A Week, Briefly (In Which We Vote and Dance)

Our homeschool week really began on Sunday when our Family Home Evening Lesson was on emergency preparedness--specifically escape routes and safe meeting locations in the event of an emergency.

We reviewed the family safe meeting place plans:
1-the soccer field (where to go when we first escape the house)
2-the library (a safe meeting place in our neighborhood in case our street is cut off)
3-the church (a safe meeting place outside of our neighborhood)
4-Auntie R--'s house (a safe meeting place outside of our city)

We also talked about how to escape the house and we practiced setting up and climbing down our emergency ladders for window escapes from the upper story of our house.  It was a little bit scary for us, but we had everyone except the 2 babies see what it was like, so that now everyone has had some experience and will be less scared in an actual emergency.

Blurry, yes, but I was trying to focus in the dark.  This is Brother climbing down with lots of encouragement from Rose Red and Belle down below, and from the rest of us above.

And Dad taught us that if we have cell phones available, and we need to communicate because we are apart, we should text to avoid tying up phone lines.  (That was new to me!)

We'll have to have several more lessons on this topic in the coming weeks, but it was a good start.

We ate vanilla ice cream with stewed apples for a treat.  The kids liked it so much, they asked for it again next week.

We put away lots of old activities and started lots of new ones.

Preschool Book of the Week:  Cranberry Thanksgiving

Morning Meeting
Keepers:  Egermeier's Bible Stories, Book of Mormon reading (we're still working our way slowly through Alma), November primary scripture of the month.
New material:  We're singing Prayer of Thanksgiving, memorizing John 17:3, and starting the 4th song of The Living Christ (paragraphs 6-10)

Keepers:  On This Day, Mystery of History vol 2, Geography Through Art, Rockalingua
New material:  What Makes a Raphael a Raphael?, memorizing "Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face" by Jack Prelutsky, singing "Thanks A Lot" by Raffi

The time change is a joy to me, but it does mean that the kids can't play outside all the way until dinnertime each afternoon.  I pulled out A Year of Playing Skillfully and am in the process of reviewing the activities for the month of November.  I'll be choosing what we can do to keep little hands and bodies happily engaged when the dark and cold force them indoors.

Otherwise, we had a great Monday (toddler interruptions notwithstanding)--we accomplished lots of book work and lots of outdoor play.  My biggest relief was finally finding a simple template for Little Princess to use for her report on Greenland.  I've been impressed with The Good and Beautiful overall, but the utter lack of direction for how to help a 7-year-old write a country report was irritating.  The template is simple and inviting, allowing her to complete the report in just a short time with my help and the internet.  The copy that I printed incorrectly even drew Nature Angel to ask me if she could have it, and in her free time she put together a report about Tanzania.

Super Star found a publishing company that has a contest each year for unpublished children's books under 1500 words long written by a person of color.  The prize is $1000 up front and a publishing contract.  She missed this year's deadline, but that gives her time to polish up her story and prepare it to enter in the 2017 contest.  Certainly it's a long shot, but her story is darling, and I think it will stand proudly among the other entries.

I took the kids with me to vote.  Sir Walter Scott had to work, and his shift covered all hours the polls were open, so he'd voted ahead of time.  Before we left, we watched this Khan Academy video about the electoral college.  It was very well done, and I'm grateful to the homeschool blogger (I can't remember which one) who recommended it.  It led us to a great discussion about how a president is chosen.

Our polling place is poorly set up--there's not a chance in the world it meets ADA standards--and I couldn't fit the stroller or the kids in the room with me.  They hung out in the hallway while I waited in line, peeked in the main room when it was my turn to receive a ballot, and then waited outside while I actually voted.

I was annoyed because I wanted them to see the different voting stations and the paper ballots and the electronic ballots--we can look at it all online, but it's different in person.

At least they saw what they saw, and some sort of impression was made in their minds about the importance of voting.  Three(!) of my children will be old enough to vote in the next presidential election.  I want very much for them to know their opinions count.

After voting we went to the zoo for an hour or so.

We came home to lunch, naps for the babies, quiet time, individual school activities, and a passel of negative behaviors on Ladybug's part.


No reading or math for her.  Instead we spent the afternoon cleaning up her physical and emotional messes.

Last week's preschool book of the week was Growing Vegetable Soup.  All week I'd wanted to take the littles shopping for vegetables and have them help me make soup, but the weather was so mild that I opted to let them make the most of the sunshine on their bikes and in the trees.  When I did my regular shopping over the weekend, I picked up as many different vegetables as as I could and shoved them in the fridge to save for the right day.

Tuesday was lovely--sunshiny cool.  That's when I got the idea to take all of the veggies outside, add to them the last of our garden tomatoes and peppers, and have a chopping party in the yard.  Pixie helped me supervise so many littles with knives, and we had a grand time slicing and dicing enough fresh veggies for 3 gallons of soup.

I made pumpkin bars to round out the meal.  We feasted like kings.

We followed the election coverage in between chapters of our read alouds, but everyone but Sir Walter Scott went to bed long before there was much to know.

The kids really got into rolling the dough into snakes.  Eventually they put all of their snakes together and rolled them so thinly that they stretched the entire perimeter of the table.  It was an engrossing project for them for close to an hour!

Because of a hurt toe that was not getting better (getting worse, rather--I'll skip the gory details), I made an appointment for Little Princess with the doctor for late Wednesday morning.  By adjusting our Symposium time we had time to experiment with adding dried tea leaves to last week's playdough (turned the dough pink!) and managed to complete preschool reading, Morning Meeting, and Symposium before Little Princess and I had to leave (we carted Lola along because she's been clingy lately).

Sir Walter Scott took Ladybug and Brother to therapy.

Rose Red went to her Spanish class.

That left 7 kids at home (3 old enough to babysit) to do what individual school they could and prepare lunch.

Nature Angel is memorizing her times tables with help from online drills.

The whole seeing a doctor thing got complicated, and it threw me into a state of anxiety that must have rubbed off onto the babies, because they were fussy, fussy, fussy all afternoon.  Somehow we managed to get through Mister Man's school (he finished One Day in the Woods, narrated it, and illustrated his narration), Ladybug's school, school for the teens, and Pixie helped Nature Angel with her math. 

In a state of inexplicable high agitation, I escaped from the house to see if I could find dance shoes at the last minute for Super Star and Belle and to pick up Little Princess' prescription.

That got complicated, too.

Thank goodness for my competent-beyond-her-years Pixie and a pot of leftover soup.  By the time we got home, everyone was relatively clean, seated at the table, and happily eating soup and bread & butter . . . everyone except for Rose Red, who was still finishing up her school work because she'd napped all afternoon!

We dumped her writing curriculum (which I liked) because it wasn't working for her.  She's now writing a story or essay a day--minimum 300 words.  For now, this IS working!

(The good news is she says she's falling in love with geography.)

Sir Walter Scott and the teens dashed out the door for youth night at the church while the littles and I held down the fort at home.

I read stories to most of the littles (we started Ramona the Pest Tuesday night), and then Nature Angel, Little Princess, and I shared a bag of popcorn and watched Kid Snippets until it was time to tuck them into bed.

Performance day!

But we had a whole morning at home first, so we just did the usual routine.

It was good.

We had a lot of fun playing a shopping game to illustrate inflation (as suggested by our history book) to go along with our reading about the fall of the Western Roman Empire.  The kids thought it was kind of boring at first, but they caught the spirit of the game quickly, and things got exciting and loud!

Visigoths, Ostrogoths, and Vandals are rather mixed up in their heads, but for certain they understand that Rome was sacked repeatedly by these peoples, and they understand that it was internal weakness that led to Rome's downfall.

At least the older kids understand that.  The littles mostly thought it was fun to use their pennies to play store with Mom.

Our show in the afternoon was a "black and white" show.  This means that the kids wore their base costumes of white shirts/black pants for all numbers, and we only used accessories for variety in the numbers.

I loved it!

 No lugging 27 armfuls of costumes, no crazy costume changes, no tracking down costume pieces at the end of the show.

I really loved it!

The dancing was delightful.  The audience was highly appreciative.  We arrived, performed, packed up, and left all within 2 hours.


This darling lady tolerated constantly being touched by these littles as they watched and waited for their turn.  I worried they were bothering her--so did some of the other moms--and we kept scooting them away.  After the show I thanked her for her patience, and she told me, "Oh, I just loved it.  I'm blind now.  I came for the music, and I just enjoyed all those little taps and pats that let me know the children were near.  I wish I could see, but I'm 95, and my eyes have just given out."

The opening pose for "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend"

Ready to go on stage--my tiny crew that dance to "Animal Crackers in My Soup"

The most memorable moment came in the final number when one of the dancers fainted.  She has a medical condition that causes her to faint when she's overheated and underhydrated.  Oops--she left her water out in the car that day.  The kids were all settled into position and singing "God Bless the USA" when suddenly she slumped forward.  The kids on either side of her caught her as she went down, and held her up while frantically trying to signal to the moms to come do something about it.  Most of us were organizing the youngest dancers for their entrance (they come on waving American flags in the final chorus), and it took several moments for us to clue in.

We did get her safely offstage, and we did get the littles onstage (a smidgen late, but the audience still applauded), and the number was a success.

The mom of the fainted dancer got some water into her, and reported later that by 5 pm, she was running around the back yard perfectly fine.

At dinner that night, Pixie related, "It was so crazy!  We were stuck there, wondering if we should stop the song to take care of her, but we just stood there holding her up.  The audience gasped when they saw her slump.  M----- had hold of her head, keeping it upright, and we all had fake smiles pasted to our faces.  It was kind of like a Studio C video."

Knowing our friend was fine, we were all able to laugh at the comparison. :)

Strangely, given that for most of us it was an easy show, we were all exhausted that evening.  Kids begged to go to bed early, and I absolutely acquiesced.

I think even I was asleep by 8:20.

I love "regular" mornings, and we had one.

(Storytime, chores, breakfast, Morning Meeting, Individual School time, Symposium)

I also love getting outside on crisp autumn days, and we did that.
(Nature Study--we learned about the shapes of leaves and watched a coyote)

Nature Angel and her duck

Little Princess and her cat

Mister Man and his bird

Little Brother and his airplane

Brother and his cat

Ladybug and her cat

Babies who napped simultaneously?  Got 'em!

Journaling with the littles?  Yup.

Darling kitchen helpers?  Got those too.
(They happily, enthusiastically scrubbed potatoes--I job I dread.)

Individual tutoring time with older kids?  I even got to do that.
(Pixie's writing her final essay for block 1 of her English class.  Super Star and I worked on cross-canceling fractions.)

Scalloped potatoes for dinner, big kids off to watch a friend star in her high school musical, bike riding and dirt digging . . .

What a great day!

(Linking here)


  1. I love regular mornings too. I'm impressed by all you manage to juggle and fit it.

  2. Wow I'm stunned by how much you get done and keeping any sort of order with 12 children is nothing short of miraculous! What a wonderful and full life you lead :)

  3. Picked up some tips on the preparedness piece, felt frustration with the voting experience, drooled at the yummy veggie soup, had tears with the 95-year-old, and laughed out loud with the Studio C analogy! You have taken me on an emotional roller coaster ride! What a thrill!

  4. What a week. You are one amazing mom.

  5. I loved the photos! What an awesome idea to have everyone dress in black and white for the performance. The leaf creations were adorable. Have a great week!


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