A Week, Briefly (#13)

We did go see the dance recital on Saturday, but we were able to leave I3 at home because E14 said she wasn't interested in going, so she babysat.

And a fine babysitter she is, too.

Here is what she and I3 did while we were gone.  I3 came running to the garage, "We have a surprise for you!!!"
 The rest of us were captivated by the dance recital and are all trying to think of excuses for signing up to dance with this group.  Practices are barely 10 minutes from home.  Prices are reasonable.  The classes seem to be sponsored by a local Baptist church, so costumes are modest and the dances are appropriate.  Seems like a no-brainer.

The question is whether we really ought to make a commitment to another dance group just as a new baby is about to arrive in the dead of winter.  The dance classes may be a good thing, but are they the best use of our time?

That babysitting session with E14 and I3 seemed to have opened a delightful channel of fun for the oldest and (for the moment) youngest siblings in our home.  I found them playing together over and over again this week:

More building.

Some games.

Just being "best fwenz." 

We woke to this scene on Tuesday morning.

So we made cinnamon sweet bread and hot chocolate for breakfast.   (Look at my belly--can you believe I still have 10 weeks to go?)
That morning we had a cord of wood delivered, so everyone bundled up and helped stack the wood.  It was so fun to compare our work with that of Almanzo's family in Farmer Boy--which is one of our current read-alouds.  Then, with the morning half gone, we settled into school work.  It took us until dinner time to get everything done, but the frigid temperatures and the morning work left us content to stay indoors with our minds engaged.

E14 was in rare form this week, and the fun with her continued as she built the little guys a giant block tower.  I think it is funny to see in this photo that they are disengaged while she works on her masterpiece, but they did jump up and down and run to the kitchen often to give me status updates.  They were thrilled to see what she was able to do even if they couldn't keep up with her.

The tower came crashing down shortly after this block was places, and H5 happened to be walking past as it fell.  She got knocked in the head with flying blocks.


She's fine, though.

Some academic updates this week:

E14--I finally put my foot down and refused to give her another lesson in fractions.  I told her that even if she wanted to pound away at them until she got them, I needed the break so that I could get my perspective back and be capable of thinking in fresh ways.  She didn't fuss too much, and we broke out Calculus Without Tears.  She did a lesson a day in this book.  It pleases her to be doing "calculus," and I'm just thankful to be free of fractions for a short season.  We both felt math tension drain away this week.  She's succeeding in these lessons, even seeing shortcuts and patterns before they are taught, so she's gaining a fragile sense of math competence again.  What joy!

We've also ditched the workbook that goes with E14's history book.  It felt increasingly artificial, and we were spending more time trying to understand what was being asked than we were thinking about history.  For the next 4 or 5 chapters she's going to read, choose her own vocabulary words to define (at least 4 people and 4 places, events, or concepts), and write a summary of what she's learned that includes textual support to her general statements.  If this is a successful pattern (meaning she shows she's learning and finds joy in the stories again), we'll continue with it.

M12 continues to put one foot in front of another and make progress in all subjects.  She's increasingly irritated by language arts and geography.  She says that the language arts lessons are "old-fashioned" because her book includes lessons on using "may" vs. "can."  That opened up rather a long discussion about good grammar vs. poor grammar.  She doesn't agree with me, but she's a thoughtful person, and I'm sure the ideas I've planted are growing in her mind.

She was hired this week by a woman at church to make a baby gift this woman could take to a co-worker's baby shower.  M12 and I spent a happy 2 hours first looking at patterns then at a local fabric/craft shop finding materials.  She's making a darling toy/bib gift set.  I think it is going to be quite a success.

S12 is writing 1,000 words a day (each school day) for NaNoWriMo.  She still reads her scriptures and does a math lesson per day, but otherwise she writes and writes and writes.  I look forward to seeing her  rough draft at the end of the month.

She finished the 8th math LifePac this week.  She's doing very well.  I've begun crossing out entire pages of addition and subtraction practice from the booklets because she doesn't need so much of that practice, and a few review problems a week are sufficient these days.  What she needs is exposure to the concepts she missed in the Alpha Omega scope and sequence while she worked in Life of Fred.  She and I are hopeful that she'll finish the 9th and 10th LifePacs by Christmas, being ready for a fresh start in the new year at a new level.

J10 finished Saxon Math 5/4 this week.  Fortunately I found a good deal on Saxon 6/5, and those books arrived last week, so she's ready to begin fresh on Monday morning.

She knitted a darling monster stuffed toy for I3's birthday.  She started it with a pattern out of a library book, but after the book had to be returned, she finished it from memory.  He loves it, and I will get a picture of it ASAP.  I3 broke the tips off her knitting needles this week (they were wooden), so I picked up a pair of steel needles for her.  I hope she keeps knitting.  She's getting quite good.

A7 found a copy of The Boxcar Children in our "library."  She curled up under the covers one cold afternoon and read the whole thing by dinner.  She says, "It was so good!" and she carries it with her in her purse everywhere she goes.  I wonder what she'll find next!

She loves poetry.  This week's poetry night was such a joy.  E14 found a poem by Thackeray that she liked particularly, so she read it aloud to the rest of us.  The other kids were absolutely rolling on the floor with delight.  Suddenly, poetry books were being pulled off shelves all over the house as kids searched out more poems by Thackeray.  Along the way they found other treasures, and our house was filled with poems and laughter for a long time that night.  A7 chose to memorize The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson this week.  I've found her curled up in corners at all hours of the day and night with the poetry book open, quietly rehearsing this poem.  Her dedication has been an inspiration to the other kids, and this week they've been spontaneously climbing onto the hearth to recite favorite poems.

H5 continues to love school and love learning to read.  Her delight is a constant joy to me.  I've discovered her trying to sound out words in every circumstance she's in--from the company name inscribed on the bathtub drain to the pasta box on the counter as I make dinner.  There are few wonders as wonderful as watching a child learn to read.

I3 liked his school this week because we were on the letter "I" and we focused on him.  From gluing pictures of himself on the shape of a letter I to creating an "All About Me" book that he proceeded to "read" to everyone in the household all week long, he reveled in the fact that this letter belongs to him in a special way.

He caught the poetry bug, too, and I couldn't resist filming I3 reciting his Mother Goose poem this week:

He's saying:

"A little boy went into a barn
And lay down on some hay.
An owl came out, and flew about,
And the little boy ran away."

He's been quite bored of sewing letter quilt blocks, but his week he was happy to work.  He asked lots of questions about what H5 and A7 were doing.  Upon finding out that A7 was learning the blanket stitch he wanted to know if he was doing a blanket stitch, too.  I answered, "No, you're doing a random pattern."

"Oooohhhhh, a random pattern!  I'm doing a random pattern!" he repeated with great satisfaction.

He was terribly pleased, muttering about random patterns often as he sewed his letter without pause from beginning to end.

Playing dress-up with sisters.  He was Santa having tea with Mrs. Claus (H5).

Here is my super-guy helping to carry in the groceries Dad and I bought just before the snow arrived.
We took the day off on Thursday to get our final shopping done for next week's dance show and then to head to rehearsals.  I was so thankful to have found E14 a pair of character shoes for under $3 at a thrift store after having spent weeks searching for a pair that fit her.  I was also thankful for 4 big girls who were extra helpful about playing with the littles and getting dinner ready that night.  After shopping at 4 stores and helping with costumes again during rehearsals, I was exhausted.  Even sweet A7 and H5 helped set the table, so dinner was a real family effort that we all enjoyed particularly that night.

This week we had 2 family movie nights--one on Sunday when Dad surprised us by not having the meetings we thought he'd have, so we watched the first half of My Fair Lady.  Then on Friday night we had a pizza and a movie picnic in the living room while we watched the second half.

A7's assessment:  "I like My Fair Lady because of the pretty dresses, but it's not as good as The Taming of the Shrew. "

Today we may or may not be snow-bound.  If we are not, we have many church meetings that we will make a dedicated effort to attend.  If our efforts fail, we will enjoy a day off with Dad . . . once our Saturday chores are done.

There's something about the coming of winter that lends me a peace and calm greater than any other time of year.  Though I am increasingly exhausted and weepy with pregnancy hormones, this week has been a week of great personal contentment . . . and I think that has extended to the rest of the family as well.


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