Friday, December 30, 2016

Day 95--You Just Can't Say Anything!

It's 11:15pm, and the kids are very talkative tonight. We have a family prayer every night in our bedroom (mine and Jeff's) and after we pray, we usually have some ridiculous conversation. In fact, most of the time we have to get a bunch of talking out of our systems before praying. It was that way tonight, and they were being silly afterward. Sarah and Rachel were putting their heads together and I noticed Rachel's is bigger. So Rachel started talking about having wondered if her head was big. Then Sarah looked in the mirror and started asking if her head was small and if it would grow. You just can't say anything around here.

Rachel was researching the Mozart Effect for her project and decided not to do that, but she found some interesting things about writing and stress. We were sitting at the table doing math when she said, "Writing gives you a higher IQ."
To which Sam replied, "Then let's stop doing math!"

Then Rachel went on to say that any writing you do helps reduce stress, not just writing about the thing that's bothering you. She told me I ought to write some fiction. I said, "I'm no good at it because I never let my characters do anything, break any rules or have any problems."
She thought for a minute and said, "The people in my new book have problems. Somebody's about to get kidnapped. But it's ok."
I can't wait to read that one!

I was thinking about having written twice as many blog posts as last year when I tried this every day thing, and I was wondering what makes the difference. I thought back to how I felt by the time I stopped last year. I had this pressure to do it every day and put pictures in and tell everything we did, blah blah blah. This time I'm willing to miss a day or so if I have a migraine or something and I just don't have to put in pictures. I know it's a little more fun with them, but I haven't been pressuring myself to have it be perfect. And I'm so much more able to do it.

I think it goes that way in life and in homeschool too. Pressure for perfection leads to burnout and quitting. I gave that up in my homeschool a long time ago. I may have even overcorrected, but at least I haven't been burnt out for a very long time. If you're finding yourself discouraged about educating your children, look to see if you're putting too much pressure on yourself or your kids. And then relax! It's worth it.

See you next week!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Day 94--Small and Simple Things

Kamille decided to start a new
youtube channel called SmallAndSimpleThings. She made the cutest trailer for it. I asked her exactly what her videos would be like, but she said I'd have to watch and see. I guess she's starting it next week. I'm excited to have more videos of her and the baby to watch. I've been wanting to put more videos on my channel, but life has been so crazy lately. I think it's probably been 4 months or more. Here's Kamille's trailer.

I decided to award Rachel's required 1/2 credit of personal finance for what we've taught her so far just in life plus the things she's done lately. She has opened checking and savings accounts and set up online banking, and she set up an Etsy shop and an amazon self-publishing account. Now her biggest worry is finishing Geometry and Algebra 2 in the next 22 weeks. She'll have to pack it in a bit I think.

We went over to the old house today to put some metal cover plates on some electrical junction boxes in the basement. That only took a few minutes, and now I think all the rest of what's left to do will be done by other people. There's one electrical thing and the tub needs replaced. I think we're hoping to close around the 13th. It's strange each time we go there, to not be living there any more. There are things we miss like being close to a decent grocery store, and having extremely low house payments. I guess we can decide what to do after the sale is final--whether to keep renting or find a house to buy. But I do know the kids will be so relieved to stop going over there to work. It's crazy how much work it's been.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Day 93--Back to School

What a fun week we had with Wilson, Kamille and Eliza. We did the t-shirts together since there was no way I could get it done without everyone knowing about it. I thought it was more fun for us to each pick our own font and color anyway. Isn't this the cutest picture? The camera's flashing timer light did a perfect job of putting Eliza in a trance.

On Monday we had to get up before 4:00am to take them to the airport an hour away, then when we got back home we dropped into bed. We were like zombies. We were just laughing about how we didn't even know where each other was--whether the others were in their beds or not. After a few hour's sleep, we got up and rushed to take Jeff to work at our usual airport just half an hour away.

On the way back from taking him, we went to the old house to put up an ugly railing on the back stairs. I feel bad about having to drill holes in the steps, but the loan won't be approved for the lady to buy it without a railing. By the time we were done putting it in, I had the worst headache. That was Monday around noon, and my head just started feeling better after about 5:00 this afternoon. So we hadn't really gotten back to school yet.

We did do a little math and some science today, and Rachel set up her book cover on Amazon. It looks so great. She wrote a summary for the back cover and chose a quote that adds a little mystery to the description. We are so excited! I hope we can get finished editing it in the next couple weeks.

While Rachel was looking up some things for her research project today, she found a website that has tests for IQ, personality, and career preferences. So we spent some time doing that. They were pretty accurate for each of us. Sam's said he could be a designer (which he wants to do for Lego), Rachel's said she might like to be a therapist or teacher, and Sarah's said pharmacist or organizing type job. Mine came out to be social science research assistant or something like that. I honestly thought it would say teacher.

More school tomorrow. See you then!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Day 92--They're here!

Wilson and Kamille and Eliza got here Saturday night late, and we didn't go to sleep until 3:30 that morning! I think we're still tired. After church, we went to my parents' and visited with them and some more family that came. Then Monday morning we got up and drove 4 hours to Jeff's parents. It's the first time any of them have ever met Eliza. Right now, the kids are taking turns playing piano and singing for Grandma Kay. It's her favorite thing. Always concerts when Grandma's around.

The kids had to drive the van here while Jeff and I had the little car. It was like an all day date. It was strange to get out of the car after getting here and see the kids getting out of another car. The baby has been so painfully cute! She really likes Kamille though, so it's hard for anyone else to hold her very long before she cries for Mommy. I guess it was bound to happen.

Some more family members are driving in tomorrow before we leave to go home, and then all my family will be at my parents' on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas Day after church, we're going to make t-shirts for ourselves. We're going to get one for everyone and put "I'm the baby" on Eliza's and then everyone else's will have their relationship to her. Like "I'm the grandma" on mine and "I'm the daddy" on Wilson's etc. We thought we might put "I'm the awesome mommy" on Kamille's since Eliza's so attached to her--she must be really awesome! Well, I knew that.

See you next time!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Day 91--Blast from the Past

I didn't want to write about my day because Sam's still pretty sick, and that's not much fun. So I went looking for some old newsletters from a website I had years ago, before blogs. I thought I'd just insert one here. It's probably from about 2008, so pretty old.

Here you go:

"Have you ever gotten to the end of something hard, and been amazed how far you had come?

Today, my husband and I took our kids on a field trip to hunt fossils. We went to a dried up lake bed with a ton of rocks and waterlife fossils. There are four or five kinds commonly found there, and you can take anything home that's smaller than the palm of your hand. It was so much fun for all of us.

After gathering our fill of fossils and hearing "Look Mom!" no less than a million times, we went to the "gorge" side of the dam by the lake. We drove down to the bottom and trudged up to the top on foot. It was very high and steep. Our 6 year old didn't think he could make it, and I didn't think I could either.

We took his hands and his older brother told him not to look up at how far he had to go. If we watched our feet we'd be there before we knew it.

When we finally got there panting, with sore legs and pounding hearts, we turned around to see how far we'd come. It was a gorgeous valley with a gentle stream and trees all over with fall colored leaves.

Our young son realized how happy he was to be at the top and said sighing, "That's the most beautiful sight I've ever seen!"

Having an 11th grader, I'm almost at the top of the home schooling hill for the first time. I've got to say, it's the most beautiful sight I've ever seen! You know what else? It's been worth the sore legs, panting, and pounding heart."

I remember that day. Now I look at that 11th grader with a wife, baby and bachelor's degree and it's even better.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Day 90

Well, we didn't get any school done today. We have a list of things we're trying to do before this weekend to be ready for Christmas, and those will have to be learning experiences I guess. We decided to go to the grocery before lunch today, and we thought we'd have school when we got home. But while we were there Sam started feeling bad. He got a headache, which only means one thing for him--he's sick. We hurried through, and we had a ton of stuff to get!

We got home, sat him on the couch with a blanket and some oranges and water; and by that time he was shivering. He didn't actually feel feverish for a while, but he's pretty hot now. He just went to bed, and I think I'll sleep in his room in Wilson's bed that's still there. Nobody ever gets a fever except Sam, and he always gets one. I guess it's better than it was; he used to throw up every time too. Wilson was that way growing up--always a fever, always throwing up.

So the kids didn't go caroling tonight, but it was too cold anyway. We all served Sam instead. I don't think going to help my mom tomorrow will happen either. Maybe if Sam felt terrific--which is possible, and maybe if it was summer. But I don't think I'm taking him out in the freezing cold. Hopefully Friday, since we canceled the plumber for Friday. We're thinking of something like Bath Fitters to fix the tub if it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I really don't want to break apart that old cast iron tub!

I guess there's nothing more to tell.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Day 89--Six Inches of Snow!

Yesterday was one of those unreasonably hard days, and that's why this is my first post this week. Today was much better, however. Everyone did their independent reading first today. That's when they read the books they pick. They did that for quite a while, actually. Then Sam and Sarah went on to their Uncle Eric books and Rachel to The Making of America. She has kind of a bad attitude about it, but I'm having her read it anyway. She's having a hard time with winter already, and especially because it snowed 6 inches today.

We were going to go to the grocery after school for a huge load of stuff; but since it was snowing all day, we decided to go early. We got started and my wimpy minivan started slipping around, so we just came home. We're dying to get to the health food store too, to get our white spelt flour. Some of us can't eat wheat, so we use spelt. We have the whole grains and we grind our own flour from them, but sometimes you just need to lighten it with white flour. We also make our cookies with it. So yummy.

We got the crib set up for baby Eliza today. I'm so excited! Just 4 more days. We had to put the mattress on the lowest setting, because yesterday she pulled herself up to standing in her crib. Crazy. Then we put together bed frames for the girls' beds. They had been on the floor, but I'm not sure that's good for the carpet. So we put them up. Rachel doesn't think she'll like it. We've never had the beds on frames, but this year we decided to get everyone's off the floor. I love my bed on a frame; we're not getting any younger and it was feeling like a lot of work to get up. I'm 46 and Jeff is 10 years older. He was really getting tired of it.

I guess putting up the crib was our service for today, and tomorrow the kids are going caroling and giving out fruit baskets with the teenagers from church. Thursday, we're helping my mom some more. I'm not sure I can count Friday's plans as service. See what you think. We have to fix a couple plumbing issues at the house before the buyer's loan can be approved. Is that service? We can't sell it without taking care of it, but that also means she can't buy it if we don't. And she's very excited to buy it. I guess that could be service. I'm glad it's someone that really wants it. The realtor says she's just a nice person too. That makes me feel good about the neighborhood staying nice and quiet like it is.

See you tomorrow!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Day 88

Today we got to go to my parents' house and help make Christmas cookies. My mom has been making these all my life, and she makes a ton of them. I think the kids made 15 dozen today. They're nut balls, and they are so good. I can't eat them any more because of the sugar, but I thought we'd get the recipe and try to alter them. I can't wait to try it.

We also packed up some of her breakables from the living room, because right after Christmas they're having their living room floor redone. They have carpet and they're getting the hardwood under it refinished. I think they're going to love it. We're going back next week to help them get ready for Christmas Eve. That's the big night for our family. I guess we might pack up some more stuff, since they have to have the living room completely empty by Jan 2. It's a big room with lots of stuff in it.

I also worked on a nightgown for Mom. She had the pattern pieces all cut out and ready, so all I had to do was sew them up. It was fun; I haven't sewn anything in a while, and the girls and I have some projects we need to start. That gave me a little motivation for it, since it came out really well. I decided that cutting the fabric is the hard part. If I could always have all the pieces ready, I could just whip up whatever I'm making. Sarah was impressed that I could even sew. It's kind of sad that I haven't done it for so long that she didn't know I could. I guess we'll take care of that. We're definitely working on our projects after Christmas. We have material for linen skirts and a couple other things.

I typed out Sam's three sentences from the other day and had him go over them looking for mistakes. He did alright, except I felt like a couple of them were more than one sentence. I think he doesn't think of it because when we talk, we just say the next thing. I mean have you ever thought about where one sentence ends and the next begins. I told him to read them aloud and he'd see that he was having run-ons. He sent an email to Lego tonight to ask them something. I asked if he wanted me to look at it before he sent it, but he didn't show me. The last time he sent one, he did a better job with his structure than whatever else he writes. Just proving my contention that writing for a real reason and a real audience motivates us to do our best. I love all the things that take care of themselves when the kids write for real.

See you next week!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Day 87--Serving Others

We spent most of the day getting ready for today's service. There's a church in our community that hosts families and individuals that don't currently have homes. Actually it's a whole organization that has several churches that are willing to host people. They stay at the churches for a week at a time. The church gets other churches to do different things like provide dinner, lead an activity, and have a couple people spend the night as chaperones.

So we went tonight to do the activity part. I was so nervous. I had a bunch of questions in my head, and I was just unsure of what to expect. Also, Jeff had to work so he couldn't go. He's always so good at stuff like that. Anyway, we were supposed to do an activity and a little discussion about something positive. So we decided to talk about feeling the Love of God and how we can help others feel that too.

I told a story about how a few years ago, I got a little depressed or something and started wondering if my Heavenly Father had forgotten me. So I decided to write in a little notebook at the end of each day, evidence of His love. While I was doing that I noticed that a lot of the way I know He loves me is by what other people do to be kind. Then, since we're focusing on doing acts of service this month, we had written down small things that everyone has done or had done for them, like smiling at someone or remembering someone's name. We put each one on a slip of paper and had everyone take one and think of a time they were in that situation and how it made them or others feel.

Everyone participated, and it was a lovely discussion. They told us how they've only been together as a group for two weeks, but they're already feeling like a family--like they love each other. One person talked about coming to know Heavenly Father in a way that she never had before. It was very sweet. After that we gave each person a little notebook and pen to write down every day how they can feel Heavenly Father's love for them. We really enjoyed ourselves. I hope we get to do it again and encourage others to volunteer.

After that we were supposed to go visit a lady from church, but she was sick and had to cancel. Our family uses essential oils to help with a variety of health things, so I thought we'd take this lady some oil that helps stop coughing. I called to see if I could just drop it off, and she sounded absolutely terrible. I could barely understand her. I just gave her daughter the oil at the door. I hope she got some relief from it; she's so sick. I'm going to have to call in a day or two and see if she needs more. I didn't put much in the bottle; but from the way she sounds, she'll need it for a while.

We did science today, but nothing else for our usual school stuff. Tonight Sam told me he's concerned that he's "not excelling academically." I said we would sit down tomorrow and address that together. I told him that each of his siblings had that same feeling at about his age, and that's when they each started working harder. I guess it's a sign that they're taking more of the responsibility. He's been talking about wanting to do better for a few weeks, so I guess it's his turn. I love how they each came to the same realization a bit before high school. I guess that's so they could get through it. I'm excited to help him figure out what to do.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Day 86

We sorted through some of the books for the rearranging of shelves today. We moved another bookshelf into the living room and filled it, and we moved a lot of books from one shelf to another. Tomorrow we'll have to bring down all that fun stuff for the big shelf. We also put a chair in Sam's room for Kamille to nurse the baby while they're here. She told us that Eliza tasted baby applesauce today for the first time. She seemed to like it but couldn't figure out how to get it to the back of her mouth to swallow. Also, Wilson ate more of it than Eliza. He's always loved baby food fruit. He's such a kid!

We're pretty excited that we'll be able to feed her when they come if they continue the baby food. They've waited this long to try to avoid food allergies, since they run in our family. So I don't know if they just got a wild hair today or if they're planning on giving her food now. She definitely looks interested in their food when they eat.

I gave Sam three random words from a book today and had him write sentences with the words in them. When Wilson was younger, I had him write spelling sentences and he always made them as short as humanly possible. I had to eventually tell him each sentence had to have a certain number of words in it. Something like 8 or 11. So I told Sam that Wilson was like that, but I wasn't going to do that to him unless he wrote three word sentences. He ended up writing five or six lines for each word. It was like a story for each instead of a sentence. I was impressed.

So tonight I asked him if he'd mind if I took those sentences and correct his punctuation and stuff, or if that would bother him because they say it can discourage kids if you correct their writing too much. He said he didn't care, but I think I'll type them out first and see what mistakes he catches by seeing it in print instead of his own writing where he knows exactly what he meant. It's a good strategy to type out their writing. I think it's easier for them to find mistakes because they're used to seeing printed material with correct punctuation and spelling.

Sam spent a ton of time today building the Lighthouse Siege lego set out of his own bricks. He was excited to do it because he has a most of the parts he needed to duplicate it. We never buy sets because we don't like spending money, but he does a great job of building something based on the pictures. He also looks up the building instructions sometimes to see exactly how to do it. I think that's more satisfying than just getting a set, even though those are fun too. He's so thorough when he explains what all the functions are and how he made them. I told him he should do a designer video about it like they do on the lego website, but he doesn't like being recorded so he's not about to do that. I can never get him to say anything on our youtube videos either, and he usually turns around and leaves when I even point the camera at him. He said he'd rather do a stop action video. Maybe he could do one with this lighthouse and I'll put it on youtube.

Sarah's been doing an assignment from her science book about weather. She needs to keep a chart of temperature, barometric pressure, precipitation and cloud cover for a few weeks. It's kind of fun for her. We especially like to look up the barometric pressure and see what it is when we have headaches. Sometimes we've looked at a weather website that has predictions for migraines. I don't like looking that up unless I have one already, so I don't have to think about getting one before I actually do.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Day 85

Tonight for service, the girls tied quilts with the other teenage girls at church. They were very cute doing that. Cute little baby quilts too. Sam was working on finishing the First Aid merit badge while the girls were working on that. Jeff sat and read a book while I tried to come up with a topic for my next MyWritingCheck blog. I didn't. I'll have to think about it tomorrow, since we need to go to bed early. I can't be reading in bed with the light on tonight, because Jeff has to get up for work at 4:30 tomorrow. I'll be glad in a week or two when this early morning working stuff comes to an end. Hopefully he won't have another month like that for a while. It causes him to not be able to sleep.

We arranged some of all those books we took off shelves today, but not many. I think this is going to take a few days. And there might be another bookshelf I want to move too. I took it upstairs and put it by my bed a few months ago, but I don't think I want it there. There are just too many books to have them so far out of reach.

We borrowed some baby stuff from my niece for when Wilson and Kamille come. I'm so excited!! We got a crib, baby gate, booster chair for at the table, and the pack and play for when we go visit Jeff's parents for a couple days. I want to make it as comfortable as possible for them while they're here. I told Jeff that eventually we'll have to just buy a crib and other things for when the kids come with babies. And baby-proofing isn't a problem since we don't like breakables and little stuff anyway (except legos). Just 11 more days til they come!

Sarah's trying to decide if she can cram in another science module before get here. I think she could, but I don't know if she thinks so. I guess Sam will have to do the same, since he started on a study guide yesterday. They're both worried about getting the books done by the end of May. Rachel's loving just reading her book instead of taking tests. Although, she is still doing the On Your Own questions that are throughout the chapters.

I wanted to work on a comedy sketch today, but Sarah insisted on being responsible and doing math first. So I had them all do it at the same time again. I think it teaches them patience. Sam is extremely patient when we do that; he just draws while he waits. The problem is, sometimes I don't realize he's waiting for my attention, which suits him fine. He'd rather draw anyway. We never did get to work on the sketch. I guess that means if we had, we wouldn't have gotten to math. It sounds like such a fun writing project though. I think Rachel and I will have to start on it and the others will join in. Maybe it just seems a little abstract to them before they see anything taking shape.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Day 84

Everyone was sitting at the table doing math at the same time today. I guess I'll never stop having them do that, even though it makes my brain have to go in three directions at once. Maybe that's how I keep a few brain cells alive. Sam and Sarah were working on the Pythagorean Theorem that I introduced last week, and Sarah pointed out that Sam didn't know exactly how to solve for X (or H squared in this case). So I was talking to him about that and I gave him several simple problems. But they were too simple. He says he never knows if he's just getting the answer because he knows how to get the answer or just because he knows it by logic because of the easy numbers.

He wanted us to tell him what the point was in doing it, so I said you use it in life all the time. But he wanted to know exactly how. So I gave him this giant problem where you have $3000 to remodel the kitchen and you spend all these amounts for different things, and how much would you have left? Of course, he got that. The problem is that Algebra is logical. How will I ever get him motivated to learn the procedures when it makes so much sense if you just think about it? Because I'm sure it won't be that long until we come across something that doesn't seem logical.

As we were giving Sam the kitchen remodel problem, Rachel said, "Algebra might be useless. My next lesson is about imaginary numbers!" Ha! So she was working on fractional exponents, and I had no idea what that was about. I don't remember doing that ever, but I hate exponents. That was the part that fried my brain in College Algebra--just last year. Rachel can never remember what to do with complicated exponents from one time to the next either. We decided we have a genetic exponent block.

We traded places with a couple bookshelves today. Actually we call one of them the school shelf. My dad makes all our bookshelves for us, and they're always just the size I request. So most of my shelves are big enough for binders and tall books and the tops have sides that go up about 4 inches, so I can put a row of books up there too--no whatnots on our bookshelves, which Rachel calls wantnots. She actually used to think they were called that, and she wondered why you have them if you don't want them. She's so cute.

So our school shelf is close to 4 times bigger than the normal bookshelves, and we usually have supplies on it. But since we moved last year, our supplies have been upstairs on another shelf and we never use them. So we moved the shelf and I'm going to bring the supplies down so we can have some fun with them again. I'm not sure you can see how huge it is in the picture, but most of the stuff on the table came out of it. It holds an endless amount of stuff. I love it!

Our church is encouraging everyone to do small acts of service each day of December leading up to Christmas, so we've been trying to think of that. I'm imagine that part of what we're getting out of it is that we're thinking differently. We're doing things for people outside our family too; but even if we just do something small and ordinary at home, we're recognizing that it's a service and it makes a difference. Last night, I cut Jeff's hair before bed. I've been cutting his hair ever since we got married, but it's still a service to him. He loves it; he wishes I'd shave it, which is not going to happen. So when we're doing things for each other, we can enjoy it more if we think of how the other person will feel. Even just coming upstairs and finding that the kids made our bed makes us feel good. I'm going to like this. I have found that I've been thinking of myself too much lately because of my health, so I maybe this will help me get some of my old self back.

See you tomorrow!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Day 83

Rachel's working on the Apologia Advanced Biology book this year. She only needs 1/2 credit for science, so she was planning on doing half the book, but we decided it would still be worth 1/2 credit if she just reads it and goes all the way through it. I'm not going to have her take tests; she's just going to talk to me about it once in a while. Don't you love homeschooling?

Then Sarah was working in her science book, and she hadn't studied it for a few days. She was finished with the study guide and it was time for a test, but she couldn't remember anything about it. I guess the chapter had been confusing too. So I told her that she didn't have to take the test, but she felt like she had to. I told her I didn't care about her ever taking the tests, and she was flabbergasted. She said she thought she had to. Like we weren't allowed to decide not to. I told her I only have her do it because I think it's good practice and the tests are right there--easy for me. She was kind of unhappy; so I told her she could either study and take the test, start reading the new chapter and ignore test, or take the test open book. Then I left the room.

Later she told me she just decided to go on to the next chapter, but she says she's never ever doing that again. Wilson used to be that way too. He was convinced it was cheating to take an open-book test no matter how much I insisted that's what I wanted him to do. Now, Sam and Rachel don't mind a bit. Although Sam would rather not look up the answers because he can never find them. He'd rather just know them.

I spent a lot of the day trying to decide on a writing sample to send with my application to be a Brave Writer instructor. I'm so picky. Today I decided to send a page from my journal. I was thinking of sending something more academic, but Jeff said it was boring and didn't sound like me. He was much more excited about the piece I sent. It was about when Wilson was born.

Then it was fun tonight, because Wilson's actually applying for the job too and we were going over our applications together. He would be totally perfect for the high school classes. He sent in a very brainy academic sample. That's all he's been writing for the last 5 years in college, so what else would he send? After we got done going over the application on the phone, I told him it made me feel like his mommy again. He and I have been writing partners for a long time. It's in his blood, but he didn't always know it. He hated putting pen to paper when he was young, just like Sam. I used to make him write a certain number of words per sentence. I don't do that to anyone any more. But he and I agreed that even though we love writing, it's like having teeth pulled, but editing is like eating cookies.

Jeff and my dad went to the old house to fix a leak in the tub. They're having an inspection Monday, and I really hope it goes well. The only thing that was actually wrong was the tub leak, so it should be fine. But I was amazed how bad the last inspector made things sound. The floor and stairs came out great. Tomorrow, we're going over to put down toe mold or shoe mold, I forget what it's called. I call it quarter round, but my dad says it's not technically that. We have to put it down because we couldn't get close enough to the wall with the sander to get all the paint up. That should be the last thing we have to do. They're wanting to close by the first week in January. Cross your fingers.

See you next week!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Day 82--What my kids think of homeschool

I asked the kids how they felt about how we homeschool, and the first thing they said was that we’re relaxed. So I asked them what that meant, and they gave me quite a list. Sam said, “Not having to do school when we don’t want to.” I’m not sure exactly what he meant, but I know they don’t mind doing school. Well, sometimes they mind doing math, but I accept that as the family hardship. Maybe he meant what Sarah said, “We don’t worry if we can’t do school.” You know there are plenty of days like that with my migraines, fatigue, projects at the old house (we finished painting the stairs today), and Jeff’s schedule.

Rachel likes the not worrying aspect too. She’s glad we aren’t worried about requirements (too much anyway). She said that we could do a lot of good school-type things from some list, but if we don’t do them, we’re still ok. I love that. She also said that she’s glad I don’t worry about grades as much as she does. It’s kind of funny that the girls think about what grades they get, because they really don’t get any. I only give a percentage grade on science tests so they have some idea about it, but for some reason it matters to them what they get. I haven’t figured out why.

They said they like that we don’t separate living from learning. I just put the learning of any subject in the same category. It’s been my job to teach them to get dressed, use the bathroom, cook, clean the house, read, write, multiply, understand government, manage money, be respectful, and serve others. What’s the difference? Why would I decide any of those things shouldn’t be done by me? Sarah was thinking that other people probably don’t do a lot of academic learning at home. They don’t have science experiments in the freezer or Egypt in the basement or China in the den. Sounds boring to her.

Then we talked about how we’re together all the time, having conversations. We talk all day every day. Sometimes we don’t get much else done. This is one of our favorite things about homeschooling. We know each other so well, we can tell what each other is thinking. It’s like we don’t need to talk because we talk so much! Sometimes they just say one word and it means this whole big thing, which totally cracks them up. We’re going to have to do one of our comedy sketches about it. Something they appreciate about my knowing them so well is that I can figure out ways to explain things to them so they get it. I admit that sometimes it takes a few times or a few dozen, but we get there eventually. Also, they get to help each other understand things.

They like how we sometimes have a great idea and start planning and get excited, but then we don’t do it. If we lose interest or momentum, it’s ok. Like when we read Murder on the Orient Express, we thought it would be fun to have a party with the teens at church and act it out. Rachel started writing parts and we talked about who would be good for each part, but we never did it. It still sounds like fun, but we’re not worried about not doing it. Sometimes it’s good to be able to quit something you don’t want to finish. That’s just real life.

Rachel said how she likes that they are influenced by our family culture and not the high school culture. This is the biggest reason we started homeschooling all those years ago, and it has worked out wonderfully for us. Sure, sometimes they’ve felt like they don’t know anything other kids know. But I tell them other kids don’t know all the things they know. Everyone is that way. All the kids that go to school don’t know all the same things either. Adults sure don’t. I tell them that nobody ever wants to compare what I know with what they know. As adults, we just talk and learn from each other. Everyone’s so different, and that’s what makes the world interesting.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Day 81

I was listening to Julie Bogart's Facebook live this morning about literature, and I loved it! She talked for a while about reading a variety of genres and authors so we can find out about all kinds of people and places. I'm not sure how much variety we have in our reading around here. Maybe that's something I should think about more deliberately.

Last night, we were talking about reading in schools. When Jeff and I were in school, they didn't really have us read many books. I can't say for sure what schools do now, but I don't imagine it's too different. I do know kids that have had to read several books over the summer as homework before the year began. I don't know if they're supposed to be able to remember everything and participate in analyzing them when school starts or what. I would never be able to remember that much from that many books if I had to cram them all in during one summer break.

When I was a teenager, sometimes we would just get the Cliff's Notes version and never read the book. What a terrible way to experience literature. It's was sad, but I had one teacher that read aloud to us a couple times a week. She read whole books to the class, and we loved it. I thought she was just amazing. Hey, do you think that's why my kids think I'm amazing? I don't remember any analyzing of literature that I surely did in high school, but I remember being read to. Did you have any teachers read to you in high school?

Rachel finally finished her application for college Saturday night. It's a church school, so she has to get an ecclesiastical endorsement, and she's having an interview for that tomorrow night. Then she has to wait until February to see if she's been accepted. Torture. I think colleges do all that to see if you can endure the application process; and if you're really serious and make it through, then they'll take you. That probably gets you ready for life more than any class you'll take.

See you tomorrow!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Day 80

Do you have pie for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving? Pumpkin, of course. We love love love pumpkin pie at our house. I wonder if that's because we make it with sour cream. It's so good; you should try it.We had a nice Thanksgiving with my parents and half of my siblings yesterday. After eating, we put up their Christmas tree. I say we, but I mean my kids and my brother. Jeff and I watched. And laughed. I don't know how many strands of lights my mom has for her tree, but it's a LOT. She always says she likes to be able to read by the light of it ("from across the street," my brother adds). I don't think I've ever actually seen her read by it, but her tree looks way better than mine.

Today, after eating pie, we went over to the other house to put another coat of finish on the floor. It was just beautiful when we walked in. We had left before it dried last time, so when we didn't see it until today. I just love it. I think we're done. Jeff says two coats are enough. I hope he's right. We're going back tomorrow to see, and to paint the stairs.

The kids were doing schoolwork in the den while Jeff and I were coating the floor. He also replaced some insulation in the attic while we were there. It was a disgusting mess. He looked like he had been sitting in a mud puddle. He forgot to take clean clothes, and I didn't want that junk in my car. So he took off his outer shirt, pants, shoes and socks. Then he buttoned his coat around his waist so he'd be covered, and ran out to the car! I'm glad it was dark. I suggested having Sam give him his pants until he got to the car and I'd bring them inside and give them back, but Sam didn't want to do it. Jeff looked like he had on a skirt with arms. It was pretty funny.

See you next week!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Day 79

I am so sick of being on the couch! I can't get over this headache. It's not as bad now, but I'll have to go to sleep again--just like last night. We found a few Studio C sketches on youtube today that we haven't seen. I think that's probably all we'll find though. Sad. We didn't make the pies for tomorrow like we were supposed to. What a tired day, rainy too.

We always have Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house. My dad has made the meal every year for as long as I can remember. My mom was in charge of pies until a few years ago. Then I started doing them. We're taking two pumpkin and one apple. I love that the kids can totally do pies without me, because I'm making the delicious, soft, warm dinner rolls. They have a stick of butter in them and then you dip them in another stick of melted butter before baking them. Crazy good. We're also taking sweet potatoes--just baked, and sautéed green beans.

Rachel was still working on essays today. Seems like there's an endless supply. She said there are nine of them to do. Well, I'm not sure you'd call them all essays. Technically, I guess only three of them are. But there are nine things to write like noteworthy accomplishments, why she wants to go there, experiences with leadership, skills and talents. It's exhausting. She's closing in though. I just think she'll have to double up on math lessons to finish her credits for the year!

Sarah started reading Whatever Happened to Penny Candy today and Sam is reading Whatever Happened to Justice, that Sarah thought was so boring. He's much more interested in it than she was. Wilson was always more interested in that sort of thing than Rachel too. But nobody around here wants to watch the news. We don't have a TV, so we have to look up any news we watch. I think I need to find some kind of student news though. Maybe that would be more fun for them than regular news.

See you soon!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Day 78

I've had an extreme migraine since Sunday, so I missed posting yesterday. I'm wishing I didn't have to go to sleep soon, because it's always worse when I wake up. We'll see.

Rachel's still working on those essays for her college application. She's trying to come up with "noteworthy accomplishments" that she can tell them about. We aren't much for extra stuff here. Sarah was saying she wouldn't have anything to put when it's her turn, so we thought it would be good for her and Sam to look at the application and see what kind of things they should consider doing during high school. I never thought of that, because that's not really how I roll. You know, no "teaching to the test" around here. But I guess it's an ok idea to energize or motivate some adventurous things that they might not think of otherwise.

Rachel has written about her experiences with making youtube videos for our channel and recording video auditions to try out for videos our church produces. She also told about writing her book that we're getting ready to self-publish. She spent time setting up an Etsy shop a while ago too, so we thought we might open it now and she can put that on the application. Now she has to tell them all about her skills and talents. She hates that kind of thing.

Sam and Sarah worked on science and math this afternoon, after I was able to sit up a little and talk. The math is still kicking Sarah's behind. There are just so many things to think of that aren't included in every problem. Oh, how she longs for a definite way of doing every problem. Every time.

We got an offer on the house today. They offered what we're asking! And they're totally excited, so hopefully this time it goes through. I'd love to start saving that money every month! We still need to put about three more coats of finish on the floor, though.

For several days, I've been watching a little video Wilson sent of him and Eliza. It's killing me! They're visiting Kamille's parents for Thanksgiving this week--all week! We get a little jealous. I found pictures on Facebook of Eliza with the little children of total strangers! Ok, so they know them, but I don't. I need to hug that baby! Here's the video. It's about 30 seconds long. I'm not sure if anyone but me wants to watch it, but I can't keep this much cuteness to myself!

See you tomorrow!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Day 77--Refinishing the Floor

I'm still having my doubts about reading The Making of America aloud to the kids. Rachel doesn't want to read it herself because she doesn't need any more Social Studies credits--kind of a stinking attitude, but I can't blame her. I told her that she needs to have a more thorough understanding of the Constitution than she has now, though. The others have time to study the book by themselves during high school, so I'm not worried about them. I just think it's too hard to pay attention while listening to it.  Wilson read it alone and wrote about each section; that worked great for him.

I never realized there were so many ways to just solve for X in a very simple problem. Today, Sarah was reading a story problem and she set up the problem 250 - 100 = X. Fine, but she wanted to add 100 to both sides. I guess I never taught her to combine all the like terms before trying to do anything else. She thinks I'm teaching her something new every single day. It all seems like the same thing to me. I've lost the Pre-Algebra DVD from MathUSee. If I could find it, she could listen to Mr. Demme. Not that she loves that, but I'm sure he's more thorough than I am. How did I teach it to Rachel and Wilson?

We've been working on the wood floor at the other house. We decided to just refinish it. It's so much cheaper than carpeting, and I think it's going to look fabulous! We rented a big sander and sanded it a few days ago, then the kids and I went yesterday to put finishing touches on the sanding. We had to do some with an electric hand sander by the walls and it was lighter in color than the rest, so the kids and I just took sand paper in our hands and blended it in. It didn't blend as well as I would have liked, but it was ok. We're going to paint the steps since it would be a ridiculous pain to use the hand sander on them. It was incredibly dusty. I was amazed at the amount of dust everywhere. I hope we got it all cleaned up, but I have my doubts.

Tomorrow, we're going over to start putting on coats of polyurethane. I think we're going to do four coats. We have to use water-based so I can go back into the house. If we used oil-based, I'd get migraines if I even got near it for months. My parents are having theirs redone too, but they're using oil-based. I wonder how long it will be until I can visit them without getting sick from the smell. Here's a fuzzy little video from yesterday.

See you next week!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Day 76--Having Fun

Yesterday, we used the theme of Sam's freewrite to play a game. I said a word and Sam said what that made him think of, then Sarah, then Rachel and back to me. We went around and around, laughing the whole time. Several things made us think of Dad. Cereal, milk, food. Do you see a theme here? I texted Kamille so she could play too. She said laziness made her think of a sloth on the couch in pj's at 2:00am. I think she meant me.

I've been on the couch today with a headache, so we had a Studio C marathon. It's a sketch comedy show on BYUtv. We've been sort of addicted to it since we went to Wilson and Kamille's. It gets funnier and funnier the more we watch it. In fact, it gave us an idea for a project that should be a hoot. We're going to write a sketch and put it on our youtube channel. Maybe we could even do it once a week.

We thought we'd call it Studio T. Clever huh? Our first idea for a sketch came from no one wanting to get out of their chairs to hand someone else something. I think we could make it hilarious. Well, to us anyway. See how much better a writing project can be when there's a real life reason to do it? Rachel's already making a list of ideas!

You know this already, but sometimes homeschoolers loose their books for days at a time. And Mom doesn't always know it. Apparently, Rachel put Sam's science book in a stack of stuff that we would never think it was in, on the day of his birthday party. That was like 12 days ago. He had been saying he couldn't find it off and on, but I guess it never alarmed anyone enough to do a thorough search. So today, I guess we were alarmed enough. He was worried about not getting the book done if he never found it, so I finally realized it was somewhere actually lost. After a LOT of searching, I decided to look in the impossible stack of stuff. And there it was! Yay for me.

See you tomorrow!

Day 75

I fell asleep last night before I posted. My head was hurting kind of suddenly. Well, maybe I was ignoring it for several hours and then I couldn't ignore it any longer, so I went to sleep. Still hurts.

I'm going to have to admit that we're never going to have school before lunch. So that will mean that we need to be more willing to go until 5:00 or something. Nobody wants to do that, so what should we do? I've been all for conversation and "living" to learn for several years, but I think I still have some underlying worry about that. Some doubt that it actually works. Maybe that's because I haven't had a child graduate yet that was homeschooled that way.

My only graduate was homeschooled with textbooks and plenty of school-type assignments. We do still have those, just not as many. I try to make the ones we do more meaningful, and I talk to them about what there is to learn from them. I'm more of a partner. With Wilson, I had him do assignments, graded them, and we moved on. Now, I talk with the kids about what they're doing, and I think it's more visible to them what they're actually getting out of doing their work.

The things we talk about all morning are important. Sometimes someone will bring up a concern that we need to discuss. A lot of times, we talk about current events. That's not really what they want to talk about, but I do it anyway. We have personal and family scripture study in the mornings--essential to start the day. We eat. That takes a little while since we have to cook everything from scratch. We usually talk to Jeff on the phone or Skype, and when he's here with us we're sure to have some big conversation. Sam and Sarah go outside and play a bit, and Rachel reads or writes every minute she can. I guess we're doing school in the mornings after all. Whew!

Yesterday, the kids got to do some more service with the other teenagers at church. They raked leaves, baked cakes, made buckeyes, and decorated for Christmas for someone that has a small business in town. It was to help get ready for a sort of open house event this weekend. They also get to go help with that by handing out hot chocolate and talking to people Saturday. I think they had a lot of fun helping. It always feels so good to serve. We love it.

While they were helping with that, I tried to do some work on my online college stuff. I'm not sure how far I got. I need to get over this stuck place I'm in. I guess I'm going to have to let go of wanting to do my best and just get it done. That bothers me, but I guess it's ok sometimes.

See you tomorrow (tonight actually)!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Day 74--Supermoon

You probably know there was a super moon tonight, it was pretty cool, but the pictures online lead you to expect it to be a ridiculous size. Why do they do that? I didn't think it would be, but I thought it might be a little bigger than it was. Here are my blurry pictures taken through the window. The first one was right before the moon became visible. Look how much it was lighting up the sky! It was already dark out. The other one was just a few minutes later, after it came up over the horizon. It was so clear and bright. They say it won't be this close to the earth again until 2034. That's a while.

The kids had to do school without me today, since I had to go to the doctor. They sat outside freewriting about things in the yard. The girls did some nice descriptions, and Sam did a very funny piece where he told what the patio stones made him think of and that made him think of something else and something else until he got all the way to cheesie bunnies. They're rabbit shaped cheese crackers. Looked like a pretty fun exercise. I'll have to remember it.

I got some good news at the doctor. He said that my little problem will go away and he didn't have to do anything about it. I went thinking he was going to have to do an unpleasant procedure and I was extremely nervous and upset by it. My stomach was in knots and my blood pressure was like 129 over 90 something. It's usually about 100 over 70. I was so relieved. I just have to wait a week or two for it to go away completely. But it has started feeling much better in the last few days, so I'm sure it'll be fine.

Tonight for Family Home Evening, we did some family history research. Rachel has done a lot of it and she showed Sam and Sarah how to do some. Their favorite part was going back on our family tree to the 1500's and finding the silliest sounding names. They giggled themselves silly. I'm not sure how much the learned about how to use the family history website though. We'll have to see if they can look up things on their own or not. Next we're going to have to figure out how to search records in order to add people that aren't already on there.

I can't resist this picture of Eliza trying to kiss the baby in the mirror during our video chat last night. We are absolutely going to expire waiting for them to get here. They're coming the week before Christmas. Just another 5 weeks I think. She changes so much from week to week. She's able to sit up for a while when they put her that way now. Last week, she just fell over immediately. Another couple weeks and she'll be completely stable. Isn't it fun to be the grandma!

See you tomorrow!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Day 73--The Moore Formula

Have you read The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook by Raymond and Dorothy Moore? I won't go into the whole thing, but I love the model of "The Moore Formula" that they discuss. Here's their brief synopsis of the it:
"1) Study from a few minutes to several hours a day depending on the child's maturity; 2) manual work, at least as much as study; 3) home and/or community service an hour or so a day. Focus on kid's interests and needs; be an example in consistency, curiosity, and patience."

Don't you love that? We cover number one pretty well. We study from a few minutes to several hours a day, but it doesn't depend on the child's maturity. It depends on the day. That's probably not what they meant, but I can only do what I can do. We definitely do not do as much manual work as study. Unless you count cooking. Ha! (I thought I had heard that the formula included the children working at having a business.) And we've actually had a hard time serving lately because of health stuff.

Today was lovely though. We did manual work that was service. We helped prepare lunch for 35 young adult missionaries for our church this morning. We made tacos--our specialty. We chopped tomatoes and lettuce, fruit for fruit salad too. We made refried beans and guacamole, set up tables, and talked and laughed and had fun. It was so nice. We didn't do any studying though. It can't all happen on the same day right?

I think the Moore Formula would surely produce a well rounded, socially aware, adult with fortitude and a variety of abilities and interests. I guess we've had seasons for different aspects of this formula though. We have times when all we do is serve those around us for hours and hours each week. And then that slows down and we get to spend a lot of time studying. The manual work is always hovering in the background in every season. Like tomorrow, we're going to go to the old house and sand the living room floor in order to refinish it. The realtor says we're going to get another offer on Monday, so we'll see. I don't like to get my hopes up; but they did ask if we were willing to do a couple things, which we are. They're things that need done anyway, so that's ok.

We have always taught the kids to clean the house, even though we don't have regular chores that people are responsible for. We have done chores in several different ways throughout the years. It's probably time to have them more structured again. I'll have to work on that. I love how I can read about different "homeschool methods" and take what sounds good and include it in what we do. I never have followed any method or curriculum strictly. That would kill us, not because we're undisciplined, but because as wonderful as other people's programs are, they just don't know my family. I'm allowed to take any idea and make it right for us. and so are you!

See you next week!