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Laura
Follower of Christ. Wife to Adam. Mama to Joshua (9), Abigail (8), Esther (7), Hannah (6), Noah (5), Joseph (3), Peter (2), James (9 months), and Blessing #9 due late August. Soli Deo Gloria!
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Adam and Laura

Adam and Laura

Joshua Addison

Joshua Addison

Abigail Lauren

Abigail Lauren

Esther Rebecca

Esther Rebecca

Hannah Ralene

Hannah Ralene

Noah Evans

Noah Evans

Joseph Patrick

Joseph Patrick

Peter Edwin

Peter Edwin

James Emil Robert

James Emil Robert

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Our 2014-2015 School Year



We started school three weeks ago and all is running smoothly so far.  I've made a few minor changes to the schedule, but I'm really happy to report that we are getting things done in a much more timely manner than we were last year.  That is due in large part to the fact that our oldest three children are able to do a lot of their work independently, which is wonderful!  I love reading other homeschool mothers' curriculum and scheduling plans, so I thought I'd share mine here.

I'm not too concerned about grade levels as we just try to keep things moving and keep learning all the time, but basically Joshua and Abigail are doing 5th grade work, Esther 4th, Hannah starting with some review and then doing 3rd soon, Noah 1st, Joseph preschool, and Peter and James trying their best to make messes. :)

A very strict schedule worked great for us for the last two years, but I felt like we would probably need something different this year.  Peter and James are a bit more rambunctious and in need of more direct supervision than Joseph was at their ages.  I have to be more proactive in keeping them constructively occupied, otherwise we'd end up with all manner of messes and disasters!  At two and one they are not quite to the point of being able to sit and work on something for 30 minutes at a time without a good bit of attention from me.  I've re-vamped our preschool activity list, which I'll share here as well.

Math
We love Saxon Math!  Joshua and Abigail are doing Saxon 76, Esther is doing 65, and after doing some review Hannah started 54 today.  After several years of using Saxon for 1st and 2nd grade I got frustrated with it.  It took so much time from me and I felt like a lot of the time was not used as productively as it could have been.  Busy work.  Anyhow, I decided to buy Horizons Math for Hannah (Level 3) and Noah (Level 1) to work through over the summer and it turns out that we all really like it!  I plan to stick with Horizons through the 2nd grade level and then switch to Saxon when they hit 3rd grade. I have Saxon Teacher for 3rd and 5th grades, which is nice.  I keep on top of what they are doing each day and I'm usually the one that teaches the lesson so I can be sure they understand what is going on, but having the Saxon Teacher CDs is great for those times when one child is ready to start math but I'm tied up with someone else and unable to stop and teach the lesson.  It's a little pricey, but I highly recommend it if you are trying to teach several children/grades at once.

History
We are using the Veritas Press self-paced online history again...Explorers to 1815 this year.  Adam does this with the children in the evenings, which is really helpful and saves me time during the day. We all enjoy it!  I love seeing how much the younger children pick up.  Just the timeline song alone is great for them to have in their heads and is something that they will remember and be able to build on as they get older.  Noah and Joseph were pretending to be Prince Henry the Navigator and Magellan circumnavigating the earth outside last week. :) 

Writing
Joshua, Abigail, and Esther are doing IEW.  I think this is a great program and I tried teaching it myself last year, but I felt a bit lost and just didn't feel that I was doing things quite right.  This year I bought the Student Writing Intensive Level A DVDs, which is Mr. Pudewa actually teaching the classes.  It's been so helpful for me so far and I think it will boost my confidence to where I can teach it myself next year.  Or maybe I'll buy the Level B DVDs to make my life a little easier. :)



Spelling and Grammar
We use SWR for spelling and grammar through 2nd grade.  I feel like this gives them a really good foundation and understanding and gets them reading well.  Starting in 3rd grade we use Phonetic Zoo and Easy Grammar.  I really like the Phonetic Zoo because they can do it completely independently with just checking on my part and because it's been very effective at teaching them to spell well so far.  Bad spelling really gets on my nerves, so I'm very happy with this program.  My mom used Easy Grammar with me and my brothers and I like it because it's very straightforward and easy to understand and use.  The children memorize a list of prepositions, which eliminates a lot of frustration when trying to identify parts of speech later.  This is also something that they can do mostly independently with minimal instruction from me.  We are not currently doing a formal literature program.  All of our reading children have their nose in a book every time they get a chance, so I'm just trying to keep them supplied with good reading material.  Honey For A Child's Heart has been helpful in that regard.




Science
I bought the Bob Jones 5th grade science book for Joshua and Abigail this year.  They are enjoying it, but they honestly haven't learned much of anything new yet.  Adam is really good about explaining things to them in general conversation and our membership to a local science museum last year combined with some DVDs that we own exposes them to plenty of science.  I don't feel the need to have a formal science curriculum for 4th grade and under.  More busy work. :)

Typing
We use Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, which the oldest four children can do on their own on the computer.  They love doing it and the little ones really enjoy watching.  Hannah is especially excited about being able to start typing this year.

Piano
I've been so sporadic with piano over the past few years.  I want to do it, but it just falls through the cracks and seems to be the first thing to go when our days get busy and school takes up so much time.  I've created a space in our schedule for it this year, but I don't plan to start until after the baby arrives.

Speaking of schedules, I've gone from having a strictly laid out schedule with time slots to having more of a checklist of things that we need to get accomplished each day.  The children enjoy being able to check things off and it seems to motivate them to work more quickly.  Adam gets them up before 7:00 to read the Bible with him.  After that they have a morning routine that they follow and have to accomplish in a certain order.  I made these Pinterest inspired flip charts for them to help keep them on track.







After breakfast everyone has an assigned meal chore.  Currently everyone clears their own dishes, Joshua wipes the table, Abigail sweeps the floor, Esther sprays and wipes the glass tabletop, Hannah sweeps the kitchen, and Noah and Joseph just do whatever little jobs I decide to give them.  After meal chores are done they start on folder work.  I bought one of these on Amazon and Joshua down to Joseph each have a file folder that I load the night before with some sort of independent school work that they can accomplish while I clean up the kitchen, start laundry, etc.  I'm loving this system!  It eliminates goofing and mess making and the children like having something specific and productive to get done.  One day I decided to let Joseph pick a page out of a coloring book instead of picking out something for him and having it in his folder.  He was less than thrilled. :)




After folder work is done we get cracking on the rest of our work so that we can get as much done as possible before lunch.  I try to keep things simple.  Anyone who works diligently and doesn't daydream or get up and do other things is free to take short breaks with my permission.

Joseph is four and still does a lot of playing while the older children are doing school, but he desperately wants to be included at the table and have some sort of work like his big siblings as well. I have the Horizons Preschool books and Horizons Kindergarten Math and I sit down with him and do those every day, which he loves!  I also have a list of preschool activities to keep the little boys constructively occupied, but I will make that the topic of another post.



I think that pretty much wraps up our plan for this year.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity and the freedom to teach our children at home.  I'm thankful for a husband who works incredibly hard to provide so well for us so that I can stay at home, and I'm thankful for eager and teachable children who love being homeschooled!






Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Projects

We've been working on a few projects lately.  I've had these skirts pinned on Pinterest for months and finally decided to give them a try.  They're really cute and very easy to make and I hope they fit the baby.  They're pretty tiny!








Abigail is excited about this one because it is made from a skirt that belonged to her.  She accidentally caught it on something and ripped a big hole in it.  I was just going to throw it away, but she suggested that we make something for the baby out of it.  After I made this skirt we found the exact same skirt in her size at a consignment store!  She and the baby will match now and she is thrilled!





Bowties for the boys were another Pinterest find.  Most of these were made from old ties that Adam didn't need anymore, but I also picked up a couple extras at Goodwill.  They don't take long at all to make and I love the way they look!  I didn't make the one that James is wearing.  We got that for Joshua (Children's Place) when he was little and have gotten some good mileage out of it.



Silliness. :)




It's been a long while since I had a crochet project.  I just haven't felt like it.  I got the urge last week though, and started on a blanket for the baby.  We'll see if I get it done before Christmas. :)  I let the girls pick out the color.  I was thinking something other than pink, but all three of them wanted pink, so that's what it will be!


A few weeks ago I gave each of the girls an embroidery project, a needle, and an embroidery hoop.  I showed them a couple
of very basic stitches and just let them have at it.  They all loved it!  Esther and Hannah were gone one day last week (more on that in another blog post), so Abigail and I made her project into a pillow.  It was also her first, real, planned out sewing project.  She got a little frustrated with her sewing not being perfectly straight, but she did a good job and is happy with her finished product.  




Thursday, August 21, 2014

39 Weeks


I'm 39 weeks today!  Yes, I'm tired.  Not too tired to stop nesting though. :)  I got the kitchen pantry and hall pantry and most of the kitchen cabinets cleaned out and organized today.  Next up is packing my hospital bag...as soon as I'm done blogging, putting my feet up, and drinking yet another big cup of water.  I've gained 24 pounds, still don't have any swelling, and my veins aren't giving me any problems at all!  I just realized last week that I haven't had my typical sinus infection this time around.  With all eight of my other pregnancies I got a horrible sinus infection towards the end and had to take antibiotics to get rid of it.  Of course I still have a week or so left, but I think all of the water I've been drinking have helped me to avoid that this time.  I have been having some trouble with pregnancy-induced restless leg syndrome.  Thankfully I haven't been awake for hours in the middle of the night in awhile, but I do have a hard time going to sleep.  I discovered that drinking any caffeine after noonish makes it much worse.  When I don't sleep well it's hard to make it through the afternoon without some caffeine or a nap, but both of those things mean that I don't sleep well again, so I've been trying to avoid them.  

My doctor likes to do an ultrasound at 40 weeks to check fluid levels, etc.  I ended up having one this week instead though.  It was either come two days next week (he's out of the office on the day that they typically do ultrasounds), which means getting a babysitter twice, or have one while I was already there this past Monday because the lady that does the scans was there as well.  I decided to go ahead and have it done.  They estimated the baby's weight to be 8lb 11oz, which I don't put a whole lot of stock in since they can't tell.  I won't be surprised if the baby is big because I tend to have big babies, but I'm not freaked out over the fact that they think she's already that large.  (At the end of my pregnancy with Hannah they told me that she was too large to even get an estimate on her weight with the ultrasound and that I should be induced right away.  She was 8lb 8oz.  Ha!)  This time around baby's head and abdominal measurements were 40-41 weeks, which does concern me a little bit.  I'm not thrilled about being induced, but I also don't want to just sit around for days on end like I did with James just waiting for him to come on his own.  He just got bigger and bigger and I was induced anyway at 10 days past due.  So we'll see.  Hopefully she'll just come on her own soon, but I'm not holding my breath! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Laundry Detergent



Way back in 2007 I started making my own laundry soap.  I liked it for a little while, but I quickly got tired of grating the soap and wasn't thrilled about the fact that my laundry did not smell nice.  It didn't smell bad, it just had no scent at all and I really like a fresh and clean laundry smell.  I also don't care much for the powdered soap.  Anyhow, it didn't take me long to start buying liquid detergent again.  A few months ago I started searching for a laundry soap recipe that would work for me.  I know it's a lot cheaper to make your own, and the most inexpensive detergent I could find that I liked was around $.20 per load.  While the little packs of detergent that you just toss into the washer are very convenient, I thought I could save some money by making my own, especially considering the fact that we do a lot of laundry around here!




After some Pinterest searching and asking for recipes on Facebook, I found this one that I love and have been using for about two months now!  It is so easy to make and the girls will be thrilled to learn how to do it next time.




3 Tbsp Borax
3 Tbsp Washing Soda
2 Tbsp Dawn Dish Soap

Pour ingredients into a gallon jug (using a funnel makes it much easier).  Add 4 cups very hot water (I just use hot water from the tap...no need to boil it) and swirl around until the powders are dissolved.  Fill the rest of the way with cold water and gently turn upside down a few times to mix.  





That's it!  I made a 2-gallon batch yesterday that should last us well past the baby's birth.  I will say that I also add some Purex crystals to my laundry.  I started by sprinkling a small amount (maybe a tablespoon) straight into the washer before starting it, but yesterday I added a capful to each gallon as I made the detergent.  I haven't decided yet which method I like better, but the crystals definitely make the laundry smell so good!  I have not done any calculations myself, although one of the commenters on the blog post with the original recipe figured out that it costs $.17 per gallon.  I've been getting around 25 loads out of a gallon, which works out to be less than an penny per load.  Not too bad! :)  Of course adding the Purex crystals makes it a little more expensive, but not much.  That might actually bump it up to a penny per load!




The same blog also has a recipe for fabric softener that I tried.  It goes in a spray bottle and you just squirt some on a dry rag and throw it into the dryer...basically a homemade dryer sheet.  I thought I'd share that link as well in case anyone is looking for something similar.  I can't tell a difference in the finished product, so I quit using it.  The detergent leaves the clothes soft, smelling great, and much more wrinkle-free than when I was using store-bought detergent, so I'm a happy Mama. :) 






Monday, August 11, 2014

Recipe

Several weeks ago we went over to some friends' house for swimming and lunch.  She made a wonderful salad that I love!  It's so simple, and even though I have the recipe memorized now I wanted to put it on the blog in case I forget it later.  I have it for lunch several times a week.  Adam discovered that it tastes even better topped with goat cheese!  It's a very versatile recipe and you could really use whatever veggies sound good to you.  I've kept it simple up to this point.  I will say that I've never been a huge fan of avocados.  I just don't care for their taste or texture, but they are great in this salad!


- 1 medium bunch of lettuce, chopped (I've used Romaine and Green Leaf)
- 1 avocado, divided
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp sweetener, or to taste (I've had it with Splenda and honey.  I prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners, especially when I'm pregnant, so I like to go with the honey)

Combine the lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber in a bowl.  Cut the avocado in half.  Dice one half and add to the vegetables.  Mash the other half and mix with the lemon juice, garlic, and sweetener.  Combine the vegetables with the dressing and enjoy!  


Today's lunch...a plate full of the yummy salad topped with goat cheese, a fresh Georgia peach on the side, and a big glass of ice water!  

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Hannah is 7!!

Hannah turned 7 on August 1!  She is our our quiet, non-dramatic, sensitive, emotional girl. :)  She loves everything girly and crafty and she loves babies!  She has just recently taken off with reading and she enjoys reading aloud to her younger brothers.  

Snuggling with Joshua at just a few weeks old




She knew they were supposed to be eaten somehow!




Hannah with her whale spout hair. :)





Having fun at a farm in Lancaster, PA when she was 4. 



Two years old 



Hannah loves flowers!



On a mission (3 years old)





4 years old




Little birthday girl




With Papa on her 7th birthday



Hannah chose spaghetti and meatballs, broccoli, and French bread for her birthday dinner (Mama's girl!).


And she chose chocolate cake and pistachio almond ice cream (Papa's girl!) for her dessert. :)

Friday, August 01, 2014

36 Weeks



I hit 36 weeks yesterday.  I skipped my doctor's appointment on Monday because some of the children were sick, but I didn't mind.  I'm not a big fan of the weekly appointments.  I'm fine, the baby is fine, and it's a hassle to go every week!  I'm still drinking tons of water (between 120 and 150 ounces a day) and my veins are still doing great!  My most recent cravings have been raspberries and sugar snap peas.  All of the ice water has curbed my ice cream craving, which in turn has kept my weight gain down a bit.  I'm at 21 pounds now.  I'm hoping that less ice cream will also mean a smaller baby. :)  James was 9lb 4oz and that is plenty big enough!  I fully expect to go past my due date like I usually do.  All three of the girls were between 6 and 8 days late (one was induced).  I'll honestly be pretty surprised if this little one comes early.  I don't remember ever getting tired of being pregnant, but I do hit a point where I feel emotionally and mentally ready to have the baby.  Right now I'm still at the point where I'm wanting someone to remind me why I signed up to go through labor and delivery again. :)  That will pass and I'll be ready to go soon enough! 




Baby Girl clothes have been washed, folded, and put away!  Kid to Kid has been having Buy 2 Get 1 Free sales on their clearance things, so I've picked up some great deals for her there.  OxyClean has been my friend too.  After 7 years in storage the clothes that I had saved from the other girls were in rough shape.  It's amazing how you can put something away clean but when you pull it out of the bins  years later it has stains on it.  Thankfully OxyClean works great and I only had to throw a few things away.




Newborn diapers have been delivered to our door.  I almost opened them up just to sniff them.  I love the way Pampers Swaddlers smell. :)