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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, September 26, 2012

Chickens!

We got 6 chickens on Saturday!  One is a Buff Orpington rooster and the others are Golden Comet hens.  We decided not to get chicks this time so that we don't have to wait 5 to 6 months for eggs.  Our rooster is not full grown yet, and he's the most personable bird in the bunch.  I thought that they would all be more wary of us than they are.  They're not thrilled about being picked up, but once we get them they settle down and seem to enjoy themselves.  Although, honestly, I have no desire to stand around holding a chicken.  I much prefer to hold children. :)


All of the hens were laying before we got them, but they got a little spooked by getting moved here and have not started laying for us yet.  We are obviously novice chicken folks, and we don't know a ton about them yet, but they are fun so far!  Chickens are the ideal pet, as far as I am concerned.  They don't live inside, they don't need to be house trained (or any other kind of trained), and they are actually productive!  Oh, and they don't slobber on you. :)  Can you tell I'm not a huge fan of house pets?  We are looking forward to gathering (and eating) lots of eggs!











At least he's not pointing at the rooster. :)





Silliness





Sunshine the rooster.  Abigail named him, but when Noah found out he was disappointed because he wanted to name him Henry.  So one of the hens is named HENry. :) 







Friday, September 21, 2012

3 in 30



We did fairly well with our goals this week.  Here are mine: 

1. Crochet 4 dishcloths. I actually got three done this week!  For some reason it seems like I had more down time during school while the children were working on math problems or worksheets.  Those are things that I need to be accessible for, but I am not actively teaching.  I'm only available to answer questions if they need me, so I have some time to get something else done.  I would like to start a new smocking project soon to work on during this time, but for now it is dishcloths.  I think I've just about got as many as I need!  Here are the ones that I completed this week. 


2. Exercise.  I am really starting to feel a lot better and I'm looking forward to starting this back up in October.  

3. List some things on Amazon or eBay.  I got two new things listed on Amazon this week.  


Here are my childrens' goals: 

Joshua
Read The Robbers' Cave.  Joshua is moving along just fine with this.  He likes the book, which is helpful!  He's on track to finish before the end of the month.

Abigail
Learn how to crochet a dishcloth using a pattern.  Abigail only has one round left to do on her dishcloth.  I'm really happy with how well she is doing.  When she started, some of her double crochets were too tight and some were too loose, but she's really got the hang of it now.  

Esther
Write and mail letters to 4 different people.  Esther chose to write a letter to the lady that we're renting this house from.  She is really good with the kids, and they all love it when she comes to visit!  I have to address the letter and get a stamp on it yet, so it will either go out today or tomorrow.  

This post is linked up here.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Camping

Adam and the oldest 5 children went camping out back last Friday night.  We all roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and sat around the campfire for a while, then Peter and Joseph and I headed back inside to enjoy our nice, soft beds. :)  Joseph was bound and determined to sleep in the tent, but Adam and I were pretty sure that wouldn't work out so well.  Thankfully, when it got to be about 8:30, all Joseph wanted was his blanket and his bed.  It's a good thing too, because the tent was packed out! 











The next morning they tackled the garden plot.  Now it is all spaded and ready for some fall seeds!


 Before



After

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Scheduling


A couple months ago and before we started school I decided to read Managers of Their Homes.  I have known about the Maxwell's books for a long time, but I had never read one.  I guess I just figured it couldn't be that hard to make a schedule.  Honestly, it really isn't that difficult, but this book was extremely helpful to me.  The Maxwell's have a wealth of experience and wisdom from raising and homeschooling their eight children.  The book talks about the importance of budgeting our time...just like we budget our finances.  I won't go into a lot of detail, but I highly recommend it.  It is definitely worth the money and is so helpful in many ways.




My time is currently scheduled out in 30-minute increments starting at 5:30 in the morning and ending at 10:00 at night.  I will be honest and say that I have only kept the whole schedule a couple of times.  When the first trimester nausea and fatigue hit, I made it my goal to stick to the morning and midday schedule, but to be flexible in the afternoon and evening.  Some things did not get done, but I did get in some naps and I was able to put my feet up when I felt like I needed to.  I plan to start back with the afternoon and evening routines at the beginning of October.

I certainly don't mind sharing our schedule with anyone who would find it helpful or interesting, but I don't particularly want to post it on here so that anyone and everyone can see what I am doing at any given moment in the day.  If you are interested, just leave a comment on this post and I will email it to you.  There is also a very helpful post here about another large homeschooling family who budgets their time in the same manner. They have a picture of their schedule that you can click on to look at how they do things.




One of my biggest hesitations with having such a structured schedule was wondering if I would be okay with it not working out every once in a while.  I tend to err on the side of being a slave to what I have planned.  I don't like for my plans to be messed up.  After working with this schedule for well over a month now, I have to say that it is actually easier for me to be flexible than it was when my time was not budgeted out so specifically.  Part of the reason for this is that I know that I have a certain time set aside every day (or week, depending on what we're talking about) for each task.  If we skip Hannah and Esther's math one day so that we have an hour to go to the library, it's not a big deal!  We will pick up where we left off the next day, and they each have 30 minutes of one-on-one math time with me every day.  Today we ignored our schedule altogether and drove up into the mountains to get apples.  The schedule will still be there tomorrow and we will pick up where we left off yesterday.  That is very freeing to me.

I really like having a set amount of time to complete certain things.  One of my frustrations with school in the past has been feeling like I HAD to finish a whole math lesson every day or get a whole spelling lesson dictated and quizzed each day.  Well, I don't.  I have a certain amount of time allotted for those things and we just work hard and get done as much as we can in that time frame.  I have found that we have gotten a lot more accomplished this way than we have in previous years when I would get stuck on getting a whole lesson completed.  That would frequently turn into hours of time and frustration for everyone involved, not to mention no time left over for other things.  Slow and steady progress has proven to work extremely well for us this year.  Sometimes it is hard to just stop and put things away when our time is up, but I have seen the huge benefit that comes from sticking to our allotted time and just picking up where we left off the next day.



Another huge plus to having our time strictly budgeted is the marked reduction in the amount of chaos that can quickly take over.  Everyone has a specific task at any given moment.  No, it's not as easy as it sounds, but it is easier than I thought it would be.  I have scheduled out each of the children's time in 30-minute increments as well...with the exception of Peter.  He just goes with the flow. :)  The Maxwell's did schedule their infants' time, but I have found that it works better for us to just incorporate the baby into whatever we are doing.  Their nap and feeding schedules fluctuate so frequently that I would be having to adapt the written schedule every month or so anyway.  That may change for us over time depending on the baby.  We will see.




Just to give you an idea of how things run, I will quickly list what we are all doing at several different points in the day.  During one of our morning time slots Joshua and Abigail are doing grammar (independently unless they have questions), Esther is working on phonogram flashcards and reading with Hannah (this benefits both of them and they both love it!), I am doing some sort of a preschool activity with Noah and Joseph, and Peter is playing with toys on the floor beside my desk.  At another point Joshua has playtime with Noah and Joseph (usually Legos), Abigail is doing typing, Esther is doing reading/spelling with me, Hannah has play alone time in her room, and Peter is napping.  During one of our afternoon time slots Joshua is doing history on the computer, Abigail is completing an assigned cleaning chore, Esther is practicing the piano, Hannah is completing a cleaning chore, Noah and Joseph are napping, and Peter is either with me while I clean or playing on the floor.

The children have responded amazingly well to the schedule.  They love having something that they can look at to see what they need to be doing!  Even the little ones, who aren't into lists and checking things off, really enjoy having a specific order of activities that remains the same every day.  They quickly learn what comes next and they have yet to balk at anything.  Well, okay, sometimes Noah objects to naptime. :)




I really couldn't be happier with this setup for our family.  We are getting so much more accomplished than we have in the past.  I have had to learn to get over some things.  I am a perfectionist and I like to have everything clean and organized and running smoothly at all times.  Of course that isn't possible, but I used to wear myself out trying to make it happen anyway.  Now I can actually walk past baskets of clean laundry that need to be put away and it doesn't bother me.  I can see dirt and dust on the floor and not have to drop what I'm doing to clean it up (or ask someone else to drop what they are doing to clean it up).  Everything has an assigned time in which it will be taken care of.  As I mentioned before, I have not been fully implementing our afternoon and evening schedules, so it hasn't all gotten done over the past couple of months.  But I've been too busy resting to care. :)  I'm starting to get my energy (and appetite!) back and I'm looking forward to putting the whole routine into practice in October!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Abigail's Run-in With the Law



When my Mom passed away back in May, my Dad gave her cell phone to Abigail.  Of course the service had been canceled, so she couldn't make calls, but she did get the charger.  She keeps it charged and uses it every morning as her alarm clock so that she can wake up early and walk with her Papa.  She also likes to play with the ringtones, look at the pictures (there is even one of my mother on there), and take new pictures.

Yesterday morning as we were getting ready for church, I thought I heard someone knocking on the door.  I was upstairs combing Hannah's hair, and Adam was busy elsewhere and didn't hear it.  I couldn't think of anyone who could possibly be knocking on the door, so I decided that it was one of the children banging on something.  A few minutes later Abigail runs upstairs to tell me that there is a policeman at the door.  As I was coming down the stairs he really started beating on the door.  I couldn't think of what on earth he could possibly want!  When I opened the door he asked if one of the children had a cell phone that they were using as a toy.  "Um...yes."

Were you aware of the fact that you can call 911 from an out-of-service cell phone?  We had no idea, but I'm here to tell you that it is true!  Abigail called 911 no fewer than EIGHT times yesterday morning.  A little earlier, Esther had come to me all giggly and told me that Abigail dialed 911 and that a lady was talking on the other end, but I thought that it was just one of the silly stories that they make up sometimes.  I guess I was wrong!  So now we know.  :)

Friday, September 14, 2012

3 in 30



We did pretty well on our goals this week.  My camera batteries are dead at the moment, so I'm afraid I don't have any pictures. Here are my goals:

1. Crochet 4 dishcloths. I got a new one done this week.  I used a different variegated yarn than I have before, and I really don't like it very much.  It will definitely serve it's purpose though, and it's dark, so it won't show stains.  


2. Exercise.  Like I mentioned last week, I'm putting this one off.  I plan to start walking in the mornings again when October gets here, assuming that I'm feeling well.

3. List some things on Amazon or eBay.  I did get a few books listed on Amazon this week. We'll see what happens with that.  I'm afraid to list too many at once because I don't want to end up having to run to the post office every other day.  I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: the post office seriously needs a drive through!

And here are my childrens' goals: 

Joshua
Read The Robbers' Cave.  Joshua likes this book a lot and is about 1/3 of the way through it.  He's going to need to step up the pace a little bit though, since we are nearly halfway through September!

Abigail
Learn how to crochet a dishcloth using a pattern.  Abigail got a little carried away with her dishcloth and forgot to come and ask for help joining the rounds, so I ended up having to take out several rounds.  But she still got a good bit accomplished and she is getting really good a double crochets!

Esther
Write and mail letters to 4 different people.  Esther chose her friend, Sarah Beth (Nikki's daughter), as the recipient of her letter this week.  She didn't quite get it done in time to put in the mail today, but it should go out tomorrow.  She has a few misspellings that still need to be corrected.  I enjoy reading the funny misspellings.  I don't laugh in front of the children, but sometimes I laugh later. :)  For example, Esther started out her letter with "Dear Serebesth". :)  Hey, at least it sounds about right!  

This post is linked up here

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

8 Months



Peter turned 8 months back on the 2nd.  I took him back to the doctor for a weight check since he had only gained 3 ounces over the previous 2 1/2 months.  And he was weighed right after drinking an 8 ounce bottle, so in reality he probably lost some weight.  I've mentioned before that he is our first baby to outright refuse a bottle, but he finally gave in and started taking one at about 6 1/2 months.  I explained everything to the doctor, and we were both confident that Peter would start gaining well.  He advised me to cut out most of his solids (which I had already done) and really pump the formula into him.  Green beans are great, but they don't do much for putting on the pounds!  Anyhow, after one month of chugging formula, Peter had gained 1lb 10oz!!  He's well on his way to being chubby! :)  He's still not on the weight chart yet, but I'm really not worried about him at all.  Oh, and the next baby will be getting a small bottle at least every other day from the start.  I don't want to go through this starving stubborn baby thing again!




Peter is finally sitting up well now that he has some energy!  He doesn't do the traditional crawl, but he does get pretty much anywhere he wants to go and today he mastered the two stairs that go from the family room to the dining room.  I'm going to have to pull out the baby gates soon. :)





Peter started waking up in the middle of the night a few weeks ago.  I thought that he was teething, but no new teeth have popped through.  Then I thought maybe he was cold, so I put him in a long-sleeved sleeper.  I finally just gave up and figured he was going through a growth spurt and needed to eat, so he started getting a 3:00 am bottle every night.  Well, a few days ago I decided to move him up to a size 4 diaper at night and he's been sleeping 11 hours ever since.  He wasn't waking up wet, but I guess the size 3's were just getting a little to full for his liking.  It's funny how every baby was so different!  Our others would wake up occasionally soaking wet and not seem to care at all.

Peter is definitely the center of attention when his siblings are around.  Sometimes the girls smother him and he gets annoyed.  I hate to tell them to leave him alone, and I'm glad they love babies, but he likes his personal space. :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

School

We've been going strong with school for over a month now and I am very happy with how things are progressing.  I thought I'd share what we are using this year.



We have four children officially doing school now: Joshua and Abigail are in 3rd grade, Esther is in 2nd grade, and Hannah is in 1st grade.  Noah and Joseph are soaking it all in and getting into trouble here and there, and Peter is trying to learn how to crawl. :)  We are still using a lot of things from Veritas Press and that seems to be working really well for us.  Joshua and Abigail are doing Saxon 5/4 for math.  I was a little nervous about starting this because it's advertised as being for average 5th graders/advanced 4th graders.  Veritas seems to think that Saxon is a bit easy though, so they have 3rd graders doing 5/4.  They have really done well with it so far!  I love Saxon in the way that they teach concepts and review often.  This year they are doing 30-35 problems a day, including some very basic algebra.  It seems a bit advanced based on what I remember from 3rd grade math, but they are grasping the concepts without any trouble and I'm very pleased with how they are doing.  Esther is doing Saxon 3 and Hannah is on Saxon 2.  They both LOVE math and whiz through their lessons.  I guess that's what happens when you heard your older siblings cover the exact same material last year!

We are still using SWR for reading/spelling, and that is working wonderfully.  It has really clicked for one of my children who shall remain nameless. :)  He/she has really taken off with it and hardly ever gets spelling words wrong anymore.  Hannah is just starting this program and I'm remembering that the very beginning is my least favorite part.  It's frustrating to me and to the student because they are trying to remember how to form all of the letter, what they all say, start memorizing rules, etc.  It's a bit overwhelming, but I know that if we are faithful to work on it a little every day then it will soon become almost effortless for her.



Joshua, Abigail, and Esther all started typing this year.  We use Mavis Beacon.  I learned how to type with good ol' Mavis, so it is familiar to me.  There is a good mix of instruction, practice and typing games, and it is something that they do with little supervision from me.  I just have to make sure they are where I can see them so that they don't revert to the hunt-n-peck method and form bad habits.  They think that typing is lots of fun, so it's a nice way to break up some of the more intense subjects.



We are doing Judges through Kings for Bible and we are doing Prima Latina again this year because I didn't do the greatest job of sticking with it last year.  Veritas does not start a formal science program until later.  I actually bought 3rd grade science Lifepacs this year to do with all of the children together.  They were inexpensive and I thought that we would enjoy them, but so far they have turned out to be a bit silly and unnecessary.  Everything that has be covered so far is just basic information that we talk about in general daily discourse...things like the fact that the two holes in your nose are called nostrils and that when we breathe in our lungs expand.  Maybe it will go a little more in depth later, but so far I'm not too impressed.



We are still using Easy Grammar (grades 2 and 3) and it's great!  I love the concept of memorizing the prepositions and therefore being able to quickly eliminate nouns that are not the subject of the sentence.  These books cover a lot, have plenty of review, and are easy to teach.  We are using IEW for writing.  I have not gotten as much done with this as I planned to...mainly because it is scheduled for the afternoon, and by the time the afternoon rolls around I'm just ready to put my feet up.  In about two more weeks I should be feeling better and I'll have more energy, so this is kind of on hold until then.





I think the biggest change for us this year is in history.  Last year I taught Old Testament and Ancient Egypt.  We enjoyed it, but it took a lot of prep time and teaching time from me.  This year we decided to try out Vertias's self-paced online history courses (you can view sample courses online if you'd like).  They are a bit pricey, but the children love doing them and they are really learning a lot.  It saves me a lot of time as well.  I usually watch one child's lesson just so I know what is going on (and because I'm learning a lot too!), and then I'm free to get other things accomplished while the other child does his lesson.  This year we are doing New Testament/Greece & Rome.  My only complaints are that they discuss mythology a lot, which we're not sure is really necessary, especially for young children.  They are old enough to know that it's a bunch of strange ridiculousness though.  Veritas is very Biblically based and continually points out the fact that there is one true God and that polytheism, among many other things, is wrong, but I'm still not sure it's helpful to learn that stuff at this point.  My other complaint is that the brother and sister that narrate the lessons (I would say they're in their early 20's) are frequently bickering and going back and forth with each other.  Again, my children give me a funny look and say things like, "That's not kind!", but it is really completely uncalled for and counter-productive.  I plan to write a review of the course at the end of the year, and that will definitely be a part of my review.  Other than those two things, we are really enjoying it and I find it extremely helpful that the children can do it independently.

So that is that!  I'm very comfortable with everything that we are doing this year and it is nice to have found things that work so well for our family.  Next up is a post about our schedule, and I also have one planned about keeping preschoolers constructively occupied during school.  Getting them from my head to the blog is the problem though.  Hopefully I'll manage to do that sometime this week.

I've really enjoyed reading what some of you have posted regarding your curricula and plans for the year.  I always come away with some good ideas and tips when I read your blogs!


Friday, September 07, 2012

3 in 30





I guess I can officially start working on my September goals now.  I gave myself a bit of a head start last week, so maybe that will cancel out what I didn't get done this week. :)  Here are my goals.

1. Crochet 4 dishcloths.  I did accomplish this goal this week.  I probably should have pushed myself a bit more and tried to get 2 dishcloths done per week.  Oh well.  At least this is an easily attainable goal.  Here is the one I made.  I bought a large spool of this yarn because it was cheaper that way, so I'll end up making several just like this.  I like the variegated yarn because I get a multi-colored dishcloth without having to change colors.



2. Exercise.  I did fairly well with this for two days, but then I started to feel rather awful and I had a few undesirable pregnancy-related issues.  I'll leave it at that since I know that there are a small number of men who read this blog.  (Hi, Dad!)  Anyhow, I usually wait a little longer before going to see the midwife/doctor, but I went ahead and scheduled an appointment just to make sure everything was fine. The baby has a strong heartbeat and the doctor said that he thinks there is only one.  I thought that was an interesting comment.  I didn't ask...he brought it up.  Now I'm wondering if he saw something that made him wonder.  I could only see one.  He did tell me to take it easy...no heavy lifting and not a whole lot of physical exertion for a couple more weeks.  That pretty much cuts out exercise, so I'm going to have to put a hold on this goal.  I'll probably just use it as one of October's goals since I should be good to go by then.

3. List some things on Amazon or eBay.  I didn't list a single thing.  I did add a few more things to shelf of things that need to be sold, but I think that counts as a few steps backwards instead of a few steps forward!  Oh well.  I'll try harder next week.

Here are my childrens' goals:

Joshua (8)
We actually changed his goal this week.  I mentioned before that I was unsure about him reading The Swiss Family Robinson in a month's time, and that I wanted to set an attainable goal for him but at the same time I didn't want to discourage him.  Well, I forgot to take into account the fact that the book was due back at the library this week.  I didn't have any renewals left, so I would have had to go in (which I wasn't planning on doing) and see if they had another copy, or I would have had buy it.  That, of course, would take extra time since it would need to be shipped.  I suggested that he read something else instead and he was perfectly fine with that.  So his new goal is to read The Robbers Cave. He's put a dent in it already and I'm sure he'll be finished before the month is over.  


Abigail (7)
Learn how to crochet a dishcloth using a pattern.  Abigail is a get-it-done kind of a person.  She really took off with her dishcloth this week.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize that she was working on it and she didn't realize that she still needs help connecting the rows.  So we ended up having to take out a good bit and re-do it.  She still completed 4 rows though, and she's doing a great job!


Esther (6)
Write and mail letters to 4 different people.  Esther was very excited to put her first letter in the mailbox today.  She is learning how to write neatly in cursive on notebook paper (without the dotted midline as a guide), and she did a fairly good job with it.  She wasn't thrilled, but I told her that it is hard and we will keep working on it.  She chose Uncle Brian (my brother) as the recipient of her first letter.  

Click here to check out what goals others are getting accomplished this month!

Monday, September 03, 2012

The Cut

I gave Joseph a hair cut.  I really liked his hair a bit longer than the other boys' hair.  He looked more like a little boy with it and I just wasn't ready to get rid of it.  He desperately needed a trim though, so I took a pair of scissors to it like I usually do, but it just wasn't working out.  I ended up getting the clippers out and taking most of it off.  He looks so much like Joshua and Noah now!  I suppose since he's potty trained now it was time for a big boy haircut.  It's growing on me, and I think he looks cute. :)

Before




After!