Monday, June 7, 2021

June 1 - June 6: Another Injury

The first day of June (Tuesday) the kids all signed up for the library's summer reading program and got a bag with crafty nature projects to work on this month, too. At home there was Lego building and dress up, baking and painting, and lots of relaxing. My middle boys had their last activity evening at the church before summer break.

We always choose a few basics to keep our brains engaged and avoid the summer slide. It has been documented that in countries like the US where students have an extended break from school, students lose on average 20% of the gains in reading and 27% of the gains in mathematics they made during the school year. It is one reason why the first 4+ weeks of many curricula and the first month of classes is spent reviewing past concepts the students learned the year before, but have often forgotten. One way to combat the summer slide and the wasted time spent re-teaching concepts at the beginning of each new school year is to maintain some academic practice during the summer. In our homeschool that looks like this:
  • 20 minutes of reading daily - many of my kids choose to read more than this, but this is the minimum.
  • Math Mondays - everyone does a math practice page, game, or activity on Mondays.
  • Writing Wednesdays - everyone writes something on this day. For my high schoolers this is usually writing to an essay prompt, while middle and elementary school kids have different options according to age and ability. Again, I have some kids who write much more often than this. One teen is working on a second novel, while another is deep into writing fan fiction currently. One child likes to write poetry.
Wednesday was our first Writing Wednesday of the summer. I printed out the June writing prompt calendar from Write Shop for some of the kids, and the June essay prompts from Write Shop for my three teens. I received a variety of writing papers back through the morning. 
  • Samuel wrote about what he would do with $500 just to spend on himself.
  • Mason chose an unusual pet and wrote why it would be a great pet.
  • Caleb described his favorite time of the day and what he likes to do then.
  • Oliver explained why he would choose a castle to live in over a houseboat or jungle hut.
  • Daniel wrote an argumentative essay about why he did or did not think we should develop robots to replace human jobs in factories, warehouses, and fast food restaurants.
  • Emma also chose the argumentative essay prompt about robots replacing human workers. 
  • Joseph wrote an expository essay on why he would build a house in a peaceful valley, instead of building on the beach or in the mountains.
The day was quiet, lots of playing, building, and painting. The four teens went to the church for youth group in the evening. 

Thursday dawned with lots of rain that hung around all day. The kids voted on our Tulip tie dye kits for the summer and I ordered them on Amazon. Most of the kids chose the Celestial colors, with a smaller group choosing the Shark Island colors. (Those are affiliate links to Amazon, as usual.)

The washer was repaired today for just under $200 and it is so nice to not need to hand wring out the clothes. 

Friday sunshine. Young women smores night at our house. 
Saturday was our first swim of the summer. 
Sunday Caleb had an accident involving a paddle ball and his eye that landed him in the Urgent Care. The eye is scratched and we're not sure yet just what to expect. Supposedly it will heal well, but as of Monday evening he's still very uncomfortable, light sensitive, and has taken several naps - which is very unnerving with a 10 year old who quit napping many years ago. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

May 22 - May 31: Finishing May

Water Play outside

 The weekend was a large helping of running errands and a dash of family time. Sunday we had another day of church in person, and yet again, I was grateful for the lack of meltdowns by my little kids. I really had no idea how Rebekah would do when we started back in person for Sacrament meeting, because she was not quite 2 years old when church closed because of COVID. She's still figuring out whispering, but she's been a champ at staying relatively quiet and not trying to run around. It makes me so happy to be there with familiar and new faces to sing and partake of the sacrament together. 

Monday we dropped Makayla's car off at the mechanic, had a contractor come get details of the work we want done in the bathroom and a few other smaller projects, and did a family project with the boys going through their personal bins of toys and things. It never ceases to amaze me how many random bits of paper they toss in their bin instead of taking a minute to throw them away! 

More Water Play

This week on our meal plan we ended up with several new recipes, all from the Six Sisters Stuff website. I will link them as we do them. Tonight was the first one, Instant Pot Easy Sesame Chicken. Everyone tried it, and had very strong opinions as to whether they liked it or not. I felt like it needed a bit less of something in the sauce, probably less soy sauce. 

Tuesday was an ice cream adventure day. It was hot (90F) and a reminder that summer is nearly here. Spring is never long enough for me! 

Wednesday's lunch was another of the new to us recipes: Instant Pot Chicken Gyros. This one was delicious. I even made the homemade tzatziki sauce in the recipe. The only change to the gyros recipe I made was skipping the onions, because I wanted my kids to try this, and chopped onions would be an instant no from most of them. 

Thursday the washer started making unexpected noises. Unfortunately, as a family of 12, we wear out appliances faster than a smaller family, because we use them three times as much. I called the repair man, who won't be here until late next week. 


Friday the washer stopped spinning all the water out of clothing. So now I'm wringing them out by hand before popping them into the dryer. I will have to do smaller loads than usual so they dry easier. I'm hoping the repair is the same part we needed replaced once before on this washer - of course it is no longer under warranty. Dinner on Friday was another new to us recipe: Easy Lemon Garlic Shrimp over Angel Hair Pasta. A couple of the kids liked it, a couple didn't, and a couple refused to even try the shrimp. Pretty typical for a new recipe attempt here!

The weekend was family time, including a cookout with extended family. Lots of laughs and fun!

Friday, May 21, 2021

May 1- May 21: Summer Break Begins

The first half of the month felt like pure anticipation! We were waiting for Makayla to come home from college for the summer. She arrived the evening before Mother's Day, so we were able to attend church in person as a family for Mother's Day. We were waiting for the end of our seminary year. I made it through teaching 11 teens over Zoom in the 6am hour for an entire school year. We were waiting for the end of our homeschool year. We finished up on Thursday May 13th. It was a great year! Everyone learned a lot, made progress in different skills, and found new interests along the way. I now have a college junior (Makayla), and kids in the following grades:

  • 11th
  • 10th
  • 8th
  • 7th
  • 5th
  • 4th
  • 3rd
  • Kindergarten
  • Preschool
We have spent the week since our last day of school relaxing. 

Well, not really. 

Actually, we kicked off our summer break with injuries.

Friday the 14th Daniel had a biking accident and gouged a really bad wound into one leg. A trip to the urgent care to clean it out some, and now we're doing wound care a couple times a day for this open wound that needs to heal from the inside, out. By Sunday he was getting an infection, so we had a trip to the Emergency room to get antibiotics. 

Of course, I had been the the ER the day before, on Saturday, as well. The day after Daniel's bike accident, Samuel fell off a swing and opened up his chin on some concrete. Twelve stitches later, he's recovering. 

I had x-rays on my foot this week, too. It has been 15 weeks since I broke my foot, and it is still broken, but healing more. I'm to continue using the bone stimulator and we will check in again with x-rays in June. 

Phew! After writing four posts today, this blog is finally caught up from early March. Thank goodness for a journal that helped me remember some of what we've done in those months without posts. 

April 3 - April 30: Catching Up

 General Conference was full of inspiring, encouraging talks. I have so much to go back and study! So much counsel to take in and apply to my life. Easter was pretty quiet as it was also Conference. We just celebrated with our own immediate family.

We raised caterpillars and released
them when they were butterflies.

Monday Apr. 5th was our first day back to homeschool after spring break. It was a little rocky, as usual. Some kids move right back into routine, while others breathe fire like fierce dragons over the return of lessons. I kept things light for our first day back. Two highlights - we started Ecosystems in science with from The Good and the Beautiful, and we made it to unit four in TGTB History 3, which is all about World War II. Many of my kids are excited to really dive in and study WWII. Each child picked a chapter book to read that relates to some aspect of the war, and we refreshed our library bookshelf with a lot of WWII books kids can explore. 

The rest of the week went on slowly, with cranky kids lingering for several days. We finished the week with roasted hot dogs and smores over the fire pit on Saturday, and church on Zoom Sunday. 

Week of April 12th

Monday we learned about a fascinating project in Arizona to create a closed off system that could sustain life. It is called Biosphere 2, and we were introduced to it in our Ecosystems unit. There was a neat video about it on YouTube, and there is a website as well. The idea of Biosphere 2 is that if they can be successful, this could be recreated on another planet. 

This week I drove for the first time since January. My broken foot did okay, but is not ready for a long drive. I had to take Joseph to the orthodontist, which is not too far from our house. My husband turned 43 this week. My birthday is in two weeks. We celebrated both of us together at a family party over the weekend. 

Week of April 19th

My x-rays this week show no healing progress. My doctor got my insurance to approve a bone stimulator device. I use it for 20 minutes twice a day. Hopefully it will help this bone to finish healing. If it does not, I will need surgery. Homeschool and Seminary proceed as usual. We are really having some great conversations around WWII during history. Some of the chapter books kids have or are reading for this include:

  • The Hiding Place
  • Twenty and Ten
  • The Big Wave
  • How I Became a Spy
  • They Called Us Enemy
  • The Winged Watchman
Week of April 26th
Another quiet week homeschooling and living life. We are enjoying the more spring-like weather and playing outside.

 I turned 40 this week.

March 27 - April 2: Easter and General Conference Prep

 Saturday we had a family cookout with some extended family. Lots of talking, family time, and laughs. Later that evening we began General Conference and Easter prep. Both events happen next weekend, and we spend the week leading up to them studying and preparing as a family. 

Sunday was another round of church on Zoom. For Conference prep today we focused on prayer and scripture study. For Easter prep we had an overview of the last week of Christ's life, Holy Week. We wanted a fun refresher for the kids. After some reading, we played a game where kids tried to answer questions about Holy Week. Then they chose a paper that instructed them some silly way to toss a beanbag at targets taped around the room. For example, one paper said, "Spin five times and then aim for target #2."

Monday's General Conference prep focus was on making a clean and happy home. Basically, we did some deep cleaning projects and worked on speaking kindly. Easter prep had us talking about Moses 1:39. We talked about work and glory in different professions (basketball player, baker, doctor), and then compared it to what God says is His work and glory. We reviewed the difference between immortality and eternal life, and why Easter relates to it all. 

Tuesday I had more x-rays on my foot. It's now two months after breaking my foot and the bone has healed some, but has a long way yet to go. My surgeon says I can try wearing walking shoes instead of the medical boot. More x-rays in three weeks. 

Wednesday Easter and Conference prep continue with focuses on asking questions and seeking answers, and the Last Supper and Gethsemane. Walking is very unbalanced and feels so strange, but is doable. 

Thursday our spring break weather vanished and we had snow flurries on and off all afternoon. Our Easter prep was scripture squares. Kids paired up and were given a few squares. Each had a single question and a scripture reference to find the answer. Then they came to find the matching picture for that question and share their answer with everyone. 

Good Friday started quietly. Mid-morning we had Resurrection Egg hunt. Inside the twelve numbered plastic eggs were items and papers that walked us through everything we had studied this week. Tomorrow General Conference begins! We are all excited to listen to living prophets and apostles speak.

March 9 - March 26: Making it to Spring Break

Last week was a quiet stroll through the usual routines. We had seminary early each morning, then homeschool after breakfast. We read, write, studied, and explored. Kids dove into new books, new art projects, or other projects. I really didn't keep any notes.

I had x-rays on my still broken foot on Wednesday. The healing is going slower than my surgeon would like, which means it may not finish healing on its own. We'll check back in 3 weeks (at the 8 week post break mark) and have to make some decisions on potentially moving to surgery. I have been cleared to do a small amount of walking. Very small - a few steps here and there, walking from one room to another to sit, etc. 95% of my time is still spent in this wheelchair. 

Saturday Joseph had an interesting experience. He was able to participate in the Teen Author Boot Camp that Makayla attended in Utah the summer after graduation, right from our own home. This year, due to COVID restrictions, the conference was entirely online. He sat through a host of classes and keynote speakers and took copious notes. 

Sunday was a peaceful day at home. We had church together and then made peanut butter pie for Pi Day. In the evening Daddy took the kids outside and corralled all 7 boys for haircuts. That is usually my job, but I'm not up to that much standing right now, so he took over. 

Monday kicked off with early morning seminary. Math lessons were the first of the homeschool classes today. Kids are reading lots of different books, and many a chapter was read lounging on the couch or around the house.

Tuesday morning dawned grey and dreary. We had a slow and steady start to the homeschool morning. Everyone got their work done, as usual. Three kids finished books today - Joseph and Emma finished reading Other Words for Home, and Daniel finished a reread of Wings of Fire book 5. It was a great reminder to update all the kids' reading lists in their portfolios. We don't keep track of every book they read, but we list at least one or two per month.

Dinner was Chicken Taco Tuesday. I have to put a plug in for an Instant Pot here. I pulled out 3lbs of frozen chicken breast and tossed them into the IP with 1 cup of water. Set it for 18 minutes on manual and they came out tender and easy to shred. Right after dinner Emma made a chocolate chip cookie cake. 

Wednesday felt like the longest day ever. Everyone had a case of the grumps. We got school done, and then it was just an entire afternoon and evening of refereeing squabbles. By bedtime I was worn out.

Thursday and Friday were better. We were able to be outside more, which always helps everyone's mood. Friday was also our last day of school before our two week spring break. Everyone loves the last day before break and is extra motivated to get their school work done early. 

Saturday was the first day of Spring. We did some projects in the yard and started putting away a few pair of pants and pulling out a few pair of shorts for each child. Ohio is in that lovely season where everything is covered in frost in the morning and the temperatures reach 70F by afternoon, so we need a little bit of everything out. 

Sunday I kept no notes, but the basic routine was followed: wake up, church online, family time, and cooking together. 

Tuesday The kids got creative making a human table.

Wednesday kids started branching out in their activities, depending on their personal interests. Joseph spent a lot of time practicing piano and writing, with a break to bake a couple of cookie cakes. Emma drew and drew and drew. Daniel, Oliver, and Caleb were especially into building with Legos. Mason, Samuel, Tobias, and Rebekah got out the Hot Wheels cars and played with those all over the downstairs. 

Thursday was the first day of Daddy's spring break vacation. We stayed around the house together. Kids traded out the games on the school shelf with games from the attic and played them. A giant colorful world for the Hot Wheels cars was crafted by Daniel with colored masking tape on the floor - complete with secret portals. Piano was practiced. Scriptures were studied. Pokemon card battles were played. The teens watched the original Jurassic Park movie - younger kids wandered in and out. Everyone played outside until it rained. Books were read.

Friday dawned cloudy, windy, and with a new (small) hole in the roof due to losing a slate overnight in the wind. I called insurance to start a claim. Fun times, right? My husband took the 7 oldest of the kids at home to the city for a visit to the Lego store. I stayed home peacefully with just two little kids, Tobias age 5 and Rebekah age 3. It was so strange just to have little kids!

Our afternoon and evening were full of Lego building and play. From small sets like a mystery minifigure, to large sets like the Medieval Blacksmith Shop, there were Legos everywhere. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

February 20th to March 8th

Saturday I made a list of projects to do. Of course, most of it I needed help from other people to do, which didn't thrill my family members very much. In the end, we skipped most of my project list. This is one of the hardest things about having a broken foot! When I'm motivated to do a project, I need help from others to do it, so the project has to wait. I did get done things I could do on my own, like preparing a seminary lesson for next week, meal planning, and school prep.

Sunday morning we got off to a slow start, participated in church via Zoom, and spent a slow afternoon together. I stood on one foot and baked scones for dinner because it really sounded yummy - and it was. I just had a chair right next to me and sat down in between steps, while other people did the walking around gathering and putting away items for me. In the evening we caught up with Makayla in a video chat, then I played Villainous: Positively Wretched with Daniel and Caleb. 

Monday morning started dark and early with seminary. Last week someone else taught for me, while I was sick, which was so helpful. We talked about the worth of a soul today. After breakfast our morning was all things homeschool. I taught a slew of new math lessons or reviewed past math concepts (including by video chat with my nephew). Kids read all sorts of books. The high schoolers did the next video in Chemistry 101. My middle and elementary school science group studied the periodic table in our chemistry lesson. 

After school, I played the board game Castle Panic with Caleb, Mason, and Samuel. Tobias, Samuel, Rebekah, and Daddy played Dinosaur Escape. Then it was lunch time, medical care, and afternoon quiet time. 

In the late afternoon we got things prepared around the house for Daddy to go back to work. That basically involved some food preparations to make breakfasts and lunches easier this week, making sure all clean laundry was sorted and put away, and toys chosen for the week for downstairs. 

Tuesday we were on our own while daddy worked. Seminary and homeschool happened. Lunch was snack plates - we fill up divided containers with meats, cheeses, crackers, veggies, and fruits, put them down the center of the table, and enjoy. Today's lunch had ham, turkey, pepperoni, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, crackers, cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, egg-free ranch dressing, grapes, strawberries, and kiwi fruit. Yum!

In the afternoon I had x-rays and a check up with my surgeon. My foot is starting to heal! I have to stay off it completely for another 2 weeks, then we'll do more x-rays. If healing has continued well, I will get to start standing and walking for short periods of time each day, but still a lot of staying off the foot for weeks after that. 

Wednesday we started seeing less snow on the ground and more grass. It's wonderful. And muddy. The day was a bit of a struggle, with some disappointments for a couple kids, but we made it through to bed time. Sometimes, that is all you can do, right? 

Thursday went a bit better. The kids worked diligently on their school work. We enjoyed leftover cinnamon rolls and fresh strawberries for lunch. The sun was shining on the remaining snow and mud. We saw so many birds at our bird feeder today! The kids also have been burning off energy with a new game their grandma in Utah sent to them. It is called Goodminton, and she sent us two sets. Basically, it has paddles similar to ping pong paddles, and birdies that have weighted rubber ends and feathers in two lengths. The long feathered birdies fly slower, making it easier for younger kids to learn, but working just as well for older kids. The short feathered birdies fly fast. The kids are hilarious, trying to play together in the house, sometimes in pairs, other times as singles, or with two single games going on side by side in the living room/piano room area. I also have kids working to see how many times they can hit a birdie solo without letting it fall to the ground. They also have tried doing this as a team, instead of trying to get the other person to miss the birdie, they work together to keep the birdie flying back and forth as long as possible. Here is a link to Goodminton on Amazon (aff), right now a set of paddles and birdies is on sale for $9.99. Worth every penny! My kids are working on eye hand coordination, cooperative play, and getting out some energy.

Here there is a gap in my notes. From what I remember of the next week (Feb. 27-Mar.7) I can record the following:

  • The snow finally all melted. Hooray!
  • We homeschooled every day as usual. 
  • Everyone's COVID symptoms, including my pesky breathing and heart rate issues, finally disappeared. 
  • Yeah, that's about it. I know we did more than this, but can't remember anything.

I have had a cough for several days now. It's not fun. The more I talk, the more I cough. And the more I cough, the more I visit the bathroom because that bladder has some issues after 14 pregnancies (10 of which were full term). If you know, you know. 

It is now Monday March 8th. The kids spent the afternoon outside with daddy enjoying the sunshine. I caught up with the college daughter on video chat. Dinner was beef stew in the crock pot (easy!). I am counting down to my next x-ray on Wednesday, hoping the surgeon gives me the green light to start using this foot some.