A Week, Briefly (In Which the Teens Display their Excellence)

On Sunday night we sat down and mapped out December.  We scheduled each of our holiday traditions, and we have a plan.

Feels good.

And overwhelming  (because we also have 4 birthdays in December).

But good.

We dove back into a full school schedule after a week off.  It was a little bit rough around the edges, but we did it.

Highlights of the school day for me were:
*singing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" as our opening song for Symposium
*seeing Little Princess reading the scriptures aloud to Mister Man while he was sick on the couch
*listening to my older girls talk for nearly an hour about our history lesson after it was over
*watching Little Princess type her "Silly Story" into the computer
*helping Nature Angel start to understand "order of operations" in math
*taking Belle shopping for quilt backing for her YW project and supplies for the blankets we're going to make on Thursday
*having Sir Walter Scott home and working outside, so kids played happily near him
*watching the babies play with playdough
*witnessing Rose Red really try to be accountable for her own responsibilities
*celebrating the start of the Christmas season with our annual Lighting Ceremony--we turned on the Christmas lights, had hot chocolate and popcorn, and sang Christmas carols.

It is quiet time on Friday afternoon.  We spent the morning watching the same wonderful puppet nativity show we watched last year.  The puppets are 7-10 feet tall and magnificent.  The show takes place in a well over 100 year old cathedral, and it is simply marvelous.  

I'm glad we went, but the kids are spent after sitting in the car for the ride there and back and sitting politely all through the show then visiting with the puppeteers afterward.  We've had 2 melt-downs, 1 seriously passive-aggressive child, and 1 more who has been spinning like a top because he doesn't know what else to do.

So other than Pixie's finishing of her Language Arts weekly unit (she's working on Treasure Island by R. L. Stevenson) and Rose Red's need to complete 5 math assignments (she's doing a week's worth of work on one subject per day instead of  doing a little bit of each subject), we're done with formal school for the week.

I've been working on a major writing project on my private blog, and I simply have not had the energy to keep up with this one.  I was also notified that I've been accepted as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, and while I'm delighted, I'm also on a steep learning curve, so I'm just mentally exhausted.

Tuesday-Thursday in a nutshell
What do I care to remember about this week?

The babies are now interested in "doing school."  For a few minutes at a time they'll sit at the table with a journal and a pencil and scribble furiously.  They'll also play with playdough, and they insist on getting copies of every map or set of song lyrics that I pass out to the older kids.

Little Brother had a rough week.  His brain seemed to be back on fire after settling down quite a bit in October and for most of November.  However, I did notice that he's using his fingers more adeptly when he plays with playdough, and he's beginning to contribute to family conversations more coherently.  My favorite moment with him this week was chasing him all over the soccer field on Thursday afternoon to catch him and kiss him sloppily on the cheek.  He ran like lightning, but he howled with glee every time he was caught.  I noticed after the fact that he smiled more and wanted to hold my hand when the game was over.

He loved, loved, loved sitting on Pixie's lap to "help" sew blankets for Project Linus (#LIGHTtheWORLD).  He noticed how the machine parts worked together and was very observant about what parts moved when and how.  He touched various parts with permission when the machine was off, but then he couldn't resist the temptation to touch those same parts once they were moving.  He got thwacked with the needle and knocked it off balance causing a loud bang.  It scared the pants off him, but he was respectful of the moving parts after that. :)

I am reminded yet again of the mechanical bent inherent in this little boy.

Brother is handling playdough adroitly these days.  In general he's got a new awareness about him such that I find that I'm entertaining ideas of starting pre-K with him.  Like Little Brother, he thought that game of tag we played was fabulous, and he seemed more relaxed and able to focus after having me engage with him so physically.  He had a rough week emotionally, but he played thoroughly in the sand pit at the park, and he is very proud of the picture he made out of stickers at therapy.

Mister Man was mostly sick.  He's recovered, but his energy levels have been low, so his willingness to engage in formal school was low, too.  I didn't push it.  He's newly 5, and reading voraciously.  He also built with Lincoln Logs, balls and sticks, Megablox, wood blocks, bristle blocks, and peg toys.  He dug in the sand, went on a nature walk with us (Wednesday?), and climbed all over our fallen log.  He read The Adventures of Reddy Fox in his free time, finishing it proudly on Friday afternoon.

Observing a male Mallard duck feeding on the pond
Ladybug got to "do school" twice this week because I've been trying to have our school sessions earlier in the day before she gets tired and passive-aggressive.  We actually had a little lesson about what it means to be passive-aggressive.  Her therapists have all said that if she can give names to her feelings and behaviors she won't need to act out so much.

We'll see how it goes.

Ladybug's hands busy tying a blanket.   photo credit: Pixie
 She can sound out CVC words quite well and CVCC words reasonably well.  We're trying to complete some exercises in word families and rhyming to facilitate fluency, but those have her stumped.  Perhaps rhyming can wait until later.

She's loving Spanish and tells me "Buenas noches, Mami!" each night. 

Last night, for the first time, I heard her follow that with, "I love you!"

I'm kind of stunned.

And honored.

Little Princess learned how to borrow when subtracting and typed up her Silly Stories on the computer.  It took her days to complete the typing project because she spent at least half the time experimenting with fonts, colors, formatting and other word processing tools available to her.  On Thursday I spent some time with her editing her stories so they had punctuation and capitalization in reasonable places.

Nature Angel invented the cutest snowman calendar I've ever seen, and she faithfully practiced multiplication drills.  She's thrilled to track her time and accuracy and see improvements daily in those drills.  She also finished her fairy tale (which I haven't read yet!!!), helped us tie blankets for Project Linus until her fingers ached, and had a grand time at her church youth group activity cutting out paper snowflakes that will be decorations for our church Christmas party on Saturday night. 

She then proceeded to cut out snowflakes every chance she got on Thursday and Friday.

She also worked on this paper mosaic of Theodora.  It isn't finished, but it's already great!

Belle finished her awesomely awesome quilt art project!!

Finishing the topstitching
And she did a bunch of regular school like math, reading, writing (she's writing a romantic comedy about how Justinian I and Theordora met one another), Latin, science, etc.

Sir Walter Scott commented wistfully when he saw her in the YW in Excellence video interview on Wednesday night, "Where'd my little girl go?  She used to be so little, and she's so grown up now."

Super Star had a rough week.   I wish I knew what to do for my tough-but-tender girl.  She kept her commitment to be faithful in completing her math, and she started the Ecology half of her science curriculum.  She baked a delicious-tasting-but-not-lovely-to-look-at batch of Oatmeal Scotchies that were supposed to be for YW in Excellence, but the family got to devour happily instead. 

She baked a great batch of brownies instead that were devoured happily by various attendees of the YW event. 

Pixie's greatest moment of the week was getting to display her photos at YW in Excellence which caught the attention of 2 photographers in the audience who then spent time talking to her about photography.  She came home glowing, glowing, glowing with happiness.

"Oh, Mom!" she bubbled, "Please, can I take a photography class so that I can talk to other photographers?  That was so awesome!  I loved it!  I just loved it!  I can't wait to talk to them again!  Can I really take them up on their invitations to use their equipment?"

And so forth and so on.

It makes my heart smile to think of it.

Pixie takes such beautiful pictures

She also faithfully worked on regular academics.

Rose Red really, really tried to make good choices and be responsible.  She feels she studied adequately for her Spanish quiz this morning and came home saying she thinks her score will be a good one.  On Monday she earned a bunch of extra credit points by memorizing and reciting poems in Spanish.  She and Pixie were co-hosts for the YW in Excellence program, and she received several compliments about what a natural she is in front of a microphone.

I may have to hire her to help me with my new obligations to make social media postings when I write reviews because she loves social media and I hate it!  The very activities that make my eyes cross and my head ache make her all happy and energized.  She saved my brain this week by teaching me a bunch of new skills and actually doing some research for me.

In General
The preschool book of the week was No Roses for Harry

We changed our memorization scriptures over to Matthew 16:27, and Matthew 5:14-16.

We reviewed the entire Family Proclamation on Tuesday.

Our Spanish song is about the weather.

In addition to O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,  we're learning Christmas Bells.  Nature Angel and Super Star sing the descant.

We had an awesome experience talking about Rosa Parks on December 1st.  That's the anniversary date of the day she refused to give up her seat on the bus.  I was so nervous about explaining it to our small black children being raised by white parents.  How could I do it justice?  How could I both show them they are utterly part of our family while at the same time teaching them about the injustice that has existed and still exists in the world?  I felt strongly I could not just ignore it until they are older--the knowledge needs to grow in strength inside them starting from these earliest days so that they are armed with power and hope as they grow.

And my silent mother-prayer was answered.

I taught it from the perspective of taking turns.  They know all about having to take turns.  It was Mrs. Parks' turn to sit down, but someone wanted to take her turn unfairly--that there was even a rule that was unfair that said she didn't get to have a turn!

The room grew silent as the children--both black and white, both little and big--listened to the story of how one woman inspired many to recognize that all people need to take turns, that more powerful people should not hurt others, that sometimes rules need to be changed.

I felt the Holy Spirit's presence in the room, testifying of the truth of God's love for all people.

I'm positive the kids did, too.

I concluded the lesson by expressing my gratitude for each of my children and explaining that it was Rosa Parks and other courageous people like her that helped our family become what it is.

Quiet time is over now.  I've bundled kids up and sent them out to play.  Rose Red needs help with her math.  Baymax is nursing as I type.  Super Star needs my emotional attention.

I'm off.

(linking here)


  1. Oh, I just love the Rosa Parks piece of your busy and productive week! Thanks for sharing!

  2. The photos are just lovely. So you have 4 birthdays in December - We had 3 and then my daughter married and her husband's birthday is in December. I told my kids they weren't allowed to either get married in December or marry someone who was born in that month :)

    1. As a sister, mother, and g'mother, I have eight birthdays in December. Count 'em, 8!

  3. P.S That mosaic looks wonderful. Well done!

  4. I love your posts because they're great at showing that even in a big family every child is a unique individual! You are mothering them and noticing them with such grace - which I know isn't easy in the hustle and bustle of the day to day.

    1. Thank you, Tristan. Your encouragement means the world to me because you know whereof you speak. :) I can turn your words right back to you, too!!!

  5. Your daughter has a gift for photography. Those photos are beautiful! What a busy week you had. 4 birthdays in December, wow! We have 4 from the last week of February til the first week of April.

    Congratulations on being accepted for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. It is an amazing group of people. If there is anything I can ever do to help you, please email me and ask. The social media stuff is really easy. You can set your blog posts to post automatically to your social media accounts.

    You are an amazing mom with wonderful insight into your children. Have a great week!

  6. busy, productive week thinking and doing with your children. :) visiting from weird unsocialized linky.

  7. 4 birthdays in December. Wow. I thought I had it bad with 3 in the month before Christmas. Somehow it feels less frantic and expensive now they are older. Good luck with the Schoolhouse Review Crew. I considered applying but thought with just one older kid homeschooling I wouldn't be what they were after. Besides I didn't really want to get more active on social media.How exciting for Pixie. I love seeing and hearing about kids who have found something that excites them. I have tried to get my Miss 16 interested in photography as a complement to her birding but she's adamant it isn't for her.

  8. Gorgeous photos! :) You must be very proud of her. The blankets are adorable. The elephants are my favorite. I love seeing kids sewing. I haven't had the patience to teach mine more than just the most rudimentary basics.


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