Monday, February 29, 2016

Anne's Day in the LIfe with a 15, 14, 13, 12, 8, 6, 5, 4, 4, 3, 1 and 1-year old

I'm not going to write about a particular day in our lives . . . I write about our weeks all of the time, and the details are there.  Here is just an outline of how our days can/do/should go.

I get up somewhere between 5 and 5:30 am--depends on the last time Baymax wants to nurse for the night.

Sir Walter Scott also gets up then--to either get ready for work or to take his turn driving the seminary car pool.

Rose Red also gets up then to get ready for seminary.

By 5:30 I'm settled in with a snack and my scriptures for my morning devotional time, Rose Red is out the door to seminary, and Sir Walter Scott is either gone with her, or having his own morning devotional time before going to work.  On a working day, he leaves by 6:10 am.

Until 7 am the house is supposed to be quiet, but sometimes the little boys wake to go potty and have to be put back to bed or I can hear Pixie's shower water running.  Whatever the case, I spend the early morning hours getting spiritually and mentally ready for the day.

At 7 everyone gets up.  The 5-and-ups have to get dressed.  Anyone littler is allowed to play.

Our adoption isn't final, so legally, I'm not allowed to post pictures of the children's faces.

At 7:30 Rose Red gets home, and we have "basket duty"--this means I set a timer for 15 minutes and everyone takes a basket and tidies up as much of the house as possible before the timer goes off.  Bigger kids are partnered with littles.  Rose Red's job at this time is to fold 2 loads of laundry.  I make breakfast.

We eat between 7:45 and 8:15--depends on how many crises arise during basket duty and how smoothly breakfast prep goes.

I read a scripture story aloud during breakfast.

We break for teeth brushing, breakfast clean up, moving a load of laundry, and dressing littles for the day.

We gather together for Morning Meeting somewhere between 8:45 and 9:15.  I prefer 8:45--but I have to be real, and sometimes real is 9:15.

During Morning Meeting we sing hymns, memorize scriptures, have a proper in-depth family scripture study, memorize poems, and do Bedtime Math.

After Morning Meeting, the littles are excused to play while I have school with the oldest 4 girls.  We usually spend an hour or two doing a lesson or two from year 1 of LDS Family School.  We're currently working our way through the literature lessons.

The toddlers interrupt a lot.

The baby gates only work for so long before the babies need to be taken out and loved up.
 So do the preschoolers.

We just do the best we can.

After school with the big girls is done and I've sent them off to do their math and other individual studies, I feed the babies and put them down for naps.  If there's time, I meet with Nature Angel to do some school (3rd grade) with her.

12-ish:  Lunch time.

After lunch has been consumed and cleaned up, and the older girls have drifted back off to their personal studies, I meet with Mister Man for some phonics (Kindergarten), then Ladybug for some preK, then Little Princess for some school (1st grade).

The order doesn't matter.  I just try to meet with each of them one on one for 10-30 minutes each.  During this time the babies wake up, and I feed them; I move some more laundry; I settle disagreements with the boys; I answer school questions for the older girls.

Super Star is working on her cooking skills as one of her individual study areas.

I try to have story time with the boys now.  Sometimes it has to be an older sibling instead of me--especially if there are therapy/medical/social work appointments to deal with.

And when Dad is home, that's the best story time of all!
 4 pm:  Suddenly it is time to make dinner.  This is always the crisis hour, when kids are tired and hungry and quarrelsome, when teen girls want to talk their hearts out, when babies just want to be held, and when Mom is just tired.  Sometimes I can send everyone outside for a fresh perspective; sometimes I pull out quiet buckets; sometimes an older sister reads more stories; sometimes we just limp through the best we can.

If it is a working day for Sir Walter Scott, he won't be home until after 8 pm, so we go ahead and have dinner and family prayer without him at about 5 pm.

By 6 pm, either the babies or the little boys are in the bathtub.  Pixie is in charge of this, while Nature Angel and Little Princess clear and wipe the dinner table; Super Star empties and loads the dishwasher; Belle vacuums the dining room carpet and sweeps the kitchen floor; Rose Red takes out the compost and clears and wipes all of the kitchen counters.  I supervise, gather pajamas, nurse Baymax, do the boys' evening skin care (eczema), brush lots and lots of small teeth, administer bedtime meds, read bedtime stories, listen to prayers, and tuck in Little Brother, Brother, Ladybug, and Mister Man.

By 7:30 pm it is just the babies and most of the girls, and we settle in for some read aloud time (see side bar for some of this year's titles).  I alternate which baby is on my lap, or hold both of them, while I read and the girls color, knit, embroider, brush each other's hair, or just curl up under blankets to listen.  Between chapters I tuck in the babies.

Sir Walter Scott gets home after 8, and he showers, eats, and sometimes works his daddy-magic on a recalcitrant baby.

At 9 pm Little Princess and Nature Angel are tucked in, while the older girls are sent off to bed . . . what they really do is talk and try on clothes and read and do each other's hair and try on make up until they finally decide to turn out the lights at some hour that is beyond my personal coping.

After an effort at reconnecting with Sir Walter Scott, I fall into bed.

It's a new day, tomorrow!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Week, Briefly (#25)

After several weeks of living with our current schedule, we're moving our Monday library day and Brother's therapy appointment to Tuesday.  With Ladybug's therapy on Tuesdays and the parent educator visits on Tuesdays and church youth activities on Tuesday nights, it just makes more sense to cram all appointments into Tuesdays and leave Mondays free for school . . . except for Jaybird's weekly visits, but those only last half an hour, and he comes to our house, so we can still do school without changing those up.

But this Monday we still had to return books to the library, so Dad ran them over for us while the rest of us did school.

Morning meeting  continued as usual.  Nothing new added or taken away.

I found out via the girls' character sketches that their years of narrations and creative writing have not helped them become good essay writers.  That is not their fault--it is mine.  I returned their papers to them unmarked and announced that we'd be adding brief essay-writing lessons to our agenda a couple of times each week.

Then we dove right in with lesson 1:  writing a thesis statement.

I did some spelling, grammar, and art with Nature Angel.  She had the assignment to sketch an Edmund Adler painting.  She's amazing:

Then the phone rang with the news that my sister's husband has a serious infection at his cancer surgery site.   Instead of going on with school, we arranged our day to make room for 6 fun cousins to come play while my sister and her husband met with the doctor.

But first Sir Walter Scott and I ran off to have a brief lunch date together, and then we came home to welcome Jaybird for his visit.  He was taken with Little Sister . . . and our guinea pig, Percy. 

Jaybird left, and the cousins arrived.

The kids had a great afternoon together; I helped Rose Red with her birthday party invitations; Cousin K14 read stories and played games with little kids for hours; Cousin A11 brought 3 loaves of homemade bread to share for dinner; I made a couple of gallons of homemade vegetable beef soup; and we all shared a meal at the end of the day.

Tuesday was a deliciously dull day during which we got lots of good things done.

Morning meeting included a discussion on giving your whole souls to God.

For LDSFamilySchool I passed out copies of Bambi and assigned a focus on characters for chapters 1-3 and plot for chapters 4-6.

We also  studied the first paragraph of Edgar Allen Poe's essay "The Philosophy of Furniture" in order to find his thesis statement.  This led to a debate over whether or not "The Raven" is a horror story or not.  I ended up reading it aloud and then the girls were assigned to write a topic sentence on that subject.  Super Star has thesis sentences down pat; Rose Red is pretty close; Pixie and Belle are really struggling with the concept.  We'll keep plugging away.

Nature Angel and I did some spelling and reading together.

Dad took Ladybug to therapy.

Mister Man and I played reading games.

"Turbo Twist" is an electronic spelling game that we inherited from a friend.  It is all the rage at our house these days.
 Little Princess finished writing her story about twins who lose things and then wrote an acrostic poem about spring.

Ladybug colored pictures of apples and then arranged word strips in order to make sentences about the apples.  She mostly guessed what words we worked with, but I saw a light come on somewhere about the dozenth time I explained that "big" starts with /b/.  She began playing with the sound as she cut and pasted, and later that night when I read Bedtime for Frances she pointed to the "B" and the "F" and correctly identified "Bedtime" and "Frances" via their initial sounds.
 This feels like the beginning of something exciting for Ladybug!

Brother and Little Brother played outside on the deck a lot, and they sat quietly for stories when Nature Angel offered to read aloud in the afternoon.

Rose Red worked on pre-algebra via a free subscription we have to an online program.  She hates it because it only has one pace--slow, but she's mastering the skills.  She completed another section of Vocabulary From Classical Roots, read and narrated 6 more pages of  The Disappearing Spoon, and worked on lessons from All About Spelling 4.

The 4 older girls went to the church for youth activities; their activity was an art lesson by a professional artist.

The littles and I read stories at home--picture books for the littlest ones, Little House in the Big Woods for Nature Angel and Little Princess.  I am delighted to find them utterly captivated by this beloved book.  It is my great joy to get to share it with this new group of children.

Wednesday was almost a carbon copy of Tuesday except:

1.  Dad was at work
2.  No therapy appointments
3.  Our cat killed a bird and left it on the deck.  Watching me scoop it up with a dustpan and toss it into the woods was a highlight for the boys
4.  Ladybug and I worked on weaving a potholder for her school
5.  I read stories to the littles in the late afternoon
6.  The older girls stayed home in the evening and we had our family read aloud time.  We've addded  The Story of Science: Newton at the Center by Joy Hakim to our nightly repertoire.  It's quite interesting.  I picked it up randomly off the library bookshelf.  I wish I'd known about the first volume in this series, but c'est la vie.

Fussy babies are generally happier outdoors than in.
 We had lots of behavior issues with Super Star and Brother all day long.  And the babies were fussy.   That made the day hard, but having 2 at-home, productive days in a row was still a treat.

Thursday included a rousing literary discussion about enduring trials--inspired by Bambi.   We also discussed how setting contributes to plot and character development, but that part was a little bit less rousing than the trials part.

While I made lunch, Nature Angel read aloud to me.  She's so sweetly enthusiastic about her work, always finding something to be joyful about.  Doing school with her is always a highlight of my day.

I helped Ladybug finish the potholder she began on Wednesday.  It is clearly therapeutic for her to weave and create at thing of beauty and usefulness.

We all headed out the door to dance.  And everyone behaved well enough that we were able to have practice with our youngest set.  The older kids all came out breathless and happy with the exercise and fun of their new dances.

Mister Man and Ladybug are all about playing games.  Every half hour or so they come to me with a board game in hand, "We've picked up all of the pieces and we're ready to put this game away.  Can we get another one out?"  They seriously will play game after game for hours.

During our evening reading, everyone got really talkative and curious about how our years are 365 1/4 days long.  It is perfect that this is a leap year, so we examined the calendar and worked out the math for what would happen if we didn't have that extra day every 4 years.  Belle pointed out that each year is actually about 11 minutes shorter than 1/4 day, and asked about the ramifications of that discrepancy.  We did a whole bunch more math, and realized that there should be problems with that.  I found the answer here.

While Friday held some of our happiest moments, the unfolding of the day reconfirmed to me that unschooling is definitely NOT the best way for our family.

 The day started as normal--basket duty, breakfast, morning meeting. 

Then Dad and I took Belle to the temple for her first time.  It was a joyful, joyful experience.  Even the temple workers commented on how Belle just beamed as she stood as proxy for those who never had the chance to choose for themselves in this life. 

We got home shortly after lunch, and as the homeschool talent show was scheduled for that evening, the afternoon was turned over to preparations.  I did a little bit of school with Mister Man and Ladybug.
Ladybug likes doing paper punches of her sight words.
  I emailed and texted the talent show coordinator about a thousand times with changes and updates based on my kids' requests.  I helped Nature Angel with her art display.  I encouraged Belle to participate by reciting a poem.  I answered questions for Pixie.  I found costumes for the littles.  I pulled out board games, spelled words, found art supplies, answered questions, and prepared food.  I also shared the kitchen with Super Star, who at 2 pm said, "I'm the only one not participating!  What can I do?"  I let her make a batch of oatmeal butterscotch cookies to display and share at the talent show that night.

I ran here and there, responding to kids' needs as they arose--choosing whichever needs seemed most urgent.  As a result, some kids were utterly ignored, and some kids got lots of attention.

It was great.

It was awful.

We need careful structure and order in our household. 

Friday's kid-led and event-inspired experiences were quite productive in many ways, but it was not a happy afternoon for me at all.  I felt stretched too thin, and based on kids' behavior, the kids who were ignored were not happy campers.  It was okay for one day to be like that, but I am more than happy to return to our regular, careful schedule that gives everyone the structure we need to meet everyone's various needs.

The talent show was a delight.

The littles' sang and danced, "Five Foot Two."  One mom said, "I smiled so much while they were on stage that my cheeks hurt."

Nature Angel set up an art display that received many, many compliments.

Belle recited "The Embarrassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet" to perfection.

Super Star's cookies received rave reviews.

Pixie got a group of dance friends together and clogged to "Mamma Mia."  I've got to say that she can really clog!  I'm ready to sign her up for more lessons and more opportunity to develop that talent.

Rose Red danced with Pixie and also played the piano.  She plays by ear, picking out melodies and creating her own accompaniment.  She both looked lovely and made lovely music.  She also made everyone laugh when she stood to go to the piano and announced, "I'm playing 'A Thousand Years' by Katy Perry because my mother made me do it!"

(I made her do it by making a public instrumental performance a requirement for a fine arts credit this year.  "Church or the talent show," I said.  She chose the talent show.)

I'm glad we did it.

Funny sisters (Pixie and Belle), late at night.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Book Review by Super Star: Whatever Is Lovely

After finding a coloring book available for review, and securing Super Star's promise to write that review, I pressed "send" and handed the book off to her.

Here's what she wrote:

Whatever Is Lovely is an uplifting, engaging coloring book full of unique pictures.  It is filled with large and small details.  After each page is an inspiring quote, hymn, or poem.  If you are looking for an easy-going, finish-it-quickly kind of coloring book, I don't suggest this one; the pages are large and filled with lots of tiny lines, dots, flowers, leaves and other details that are satisfying to spend time and thought coloring.

I color in Whatever Is Lovely every night.  I love this coloring book! 

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Week, Briefly (#24)

On Saturday Nature Angel got to model for a church friend who is working on publishing his first children's book.  She spent over 3 hours being photographed and videoed so that the illustrations of his main character (who looks exactly like Nature Angel) will be what he wants them to be.

She came home exhausted--no fanciful imaginings about the glorious life of models for her!

But she has the promise of receiving a copy of the book when (and if) it is published, and if it doesn't get published, she'll at least get a privately printed copy of it.

Too fun!

Somehow, between illnesses and a heavy church schedule, we managed to have our family Valentine's Day celebration on Sunday.  Exchanging our handmade cards each year is a major stress, but it is also one of our most rewarding family days.  I still catch kids going through their bags of valentines and feeling loved as they look at each one.

As Monday was a holiday, and the library was closed, we had a regular school day so that we could go to the library on Tuesday.

We added family scripture study to our morning meeting--moved there from the dinner hour that it has occupied for the past almost-4 years.  Dad has changed from working nights to days, and we don't have to cram in our prayers and scriptures before he leaves anymore.  Changes are hard, but I have leftover Valentine candy that I'm using to reward kids who participate in reading and discussions.

I'm hopeful.

We're nearly at the end of Little House in the Big Woods, and the older girls have learned well how to use their literature marking pens.  I am delighted with their delight at sharing highlighted parts of the story!  I am charmed every time I ask, "Who has a character (or plot or style or whatever) element to share?" and all 4 girls start talking at once.

Nature Angel, Little Princess, Ladybug, and Mister Man each got a chance to "do school" with me.

Through her school, Nature Angel has discovered the art of Grace Carpenter Hudson, and getting to use the paintings to inspire her grammar lessons has been a delight.  She smiles and is rendered almost inarticulate in her joy at studying these paintings.

We're having spring in February, so everyone under 10 also spent hours and hours outside playing in the sunshine.  The girls rode bikes.  The little boys played on the deck with scooters and toy trucks.

We finished The Storybook of Science!  80 chapters and 400 pages!

Now the joy of choosing something new to read is ours.

Tuesday was our Monday, and Dad was home for the day.  We had a successful morning meeting (moving scripture study to before Bedtime Math was good, and I still had that bucket of candy out), and then we returned 60 library books while only checking out 36.

That's a relief because we've still got well over 100 checked out, and I was starting to worry about whether we could find all of them all around the house and incurring fines when those 100+ come due.

We added Ladybug to our illness casualty list and canceled her therapy appointment for the week.  I also called our parent educator and canceled our meeting with her giving half a dozen sneezing, coughing, dripping children as a good reason to stay away from our house!

Then I made lunch, gave haircuts to Sir Walter Scott, Mister Man, and Baymax, got a shower, watched Persuasion with the older girls (they're so in love with all things Jane Austen), did school with Ladybug (patterns and beginning sound sorts), Mister Man (beginning and ending blends), and Little Princess (she's writing a story about twins who lose things), and helped Super Star make sloppy joes and roasted potatoes for dinner.

 I wanted to help Ladybug make another pot holder, but we can't find the loom.

Nature Angel studied her new library books:

After dinner I stayed home with the 5-and-under set while everyone 6-and-up went with Dad to the church for youth activities.

On Wednesday, the temperature went back up.  Kids spilled in and out of the house all day long.  I tried to help Little Princess work on her story, but she was too busy down at the creek, and honestly, I'd rather see her down at the creek than sitting at the kitchen table.

In Morning Meeting, we moved Isaiah 1:18 to our memorized list and began working on Joshua 24:15.  We also finished reading the book of Jacob in The Book of Mormon.

I tried to follow the lesson plan for the chapter the girls read in Little House in the Big Woods, but it killed all discussion.  Fortunately I didn't stick with the plan for too long, and by chucking it was able to salvage the school day.  My girls love to talk, and as long as I simply ask, "What do you have to share?" we can have lively, thoughtful discussions.

So that's what we did.

Their assignment was to finish the 4 final chapters of the book, paying particular attention to the theme of each chapter and highlighting literary elements that contribute to the development of the theme.

Nature Angel and I did some geography together; she got to make a map of an imaginary country.  Doing so helped her practice physical map-making skills.

Ladybug learned the words "look" and "at" and colored in her letter A coloring book.

Ladybug and Mister Man played a game from this month's issue of High Five magazine.
 Mister Man listened to a story about a boy and a robin, then he answered comprehension questions, studied robins with me, and colored a picture of a robin.  He was so sweet and funny as he explained his coloring techniques to get the robin to look real, "I know the robin is not black, but I have to use black first!  I will color white on top to help the robin look gray . . ."

I spent hours with Rose Red researching ideas and planning her 16th birthday party.  It was exhausting, but we finally decided on a party at home.  The work has only begun, but I'm so glad to have the basic decision and plans outlined!

Little Brother cried a lot.  I don't know what's wrong, but anything anyone said or did to him reduced him to a noisy puddle.  Because my arms are always full of the actual babies in our home, I forget to hold this little fellow who is still more of a baby than most 3-year-olds are.  I keep trying to treat him like his chronological age, when in fact I need to treat him like Little Sister and Baymax.   This is a lesson I need to learn.

We added Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know to our evening reading.  The older girls know these tales, but the littler girls only know some of them, and the older girls are enjoying hearing them again.

Sir Walter Scott snapped this picture of me at bedtime with the babies.
 On Thursday, during morning meeting, we adjusted our family scripture reading by jumping right into a lesson on Enos in Scripture Study for Latter Day Saint Families.  The lesson really pumped up our discussion; I like this addition to our studies! 
After finishing our discussions inspired by Little House in the Big Woods, I assigned the girls a character study essay.   The littles played outside on the deck all morning because we're having spring in February.

Then we headed off to dance practice.  I took some school supplies with me this time to give Mister Man and Ladybug and Little Princess some one-on-one attention while we waited for various dance classes to meet.

I was able to work with Mister Man (phonics readers) and Ladybug (sight word "at" and writing A/a), but then Ladybug pitched a monster tantrum over a toy she wanted that resulted in me having to take her out to the van and strap her in her car seat to keep her from damaging anything or anyone.  Between that and Little Sister's fussing because she refused to nap and Little Brother's continued weepiness, we never got to have dance for the youngest group.

At least all of the older kids had great rehearsals with new, challenging dances to learn.

When we got home I threw a lentil soup together, a load of laundry in the washer, then walked away from my other chores and spent time outside with the kids.  It was actually very hard to do--it took a lot of conscious self-talk to stay focused on my plan to share in their outdoor experiences and to try to relax a bit in the afternoon to see if I could have more energy for Sir Walter Scott when he gets home at night.

The kid part went fine; the relaxing part not-so-fine. :)

I'll keep practicing.

I notice how I keep making noises about not pushing reading on Ladybug, but then all of her school lessons are reading lessons.  She's 100% aware of Mister Man's reading skills and the fact that he's 14 months younger than she is.  I'd love to drop the reading, but she's desperate to feel that she's keeping up.  I'm using a plan that is mostly centered on initial sounds, writing practice and sight words.  She can memorize the sight words, practice the sounds, totally ace the handwriting practice and do her "reading" by context clues.  She feels good about reading lessons; I feel good about not pushing her.

Our friends were sick, so we had a day open to us.

The weather started at 50 degrees and climbed to just over 70.  We had morning meeting, and not much else.

The older girls finished their character studies.

I worked with Nature Angel on grammar and spelling for about 20 minutes.

Otherwise, the kids spent the day out-of-doors with Dad, who was finally getting the last of the Christmas lights down. :)

I took Pixie to buy her first pair of high heels.

And Pixie, Super Star, and Belle went with Dad to a church Daddy/daughter dance.  He was the only dad there with 3 daughters (it was only for 12-13 year olds).

(The whole body shots were blurry, so here are the close-ups.)
While Dad and the other girls were gone to the dance, Rose Red and Little Princess had some fun with the camera.
The kids have begun to ask for picnics . . . I'll have to start keeping picnic supplies on hand because there just might be more picnic weather in the week ahead.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Week, Briefly (#23)

Monday was our getting ready for the week day:
Therapy for Brother
Morning meeting
A couple of hours of cleaning for the big girls and me (we haven't had a chance for a proper Saturday cleaning session in several weeks!)
A library run during which we returned 43 books but brought home 67 more!
A visit with JayBird that went very well
A date for Dad and Mom (we did a little run/walk and ran errands, but we did it alone, and the kids made and served dinner, so it counts as a date)
Evening reading as a family--we finished Pride and Prejudice on Sunday night, so we began Standing Lions (the kids are mad because they wanted me to read Emma next, but I'm purposely not reading it aloud to get them to read it on their own)

Tuesday was a productive day, but I ended up in a dreadful mood of gloom and despair that I really struggled with.  I know that my mood began with Rose Red's disrespectful behavior and unkind words, and it only got worse when I spent over an hour on the phone trying to get well-child visits scheduled for Ladybug, Brother and Little Brother.

(I hate being on the phone.)

I also remembered that I hadn't contacted our licensing worker about an update homestudy for us that our attorney requested last week, so worked on that as well (to no avail).

But we had a good morning meeting--we started paragraph 3 of The Family Proclamation.  We all groaned about putting song #2 away, but I promised to play it each Monday morning for our weekly review.

The older girls and I began our literature lessons on Little House in the Big Woods.  It is too easy a book for them, but it is so familiar and so loved that it is perfect for these introductory lessons on how to mark a book for theme, setting, plot, style, character, and vocabulary.  We read aloud together and marked the first chapter, especially focusing on setting, and then they were assigned to read the next 2 chapters independently, marking for setting, character, and theme.

I worked individually with Mister Man (phonics and picture study), Little Princess (grammar with nouns and verbs and reading Peter Rabbit), and Nature Angel (spelling rules, a fanciful story about life as a caterpillar, and poetry).

Ladybug finished her last computer lesson, and I am glad to see the back of that experiment!  I spent an hour in the evening prepping some face-to-face learning activities we can do together for the next few days.

Though it was very cold, the sun was strong, so I had the littles bundle up well and go outside for 45 minutes or so.  They were wired and in trouble over and over for jumping on furniture and yelling, so this outside play time was good, good, good.  When they came in I read some stories to them all.

The older girls headed out to the youth activity at the church--a talent show!  Rose Red and Pixie danced a clogging routine, Super Star sang Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, and Belle recited a funny poem.  Nature Angel got to tag along to watch the show, and she was one happy girl at having that privilege.

Wednesday held not one outside the house item on the calendar--what a blessed relief!

But Baymax woke up with a fever that made it's way to nearly 105 degrees.  He did not feel good at all.

So we homeschooled the best we could in between rocking feverish Baymax and congested Little Sister.  We wiped Little Brother's nose a thousand times because he was getting sick, too.  We made it through all of our standard stuff:

*Morning Meeting
*LDS Family School--a lesson on plot
*Scriptures, Math, and Independent Study for the oldest 4
*The Good and the Beautiful--art lessons, grammar lessons, phonics, and spelling for the 3 using this program
*PreK--Ladybug and I worked on the sound of M and the sight words "I" and "see."
*Lots of disciplinary issues all day long:  Ladybug is still recovering from last week's PCIT debacle, field trip, and dance performance.  She has not regressed back to square 1, but she's certainly acting out in ways we hadn't seen in over a month.  Little Sister is beginning to deliberately disobey.  She's a baby, so it's not too distressing, but it is clear that she knows what she's doing when she ignores our "no."  The boys have too much energy to play indoors.  I'm thankful for the mild winter we're having, and I keep bundling them up and sending them outside for at least an hour every day.  Waiting for it to warm up enough to do so is a challenge.

Pixie is still working on her manicure skills--here's one in honor of Valentine's Day that she used actual newsprint to accomplish.
And here's the beautiful hair style she did for Belle for church on Valentine's Day.  She also did heart hair styles for Nature Angel and Little Princess.
A whole bunch of art history and art appreciation books came through at the library, so instead of our usual evening reading we enjoyed Michaelangelo by Diane Stanley. 

Thursday was when the illnesses really hit.  Several more kids woke up with coughs and drippy noses, and Baymax's fever eventually crossed the 105 mark.  We skipped dance practice and limped our way through school.
Nature Angel's sketch of a racoon washing his food in a stream--inspired by a library book, The Raft
Little Princess's school included a watercolor study.
Nature Angel has begun making mineral notecards.  This is not an assignment from me--totally self-directed learning!
She's been studying minerals with her book and her mineral kit that she got for Christmas.
Making potholders has been all the rage this week.  Here's Ladybug with her potholder.  It was a satisfying and therapeutic project for her.
 I ended up in urgent care that night with Little Sister because when she got lifted from the bathtub, she slipped a bit in Pixie's arms and her elbow was pulled.

Nursemaid's elbow.

But the doctor there was in too much of a hurry to "treat and street," so he didn't do a thorough job.  Little Sister still clearly hurt all that night and into the next morning. 

Friday morning found me on the phone with the nurse advice line.  My instructions were to get both babies to the ER as soon as possible.  But I knew Baymax had a virus, was hydrated, and was uncomfortable but okay. 

I didn't take him.

But I did take Little Sister.  The docs at the ER were thorough and watchful.  They finished reducing Little Sister's arm, and she's as good as new now.

While Little Sister and I waited, our attorney called to say that with our permission he was ready to file for adoption.  I gave him a hearty, "Yes!"

While I was gone, the older girls managed our morning routine and helped the littles make their valentines for our family celebration.  I called off school in favor of giving time for everyone to make valentines and to recover from feeling crummy.

Everyone--from Mom and Dad to the babies--makes a personal valentine for each family member.  Here's little sister getting help from me.
We got bored of Standing Lions, so we put it aside in favor of trying The Winged Girl of Knossos.  So far, it's more interesting as a read aloud.

 Baymax's fever finally left, and cold symptoms set in.  Poor fellow!  He hasn't had a good night's sleep in at least a week.  We're starting this week in the hole energy-wise . . . all of us!