one or two morning basket type items into each day. We're going to study a Shakespeare play in the coming six weeks as well.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pregnancy Update #8 - The Halfway Mark and Ultrasound

18 weeks. Tired. I'm wondering if my iron is low and plan to have my doctor check it when I see them in a couple weeks. In the mean time I am eating iron rich foods and making sure to keep my calcium rich foods at separate meals (inhibits body's absorption of iron) while having vitamin c rich foods with the iron foods (aids in the body's absorption of iron).

All food aversions are gone. I'm happy to eat just about anything. I'm sure you know where this is going, right? The scale has finally moved. I've gained a couple pounds in the last 3 weeks. I went 17 weeks without gaining any weight, which was a really interesting experience in pregnancy.

In week 19 I started feeling the baby move every day. I love that. I have been dealing with tailbone pain. I have broken my tailbone a couple times in the past, so late pregnancy tends to make that hurt again.

Week 20 started last Thursday. It is hit or miss how much my tailbone hurts when walking. Longer days on my feet tend to make it worse. For example we walked all over the zoo last Saturday and by the late afternoon I was hobbling around.

As of today I am 20 weeks 5 days pregnant. I had my very first doctor's appointment for the pregnancy today. Their scales put me at 203 lbs, matching my own scale this morning.

I can officially say that I am pregnant with one little girl! We had a quick ultrasound today, we'll do a more extensive anatomy scan in 4 weeks. Baby is measuring right where expected. She's a feisty little girl currently laying transverse (sideways).

One minor issue is that I have a partial placenta previa. I had this with Tobias as well. Basically, the placenta is covering part of my cervix - baby's exit route. It should move out of the way over time, but until it does we will have ultrasounds every month to check. It moved out of the way in Tobias' pregnancy. If the placenta does not move out of the way I will be having a C-section, there are major risks to baby and I both in a vaginal delivery with a partial placenta previa.

We are thrilled to have gotten a peek at our precious little baby today!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Homeschool Week 6: Phew!

Sunday was a nice, normal day with family and church. I did have a meeting for Cub Scouts right after church to plan the coming month's meetings. Back at home we spent the evening outside with the kids (gaining mosquito bites) to use the big bubble wands and solution we picked up at the Renaissance Festival the day before.

Monday was Labor Day, no school for us. It worked out well because Saturday we were at the Renaissance Festival and I needed to grocery shop today. Emma and I did a really big shopping trip, stocking up on a lot of things. Our usual weekly budget is $200 and this week we spent $352.79. That means we won't need to buy the following things for a while because I stocked up (amounts noted):
  • 12 cans corn
  • 24 cans green beans
  • 12 cans pears 
  • 12 cans peaches
  • 24 cans pumpkin
  • 1 mustard
  • 3 ketchup
  • 10 lbs. sugar
  • 10 lbs. ground beef
  • 3 lbs. ground sausage
  • 4 bags chocolate chips
  • seasonings(garlic, steak seasoning)
  • sauces for stir fry (three flavors)
  • 1 large peanut butter
  • 2 large beef broth
  • 24 tomato paste
  • 2 large cans hot chocolate
  • 2 large jars dill pickles
  • 2 family packs sausage patties
  • 3 lbs bacon
The rest of the month our weekly budget will be adjusted to reflect what we spent this week. So we'll use $150 per week instead of $200. 

Monday afternoon the cousins, aunt, and uncle came over to visit. They just moved back to Ohio from Germany a few days ago and we're so happy to have them nearby! We visited, the kids played, and everyone just relaxed.

That evening I spent a little bit of time updating the kids' homeschool assignment sheets for the week. I can't believe we're finishing our first 6 weeks and about to take our Sabbath week break! Next week off will give us rest time and time for real life. We have 12 medical appointments scheduled, mainly dental cleanings. We plan to make a trip to the zoo if we get a good weather day too.

Tuesday was what I call 'typical'. We did school. Makayla spent a couple hours at the vet office shadowing. We cooked dinner and did family time. I did spend time on the phone tracking down doctors to refill prescriptions, called the pharmacy to see if one backordered prescription is available yet, etc. After dinner I was able to pick up several of the prescriptions.

Wednesday morning started extra early for me when the car Jason is driving wouldn't start. I drove him to work at 4am. Then there was driving Makayla to and from seminary and the day was off and running. By 9am kids were well into their school work and I had a load of laundry going. We got all the school work done.

Wednesday evening is our activities night so we picked up one of the cousins and headed to the church for the following: Iron Chef night for Joseph, Makayla, and cousin. Activity day girls for Emma. Cub Scouts for me, Oliver, and Daniel. Daddy and the rest of the crew were at home together.

Thursday we woke to 48 degrees Fahrenheit outside - deliciously cool - and because the windows were open a bit during the night the house was about 64 degrees. I loved it! The kids reminded me we need to pull some fall clothing out of the attic as they curled up under blankets. Sigh. Just thinking about it makes me tired!

Our process goes something like this: We go to the attic and pull down bins of clothing (sorted by size). Each child will find the size clothing they need and we'll try on the stored items. I'll make a list of things that we don't have enough of (with child's size included). Then it will be fall clothes shopping time. At the same time we pack away some of the warmer weather clothes, making space in the dressers for some fall clothing.

The school day was straightforward. We dug in, worked steadily, and got it all done. I think every child commented that they are excited for break next week, that it doesn't feel like we've been doing school long enough for a week off, but they'll take it.

Friday, O how I love thee! Then end of the week means motivated kids diving into school early and working steadily to get it done. I think everyone was finished by lunch time - including the high schooler. It was super satisfying to close the books and tidy the shelf.

We spent part of our evening beginning the fall clothing switch. We made it through 5 boys and the teen girl before bedtime. I'm hoping we get the last three kids done this weekend. Then it will be time to go clothes shopping. We've decided that once we know what we have each child will get a budgeted amount to fill in gaps - and the older kids will also have the responsibility to make their own choices on what gaps to fill. For example, they may choose to spend more on a couple items they want and not get everything on their list. But then they have to make do without anything they chose not to buy. It should be interesting!

Saturday (today!) we started our break week with a trip to the zoo. The weather was perfect. We saw so many animals being playful in the cooler morning. The only sad blip of the trip was Oliver getting stung on the lip by a bee. I keep Benadryl on hand along with the epi-pens we carry for various kids allergies so we gave him some Benadryl and visited a couple more animals before we headed home for the afternoon.

That's a wrap! I have a post coming in the next week looking back at our first 6 weeks, sharing how we're liking various materials, what we plan to study for the next 6 weeks, and an update on goals. I'll also have a pregnancy update post sometime next week.

Linking to Weekly Wrap-Up

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Homeschool Week 5: Laundry and Learning and a Festival

Saturday we had one big project - washing and changing bedding on all 10 beds. Usually I try to spread this out over more than one day but this week I decided to tackle it all at the same time. It started early and took all day. After switching the first load to the dryer and starting the second load Emma and I left at 7:30am for grocery shopping. When we got back we helped Daddy pack everyone up for a field trip. An airport in a nearby city was having a big World War II day. They had planes from WWII flying in, vehicles, the traveling WWII Memorial Wall, and many things to explore. It was a lot of fun!

In the afternoon Makayla and I ran to the library to return books and pick up a few more. She also needed to run to the farm store for heat lamps for the bearded dragons (she's trying a different set up). Grilled hot dogs were dinner. Then it was time to put the bedding back on all those beds. What a workout! I made sure I wasn't the one climbing up on the triple bunk beds to do the top bunks.

After beds were made I sat at the computer to update our homeschool assignment sheets for the coming week. It took about 10 minutes to figure out who needed to do what assignments on which days, taking into account 4 eye checkups, on hospital clinic visit for Mason, an orthodontist appointment for Joseph, and Makayla's regular Tuesday shadowing at the veterinary office. Thankfully 5 of the appointments are on one single day when Daddy is home too.

Sunday was a nice day at church with encouraging messages and great discussion. Dinner was put in the crock pot in the morning (green beans and ham) so I decided to bake in the afternoon. I made a batch of chocolate cookies that taste a lot like brownies. It's a recipe the kids made for the first time with my husband's mom (Grandma K) on her last visit. We spent the evening playing card games with the kids. Uno was up first and is crazy with that many people! Then we did Guillotine, followed by Capture: A Book of Mormon Game.

Monday morning began with oatmeal and my usual scripture study. Then I helped various kids with school work before packing up Mason and I for his long appointment at dermatology clinic an hour away at the hospital. Daddy held down the fort and made sure the rest of the homeschool day was finished while I was gone. Mason's appointment went pretty well, with only 1 new prescription added. We got home in time for Daddy and 3 other kids to head to the eye doctor for their yearly checkup.

While Daddy cleaned up the after dinner dishes I mixed up a double batch of homemade granola bars. This time it's chocolate chip raisin cranberry bars. Yum! The games came out again - this time Gubs. I love that the kids enjoy playing games. Really, I do. But there are some days when I just don't want to play with them. Today was one of those days. I smiled and said, "This is one of the reasons you have siblings. Ask them to play this time." Just keeping it real!

Tuesday's chilly morning was glorious, though the day warmed up eventually. It was a smooth start to the day with math, reading, history, writing, Latin, and so on. Last night we started another history book read aloud - Paddle to the Sea. My kids were fascinated and it was the first thing they asked to read this morning. The illustrations are beautiful works of art and every bit as engaging as the story itself.

Makayla headed off to the veterinary office mid-morning to shadow as usual. The rest of the kids finished up their school work and enjoyed the early afternoon. The rest of our day was pretty relaxed, family time, playing, and watching a movie together (The Spy Next Door).

Wednesday was a foggy morning on the drive to Seminary. I love fog, though riding along with my teen as they drive in it makes me love it just a smidge less. We saw a skunk on the way.

The morning was a slow pace for me, playing with my younger boys for a bit after breakfast. They don't always include me in their play so when they ask, "Mommy, do you want to play hide and seek?" I say yes. Then remember that my pregnant self is really limited on hiding spots. Ahem. But they had fun and that's really all that matters. We also played with a couple doll babies we pulled out of the attic recently and talked again about the baby growing in mommy's belly.

The older kids did their school work around us, interrupted when they had a question, and just generally got things done. Or distracted each other for a bit and then got things done. Whatever works, right? We read two chapters in Henry and the Chalk Dragon today because we just hadn't gotten to it yesterday.

We finished off the day with most of the family going to Cub Scout Pack Meeting (we were minus Makayla and Joseph, who had youth activities). Our pack meeting was a tour of one of the local fire stations. It was really interesting!

Thursday began with school. I helped kids as needed, which today meant several things with my teen (chemistry, Latin, algebra 2). She doesn't always need me so I try to enjoy the times when she does. It's not so easy to enjoy algebra 2. I love doing Latin with her - I love languages.

Daniel and I used the hands on fraction overlays with his Math U See to see how to make different fractions into the same kind of fractions so we can add or subtract them. Ex: how do we add 1/3 and 2/5? Change them to the same kind... 15ths. That would be 5/15+6/15=11/15.

I had All About Reading with Mason, Caleb, and Oliver. Each are at a different point so it was one after the other, sounding out words or listening them to read a story. They are each doing well at their place in the levels.

In the early afternoon Joseph had yet another orthodontist appointment. This every other week appointment for his palate expander is getting old fast! We are hopeful that we are close to the end of the every other week appointments. Grandma stopped in for a quick visit and dropped off lots of bananas and a bin full of apples from Great Grandma and Grandpa's tree.

The kids then spent an hour playing at the table together. The Spirograph sets came out for some of the kids. I joined in this group. Other kids grabbed our bucket of thinking putty containers. This is a popular activity for my hands on kids! We have a variety of Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty (aff). We even bring this stuff along on doctor's visits.

In the evening I spent some time working on Cub Scouts. I'm the new Cubmaster for our pack and there is lots to learn and some areas that need some tweaking to get working better.

Friday was gloriously chilly all day. We had all the windows open to enjoy it. Kids got right to work on school - even the teen. She had us finishing Algebra 2 before 9am. Oliver and Caleb each finished the lesson they were on in All About Reading. Joseph, Emma, and Daniel finished reading their independent read chapter books for history this 6 weeks.

I reminded kids the washer was available if they need to do laundry(some children took advantage of that), cleaned out the upstairs closet (holds medical supplies, extra bedding, and I would love to fit towels in here), and then Emma came to me asking for ideas of something to do. I suggested she cook lunch. I didn't have any specific plans and she decided that I should help her make cinnamon rolls. So that is what we did!

Saturday we spent the entire day a couple hours away at the Ohio Renaissance Festival with our 9 children, 2 nephews, and grandma. 11 kids age 16 and under. It was such a fun day! We saw several shows including a sword fighting show, a real joust, and a human chess match. We wandered in and out of shops. We went out to the van to eat the lunch we packed (no food or drinks can be brought into the festival, though they sell a lot of options of course). We talked to people. We bought things. We came home exhausted but with many wonderful memories.

Linking with the Weekly Wrap Up.