Wednesday, October 31, 2012

NaNoWriMo

We've jumped in with both feet into NaNoWriMo.  I've heard about if for a few years, but thought it was for older kids.  Then a friend in our homeschool group posted a link to the NaNoWriMo workbooks, and I realized it was for all ages!

Yesterday [I should have done it earlier] I introduced the program to the girls and reviewed the elements of plot and assigned them to develop their main characters.  We opened up their NaNoWriMo accounts and tried to figure out an appropriate word count goal [we're opting for a very conservative 10,000 words each].

E12 is quite nervous.  She says she's only doing this because she has to.  My reply:  "You don't realize what a good writer you are.  You have a marvelous voice and sense of rhythm.  This will stretch you and perhaps open your eyes to your own talent."  She huffed and walked away, but she has complained rather less since then.

M10, S10, and J8 are thrilled.  They spent their free time filling out their worksheets about character.  They chattered non-stop about their plots all through dinner, and M10 came to me asking me for more worksheets . . . pleeeeeeeeze?  She helped bathe the baby, put away laundry, and vacuum the living room rug so that I would have more free time to go down to the computer and print.

Which reminds me that I'd better follow through!

There is so much literary excitement in my house that I find myself wishing I could sign up, too.  Really, that dream will have to wait to become a reality as this is not my season. 

But the vicarious thrill is almost as sweet!

She's Really Reading!

My first four children learned to read at the same time.

 E12 was late to reading--her mind and body moved too quickly for the quiet work required when learning to read.  Though we worked on it in fits and starts [because I had a hard time trusting that waiting was okay], school was more often than not a nature walk and long stories read to her at bedtime while she fiddled with small toys in her hands.

M10 and S10 read "right on time"--whatever that means.  They were both about 5 or 6 years old and suddenly they were reading.  I'm not sure how.

J8 was an early reader--just like her mama.  I guess she just absorbed what she heard around her . . . or she taught herself.  Whatever the case, she was wowing people with her reading skills from before she was four years old.

With all four of these "big" girls I did not have a whole lot of fun as they learned to read; it was either a terror-filled game of waiting, watching, and researching possible learning disabilities or it suddenly happened--seemingly overnight.

But with A5 I'm having the time of my life.  She's learning to read slowly and progressively and with lots of lap time with mama.  It's as if I'm getting a treat after a whole bunch of hard work.

She reads to me almost every day.  And I certainly read to her every single day.  We start with a verse from the Book of Mormon.  Just one verse.  Then we move on to little readers or even real books like Hop on Pop or The Cat in the Hat.  It took her 3 weeks to read The Cat in the Hat, but she read every single word, and when she finished it was a moment of triumph!

For the past 3 years during family scripture time when it was her turn A5 repeated lines as we read them.  Just last week she pulled out her large print Book of Mormon and read her own verse.  It takes her as long to read her one verse as it takes all the rest of us to read our 8 verses, but she perseveres. I watch her in awe and almost weep every single night as her little body curls up with concentration as she sounds out words like "Zarahemla,"  "Amulon,"  or "dissension."

Astonishing!

She is very good at "And it came to pass,"  "wilderness," and "people."

Yesterday while I worked on history with the bigger girls she and H3 curled up on the downstairs couch with a stack of books and A5 read aloud.  I wanted to grab them and kiss them both.  I settled for asking them if they were the cutest girls to ever live.  They grinned.  A5 said, "I read Hop on Pop . . . even the last part.  I just put  my finger over the letters to chunk them, and I did it!"

My heart is ever so full.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Moving Day--Not Ours

Friday was going to be a regular day of school.  I've been fiercely protective of our school time, and it has paid off with some solid learning and accomplishing of goals for our family.

But then we learned that an elderly sister in our ward [congregation] needed help moving.

So we canceled academics in favor of service.

The whole family loaded up in the van and headed over to Sister W.'s house.  Daddy jumped out and joined Sister W.'s son-in-law in moving bookshelves, bed frames, couches, and tables.  J8 carried pillows and boxes of craft items.  E12 helped me carry out canning jars.  M10 and S10 put extra coats on the little guys and fed them graham crackers.

It quickly became evident that it was too cold for the little guys to play outside, so I took them home along with M10 and J8 who were excited to babysit.  S10 was rather mad at being left to carry boxes, but I knew that the lure of the DVD player would be far too strong for her to babysit effectively.

I returned to the site of the move to find sulky-faced girls who reluctantly helped get the truck loaded.  However, their efforts were rapidly rewarded when Sister W. returned from a mystery errand with 5 boxes of pizza.  Their attitudes turned, and they begged to stay when it was finally time for us to leave.

We lifted, carried, hauled, and helped as much as we could until it was time for me to get home to nurse baby I.10 and get Daddy home to bed because he'd been awake for nearly 24 hours having come to the move after a full night of work.  We hated to leave the scene before the work was finished, but another son and daughter-in-law showed up and took our places.  Sister W. would be cared for.

Upon arriving home, I found that J8 and M10 had made lunch and cleaned it all up, and the little guys were safe and happy.  I was so proud of my not-very-big girls doing such a good job babysitting!

There were moments when my children complained about the work being too hard or too boring, and they said, "We're the only kids here!  Why do we have to help when other kids don't?"  To which I replied, "I'm happy to take you home and have school today.  Would you prefer that or would you like to help a lady who has been kind to our family?"  They all said helping was the better option.

I hope they always remember that helping is the better option.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Outside Is Good

Life has been more hectic than usual; between chicken pox, fleas, and lice, I've felt rather as if I should be best friends with Moses.

We don't have lice.  But our neighbor's daughter does, and my kids played with her the day before my neighbor found the lice.  We've been acting as if we have lice--washing, washing, washing, and treating kids' heads with vinegar and olive oil.

We do have fleas.  They are gross.  I have been washing, washing, washing every single day.  I vacuum 2-3 times a day.  I put down pesticide every night.  When I find a flea on my baby I am so horrified that I wash, vacuum, and spray with even greater urgency.

We do have chicken pox.  3 out of 7.  I keep waiting for the other 4.

But today we took a vacation.  I left the laundry and the vacuum and the pesticides and the schoolwork behind, and we took a family hike.  Little I.10 giggled from his backpack perch almost the whole time.  Kids ran and yelled and jumped and climbed, and I felt the weight of my germy, bug-infested house leave my shoulders for just a little while.

When we got home so that Daddy could sleep before working all night at the hospital, the kids played outside some more.

Then we cooked dinner together: Spicy Bean Soup, Homemade Tortillas, Honey Candy.

Now the kids are playing outside again.

I have to do laundry.  I have to vacuum.  I have to put down some pesticides.

But now I am calm instead of tense.  Now I am happy to work instead of frantic with worry.

A day spent outside is not only good . . . it is essential.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Good Kids

My kids are good kids.

Yesterday the flea issue got bad enough that I had to face it head on instead of piddling around as I've been doing for too many days.

And we have chicken pox.

I did 13 loads of laundry yesterday, and I'm well on my way to doing that many loads today, too as I try to clean up bedding and curtains and stuffed animals and throw pillows and blankets--I don't want fleas!  I've also been vacuuming at every opportunity.  This is in addition to doing our regular school routine and making our meals.

The kids offered to help buy pizza, but with sick children, I wanted good food in their bodies!

I set the big girls up for family scripture study and asked them to take turns reading just like they would if I were in the room, and then I ran off to move some laundry.

They did it!

They cooperated.
They took turns reading. 
They wrote coherent summaries. 
They tried to apply the doctrine to their own lives.

And they did it again today.

I'm so impressed with my children.

They really know how to come through in a crisis.