Sunday, March 16, 2014

Online classes, Choir, and Sick

The girls have been working super hard on their online classes.  We are hoping they will be able to finish by June 30 because that is the end of the year and they can only take 6 credits per year.  It is fairly flexible though so if they are close to finishing, they will still be able to take more classes for the following year.  The classes are fairly challenging though, and there are a few things the girls haven't done before like do a power point presentation, make a brochure, write arguments for and against certain  positions, run a scientific experiment complete with a theory, hypothesis and method and then write it all out and use graphs to illustrate the results, as well as graded quizes and tests.  They also have to make sure to schedule the oral assessments with the teacher and get their stuff turned in when they are done.  So it has had a learning curve for them, I'm hoping they'll get used to all that and start moving a little more quickly and use their time better.  If they can be done by June, they will have completed 4 full year classes in 4 months.  We'll see!!  But if nothing else whenever they do finish, I think they will have a wonderful sense of accomplishment.  I think they already recognize the value of it even though it has been hard.

#2 is 2 yrs. ahead taking Geometry and Latin, I'm sure she'd do fine in any of the 9th grade classes, so it is not too critical for her.  She really likes computers though and would like to program, so she's also taking a computer class that is the pre requisite for all the other programming and design classes she wants to take.  #1 is just right on track for finishing up credits for graduation, and we are hoping these classes will just give her a good transcript for when she applies to colleges.  It is a little more critical that she finish on time so she can take more credits this upcoming year or prove to the school if she decides to go full time that she can mange the harder classes.  We'll see though, for 9th and 10th grade, the high school here puts the kids in groups and they stay together like elementary school for the 4 core classes, just rotating teachers, and there are no bells and it is a pretty casual environment with little room for movement between.  She is also getting some opportunities to accompany and keep up her music.  I am going to need to start researching how to get a music scholarship and where.  I really don't know anything about it.  I woukd like to get her into lessons, but with the super cold winter, the price of propane gojng up and our house in Utah unsold, she will just have to keep going on her own.  I will probably order another keyboard for her so she can work on recording some of her songs and getting the music written, I think those things will help.

We got rid of all screens for kids except TV when I need it for the toddlers except on Friday and Saturday.  So the kids still earn minutes diring the week for finishin their schoolwork, but they don't get to play them until the weekend after their chores are done.  It has  een so much better!  All thise boys wanted to do ever was play video games!  Since we spent so much time packing, moving and unpacking and it was freezing outside and we didn't have most of our stuff, the screen time had gotten a bit out of hand.  And then with 8 kids and everyone wanting a turn, it had become ridiculous.  Even #7, one of the 4 yr. old twins, would say k mom After I do my math then  can play?  There was a lot of complaining and crying about it at first, but they have all koved on to playing board games, reading and going outside.  It is nice.

I have realized that my boys' lessons are much more effective when I do them individually which I had always done for math, but it has to be done for Greek also.  I did Greek with the girls together, but that hasn't worked with the boys.  #3 in particular does much better without his younger brother yelling out the answers first.  I have also learned that I have to do the middle often overlooked child #5 first or we may not get to him because the older kids all have these massive needs and his stuff really doesn't take long.  He is particularly smart, it is really nice to teach a smart kid, they make it so easy!

This week was super busy.  Monday we had some homeschool families from our town come over for Olympic Fun.  We did some races and shooting and sledding.  I think it will ne a nice social group for my older boys.  #2 had a great time running the event, she even made country flags and medals for the kids.  I like the people out here too, they are just so genuine, they're not like particularly outgoing or extra nice or anything, they just are who they are and don't put on airs.  It's very refreshing.

Tuesday, the kids performed for a nursing home with their choir and ensemble.  The residents really liked it and there was a lot of nice comments from workers walking by and just in general.  I'm really glad the kids have this opportunity, and the kids they perform with are just nice and genuine also, and they sound great.  It's just good.  Most of the kids in the ensemble and choir are also in our church ward, so it has been interesting to be on the majority side in the ward where I see more wardmembers outside of church than other ward members see each other.  The other members are so spread out that they don't all go to the same school, so that is quite a switch for me, since I was pretty much always on the outside at church since my kids didn't go to the same school everyone else did, so I like that a lot too.  But that was a busy day, we were near Costco and Trader joe's so we did that shopping and then I had to go to scouts and then everybody seemed to be getting sick.  I still made the kids do their schoolwork, but they all slept a lot and didn't get as much done as usual.  Then Thursday, the girls went to the temple with the youth group and Friday we had choir practice and stopped by the library (I'm trying the library again) and Saturday was a Relief Society activity and the girls were asked to babysit. And then my husband came down with the sickness and one of the twins puked, and so only the girls and I went to church today, but it was great, but now I have a headache, so good night, I'm gonna try to get a lot of sleep!

Looking forward to a calmer week, knock on wood!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Regular goings on

Our lives are quiet and comfortable we're getting things done, the house is cleaner, we're going to bed earlier, it's just a really nice season for us.  We only have 3 1/2 years til #1 will leave for college and then it will just keep going, kids leaving, and our lives will change dramatically over time, so I am just enjoying every minute with all my kids home.  Plus #1 may want to go to full time high school next year or the year after, so all the more reason to enjoy this season.  Our church group is fantastic, #3 is going on his first overnighter this weekend with scouts.  The girls are going to a girls' night out when he's gone.  I'll just have a house of little boys to myself.  Not sure what we'll do.  

The state of New Hampshire has an online charter school that is fantastic.  The girls are both taking online classes.  I am so glad they'll have an official transcript and grades, and they have a teacher that will correct their work.  I have been working daily with #3 on Greek and math, he is doing so much better at focusing and getting the work done.  11 yr old boys sure know how to push buttons and waste time!  The worst is piano lessons, I can't express the amount of patience and energy this boy's lesson takes.  But as with everything, he is finally realizing the quickest way out is to just get it done.

We have had to eliminate screens- all gaming that is during the week.  It is tempting to let the boys play when they are done with school and chores because they work so much better when they have something like that to look forward to, but it is such a hassle keeping up with everyone's time and inevitably after the computer and wii have been on for over an hour and they all need to go do something else, someone will cry because they didn't get their turn yet.  So we're back to screens only on Fridays and Saturdays.

We had a book club last week on White Fang.  The girls wrote really great papers on it and the kids had a pretty good discussion.  The kids performed for choir at a nursing home last month and did a great job and #1 got to play the violin with her ensemble at church.  I also took the girls for a trumpet and clarinet lesson.  We can't do regular lessons til moving expenses are settled and I think I'll try to find another teacher.  Also our huge propane heating bill is a big damper on lessons and classes, maybe our house will sell soon, that will help!

We have had a ton of snow, we still have a bunch of boxes to unpack, plenty to keep us occupied, I have been looking at museums, I can't wait to go!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How far we've come!

I found an old homeschool journal I kept of our schooling from 2005-2008. It is really interesting how much the same I am, the journal really mirrors this blog, what we've done that week, and writing something about each child. We did a lot back then, my oldest was just 6, it was really fun to remember some things and to think about everybody as babies.  It was also interesting to see that as babies my kids had a lot of the same personalities and tendencies now that they had then. Recording things is such a good thing to do.

 It feels really good to get back in control of my life, we had so many difficult situations coincide with the birth of our twins, that we essentially just survived, but did not thrive and sometimes we weren't sure if we were even going to survive. But we did and it was nice to read and remember some really good times in our lives before all the craziness hit.  And school has been going well here on the home front, it takes a ton of patience and work, but we are beginning to thrive and I just can't express my gratitude enough. I will post more about that later, for now I want to type in this funny occurrence in from our church primary program, FYI-- the primary is our church's children's organization and the program is done once a year for the entire ward/congregation.  I was the primary chorister for this program.  It was nice to remember I had good times at church there too!

This was written by me on Nov. 6, 2005

Sunday was the program.  The girls did a great job singing and saying their parts.  #2 had 2 parts and was so cute quoting Moses 1:39 from memory, it was really sweet how she said the same things at practice that she did at the program.  It was kinda hard because her 2nd part ended with Heavenly Father's plan which rhymes with eternal life of man from Moses 1:39, so it was a little mixed up, but very cute.  #1 needed only a little prompting but then she said her part perfectly and must have looked just adorable because there were a lot of sweet laughs.  I lead the music and all the children sang well.  #3 joined us for some of the songs, (he was 3 at the time and not in primary yet), and then he tried to climb up on the pulpit.  He finally went out to foyer with his Daddy, so my husband missed a lot of the program. 

It was really spiritual and very sweet.  Some funny things happened which I am sure not many people noticed. The primary pianist was just cleaning her glasses and they broke right in half.  She was really panicking and tried to put them on so they'd stay, but of course they didn't.  I had to stop looking at her so I wouldn't laugh.  She called to another primary person to come play for her and then she taped them together with blue tape, but finally got the attention of her husband who got a spare set out of the car, so it all worked out.  Then one of the Sunbeams (3-4 yr old class) threw up at the very end, but it was already over so no big deal!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Some Great Booklists!

Ok, so I've heard about Sonlight curriculum, but yesterday while waiting for choir, I got to discuss books with some other homeschool moms and they said throat Sonlight has great lists, so I checked it out and wow, they do!  All those books look great, I am excited to get some and get started!

Monday, February 3, 2014

book list I don't want to lose

I still love New Hampshire, it is so awesome! That last post was actually supposed to go on my venting blog, I try not to complain too much on here, oh well!! I will write more about that later as well as school which is going well. We've been to a science class taught at an environmental center in our town divided into 5 age groups, we have joined a choir and we joined a book club and a teen activity group, unfortunately the book club and teen group are going to coincide, so we will have to decide. There is a good online charter school that I will be signing the girls up for a couple classes. The high school turned out to be lame, so we are homeschooling everybody this semester again and won't be doing any part time. We have been doing aerobics and yoga videos for fitness instead of organized sports for various reasons. We will in the next month find some good music teachers and ensembles for the kids, hopefully start some karate or at least join the YMCA. scouts at our church is the best we have ever seen. All the scouts meet together as one group with the various classes being quorums. Young Womens is so much better than what we had anytime in Utah. The leaders are mature and have teens of their own, and the girls are all really nice and have been very welcoming to my girls. This is an extremely good move for us. I love our location, we have 3 acres at the end of a wooded lane, with tress everywhere, total privacy, cute little towns with a corner market and gas station, awesome local cafes and excellent variety of stores for furniture as well as the standard big box stores, the grocery stores all carry organic foods and high quality foods with few preservatives and chemicals. There is also a co-op I can order from weekly to get better prices!!! so far, I just miss my mom and the scenic Utah views, the weather is about the same as Utah so far, although it does get dark an hour earlier here than in Utah, that is a bummer, but spring is coming! I do appreciate the new scenery, I like the little roads and trees everywhere and cute little houses, everything is colonial style, I like that too. The people are fantastic, I have been welcomed to New Hampshire by every person I tell that I am new, restaurant people, gas station people, corner store people, people at church, at homeschool groups, even the guy who picked up the moving trailer. School is going well, unpacking is going slow. We've just left everything in the garage and it will take a while, we have a couple bookshelves up now so we can start putting books away. But the kids really needed to get back into their studies and I think they like it. I just got on the computer to print out their lists of assignments for the week and I found this booklist I wanted to remember and ended up writing a novel, oh well. Here's the list: this site has a bunch of great books listed I want my kids to read and that I want to read also. The girls read the Bronze Bow for a book club last week and they are working on reading White Fang for next month. I really liked the book club, parents were invited, but the kids were encouraged to do most the talking. It was a great discussion, hopefully we'll be able to work out a decent schedule, if not we may have to start a new book club.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I love New Hampshire!

OK, so we have moved, been here a week and a half.  It is so awesome!  People have been great, church has been great, the schools have not been so good, but there will be other opportunities here.  I am especially glad my kids will finally have a decent church experience.  There is a lot to get used to, I'm not used to being included at church, I'm not used to people acting normal and not purposely ignoring me or trying to avoid me.  I've forgotten how it feels to enjoy going to church too.  I feel vindicated in a lot of ways too, the contrast is stark in some respects.  It will take me some time to mull it over, and be ready to process it all.  I have decided to not talk about my past experience with people here, it doesn't do anyone any good and it just reminds me of the pain.  It's just time to look forward.  In time I will be able to compare and contrast and really learn from the whole experience.  But for now I'm just going to enjoy being left alone, being allowed to live my life the way I see fit and not having to expend so much emotional energy just to stay afloat.  Go New Hampshire, I love the "live free or die" state!  I'm sure I'll write more about it some day, but I am looking forward to some good times and meeting and getting to know some nice people and spending some good time with my family.  Life is good!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Learning from Living

We have enjoyed our time off school work, Christmas get togethers, parties and lots of saying good bye.  We spent more time with family and got to see most of our extended family.  My dad's side didn't get together this year, so we missed them, but we saw everybody else.  Everybody was great, there was no drama for us this year.  It was awesome to leave and feel a positive connection with everybody.  It was my favorite Christmas.  It didn't leave us much time for our usual family traditions and that was fine because we know we won't be here next Christmas.  We did have a nice small Christmas with the kids getting most family gifts for the trip,  tablets to be exact to make the 45 hrs. In the car go a little more smoothly.  Anyway, it was all good but very busy with us getting our van fixed up for the trip and packing in all the spare minutes.

The kids were doing well helping and things were running pretty smoothly except our sweet little dog got sick, she was shaking and trembling a lot, so we finally took her to the vet.  He told us it was a neck injury, gave us some medicine for the inflammation and pain and said she'd be fine in 2-3 weeks. She took her medicine that first day and was doing much better, but the following day we couldn't get her to eat or take her medicine, same the next day, she seemed to need to rest a lot and I thought it was just part of her recovery.  But the reality was that she would not eat and then she stopped drinking too.  The kids also found her outside fallen in the snow being looked at by a big black dog.  They carried her in, but she was super scared.  She never complained once or made a sound.  So we don't know exactly what happened, but by the time we realized she wasn't getting better on New Year's Day when we were busy loading all the heavy stuff and our vet clinic was closed, it was too late.  We ran her over to our neighbor who is our vet, but she was already 10% dehydrated.  He also said for her to go downhill so quickly there must have been something else going on or her neck was hurt much worse than we realized.

We were getting ready to take her to the emergency animal hospital, I ran in for my coat, #1 waited with her in the car, and when I came back, she told me the little dog was gone.  She had taken one last breath, stretched out and made a sound, probably her spirit leaving her body.  We drove a little ways because her heart was still beating, but I had to accept she was gone and we returned home, wrapped her in a blanket and our friend, the vet, came and got her.  Everyone was super distraught and very very sad.  It is terrible without her.  We also gave away our cat that day so it was a very emotional sad time.  It is super weird to not have a single animal to care for.  At one point we had goats, chickens, a cat and a dog.  I thought they were kind of a pain even though the kids do most of the taking care, now I realize all that care and work is so worth it.  Those animals are our friends and they are my kids' friends. 

Some of the kids are still having a hard time with her death, so it has given us the opportunity to talk about death and the grieving process.  Life is rough, and animals just don't live as long as people.  So we just have to remember the good parts and we have to think that it was her time to go,  we needed that dog, she was there for us when my husband started his job where he had to commute a lot, she was there for my daughter when all her friends moved away and our ward was crazy and she was so vulnerable.  The dog was there for me when I sent my babies off to public school for the first time and for when I became isolated this year.  In some ways, I think the dog or The Lord knows that happier times are ahead for our whole family and that it was time for us to face the future alone without our beloved dog, especially #1 who was the main caretaker of the dog and had the closest relationship with her and will be starting full time high school in a brand new place.  So for us the New Year is a fresh start in more ways than one.  

For me, Maple was my first dog, I did not understand dogs at all, I had no idea what we were getting into, this dog was sweet and kind and gentle and good with the kids, otherwise, she wouldn't have lasted.  Now that she is gone we all realize how much she meant to us, sometimes you just don't realize it til they're gone.  It is so much of what education is, learning about life and people and how we interact and now how important animals are to us.  I think even in her death, Maple has taught us a lot and we will all be better and stronger.

Will we get more animals when we move?   I would like to, but I also plan on visiting and seeing places and doing things, so it just may have to wait.  But someday, we will get another dog, not to replace our Maple, but because we understand the value of animals and how they show us what unconditional love really is.

In the midst of all this, we are still trying to move.  I took a day to mourn and rest, and I let the kids be distracted with media, so we are behind.  It looks like that may be OK with these crazy cold temperatures.  We are going through Memphis and up the Atlantic coast so we'll miss the worst of the temperatures, but it is still abnormally cold, there isn't a lot going on on I-40 so it's probably good we're not on the road right now.  We might be able to get out today, but we'll have to see on the weather, we don't want to get stranded somewhere or have it be so cold our van won't start in the morning.  So we'll see.

Lots of changes, learning from life!