A Week, Briefly (In Which We Experience a Death)

Percy, our guinea pig, died sometime Saturday night.

Nature Angel found him when she went to feed him Sunday morning.

We were somewhat late for church.

Poor Nature Angel.

She took it hard.

Sir Walter Scott wrapped him in a dishtowel.  I administered hugs to weeping children (Nature Angel and Little Princess) and answered questions from curious children (Ladybug and Brother).

For Family Home Evening we had a simple graveside service and burial.

In the later evening Super Star received her patriarchal blessing.  It was so perfect for her that I wanted to stand up and shout for joy after every sentence.  She's a truly choice soul, and my every prayer on her behalf was granted as the patriarch blessed her.

God is so very, very good.

It was a gray day inside and out.  The outside wasn't so bad--kind of warm and rainy and springy.  It was the inside gray--inside my brain--that was the problem.

We had a usual school day.

Pretty good.

Kinda hard.


I gave Lola and Baymax some colored rice, some scoopers, and some bins to keep them busy . . .

It didn't take long for the kitchen to look like this. :)

The toddlers continue to be a handful, and we're still dealing with behavioral repercussions of having a long dance day on Saturday.  Little Brother has been acting like he did well over a year ago--refusing to eat, howling, screaming, peeing, spitting, hitting, and generally not handling life with any joy.  Ladybug has been mostly fine, though she did refuse to do any phonics, and she has had some eating issues.  Brother seems to have settled down after a difficult Sunday.

Mister Man and I read a folk tale about doubling numbers.  We tried it out with grains of rice, but we gave up at 64 because it was getting boring to count.

I do remember that we sang The Living Christ, and I simply could not hold back the tears of joy as I listened to and watched my children sing this beautiful testimony.  They just radiated life as they sang.  I told them at the end, "This singing of Christ together will be one of the best memories of my life; I love singing these songs with you."

Pixie's right arm has been bothering her for a couple of weeks.  She's been wearing a wrist splint and taking ibuprofen, but it's gotten worse instead of better.   Sir Walter Scott took her to the orthopedist's office, and they've put her in a hard splint from fingers to above the elbow while we await approval for an MRI to confirm a preliminary diagnosis of DRUJ Instability.   The soft tissue is probably torn, and her bones move too freely.  If the docs are right, she'll be fitted for a special splint and assigned to 3 months of physical therapy.  If the therapy works, great.  If it doesn't, she'll be a candidate for surgery.

In the meantime, she can't write, can't comb her hair, can't put on her makeup, can't rehearse her swing dance.

She's pretty disappointed.

But she can read!
I took a handful of littles with me to the nature park.  We spent a long time trying to get pictures of a pair of mallards.  We wonder if the strangely warm weather means they're already preparing to nest.

We came home to have the lovely bean and ham soup that I prepared in the morning, only to find that someone had turned off the crock pot.


Sir Walter Scott hugged me and ran to the local market for cold cereal, bananas, and milk.

So, formal school kind of took a back seat to life.  But we still got lots of school done.


It was Monday.

I spent the wee hours of the morning emailing information to Pixie's darling friend who wants to withdraw from public high school and be homeschooled.  Her parents are feeling cautious, and told her that if she could gather enough information to convince them, then it might be possible.  I answered her questions and taught her a little bit about homeschooling laws for our state.  I offered to talk to her parents if they were so inclined.

Later in the day she called and squealed with happiness over the phone, "I just can't thank you enough!  This is just what I needed!  My parents just don't understand how unhappy I am in school and how badly I want this, and I'm so excited get to talk to you for real!  Could my parents talk to you?  I can't believe how nice you are!  This is so exciting!"

(She really is just darling.)

We worked out a time good for both of our families to get together and talk homeschooling.

My prayer now is that I will be an asset to helping these parents work with their daughter as they decide what is best for her and for their family.  I don't want to come across as a public school critic or seem like I'm taking sides with their daughter against their wishes.

Once that email was finished it was time to start the day.

Everyone was grumpy and blah.

We soldiered through, doing our best to fight the blahs, but I began to have a sneaking suspicion that something was going on . . . a tickle in my throat, achiness in my limbs, a runny nose, an insane desire to just curl up in bed and stop working . . . by evening it was definite . . . I was sick again, and I saw signs that at least 3 other kids were following me in short order.


But before things got too bad, we had language arts and math lessons for the various younger ones.

Little Princess' language arts book suggested this little lift-the-flap activity for practicing compound words.

Nature Angel thought it was so cute, she made one herself, just for fun.

For Academy we talked some more about the sugar maple tree we identified by its (fallen) leaves and a state tree field guide during yesterday's Academy.  We did bark rubbings and played with as many adjectives for bark as we could possibly imagine.

During Symposium we practiced getting-to-know-you phrases in Spanish, studied Woman Weeping by Picasso, and read about Charlemagne.

Pixie's injury prevents her from writing, so she's typing notes out one handed on Sir Walter Scott's laptop, and has switched from Saxon to Khan Academy for Algebra.  Her photography class is on hold because she can't handle a camera, but she's determined to keep dancing, so she's teaching her sisters a clogging routine that they can perform at the homeschool talent show later this month.

Super Star finished her science curriculum, so we ordered an icthyology textbook from interlibrary loan, and while we're waiting to see if that comes through, I ordered The Edge of the Sea for her to read and journal.  While we're waiting for that to arrive, she's doubling up on math lessons.

Belle is faithfully training Theo in addition to her regular studies.  It's hard work, but she's a hard worker.

Rose Red is showing signs of understanding how to work with decimals and percents using the Math Mammoth workbook we received for review.

By evening time we were falling apart--too tired and getting too sick to function.  I closed our read aloud book at 8:03 and proclaimed I couldn't read another word.  Not one kid argued or tried to stay up later.

The house was (mostly) silent by 8:16.

It was a terrible night, and I woke feeling dead.

I told the kids that we'd be moving very slowly through the day, and we did.  At one point in the morning I put on a VeggieTales video to give us all a break.

I wasn't the only one feeling dead.

But we got through everyone's individual school work, and Brother and Ladybug went to therapy.

Brother enjoyed doing a letter Aa poke card.

Pixie came upstairs exclaiming, "I hate Khan Academy!  I don't care how hard it is!  I'm doing my Saxon math again!"

"Okay . . . just be careful . . . and remember that you have options."

"I'm doing Saxon.  I understand Saxon.  I like Saxon."

"Okee dokee.  Opinion noted."

So, Saxon is a winner with Pixie. :)

By lunch time I was too tired to remain upright, and I gratefully handed over management of Signing Time and quiet time to Sir Walter Scott while I headed to bed.  I didn't sleep, but I did rest.

No Symposium, but the girls watched the first half of Gone With the Wind which Super Star is reading right now.  I thought the book was romantic when I was a young teen; I think it is devastatingly sad now.  I'll be interested to know what Super Star thinks when she finishes it.

Everyone but Belle and Nature Angel felt quiet and tired, so those two took Theo out for an adventure while the rest of us stayed indoors.  I helped Rose Red through some math and braided Pixie's hair for her.  Sir Walter Scott worked on some personal history questions and made pasta for dinner.  The rest of the kids watched Signing Time and VeggieTales videos and/or did puzzles.

It was youth activity night at church, so the littles and I had a quiet night at home.

After a really bad night for me, Mister Man, and Baymax, Pixie and Super Star sweetly took over Morning Meeting for me.

But when I emerged from my room half an hour later, the littles were exhibiting lot of passive aggressive behaviors that pushed the rest of us to the breaking point.  I sent everyone to individual rooms to play away their frustrations while I sat sniffling on the couch catching up on necessary communication with Ladybug's and Brother's therapist.

Little Princess is enjoying a break from her usual language arts to read a fun book and complete a cute study guide.

Older kids did as much literature and math as they could before we divided and conquered to get as many kids as possible to dance.

I took most of the girls.  Super Star and Rose Red kept the boys (who were all sniffly and dripping snot and shouldn't have gone anyway).  I sat in the van with Ladybug and Lola.  Ladybug was still in a mood, and had to wait outside with me until her dance was being rehearsed.  She went in to practice, and I gave her a chance to stay in and play in the play room, but she chose to jump on the pews (we rehearse at a church), so she had to come back out and sit in her car seat.

I think she did it on purpose so that she could be near me . . . but I wish it could have been a happy choosing to be near me by saying, "May I wait with you instead of inside?"  Then we could have played games and read stories happily together and I would have understood that waiting inside wasn't the privilege I thought it was.

We've still got a long way to go about teaching the kids to use words to express their honest feelings.

Pixie, though, is very happy to find out that she can still dance most of her dances.  Belle will take her place in the few that she cannot do with only one arm.

Rose Red is struggling with appropriately monitoring her internet usage and respecting house rules.  We had a rather head-butting, contentious few moments that have left us all uneasy.  This isn't unusual for us, but I wish I knew how to convince her how much I love her even as I stand firm.  My words and actions aren't working . . . or perhaps they are, and we just need to get through this rough season to enjoy the blessings on the other side . . . I'll hope for the latter.

I will say that I respect her for coming upstairs some hours later to apologize for the worst of her language.

I was quite happy to feel my cold symptoms receding as the day progressed, and I was able to read aloud joyfully with most of the kids before bedtime.

What on earth?  Spring is here . . . or something like it!

I sent kids outside, and the air was mild, and it was a burden to be indoors.

Perhaps that's why our art project in the afternoon was so frustrating.  Maybe we'd have enjoyed it more if it had been 23 degrees and sleeting outside.

In the morning I worked slowly and gently with various younger kids on individual school.  In between, they swung, dug in the dirt, climbed, biked, and played with that happy freedom that springy air creates.

I was feeling better--not 100% but better--and that was joyful, too.

After apple slices and peanut butter pretzels for a snack, it was time for Academy.  We looked at catalpa leaves--they're shaped like hearts--and then we made trees out of hand/arm cutouts and hearts.

Nature Angel's

Little Brother's

Lola and Brother were far more interested in the feeling of glue on their hands than they were in making trees.

It was a sensory experience.

That's fine.

After lunch I gathered the Symposium crew for our first art project from Creating a Masterpiece--which membership privilege we have for review purposes.

It wasn't a joyful experience.

But the art turned out kind of cool.

And Pixie did all of her art with her left hand!!!!!

Belle's cardinal

Nature Angel's cardinal
Rose Red's cardinal

Super Star's cardinal

Little Princess' cardinal

We're going to try to shake things up next time and see if we can't enjoy the process better.

It is now late Friday afternoon.  I'm still helping Rose Red with her math (bleh), and I just found out Belle didn't do any Latin this week (bleh, again).  But dinner is in the crock pot and we had a late lunch, so maybe I'll get to enjoy some time with Sir Walter Scott . . . he's my favorite. <3

(Linking here)


  1. So sorry to hear about the loss of your guinea pig. They are lovely and losing a pet is hard, especially for sensitive kids. Hope that Pixie's arm responds to therapy and that everyone recovers quickly from the latest round of illness. I'm really impressed by those cardinals. I was hoping to get Miss 16 interested in art, at least sketching, through her love of birds. But she's not interested so I've let it go.

  2. I love the compound word flap project! That's a neat idea! :)

    You always have so much going on; I'm amazed that you can remember it all.

    And I'm super impressed with the left handed bird that looks better than anything I could do right handed!

  3. Love all the creative artwork--and sensory experiences! The cardinals are outstanding. Do you know what happened to the guinea pig?--was it normal life span? Prayers and faith for Pixie's arm...

  4. Gone With the Wind was my favorite book as a teenager as well as the sequel.

    Sorry about your guinea pig. I know how hard that can be.

    Those cardinals turned out beautiful! Much better then ours. We did not enjoy the process very much. I appreciate the advanced warning though. I told the children over and over again about not being able to see it very well (I have one that gets frustrated very easily and cries) and we muddled through. It was a learning experience.

    We have had a couple of sickly children this week too. No fevers, just headaches, sore throats, and very drippy noses. I hope everyone gets feeling better!


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