Thursday, December 12, 2013

If We Make It Through December

I took dance for P.E. in high school. Much better than having to play volleyball or run. We stretched every morning to music. That was a really nice part of my day. The teacher played things like Bread and Prince and yes, even Merle Haggard. Those lyrics came to me this morning, sadly.

Whew. Finances are kicking my tail. I'd like to see us as poor, put-upon, hard-working Brenda and S who give so much and have such hardships come their way. But I'm more inclined (always) to see us as stupid, irresponsible Brenda and S who cannot get their act together financially. In truth, I don't think either one are correct views of the situation. And probably its a combination of the two plus some other view I don't even have.

All I know is that I'm glad God loves us. When I quit my job 9 1/2 years ago to come home (part time at first) there wasn't any possible, feasible way it was going to work on paper. And yet here we are. The Lord ALWAYS amazes me with the way things work out. He has an open stage to amaze me this month because from where I stand, things aren't good.

As if a year and a half of medical bills (still paying for Bee and that other little trip I took to the hospital) weren't enough, we've had a doozy of a spending spree on the medical front lately. Nothing like Carrie. She's the queen of the copay this fall. Still, we've spent nearly $400 on medical and medical related stuff since the week before Thanksgiving. Ouch.

On a happier note, we have our homeschool group's Christmas party today. The girls are each going to play a song on the piano. Little Bit has worked SO HARD to learn hers. It was so difficult for her and I'm so proud of her effort. I had to enlarge the sheet music and copy it onto 2 different colors of paper so the lines are alternating colors. I pasted all that inside a file folder so she can see the song better. Seeing double is a bummer. The girls are also going to do a little comedy act together. They've had so much fun practicing for it. And of course we have a book exchange. Our used book store here in town is going out of business and we got 3 books for the names we drew, plus a book Sweetheart wanted, for $7. I was very happy about that!

We are finished with piano and choir until the new year. That's a relief. I like being "off" for a while. Today we are knocking off of school because we have the Christmas party all afternoon and I need to drive to the big city to pick up a form for Sweetheart's physical therapy. Having some trouble with all that which I'll update you on later. So we're going to spend our remaining few hours cleaning the house. Whenever finances are bad, I ALWAYS have a desire to clean the house.

Is it because I feel out of control and want order? Does it make me feel more responsible? Do I think "Well, the least we can do is have a clean house?" I don't know, but it always happens. Psychoanalyze that.

And now I will count my blessings. Some of them.

1. Salvation from my Lord.
2. My husband and daughters.
3. A roof over our heads.
4. Cars to drive.
5. Food in the kitchen.
6. Heat.
7. Clothes to wear.
8. God's love.

Friday, December 6, 2013

These Things Were More Fun When I Was Little

Whew! The girls had their first choir concert last night. Due to losing our first venue, we had to have the rehearsal and concert all on one night. This resulted in a crazy schedule of keeping up with who needed to be in the auditorium at what time and getting them dressed in the bathroom at certain times and feeding them in between all of that. Goodness. All while keeping up with this little one who ran around for 4 hours before the concert started.

One of the finer moments was me sitting in a chair in the handicapped stall trying to put on my tights and trying to hurry because I knew our friend would need the handicapped stall in a minute....Little Bit was body blocking Bee from playing in the toilet. Bee is yelling, "Go 'way! go 'way!" to Little Bit and then she just dropped her arms down by her sides, threw her head back and screamed the most ear piercing scream ever.

After apologizing to everyone in the restroom, we got done and out of there. But the good news is she behaved very nicely during the concert.

 Little Bit, middle...
Sweetheart, top middle...(unedited pics. Sorry)

So I am very proud of them, etc. But more than that, I am relieved its over! What a lot of stress for a Mama! So many logistics to consider. Being a kid is much easier.

We got home well after 10pm so everyone is sleeping in today. After that, and pancakes, Sweetheart and I will be going to her first physical therapy appointment. School will happen in bits and pieces again today.

And Saturday we are going to see the Texas Tourette Association's Christmas Tree featuring an ornament by Little Bit. She's going to be so proud.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The House o' Therapy

S and I thought it might be fun to drop a bunch of dough on doctor's visits in 2 days' time last week. Whee!!! We know how to party.

So, Bee had an ear infection--$25 copay
Sweetheart needed her back looked at as we were concerned about the curve of it--$25 copay.
Sweetheart was sent to have x-rays of back--can't actually remember but I think we spent money there too.
Little Bit went to an opthamologist because we found out she has double vision--$50 copay.
Sweetheart went to an orthopedic surgeon to look at back--$50 copay.

So the bottom line is this:

Bee got some antiobiotics. It's only her 2nd ear infection of her life so I wasn't upset about that. Problem solved. $10.00

Little Bit has convergence insufficiency. That means her eyes are not playing nice and working as a team. So when she does any "near work" her eyes take turns wandering outside of where they should be. You can't really see it happening, but it is. This explains the headaches, the crying, the frustration, the rubbing eyes, and all the trauma we've had in school this year.

I went back and looked at her last year's work and I could not believe the difference in font size between the two math books, the two phonics books, etc. Her reading books obviously are smaller as she's reading chapter books now. No wonder this problem has come up this year. (Alhtough she's always struggled in school. I can't imagine double vision + tics were helping.)

She says she's always seen double as long as she can remember. We found all this out during a conversation with my dad. We had Little Bit screened for Irlen Syndrome, we took her to the optometrist and her gave her reading glasses----nothing was helping. Then my dad told the story of when he used to get headaches and got some reading glasses as a young man in the Air Force. He descirbed how he sees double--Little Bit pipes up from the backseat, "That's how I see too!"

Um...what??? Good to know! So we dropped $64.00 on a computer program we can use here at home. She's to do the program, which will be her vision therapy, for 7 minutes a day, 5 days a week. It will take her a few months to complete the program and hopefully, this will fix her eyes. Oh I certainly hope so!! I could really go for school being easier. I was losing my mind before Thanksgiving break.

We are also using a homemade slant board for school for now. There is a really nice one for $30 online, but that can wait until after Christmas.

As for Sweetheart, she has a diagnosis of scoliosis and kyphosis. If you haven't heard of it, kyphosis is when the spine curves too much from the side view, causing a "humpback" look. We've been concerned about her back for about a year. We tried doing some different stretches, because I noticed her hamstrings are incredibly tight. She literally can not sit up straight on the floor with her legs out in front. She also could not do the stretches. We've nagged her about her posture for a really long time, and her walking posture has improved. But then we'll see a photograph of her sitting or bending over and it looks just awful. A friend of hers was diagnosed with kyphosis recently and when I found that out, I hit the internet. Oh....NOW I knew what exactly our concern was. It can be caused from poor posture, or a progressive disease called Scheurmann's disease. She has the latter. Some of the vertebrae in her back are wedge-shaped. So, she was relieved to find out it wasn't her fault. The good news is no surgery or brace neeeded. She's to do physical therapy for 6 months and come back for an x-ray. Physical therapy 2x a week for 4 weeks (or until she learns the exercises). I was going to take her to all eight sessions because I figure she'll do better with a professional watching her than she will at home, but at $25 a pop, we'll see...

We are also considering a gym membership for her so she can just generally strengthen her muscles, which will be needed to combat this disease. She doesn't have any gym clothes to wear to physical therapy or a gym.

Are you sensing a theme of concern by me? I KNOW I shouldn't be worried about money when my children's health is at stake. And really, the most important thing to me is that they are OK. I was relieved to have both diagnoses and a plan of action for both girls. BIG load off my mind. I've had enough time now to consider the cost of everything though. Ouch.

So, I'm hoping Bee doesn't feel left out, being the only child with no therapy going on at the moment. We're good, Bee. No, really.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Have You Seen That e-card....

...that says,

"From a procrastination standpoint, today has been wildly successful."

Yep. That would feel like my Friday. Only I'm truly not procrastinating school....its just that there were so many other pressing things first.

Like, we needed toiletries.

And groceries.

And to get the van washed.

And Sweetheart had a mandate from her Daddy about the state of her room by the end of today.

And then while I was trying to get Bee to sleep for nap time, Little Bit did this:

And when she wakes up, she has to work on an ornament for the Tourette's Association of Texas Christmas tree. I need to mail it tomorrow.

And so, (how many times do you think I can start a sentence with "and"?), in all of that, I managed to read 2 chapters to Sweetheart for her read-aloud and Little Bit did Explode the Code and Math. Oh, and we ate lunch and I changed 2 diapers.

School is clearly pretty low down on the list today.

Which stresses me out, but having toilet paper and food to eat are really, really important.

What remains to be seen is the age old question:

Will Mama make them do school on the weekend?


Will Mama just roll it all over to next week?

Tune in next week to find out!!

(Even I don't know the answer yet!)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

These Three

Oh the age gaps. They are interesting.

Having a 14 year old, a 10 year old, and a 1 year old all at the same time is mostly really cool. The big sisters adore that baby. And they are really, truly helpful. Not like, "Can you get Mommy a diaper?" useful....I mean, I can shower uninterrupted and not worry. They've got it. They will handle whatever unless it's an especially bad diaper. Even then they wouldn't mind if they knew she would just lay there and let them change her. But she will not.

They play with her. They teach her things. And they love on her all the time.

And they still have a great relationship with each other. There are only 1 or 2 things they still play together, those older two. But they still have a great time with those two things. It was just the two of them as sisters for 8 years and that will always be special.

But I love watching their relationship with the littlest sister grow as well.

Not that everything always is perfect or smooth in their relationships. I don't want to let you think that. But really, I feel so blessed that these three have each other. I think the space between them makes our family a little unique and it's fun watching them learn from each other and help each other. 

Now as far as school time goes, the age gaps are not that helpful. If you don't have children and you know you are going to homeschool, I highly suggest having your kids close enough together that you can do at least a few subjects together. It would help, it really would. 

And as far as the tiny tornado being helpful during the school day? She's not. At all. But man are my older girls learning to prioritize and deal with interruptions! Good skills people. Good skills. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

This 'N That

Want to know why I suddenly came back on the blog scene? It's because S needed some dates for something he was working on and we had no idea where we were going to be able to locate the proper paperwork to find those dates.

Then it hit me. My blog! I bet I blogged about the thing he was looking for. Sure enough, after some hunting Sunday morning, I found the dates he needed. And I REALLY enjoyed reading back through my old posts. It was old--Little Bit was 3 in those old posts and she just turned 10 this weekend.

And I was sad I haven't documented the last year (or so) very well. It's been near impossible to do so, but nevermore. It's just too important!

S had a doctor's appointment yesterday and I needed to go with him. We are still trying to get his diabetes under control. It was a good appointment. We learned a lot and the doctor said he really feels he can get S's labs looking perfect in about 9 months. So we have a renewed determination about his diet and a new pill that I really hope works. And a plan for the next month. Then we'll go back to the doctor.

But Mom and Dad had an appointment with my Dad's cancer doctor yesterday too, so I dropped the big girls off at Mrs. Carrie's house. (I paid her with a Sonic drink.  I'm generous like that.) When they got there, all the kids were sitting around the dining room table and there were chairs for Sweetheart and Little Bit. It was quiet, the plumbers were working in the kitchen (so you act really good when there are strangers in the house) and S said, "This is going to be good for them."

And it was. They got everything done that I sent in under 2 hours AND made caramel apples. At one point Carrie asked them if they missed Bee and did they want her to play a video from her phone of Bee saying, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy......" They said, no. They were good. I think they were shocked at how if feels to homeschool without the distraction of a 1 year old.

Oh look. I found a peaceful moment of school. 

Whew. She's quite a distraction. Many times I just close the book I'm trying to read. I can't possibly read over her and I stop every other sentence to say something to someone and AACCCKKK!!!! Sometimes it is chaos over here.

Baby Bee, Little Bit, and Sweetheart before Little Bit's birthday party. It was a bird theme.. 

Since we had Little Bit's birthday party this weekend, you would think the house would still be relatively clean, but you would be wrong. All that effort should last a few days but it didn't. Last school year Little Bit's chore was cleaning and picking up the homeschool room. Sweetheart's was the laundry and laundry room. This year they are both in the kitchen. Little Bit cleans the dining room table off (putting away all items on it and wiping it) and also helps keep the toys under control in the rest of the house. Sweetheart unloads the dishwasher, clears off the kitchen cabinets and sweeps the dining room and kitchen. I go sit down after supper. I'm supposed to get back up and load the dishwasher but sometimes that doesn't happen. Like last night. Anyway I was thinking about how my sisters and I always had to clean the kitchen after supper while my parents went and sat down in the living room. So unfair!!! Now, as a parent, I realize how many, many years I've been doing all that and I'm so thankful they are big enough and I can sit down!

**cue "Circle of Life" song**

Anyway, we had our first cold snap come through yesterday so it's 38 degrees today and I'm thankful we don't have to go anywhere. Planning to educate these young'uns and hopefully get the house back to decent should someone knock on the door.

That's kind of the plan every, day by the way.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Making It

(I remembered how to log on to my blog!) :)

This has been one rough pay period folks. Whew! Our annual camping trip was fun, but we didn't plan on all the money we ended up spending. Plus some unexepected expenses plus Little Bit's birthday and pretty soon we were staring down the end of the month in fear.

Well, concern I guess is the better word. We are about 2 days away from pay day now and I woke up this morning subtracting things in my head. I started to figure out we weren't going to make it--even with the amount we could transfer from savings. Yikes!

Anyway, I went to the kitchen to try to figure out what we could eat these next two days. And I was actually finding meals in all the hodge-podge of the pantry and freezer. In the midst of my hunting, I was looking through a cookbook my grandmother gave me a long time ago. Seeing her handwritten note inside just made me smile. Man, I loved that lady.

And then I thought about how many, many times my Nanny probably wondered what she was going to feed her 5 kids and husband and brother-in-law during the depression. I know their meals weren't very exciting. They ate what they had. It made me feel better. We certainly aren't as poor as they were back then, but it's neat to think "my Nanny felt this way once."

The Lord is so good. We managed to pull off a party for Little Bit for $32. We had enough for some presents for her. And I found enough meals in our kitchen just now that I only need to spend about $15 to get us through these next two days.

We're going to make it.

I could worry about a list of upcoming expenses, but I won't. The Lord has proven Himself so many times. Even when we don't make the best decisions, He is faithful. He loves us. We have enough. We are so blessed.

Per my husband's wishes, I haven't once said, "We don't have money for that" or "We're almost out of money" to the girls these last few weeks. He grew up feeling stressed about having no money and he doesn't want that for them. I'm pretty sure Little Bit thought her birthday was great and she never knew how hard Mama budgeted for it.

It's going to be a great end of the year as I get to watch the Lord provide for us! And some of that provision (I hope) will be wisdom for me as continue to figure out ways to spend money in the best way possible.

Have a great Tuesday everyone!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

When You Have a Diagnosis

 Last week I talked about homeschooling with kids who struggle academically and may be 1 or more grade levels behind. I will probably say more about that in the future, but today I want to talk about another concern that can greatly affect our homeschooling and that is when one of your children in diagnosed with something.

It might be something physical. Perhaps a child has a physical handicap. Maybe it's medical. Maybe it's emotional. It could be any number of things.

Cerebral Palsy
Tourette Syndrome (our personal diagnosis)

The list could go on and on and on and on. In fact, when you stop to think about it, it's kind of a wonder there are any "normal" children out there! If you are the parent of a child with a diagnosis of one kind or another (even if you are the one who did the diagnosing), it makes you more aware of how everyone has some kind of struggle.

And yet, we don't always see that. We might see another homeschooling family and be around them for 1/2 an hour and somehow in our mind we convince ourselves that they don't struggle. That their kids are smart and healthy and wow how easy they must have it!

But let's talk about how the rest of us live. (And I hope you are starting to realize that "the rest of us" is nearly ALL of us!)

If your child were in public school, you would have a team of people involved in your child's education. The school counselor, the principal, the special education teachers, a diagnostician, the OT, the classroom teachers, etc. There would be ARD meetings and 504 meetings and IEPs and all kinds of paperwork and legalities.

Education is so much more than academics. Little Bit learning to sew last year. 
On really trying days maybe a team of folks sounds good to you! On other days you feel blessed to have your problems be YOUR problems--with you and your spouse in control. I am of the opinion that public school resources are there to help. If you need them--use them! If it's an interference, don't! I don't think you should feel badly either way.

There was a time in our country when children who struggled probably weren't diagnosed at all. My dad tells a story about a family they knew and "the older boy wasn't right." Have you ever heard that expression? He probably had some sort of mental or learning problem. I asked my dad and he said, "You know, we never thought about it. We just knew he needed help and he wasn't like the rest of us." Yep. That's all they needed to know back then. The parents and family and even neighbors just helped the child however was needed. No doctors or psychologists involved. To a certain extent I still think homeschooling families can help their children however is needed. (Of course, if medical intervention is required that's another thing.)
That's my Dad sitting on the porch with his siblings and neighbors. 

It just means that your homeschool will not look like anyone else's. (And it probably never did to begin with.) I know we talk a big game about "who cares about grade levels" and all that jazz but the truth is those things are firmly entrenched in our way of thinking. I tried really hard the other day to think how educating my children would be if I never knew a thing about public school. My first thought was, "well, there wouldn't be grade levels and I wouldn't start and stop each year. We would just keep learning until they were 18 and graduated!" Then it hit me: Wait! They wouldn't stop at 18 and we wouldn't even know what "graduating" was! Boy are we stuck on public school traditions!

If you are the parent of a child who has a diagnosis of one kind or another, you just need to keep on teaching your child. We may say things like "she's in 4th grade" or "2 more weeks and our school year is over" but really and truly we just need to KEEP ON TEACHING and they need to KEEP ON LEARNING. They will make progress. They will learn. It just may not have anything to do with a school calendar or benchmarks or the scope and sequence or any of our other pre-conceived notions. Oh how freeing would it be to be able to shuck all that from our mind and just do what our child needs?


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dealing With Stuff

Welcome back to my series about how homeschool isn't always pretty!

I was fairly confident going in to homeschooling that I could do the teaching part. I had taught for years in public schools. Second grade didn't seem like that big of deal. It was the teaching while doing housework and taking care of a 3 year old and paying the bills and running errands and fixing meals that seemed hard. (I was right.)

For years I worked under the assumption that everyone else was being terribly successful in their homeschool endeavors and I was the only one having struggles. I'm not sure why this is. I certainly heard my fellow homeschool moms talk about their struggles at park days and play days. I heard them, but it's really hard to imagine other moms at home actually homeschooling. Since we are all in our individual homes, we don't get to see each other in action, so to speak. All we know is what we read on blogs (complete with cropped pictures!) and what we imagine in our heads.

The first struggle we had was with math. Sweetheart had gone to private school using ABeka curriculum in 1st grade. When we began our homeschool journey, I stuck with ABeka that first year. We were used to it. It was solid. It was Christian-based. At first that was fine. Throughout that first year I learned about other curriculum I wanted to try and dabbled in unit studies and lapbooks. The next year, third grade, I was ready to branch out. But since the ABeka arithmetic book was still working, I stuck with that.

Well, about 1/2 way through 3rd grade, we were both in tears during math time. Sweetheart hadn't really gained a very solid foundation in her 3 years of prior schooling. ABeka moved FAST. And we were drowning. We threw away the book, ordered a new curriculum, which started off marvelous, and it was easy enough to blame all of these struggles on 2 things:
1. her former school experiences
2. the curriculum

So I wasn't too shaken up.

Fast forward to this last school year (7th grade). Guess what? We are STILL struggling in math! It has become obvious over the years that we can't just lay blame and shrug it off. I've had to come to grips with the facts. In my mind they were:

1. She's not too good at math
2. I must really stink at teaching math

And then you hear about so-and-so's Kindergarten student who is working through a 3rd grade curriculum and CRIES when his mom says "no more math today." I NEVER wake up to children who are happily doing math worksheets before breakfast just because they want to. What's wrong with us?

The thing is: in public school everyone is kept in the same place. The smart kids might get to go to G/T classes and do extra projects and the slower kids might go for remedial tutoring, but really, you aren't allowed to stay back or move on outside of your grade level very often.

However in homeschooling, there are no limits like that. We ignore grade levels if we want to. And I think that's great as long as you're talking about my 3rd grader doing 4th grade work or above. But it's not so pretty or comforting to think about my 7th grader doing 6th grade work or below. That's nothing to brag about. And I was all "better late than early" in my happy Snow White voice for awhile there. Then it hit me that if we didn't get to moving, she wouldn't actually finish high school on time.

And I was pretty sure that no one else's kids were really grade levels behind. Oh sure, they might struggle, but surely they aren't years behind where they should be! Why are we always so sure it's only us?

So my first point on Homeschooling for the Rest of Us is this:

not everyone's kids are on grade level

And if yours aren't, you are not alone. Now you know.

(I'll talk more about what we are doing in math later!)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Homeschool For the Rest of Us

I don't know about you, but my kids are not going to be earning their college degrees while still in high school.

They aren't reading 5 grade levels above where they should be.

They aren't going to make the news for their outstanding standardized test scores.

I know because I got their test scores back already.

That's why today I am starting a blog series called:

Do you like that picture of Little Bit mid-meltdown during her test? And Sweetheart trying to complete her math assignment with Baby Bee on her lap? This is real life, folks.

A friend of mine found a blog last week that nearly made her have heart palpitations. The woman did seem just about perfect. Her children were ultra-successful, happy, accomplished, and doggonit they got more done in one day that we get done in a week AND cooked their own sauces that we couldn't even pronounce. It's enough to make you want to scream.

And I had already planned this series, but that solidified it. My friend shouldn't feel that way.

And then, another friend posted a link to this post. And that cemented it. (That link has some bad words in it. I couldn't link to it on FB because I'm, you know, the preacher's wife. But by golly it's the truth even if I would have said it a different way.)

Folks, I'm not cropping our homeschool here. I'm going to tell you the down and dirty, nitty gritty truth about homeschooling kids who struggle in school.

I know more of you relate to that than a perfectly successful, highly motivated, owns-their-own business while working on college courses and volunteering daily at the animal shelter while learning photography on the side and scoring perfectly on the SAT student anyway.

Hope you'll join me.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Summer So Far

First a note about the blog:

I'm so sorry, blog world. I really miss you. I do. And I miss the readers I used to have which I'm sure have mostly gone away now. 

At one time I had a kind of little bit of a well read blog. Sort of. I was happy. I got comments. We interacted. I read ya'll's blogs. It was a fun little community. 

But I do not dare walk away because this is where I have documented our lives and especially our homeschool for the last what? 6 years? 

Speaking of which, it scares me to think that Blogger could just go away one day and bye-bye blog. I know you can get blog books made (cha ching!). I know you can self-host. (ack!) What should I do to ensure that I have these memories? Start printing? Suggestions?


We have been doing summer school three times a week. We are mainly doing math and language arts. Really we're just trying to get a jump start on the things that fell through the cracks last year. And keep going with math, which is never-ending. The girls have complained a little, but even they realize that an hour or 2 three times a week is not a big deal.

But we are oh so excited about next year! I've been planning and planning. I've had to make myself stop last week. I will resume getting ready for next year when we return from....

our first ever family vacation!!!

Yes folks, I am so excited! Wednesday is our 20th anniversary and so soon we are loading up the family and taking off on a road trip for a week. S has NEVER taken a whole week off of work to my knowledge. So I'm spending my time until then getting the house in order (I even tackled the inside of Little Bit and Bee's closet) and packing, etc. Then when we return, I will resume next year's school planning. 

Nothing but fun in my future! (I love planning.) 

We have had a little bit of fun this summer. I was kind of thinking how we hadn't done many fun things for the bigger girls but I looked back at our calendar and realized we had done some things. It would be better if we had other people to go do things with. Sister came over with her girls once and we all went to the splash pad. Those kind of things are much more fun with friends (or cousins). Our church had a swim party on the 4th of July. That was fun. Um.....

Well, we're going on vacation so there's always that!!

Gee whiz. Mama needs to get out more! It's raining this week so swimming is out. We're going to the library today but that really doesn't hold the promise it did when they were little. What do you do with big kids in the hot summer? Maybe other people stay at home a lot too. Maybe Facebook just makes it look like everyone else is out having fun except us. Maybe. 

OK. Some pictures to share:

My parents have been going to the mall to walk early every morning. We joined them one morning but there are WAY too many of these stupid things all around the mall. There was a lot of crying until we finally stopped. The mall is dead to me. 

Splash pad.

Mrs. Carrie had an American Girl party to watch the new Saige movie. 

Sweetheart got rid of her toys this summer.

The girls have helped a lot with Bee. It's getting harder. She's big!

We tried Kool-aid dye.

Monday, June 24, 2013


So, we are rearranging today. I haven't rearranged ANYTHING in this house in exactly 2 months and 2 days. So, give me credit.

But Sweetheart wants her room rearranged before next school year. It's been the same way for a year so I'm cool with that. Of course you know that rearranging her room creates an avalanche of events that involves pieces of furniture from 3 other rooms. In the end, we will be better organized, will have the toys out of the living room, will have more space in the homeschool room, and her room will be very nice.

Later this summer, I've got to tackle the stored clothing issue in Little Bit and Bee's closet. That one will require a babysitter for a few hours.

Not to mention that S is in the middle of a forced bathroom re-do in the girls' bathroom. I say forced because a leak caused us to have to knock out a wall of tile. It's not like you can match and replace 45 year old re-do! He's been working on that a little each night and making really good progress too.

And then the washer stopped draining. He got that fixed last night after church. I think the dryer is dying. And our computer has a bug we can't get rid of.

But all I can think about is how blessed we are! We serve a risen Savior Who loves us so dearly. I have a beautiful family and we are all together and healthy right now. We have a home, cars, a job, food in the kitchen....we are blessed beyond anything we deserve.

Summer school starts back up tomorrow. Having Friday through Monday off is really nice. I don't know how much we're actually accomplishing on our 3 days of school, but at least we're keeping their skills sharp and getting a little bit ahead for next year (or not so behind). I really have no idea how we are going to get everything done next year. Sweetheart is going to have to get started a WHOLE lot earlier than 9am, that much I know!

Ah well, today is not a school day. Here's to tearing up the house!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Keepers End of Year Ceremony

We wrapped up our Keepers at Home club this year by giving the girls all the badges they had earned throughout the year. They earned a lot! We invited grandparents and let them know how proud we were of them all.

Little Bit and Sweetheart posing by the display table. We had the girls' scrapbooks to share.

Carrie made programs. We are very official.

Grandma looking at things with Sweetheart.

We took turns giving little talks to explain some of the activities they had done this year.

Then, they got their badges!

Very proud of these girls!
Emily--10, Little Bit--9, Sweetheart--13, and Kate--14

My parents with Bee.

Matt got a very special award. :) As the only brother who attended every meeting of a girls' club, he was VERY helpful with Bee this year!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Baby Bee's Birthday

We had everyone over for brunch and served breakfast tacos.

The farm theme came about because she LOVES LOVES LOVES Baby Einstein's Baby Mac Donald movie.

We built her a barn to play in. It's not like it needed to be big since all her cousins are way too big to care about playing in it with her. Poor baby. Her growing up years are going to be very different from her sisters'.

She had a great time though.

Playing peek-a-boo with my Sister.
Cousin Gnat with Sweetheart and Little Bit...

Opening her presents.
My sisters...

Happy Birthday Baby Bee!!!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer School Formerly Known as Boot Camp

I was so proud of my idea for the camo themed boot camp this summer. All I was implying was that we were going to cram a bunch of drill into a concentrated amount of time. Thus, boot camp.

So at Target's dollar spot I found little rolls of camo duct tape! Perfect!! I mean, I can't justify spending money on decoration for summer school. I was going to duct tape their binders and find some camo pencils, etc.

But when we opened that duct tape oh my word!! It stank like anything. You know what it smelled like? When a place has new commercial carpet. It was SO bad. It smelled up the whole house. I kept thinking it would air out but after we threw it away you could still smell it every time someone opened the trash.

Humph. Oh well. I'll think of something. Something less smelly.

So here are some of the things I have planned for this summer. I'm trying to make it as fun as possible and not so much like the regular school year.

1. All About Spelling
We didn't do well on spelling after Bee got mobile. We didn't have anywhere we could put the board where she couldn't get into it. So we lost a few months in the spring of doing spelling. There isn't any way to make this different, but we're going to finish their books.

2. Writing Strands
We are beginning this and since its a new program, and I really think Sweetheart will love the author's tone (he wrote it like he is speaking straight to them), I think she will enjoy it. Plus, at the end of some lessons he says, "Now, tell your parents you have a week off of writing" so she'll enjoy that!

3. Grammar/Art Journals
I noticed during the IOWA test that we took last month my girls are lacking in some grammar rule knowledge. So, we are going to learn the capitalization and punctuation rules (each according to their level). To do this in a fun way, I have a plan to use their Art Journals to learn these rules.

I'll have to show you pictures once we get going on this!

4. Other stuff
Little Bit is still growing as a reader. She just finished 3rd grade, but was using Sonlight's 2nd grade readers. There is a big jump from 2nd to 3rd grade (nearly everything is chapter books) so she needs a lot of reading practice over the summer. We're doing that through our library summer reading program, but there are other skills we can work on.
So I found some things on Pinterest like a cupcake matching game to learn contractions. No worksheets. Just some games and stuff. Plus some sight word work. Just things to strengthen her skills.

5. Mama and Me Journals
Want a sneaky way to get writing and reading practice in for your kids? I found these Mama and Me Journals on Pinterest as well. I made them this week for the girls and they both just loved the idea and were full of questions. I had surprised them by having them under their pillows one night. The instructions are for them to write in them and then leave them on my bed, where I'll write back the next day. It's nice and I think is really opening another line of communication for my 13 year old, where she sometimes wants to discuss things with me, but doesn't have a lot of private time with me. This is giving us the chance to talk about some things. Good stuff.

Those are my plans. We won't do every thing every day. But I have a lot of things to pull from and hopefully a lot of it doesn't feel like school.

And they also have math. All of this will occur on Tuesday through Thursday. We're off the other days!

I mean, it IS summer!

Even if I don't get to be drill sergeant.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

End of the 2012-2013 School Year

Good-bye 7th and 3rd grade!

We very happily wrapped up our school year a week early just like we hoped to. I was very pleased with what all we got done. Little Bit has 2 books to read this summer that we didn't get to, but waiting will be better anyway as they were getting to the edge of her ability by the end. And Sweetheart has one to try this summer that was too hard for her during the year.

Here are the happy students after we had our traditional "dance around the house to this song" like we do every year.

Now we are enjoying a care-free week of summer before our summer school starts next week. Monday we went to the park with friends from our homeschool group and sweated together for an hour and 15 minutes, called it quits and went to go find sno-cones.

Tuesday we went to the American Girl store for Little Bit (she had been saving money for the trip) and to Justice for Sweetheart (she saved too). We don't go to the mall very often so its like a big treat for the girls. So funny. We shopped, ate lunch, and had a good time.

Since Bee didn't get to buy anything, we let her play in the baby play place a while.

Then yesterday we didn't have any plans except to turn in library books. We got there just in time for a presentation on monarch butterflies and it was very good!

Other than that, we've just been swimming and enjoying time together and NOT doing school!!! It's so nice. And Daddy had some time off too so we've got to see him more this week.

Sweetheart and S have their sights set on joining the church's washer pitching team this year. They've been practicing.

So far, this week is a win!

Today's plan is to pack away last year's school stuff and start getting things ready for summer school next week. I've already had someone get onto me that "those kids need a break!" Well you know what? (And I told them this) Those kids need to graduate on time too and not still be finishing high school when they are 22 living at home. Don't you agree?

Tomorrow I'll share our summer school plans.

Hope you are enjoying your summer too!

I would just like to point out that it has been summer break here for 5 days and I haven't rearranged anything.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Love/Hate the End of the Year

I see the end! The light at the end of the tunnel! I have decided that no matter what, our last day of school is next Friday. Now I'm just trying to cram what we need into that time.

I'm coming to grips with the fact that some stuff just won't get done.

Deep breath. It's OKAY!

But the looming end of the year stresses me out some too. The girls are desperately wanting to be off. I'm wanting to be done. I feel the change of schedule coming and that stresses me out a little. After 10 months of the same thing every day--a new schedule is an adjustment.

Plus I always feel a twinge of guilt because my husband still has to get up and go to work just like always. I feel like the house should be extra clean when he gets home in the summers. I feel a little bad that I can go swim with the girls in the middle of the day.

I know being a mom is work and all but....really, its SUCH a blessing! I am so grateful to be home with them.  I don't know why God chose to bless me in this way. But Praise His Name, I'm glad He did!

One thing I'm looking forward to is being home a bit more. Bee is taking one nap a day now (usually) at a half-way predictable time. We need to run our errands early in the morning (to avoid all the people and for her and because of the heat) and then hang out at home! The girls did want to continue piano but I convinced them to take July off. On the day we go to piano, we'll also swing by the library like usual.

The girls and I last summer. I'm large, Sweetheart was 12, Bee was 1 month old, and Little Bit was 8.
I don't even have plans for the house this year like usual. Normally I attack a closet, or do some sewing, or paint something but I just don't have any plans yet this year. Perhaps my impending freedom has not fully hit me yet?

Today is Wednesday. The one day I can say "no" to swimming or bike riding. We have church tonight. We don't need to have to all take showers right before church. Wednesdays Mama gets to relax.

I'd like to start thinking about summer fun though. The girls are so much older than I'm used to planning for. Don't get me wrong, Sweetheart does still play with Little Bit. I love that they still play together some. But she's not going to be on board with any of my themes like she used to be. Still, art, sewing, projects....those kinds of things they would both enjoy.

What are your summer ideas? What do you do with older kids in the summer?

Oh my precious girl. I loved this age but I'm looking forward to a more active summer!