Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: Math Mammoth Blue Series

My Rose Red (16 years old) struggles terribly with math.  She has to work, work, and work some more to even understand basic concepts, and then she has to work some more to know how and when to apply them.  After any break from working on a skill, she has to start over to relearn it.  We were both very grateful when we received the opportunity to review the Blue Series by Math Mammoth.

The Blue Series is a selection of focused worktexts allowing a student lots of practice in one specific mathematical area.  I counted nearly 4 dozen to choose from, ranging from beginning addition to linear equations.  Rose Red and I counseled together over which subject areas she was in the most need of practice and review right now, and we chose Percent, Metric Measuring, and Geometry 1.

We received a pdf download of each worktext.  While I usually prefer hard copies of math books, this pdf version is enhanced with a lot of great extras.

A partial list of links from Percent.

Upon examination, we found a list of complementary links to online math games, printable worksheets, and videos to supplement the written lessons in the worktext.  In addition the student can do all work directly on the computer, if desired, by using the "add text comment" tool in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Because Rose Red has a job at a fast food restaurant, and because she loves to shop, we set to work on Percent first; we felt that understanding and being able to work with percents had immediate application in her daily life.  We took it really easy the first week, only completing 2 lessons and some supplemental practice worksheets.  I opted to print out her work, as that is less stressful for us both.

The math pages are in color, and we printed them as such at first, but later we tried out printing one week's worth of assignments in grayscale to save printing costs and to see if it affected the effectiveness of the diagrams; it didn't.  The graphics are high quality, so variations in shading were easy to see and understand whether in color or not.

Percent is targeted to kids doing math at 6th-8th grade levels.  I think that is correct.  Before starting Percent a student needs to be comfortable with fractions, long division, estimating, rounding numbers, setting up ratios, and using a calculator.  The print on the pages is quite small (something easily overcome by working on the computer and adjusting the viewing size), suitable for older students rather than younger ones.  Most of the time, there seemed to be plenty of white space for working out problems.

Rose Red found that the small bites of instruction followed by lots of diagrams, practice, and practical application problems were effective and doable.  Rose Red did need extra explanation and support to understand the lessons and complete the assignments, but I noticed that she grew increasingly comfortable reading and working the problems as she worked her way through the book--a sure sign of learning.

We found that for Rose Red the lessons were too long (3-4 pages), so we spent 2 days completing each lesson.  I can see a student who feels more confident and competent at math having no problem with the length of the lessons at all.

I appreciated that every Math Mammoth lesson includes practical work problems such as:

(I laughed at Rose Red's indignant reaction to #9 when she found that both shirts would cost the same amount.)

The flow of the book is a little bit choppy because the lessons are a compilation of lessons from the Light Blue Series (Math Mammoth's full-year math curriculum), but that wasn't a problem for Rose Red or for me because our goal was to really work as many aspects as possible of one skill set, and Percent is doing that for us.  Any repetition (and there's lots of it) is a blessing and exactly why we chose to work with the Blue Series.

One source of frustration was when the example problem(s) didn't seem to match the assignment.  For example, page 34 of Percent is as follows:

The example was about figuring out price increases given a sale price and a known percent.  Questions 1a-1c are for price decreases, and really threw Rose Red for a loop when she tried to make sense of what to do.

This mismatching of examples to assignment happened at least 3 times in the several weeks we worked on Percent.  Each time it took me sitting at Rose Red's side to talk her through to understanding what was being asked.

It was not frustrating enough to give up on using Percent

Overall, Rose Red and I both felt that using Percent was a real blessing to increasing her math understanding and improving her application of skills.

Because Rose Red needs to work slowly and carefully in her math lessons, we have not had time to actually work from the other two Blue Series books we received, but they are on our list for future work!

Metric Measuring is a compilation of lessons from grades 1-5 and begins at the very beginning with teaching the concept of measuring and moving into understanding relationships by completing conversion problems.
The first lesson begins at the very beginning . . .

 . . . and near the end, the problems are much more challenging.
 Metric Measuring is set up the same way Percent is, with a list of great web resources for beyond the book learning, full color diagrams, brief lesson bites, and plenty of practice.

The same is true for Geometry I, the last of the three books we selected for Rose Red's math skills review.

Geometry I is set up to review standard grades 4-5 geometry skills such as understanding angles, and calculating perimeter, area, and volume.  I was really impressed with the pages and pages of web resources included!

Looking at Geometry I is fun!  There are a lot of interesting kinds of drawing assignments that makes even me (the mom/teacher) want to dive into the work. 
Rose Red will balk at making a notebook, but I am grateful for the suggestion because it will teach her valuable note-taking skills that can be applied to any subject.
And I love this challenge to see geometry in the world around.  Who knows what interesting things will awaken in Rose Red's mind when she starts exercising her powers of observation? 

Rose Red and I feel blessed for the work we've done together in Percent, and we look forward to working in both Metric Measuring and Geometry I in the weeks to come.  We are grateful for these targeted reviews that allow her to develop her math skills to a level of competence and confidence.

Click here or on the banner below to read more Math Mammoth reviews!

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Week, Briefly (In Which Some of the Kids are in a Talent Show)

The older girls went to their dances over the weekend.

Daddy-Daughter dance on Friday night for the 12-13 year old girls at church

Youth dance for the 14-18 year old kids on Saturday night.  Friend E-- came along, too, and made the night so fun for all.

The awesome news of the day was that last week's MRI showed that nothing is torn in Pixie's arm, and the docs think it's just a weird strain/sprain.  She was promoted to a short splint and told to take it easy for a little while.  They also prescribed some physical therapy for strengthening.

My brain is putting 2 and 2 together (her previous ankle injury and how the docs said her arm bones move too freely which is why they suspected DRUJ instability in the first place) to come to the conclusion that Pixie must have extra loose ligaments or tendons all over her body.

Don't know if I'm right or wrong.

It's just a theory.

But we're all glad she's able to use her hand and arm again.

And that first shower was more joy than she could express in words.

Most of us stayed home to get what individual school studies done we could while Pixie was gone and while we waited for our cousins to come over to join us after Uncle M--'s cancer scans for a cookout.  We figured that as long as they were in the neighborhood (his oncologist/hospital are near us) we might as well have a little fun after the medical morning.

And all of that took up the whole day.

We read more of The Scarlet Letter before bedtime.

We were right on schedule through the whole early morning so that we had lots of time to really get into our individual studies.

And that was even with singing The Living Christ at the end of Morning Meeting because we forgot to on Monday.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing, kids were schooling, the littles were playing outside, and we were going to go on a nature scavenger hunt for Academy . . .

but then the littles transported the contents of the sandbox up to the deck.

Rule:  The sand stays in the sandbox.

We had a frustrating conversation.

Me:  Did you know you were disobeying?

Ladybug:  Yes.

Me:  Then why did you do it?

Ladybug:  Because I wanted to.

Me:  [Brother], why did you do it?

Brother:  [Ladybug] did it first.

They spent the next hour putting the sand back in the sandbox, and we followed that with a tough lesson about obeying/repenting/forgiveness.

Brother got it.

He truly understood . . . so well that in his prayers that night he said, " . . . and thank thee for forgiving me and loving me even when I put the sand on the deck . . ."

(My heart turned to mush.)

Ladybug might have gotten it, but she looked blank and uncomprehending and remained distant.

Little Brother is mostly clueless about most things--which sounds harsh, but is said with a gentle chuckle and a loving sigh because I'm not sure how much he'll ever understand.  We're growing increasingly concerned about his cognitive development.  At any rate, he copied Brother by hugging me and saying he was sorry before scampering off to play again.

Honestly, in writing this story down, I feel better about what felt like lost time when it was happening.  Brother's sweet epiphany and the resultant tenderizing of my heart toward him (tenderizing feels wrong to use there, but I can't think of another word to describe what happened) are worth far more than our nature walk or their phonics lessons.

With Nature Angel's right hand out of commission, she's taking a break from written work, and is having a good time with Easy-Peasy-All-in-One-Homeschool, just like Mister Man.  And Little Princess, being done with her math book, is joining in for games and drills on that site, too.

Brother--with a whopping 4 phonemes under his belt--is discovering that he can put sounds together in any book or any print material anywhere!  It is really, really cute to watch him run his finger across a page until he finds a letter he knows and then make the appropriate sound.

He's alight with this growing knowledge!

Ladybug can read far more than Brother can, but she hadn't reached the same conclusion he did about transferring skills from school time to the whole world.  His example has inspired her, and it is just joyful.

We completed our mid-term history review and exam during Symposium.  I love how the kids love these exams (we do them orally as a team) and race through their notes shouting and groaning and laughing as they search for answers.  It's energizing and hilarious.  11 pages of questions took what felt like seconds, and we got a good solid review of the people, places, and stories we've learned so far.

At first I panicked that we'd only just reached our history mid-term, but then I remembered that history and geography and art have all taken turns this year, so we'll cover what we cover, and relax about the calendar.

For literature Rose Red finished Les Miserables last week and started Frankenstein this week.  Then we found that it was due at the library and wouldn't renew!

She is starting Ancient Greek, courtesy of a review product we have the privilege of trying, and has alternated between excitement and terror.  Fortunately, starting the first lesson seems to have tipped her into the excited camp.

We're still working on The Scarlet Letter, but we also started Shepherd, Potter, Spy and the Star Namer (another review privilege).  It jumps right into some pretty exciting action, so it's caught our interest quickly.

My memories of Wednesday are of being breathless all day--of moving so quickly from one activity to the next that there was never time to even truly be present . . . but I also remember small quiet moments, so I guess I wasn't truly breathless . . . just . . . oh . . . normal.

I guess.

Brother and I had school together.  He loves reviewing the names and sounds of the letters he knows  so far.  He says, "I know that letter's name.  It is A.  I know what A says.  It says /a/ like aaaaaaaapple."  I marvel at his cuteness every time.

It was therapy day, so no Academy (again!).

Nature Angel amazes me with her ability to cope with having her dominant hand in a cast.  She's daily doing Creating a Masterpiece projects with her non-dominant hand, and even taking school notes during Symposium with it.  She also did some full-body tracings for Lola, Baymax, and Mister Man for our human body science activities.  I'm boggled by her skills and patience.

Little Princess was frustrated that we hadn't sewn together yet.  We did wash the fabric, and we did bring the sewing machine up to the kitchen, but she keeps forgetting that she has to choose between doing math with me on the computer or sewing with me, and she jumps at having a computer turn each day.  I reminded her on Wednesday that she has to choose which way she wants to spend our time together.

And she did some art with Nature Angel.

She did get some almost one-on-one attention in the evening when the older girls were at the church for youth activities.   While Baymax nursed his way to sleep, she and I did some reading and writing activities together that had been too hard for her to do alone in the morning.

Super Star finished all of her activities and projects for earning her Personal Progress recognition!  Hopefully she'll get her final interviews done in the next week or so and be able to receive her medallion by the end of the month.

During Symposium we continued practicing spelling in Spanish, studied a portrait by Gustav Klimt, and studied the foundings of Iceland and New Zealand.  The girls each wrote compare/contrast papers on the early histories of these islands.

Sir Walter Scott took Super Star, Little Princess, and Brother off to pick up the flags for the youth fundraiser while the other older kids completed schoolwork and the other littles played outside.  While Lola and Baymax finished their naps, I found a water heater to replace the one of ours that caught on fire on Monday.

We had a fire in our house and didn't know it!

It was serious enough to melt parts of the water heater, but it never spread anywhere else, burning itself quietly out.

I'm feeling miraculously preserved.

I've been praying my gratitude all week.

I've also been praying my gratitude for the fact that we have two hot water heaters.  The second only heats water in the basement, but we have a bathroom down there, so we've been able to bathe our happily filthy kids each evening.  As for the rest of the household, we can boil water on the stove, the dishwasher heats its own water, and we've washed all the clothes on cold.

Sheesh!  We've hardly been affected at all.

I had the privilege of going on a walk with Belle and Theo.  I pushed the stroller full of Lola and Baymax downhill and up for 2 good miles.  What a workout!  I also got to listen to Belle talk.  What a blessing!

We tried, but we couldn't find a window of time to get Pixie to the DMV for her driving permit test.  Pixie is being kind and patient about it.

It was another day of feeling frantic even though it didn't need to, and I finally realized that we're using the computer too much.

I love the computer and the wonderful online resources we can use, but we have to be very careful with our screen time.  Even though we've been reading, doing math games, completing art projects,  and studying science, it still came out to too much screen time.

When I mentioned this, Nature Angel and Little Princess looked at me with relief on their faces and said in tandem, "Yeah, Mom.  I think you're right."

Ladybug had gotten jealous that the others were using the computer, and earlier in the week I thought, "What's the harm?" so I let her do some math that way.  The activities were engaging and challenging, but I still saw a film drop over her eyes, and I saw a change in her body posture that alarmed me--she was regressing into old postures and behaviors.

Indeed, during the week we caught her sneaking around and breaking toys more than once.

So . . .

We have a commitment to review an online art curriculum, and I'm not worried about that, but the other computer studies for the under-12 set are gone.


Nature Angel will have to rest from math--perhaps she'll read some fun math literature--while her hand is out of commission.  She can't do the writing for her regular language arts, so she can read some good books and narrate to me.

Little Princess and I will work on The Good and Beautiful, and because she just loves, loves, loves math she can read some math literature, too.  I wonder if I can find some interesting offline math for her to do.

Mister Man and I may or may not continue with Easy-Peasy . . . I'm not quite sure yet . . . working one on one with him and the computer doesn't feel so off as it does for everyone else.

Ladybug will return to her regular schoolbooks.

Other than the too-much-screen-time revelation, it was a dance day.  We did what school we could in the morning, and we sang and danced in the afternoon.  In the evening we read aloud--Paddle-to-the Sea for the littles and The Scarlet Letter for the olders.

We used the computer as usual for Morning Meeting (for music), but we really did dump all of the computer lessons for the littles.

The morning felt so calm.

It was actually just as busy as usual, but there was just more peace in our actions.  Odds are I'll forget this lesson again over time, but for now I'm sold on using good old fashioned books, paper, and pencils.

Now for the lists of old (already using this year) and new (starting now) curricula the littles are doing for school.

Nature Angel is reading and narrating from:
(new)  Our Island Story
(new)  Mathematicians Are People, Too
(new)  The Everything Kids' Nature Book

Little Princess is working from:
(old)  The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts 2
(new)  Life of Fred: Kidneys (It's probably a little advanced for her, but I sold Dogs through Jellybeans a few years ago, so it's the best I have, and she's loving it . . . at least the first day.)

Ladybug is working on:
(old)  The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts K
(old)  Horizons K Math
(new)  Freebie handwriting sheets I print from the internet

Mister Man has begun to:
(new)  work on freebie handwriting sheets I print from the internet
(new)  read a poem a day from The Children's Classic Poetry Collection
(new)  read about an animal a day from The Kingfisher First Animal Encyclopedia
(new)  read and illustrate printed pages of a wide margin Book of Mormon (I learned about it here)
(new)  Life of Fred: Apples (I can't find his Horizons K Math book 2!)

Brother is still working on Eclectic Foundations A (we love it!)

We had only one Academy session--on Friday morning.  We stayed out of the cold drizzle outside eating snacks and reading books about trees:
If Trees Could Talk
Winter Trees

Playmags and the wooden train set were the most played with toys of the day.

In the afternoon we read The Scarlet Letter for Symposium--our book club date is looming.

In the evening we headed off to the homeschool talent show.

I got a little bit of video of Pixie, Super Star, Belle, and Nature Angel dancing to Callin' Baton Rouge.  The video isn't great, but it's better than nothing for me to remember how cute they were.


 I just caught their final pose:

Rose Red got some video of Ladybug, Mister Man, Brother, and Little Brother dancing to Animal Crackers in my Soup, but we can't figure out how to get it from her phone to my computer.  And we've tried a lot of ways.

Pixie displayed a slide show of some of her photos, and she got serious compliments on her work.

Sir Walter Scott stayed to help clean up while the rest of us chatted away.

When we got home, everyone over 12 took care of getting someone under 7 ready for bed, and the ones in the middle took care of themselves, so it was only 15 minutes from arriving home to having 8 kids tucked in bed.

And now I'm going to go collapse . . . but Sir Walter Scott is still working on installing our new water heater.

He's my hero. :)

(linking here)

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Week, Briefly (In Which We Have a Picnic)

The overriding memory of Monday was the lack of stress in the late afternoon that I usually feel.

I kind of felt at loose ends.

Rose Red did her schoolwork in good time, and came to me for help when she needed it instead of kicking and fussing her way through the day.

I'd forgotten what it felt like to be done with school by 3:00 pm.

And the babies both napped.

I emptied and loaded the dishwasher, processed 5 loads of laundry, worked on some reviews, baked homemade bread, made a couple of gallons of vegetable soup, and visited with a church friend.

That was so weird . . . so refreshing!

I hope she does her schoolwork earlier in the day and with a cooperative spirit again this week!

Mister Man is reading and building and crafting a lot on his own these days.  Every once in a while I sit down and read with him and have him narrate to me, but for the most part he just gobbles up what he needs as he encounters it.  On Monday he read an Usborne abridgement of Around the World in 80 Days, played in the dirt, climbed trees, wrote letters, drew with sidewalk chalk, made ghosts out of scrap fabric for every member of the family, read from an elementary reading anthology about cats, and went on a walk with Belle and Theo.

I guess his world is rich and stimulating.

Don't really know why I worry about whether I'm teaching him well enough.

For the preschoolers we're still reading fairy tales--this week it's The Frog Prince and Little Red Riding Hood.

Academy was about birds this week.  On Monday we identified what makes a bird a bird and laughed our brains out when I kept trying to convince the kids that the various animals we looked at in our Kingfisher Animal Encylopedia were birds.  They used their new classification knowledge to explain why a camel is not a bird and why an owl is one.  They thought it was hilarious when I tried to convince them that we are birds because we have two legs--just like birds do.

In Symposium we practiced Spanish greetings, studied The Scream by Edvard Munch, and read about the Abassid Dynasty and the coming forth of The 1001 Arabian Nights.   My favorite part of the meeting was hearing Rose Red tell her favorite stories to the younger girls--she was passionate about telling them accurately.  She came to life as she talked.

Nature Angel and Little Princess did another Creating a Masterpiece project--this time it was a cabin drawn with oil pastels

Dad read stories  . . . and Lola fell asleep.

Little Princess wants to finish her math book.  She did math for a couple of hours, knocking out 2 or 3 weeks worth of assignments.

Math is definitely her forte.

I've been mulling over what to do with her when she finishes this book, and I've decided not to purchase anything to fill in the space.  Instead I'll try to be available to her for some sewing/crafting lessons and try to keep my mind and kitchen open to letting her cook a bit.  We'll simply hold the space for learning and see what opportunities come our way that we might have said no to if we were worried about finishing a math book

Nature Angel did another Creating a Masterpiece art project.  She's loving this membership and is determined to make the most of it.  She is happiest when she is creating.

The littles spent the whole morning outside, with only small breaks to come in for individual school with me and a brief Academy session that we held outdoors.

We kept up our bird theme by listening to the bazillions of bird calls we can hear right now and by studying a little bird identification guide published by our state department of conservation.  We chose birds that we've seen at our feeder and looked closely at their beaks and their coloring so that we'll be more likely to recognize them when we see them in real life again.

The littles were so, so, so excited to try to mimic the various bird calls they could hear.  We don't have a clue which call belongs to which bird, but that will come in time as we train our ears to hear the different calls first.

Brother read his first word today--"man."

He did not recognize that it was a word!

He thought he was just playing with sounds.

I spent some time with him helping him hear how the sounds went together and made a word that he already knows, and his face lit up like Christmas!

This feels like the beginning of something good.

Brother and Lola shared a magazine experience together.
Symposium focused on all things Viking, and we switched our geography focus from Asia to Europe.

We identified a bird at our feeder as a house finch.  Too pretty!

photo found on the internet

Little Princess and Ladybug were my potato scrubbers in the late afternoon.  I was glad to have their help because I've lost my cooking groove . . . I'm in the mood for pizza pretty much every night. :)

Not that we're having pizza every night!

Baked potatoes loaded with plain yogurt, shredded cheese, and salsa were a delicious, inexpensive alternative.

We read some more of A Scarlet Letter in the evening.  Nature Angel and Little Princess are kind of young for it, but they're really trying to understand, and I think we'll read something light and younger next.

We celebrated Valentine's Day.

Sir Walter Scott worked on the actual holiday, so we moved it to a day that worked for us.

We'd made our valentines on Sunday afternoon, and I'd purchased the treats on Saturday, so once I got the clues ready for our treasure hunt we were ready to go.

My favorite clue was:

This game?  Big girls, try not to spoil it
When you have to search for a clue by the toilet.

I write a batch of new, cheesy clues like this every year, but I may have to start saving them because I'm running out of creative couplet clues.

Once we'd run through the clues and found the hidden chocolate, we settled into the living room to eat and exchange valentines.

Silly teens turned the clues into tails.
Helping the littles hand make 13 valentines each is a stressful hassle that make me wonder why we do this every year . . . but then the chance comes for the kids to share their valentines with one another, and I realize it was worth every moment of craziness.  This year it was Lola who captured my heart with her exuberance as she handed out her valentines one by one.  Not one of us could resist her darling, happy smile.

But neither could we capture in on the camera either.

Her smiles are ephemeral.

Brother and Ladybug had just enough time for a bit of phonics each before heading out the door to therapy, and then Little Brother and Mister Man disappeared into the back yard to play games with dump trucks so intently that I never heard a peep from them until I called them in to lunch nearly 3 hours later.

That's some good play.

I set up Lola and Baymax with some toys to try to distract them from their usual mischief.

As usual, it worked for about 2 minutes.

Little Princess finished her math book!!!

In Symposium we worked on spelling in Spanish, studied Michaelangelo's David, and ran through a rapid review of British history focusing on Alfred the Great.

The older girls all had to work on school through the afternoon because of our celebration in the morning, but I headed off to the fabric store to get supplies for poodle skirts--the 4 big girls all have 50's dances to attend this weekend.

Youth night at the church took the big girls off while the younger kids and I went to bed early.

Individual studies filled the morning.

Brother and I are reviewing the process of sounding out a word every day.  Each day he sees the same word, and overnight he forgets it.  This is a classic FASD learning struggle (he is not diagnosed with FASD, but his older half brother has a diagnosis of FAS, and all of the siblings demonstrate some FASD behaviors),  but he's catching on to so much other learning, that I'm confident he'll get it in time.

So, we're taking our time to review and review and review.

He loves it.

And I love seeing his happy face during school each day.

Nature Angel is struggling with long division.  I think we'll take a break from her textbook and work on the times tables some more.

Then we danced.

We picked up take-and-bake pizza on the way home and had a pizza picnic outside because it was 70 degrees!!!

A long, lazy evening enjoying as much sun and blue sky as possible . . . just in case winter makes a comeback.

I cancelled Symposium because the older girls have to help with the church camp fundraiser, and Pixie and Sir Walter Scott are headed out the door for a Daddy-Daughter dance at the church, too.  In addition, Rose Red will be leaving to help as a server at the dance, so we're moving in too many directions to get everything done.

The littles and I made bird feeders for Academy

Before we worked, we read Sweep Up the Sun--an absolutely beautiful picture book with many of the birds we see regularly at our feeder.

Little Princess is reading Lumbercamp Library, a book that is part of her language arts curriculum.  It is gut-wrenching, and while Little Princess is totally taken by the story, she cried many times over the tragedies the family faces.  It is a story she will remember forever.

Mister Man and I are still searching for a regular "school" activity to do together.  We've been all over the board with activities we've started and stopped and picked up and dropped again.  Right how we're playing with activities at  Easy-Peasy-All-In-One-Homeschool.

We got through all of our usual individual school.

And we played outside in the sunshine . . . again!

The kid have been in-line skating . . . but we're out of wrist splints and elbow pads, which led to . . .

 . . . matching useless right arms.
 Fortunately, Nature Angel's fracture is quite minor, and she might even be out of the cast in 2 weeks.

What a February we're having!

(linking here)

Friday, February 10, 2017

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)