Sunday, September 2, 2012

Homeschool Week 3 & 4 Recap

Well, if the rest of the year goes as well as these last four weeks, it will be a very successful, enjoyable year!  Now, we haven't started our full-blown weekly schedule with co-op, piano, dance, soccer, choir, swim lessons, Junior Bible Quiz or Miracle's water therapy.  But, I'll enjoy these quiet weeks for now and stay on track while I can!

We finally finished a small book we started the end of last school year that covers 12 Hebrew names of God that are seen through the Lord's Prayer called Names of Our Father by Yvonne Riley.  I really loved how this book taught the names paralleled to the prayer.  As we learned "Our Father" we learned that God is our Abba, or Daddy God.  As we learned "in Heaven" we learned Elohim is our Creator and Ruler of the Universe and so on.  We took this book slowly, as to actually use the names of God in our prayers and talk about them in depth.  The only thing I didn't like about the book was the pronunciations.  They seemed to clash with what I had already been taught or what I had heard elsewhere, so I'm not sure if my kids are saying the names right!  Also, I know I've heard many of these names used after Jehovah, like Jehovah Jirah, but I wasn't sure which ones did and which ones didn't, so I couldn't teach them that.  Wish I knew more about the Hebrew language!  All in all, my kids learned a lot and enjoyed making little posters for our display wall to help us remember the names and the prayer.  By the end, even little BooBoo could recite the Lord's Prayer perfectly and all four kids daily use the names of God in their own prayers at the meal table.

Another bible curriculum we are using this semester is teaching us about the 10 Commandments in depth.  The past few weeks we have been learning about the first three commandments.  Each week we have made a small poster representing each commandment.  On the first poster we included other gods people worship (ancient Egyptian gods since we are studying this in history, Buddha from our studies last year and the golden calf from the bible that we are studying also in history) and our song "Do Not Worship" that we learned.

In the second poster we talked about all the things that get in the way of our relationship with God and become little idols. They chose things like food, toys, games, friends, Legos, video games, music and movies.  I thought they did an excellent job understanding the concept that idol worship isn't just worship of statues or images of gods, but that it's worship of anything we put ahead of God in our lives.

These were in a shop in Chinatown when we visited a few weeks ago. I thought it was creepy being in there with all these idols everywhere but I'm glad I took a picture.  We prayed for the people in Chicago and China, that they will somehow be told of Christ and learn that there is only One True God and put away their idols.

 This past week we talked about misusing the name of God.  Though my kids haven't been exposed to much language at all, and don't know the extent to which this is broken daily in our world, we did talk about saying 'oh my goodness' vs. 'oh my god,' which they do hear from friends.  We talked about how high we should reverence God and all his names and this tied in well with our names of God study we just finished! 

Trying to include crafts is very hard for me.


In God's Design for Life: Plants we talked about the differences of the plant and animal kingdoms, parts of the plant, trees and grasses.  I am amazed at how much Angelica Pickles at 6 is retaining!  She did this chart almost all by herself.

When we learned about stems we put some celery in colored water to see the xylem tubes clearly.  I had them all hypothesize what would happen.  Our celery was limp, so Angelica Pickles guessed the water would 'make the celery come back alive.'  I knew what she meant.  Boo Boo guessed the celery would 'drink up all the water.' Princess Pea guessed the tubes would turn colors and Sid guessed the whole plant would turn red or blue.  They were all pretty much right!  They were so proud of themselves.

And when you see science concepts in their everyday coloring projects, you know they are enjoying school!  Princess Pea posted this on the wall next to our chart a few days ago with no prompting: the parts of a plant.  =)

And Angelica Pickles made this...roots and all.

Boo Boo is still enjoying his All About Reading Level 1 every day.  He is doing awesome!  He started reading his first real book this week!  My all-time favorite part of homeschooling: teaching my children to read!

I'm reading the American Girl Doll book McKenna to Princess Pea for her first read-aloud this year (she just purchased the doll with her own money) and it's been very interesting.  McKenna is struggling in school in the book and she sees gymnastics as her life.  It's the only thing that is important to her.  She's frustrated she has to get a tutor.  After just a day or two into the book, my extremely intelligent 7 year old starts to say stuff like, "I'm not really good at school" and "I'm not a good reader."   


She is awesome at pretty much everything I teach her and at least 2 years ahead of her grade level in reading!  I didn't say something the first few comments, but after 3 or 4 I told her that I was going to discontinue reading the book if she started to mimic McKenna's attitude.  I am very strict about bad attitudes in our home, especially related to school, and I don't want to start an 'I Hate School Club' when I am the only teacher!  ;)  So far I haven't heard anything else, but thought it was interesting.  I love that my kids get into characters of books, but not at the expense of their own individuality or beliefs or character.

In Tapestry of Grace week#3 we learned a lot about Egyptian Mythology and Pharaohs.  A few years ago I would not have taught this stuff to my kids.  But, I think they are all at a good place to understand the differences between religions and beliefs and I don't fear them thinking that these stories are real. They loved comparing the stories of the gods to the One True God.

 Our super simple pharoah collars
 Sid also made the Upper/Lower Egyptian crown worn by the pharoahs

 Sid also made a pop-up pharaoh.  Sid is constantly making paper crafts, lists and elaborate projects on his own, so I'm trying to give him some projects related to history to take up his time so I don't find surprise projects all over my house!  

This was part of the lapbooks I purchased from Tapestry for Year 1.  I'm not a lapbook kind of gal, but I thought my kids might get into it.  We made a notebook last year that they loved to show to people.  Since much of Tapestry won't fit into a notebook, I thought we would use this to show people what we are learning.  They weren't real interested.  I should have saved my $70 and gone with my gut...  Maybe if I spread each piece out throughout the week, they will get involved more...?

Week #4 we talked about how Creation and the Flood were actually written by Moses to encourage the Israelites as they were wondering in the desert.  We had some great books on dinosaurs that I found super interesting myself like The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible by Taylor and What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs? by Dinsmore and Dry Bones and Other Fossils by Parker. 

We even found a fossil in our yard last week we were able to tie in to school!  It was thankfully a slower week because I didn't have the planning day I usually have since I had a busy weekend.

Loving the cuddles when Mr. Prince gets home...  The learning never stops 'round here!

Between week 3 & 4 I helped run the Children's Resale at my church and brought home some great finds!

 $10 for 20 of the Treasury of Illustrated Classics books

And a TON of Magic School Bus books!  
I was gone Saturday and Sunday and I think my two oldest devoured every single one before I got home!

 Dress-up clothes....can we say Punky Bruster?

Princess Pea was excited to have a real gymnast outfit like McKenna in her book.

Unfortunately, the reason I was gone all weekend is because I had to take Miracle to Riley Children's Hospital due to an increase in seizure activity.  She was having a seizure every hour after 2pm on Friday and then every 20-40 minutes while I was at the Resale Saturday morning.  I got to Riley by 4pm on Saturaday, but didn't leave the ER until 9:30pm.  I requested an EEG numerous times, but apparently since she has multiple seizure types, her medication choices are limited and they felt there was no need for an EEG.  After giving her IV Dilantin, her seizure increased to almost 15 every hour that evening.  They gave her some extra Keppra and things finally calmed down.  Sunday morning the two neurologists taking care of her said she could go home if she continue to show no more seizures.  At noon I asked my nurse to contact them for discharge paperwork.  At 4pm I got word that they wanted me to stay another night. 
Seizures slowed down until Dilantin was given.  
She was actually happy for a few hours in the ER.
The weekend doctor came in many times telling me I had to stay.  Many times I told him to come back with a different answer.  A social worker even came in after I had packed up the room and tried to sweet talk me into staying.  She also told me if I chose to leave with her, they would call Child Protective Services for neglect.

I actually laughed out loud!

I asked her if she knew how many times I had called her neurologist in the month of August, how many times I had been in the hospital for seizures in the same month (4x)!  I told her I had 7 nurses who had observed me in my home with my kids 5 hours a day, 5 days a week that would state I was NOT a neglectful parent.  Not to mention all our family and friends...

Whoa, I was mad then.  This back and forth continued for hours.

At 8:30 I requested my parental rights in writing.  I simple didn't believe them, yet I wasn't going to chance them taking Miracle from me.

At 9:00 I had discharge paperwork in my hands.

Hmmm...does that mean I was right?!

Man, my MamaBear gets more intense with every hospital stay.

Thankfully, some great things came of my stay there.  The nurses loved Miracle and me and we got along great.  This isn't always the case when you have nurses who want to do their routine, their way, on their time.  I'm not that kind of Mama.  ;)  The one on Sunday actually tried to get the doctor to let me go most of the day.  She knew I was capable.  Two other nurses asked lots of questions about parenting five kids and homeschooling.  And I even ran into another mom with a tubie child, shared contact information and even gave her some of the g-tube cloth drainage tubes I make for Miracle.  She was so grateful.  Though I really despise hospital stays and much of what comes with them, because I have to use their services to care for my daughter, I always look desperately to find the good God places in there for our family or others to make my trips worth it to me.

Now we are debating a new medication that can cause a rash that could be, thanks for the choices doctors!  Sigh.  I'm putting off starting it...praying and hoping that God will move before we have to give this to her.  So far we are still seeing seizures daily.  They are shorter and less intense, but still lingering. It's only a matter of time before they get more intense and longer, unless God intervenes...

So, life goes on.

Onto week #5!  I had scheduled in a week break every 4-7 weeks of school to catch-up what we might have gotten behind on and have a slower week.  This week is supposed to be my catch-up week but I just can't stop!  I have nothing to catch-up on, and with all Miracle's medical issues, I never know when we will be back in the hospital messing up our schooling.  Thankfully this stay was on a Saturday and Sunday!

So, forward we march!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Homeschool Week 1 & 2 Recap

Well, two weeks into school and I'm feeling grrrrrrreat!

Miracle has a nurse that comes 4-5 hours a day while I school the other kids and it is amazing what I'm able to accomplish with that help!  We have gotten done with school between 1 and 2 every day!  Last year when I was bouncing between Myra's needs and homeschooling, it wasn't uncommon for us to be doing school right before I put dinner on the table.  Between multiple naps in my arms, tube feedings every three hours and her wanting to be cuddled, it was difficult to put Miracle down for a good amount of time to focus on the school kids.  I often read books from the rocking chair and did lessons with Miracle in my arms at the table.  We got through it, but I knew with teaching all four kids this year that I wanted some help.  Though I've had to train four nurses in the past 10 days, it's still obviously been extremely helpful to me.

You can read about my daily schedule HERE, but I'm finding my estimated times were more than I truly need to teach each child individually.  I gave each an hour before lunch, but they really only need 30-45 minutes.  I might be able to get all my teaching done before lunch if I actually started school at 8am like my schedule suggests!  These past two weeks with Mr. Prince still being home on summer break from school, I've been sleeping in until 7:30/8 and not starting school until closer to 9 most days.  Once he's back to school next week, I'll be up and ready by 7am when he walks out the door, so my days will get started earlier.  Oh, to have every afternoon awesome would that be!  So, needless to say, I'm not behind at all after two weeks and I even got most of Friday's lessons done on Thursday this week so we could do a longer Tapestry project!

In Tapestry of Grace Year 1 we studied ancient Egypt, Pharoahs, pyramids and the Nile River these first two weeks.  The girls made Paddle Dolls and had a blast.

 Here they are playing a self-directed time-telling game with their Paddle Dolls.  Homeschooling at it's best (PJs and all)!

Sid the Science Kid made an ancient Egypt Senet game. I still have not had a chance to play with him, but the kids have played together many times.

Princess Pea and Sid started their salt maps at the end of week 2.  We will paint these in a week or so when they are completely dry.  I'm not sure if we did them 'correctly', but they each sculpted 10 to 17 geography terms into their imaginary lands. I was very proud of their work.  I was actually shocked Princess Pea did this on her own.  I figured she would just help Sid, but she did it alone and did a fabulous job!

We are studying the 10 commandments in depth for 10 weeks and for the 1st commandment we used 24 blocks to represent what we do with our time in a 24 hour day.  We placed blocks in piles labeled sleep, God, school, reading, playing and eating.  The idea was to see how we spend our time and see what we need to give up to spend more time with our Lord.  The kids were so excited to make some changes that the next day they did it again and showed how they had changed their activities to spend more time with God!

In science we learned about plant cells and made our own version with dish soap and fruits.  Even the little ones could tell you the parts of the cell and the differences between the animal and plant kingdoms!

Boo Boo is loving All About Reading Level 1 this year!  I love seeing his little face when he sounds out a word...


I stole this off of Pinterest and I love it!  My kids tattle a lot sometimes and daily occasionally beat hurt each other.  So, this will be an easy way to get their attention without a long lecture on what they should be doing.

So, that's all I have to show for Weeks 1 & 2!  Excited for yet another week!  It says a lot if I even have time to blog at the end of a school week!  ;)

School Room....sort of....

Well, I'm back to share my 'School Room' for the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop 2012!

We don't really have a 'School Room' in our house.  Our entire house is a school! With two elementary teachers, we have more books than any one home should ever have. ;)

I wish I had a week to re-organize my entire house, but that will never happen.  So, my OCD organizational methods shall only be used in corners here and there throughout my house.  

We tried to use cute little metal buckets last year for our crayons, colored pencils and markers but it was a disaster.  Every two seconds someone was knocking the top-heavy buckets all over the table.  So, I'm trying a new idea this year.  The buckets will only have glue, scissors and dry-erase markers, which can be pulled out individually to be used.  Coloring materials are in baskets and shouldn't topple over on the table. So far I'm liking it!

I found these pencil holders at the Dollar Store.  I got them thinking of my two older kids who need a set of highlighters for their Character Quality Language Arts curriculum.  There is a side for pencils and an eraser and the other side for the highlighters.  We had major issues with pencils being lost last year.  Even with assigning everyone their own color and keeping all the pencils in the middle of the dining room table, I still had a child almost every week who had lost all three pencils I had given them.  Annoying.  So, this year they are responsible for their own and have to pay me to buy replacements.  So far, it's helping them keep track of them.  

But, we are only on week two.....

This is the drawer system I used last year for the kids' school books, right next to our dining room table where we do most of our schoolwork.  Sid the Science Kid's is missing because I still have it in the office near his school desk.  Boo Boo didn't have an official drawer, as you can see.  I didn't like the digging, so these are now their artwork boxes.  You can see their old artwork boxes to the right.  Those I'd like to pitch get rid of as soon as possible.

Here is our kids' bookshelf.  The top shelf is writing paper, folders, notebooks, their school binders from last year and some lapbooks/History Pockets that we've done. They still like to show these off to people who visit, so I keep them out.  Plus, we are covering some of the material again this year and they will be good resources!  The second shelf is for my 5th grader, third shelf for my 1st and 3rd graders and the bottom shelf is for my PreK kids, and the 1st grader still enjoys most of these books.  I have three, large, overfilled bookshelves in the office to swap books out often.  Us teachers...I know....

This is my homeschool bookshelf (also in my dining room).  The bottom shelf is where all of my teacher's manuals are for math, language arts, Tapestry, spelling, etc. These are organized by student.  The middle shelf is all my homeschool magazines, parenting/homeschooling books I am reading (or want to read), extra curriculum I'm deciding on incorporation this year or next that I need to look at when I have a moment (art, Spanish, etc.), and lots of character training resources I'd like to work through this year.  The top shelf is my Bible resources I use daily and a couple to-do piles.  I'm currently working on putting together the curriculum I created last year for my own kids for a good friend of mine.  If it's not out to remind me, I'll never do it!

This is my schooling corner.  Yeah, it's at my dining room table and it's not real pretty, I know.  But, there really isn't a good place for all this stuff if I want easy access to it.  The first basket (under the table) is my science picture books for the first 10 weeks of school.  We are using God's Design for Life: Plants and I have added a book (or two) to almost every chapter so my kids have more visuals and my younger kids can enjoy science with us without being lectured to with just the textbook.  The second basket is all my teacher texts that I teach from daily: All About Spelling/Reading, God's Design for Life: Plants, Vocabulary from Classical Roots, First Language Lessons, etc.  I'd like to eventually get these onto my top homeschool shelf when my to-do piles disappear.  The third basket is my Tapestry of Grace books that I'm using for the next month.  I have another basket in my office for future weeks.  Books, books, books!  On the table is my bucket of highlighters, markers, pencils and pens (I don't spill my bucket), my teacher binder with lesson plans and other lesson paperwork.  My stuff is ready to go all day long.  My biggest worry is spilling drinks at lunch or dinner, but I pretty much sit at my chair for meals so that no one is near my stuff.  ;)

This is Sid the Science Kid's school desk.  After getting distracted a lot last year, we made a space for him in our office to do his schoolwork.  He does much better behind a closed door.  To the right on the floor, sandwiched between Myra's medical supplies, is his red drawer of school supplies.  His incomplete work stays on top of the desk, and as he completes it, he puts it away in his drawer on the floor.  When the desk is clear, his school work is done!  On the wall you can see his name tag (for fun) and his weekly checklist.  This tells him exactly what needs completed daily and I can see exactly what he's done at any point in the school day.  He is actually a very diligent worker and I'm proud of his efficient, accurate work most days.

One of the benefits to having a husband be a public school teacher is all the fun 'school' stuff my kids get that I normally wouldn't bother to buy.  This year they all have name tags from left over years my husband taught 1st and 4th grade.  The kids thought they were fun and the math charts will come in handy.

This is the girl's school corner (1st and 3rd).  It's actually in the corner of my kitchen, right next to our piano.  LOL, our house isn't a show home by any means!  I wouldn't put the girls near each other, except they will probably never be at their desks together.  I work with Angelica Pickles between 8 and 9 and Princess Pea from 9 to 10.  So, any independent work Angelica Pickles might have will definitely be done by the time Princess Pea and I are done at 10.  We got these desks from another homeschool family and I honestly didn't think I would ever put desks in my house.  But, with two doing a lot of independent work and having a PreK and 1st grader I'm also teaching, I needed a place for my older two to do work without distraction. And if the older two have a desk, you can bet the younger two wanted one, also!  The girls each have a little space for all their school books in their desk, too.  That keeps things nice and tidy throughout the school day.  You can see on Princess Pea's desk to the right (3rd grade), her weekly checklist is adhered to her desk.

And, of course, Boo Boo had to have a desk!  He doesn't even have a chair right now.  If he wants to be at his desk while I'm schooling at the table, then he pulls a chair over from the table.  You can see our color words on the wall and on the left wall is all the kids' All About Spelling/Reading sticker charts.  I need to find a new place for these...

Our window sill in the dining room is storage for math games/manipulatives, Bob books and kid Bibles. It's usually our display shelf for projects, too.

Our dining room wall has always been a large display board.  This is the only wall you can see from our living room, and for a time I tried to keep it clear from homeschool stuff.  But, it's just too large a wall to not use!  Currently we have the names of God and the Lord's Prayer up from last year's bible lessons and we have up our Tapestry timeline, family rules, books of the bible poster, 10 commandments poster and a science project displayed from these past two weeks of the 2012-2013 year.

I think that's pretty much it.  Our poor dining room is our classroom.  No formal dining room here!  All my other school books are on five large bookshelves in the office surrounding Sid's school desk.  Wish I could create a fabulous space, but until we get some more room, that's not going to happen.  I am content with what I have.  ;)

Looking forward to drooling over other school rooms at!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Day in the Life of the Kelloggs.....

Back for the last week of the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop 2012!  Today, a day in the life of the Kelloggs!

I'm going to make this brief, otherwise it will take you all day to read it! ;)  I posted a moment-by-moment day a few years ago HERE.  Of course, this is more of an ideal schedule.

Here we go...

6:15 Mama showers and gets ready for the day.  May forfeit shower for extra sleep some days.

6:50 Personal devotions

7:20 Make Breakfast before the kids come downstairs.

7:30 Wake children, eat breakfast together.  We go over family rules and memory verses and also pull up worships songs on the iPad for family worship time over breakfast.  We try not to listen to I'm a Soldier in the Army DAILY per BooBoo's request. Then we do a formal bible study together.  This year we are following a curriculum based off THESE movies.  

7:55 Helping Habits (chores) 

8:00 Myra's nurse arrives and starts Myra's checklist of therapy, brushing teeth, stretching, massage, cloth diaper laundry, etc.  This is new to me and I will have a hard time not being very involved with her throughout the day.  But, the help is much needed because I could never get through all I need to in a day without some extra hands these days. Last school year was very difficult.  They will be here until noon.

During this time Sid and Princess Pea are working on independent work like piano, devotions, copywork and math.  Each kid has their own "independent work" checklist that they work through each day, so no one is asking me constantly what they should be doing.  BooBoo is playing alone upstairs, reading books, doing file folder activities and hopefully staying entertained.

I start working with Angelica Pickles (1st grade).  She has to be very motivated to work hard and not be difficult.  I allow her a candy treat after morning or afternoon work is completed with a good attitude.  We are working on Horizons Math 1, Language Smarts B, First Language Lessons, All About Spelling Level 1 and eventually All About Reading Level 2 when it comes out in September.  This isn't her only individual time with me, so we don't have to get through all this in an hour.

9:00 Angelica Pickles continues work we've started together and Sid continues independent work like CQLA, Wordly Wise and Drawn into the Heart of Reading.  BooBoo will have some computer or iPad time.

I start school with Princess Pea (3rd grade).  She is a fast, hard worker.  We will get through jump starting lessons in CQLA, Beginning Reasoning and Reading, Drawn into the Heart of Reading, Language Lessons for the Young Child 2 and any math that needs explained.  The rest of the work she will continue on her own in the few hours before lunch.  I have scheduled some time for reading aloud Laura Ingalls or American Girl doll stories in this hour.  Angelica Pickles and BooBoo might sit in on these stories, too.

10:00 Princess Pea continues work we've started and Angelica Pickles and BooBoo are now playing nicely together upstairs....ideally.  ;) The older kids take little breaks when they do piano practice, bathroom breaks, playing with the kitten or getting distracted by the little ones.  They aren't working constantly for 4 hours.  They have plenty of time to get their work done and still take little breaks.  Sid needs lots of redirecting but Princess Pea does a good job of not getting too distracted.

I begin jump starting lessons for Sid the Science Kid (5th grade) in Reasoning and Reading, Drawn into the Heart of Reading, CQLA and Vocabulary from Classical Roots if needed.  Most of his curricula really do a good job teaching right to the student.  I'll just be here for guidance when needed, such as for writing lessons and using graphic organizers for reading.  I also have scheduled time to read to him the Cooper Kids Series during this time. 

11:00  By this time it's possible Princess Pea is done with her morning work and is playing with BooBoo and Angelica Pickles.  Angelica Pickles will have computer or iPad time.  Sid will have some work.  He may have a longer break between 9 and 10 if he's waiting on me to explain some things and finishes his independent work before 10.

I start PreK with BooBoo (PreK4).  We are reading books together and working through All About Reading Level 1 and Horizons Math Kindergarten.  A full hour seems like a long time, but I expect to be PLAYING with him during part of it.  Games, maybe, light sabers...whatever.  I just wanted to block some time with him, otherwise he will get lost in the mess of older homeschool schedules. 

11:50 If Myra isn't happy with the nurse I'll need to make lunch quickly so I can take her at noon when she leave.  Kids will do Helping Habits to help me get lunch on the table.

12:00 We do Character Training stories over lunch time.  Thursdays we leave for Myra's therapy at noon, so those days the kids get a little less time with me in the morning.  

12:30 Helping Habits to clean up lunch and prepare for afternoon school.

Our afternoons get a little crazy.  We leave for therapy at 4:30 on Mondays, 1:30 on Tuesdays, we leave for dance at 3:30 on Wednesdays, we leave for therapy at noon on Thursdays and have swim lesson at 2, and on Fridays we have co-op from 9am through lunch for 8 weeks every Fall and Spring.  

So...our schedule is different every day.  Sigh.

But, almost every day I try to give the older three kids another 20-30 minutes with me individually to answer questions and check their daily work.  We do God's Design for Life science on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I do All About Spelling with Sid and Princess Pea on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.  And this is also our time for Tapestry of Grace.  I will have at least and hour daily to do read alouds, work on maps and work on projects.  I hope that's enough!  Some days we will do Tapestry at therapy to not waste another hour.  The kids can finish projects during their independent work times if needed.  BooBoo and Miracle will hopefully nap well!

And that's it!  Phew!  I really hope I can sustain this schedule for 36 weeks.  I have scheduled in 6 catch-up weeks throughout the year to help me from getting behind, and hopefully give us a lighter schedule for that week.  Then I have all of June if I need it.  So, I have some wiggle room.  

I look forward to reading about more schedules at Heart of the Matter!

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!