Friday, January 13, 2017

A Week, Briefly (In Which We Are Still Sick)

It's officially Influenza A . . . and some other random viruses  . . . that we've been sick with.  It has been truly horrible, and I spent some time wishing badly that I could just check the whole family into the hospital for a few days . . . or at least hire a nurse like the ones from 100+ years ago that would come and take over care of the household.

All 14 of us were down at once.

I haven't totalled up the numbers, but I can tell you that we've gone through a lot of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, snot, vomit, fevers (up to 104.4!), mugs of herbal tea, sleepless nights, movies watched, and pounds lost.

Every single one of us has lost weight--a blessing to a few of us, a problem for most of us.

We're still convalescing, and I'm not sure we can handle starting school back up even next week.

We are, however, sitting around watching awesome documentaries on Netflix--at least 12 hours' worth this week.

Documentary school is cool.

(linking here)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Review: Yearly Membership at SchoolhouseTeachers.com


In my years of homeschooling my growing family, I've discovered one truth:  Our needs change constantly!  What draws the family together one semester drives us apart the next.  What lights up the eyes of one child sends the next sobbing to her bedroom.  What works for one season is impossible to maintain the next.  I find that every 3-4 months (not quite a full semester, by the way) we need to assess what's still working, what has stopped working, and make some changes.

Interestingly, 3 1/2 months into our school year--just as the babies' nap schedule started to change, Rose Red's Spanish class ended, and our energy started to flag in general--I received a Yearly Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

That very Monday, the first one in December, Nature Angel looked at me with slumped shoulders and asked, "Do I have to do my [language arts] today?"

She is regularly a faithful, obedient student.

And it is important to me that school is joyful to my children.

I believe in doing hard things.  And I believe in doing work we don't necessarily like doing (I don't love laundry, but I do it anyway).  But when I looked into her tired eyes and thought about all of the work she's diligently accomplished so far this year, I couldn't bring myself to say yes to doing language arts.

And I had a new Yearly Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

"Come with me!" I invited with eyes wide and a big smile on my face.

She sat down next to me at the computer and we started exploring.

My Nature Angel is an artist, so once we were logged in we clicked the "Browse by Subject" tab.


"Art" was the first subject listed, so we clicked it and began browsing.

We read the summary for All about Art, the first course in line, and found out it was geared for 1st-3rd graders, and further reading of the course description let us know that though it looked fun, it would be too basic for my 4th grader.


So we browsed on.

We found Art Appreciation:  South African Art.  Nature Angel lit up, "South Africa!?!  I want to do this!"  We studied the course description, reviewed the recommended lesson plans, and she was utterly hooked.

So was I.

We downloaded the entire course, and Nature Angel started studying.

The course is relatively self-contained--the biographical information, art concepts, and photos of the art are all part of the downloadable text.  We provide the art supplies ourselves.  Sometimes she does some online research about an artist.

Because Nature Angel loves to draw we modified the lesson assignments a bit to reduce the amount of research included so that she could spend time mimicking great artists.

Her version of "10 People in a Mopipi Tree" by Walter Battiss
We quickly ran into a snag--Nature Angel needed long hours to study and draw, but the computer needed to be free for the rest of the family, too.

I turned to my phone.

I had to spend significant time conversing with customer service to be able to get the site to work on my phone.  I think it is because I have a Windows phone, and a lot of sites are wonky when it comes to Windows phones.

The customer service folks were available, knowledgeable, and dedicated.  At one point I had to cut off an online chat to take care of my kids, and I never picked the chat back up.  Within hours I found an email from customer service following up on our interrupted consult.   I used email to continue communicating with customer service until I was able to get the site to work.

Once we had access via my phone, I downloaded the lessons, and Nature Angel used my phone screen to study the art.  She loves how portable my phone is, taking it from dining room table to kitchen table to basement floor--wherever her art supplies and a bit of privacy happen to be.

Her assignment was to create a Thanksgiving themed painting.

So, for my 4th grade daughter and for me, finding Art Appreciation:  South Africa at SchoolhouseTeachers.com was a win-win.  She got a break from her regular school subjects, and I got a girl happily reading, studying, researching, writing, and drawing.

Nature Angels' copy of tradition Bushman art
Then it was time for Super Star to need a change of pace.  She's 14 and (for record-keeping purposes) in the 8th grade.  She recently completed an elective and was in need of a new challenge.

"What would you like to study?" I asked.

"I don't know," she replied morosely.

"Come with me," I invited, and we turned to SchoolhouseTeachers.com to see what we could find.

This time I pressed the "Browse by Grade" button and clicked on 8th grade.


The "Foreign Language" tab caught her attention, so we clicked it to see what we could see.

Her eyes lit up when we got to French.  We clicked the "about" button to get a general sense of the course,


then we clicked the "lessons" button to see what they were actually like.

It took us about 5 minutes to decide this class would be awesome!

Thinking ahead to the fact that Super Star will be in high school in just a matter of months, I quickly checked to see if the high school level French class was the same or different--might as well challenge her with a 9th grade course at this point.

It was the same.

So we downloaded the first unit.

And ran into a snag; none of the audio would work.

Ta-da!  Customer support was online.

Within 15 minutes, we had the problem solved, and Super Star was studying her first French lesson.

Listening to the alphabet in French and following along on the page
She spends 15 minutes a day on her lessons (because that's a good amount of time for her--it would be very easy to increase or decrease the time spent), and she's loving them.  They include pronunciation, memorization, culture, conversation--everything that makes up a solid French class.

I'm going to count it as her first high school credit when she finishes the whole first year's work.

I've spent additional time browsing the SchoolhouseTeachers.com site, and there is so much to explore!

*I've found a computer/business class that I'd like Rose Red to take.
I really like these printable pages that I can lay out across my counter to scribble on and compare lists
*Pixie is interested in exploring the photography classes.

*The preschool/preK classes aren't online games at all!  (That's a plus in my book!)  They're a variety of lesson plans for delightful hands on, literature rich, science rich, creative activities.


*There's a book list that is organized topically and sorted by approximate age/grade level interest that has me salivating and spending joyfully large amounts of time at our library website making book requests.


*I've begun using the complimentary Silver Membership to Applecore Recordkeeping System included with membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com to track my highschoolers' work.



*There's an included custom schedule builder that allows you to create and save all kinds of schedules and record keeping documents to your own computer.


There's a whole lot more.

Too much to even describe.

At first, I was utterly overwhelmed.

But as I spent time exploring I got excited to have such a rich treasure trove of curriculum options available right at my fingertips . . . right when we need them . . . without having to order new products, spend more money, or worry about whether I'm "getting it right."

Our needs change a lot in our busy household.

These changes mean we need to shake up our school routine a bit.  I'm tickled that the changes we need to make are easy to take care of with the myriad resources in available through the Yearly Membership at SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

Click the images below for more information and reviews.

https://schoolhouseteachers.com/


http://schoolhousereviewcrew.com/high-quality-self-paced-online-homeschool-resources-schoolhouseteachers-com/




Friday, January 6, 2017

A Week, Briefly (In Which We Are Sick)

Monday
I was sick.
Lola was running a fierce fever and fighting pink eye to boot.
Baymax was finishing up being sick.
Pixie said her "whole body hurt."
Various other small people were sneezing and/or coughing.

We did not start school up again.

Instead Rose Red went on a date with a very nice boy who makes her heart beat a little faster than usual.

Pixie napped, took some ibuprofen and joined Super Star and a church friend at the roller skating rink.

I did 8 loads of laundry and mapped out a new daily schedule for the upcoming semester.

We chose Madeline for our preschool book of the week.

We updated our Morning Meeting routine for the new year:
Continue with Egermeier's Bible Stories
Follow the 2017 Primary schedule for song/scripture of the month
Continue memorizing New Testament scripture passages
Continue reading The Book of Mormon
Review The Family: A Proclamation to the World and The Living Christ on alternating Mondays
Memorize the Articles of Faith (this is new for the 6 and under crowd, review for the rest of us)

Pixie came home from roller skating, admitted she'd overdone it and collapsed in a weeping heap.  She slept and wept off and on for a while.  I administered hugs, ibuprofen, and herbal tea and sent her to bed.

Brother had a melt down of his own.

Once most of the family were in bed, and we were just waiting for Sir Walter Scott to bring Rose Red home from work, I pulled Belle over and showed her some instructional videos on needle felting to help her get started using the wool and needles she got for Christmas.  She's pretty excited to get started on some projects.

Sir Walter Scott and I sat up discussing the needs of various children for a while.  It is such a blessing to have him as my partner in this work of raising our family.

Tired though I was, it was hard to sleep with the needs of our children pressing on my mind.

But prayer is a gift, and Heavenly Father answered mine with peace.

Tuesday
The day began too early with Mister Man waking from a nightmare at 4:00 am.  Then Brother and Little Brother threw a party at 4:30 am.  They were so loud they woke up Nature Angel, and Sir Walter Scott had to move Little Brother to a couch downstairs where he promptly fell back to sleep.  Brother and Nature Angel slept again, too.

We have a ginormous house.  We should be able to arrange it so that children's sleeping needs are met, but we have enough special circumstances to make bedroom arrangements hard!  We've made physical changes and mapped out other changes only to run into obstacles.

I guess it's time to return to prayer.

The highlight of the day was picking up Belle's (late) birthday present--a puppy!

Meet Theo.


Belle cried when she saw him.  She is happier than I've ever seen her, and though Sir Walter Scott and I don't really want a dog (our previous dog died late last spring), we felt strongly that Belle needed one.  All through our journey of trying to decide whether to go ahead and do this or not, we kept trying to back out, but Heavenly Father would open a door or reconfirm that this is important for our girl.

And He, of course, is so right.

Belle just shines.


Theo has woken up something in her that was dormant for lack of light.  I've worried and prayed long over her needs, and Theo is an important answer for her development and well-being.  (The needle-felting will probably sit on a shelf for a while 🌝)


It doesn't hurt that Theo is too cute for words.


Wednesday
We were really, really sick.

When the girls texted their church leaders to let them know they wouldn't be at activities that night one of them spent the day making an enormous pot of homemade chicken soup then packed up her kids and drove 15 miles to our house to deliver it just in time for dinner.

I'm positive there's a place in heaven for her.

Thursday
Another really, really sick day.  More of us are down.  The only healthy ones were Sir Walter Scott (he was at work), Ladybug, Mister Man, Brother, Little Brother, and Little Princess.  Super Star was kind of okay--at least enough to help pass out some food here and there, but we were in a bad way.

Sweet Belle felt terrible, but she held herself together to take care of Theo.  At one point Nature Angel and Little Princess watched him so that Bell could nap for a while.  But poor Nature Angel was a wreck by the time Belle woke up.

Friday
Mister Man is down now, and Sir Walter Scott is sneezing suspiciously.  He says he's okay, but I suspect he's on his way down.  Little Brother said his "froat hurt" last night, so I have my suspicions about him, too.

The fevers are terrible--nearly 104--and the aches are horrible.   No one is going to die of this, but we are pretty sick.

Sir Walter Scott is home today, and he's a nurse by profession.  I'm going to leave him to nursing duties while I go back to bed (I got up with the babies for a while so he could get a bit of sleep--I think he got up every half hour last night with someone) and try to recuperate enough to take back over care of the family before he falls prey to this illness.

I'm thinking we're not going to resume school for a while.

I'm so thankful that we're usually healthy!!!!

(Linking here)

Friday, December 30, 2016

A Week, Briefly (In Which We Live Quietly [If You Can Call the Noises 14 People Make "Living Quietly"])

Sunday
Christmas Day

Presents.

Church.

Family.

It was joyful from beginning to end.

Monday
Our preschool book of the week is Room for a Little One.  The preschoolers are fine with it, but one of the older kids asked, "Christmas?  Why Christmas when Christmas is over?"

"Because we worship Christ at all times," I answered.

There wasn't much she could say other than, "I guess that's true . . ."

Though changes are coming next week, Morning Meeting continues much the same in this last week of 2016.  It was our review day for The Living Christ, and now that we have it memorized, I find myself grieving that we won't be singing it every school day in the coming year.  I've found some new songs to memorize, but even though they are scripture, they don't have the same beauty and grace of The Living Christ songs.

We had friends over to visit--former neighbors whom we love.  We hadn't visited in over a year, but when they walked through the door, it was just like old times.

Good neighbors are a blessing.

We played indoors and out--the Playmags, the pogo stick, and the new jump ropes got the most use.

Wonderful creative, constructive, healthy play all day.

Little Princess pulled out her beeswax candle rolling kit and made 6 beautiful candles.  


In the evening we took a vote, and King Arthur was kicked off our reading list.  When Mister man protested, I assured him he could continue it one-on-one with me.  He received this news with an actual shudder of delight.

Instead we read the first 50 pages of Mary Poppins, and everyone loved it.

Tuesday
Another visit to the chiropractor for me.  Hooray!  I'm healing!

The day passed in a blur . . . warm temperatures meant the littles played outside for hours on end, and came happily inside for homemade macaroni and cheese for dinner.

Rose Red found out she earned a "C" in her Spanish class.  This is reason to celebrate!  It was a huge challenge for her, and she earned every point by blood, sweat, and tears.  She now has 8 college credits to call her own (5 from this class and 3 from the speech class she took last year).

Mister Man is building circuits every day with his Christmas gift of Snap Circuits. 


Ladybug, Mister Man, and Brother finished Henry Huggins with me.  The dilemma over Ribsy's ownership really affected Mister Man.  He wanted to talk about it for a while afterward.  He feels an injustice was done to Ribsy's original owner.

We ended the day with more Mary Poppins.  I only stopped when my eyes were too heavy to keep open any more. :)

Wednesday-Friday
We read Room for a Little One.
We had Morning Meeting.
We played.


We sewed.
We read.
We cooked.
We cleaned.
We went outside to climb trees, jump on the pogo stick, run, and laugh.
We read The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel.
We started reading A Bear Called Paddington.
We continued reading Mary Poppins.
We prayed.
We sang.
We watched movies.
We ate by candlelight a few times.
We napped.
We argued and apologized.
We stared at computer screens.
We talked about taking down the Christmas tree (today--absolutely, firmly, today!).
We shopped.



It's been a full week of good living.

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Week, Briefly (In Which We Only Kinda-Sorta Get Ready for Christmas)

It's Christmas week. Something is very wrong with my back (how old does that make me?). And we are all tired.

So we are on a break . . . sort of.

Rose Red is required to write 1000 words a day as we seek for enough credits to get her through her junior year. We'll call it a creative writing intensive.

Pixie is going to finish her photography course. It's no hardship 😊.

Super Star is going to work on her French course.

Belle is continuing with Latin.

No one else is required to do any formal school, but Nature Angel will probably do some art lessons.

We'll have morning meeting each day because that is our devotional time, and there's more than enough memorization, singing, reading, and critical thinking to keep our brains alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic.

Monday
We started the week with Santa's Favorite Story as our preschool book of the week.

While I lived on prescription strength ibuprofen, Super Star led the littles in a half hour of dancing to Christmas music (to get a few of the wiggles out). Then she read them a story to settle them down, and they all played with various building toys after that.

Belle helped me clean out the mud room.

Rose Red and Pixie did academics in the morning. Super Star and Belle did theirs in the afternoon.

The sun came out to bring the temperature up into the 20s, so most of the kids went sledding after lunch.

Eventually I was incapacitated by pain.  I spent the late afternoon on the couch with a heating pad while I wondered whether relief would ever come after my scheduled dose of pain meds.  I was so grateful for my kitchen helpers who washed potatoes to bake for lunch and who put the tuna casserole together for dinner that I started but couldn't finish.

Belle managed serving dinner to the littles, while Super Star managed kitchen clean up.

Nature Angel and Little Princess beamed with pride because they managed the babies' baths from start to finish all on their own.  They did a really good job with our temperamental toddlers.

I laid on the couch and listened to the stories the littles created as they played with our new Zoob building toys.  (Lots of birthdays this month)  I served as a mountain for the creations to conquer.

Pixie came home from babysitting and put me to bed.

It was really bad.

I almost couldn't get there.

Then she and her sisters managed all of the bedtime routines and watched Christmas in Connecticut while they waited for Sir Walter Scott and Rose Red to get home from work.

It was a day full of real-life homemaking skills for my girls.  I hate being ill or hurt because I feel guilty passing the work to my daughters, but in the back of my brain, I know how much they are learning when they are called up to take my place.  They will be more than ready to run their own homes and families when the time comes.

Tuesday
I woke up even less able to walk than I had been the night before.  Sir Walter Scott called in to work so he could take me to see a doctor (where they gave me 2 steroid shots and a prescription muscle relaxer--the challenge was to find something relatively safe for me to take while nursing and that wouldn't interfere with my anti-depressant) and then take Pixie and Little Princess to their scheduled eye exams.

Another 1,000 words for Rose Red.

Another 15 minutes of French for Super Star.

Pixie completed another photography assignment.  This one was about mood.  She used a mix of newer and older photos--challenging herself to search out and edit photos that met the criteria of the assignment.

Here are a few that speak to me:






Belle never got any Latin done on Monday because she worked too hard helping me, but she made it up today.

The temperatures rose above freezing, and the 4 littles had a blast out in the remaining snow, scooping, throwing, dumping, pouring, sliding, climbing, and laughing.

Belle and Mister Man spent a long time lost in a make-believe world of building creations.

And tough medications notwithstanding, I still can't pick up the babies, so they got away with wreaking even more havoc than usual.

In the evening, we read some more King Arthur, and then the older girls and I explored the web for some background information about The Great Gatsby--their next book club selection.

Wednesday
I became officially too irritated with Santa's Favorite Story to keep reading it, so we switched to The Crippled Lamb for our morning preschool story.

We're all happier for the change.

The day passed in a blur of pain management for me that ended in a trip (finally) to the chiropractor.  I'll be seeing him a couple of times a day for the next many days, and the adjustments hurt so badly that Sir Walter Scott could hear me crying from his seat in the lobby, but I feel that some progress is being made.

I know the kids played board games, built fantastic constructions with our ball-and-stick toys, played make believe, and got outside on their bikes and into the creek.

Pixie baked cookies to contribute to the church youth Christmas caroling activity (at an assisted living facility), and all four of the older girls participated.

Oh, those babies enjoyed the results of Pixie's work!
 She also played around with "light art."  She had to work around her lens limitations, but she and Little Princess and Nature Angel had some fun with a flashlight in a dark bathroom.

(These are unedited--Pixie isn't feeling well enough to edit right now.)







Sir Walter Scott took the younger kids with him to drop off the older girls, and on the way home they drove around looking at Christmas lights.

The kids came home with lights in their eyes.

Thursday
As temperatures soared into the high 40s, the little kids got to play outside for hours, tromping around the 1/2 acre of woods and creek we have in our yard.

The big girls baked Christmas cookies and managed the household.


I visited the chiropractor, iced my lower back, and cried.

When I came home from my afternoon appointment (2nd visit of the day!) I felt so beat up, bruised, and sore that I could hardly speak.  Sweet Pixie met me at the door, sent me to bed, and fixed me a cup of herbal tea.  Precious Belle retrieved my ice pack and filled a bowl with fresh-baked Christmas cookies for me to munch while I rested.

Earlier in the day Super Star and Nature Angel came with me to run errands--doing all of the lifting, carrying, and loading that I couldn't do.

Rose Red did a lot of chores that she hates doing because I needed her to take my place.

I felt so loved, so tenderly cared for, that after I finished crying out my hurt, I cried in gratitude for my wonderful, wonderful daughters who actively live what they've been taught of Christlike love and service.

In the evening the girls and I talked about King Arthur--how we're getting bored of all of the battles and the high-and-mighty-I'd-rather-die-than-be-humble dialogue.  That's when Mister Man, who recently started staying up to listen to the big kid stories, exclaimed, "I love them! I love this book!"

All of us girls just laughed.

There's truly a difference between boys and girls!

Friday
I cried right on the chiropractor's table.  He helped . . . a lot.  But it hurt so, so, so, so, so, so much.

The kids carried on with Christmas traditions while I rocked the babies with ice at the small of my back.

Lola helped Pixie roll and cut sugar cookies.

Smashing candy canes
Mixing the candy cane popcorn we'll bag and deliver to friends and neighbors
Little Princess claimed the bowl the almond bark had been melted in.

Chopping, melting, and stirring yet another couple of pounds of almond bark

It crossed my mind that my kids will have no standard to live up to for holidays.  They'll not grow up at all wishing they could do it as well as Mom did.

Instead they're establishing their own level of Christmas fun right now.

Perhaps that's a rather good gift to give them.

I'm comforting myself with that thought because the alternative--that I'm a terrible mother who should be working through the pain to "do it all"--feels revolting.

We've had preschool story time, Morning Meeting, outdoor play time, quiet time, evening routines, and family prayers every single day.

Rose Red wrote 4,000 words this week; Pixie organized and edited dozens of photos; Super Star completed a French unit; Belle completed another Latin unit.  Kids have decorated, drawn, wrapped, shopped, planned, counted, cooked, explored, read, written, and memorized all week long.

While tiny doubts niggle the back of my mind about our family culture, when I lay it out in black and white like this, I feel reassured that we're doing just fine.

Merry Christmas to all!!!!




(linking here)

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Week, Briefly (In Which the Week Gets Rough)

Sunday We made "gingerbread" houses after church.

Then we went for a walk.

 Then we started reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

 I know the story of Christ's birth should be my favorite Christmas story, but it's really The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

It's about discovering the power and love of Christ's birth, so that's pretty good, isn't it?

 Monday
Lots of folks are on Christmas break, but my big girls still have seminary until the 21st, and I don't really know what to do with the kids that prefer routine to break, so we're sticking with our school routine until inspiration comes.

Honestly, my crew NEED to be outside a lot, and they NEED structure to their days, so dumping it all in favor of "relaxing" into holiday activities is an absolute joke. Our summer days were long and free, but we had the luxury of 10 hours of outdoor play available to us then. Right now we're looking at 1-2 hours of successful outdoor play (more today because the high climbed above the freezing mark), and the rest of the hours that I'd love for the littles to spend with Legos or crayons or blocks or music or costumes or dolls or other wintery-indoor pursuits are actually spent climbing the walls.

 I think I may have to invest in higher-quality outdoor gear.

That being said, play dough is a winner every single day right now.

 And the littles are far better at playing creatively this year than they were last year. I have to give them that credit. They have grown and learned and are growing and learning every day.

 But I do have a 24-month-old and a 22-month-old, so seriously, no matter how much I try to plan ahead, the days are spent in crisis management.

*sigh*      They're so terribly cute that they're worth the craziness.

 Little Princess and I finished and ordered her Silly Stories book. It should arrive by Christmas!

The littles have formed an outdoor percussion band under the direction of Nature Angel. They're preparing a Christmas Eve surprise for the family.

We reviewed the entire Living Christ during Morning Meeting.   It was an amazing experience to sing our testimonies of Christ all together.

What a boring word "amazing" is.

Transcendent?
Delightful?
Powerful?

They're all such generic adjectives.

As I sat at the table, looking at the faces of the people I love most in the world, testifying of Christ and listening to them bear their own testimonies, I felt full of the grace and love of God.  I felt heaven in my dining room.

Brother had his eyes squinched shut as he concentrated on the words.

Little Brother had oatmeal smeared on his shirt and chin, and he flung oatmeal onto the wall as he waved his spoon in time to the music, but his eyes were alight with joy.

Mister Man sang Joseph Smith's testimony, " . . . for we saw Him even on the right hand of God . . ." with all of the gusto he could muster.

Super Star's voice lifted above all of ours in quality and sweetness.

Rose Red sat silently, refusing to join us in song.  But I know her better than that.  She's subtly borne testimony in her own way, and I know that eventually she'll find her voice.  In the mean time, she's hearing ours. 

And every one of the other kids' faces and voices touched my heart in their individual ways.

I guess that's what I mean by "amazing."

The rest of our school day was predictable, safe, stable--the usual.





The toddlers were anything but predictable, safe, or stable--the usual.

In the end we ate warm soup and homemade bread, gave everyone baths, read 2 more chapters from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, started A Christmas Carol, and went to bed.

Tuesday
I burned my hands.

After our usual morning routine, I settled down to do some phonics and math with Ladybug, but then Little Princess finished her scripture reading and came to me to do math.

It was a recipe.



She's on a learning to read thermometers unit, and we were assigned to make saltwater taffy so she could practice reading the candy thermometer and review simple fractions at the same time.

Win-win.

And we had all of the ingredients on hand.  She gathered them while I finished school with Ladybug.

Win, again,

We set to work.

Waiting for the temperature to climb to 256 degrees is long and boring.  Little Princess and I took turns stirring, and just as the temperature reached 250 degrees I handed the spoon off to her so I could finish loading the dishwasher.

Oops.

Somehow the temperature shot up quickly, going past the desired mark before I turned around.  I snapped the heat off, shoved the pan off the burner and stirred for all I was worth, but it was clear that the candy wasn't going to pull well.  It was crackling even as I stirred.

We poured it in the buttered pan anyway and waited for it to cool.



After a few minutes, I touched it and thought that maybe I could work with it.  It was hot, but if I let it sit between pulls, and only pulled the edges, I could cope, and by the time it was truly cool enough to handle it would be solid.  We'd have to get out a hammer and crack it.

I started pulling.


I made faces and let go quickly.

Kids gathered to watch.

Super Star made fun of me for being a wuss.  Little Princess tried touching it and jerked her hand back quickly.

I thought I was being careful, but it was really hot, and by the time I'd pulled and dropped and pulled the candy into beautiful, satiny swirls, my hands were red and blistered.



Oops, again.

There ought to be a lesson or two in this experience. :)

We listened to lots of SQUILT music while I iced my hands and we sucked on the yummy hard candy we made.   Then we memorized 4 more lines of  " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas," did a history review and called it good for Symposium.



Nature Angel studied another artist and completed the assignment to paint a Thanksgiving painting.

When I edited the picture, the computer saved it with the weird line in the middle. :(
The temperature stayed low, but the sun came out, so the kids played happily outside for a long time.  I had a doctor's appointment, and while I waited for my prescription to be filled, I hit the thrift store to get warm clothes for a few kids who were still layering summer t-shirts to stay warm.


But I also found a copy of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table for less than a dollar.  I'd just been wanting to read a good version of King Arthur to the kids, and this one serendipitously appeared.

I call that a blessing!

Rose Red studied for her Spanish final all day.

In the evening we finished The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (yes, I did cry--so did Pixie), finished the first chapter of A Christmas Carol, and started King Arthur.

Wednesday
My plans for the day were certainly not the Lord's plans for the day because almost everything on my to-do list was shunted aside for other work.

We did make it through Morning Meeting with few problems.

But Ladybug played passive-aggressive again, so no school for her.
Nature Angel was out of sorts (unusual) and struggled to work on her art project.
Lola and Baymax continued to wreak whatever havoc they could--climbing, throwing, and biting were the activities du jour.
Little Princess spun like a top from one activity to another, "Can I do this? . . . Can I do this? . . . Can I do this?" until my head spun off.
We process laundry every single day, but it managed to pile up again, and 5 loads needed to be folded ASAP because the little boys were out of pants.

Then it was time for Symposium.

We actually did a good job until the end.  We got through all of our usual material (ugh, Empress Wu Zetian was a terrible person, even if she was considered a great leader), but when I passed out a knights and castle coloring sheet to keep hands busy while I read aloud about King Arthur, chaos came to stay.

Babies cried.
Toys flew.
Kids complained.
Ladybug and Brother left for therapy.
Teens left and returned to the table over and over and over.
The phone rang.
The phone rang.
The phone rang again.

And Rose Red's ride home from school fell through, so I had to go pick her up.  (Three cheers for her final being over!!!  Now all we have to do is wait for her final grade.)

We never did read about King Arthur.

But at some point in the day Pixie entered some of her photos in a contest.  


Then in the afternoon I spent 2 hours at Old Navy trying to solve the problem of receiving someone else's order that was accompanied by my correct invoice.  The employees were deeply apologetic, but solving the problem was no picnic, and I was tired by the time I left to finish my other errands.

What a blessing that Sir Walter Scott was home while I was gone for so long.  Everyone was playing peacefully and creatively when I got home (and Nature Angel had been inspired to finish the painting that had bothered her in the morning), but I'd snagged a box of sidewalk chalk, and I happily dangled it in front of the kids to entice them to bundle up and get outside for the last hour of daylight.



Rats!  Ladybug and Brother are not at their best after therapy, and they both ended up on time outs--Ladybug for throwing sticks at people, Brother for breaking the chalk so that no one could color any more.

I am so grateful that pasta was on the menu for the night.

I love pasta night.

It's so easy on a day that was anything but.

The 5 oldest had church activities, so it was me and the littles at home for the evening.

Brother had a melt down . . . but he recovered much faster than he used to, and he sweetly apologized when it was all over.

That's a blessing.

Thursday
I woke to a headache in the wee hours of the morning.

I'm so grateful for medicine!

Pixie came to me at 5:11 am to talk out the trouble between her and one of the youth leaders at church.  My heart just hurts for my sweet, sweet girl who is having to learn early on that good people are not perfect.  It's an important lesson--one that will free her to make and repent of her own mistakes later on--but it is one that hurts right now.

We took an easy day for school--still maintaining our usual routines of preschool storytime, chores, Morning Meeting, and Symposium.

Rose Red joined us for Symposium now that she's done with Spanish, and I laughed at her question, "Is this all you do?  Color and listen to music?" as we settled in with SQUILT and our knights and castle coloring pages from yesterday.  We definitely did more than color and listen to music!  And we finished the first chapter of King Arthur--about King Pellinore and Excalibur.  Then then everyone ages 7 and up drew a picture of a favorite scene from the reading while everyone 6 and under narrated to me and drew a picture in their journals.

The rest of the day was busy with Christmas work.

In the evening we read about the ghost of Christmas past in A Christmas Carol.

Friday
Everything has been wrong today.

I overslept--sleeping so hard that Sir Walter Scott actually checked me to see if I was still breathing.

I was.

I am. :)

Sleepiness is a side effect of my medication.  It has a fierce hold on me lately.

Ladybug is acting like she used to when she first lived with us.  She's lying, whining, complaining, and tantruming every few minutes, and I had to hold her deeply with my whole body for one of her fits  I haven't had to do that for months.

I had to do the same for Brother, too.

He ate playdough--which wasn't that big of a deal--but he freaked out when we told him to stop.  He returned to his horrible banshee cry, and I had to hold him tightly to keep him from damaging me, the house, and himself.

Little Brother is covering his ears, rocking back and forth, and making strange noises over and over again.  He's jumping, yelping, and jerking away from any touch.

The babies have cried and cried, and only being rocked to sleep would console them.

My lower back aches badly.

I feel sick to my stomach--I ate a handful of M&Ms this morning--perhaps candy doesn't make a good breakfast . . . even if I did follow it up with a bowl of cereal.

I feel lost and confused.  I'm struggling to focus my eyes and my mind.

Most of my crew (the babies are out of camera range) gathered for Symposium.

Morning Meeting and Symposium went well enough today, but I'm worried that my choice of How the Grinch Stole Christmas for our preschool story of the week was a bad idea.  We've talked about being grateful and how "Christmas doesn't come from a store," so that's been good, but Mister Man has been asking me questions about being robbed (like the Grinch did to the Whos), and Brother has been very worried that someone can come and take Christmas away from us.

I've been as reassuring as I can be, but there's tension . . .

Today just feels wrong.

The babies are napping, and lunch is heating.  The older girls are working on their independent school subjects, and the medium/little kids are bundled up and running around outside.

It still feels so wrong . . . wonky . . . off-kilter.

I'm not sure whether to pop some popcorn and put on a Christmas movie or bundle everyone back up after lunch and take us all on a hike.

The hike might be a better idea.

But I'm off to serve lunch first.

**************
The weather is cold, and a freezing drizzle is falling.  We won't be out exploring, and now I'm worried about my teens who are driving up north with friends to go to the teen homeschool Christmas party.

I'm off; the kids are off; it's not a great day.

But my husband will be home later, and I've texted my sister, so I'm not an isolated, scary psych-case.

Actually I am a psych-case--it's in my medical records--but I've got loving support, so I'm okay.  We're all okay :)

It's just a hard day.

But tomorrow will be new.


(Linking here)