Saturday, October 10, 2015

A Week, Briefly (Sick Week)

We had copious amounts of vomit, snot, and fevers. 

So we didn't have school.

Here are some of the things we did do . . . in the order I found them on the camera.

Baymax tried to eat a green marker.

Super Star took a picture of the early morning mist on the soccer field.

She also took a picture of our cat killing a mouse.

We slept off our illnesses.

We had a break in the vomiting just long enough to go on a field trip with our homeschool group (scheduled 2 months ago) to a local urban farm--13.5 acres in the city that were formerly vacant and now produce well over $50K of organic food per year.

We all helped plant a row of garlic for next spring.

The farmers are a couple with a preschooler.  They're building their own off-the-grid home.  It's really cool!  If you look closely you can see Rose Red, Pixie, and Little Sister reflected in the door as Rose Red takes the picture.

We painted with red and blue.

We saw wild turkeys marching up the hill out of our back yard.

We painted with yellow and red.

The first times we worked with just one or two colors, the kids kind of wiped the colors across the page and gave up.  Now, though, they're taking lots of time to experiment with the paints and colors.  I love seeing them get interested in what they're doing.

We did fancy hair and watched Studio C--this was a treat for me because I was allowed to nap for an hour while this happened!!!!!
We also watched half a dozen TED talks--the kids' favorite was about math; mine was about puppetry.

We read aloud together.

Pixie made a book of some of her best photos to show off at YW in Excellence next week.

We did a lot of laundry.

I took Nature Angel to the dermatologist and found out that she has an auto-immune disorder which causes her body to attack her hair follicles.  7 steroid shots were administered, and, if all goes well, will allow her hair to grow back.  It might be a one shot deal, a recurring problem, or a sign of future auto-immune problems.  We don't know.

I'm hoping for a one shot deal.

(Pixie pointed out that I made Nature Angel sound bald.  In reality she has a bald patch 4 cm in diameter on the left side of her head--which makes it extremely hard to do her hair.)

We ate popsicles, saltine crackers, and 7Up.

Now I'm fighting mastitis.  I just administered my first dose of my tried-and-true home remedy against mastitis--2 oz of apple cider vinegar taken internally.  Two more doses--one tonight and one tomorrow morning should set me right again!

We're ready for a new week--a healthy one!!!!

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Week, Briefly (#9)

I don't know if I'm whining or just telling it like it is.

I don't know if I will ever stop beginning posts with, "It was a hard week  . . ."


It was a hard week.

My big girls are wonderful--they help so much.
My husband is the hardest working, most loving man I've ever known. 
My medium kids are trying, trying, trying in all things.
My littles are just being littles, and they're sweet and cuddly to boot.

The illnesses just keep on coming.
The work is ever-present.
The emotional trauma of 4 small children who have been neglected and abused is enormous.
The babies aren't sleeping.
My sweetheart does have to leave home to provide for us.
Sometimes the big girls are just plain tired of being so responsible.
The phone never stops ringing--with calls that I cannot ignore (because they are from therapists/doctors/social workers/etc.).
Errands wreck our days no matter how carefully I plan/prepare.
Tantrums wreck our evenings no matter how lovingly I reply.

I wonder constantly what my purpose is in this particular time and place.

And through it all, we try to have some school lessons.

It was a science week for us--lessons 7-10 of our curriculum--focused on animal taxonomy.

We did some painting with red, tying the color into our creation theme by talking about volcanic eruptions and the separation of land from water.

I love the curlers she wore all day so she'd be pretty for the youth activity at the church that night--a girls only activity!

 We attended dance practice.

Rose Red was the only student in her dual enrollment class to bring a correctly completed assignment.  The teacher took that assignment and publicly critiqued it.  That was HARD for Rose Red.  I give her a lot of credit for surviving such an experience gracefully.

We went to a playground near a local lake.  The littles climbed and jumped.  The older girls wandered near the water and discovered rather large crawdads.  I breathed the crisp air and tried to see the children through the Lord's eyes.
Rose Red says this little fellow is likely to be quite the soccer player someday.  He has an instinctive gift for footwork.

We gathered acorns and seashells.

We watched General Conference
It lent light to my spirit.

Today there is much vomit. 
There won't be much school.
I wonder what we are learning . . .

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Week, Briefly (#8)

I have slept so little this week, that our activities and accomplishments are a blur.

Dad was sick this week.  So was Little Brother.  The babies are getting it now.  Exhaustion is not unique to me.
 I do remember that we focused on history this week, completing lessons 7-12 which were about the Tower of Babel, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, and the founding of Egypt.

This lesson about the founding of Egypt had is walk a narrow path blindfolded while we followed the guidance of a trusted leader as its attention-getting-activity.  The LEGOs all over the floor were the painful consequence of stepping off the path.

I sent an email to the creators of the curriculum we're using because I'm displeased with the incongruities in their timeline.  They focus on Biblical time (which I approve of heartily), but include dates on their timeline cards that show obvious discrepancies between Biblical timelines and secular timelines, and they offer no help with explaining the discrepancies.  It is impossible to put the cards on the timeline in a sensible way, so I've asked for some clarification.

I'm still waiting.

In the meantime, we've been able to have some interesting discussions about faith and evidence and history.

We finished our read-aloud book The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo--the kids all said it was a book that started out boring but ended really, really well.  Pixie's comment was insightful, "It's hard to believe that a book with such a simple plot could say so much."

I agree.  This book spoke volumes in very few words, and it touched all of our hearts.

We're still actively engaged in reading George's Secret Key to the Universe by Lucy and Stephen Hawking.  Rose Red read it some years ago, but she's sitting in on this re-read while the rest of the kids enjoy it for the first time.  There's some delightful science in this goofy story.

Rose Red is making progress through Math-U-See Epsilon.  She still needs lots of guidance, but she seems to be remembering more and more rules about working with fractions.

Pixie is slowly finishing up Saxon Math 8/7.  She's deep in pre-algebra at this point, and though it is new and difficult information for her, she seems to be "getting it."  She's grateful that her next book is Saxon Algebra 1/2--a sort of second pre-algebra book that will review and solidify the skills she's working on now.

Super Star is really enjoying Saxon Math 5/4.  Now that she's spent several weeks regaining the confidence that was shaken this summer, I've begun working her harder in this text to get her through more than one level this school year.  She's doing very well.

Belle continues to work through Saxon Math 7/6.  I'd speed her up because it is really too easy for her, but for the fact that Pixie is working in the next book right now.  Perhaps in November I'll encourage her to pick up the pace and shine in this subject that is obviously one of her gifts.

Nature Angel, Little Princess and I did our art/math lessons for numbers 9 and 10 this week.

The little ones and I did preschool with the MindUp curriculum.  We worked on counting to 10 when we're out of control, belly breathing for relaxation, and the vocabulary words mindful and unmindful.  We did a lot of role playing for problem solving, and it is gratifying to see Brother really trying to use the techniques we're learning when he's playing in real life.  I'm hoping that Mister Man and Little Brother will start to use the techniques soon, too.

The little boys also got to play with some sensory bins--pasta tubes and letter tiles.  They dug through the bins to find the letters in their names, using a printed name sheet to help them find the right tiles in the right order.  Mister Man had no problem, but Brother and Little Brother needed lots and lots of guidance.  Hooray for Super Star and Belle who stepped in to help.

We played in the water almost every afternoon.

We went to the park on Friday, then came home and had an art lesson during which we water-colored in  both blue and yellow to represent the separation of light and dark during the creation.

Ladybug's therapist is actively trying to help us bring Ladybug home full time.  That will be a treat when it finally happens.

The TPR trial (for termination of parental rights) has been continued.  This is disappointing but par for  the course as it has already been continued over and over again for a year so far.  If the continuance is denied then the parents have cause for appeal, and that takes a year to complete, so we're sitting tight and hoping the continuance is granted and a new date is set that is only a month or two out.  In the mean time, the Children's Division is hoping the parents will recognize their limitations and sign away their rights without a full trial.  Given the parents' histories and current situations, this is possible but not likely.

Belle loves on Little Sister . . . a treat for all of us.
Each day has been achingly hard.  There are not words to describe what the days hold and what we must do to survive.  I have to actively pray for perspective each day, otherwise I drift into despair that we will ever be a family or function in a healthy way.  School is completed in the midst of tantrums, phone calls with various state authorities and medical personnel, and a maelstrom of emotional and physical chaos.

We question every day if what we're doing is wise or good.

The answer is always yes.

So we keep putting one foot in front of other.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Week, Briefly (#7)

It has been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

It is the second of it's kind this week.

I'm seriously irritable, annoyed, and in no mood to be the mom.

My kids can feel it.

I see it in their eyes.

Something's gotta give, and it's going to have to be me.

What can I give?

While I think I'll remember the week as a whole.

Making pictures with the garden mulch . . .

"Painting" with water--probably my favorite toddler/preschool activity ever.

Little Sister is beginning to walk.  Every other hour someone calls, "Mom [Little Sister] just took a step!"  and picks her up to cover her with kisses and tell her she's marvelous.  What a blessing it is for our babies to have so many cheerleaders.

Baymax is more and more mobile each day.  His army crawl is alarmingly fast, and he's sure trying to get/keep his belly off the ground.  He's just waaaaay too chubby to hold that much weight up yet. :)

We had 3 days of preschool this week.  We sing a gathering song ("Here We Are Together"), sing some silly movement songs, have a MindUp lesson, and close by singing "I Am a Child of God."  The kids like it a lot.  This week we reviewed the functions of the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex; we practiced counting to 10 to have time to think before we explode; we used stick puppets to talk about emotions; we read Sometimes I'm Bombaloo as a springboard for talking about losing and finding our tempers.

The afternoons have been quite warm and summery, so we've spent as much time out of doors as possible.
 Nature Angel, Little Princess and I had one math/art session about the number 8 this week.

We had two whole family art sessions this week exploring color.  One day we played with two shades of yellow and another day we explored one shade of dark blue.  We tied them into our history and geography lessons by talking about the organization of light and dark during the creation.

We painted outside after an afternoon of water play . . .

Dad and the babies hung out together while the rest of us painted.

Next week we'll use both light and dark on the same page.

As for our Family School, it was a history week.  We began with the council in heaven and traveled through time to the dispensation of Noah.  My personal highlight of the week was listening to Little Princess tell the story of Noah.  Her older sisters were actually open-mouthed in wonder as they listened to the details she remembered from the Bible.

Little Princess's beeswax sculpture of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Nature Angel's tree--complete with Adam and Eve each holding a piece of the fruit.
The big girls all did 4 days of math assignments.

Rose Red worked her way through sections 2 and 3 of her LifePac science book 901.  She also worked hard at reading the 8 chapters her Communications 110 teacher assigned the class to read.  She finished 3 chapters (including written summaries) of her supplemental history reading.

That's about it for academics, but the life lessons have been grueling.  The kids had the opportunity to meet their biological grandmother and see her sister, their great-aunt, who lives in town.  Both women tried to get custody of these precious ones, and both were turned down by their respective state children's divisions.  I don't know why.  Those details are not for me to know.

I do know they are lovely, gracious women who treated our whole family with respect and consideration.  I hope I did the same in return.

Goodness knows I tried!

We have a picture of the children with these two fine family members, and someday it will be a tremendous blessing to them.

For now, though, it is a nightmare.

All 4 of them reacted badly after the fact--screaming, crying, tantruming, whining, breaking things, kicking, hitting, spitting, urinating, name calling, etc., etc., etc..

Though I know that regression is a normal part of healing, I am mentally and physically exhausted, and I'm struggling terribly to keep any sort of perspective.

(What I really want to do is curl up under the covers and not come out.)

I guess I'm kind of hiding while I write this post . . . what I ought to do is go get the Uno cards and play a game with the kids.

I'm off . . .

PS   We just found out that my sister's husband has cancer . . . he's a wonderful daddy of 6 and the love of my sister's life.  They have an appointment with an oncologist next week to find out what's what.  For now they're shell-shocked, and the rest of the family is wondering what on earth we can do to help.