Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2 year Family Update

Alright, an update on the family is overdue.

You are probably are wondering why I could go TWO YEARS without posting and I've posted a few times in a week.  Well...that's what VACATION is for, right?  Actually, over the last three weeks I have been preparing for the new school year and I'm finally done...and still have 4 days left of vacation!  Pretty pathetic vacation time when you look at 365 days in a year, but I'll take what I can get.  ;)

For those of you who remember where we were 2 years ago, Miracle is still very time consuming with her needs.  She will be three in September!!   She started playing with toys this winter and her vision and arm control are getting better, so she's actually been learning to entertain herself for periods of time.  We also got a wheelchair in December and she is enjoying sitting in that more often than our laps these days.  She still prefers the floor, though.  And our laps after dinner closer to bedtime.  And still takes all her naps in my arms.  We are working on this... ;)

She has just recently learned to roll on her own through an intense physical therapy program in Pontiac, MI called Euro-PEDS.  I was very impressed with the program when she came home rolling and taking her first steps with a gait trainer! She receives physical, occupational and speech therapy all twice a week and it's 30 minutes from our home.  That kills our homeschool day.  We are trying to do dual therapy and cut down on how many times I have to leave the house in a week.

 Miracle at Euro-PEDS in Pontiac, MI doing intense physical therapy

Sadly, she stopped nursing at 2.  I wanted to nurse until she was taking a bottle again, but after seizures (I assume) her ability to latch on and stay on to nurse was getting worse daily.  We also were teaching her to bite on food and she loved to practice her new-found skill while nursing!  And she didn't just bite, she never let go!  Between biting and taking close to 50x to latch on each feeding, I had to give up.  It was too stressful for both of us.  Unfortunately, she is now full-time g-tube fed.  We will get back to oral feeding some day.  I just don't have an hour multiple times a day to devote to working on oral skills and practicing eating, which is what it will take to get her eating again.  I have lots of stretching, massage and therapy to do with her daily and it hasn't been getting done on school days either.  I feel like a Special Needs Mom Failure most days.  I still will never understand completely why God gave me Miracle after giving me four other children and I still have a desire to have more!

Yes, undeniable insane. That's me.

She got hearing aids at 18 months, though I had been concerned since she was an infant about her hearing.  At least she has them now.  She cries when you forget to put them on after naps or wait too long in the morning to put them on. Apparently the first 18 months she had a hard time hearing my voice (heartbreaking for me) and could only hear when her siblings screamed, cried or yelled.  THAT is why she always smiled when they cried.  We always thought that was funny, but really it was cause it was the only time she could hear them well.  Eh, I think she still smiles when they cry... But, by the amazing power of technology, Miracle can hear just as well as I can now (it just sounds like everyone is talking through a tunnel).

Wish we could fix everything that way.

She also uses hand splints to keep her thumb out and in a useful position, ankle-foot orthodics to keep her right foot from getting contractures in her ankle from constant pointing of her toes and high tone, a stander to work lower body muscles and practice head control and she will hopefully be getting a gait trainer soon, too.  She took 16 steps in a row on her own with a gait training at Euro-PEDS this month!  Never been so excited for the first steps of any of my children...  She also takes Zantac and two anti-seizure medications daily.  She has been having seizures more regularly since February of this year.  We went 1.5 years without them.  Very disappointing.  And now she is regularly getting boils on her bottom - I assume from being in the same positions all the time.  Sigh.

Miracle with her new therapy kitten, Oreo

Homeschool has been rough the past few years.  Still enjoying it, just finding it difficult to get it all done.  The year Miracle was born (2009-2010) we started Adventures in My Father's World and Sonlight K science and it took us a year and a half to get through it.  Their math, phonics and grammar was all done in a reasonable 9/10 months.  Then in 2011-2012 I created my own curriculum studying cultures and geography around the world and I didn't get as much done as I wanted and we schooled through June.  Though when I gave them their final quiz and saw all that they had learned, I felt much better.  Again, their math, grammar and self-studies were done in May, just my teaching didn't get done on time.

Needless to say, Miracle takes up a lot of my time and I love her to death.  But, I realized this year bouncing between my 5 children, that I truly needed help.  More than I wanted to ask for.  So I began a search for some kind of respite care and found out that she qualifies for nursing care via her g-tube and I can probably get whatever I request!


So, I found an agency and we've been working all summer getting things in place for help as soon as school starts in the fall.  I originally requested 2 hours a day.  Then I planned my homeschool and decided I needed 10 hours each day.  ;)  Right now they will be coming in 4 hours a day and I may request a few more hours on certain days once we get started.  We had looked at Preschools in May because I was desperate to get a few hours of school in without interruption.  I just do not want her away from me AT ALL.  I wanted to cry thinking about all the stress I would have wondering how they were caring for her and what she was doing knowing she couldn't tell me herself.  So glad we found another route.  I think I would have taken a year off of school illegally before taking her to Preschool.

An update on 2 years of my life and it's kind of depressing.

It has been rough and stressful, but I'm still loving being home and my kids are too.  They are doing excellent in their studies and I'm very proud of them.  We have enjoyed the school we have crammed in between sports, swim and piano lessons, therapy sessions and life.

 Chess Tournament 2012
Sid the Science Kid 2nd Place
Princess Pea 3rd  Place and she got the Sportsmanship Trophy!

Sid the Science Kid is 9 and currently into baseball after his first year of Wildcat.  He is above average in all his school studies and makes my teaching more difficult in some ways as I try to challenge him but still keep him young.  He is talented in piano and is taking off in his lessons.  He's just one of those kids we all hated in school that was good at almost everything he does.  He is pretty obedient, but a negotiator in all situations.  That's where the brains get him in trouble.  And he has some issues with getting into others personal space and keeping his hands to himself.  But, all around he a great kid.  And he still loves me.  At least for a few more years...

Sid and his Lego creation at the Children's Museum in Indy

Princess Pea is 7 and exactly that, our princess.  She is very obedient and helpful.  She has a little of her mama in her and has the most trouble with compassion and saying sorry to her siblings.  She loves reading and most school.  She is currently into American Girl dolls and has saved up enough money to buy her own this month!  She is also showing some talent in piano and moving through her lessons steadily.  After having a little brainiac to follow, she is following very close behind her brother's footsteps.  I expect a lot of her, almost like another first born, but she takes the pressure well.  She loves Miracle to death and is always holding her and helping me.  And, of all of my children, I see an undeniable love for God in her.  She was baptized last fall and she just loves her devotion time and sees God in everything.  Her Christmas list was split into things she wanted and things she 'needs' last year - Jesus, God and a clean heart.  Melts my heart.
 Princess Pea swinging with Miracle at the park

Angelica Pickles is cute as a button, but rotten to the core!   Oh, she can be oh so sweet....when she wants candy or gum or a special trip or icecream or to play a game or a snack or a friend over or or or or... She is a child who is never satisfied or content.  And when she wants something, she lets the whole neighborhood know.  But, she loves Miracle to death and pretends to do therapy with her all the time.  That is when I see her the softest.  Her and BooBoo have gotten closer over the years and they have that love-hate brother-sister relationship.  Her and Sid have a hate-hate relationship most of the time.  Her and Princess Pea can get along, but more often they are competing with each other.  I wish I knew more ways of softening her, but for now we just survive her fits and move on.  Kindergarten was interesting this year.  She is super bright but not very motivated.  She gets frustrated more easily.  This year will be a challenge, I'm sure.

 Angelica Pickles lost her first tooth this month

BooBoo is still my spoiled little boy.  He is still so sweet for the most part, but with the influence of his older brother and Star Wars, this sweet little boy can quickly turn into a light saber swinging, baseball playing monster some days.  He is also a media junkie.  I don't like the tv and we often go weeks without turning it on for the kids at all.  But, he loves the iPad and iPhone and Angry Birds.  I used to give him my phone a lot to read books while I schooled, or at appointments or whatever.  But, once he discovered Angry Birds, The Tortoise and the Hare just wasn't as appealing anymore.  Disappointing, I know.  Once school starts I will have a strict rule that he has to read or do an educational game half of his iPad time, but for now I just try to avoid him getting a hold of it!  Hoping he will enjoy Starfall. com this school year, or other educational sites for his age.  I have lots of hours to keep him entertained.

BooBoo being the goofball he usually is
BooBoo with cape held together with a pantyliner, complements of my friend Michelle 
(great babysitter, huh?)

Mr. Prince is teaching 3rd grade for the first time this year.  I like teaching the same grade he is and comparing my curricula to his.  ;)  Mine are always better and more advanced.  Hehe.  He was able to play basketball, soccer and baseball this past year.  We decided that we needed out of the house more last year, so we each got involved in a lot. Probably too much, so we are cutting it down for this year.  But, it's good for the both of us.

And then there is me.  School dominates most of my daily and even nightly schedule, but last year I did dance in the same Christian dance troupe as my girls and did Bible Study Fellowship.  BSF was a lot and I couldn't keep up in the spring once all our outside activities had their end of the year bashes.  I loved dancing again after over 17 years of being away from it.  I got my flexibility back, lost 20lbs and just enjoyed myself.  Unfortunately, we can't afford for me to dance again this year.  But, it looks like my church is putting together a performance based dance group for Sunday worship services that I'm going to look into.  That would probably better suit my schedule anyway.  BSF is actually studying Genesis this year too, just like we are in homeschool, but I'm not sure I want to make that commitment again.  We shall see.  For now, I look forward to the few GNOs I get and chatting on the phone when I have a moment.

Me, Angelica Pickles and Princess Pea at the Restored to Glory dance presentation 2012

There is your update!  Probably no one ever needs to know THAT much about my family, but it's a good summary for our family scrapbooks.  Hope to someday browse the blogs I used to frequent and see what everyone else is up to two year later, also!

It's been almost TWO YEARS since my last post...

THAT will tell you how stinking busy I have been!  ;)

I'll have to update the family later, because right now I'm posting to join in the Not-Back-to-School-Blog-Hop 2012!

It's the first week and I'm here to share curriculum choices.  After slaving over these things for week, months and even years (yes, that would be my history choice), it's nice to be able to share and possibly help another homeschool mom at the same time!

Wow, I miss blogging...

Well, it's a BIG year coming up for our family.  Lots on everyone's plate, which means even more on Mama's platter!  This year Sid the Science Kid (9) is doing 5th/6th grade work, Princess Pea (7) is doing 3rd grade work, Angelica Pickles (6) is doing 1st grade work, BooBoo (4) is doing Kindergarten work and Miracle (2) is doing her own kind of work with physical, occupational and speech therapy!

I have actually been looking forward to this year for a long time.  This is the year we start Tapestry of Grace Year 1!  I have been drooling over this curriculum for over three years now.  No joke.  I had some stuff I wanted to do with the kids before I jumped in, but it's been on my calendar for 2012 since before 2009.  We did some early American History with Adventures in My Father's World in 2009-2010 and then I put together my own curriculum for studying the continents, countries, world religions, major ecosystems, famous landmarks, and famous people for 2011-2012 school year.  We loved both those years of history/geography and can't wait to start Tapestry next week!

But, that is not all we have on the calendar this year...

For science we are using God's Design for Life by Answers in Genesis covering Plants, Animals and the Human Body.  We have used Sonlight science in the past, and I'm more of a living books kind of teacher, so I'm adding to this curriculum to make it what I want it.  It's great information and I love the Creation-based information throughout it that I can't find elsewhere, but I miss the books! So, I have picked up a picture book and/or video for almost every chapter of Plants for this fall and I think I have exactly what I want for my kiddos!  Plus, BooBoo and Angelica Pickles can do science with us and it won't be completely over their heads!

For Bible we are doing a number of things- and I'm loving how they all complement each other!  Sid will continue with the Studying God's Word series with book E studying Genesis through Ruth this year.  This goes right along with our study in Tapestry of Creation through the fall of Rome and Church History.  As a family we will start out the year studying the 10 commandments in detail with a curriculum based off THESE videos.  Our Character Training studies are usually based off of great books like In Grandma's Attic, Storytime with the Millers and A Hive of Busy Bees, but for the first part of the year we will be reading through Susan and Richie Hunt's Discovering Jesus in Genesis.  Are you starting to see a theme here?  I promise, it wasn't all of my doing.  Even the girls' dance program with the Christian dance troupe Restored to Glory is portraying the story of the Israelites traveling to the Promised Land!  So, I'm just running with it.  When we are done studying the 10 Commandments we will be using Answers in Genesis Bible Curriculum for Kids for the rest of the year.  I'll have books and books for Character Building, but I'll decide on those later based on what exactly my children need  to be drilled into their minds encouragement in at that time.  Each child has their own age-appropriate devotional they do daily, we do daily family worship in the mornings (or sometimes just in the car when we are on the go) and we use THIS Charlotte Mason system for verse memorization.

Those are the curriculums we do together as a family.

Sid the Science Kid (9) is always one step ahead of me.  I teach him something and he often adds to my teaching, already knowing more than what I've taught.  He reads SO MUCH, though it's slowed down a bit this summer with his interest in Baseball.  But, the boy usually devours nonfiction, biographies and realistic fiction.  He is working his way through The Chronicles of Narnia currently, reading each one more than once.  If only I had that much time to read...sigh.  So, he's a bit of a challenge curriculum-wise.  I need to cover the material he doesn't know without boring him, repeating too much and giving him some challenges along the way.  He took the Stafford this spring and his average grade equivalency was 8th grade 9th month, getting post high school GE on a few subjects like math and reading.  Yeah, a challenge.  So, here is his line up this year:

Bible - Studying God's Word E (finish Queen Homeschool study Honorable Boy, also)
Math - Horizons 5 (scope and sequence more like a 6th grade math text)
Language Arts - Character Quality Language Arts (CQLA) Red Level A includes copywork, writing, dictation, grammar and editing but we skip the spelling
Spelling - All About Spelling Level 3 & 4, I'm keeping Sid and Princess Pea together and we are halfway through Level 3 and LOVE this program!  Sid hardly ever spells anything wrong, so this is just foundational teaching as far as I see it.
Reading - Reasoning and Reading 1 - reading skills and word relationship in the context of reading
Drawn into the Heart of Reading - character, plot, setting, climax study with living books
Vocabulary - Wordly Wise 5 and Vocabulary from Classical Roots 4 & 5, I just found this program and can't wait to teach him Latin and Greek roots without taking a college course in it myself!
Poetry - Institutes for Excellence in Writing Poetry Memorization unit
Extras - piano lessons, soccer, swim lessons, co-op and church choir
I am also reading the Cooper Kids Adventures Series by Frank Peretti to him.  I think these are a little dark, so I wanted to be there to explain some things as he read them.

Princess Pea (7) is following very closely in her brother's path.  She doesn't devour nonfiction books like him, but she does read a lot and she's probably around 4th grade reading level.  She loves learning and is an easy one to persuade to do one more chapter or one more lesson.  She is ahead of her peers but doesn't mind being challenged, so I take the liberty of doing so.  Here is her line up this year:

Bible - Finish Leading Little Ones to God, Personal devotions with I Am Loved by Sheila Walsh, SOAP method or Veggie Tales Obedience devotional
Math - Horizons 3
Language Arts - CQLA Red Level A, I could have put her in PreA but it seemed easier to have her doing the same lessons as her brother and just adjusting the lessons for her level if I need to
Language Lessons for the Elementary Child 2- I'm using this for reviewing grammar from last year and learning to write poetry. It includes narration and pictures narration that CQLA doesn't have.  She will also being doing extra copywork to improve some sloppy handwriting she's developed.
Spelling - All About Spelling Level 3 & 4
Reading - Beginning Reasoning and Reading & Drawn into the Heart of Reading
Vocabulary - Wordly Wise 2 & 3, we are finishing up 2 and moving on to 3 in the fall
Poetry - Institutes for Excellence in Writing Poetry Memorization unit
Extras - piano lessons, dance with Restored to Glory, co-op, swim lessons and church choir
I will be reading Laura Ingalls and probably some American Girl Doll series books to her this year. We will start with McKenna since she just purchased the doll in Chicago all by herself after saving since last October!

Angelica Pickles is, well....Angelica Pickles!  Don't you remember her from Rugrats?  Antagonistic, bratty, I'm-an-angel-when-I-want-something attitude?  Sigh....this is my 6 year old little girl.  I love her to death, but she will be the death of ME someday.  She is definitely my challenge, both in parenting and schooling.  So, we will be taking school slowly so as to enjoy learning and avoid as many battles as possible, while still moving forward and accomplishing my goals for her.  Here is her loose line up:

Bible - Finish Leading Little Ones to God
Math - Horizons 1, she is excellent in math but doesn't like the repetition so I'll be adjusting the lessons to be less work while still knowing that she's learned the information
Language Arts - First Language Lessons, we love this 1st/2nd grade book and it's gentle and oral
Language Smarts B- we LOVE this large, colorful book and it complements FLL well, filling in where it misses some stuff and we will probably do this into 2nd grade also
Spelling - All About Spelling Level 1 & 2, we are halfway through Level 1 currently
Reading - while waiting for All About Reading Level 2 to come out in September we will continue with Language Lessons for Little Ones 3 for reading instruction, thought it isn't my favorite book
Phonics - Explode the Code 3 & 4, all my kids love this series and I use it for review of concepts
Handwriting - Copywork daily
Poetry - Institutes for Excellence in Writing Poetry Memorization unit
Extras - dance with Restored to Glory, co-op, swim lessons and church choir

BooBoo is 4 but he's already started his Horizons K book and is reading some words.  So we will be working slowly through Horizons K and All About Reading Level 1 this year.  Then we will be reading books from the Sonlight book lists and maybe some Five in a Row books together. I have blocked a full HOUR every morning to spend with him and I'm very excited for our time together!

I think that's it!  Our checklists, binders, lesson plans and workbooks are all ready to go for Monday, August 6th!  We won't do every subject the first week, but by week two we will be full blown into the 2012-2013 school year.  We are doing a new schedule this year, taking a break or catch-up week every 5-7 weeks throughout the year.  That way I don't feel like I'm 'behind' all year long!  This gives me 6 full weeks to get behind and never really be behind.  Then, I also have June to fall back on if needed.  Hoping it works out!

Looking forward to reading more posts at www.ihomeschoolnetwork.com!