Life With Nine Kids

Monday, November 3, 2008

Day of the Dead

We had a really fun time decorating skulls for Dia De Los Muertos, The Day of the Dead.

It was a memorable but super easy craft. The skull molds only took me a half hour to make (we made even more than is shown here) then they dry over night. I was shocked at how well they stayed together. All that is in them is sugar, meringue powder, and a tiny bit of water. The trick to good decorating frosting is also meringue powder. I can't wait to apply this new learned trick of the trade to cookies this holiday season! We bought this kit on sale here










Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Absolutely the biggest surprise ever

Sat Oct 25 was our big Halloween party here. For those that don't know a small portion of my family runs a riverfront camp/cabin/floating resort. Every year we invite our favorite/best customers, have a DJ, costume contest, and dance all night (we love throwing a party). We know everyone we invite but I always do the stranger danger talk to my kids before a party (except in reverse; these people know us --but we don't know some of them very well, Etc.)

The rest of our family; my dad, mom, siblings, Etc. live in Las Vegas. We miss them an awful lot.

So the party starts at 7:30 and we are hanging out and eating. People in costumes are trickling in, there is a REALLY creepy costume that was familiar and super creepy to me but I couldn't place it. I asked Ricky where I knew that creepy thing from. He said that it is "Jigsaw" from the horror movie Saw. I have Penelope on my hip at the time and I notice after a few minutes the Saw guy is waving at Penelope from afar and she is memorized. As he turns away she waves back.


At about 8:30pm Sage is talking to my aunt in the kitchen and he looks upset. I ask him what is wrong and he won't really tell us. I did hear him say something about creepy and he looked like he might cry. Mother's intuition said, "Is it the creepy costume guy?" I just knew it was Saw guy, and I was right. So my aunt gets Sage settled in watching a movie with Layla and Penelope. The kids have a closed off room from the party + the office that is locked and they can play, sleep, or whatever if they don't feel like being at the party.


Apparently when my Aunt got Sage settled in with the girls he yold her this Saw guy was following him and the kids around, so she starts watching this guy --I had no idea she didn't tell me.


At around 9pm Obama and McCain costumes walk in. Funny as heck costumes, this couple pulls it off so well. They can barely make it to the dance hall and I snag the couple and get a picture with them. Ricky and I are going back and forth checking on kids and mingling with people. I suddenly get roped into helping to judge the costume contest. So I'm standing next to the DJ with the other judges and we are trying to make our selections and I say, "Well the Saw guy scared the crap out of Sage so he gets scariest costume as far as I'm concerned." It was agreed. Just as the DJ is getting ready to make the announcements I change spots and suddenly find myself next to Saw guy. I turn to him and say, "I just have to tell you, your costume scared the crap out of my son tonight." The person pulls the mask up very slowly; imagine my utter surprise when it was my dad inside!!!! I did a trple take and screamed so loud I can't believe no one heard me over the DJ's announcements. Then the clown standing next to me lifted up her big glasses and said hi. It was my mom!!! I looked around and finding that no one heard me freak out  I calmed down and started grabbing family members in to watch. Knowing my dad was going to get the award for scariest I was trying to get as many people as I could in my family so they could see him be awarded. I told them, "Come here, stand right here and just wait!!!" Ricky was at the private door the kids were behind keeping an eye on them and I had to practically run crowds of people over trying to get to him.


Scariest costume is announced and my dad goes to the center of the room and unveils himself; to whom the family freaks out and my aunt Sharon cries in shock. (my mom stayed hiding a while longer from everyone!)


As my dad was winning his costume award I notice I'm standing behind Obama and McCain. Something clicked in my head and as I starred at the back of McCain my eyes scanned the back of his head/hairline. I lifted up a small flap in the back of the mask gently. This was my little brother. I just knew it. I grabbed him and turned him around to me and said OMG you're my brother!! He shook his head no and I jumped up pointed and said yes! (Could you imagine how funny it would have been if I was wrong!!) Obama looked at me and I knew that had to be his wife. I don't think I've ever been so shocked in my life than this night!


I let the other family members figure it out on their own and in their own ways so they could have as much fun as I had just had. They waited a while to show others!

We took my dad back to see the kids and Sage was SO CUTE. He said, "I'm so glad that was you Grandpa." :)


So things are really kicking now. We are dancing and having fun. The kids (all of them expect Sebastian -I nursed him and he went back to sleep) are having fun at the party with us. The kids even find some friends to dance and run around with too. Suddenly I notice my aunt looking at a costumed person. I go up to her and she says, "Is it, is it him!?" I go closer to this Joker costume and look... then I say a bad word and jump up in down and hug him. It was my other little brother. The guy sitting next to him in a old man mask gets up and reveals himself too, it's my brothers friend and a very, very good friend of the family who we haven't seen in years.


Best surprise ever. Words can't even express the brilliance or surprise they had just pulled off. This will be a tough one to top. We had NO CLUE, none at all.


My dad said it was indescribable seeing us all like that, you know, without us knowing we were being watched. He said, "I feel like I saw a small window to your world. Like if I wasn't here this is what you'd be doing"


In the picture I took with Obama/McCain my parents are in the background. Awesome since I had no clue and there I was posing with my family.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Overdue update

We have had a wonderful time adjusting with a new baby. We have had a pretty easy time with a some what new homeschool schedule even if we are still working out the kinks. Being a mother of six is wonderful. I don't have time to write anymore. But I'm going to try and make time. (how does one make time? I'll just cook some up in a pot on the stove I guess?!)

We have loved every minute of our new baby in the house. He is nothing but a sweetheart. It's like we've always had him. The kids are absolutely the best kids and big brothers and sisters. My husband and I are not taking care of these children alone...we all take care of each other. Today Penelope (it's her her birthday today) took off her diaper and said, "Go more." And Sage (8) said, "You have to go potty more?" Penelope then shook her head yes and off he rushed her to the bathroom. I checked on them what seemed to be some time later and they were reading books on the potty.

I barely remember the last time I wrote. Between then and now so much has happened. Lots of adventures have been had, and learning taken place. The kids are learning lots of math without very much help at all. It amazes me still that this "unschooling" (child led learning) thing works ;)

We have a new vehicle for the whole fam (and a 4x4 for the winter). We kept the mini van but we now have an 8 passenger vehicle (an Excursion, we call it "the beast") the licence plate we got for it is KID BUS.

Charlotte has metal brackets and will get braces this month. She had a slumber party for her birthday and it was such a blast. Even her dad and I had a ball. We've been skating a couple times, to the library, to the annual pick your own pumpkin patch/hayride/maze place, to a fun play about dinosaurs, and to a conservation class about animal tracks, bones and fur.

Sage and Layla found love for yet another reading site at http://www.readingeggs.com/
(ooo, That reminds me the free trial for that just expired today.)

The kids have been studying world religions again. We have an animated dvd from netflix that while not very complete has been a starting point for conversations and intro into religion. I downloaded some basic bible stories from itunes for them too. They just love stories and history. Most children do. They have been into Greek mythology for years.

We have been baking/cooking from scratch now more than ever. Cookies, muffins, breads, soups, pies, pot pies...

Oh this is exciting for us... We also got a new dining table! (for free! from freecycle!) It did not come with any chairs, but that's ok we had some chairs. But the table very comfortably seats all eight of us! Well Sebastian isn't using his seat quite yet. :)


I hope to post of our Halloween adventures and sugar skull making! during the first week of November.

Below the kids caught a hummingbird that got into the house by mistake. Penelope is admiring him in the jar. He was not hurt and they let him go right after the photo op. Layla didn't want to be photographed that day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We had a baby boy.

He's here...he's here....


A wonderful, lovely, sweet, cuddly, sleeps a lot, happy, not too demanding (thus far) baby boy. I knew he was a boy. I knew he was out there waiting for us to be his family. His name is Sebastian. I'm completely enamoured by his perfectly round velvety head, long fingers, soft mouth, his chin that is like daddy's, and the way he curls around and fits against my body when he sleeps in bed with me. I am in newborn love. Again.

And here is my half dozen...

Sometimes, for a moment, life seems utterly perfect and stress free.

So needless to say we have been pre occupied and I haven't been posting. I updated my blog and website with birth info and stuff. It was a fabulous unassisted birth (my fourth UC) with my husband.

Right now the kids all have a little cold and so we are stir crazy. We just started leaving the house with the newborn after being home for 2 weeks, then they get sick and we are stuck at home again! At least the weather has been nice. I've been enjoying nursing Sebastian on the porch in 70 degree weather.

Other...
Lately lots and lots of fun has been had at this website by our whole family http://www.fantasticcontraption.com/ I lost my husband for an entire day because of it. I lost myself for an entire afternoon. It's great for kids, too.

We are currently test driving many 8-9 passenger (gas hog) vehicles.

I'm already missing being pregnant, despite the fact that I've already mentioned that it's nice having my body back. Sebastian turning 3 weeks old this Saturday makes me a little sad. I want him to be a newborn for at least a year.
Labor day weekend was spent bonding with our newborn and having lots and lots of family fun...

(yes I am aware Charlotte IS my clone)


Below Layla shows off her Kitty craft


And next we need to re-establish some sort of schedule. Charlotte will turn 12, Penelope will turn 2... and falling leaves, blue jeans, sweaters, and Halloween will be upon us. Our favorite.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Home is where the heart is

The last few weeks are a blurr. (I always say that but it's always true!) I have photos to share but little time for uploading and resizing! Summer is fading into early fall as the weather already is cooling. I never really felt true summer this year. Only a handful of very humid days, lots of rain, and hardly much swimming.

SCHOOLS BACK IN / BUT IT WAS NEVER REALLY OUT
Kids in the area are headed back to school, but mine never left. I'm thankful my guys still have lots of pretty days left to run and play outside and enjoy this 80 degree weather. We've been on a good "school" schedule but mostly we have been enjoying the days as they come and go. The boys are learning to tell time and refine their money counting. Charlotte decided she wants to re-read the Harry Potter series and after a summer of half finishing several books announced to me, "I just can't replace it mom, so I'm going to stop trying." So cute. :)

I like that she's allowed to half read a book and not finish it if she wants. I like that she can pick what she wants to read according to her interest. I loved reading. LOVED LOVED it. I dreaded when I was forced to read. (I don't know why but I swear The Hobbit was torture to me in the fifth grade ---my kids like it though of course!)

Mothering Magazine had a wonderful article this month starting on page 58 titled, "No More Homework." I enjoyed it and it reminded me again why we began pulling our kids from school 3 years ago.

OUTDOORS
Our garden produced some green beans which we harvested the other day and will cook tonight. Our sunflowers are getting ready to bloom (symbolically just in time for the new baby that is due any second!) Our tomatoes are growing but if we don't get some hot sunny days we'll never get fruits, as I've mentioned before we simply planted WAY too late. Even if we may never see fruit we still enjoy seeing our watermelon vines, cucumber and zucchini plants, as well as tomatoes growing. We'll start earlier next year for sure. I'm not giving up yet. It's not over until old man winter frosts us!

Our new chicks are doing very well. The kids and I made an agreement with the kittens outside who killed a couple chicks. We feed them milk every morning and they leave the chicks alone. So far it has worked! Yay! The other day I took a frozen chicken we raised and killed out of the freezer. It was from last fall so I didn't think it would be all that good anymore. I simmered it into chicken stock and cooked the meat and made soup. Actually, the chicken was SO delicious I fed the meat eaters in the house some chicken for lunch and made the rest into soup. It was fantastic! So we are going to get some meat chickens this fall and stock up for the winter. I forgot how good our home grown chickens were. We don't eat chicken if we don't raise it ourselves. (occasionally I'll buy from whole foods though. But it's $$$)

CHARLOTTE WORLD RECORD BOOK CONTESTANT! We don't get many eggs since we had a lot of our chickens killed by dogs in the early spring. But we do get a few every week. Last week Charlotte gathered eggs and she found what we believe to be the smallest chicken egg ever reportedly laid. Charlotte had me sign up on the Guinness Book of World Records website and I'm currently in the process of applying her egg. It is 1 inch long, the smallest online we found was 1 1/4 in long. There is currently no record holder for the smallest chicken egg, just the largest. Charlotte has been racking her brain for the last year and a half thinking a way of breaking or making a world record. Now she found her chance. It's cute and a lot of fun for her.

Recent simple Layla questions:
"Mom can I tell you an important question?"
"Yes?"
"How do horses sleep?"
And
"Mom can I tell you an important question?" (She always starts like this)
"Yes?"
"Do animals have babies like you do?" (I can proudly say "yes" because I give birth like all animals, in mostly seclusion and unassisted :)

BIRTH OF NEW MEMBERS
Speaking of birth... the children are REALLY excited about the impending birth of our newest family member. They ask all the time and talk about how excited they are to hold the newborn! It's made me excited and feeling very blessed. Sometimes however, I want them to just quit asking! The baby will come very soon. I'm due on the 20th but I can go over by 2 weeks easily. I'm not thinking I will this time though. My body is going to get on with this birth I feel before the 20th. But only time will tell.

Have I mentioned that Layla calls the baby a "he-she" because we don't know. Cracks us up.

THE BOYS
I feel bad I don't have much to say about the boys. They always are, and always have been "The boys." They play, rough house and make me crazy. They thrive on video games, sticks, swords, and the trampoline. Ethan and Sage are both doing great. They talk non-stop and act opinionated as this age group does. They are great kids. I'm trying to teach Sage that being right isn't important and I'm trying to get Ethan to stop bickering about things that really don't matter (especially with a 4 year old --he's awful about bickering with Layla!!)

NEXT POST
Might be a picture of baby 6

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July wrapping up (and unwrapping birthday's for everyone!)

We have had a busy last several weeks. The kids had a lot of fun at drama camp despite that I had to make some complaints about inappropriate content in some songs little kids were being taught to sing and dance to. (totally teenage themed for the WRONG 6-11 age group) It was resolved graciously by the theatre however and there was no lasting damage done :)
At the end of the drama program the kids put on a performance which was just great. They worked so hard. I was just ecstatic to see them all on stage. I love theatre and always wanted to make it part of my children's lives, as it had been a important apart of mine long ago ...before babies, birth, and natural family living became my passion. The kids were supposed to go to the June camp but we waited for July because then our friends could do it with them. Next year I am strongly considering letting the kids do both camps! They had that much fun.





Penelope below is helping me make pizza dough. She's such a mess in the kitchen. She wants to constantly help to the point where I now sneak around to cook!


My parents came to town for a special event: A birthday party held for ALL of us. This was the first year of a tradition they would like to start where each summer they visit and throw our family one big birthday party. Gifts, cake, decorations, the whole thing. This way they don't have to mail packages out 8 times a year and they get to see all of us open the gifts. So without the kids knowing they decorated our home, brought in cake, and wrapped gifts and had a surprise party. We knew, kids didn't though! It was a blast!

Above is the tropical themed party with my parents and all of us.
Below is the cake, which had a "93" candle the total combined age of 7 of our birthday's, also read: 'Happy Birthday Ricky, Shauna, Sage, Ethan, Layla, Penelope.'
The unborn baby got gifts too, but "he" doesn't have a "birthday" yet :)



August should slow down a little bit. July was all about sleepovers, library events, drama camp, cousin Echo being in town, growing caterpillars and releasing them as butterflies, Etc.. Layla's birthday is coming up (party on July 31, actual birthday on Aug 1) In August we have a couple busy weekends, some playgroups, and then a new baby being born. I suspect we'll be home most of August and September. Oh I have 2 kids that need to go the dentist for small fillings in Aug, and Charlotte will be getting braces. Yikes I better get those appointments scheduled (I want those done before baby comes)!!

The excitement and anticipation of a newborn is really building around here.

Homeschool: What we do when we aren't doing anything elseWe have a new program we are trying for Sage at http://www.readingupgrade.com/ And he finally likes a reading program. (FINALLY)

And http://www.spellingtime.com/ had some great sign up package deals I'm not sure I wrote about. Charlotte is signed up now for 1 year at the rate of $59.99 She can do spelling, states, vocab and math. They are broken up into quick daily lessons and it's good quality. We are loving it. I'm thinking about getting Ethan signed up as he needs to hit the spelling lessons.

The spelling and states is great. Charlotte really likes the vocab too. The spelling is so cool because they give the kids the words, they get activities, practice, quizzes, then at the end of the week a test. The results are emailed to the parents. So it's super easy to keep up with how the child is doing with minimal effort!

My favorite Layla Question this week:
"Where do the movies go when you turn off the TV?"

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Summer School

Is it really summer? Because the kids have been doing nothing but exploring their world and asking lots of questions about life, science, social studies/history, art, religion, and more. Learning all the time (unschooling/homeschooling) means summer holds the same learning power as the rest of the year. Actually I'd have to say we are much more productive learning in the warmer months of the year. The colder months seem to bring us more wasted time, dark evenings, and lazy days than spring, summer, and fall.

The kids have been enjoying weekends with dad being home. They have had many meaningful discussions. I over heard some world religion ones, mentions of physics, Albert Einstein, Issac Newton, and some other guy --the name escapes me right now. LOL.


What sparked at least some of those subjects was Charlotte enthusiastically pointing out that this months issue of Muse Magazine had pages about Leonardo Da Vinci. What tickled her though was the page number for the section about him was written backwards. "Just like his notes he wrote backwards to keep secret!"


I love being a part of their discovery and learning everyday. I didn't always think this way, but now I see that public school keeps a part of my children that I wouldn't get. Just like daycare gets a part of baby or toddler hood from children. (yes I know some people need to use the services of childcare, I'm grateful I don't though, and I have opinions about it's misuse and overuse). I never wanted my children in daycare, I always thought about how much a parent (and child) misses by not being "there" constantly throughout the day. I now feel that way about public schooling too. I see things in a different way now that I have been homeschooling for years and I now know first hand that children do learn all about interesting important things without structured, planned lessons. My children are more excited about learning then I ever was! I am so excited for them.

Layla keeps up with the good questions too:
Layla asked me, "What is under the toilet?" So she headed off a conversation about septic, waste disposal, and health. This morning she also woke up sleepy eyed and crawled into bed with me like usual and said, "Mom did I brush my teeth?" "Yes Layla you did last night." She rubbed her eyes and said, "Oh good thing, cause in my dream I was eating food."

Hahaha. She is SO good about her teeth and tries to keep them brushed very well! And she is SO funny.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

dads birthday, math, garden is trying to grow, Layla questions...

We have been learning about money, going to the library (saw Dino O' Dell perform at the library last week), somewhat tending to the garden, keeping up with household chores, and the regular homeschool things.

The older kids have had many interesting and educational conversations none of which I can recall now though. Charlotte has been playing a "game" with the boys she came up with and told me to write about. It's very simply a skip counting game. Basically you just take turns skip counting as fast as you can and as high as you can by 2's, 5's, 10's, and 25's. That's great practice for them all and they seem to have fun. They came up with this all on their own after lunch one day.

The garden is going pretty good. The chickens keep scratching at it. The tomato plants are NO WHERE near what we had last year :( Both in quality and quantity. It's got me bummed out. But when you don't start planting until June what do you expect, ya know.

This week I learned that money conversion (exchange rates) is much more complicated than I ever knew. lol.

We are headed to the library for craft and story time this morning. Today is Dads birthday so we have some preparation to do before he gets home tonight. There is talk amongst the kids of balloons, party hats, streamers, and the like. Cousin Echo will be in town by tomorrow morning. We have a homeschool/Kayak playgroup planned for Thursday, and 4th of July is Friday. Dad will be home for a 3 day weekend yay!

Pictures: Penelope and Layla at the Friends of MO Midwives Picnic 2 weeks ago (They love this hat and they frequently love putting this hat on their daddy too.)



Pictures: Drawing bugs last night (like my walking stick? LOL) We all took turns teaching each other ideas about how to draw bugs.


Layla at bedtime snuggled up with me trying to drift off asks me all kinds of interesting questions, especially for a child 1 month away from turning 4. For example:
"Can you ever get out of jail?"
"Will police take some one to jail for not being in their seat belt?"
"Where does your food go if there is a baby in your tummy?"
"How does food turn into poop?"

And the more serious, "If you die in your dream you don't die fo' real, right?"
I could tell she already knew, but was just double checking.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer days, life with kids... and no crock pot

What we've been up to...
Our garden is heading right along. The kids have helped me slowly but surely plant cilantro, tomatoes, yellow squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, broccoli and sunflowers. We plan to get some lettuce in the ground soon. We added hay to our lasagna garden but the chickens make a total mess of it and scratched it all up, which uprooted a lot of strategically placed moist newspapers. That was pretty aggravating. But, nothings ruined I just have to go out and pick hay off of the plants every other day. In hindsight I wish I would have skipped the hay because of the chickens. I have a big sheet roll of plastic I should cover the hay with... if I find the energy or time I'll do that. The kids have really been a lot of help this year with gardening. It's turned into a real family/group/homeschool project that they all seem to enjoy.

The kids have been enjoying some nice weather, lots of outside play, parks, the library, and the small local water park. (When I say small I mean small...but fun)

Aside from our regular www.time4learning.com program we have been doing the kids have been working on math with www.mathusee.com materials and Charlotte has been doing www.spellingtime.com I am getting ready to purchase the Big States Time section which teaches states, capitals, facts, abbreviations but I am waiting until she gets more of a routine down with all we've already got going on.

Last week we painted pictures which was nice. I don't get the paint out enough anymore and I'm going to start to. We do a lot of clay/sculpey stuff, crafts, drawing... but we need more painting! And they really don't make too big of a mess with it (even the little girls).

Today the kids asked about currency exchange rates. So tomorrow we are going to spend some time online looking into that. Not sure how that came up but it did.

Layla (4 in August) informed me yesterday that blood is in our veins. I thought that was cool and funny. I have deep prominent veins (runs in my family) and she said, "Mom you have a lot of blood in you, see." And she pointed to my veins.

She is working right now on a surprise picture for me. She's so cute. I am thinking about introducing letters to her via Waldorf style. She needs me to keep her busy this next year I can tell. She is going to bore easily.

Oh and Layla made me laugh so hard yesterday, because you see Layla has a way of having an answer FOR EVERYTHING. She's quite a pain actually. For example yesterday I asked her to please stop hitting the wall with the flag pole to our wooden castle....

Layla: Why?
Me: Because I want to have that for a very long time.
Layla: (keeps hitting it against wall)
Me: PLEASE Layla I want your children to be able to come over to my house and play with that someday, I want to keep the castle nice forever.
Layla: Forever?
Me: yup
Layla: Well... (in total snooty tone) what if my kids break it anyway?

I can't win with her very often. She is so good at comebacks! Arugh!

Layla told me she wants to go to Australia to meet Bindi The Jungle Girl. I told her we would have to save up money to go there someday. She said in that ever so cute kid voice, "MOM! I got lots of money in my room we can use!"

BROKEN THINGS...
A couple weeks ago I broke our crock pot. It was really a bummer because we use a slow cooker a lot around here, plus I had it a long time (One of the first things Ricky and I bought as a couple together). Well to replace it Ricky and I went and bought the biggest one we could find and spent a decent amount of money on it. Well today, only one week and one pot of chili later, Ethan broke it! It was in the sink waiting for me to wash it and he tossed his plate into it and it broke. Ethan was horrified having to come tell me. I really could not say anything other than, "What?!! Okay. Okay.... It's okay. Hold on..."
I went to my room and told Ricky quietly, "OMG Ethan broke the new crock pot $$%#! I came in here because he already feels so bad but I am still so mad."

You see, I didn't want him to know I was mad about it so I just left the room for my first reaction to get out of my body.

He peeked his head in our room a minute later sputtering (in near tears) about how he thought the crock pot was our gigantic plastic mixing bowl in the sink. They match in identical color. I told him I totally could see how he could make that mistake. He wasn't even being careless. At that point I hugged him and said, "Ethan it's okay. You didn't mean it. It was an accident. You know we need that crock pot and you would never want it to break." I then hugged him and said, "At least you aren't broken, right?"
He smiled up at me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

At the car wash....friendly people and poop tales

So this definitely falls under the category of "life with six kids"

Today after playgroup I stopped by the car wash. We did the drive through tri-color thing and then headed for the DIY car vacuum. I seriously don't think I've vacuumed this van since we got it. It was a horrible mess (took me 4 cycles of paying the vacuum machine .75 to finish it!) So during my vacuuming some of the kids ran around in a nice grassy spot and some kids stayed in the van as I worked. I met eyes with the guy at the vacuum station next to me and I said hi to him. (I say hi to nearly everyone) He was a friendly man in his 40's he said hi back. Inbetween my vacuum shutting off on me he asked, "How many kids you got over there?" [lol] I answered back with one hand, "Five."
He asked, "And one one the way too!?"
I laughed, "Yup, I think we're done now though..."
He then said, "I'd say so! But who am I to talk? I'm one of nine, big families are nice."
When he left he wished me good luck.

I happily continued paying the over priced vacuum that kept shutting off on me. I love when I hear positive things about big families. I also like (most the time not all the time) the attention in public. It does sometimes make me feel self conscious though. I'm afriad people think I'm selfish or irresponsible. Or that I lack the education to use birth control. [lol] Lots of people assume we do it for religious reasons, some people thing we are just plain nuts. We really just love having kids.

Anyway, back to the carwash because the fun part now begins:
Penelope and Sage have been all over the front seat, the windshield wipers are going because Penelope turned them on. A water bottle is spilled all-over the passengers seat, and I'm trying to get the van mats back in place. I head towards Penelope, who is in the drivers seat, to put her in her car seat and I notice she smells. I lay her down and change her. While I'm changing her (and before I can get a new diaper on her) Charlotte moves about in the van climbing seat to seat and fights with Sage, after I holler for her to take a seat she accidentally hits Layla in the lip and Layla bleeds. While I check on things Penelope in the meantime is unattended in the drivers seat diaperless. By the time I get back to Penelope she has pooped more -all over the drivers seat! Thank goodness I had just put a new pack of disposable wet wipes in the van this morning. I used lots. She had it on her leg, feet, butt, seat...

Then after I clean her up (still diaper less) I toss her to the middle of the van so I can clean the seat. By the time I clean the van seat up she has pooped on the van floor. At this point I look around me... is anyone watching this spectacle? Thank goodness no. I'm the only one in the parking lot of the car wash. We load up and I laugh to myself. I also thought to myself what endearing friends and family members have told me before about having all these kids; "If anyone can do it you can."

Thanks. :) They have no idea how meaningful those words are at times like this.
At that point I also realized the garden was not getting worked on this afternoon. There is always tomorrow.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Last week ~ and Father's Day


The above picture is of the kids doing sand art outside last week.
Last week was a great week. Aside from a seriously needy Penelope and grouchy moody Layla (both kids have been sick) last week was so productive. At the time I was having a hard time dealing with the girls, but in hindsight we accomplished so much and the week unfolded into a routine of homeschool, housework, outside fun, arts, and gardening.

I taught the boys how to clean the bathrooms, all the kids have newer "more advanced" household chores. I've struggled with taking the time to show them how to do more housework because it's just faster if I do it myself. That sort of attitude just hurts them and me though!

Father's Day was spent grilling on the new BBQ we got for dad and playing outside. We had what we called an old fashioned Father's Day; playing in the garden hose, kiddie pools, grilling, making organic homemade vanilla ice cream, and we left the air conditioning off and used a box fan in the house to keep cool. By 4:30 P.M. However, this barefoot and pregnant mama had enough of no air and turned it on. We then settled down on the floor and watched a season of Punky Brewster. We love getting old shows from netflix. They are so much fun for the kids (and us) plus we can introduce them to good story plots and wholesome lessons. They just don't make TV like that anymore.
Ricky seemed to have a very nice Father's Day. I'm so glad. He is such a great dad to these guys. They are lucky children. And I, a very lucky woman.

Lasagna Garden
We didn't water yesterday... and by yesterday evening the temperature dropped significantly outside and a beautiful thunderstorm rolled in. So did wind. Ricky and I found ourselves running around the lasagna garden picking up newspapers that were blowing far away into the woods. Ricky started spraying the dried papers with a hose because it wasn't yet raining. Once the rain started and he sprayed they were weighed back down and they stayed put. (I was supposed to put hay on them already but haven't yet! Once I do they will stay put!!)

The day before yesterday the kids and I finally planted our starter plants. We planted tomato, cantaloupe, watermelon and zucchini. We have seeds to plant today if the storm blows through (it's still storming this morning). We hope to get some sunflowers, cucumbers, green beans, and lettuce in the ground. Since we are planting so late I'm going to order some fertilizer from Gardens Alive in hopes for a bountiful harvest this year.
Photo Below: Lasagna garden layered with newspaper, cardboard, old leaves, old cloth diapers and retired corn from our play-corn-bin. We will add hay this week. You can spot a row of tomatoes to the far left. When you are ready to plant in your garden you just dig up a spot and go! We have nice top soil under here already, but if we didn't we'd have to wait for this to break down more. Next year when we start at a new spot it won't be this fast because we will be starting with little soil. The debris helps stomp out weeds (it suffocates them) while creating a nice home for worms and mulch for the garden.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

lasagna garden ... and other

I'm feeling so unorganized. And I only have a short time to get organized. I am seriously decluttering and having the kids pull more weight around here. Now is the time. I will not be able to stay above water when new baby comes if I don't buckle down right now.

Today was very productive (I think) but I still feel like there is SO much to do. The kids all did their computer work, I made lots of needed phone calls, I decluttered a few areas of the house. We went outside and started our lasagna garden. The kids loved it. Penelope cried anytime we took the hose from her though. So the project was both fun and aggravating for us and her! We are using newspaper, cardboard, and old/worn retired flat cloth diapers. We are so late planting but I decided it was important enough to do anyway. Besides we need an outdoor project. The tomato salmonella scare also pushed me. I LOVE growing tomatoes by the bucketful every year. In fact it's almost all I grow LOL. I have already started tomatoes at least, they are just not in ground. They seem to be doing okay though. We are going to try to also grow watermelon, sunflowers, and green beans this year. Maybe a squash variety or two.

Something got all but one of our new chicks. (they were getting lots bigger and definitely were ready to be free range). I guess I need to leave our Great Pyrenees outside at night EVERYnight. The kids and I might buy some laying hens on Thursday (not chicks). I'm just not sure I want to though. I'm afraid we'll waste money if something is stealing my chickens! I'm frustrated, can you tell yet?

We have been limiting TV and it's going well. Life is so good without TV. We are really getting ready to getting rid of satellite. (we don't get local channels in our area without it). We wouldn't even have it if we could just get local TV stations. We would however up our 3 at a time netflix to 5 0r 6 at a time. So we aren't talking TV free, just TV-less of an option!

I wish the kids saw in the same way that we see how much more creative, fun, talkative, imaginative, and productive they are without TV.

Layla has been a total handful lately. Seriously a child-monster. I love her dearly and hope she makes it to 4 years old. :) She's throwing a classic fit now... time for me to get these guys in bed it's getting late.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Back home

Our trip to Las Vegas was fun. The kids played a lot with their cousin Echo, which is a big highlight of the trip. Grandpa Craig (my dad -Pictured below with the kids) took the kids to Old Nevada http://www.bonniesprings.com/ where they got to learn a little about the old west and see two old west shows. We went along as well, and it was a lot of fun. They also spent many hours in the pool at Grandpa Craig and Grandma Mindy's house. My little brother's wedding was very beautiful and fun. We also got to see my mom and Grandma Smith. They had never met Penelope yet. My Grandma Smith brought the kids a beautiful chunk of petrified wood because she knew they loved stuff like that. (She is a great fan and collector of rocks, minerals, fossils and bones.) More pictures on my blog



It's good to be home now...

Monday, May 26, 2008

I LOVE IT

Well the kids love http://www.time4learning.com/ and so do I.

I'm always looking for ways to make things easier so I wanted to share what we have been using in case it could help some one else too. We have been using http://www.time4learning.com/ for a little over a week now and my kids are going nuts over it. They want to do "school" everyday. It's very cartoon like and TV like so some parents may not like that, but my kids love it and are really excelling and learning in all subjects. It's cutting my work and prep in more than half because it's all preplanned and taught online. (The best is that the site actually teaches not just gives work.) I help them when they need help and we have verbal discussions etc.. It also tracks (by day, week, or month) hours, subjects completed, lessons, quiz "grades", and so forth. Sage, who I have mentioned before hates every reading program or attempt I try loves this and is really thriving with the phonics section (finally something clicks and works for him)! The cartoons are actually pretty hilarious. There is also a story builder section (and writing program for older kids) and to my surprise Ethan is bringing me 2-3 sentence stories daily that he types up by himself with a picture. A "reward" system is set up within the site also. You can go to the "playground" and play games when you finish your work. (Parents can set the work and play time limits to whatever they want.)
I'm thrilled with Sage's progress. Sage is easily frustrated and bored with other reading/phonics lessons/workbooks. Ethan excelled with http://www.clicknkids.com/ but Sage couldn't get past the lessons after around lesson 13 or 15. He hated it.

So anyway it's really exciting that they all love it SO much! It's a great way to get school time in when I'm busy. I can also listen for when they have problems with a lesson (makes a sound when they make an error so then I know when I need to run over and help them). I find my self watching and participating in the lessons quite a bit. They are creative, engaging, and some are just funny. Charlotte just got signed up for http://www.spellingtime.com/ and I think that is going to work really well for her. We will see soon.

Today Sage wanted to know what a metaphor was and conveniently http://www.brainpop.com/ has a video about similes and metaphors.

This summer the kids will be attending a week long drama camp for 6-11 year olds. Their cousin will be in town and will also be going. It should be fun for them. Sage is a little nervous (and wants nothing to do with being on stage) but he is going because everyone else is. I really hope this is a fun experience for him. He is shy and doesn't like direct attention on him. OTHER We have spent several nice relaxing days inside and out. The kids are a tiny bit bored because we didn't go to playgroup last week and we have been staying in and saving money for our trip on Thursday. We leave for Las Vegas (my "home town") to visit family and attend my youngest brothers wedding. (I am the oldest of 5 kids.)

I'm really happy with how our kids are doing. I have been seeing a lot of learning going on and with little effort on my part. Ethan and Charlotte are reading a lot out loud to each other and their siblings. (Ethan and Charlotte read to Sage). They have a monster book (mythical beasts) and another book called History's Grossest, Wackiest Moments. They have been discussing everything from Dracula to Foo Fighters (I informed them that is also a band:) They also have learned about vikings, life before toilet paper and so many other things I can't recall now.

ART!
We recently learned how to make darling faries out of pipe cleaners, felt, flowers, and wood beads. My dear friend Molly taught us this craft and we have been having fun ever since. I didn't capture the best photos the other day but here are some samples. Pictured below is a group of fairies & fairy babies in buntings, a close up of a boy fairy Ethan helped make, and a purple haired fairy Layla helped make. They are now all happily housed in our wooden dollhouse.





MASSAGE
Today Charlotte learned the art of massage (and pampering lol) as we got treated at a day spa. We had an hour massage, and a spa pedicure/manicure! Oo-la-la! :)


ANIMAL SCIENCE & BIRTH!
Did you know opossums are marsupials? I did not know that. I'm going to ask the kids if they knew that and tomorrow we are going to watch animal births on http://www.youtube.com/ Here are some we picked out for the kids:
Kangaroo birth
Orangutan birth (Orangutan one is mine and Ricky's favorite)
Giraffe birth
Dolphin birth
3-D simulation of human birth (they've seen me give live birth more than once :) This simulation is very neat though.

Monday, May 19, 2008

schedule

Soccer is over! (Well almost, a post season soccer party is this Thursday) So I'm relieved of my soccer mom duties for this season.

We have been doing fantastic! The weather is nicer and warmer. We have spent a lot of time outdoors. We seem to be accomplishing a lot of "school work" with minimal effort. We started a new homeschool "program" and it's getting raves around the here. It's http://www.time4learning.com/ I was skeptical but it's really working and the kids are excited about it. The best part (other than they love it) is that I hardly do anything! The lessons are already in order (you can assign lessons out of order as you want too, or let them choose their own). I also get full printable reports, it logs everything for me, and so far I approve! So that has me in a good mood! The lessons are also all in cartoon format and has total audio with the lessons (which my kids are highly drawn too). It even has quizzes and grades (if you want grades). It's almost a little too cartoon for me, but they LOVE it. So I don't care.

So our "schedule" is loosely something like this right now (it changes often though!):
Mon-Mathusee, spelling, time4learning.com, mom reads
Tues-Vocab, Time4learning.com, kids game after lunch (if we are home), mom reads
Wed- Mathusee, writing, time4learning, mom reads
Thurs-Vocab, writing, playgroup all day
Fri-Spelling, time4learning.com, mathusee
Sat-kids clean their bathrooms (every other Sat. kids wash their bed sheets & vacuum basement, game with mom and dad
Sun-football or basketball drills with dad, journal



  • I'm totally not reminding Charlotte to post in her blog right now. I need to though!
  • I used to read to the older kids every night for an hour. I did that for years. Somehow we got away from it. (I think when we started on the Harry Potter audio books --a much needed break I got!) Anyway, I'm trying to read to them more again by putting it on a schedule, and doing it during the day.
Our most favorite beloved and read aloud short story books are by Jon J. Muth: Zen Shorts, Zen Ties, and The Three Wishes.



Friday, May 9, 2008

April into May...

We have been busy and right now I'm trying to figure out exactly why we have been so busy...


HAVE WE BEEN HAVING FUN?
I'm not sure what fun stuff we've been doing. We haven't gone anywhere interesting in quite a while. I am trying to plan a trip to the zoo though. The kids have been drawing a lot. They also are so into video games right now. I'm biting my tongue and acting like a good "unschooler" mom --let them have fun and play if they want (within reason). They are getting along so well, problem solving, talking, interacting, telling me how much fun they are having, and reading some new words (they ask me or Charlotte what it says sometimes). I also bought them Zoo Tycoon (they love Roller Coaster Tycoon) and they have a lot of fun creating with that. So I guess they are having a lot of fun, but since I don't "get" video games I think we have been boring around here lately. We have been waiting for the dang rain to stop so we can plant and clean up the yard.

Ricky finished up another mini semester of graduate school over a week ago. He got all A's and one B+ YAY! :) He has started his last mini semester! YAY! Since his finals are over (and he has less work load for now) we have all got some extra time with him which has been great.

I bought the kids a BIG dry erase bored which they are having a blast with. (And we can use as a group for school type things). I also heavily rearranged some of our school things, got more organized, and I'm getting rid of a box of books we don't need.

VOCAB
We started a vocab log and have a vocab word of the day. Our first two days worth I remember was 'resident' and 'morose'. I wrote "learning new words is fun!" on Charlotte's vocab log book and she laughed at me in that 'you're a dork mom' laugh. :)

GRAMMAR
I'm been debating about grammar with myself lately. More importantly sentence structure grammar. Not punctuation/spelling/writing skills type stuff but the uninteresting specifics of the English language. Charlotte and I are both bored to death with her fifth grade workbook grammar lessons (linking verbs, subject, predicate, Etc.). We only do a couple pages a week but still, it sucks! (LOL). I think it's a sign we should wait until she needs it more, or is interested in it. She would much be better off focusing the time and energy on writing in general (creative writing. journaling, the writing process, quotations, commas Etc.). Charlotte also needs more time with spelling. Oh I forgot, she does get some grammar lessons from a middle school computer program we have, and it's great (and fun) so I think we will just stick with that and not get so formal with the workbooks for now.

ORTHODONTIST/DENTIST
I took Charlotte to the orthodontist and she will get braces this summer. Boy are kids expensive. Babies are so cheap. :) Everyone should stop buying fancy cribs, crib bedding, expensive baby furniture, and accessories and just save for kids. Babies need next to nothing. Kids need everything. :)

I took the older four kids to the dentist in St Louis. We have a pediatric dentist who I just adore. We drive an hour and a half to see her. She is the nicest dentist I've ever met. The kids' teeth look great! We do have two cavities in the house (Charlotte and Sage) to take care of. BUT, she said she really noticed how great the kids are doing brushing and that my consistent flossing of their teeth really shows! I am so happy! Even Sage, who she says has just a lot of bacteria and acidity in his mouth which is causing his problems, is doing such a great job that it IS making a difference. This makes me really proud of them, but also of myself. I'm really proud that I've done such a good job keeping up on their flossing, brushing, and also sending then back to the bathroom to brush for longer! (This means they have been listening to me too!) On the way home Sage said, "Mom they are so nice there." And I replied with, "That's why I drive that far and pay their fees to take you guys there." It's so worth it to me.

OTHER
There are lots of little things I'm missing here that I'd like to write down for future memories. Like when the boys asked if Africa is in the United States (seriously we look at maps on our walls all the time how could they ask this?? (Brain fart I'm hoping!?) or like when Ethan told me Napoleon was a French emperor. Charlotte informed us all that according to her book full of "wacky, gross and weird things" apparently paintings of him show his hand inside his shirt because he was itchy. No way to know if that's a true fact or not, but I did find it cited (along with other theories) in many places online. I like what they tell me (and teach me). I like having homescoolers! :)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lots of curious kids, and why we cry

QUESTIONS? QUESTIONS? QUESTIONS?
Lately the kids have asked about all kinds of interesting topics.
What is supply and demand? What is capitalism? How does reselling work? Why do we buy so much from China, why is it so cheap there? What is child labor? Fair labor? Minimum wage?

This has kept Ricky and I busy answering all sorts of interesting questions! I love how worldly homeschoolers are! Not that other children in formal education can’t also be worldly, but gosh it’s amazing how much more so homeschoolers are, and from such a young age. There is so much world out there to be aware of and so much to discover. I’m so glad they explore, ask, and ponder so much and so freely!

SOCIAL STUDIES/ OR EARTH DAY IS EVERY DAY
We did a unit study on consumerism. We watched clips from http://www.youtube.com/ of the new National Geographic special The Human Footprint. We talked about what we all can do to make our impact on Earth smaller. We also had a good conversation about how we could all take better care of our stuff so that it lasts longer, and as a result we would need to buy less new stuff. Also when we take care of things our old stuff can be used by others more effectively when we are done with it.

SLANG WORDS ~ FUNNY ETHAN
The kids asked what slang was and I gave them several examples and had them come up with some of their own. Ethan then asked, "Hey mom, isn’t slang from Uncle Doyle’s time calling a girl a plate?"

I could barely keep a straight face. It was so funny!

"Ohhh you mean a dish Ethan, yes a pretty girl was called a dish."

So cute. I remember years ago telling them about a dish being a older saying (from around Uncle Doyle’s generation) for a pretty girl. And he remembered that, sort-of. Haha.

WHY DO WE CRY?
This was one of the most interesting questions and answers I’ve researched on behalf of the kids. At first I was like 'well we just cry cause our body triggers tears to fall.' Then I said, you know what kids, we’ll go look that up. (I didn’t really want to) BUT I soon found that I never knew how interesting tears were until reading this http://www.gibbsmagazine.com/CryinLaughing.htm

First of all there are three types of tears.
Second, and totally interesting is this:

"Scientists have discovered that the emotional tears contain higher levels of manganese and the hormone prolactin"

I know about Prolactin of course, it is the hormone that is primarily associated with lactation. While it is actually secreted by the pituitary gland in both men and women, it is considered a female hormone because of it's connection with breastfeeding. Prolactin is what stimulates the production of milk (along with oxytocin which lets down the milk). It’s these feel good hormones that relaxes the mother, promotes bonding, and promotes maternal behavior. Prolaction has also been associated with not only feelings of well being but also as having a tranquilizing effect on nursing mothers and babies. So, this could also explain why we feel better after crying!

So finding out prolactin is secreted as a part of our emotional tears is very cool to learn for me!
This also explains why women tend to cry more than men. Women produce more prolaction.

From a different article online:

"...women have serum prolactin levels much higher than men. Prolactin is a hormone connected with the production of tears as well as breast milk. "Hormones may help regulate tear production and have something to do with crying frequency."
Interestingly, studies show that there is no difference in crying patterns between boys and girls up to the age of puberty. "Then, between the ages of 12 and 18," says Dr. Frey, "women develop 60 percent higher levels of prolactin than men, and they start crying nearly four times more often." "

Just fascinating!
BRAINS!
In addition, Sage knew where the pituitary gland was located when I mentioned it. Brainpop.com how do you do so much magic on my kids and teach them so much?!! :)
Also, This site is cool with a diagram of the brain, where we are learning about the parts of the brain.
JOURNAL
Charlotte wanted journal prompts and I found lots she loves here Hopefully I will get her in the habit of writing in her blog now. Today she wrote a draft on paper, but didn't finalize it or put it in her blog yet.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

April 15, 2008- April 23, 2008

FREE PLAY/OUTSIDE TIME
Lots of days have been going by quickly and since the weather is turning nice a lot of time has been spent in free play outdoors. The kids have been playing a lot with sand, water, and on the trampoline. We also have spent a lot of time at the park because Charlotte has had lots of soccer practice.

NO VIDEO GAMES/TV
I've been much better at limiting TV and video games lately. We generally have a no TV rule until 3pm but that had slipped over time. So unless it pertains to our homeschool lessons in someway TV is off. Sometimes video games are used as an afternoon incentive to get work done quick, clean up, and then leave mom alone to make/cook some lunch :) But for the most part finally the TV is off again.

READING
Ethan has started reading Magic Tree House books on his own. Sage is doing really well with his flashcards and finally seems to be less frustrated with reading. I found a page I think could help Sage immensely links for k-12 teachers more specifically this page here . I am excited to help him with the pages today and see how it goes. Charlotte is reading the Chronicles of Narnia. She has finished the first book and is now reading the second. It's good to see her into a series again.

BRAIN POP
Lately they want http://www.brainpop.com/ morning noon and night. And I'm cool with that.

JOURNALING
I've got Ethan writing in his paper journal again and I'm trying to get Sage to get back into the habit. I'm also hoping Charlotte will start writing in her online blog again this week. She likes journaling, I just have to remind her to. So I need to make it more of a priority and routine for her.

EARTH DAY
Yesterday we went to the Earth Day festivities at the university. We got to see good friends and the kids and I came home with sprouting flowers, planting seeds, a bird house to assemble, bird seed, pine cone bird feeders, Charlotte got her face painted, and we have assortments of handouts and what-not.

It was a long day. We had Earth Day at 11am, Sports program at 1:30pm, and soccer practice from 5-7pm. I was pretty tired when we got home and everyone crashed hard after seeing dad for a little while.

TODAY
Humm what to do today. It will be 82! I think we should paint outside after we do some reading and journaling.

Monday, April 14, 2008

chicks hatching, free play

The chicks started hatching a couple days ahead of schedule. Layla and Penelope are beyond themselves with excitement. Penelope (18mos) points, squeals, bounces, and just loves these eggs that just popped open with something alive! The older kids are of course having fun too. We also just had one of our cats give birth. She had 5 kitties (want one?). Penelope squealed about those too. Spring is in the air!


The kids played from sun up until sundown yesterday. I kept waiting for a good time to pull them away for worksheets (or lunch) but they never let up with their fun and games. They actually choose to skip lunch which is just a shocker! They had so much fun and there wasn't one bicker or fight. It was a welcome surprise. Lately they have been playing a lot, but bickering incessantly. To top it off Penelope took a 3 hour nap by herself. So it was a good day!


The other day the older 3 played for 3 hours straight with balloons on the trampoline. Before that they had made kites from balloons and shared them with their younger sisters. I so long for those endless days of childhood when such simple activities provide literally hours of imaginative play. What happens to our adult brains that we forget. I love having kids because it keeps me young at heart. It's like reliving childhood, but through the eyes of an adult so it can be appreciated.

Today is sports program, and then soccer practice. I better get moving or I'm never going to get out of here.





Saturday, April 12, 2008

April 7-12 2008

WEATHER/SCIENCE:
Since a conversation about the weather and temperature came up we made a quick make shift chart for our wall that gave an idea of what different temperatures are like. For example in 20-30 degree weather we pasted a picture of a snowman and the word freezing cold. At the 40 degree weather mark we pasted a coat and the words cold. For 50-60 degree weather we pasted the words coat or jacket needed and the word cool. 70 degrees got a picture of a park and a guy riding a bike, 80 and 90 degrees got a guy swimming, sunglasses, and shorts. This took all of 10 minutes to discuss, make a wall chart out of our last strip of butcher paper and put it together. Online we also went to a few weather related websites. They also have asked about other various things I can’t think of right now, one such thing was about sonic booms, which we haven’t discussed yet as we got sidetracked.

READING: Ethan finished his 100th lesson at http://www.clicknkids.com/ YAY ETHAN! It really seemed to teach him a lot, and of course he has become a reader since starting the program. Sage still doesn't want to do the click n kids lessons. So we are still limping our way through phonics workbooks. Sage did really well with his reading flash cards this morning. He separated words he knows and words he needs help with.

SOCIAL STUDIES: Some 'disturbing' topics came up for some reason. Their thoughts/ questions are in parentheses: Cannibalism (does it really exist?), the death penalty (it’s legal in the US ?!), serial killers (they kill cereal?)

SATURDAY SOCCER: Charlotte had soccer today (2 games in fact) and it was 35 degrees with sleet. The other kids stayed home with Ricky and I braved the cold with my lounge chair, feather down coat, and a sleeping bag. I thought I was going to outsmart the cold, BUT I still froze my butt off. All my fingers actually went numb and they didn’t feel cold after that, just tingly and numb. The things we do for our kids!

IN THE KITCHEN: This week we made homemade cracker jacks and 3 glass pans of banana cake. SOOO goood! I am trying to make at least two things a week with some (or all) of the kids. Layla is a little baker. She loves baking.

LAYLA: When I fix something for Layla she exclaims in a really over exuberant voice, "Thanks SUPER MOM!!
I just love when she says that. :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Science, Art, and the Bead Incident

THE BEAD STUCK IN THE EAR
Last week was interrupted with a bead that got stuck in Ethan's ear. Sage "accidentally" dropped it in his ear (they had been playing and throwing the beads). It did not hurt or bother Ethan, and the bead was clearly visible. We tried for 6 hours to retrieve it the first night before giving up. The next morning I called three hospitals and two doctors offices trying to make the right decision about where to take him. All but one place told me to take him to the ER. I wasn't convinced that the emergency room was appropriate action. It wasn't an emergency first of all, second who wants to go sit in the ER, third I don't want just any on call doctor digging in my kids ear (I had done enough digging already haha)! The children's hospital in St Louis suggested I contact a ear, nose, and throat specialist. Ah, brilliant! So we made him and appointment ASAP which actually coincided with my 30th birthday (at 8am in the morning no less)! What are the chances? I told Ethan I'd surely always remember what I did on my 30th birthday now! The specialist was nicer than we could have ever hoped for. We were in the exam room for all of about 7 minutes. She had the lighting, special tools, and skills that we lacked. She painlessly removed the bead with a smile and we were on our way. What we couldn't achieve in 2 days, she did in no time at all. Thank you specialists!

SCIENCE WITH DAD
Tonight at the dinner table the kids brought up and discussed the following; oxygen, hydrogen, iron, copper, zinc, the periodic table of elements, flammable elements, the basics of space travel, space craft construction and the use of asbestos. They learn a lot of things from http://www.brainpop.com/ and then discuss them with us and we fill in the blanks. I just love when they bring up so much science and social studies out of the blue, and they do it all the time.

ART
The kids have been playing with modeling clay and sculpey a lot. Charlotte made a fairy from sculpey and we baked it. Everyday the kids have been getting clay out. Even Penelope gets in on the fun.

SHOWS
On my birthday (after bead extraction took place) we saw a fun show of visual comedy which included some magic, juggling, imagination, and hilarity. Watching the kids laughing was as much fun as the show. Then we ate a late lunch and picked up a luscious ice cream cake.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The First Post: Science, Math, Life

We have two dozen chicken eggs in our incubator. I hadn't planned on us hatching again this year but we had a horrible dog attack on our chickens two weeks ago and we need to replenish our chicken/ egg supply. It was a real disappointment because these chickens were the eggs we hatched last spring, and they had just been laying really, really well for the past few months. They were great big hens. Now we start over. We used a flashlight to see the chicken embryos and we can see them really well! Renewing life is exciting. Spring is in the air for sure. Between a cat ready to drop kittens at any moment, baby chicks due in 13 days, and my swelling belly, everyone in our house is getting excited! We will be doing butterflies this Spring too. I haven't decided when we should send our live caterpillar certificate in though. I think we should wait until the chicks are hatched.

I started yet another new approach at homeschool organization (it's never ending and ever changing). I bought the kids all their own set of 5 colored folders, one for each day of the week. (Sage-blue, Ethan-green, Charlotte-purple, Layla-pink) I am trying to keep all their routine work and worksheets (math, spelling, reading, whatever) for the week updated in each of them. That way they can get their work on their own and they can do it throughout the day as time permits. Most days we have a 'plan' but we wing it for the most part. I am constantly pulling worksheets for one kid while others are waiting their turn, so this helps with that.

Yesterday we had a group art lesson and did a worksheet on a Monet painting. The kids' observations and ideas about the piece were great! We also did worksheet stuff but nothing overly exciting. The kids experimented on their own outside with water, some big plastic jugs, and knitting yarn. The boys came in and told me they were seeing how long it took water to soak up into a strand of yarn. GREAT! Science. Half the time they school themselves, honest to goodness!

This is the type of stuff I want to log about here because so much discovery and learning goes on when my back is turned. Today we have a "chemistry" set full of activities we are going to do.

We just started a math program called MathUSee and I love it. We all love it. I hate math, HATE it (and fear it). And I hide that fact from the kids. Well this program is awesome. So slow paced and perfect. Charlotte (11) and I are both doing the boys' lessons to relearn concepts and so that we can get the programs strategy for the higher maths.