Sunday, August 29, 2021

Aug 23 - Aug 28: Break Week and Life Lessons

Random photo on my phone for
dog appreciation day - no real dogs here
thanks to allergies, but lots of 
stuffed animals.

Monday kicked off with our first day of seminary for the school year. At 6:10am I was surrounded by teens who make the time to show up each morning before school to study the scriptures together. It is so neat to be a part of this! After they headed to school at 7am the rest of my kids started drifting downstairs, ready for our school break. The plan for the week is to rest and do family time. One sad note, my grandmother passed away today. We love her and miss her, but know that she is no longer in pain and are grateful for that. We spent time sharing stories of her life with the kids all week.

In the late afternoon we took most of the kids to the movie theater to watch the new Paw Patrol movie. It was very fun to watch Rebekah experience the movie theater for the first time that she can remember. She was so enthusiastic!

Tuesday morning started with seminary, then breakfast. We opened a new game, The Bears and the Bees, from Grandpa Beck Games. I love that it is easy enough for younger kids to play on some level due to the domino-type matching, but there are enough fun extras based on card type to challenge the whole family. Even better, there are two sets of rules, the family version and the expert version, so you can choose just how challenging the game will be. Between the nine kids the morning was filled with toys, coloring, painting, reading books, chores, writing, art projects, and Lego building. I managed some game playing, reading, bill paying, lesson planning, and dishes. 

Wednesday was hot with a quick thunderstorm mixed in. A couple of my boys wanted to play The Bears and the Bees with me before breakfast, so that is what we did. It is a fun game and the lead changed several times before someone finally won a single round. We filled the day with the usual hubbub of life. A fun note - Joseph cooked scones for dinner, yum! In the evening the older four youth had activities at church.

A slug Emma noticed this week outside.

Thursday morning came dark and early for seminary, but we had a great discussion about the first 20 verses of Doctrine and Covenants section 93. The first request again today from several kids was to play a round of The Bears and the Bees, and Emma joined in so the younger kids took great delight in teaching her how to play. Another round happened in the afternoon with other kids. 

Friday was a hard day for everyone, as we attended the funeral of my grandmother. It was the first viewing and funeral for many of my children. We spent the week talking about what to expect, but there is only so much you can do to prepare. There were tears and smiles and sadness and lots of hugs. The rest of the day we just hunkered down at home to get back to some normal family time and let everyone decompress. 

Saturday we headed to the science center in the big city to explore new and old exhibits. New to us were two exhibits: Animation Academy and Cuba. So many things to see and do! We also spent time in old favorites: Ocean, Nature, Progress (a trip back in time to the 1860s and 1960s), Gadgets, and the Dinosaur museum. It is so fun to see how my children's attention changes as they grow. I still get to see the entire spectrum, from the 3 and 5 year old who dive deep into play with anything hands on, to the older kids who do as much reading and discussing of the exhibits as they do trying the hands on activities. Different kids lingered in different areas. Older kids showed things to younger ones to make sure they didn't miss out on favorites. Younger kids dragged their older buddies along to play in the sand table in Ocean or hoist themselves using pulleys in the Gadget area. As mother to a wide range of ages I get to enjoy all the ages more because of the perspective mothering adults down to a preschooler brings. Sometimes it is chaotic, often it is exhausting, but always it is deeply satisfying. 

Friday, August 20, 2021

Aug 16 - Aug 20: Homeschool Life

A couple of the boys are
working on learning coding.

Another week has come and gone. I wanted to quickly remind readers of a few things:

  1. Our weeks are very often repetitive. It's just a fact of this slow growing time we've chosen as we stepped off the education conveyor belt more than 15 years ago. It's the freedom of living a life less driven by other peoples' agendas and schedules. It also can get boring to read about. Check back in when you need a quiet read. Take a break when you don't. 
  2. The real reason I keep this blog is to keep a family journal of this precious time we have together. When I look back at the earlier posts in this and an older, private blog, I see the growth, love, learning, and joy of family life. Sometimes I need that as a mom of ten children. I need a way to step back and see the bigger picture, to see the progress that we've made inch by inch over the days and weeks and years, that add up to miles and marathons. 
On to this week's notes!

Monday morning's homeschool was the usual chaos of teaching new math lessons and overseeing many other lessons. We started our continent tour this week officially and begin in the Middle East. What a time to do that, with the events going on in the world right now in Afghanistan and other places. Our goal with this study of middle eastern countries and cultures is to learn to see God's children and learn to love them a little better. I will try to remember to share a separate post each month about the books we've grabbed for each area.

We started our next family read aloud today. It is The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

In the afternoon Mason and I made a trip to pick up a brace he'll wear at night for his scoliosis. It was a rainy 3 hour trip, but we had fun listening to an audio book and talking together. Daddy and the rest of the kids at home had their own quiet afternoon.

Tuesday's slow wander through lessons took all morning. Tobias was one of the first kids up and wanting to do school work, so we sat down and did his language arts and math first. He is five years old, and finally interested in 'doing school'. It is a bit interesting because Tobias has a speech delay. That makes phonics a challenge, but we are working on learning letter sounds, handwriting, etc. He is using The Good and the Beautiful PreK Language Arts first, and will move into K Primer soon. We also have their handwriting books, but the PreK includes some handwriting already. In math, however, he flies. He naturally grasps a lot of the concepts in the curriculum we've started with, so we will take it at his pace and move through faster on easy concepts, and slower on more challenging ones. He is using The Good and the Beautiful Math K and will move into Math 1 later this year. The other kids woke up and did their school work. 
Language Arts and World Geography in progress.

Wednesday was a harder day, with a very distractible and distracting kid who simply didn't stay on task all.morning.long. We finally made it all the way through school work and I was worn out! In the evening the older four had youth activities at church that ranged from hiking to karaoke and bb guns to 3D drafting and printing. 

Thursday was our last day with Makayla. She got a lot of final tasks accomplished while the rest of us did school. Joseph and Emma's Culinary Arts project this week was today. They teamed up to cook a 'Thanksgiving dinner', which meant our house smelled like a roasting turkey all afternoon. Yum! The kids spent a lot of the afternoon playing together in various groupings. Dinosaurs and vehicles are the current toys downstairs, so those featured in a lot of play. The boys have also been Pokemon battling regularly. They play the card game, not online, and have so much fun. 

Friday morning I waved while Makayla drove off to college, and even with it being year three, I cried a bit. She'll hopefully be able to visit for the holidays this winter, but until then everyone will get by with video chats regularly. A little bit before were were going to begin school for the morning Grandma showed up to visit for a bit. We talked and chatted about lots of things, including hard things as a family member nears the transition from mortality to heaven. After soaking in time with my mom, the kids pulled out their school work for the last day of week three. We will actually have our first break week next week, so everyone was excited about that. We generally take a week off every 6 weeks during the school year, but it worked out well to take one a bit earlier this time around. Our next break week will be in early October. Next up is a visit from my sister and a couple of her kids, a perfect way to kick off break!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Aug. 2 - Aug 15: First Two Weeks Back to Homeschool

 First Week of the Homeschool Year

Rebekah gathered a lot of 
supplies when she was ready to 

Monday, August 2nd, was pleasantly smooth for a first day back to homeschool. I woke up at 5:40am (no alarm, I'm just an early riser) and spent some time quietly eating, reading my scriptures, and putting away the clean dishes from my cooking/baking session on Sunday. At 7am I woke any kids still sleeping. The first hour of their morning is for waking up, eating breakfast, getting dressed, and doing a chore. At 8am everyone begins school, though some kids like to dive right in after breakfast. 

Between 8am and noon lunch time we got all our school work done other than our lunch time read aloud. Basically, I go from child to child helping as needed until 10am, when we do group work. I can't begin to remember the order of lessons, but I'll share the things we accomplished just for fun. 

Math: Rebekah and Tobias worked on counting and Tobias did some adding and subtracting in real life with toys. Samuel learned about Euclid, a mathematician, and some of the ideas he wrote about, then did a game where you roll three dice to create 3 digit numbers and do subtraction problems with them. Mason did a couple review problems of finding perimeter, reviewed how repeated addition, multiplication, arrays, and division relate, and created a chart of problems showing those relations. (Ex: 7+7+7+7=28, drawing an array of 28 dots in 4 rows of 7 dots each, writing 4X7=28, and then writing 28 divided by 7 = 4). He also did a multiplication review game with me called around the world. Caleb did a review of finding a fraction of a number, such as 1/4 of 24 or 3/6 of 18. Oliver worked with adding and subtraction negative numbers. Daniel defined some geometry terms, measured angles, and answered questions based on a diagram. Emma and Joseph's Algebra 2 lesson was a quick review of exponents and fractional exponents. 

Phonics/Handwriting: Tobias practiced writing lowercase 'e', did a flip chart of phonic sounds for the first five letters of the alphabet, and made uppercase and lowercase letters out of playdoh. Rebekah played with playdoh. 

World Geography: The 3 oldest read lesson 1 in Notgrass World Geography, answered 10 review questions, chose a project for the week, and started the project. The younger 6 and I explored two books together: Miss Rumphius and Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth. They also each chose one book from our library shelf to explore a geography topic. 

Ranch School Science: Today I introduced the kids to the Ranch School website by hooking my laptop up to the TV. We browsed the many workshop topics and they chose to begin the Working Dogs workshop. We learned about different kinds of working dogs (service, therapy, police/military, herding, livestock guardian, search and rescue, sled, hunting, water rescue, rat exterminating, truffle sniffing, and entertainment). There were a lot of discussions about what they already knew, what they wanted to know, etc. We answered the quiz questions about our reading. Tomorrow we will pick up with the next part of the workshop, a 30 minute video about working dogs.

ASL: Joseph wants to learn American Sign Language this year. We are still searching for just the right online class. We are looking for something that covers deaf culture and community as well as teaching sign language. There are several possibilities that we are exploring currently. In the mean time, he and I are working through our collection of Signing Time dvds to begin building a large sign vocabulary. (We have more than 26 dvds that we used many years ago with some of our little kids.) 

Lunch Time Read Aloud: We started the book Pie by Sarah Weeks today. It is a fun read and everyone is enjoying it.

Tuesday was day two of the school year. It was the first day for most of the kids language arts curricula from The Good and the Beautiful, so the introduction to a new level for each child. It went well, but a bit longer than things will usually take. Once they get used to how their new level is set up, things go faster. 

The kids were all very in to the Ranch School video on working dogs, which took us to meet and learn about specific dogs and their jobs, letting us watch them in action. We all learned things from this video!

After reading Pie today the kids realized this book will be a mystery. We discussed how mystery authors leave clues in their writing, and kids started guessing what might be significant to the story so far. We also discussed red herrings in literature - misleading, or false, clues. The kids had opinions about which of the clues they suspect to be red herrings. We will see how things develop as we read. The best part - I haven't read this particular book, so I'm guessing right along with them. They loved it so much that they requested we read another chapter over dinner. I happily obliged.

Math and world geography went smoothly today. Nothing really unexpected for week one. As usual, the kids spend 20 minutes reading each day outside of their school work. I thought I would share a quick list of what everyone is currently reading, because it changes often!

  • 11th grader is reading Wings of Fire book 2: The Hidden Kingdom. His younger brothers finally convinced him to try one of their favorite series and hearing the conversations between them all makes my mama heart happy.
  • 10th grader is reading Dracula. She pulled this one out of a stack of graphic novels we picked up from Usborne books last month. 
  • 8th grader is reading Rascal. We read this in book club several years ago, but he doesn't remember much of it. 
  • 7th grader is reading Five Kingdoms book 3.
  • 5th grader is reading The Impossible Quest. 
  • 4th grader is reading The Woodshed Mystery, which is the sixth Boxcar children book. 
  • 3rd grader just started the 9th book in The Kingdom of Wrenly book series: The Bard and the Beast. This is a perfect early chapter book series for kids who are intimidated by lots of text on a page. It is highly illustrated.
  • Kindergartener is learning his letters, but loves 'reading' our Garfield comics treasury. 
  • Preschooler is all about animal stories lately, bringing us Peter Rabbit and others.
  • Me! Mama is reading The Ears Have It by Rebecca Connolly, Where the Stars Meet the Sea by Heidi Kimball, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I'm also listening to Dragonwatch book 3: The Master of the Phantom Isle. 
  • The boys are also listening to the Upside Down Magic collection at bedtime, alternating with The Mysterious Benedict Society. 
The day had lots of other things in it, as usual. These posts are usually just some highlights. Today, for example, Rebekah, Daniel, and I set up a block city, Oliver helped me by putting frozen rolls out to thaw and rise, several kids built with Lego, one kid was coding on Scratch, we did the usual medical care with Mason, scripture study, and random conversations. 

Wednesday, day three of the school year, started slow and steady, with kids trickling down and moving through the first hour of their morning tasks before school. One fun thing I want to remember for today: I put Oliver, my 7th grader, in charge of a project for the elementary age kids for world geography. The challenge was to help them become familiar with the shape, name, and position of each continent on a map. He pulled out an atlas and construction paper, assigned each kid a continent to draw and cut out, and then they taped up their work on the wall to create a world map. School went pretty well. The four youth had a fireside in the evening. Right as he was going to bed, Caleb told me he 'forgot' to do his language arts today. I reminded him that he uses a checklist and so he didn't forget, he chose not to do the work. The consequence was simple, he would have double lessons tomorrow to complete. He laughed a little and said, "You mean like in Harry Potter when they have double Potions class, it's extra long?" Yep. 

Thursday morning had a bit of chaos as I several kids wanted help at the same time, but we reminded one another that this is normal for the first week back, and that they can always work on something independently while they wait for me to be available. Caleb's 'double Potions' language arts lessons today brought a few tears, as he realized just how much work he had piled up for himself, but he quietly did the work and smiled when he was finished. He also said he never wanted to do double lessons again. He'll be much more likely to follow his daily checklist now, I suspect. 

Today was a pretty typical day with some grumpy attitudes appearing in some kids, as they realized that we really are back to school and will have to do lessons every week. It happens pretty much every year, and I know not to take it personally. There are days I would be just as happy to not teach 20 lessons that day. But the other thing I have learned is that being consistent in the small things each week really adds up over the school year to great results. 

A quick culinary arts note: Wednesday Joseph planned and cooked dinner: chicken tacos, rice, and watermelon. Thursday Emma made dirt dessert. I'm not sure what each one plans to make next, though I heard rumblings of baking fresh bread from Joseph.

Friday we finished out the week with a solid day of school and a family work project - taping off two rooms to paint. 

Saturday morning everyone painted together. My living room and piano room (which are really one big open room to each other) are now monorail silver. 

Week 2 of the homeschool year:

I took zero notes. We simply moved ahead one day at a time doing each day's tasks and then spending afternoons playing, swimming, and doing small projects. 

School went well. Everyone felt a bit more comfortable with their new materials. Ranch School Science this week was focused on survival skills, which was fun to explore. We also voted on the next several science units we will be doing. There are so many options in Ranch School, but the kids narrowed things down to their top three units. 

On Friday we finished our first read aloud of the school year: Pie by Sarah Weeks (Amazon affiliate link). We all enjoyed the book, were all wrong on the solution to the mystery, and had some fantastic conversations along the way. 

Saturday was spent doing a lot of errands. Groceries, library, farmer's market, boot store, and more. 

Sunday we had a great day at church, then spent the evening at a family birthday party. 

Saturday, July 31, 2021

End of Summer and Homeschool Plans 2021-2022

Daniel finished this articulated albino catfish
made from his imagination and a bin of Legos.

We really have spent the end of July just soaking in the end of summer fun. Family time, visit to the park, walking trails, watching ducks, visiting the local science center, building, crafting, creating, and catching a show at the planetarium. We start back to school on Monday. Today I will be sharing about our curriculum plans. 

Family Studies

World Geography and Cultures 

The high schoolers (11th, 10th) and one of the middle schoolers (8th) will be using Notgrass Exploring World Geography as their main curriculum this year. It integrates language arts and geography, among other things. We will be choosing our own literature titles, using a guide from Brave Writer or The Good and the Beautiful to go with some of them. 

The rest of the kids (7th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, K, PreK) will do a world geography plan I wrote 7 years ago and used with the oldest kids, along with a hefty stack of books from the library for the many countries in each continent. I have rearranged my original geography plan to coordinate with the order of countries/continents studied in Notgrass. We will do some read alouds and independent reads related to each continent. A great resource for book titles is Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time by Jamie C. Martin (Affiliate link to Amazon).


This year we're doing a mix of science studies as a family. We will use Ranch School from Five Marys Farms to explore agriculture, preparedness, cooking, and many other topics. We will also use science units from The Good and the Beautiful. The key to doing this with such a wide range of ages is to allow older kids to go deeper into areas of interest. Neither of my current high schoolers wanted to take another lab science this year. One of the perks of homeschooling is stepping off the one-size fits all educational model and into the freedom of our own path. 

Fine Arts

We always explore art, music, and fine arts as a family. We will use a wide variety of resources along the way.

Individual Studies

Language Arts

All kids 7th grade and younger will do a level of language arts from The Good and the Beautiful. We love these because they include: reading, writing, grammar, spelling, geography, art, and more. These kids will also have independent reading beyond TGTB. Some of those books will have Brave Writer guides to go with them (Dart, Arrow, or Boomerang), while others will be read just because reading is something we do here. 

My three oldest students (8th, 10th, 11th) will have the majority of their writing and language arts integrated into Notgrass World Geography. They will also have some books to read with Brave Writer guides (Boomerang or Slingshot), and each has chosen at least one Book Study from The Good and the Beautiful as well. 


The 10th and 11th graders are doing Math U See Algebra 2. The 8th grader is doing Math U See Geometry. The 7th grader is doing Math U See PreAlgebra. The 5th grader is doing Math U See Epsilon. 

The 4th, 3rd, and Kindergartener will do math from The Good and the Beautiful. While the company is currently releasing a new math program, we loved the old program and so we are sticking with it. I'll have kids doing Math K, Math 3, and Math 4. 


My high schoolers have some electives chosen to start the year, and will either continue those or choose new electives, for their second semester. The 11th grader's electives are Culinary Arts and American Sign Language. The 10th grader's electives are Culinary Arts and possibly Theater. 

All of my kids also have a wide range of personal interests that they spend afternoons enjoying. From art, piano, and writing to building, crafting, and coding, they do things they enjoy, and usually surpass my abilities quickly in any area. 

Quick Thoughts

The next few weeks will be interesting. Even though we have been homeschooling for over 16 years, no two years are the same. Kids are different ages and personalities, life has different things going on, and my number of students is at an all-time high with kids in the following grades: PreK, K, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11.

 I also have lessons to prepare five days a week for a group of youth who will meet in my home at 6am every school day to study the scriptures together in a seminary class. My oldest two teens are part of this early morning seminary class. First semester we will finish our study of Church History and the Doctrine and Covenants. Second semester we dive into the Old Testament. 

We also have some more painting projects we hope to tackle in August, starting with the living room and piano room area next weekend. I will be glad when all of the painting projects are done.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

July 11th- July 20th: Theater Camp, Painting, and a Baptism

Sunday we celebrated Samuel's 8th birthday with our usual family party. His dessert of choice was cupcakes, and the icing covered faces on some of my younger kids were quite hilarious. We also enjoyed church and a rainstorm.

Emma auditioning

Monday Emma started Theater Camp. She spends a large chunk of each day at camp, with their performance on Friday. Today was a lot of warm ups, auditions, and casting. They will actually be doing two small plays. For one she got the role of Jack's mother (from Jack and the Beanstalk fame). This is a small part and something she was comfortable with. For the other play she hoped to be cast as one of the fairy godmothers, but to her surprise was cast as the lead - Cinderella. She's excited and nervous and having a blast. 

At home on Monday we made a lot of progress preparing our dining/school room for painting. Lots of mudding, sanding, and repairs were accomplished. Paint was purchased. The trim was taped. 

Tuesday was my day to focus in on back to school prep. Today's focus was our world geography study. I gathered books, worked through book lists, and sorted materials. The only subject left to really organize is science. 

Wednesday was a laid back day at home, lots of playing board games and crafting things. The house feels pretty cramped with the contents of the dining room split between our piano/living room and our bedroom. It is very motivating for me to want to actually do the painting on Saturday. Does anyone else not enjoy painting? It just isn't my favorite thing to do. 

Emma had a bit of a surprise at theater camp today, when she was asked to take on a larger part in the first play, as the sports reporter for the Fairy Tale News station. She has more lines and blocking to learn now, in addition to everything she's learning for her role as Cinderella. She is getting a bit nervous. Today was also costume day, so they got fitted for costumes. 

Emma as Cinderella

Thursday and Friday have blurred together. The highlight for everyone was going to the theater camp performance on Friday night. The kids did a great job. Emma remembered her lines for both parts and had a wonderful experience. 

Saturday was painting day! The kids got right in on the action, painting the walls with us and with Grandma, who came to join in the fun.

Nearly everyone wanted to help. Rebekah was especially enthusiastic about painting on the walls.

We chose Sherwin Williams color Naval. I was a bit nervous to go so dark. 

We spent part of the morning painting coat number one. Then everyone played and visited with Grandma until it was time to paint coat number two. 

Once that was done we took the kids to the library to turn in their summer reading program tickets and choose the books they earned. 

Sunday was a special day in a different way, because it was Samuel's baptism day. 

It is hard to believe my eighth child is 8 years old! He was so excited to get baptized. 

Monday was a lot of running. I had a doctor check up with a new general practitioner. Then Mason and I drove 2 hours round trip to spend not even 10 minutes at Children's Hospital picking up his new glasses. After lunch back at home, I did a grocery trip.

In the afternoon we put the dining room back together, hung the new dry erase boards, and put some of the books back on shelves. Here is a quick picture from one doorway, before we brought all the chairs back in to the table.

Here is the view from the other doorway. It's a wonderful space for eating and learning! Now we're moving on to mudding and sanding walls in the rest of the downstairs, with plenty more painting ahead.

Phew! If you made it through that rather long post you deserve a round of applause. While my biggest reason for blogging is simply to have a family journal of sorts, I also love sharing our life with others. Thank you for reading! 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

July 3rd - July 10th: Tie Dye!

Saturday morning we did our annual family tie dye day. Everyone had clothing already folded and rubberbanded, ready to dye. We always use Tulip dyes, and this year the kids chose two color packs: Celestial and Shark Island. A few hours and lots of fun later, we now have plastic bags of dye and clothing on the porch, curing for 24 hours. Tomorrow we will rinse and wash everything.

Other things we did on Saturday:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Mailing a package
  • Picking up library books
  • Visiting with Grandma
  • Grilling dinner
  • Visiting with the missionaries
Sunday morning we rinsed and washed all the tie dye clothing. It was dry by the time we got home from church. Everyone sorted out their items and ooo-ed and ahh-ed over the results. No two shirts were the same. In the afternoon we made ice cream sundaes, and in the evening we played 'Gathering the Sheaves', a game about missionary work. 

Monday we had a failed attempt to go to the library to turn in summer reading program papers and get prizes. It turns out they are closed the day after the 4th of July. Oh well. We headed home for lunch and then went swimming at the YMCA in the very hot afternoon. 

Tuesday Caleb headed to the dentist to get four baby teeth pulled. The orthodontist sent him because he has some impacted canines they are hoping will be able to move down with the extra space opened up. Caleb was a champ, and now has a very cute smile missing a lot of teeth. A couple of kids requested to play board games with mom today, so we played Dinosaur Escape and Ticket to Ride: First Journeys. The day was mostly just relaxing family life.

Wednesday the kids all did Writing Wednesday, with more or less enthusiasm depending on the kid. The elementary age kids chose a prompt from a calendar of writing prompts, while the teens chose an essay from a different set of prompts. Daniel did an argumentative essay about the Federal Trade Commission's ruling that bloggers, athletes, and celebrities need to disclose paid relationships with companies, and asked him to take a position in favor or against this and write about it. Joseph did a reflective essay on a childhood memory. Emma chose a different reflective essay on worries.

Thursday Mason and I headed to Children's Hospital for his yearly checkup with his eye surgeon. Everything is stable, his vision has actually improved a bit. We will go back in a few weeks to pick up new glasses. 

Friday only two of my teens ended up going to Youth Conference. The third wasn't feeling well and opted to stay home and rest. The kids who went had a great time. They went to a park in another city and painted for most of the day. Then they headed to a swimming pool to cool off for the evening. 

Back at home we mostly played and planned. After 14 years we're finally getting around to doing some re-painting on the main floor of the house. We decided that it was time for an update to our dining room, which also doubles as our homeschool room and houses a large bookcase and a large shelving unit of bins. We still have to pick a color for the room. 

Saturday after dropping kids off for day two of youth conference I headed to the grocery store. While I was doing the shopping, Jason and the kids started tearing apart the dining room, removing the old dry erase boards from the walls (made from melamine shower board 13 years ago and desperately needing replaced), the art line, and other things. 

Our late morning and afternoon were spent sanding, mudding, boxing up books, moving shelves, and basically making the rest of the house a mess so we could empty out the dining room of everything but our table for 12. We will continue mudding and sanding over the next several days, and then have a painting party next Saturday. 

Friday, July 2, 2021

June 7th to the End of June

Rebekah's mad face is ridiculously cute.

 Monday kicked off with four dental cleanings and three eye check ups. Definitely a busy morning and afternoon! We also cleaned out refrigerators, Daniel made cinnamon rolls from scratch, and grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner. We also did some review of Church History as a family.

Tuesday the kids were excited for a big update to Minecraft to finally release. They play Minecraft on Kindles that only have access to each other's local games. All I've heard this afternoon are things about axolotls, caves, ore, and so on. Emma baked magic cookie bars for snack, and dinner was meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, and strawberries. 

I spent some time looking for chapter books set in different countries to go with our world geography studies next school year. I have tons of picture book lists, but it is harder to find chapter books as often the setting isn't obvious from the title or book blurb. I am making slow progress.

Wednesday we met with our builder about the bathroom remodel we want to do. It looks like things will start moving forward in the next few weeks. I'm nervous about it, because it is our only bathroom with a shower (we do not have a tub anywhere), but we'll make it work while things are done. 

Two fun packages arrived today. First up, we made an Usborne books order for some summer reading options. We got:

  • On the Moon
  • Look & Find Puzzles: Under the Sea
  • Look & Find Puzzles: At the Zoo
  • Look & Find Puzzles: In the Forest
  • Look & Find Puzzles: Dinosaurs
  • 100 Paper Spaceships to Fold and Fly
As well as a stack of Read with Usborne readers on varying levels:
  • Cinderella 
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • The Story of Pegasus
  • Black Beauty
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Stories of Thor
  • The Wind in the Willows
  • The Secret Garden
And we picked up the entire Impossible Quest series by Kate Forsyth:
  • Escape from Wolfhaven Castle
  • Wolves of the Witchwood
  • The Beast of Blackmoor Bog
  • The Drowned Kingdom
  • Battle of the Heroes
The second package is something we decided to do just for the summer. We got each of the kids a 3 month subscription to KiwiCo. They got 6 month subscriptions for Christmas two years ago and enjoyed them a lot. This time around Rebekah gets Koala Crate, Tobias, Samuel, and Mason get Kiwi Crate, and Caleb, Oliver, Daniel, Emma, and Joseph are doing Tinker Crate. Today their first kit of the summer arrived. Rebekah has Glowing Nature, the younger three boys have Treasure Hunt, and the older five kids got Air Cannons. 

Tobias built a train with magnet tiles.

Friday Mason and I spent hours at Children's Hospital for his every six month team check ups at Myelo Clinic. Today he had an MRI, x-rays, ultrasound, and saw 8 or 9 specialists, plus had bloodwork done. It was a very full day with not too many surprises, just the way we like it. 

While we were gone, Grandma hung out at home with the rest of the kids and Daddy worked. In the evening it was my older 3 boys' turn for hosting a smores night at our house for friends. 

Saturday I spent the morning in Seminary training for teaching this fall. We celebrated Makayla's birthday in a low key way, with a trip to the swimming pool and Dairy Queen. 

Sunday we went to church and had a quiet day as a family.

Monday was busy. We had one dermatology appointment, two dental cleanings, six eye exams, and the construction crew arrived to begin our bathroom remodel. While we replaced the tub with a shower last spring, we knew there was a lot we still wanted to do in that bathroom. Flooring, pipes, moving the sink, etc. It is started. Today was demolition and seeing just what was under the floor in this old house. 

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are a bit of a blur. It's crazy having other people in your house all day long, even when they're super nice. We have had some days without a shower and with only one toilet in the house for the 12 of us. Makayla's car also went crazy, so there was car juggling, a mechanic trip, and then the car decided to behave perfectly while there (of course!). We had more medical appointments, one Tuesday and one Wednesday, so I had to have family come babysit my kids and house while the construction crew is here. We've also been prepping three teen boys for a caving/camping trip this Friday/Saturday, one teen girl for 3 days of camp next week, and the usual chaos of large family life. Lots of other things have happened, and I've felt more stressed out than I have in a long time. It is not fun at all. 

We did play lots of games. There was
even a chess tournament.

One good note is that I finally got the okay from my orthopedic surgeon to go back to normal life with my broken foot. It has healed pretty well, with a small chunk along one side of the break that has not healed, and may not fill in for a year or more, but most of the bone is solid again. Now I have to retrain my foot muscles, because it has been 4 1/2 months without doing much of anything on my foot. Everything is sore and achy after a couple of hours of doing mom-life without shoes on, so then I put my shoes back on to help support those muscles and do less the rest of the day. I'll work back up to normal.

My three oldest boys had a rainy caving trip. For two, it was their first campout ever. The weather impacted what caving they could do, some had middle of the night tent moving due to flooding, there was yelling at boys by name to go to sleep, and then leaders required 70 push ups per boy after cleaning up the camp site the next day when it wasn't cleaned perfectly. This did not go over well with my boys, and adding it on top of the rest of the two frustrating days has probably ensured that at least one of my boys will never go on a campout again. He came home miserable and upset. I wish it had been a better overall experience for them, but we talked about how you never know what will come up on camping trips and that there are always things we can learn from what we go through.

On the next Monday (June 21st) we finished up dental cleanings with four more appointments. The bathroom remodel ended up taking 8 days, finishing Tuesday, with inconsistent shower availability. It ended up costing four thousand dollars more than the original bid, but we fully expected that because we live in an old house where you never know what you will find when you open up a wall or the floor. It is finished and we love it. 

Mason and a water monitor.

Emma's camp went well, 3 days of activities, home every night in between. So there's that. The weekend was hot and quietly spent at home, with a few kids nursing small summer colds. On Monday (June 28th) Mason and I were at Children's Hospital early for some tests, that finished by 8:05am. His next appointment was scheduled for 2.5 hours later at an office about 20 minutes away. We decided to take advantage of the down time and popped over to the zoo for an hour-ish visit. We saw several animals, including his favorite, the red pandas. 

We finished out June with two more kids getting evaluated for braces. Now we're preparing for the weekend by folding and rubber banding a basket full of white shirts for our family's summer tie dye day. It is July already, which means we have one month until we're back to homeschooling. We usually start lessons back up around the first week of August, making it possible for us to have plenty of break weeks through the school year and finishing up in early to mid-May when spring fever hits.