First Week of School — Done!!

We survived our first week of school, yay!!  It went fairly well, we painted t-shirts, we read some books, we had little kids story time and singing time,  we kept the house pretty clean, we went to our new co-op. The only wrench was the dentist — booo!  But it had to be done. It took up a lot more time than I had hoped and my little 4 yr old unfortunately has a lot of work that needs to be done (which I knew and have been putting off, because I felt he was too little to go through that- in hindsight it was probably a mistake) and the dentist seems a bit expensive especially for baby teeth, so I will probably have to take more time out for the dentist this week.  I’m going to call around and see what prices are, I’m also going to see if I can find one that has a TV in the ceiling for the kids to watch while the dentist does his work.  My poor little guy’s teeth are in such bad shape, that he may need to go under general anesthesia to get it all done, I’m debating.  It will take some time to figure out, also it is fortunate that 2 of my brothers are dentists, so I’ll be talking to them about it too.  Fortunately my friend introduced me to an awesome book that has given me some great tools to clear my mind and make good choices with a clear head, which I very much needed in dealing with the dentist.

Anyway, back to the topic, I love spending time with my kids learning things.  The older boys had cub scout day camp and an overnight camp over the weekend.  My oldest had her first real volleyball game on Friday.  She had a good time, and got to go to a party on Sat.  The 3 little guys have had a cold.  The 2 yr. old wiped the snot from his nose into his eyes so we have bee fighting goopey eyes, fortunately, I learned the remedy for that years ago– it’s colloidal silver and he is recovering nicely.

This coming week will be busy as will the rest of my life it seems, but it’s good, and I am handling it well.  I will be taking my 2 older to visit my brother in Mexico City the following week, so we will try to get everything under control this week and lots of easy to prepare foods for the boys while we’re gone.  I am really looking forward to spending some time with my girls, and in the country where I grew up– so excited!!!

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Here’s the 2 yr. old, he painted himself 3 times, I only thought it was funny the first time, should have taken pics every time.  He keeps us very busy!!

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This Year’s Schedule

I found this app for my iPad called weekly schedule as you can see below. It’s nice because I can block out time for whatever and then move it around on the screen til it fits.  This will be my busiest year yet– homeschooling 10th, 8th, 6th, 4th, 2nd and 3 preschoolers.  No more doing stuff on my own time, now I have to work around other people’s schedules, so this means getting up earlier and keeping up with the dishes and the chores better.  We started on Tues. just printing off schedules and lists of daily and weekly assignments.  I know we won’t get to everything everyday, and usually we would just have school 4 times a week, but we have a lot of science to catch up on and the kids are fine with not having to do something, but they hate it if I try to add extra, so this way, they just expect to work all 5 days.  We had our full schedule today, and I actually think it’s going to work out.Each week will be different since the oldest has classes that are on an alternating schedule.  There is a lot of overlap and I think we are going to have to buy another car soon.  And it is a good think I like teaching and reading to the kids so much.  I think our co-ops will be a lot of fun, they actually alternate, so we have one co-op each week, and that time blocked out for when we don’t go to co-op.  Red is for the oldest’s schedule– we’ll see how seminary goes, I’m not very excited about a 6 am daily class, but she wants to try it out.  If it is too much for her as it was last year, we will do home study ( even though our stake doesn’t officially allow it). 

I am actually really liking her high school.  She will be accompanying the school choir, and when I took her in today, they said sure, just go ahead, you’re all set.  Go to the computer lab after school if you want to do that.  There are no bells and teachers are referred to by their first names. It is surprisingly lax. But I think it will be good for this teen, I think she will learn to speak up and advocate for herself.  

Back to the schedule– red is for the high schooler and all her extra activities. Gray is for the 3 older kids.  Yellow is for the 3 older boys. Blue is for the 4 younger boys, and some of that time is for all the boys.  Orange is for everyone.  I’m the busiest of the bunch, I’m there for everything, except the red.  But we are done by 4 pm except for scouts and cross country which are extras.  So there you go– a week in the house of a homeschool family.



Art went well yesterday and Spanish was actually fun today.  We took 5 minutes to meditate today too, and i think that really helps the kids focus and be calm.  I am really looking forward to this year.  I think we will finally be able to do some of the things we have always wanted to do academically.  So much fun!!

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We have had such an awesome summer. It has been about 8 months since we moved here, and it has been outstanding, healing and wonderful. It is time to say good-bye to this sweet chapter.  We are getting ready to get into schooling full time. I’m glad the schools around here start after Labor Day which is this week.  My oldest will be accompanying the high school choir and playing on the high school volleyball team, so it is going to be rather busy, but we don’t have to start til Wed.  We have grand plans for the other kids too, I am looking forward to it.   We loved the summer.  I could use a couple more months of it, but in reality I feel rested and ready to move forward and get on a schedule.  At least that’s how I feel right now!!  We’ll see in a couple weeks, but I really think it’s going to be great!! 




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Week Long Camping Trip through Canada

We took a week to drive through Canada last week, it was awesome.  I am really proud of my family, we did an amazing job, taking all ten of us, 2 parents and 8 kids ages 15 – 2 all over Canada and camping to boot.  Huge thanks to my husband for unloading, setting up camp, taking down camp and reloading again every day for 6 days.  The 7th day we stayed in a motel and the last day we just drove home 7 hrs. straight.  Everyone did amazingly well camping and touring.  I think the kids learned a lot and have had their horizons opened.  Canada is actually a really cool place.  Quebec is just like Europe, French and all.  There are no English signs, most the people speak fairly good English, but it is with a strong French accent, and they speak French to each other.  They were all very nice though and we got lots of compliments on our large family, one lady at the Musee deux beau-arts, said “congratulations” when we told her they were all ours, and at the Basilisque de Notre-Dame, they let one of our kids in for free because he said we have a large family.  It was really nice.  Just about everyone we ran into was very nice and helpful.  I’m so glad we were able to take this kind of a trip and that it all worked out so well.

It took us an awful long time to clean our house and pack, so we didn’t leave until Sat. afternoon.  We called ahead and found a campground with openings at Sampson State park near the Finger Lakes in New York state.  We stopped for Subway sandwiches on the way and the girl at the counter about fell over when I ordered 9 sandwiches!  Fortunately there was no one else in line until later and then that guy ordered 10, just as a joke.  It was pretty funny.

Here’s camp with the big van.  Our van worked out great, we keep the last seat out and there was plenty of room for our 2 tents, camping gear, and food.  The other 3 seats fit the 8 kids with one space left over.  We got the van tuned up before we left and we had no car troubles,  that’s super nice!!


Sunday we visited Palmyra, where Joseph Smith lived when he had the First Vision in the Sacred Grove and received the gold plates from the angel Moroni on the Hill Cumorah.  The visitor center was quite nice, although there were some annoying attitudes displayed– it really wasn’t too bad and didn’t really bother me ( but yes, we know we need passports to get into Canada, and yes we have them for all our kids )


The kids loved rolling down the Hill Cumorah, it’s pretty high, they ran all the way to the bottom and wanted their picture taken. 

We toured Joseph Smith’s house and barn and farm and the frame house and saw places where the gold plates had been hidden.  i especially liked the Sacred Grove.  It was quiet and peaceful and the Spirit was there.  I think Joseph really did have a vision there.


That afternoon we crossed the border into Canada and stayed at our first campsite which was a private campground I found online.  I mostly wanted it for bathrooms and laundry, but since it was only our second night we didn’t really need to laundry, and it rained the night and morning we were there so the cool playground and pool didn’t really matter either.  The bathrooms were nice though, and the shower felt good and I was even able to give 2 little ones a bath.  That is the secret to camping– shower every single day!!

Niagara Falls was super awesome.  We saw them from the Canada side and we did the boat tour and got up close.  So much fun!  All the kids liked it very much.


We decided to see how the provincial parks would be for camping though (Canada’s equivalent to our states is a province, so these were like state parks).  They were all very nice. The bathrooms were not as good, but they worked and every shower felt great. The first one we stayed at was called Sibbald Point.  We got there after dark and after the park rangers were gone.  So we drove around and a bunch of the sites were empty but they had tags on them.  We didn’t want to stay in someone’s reserved spot, so we took one without a tag, but the whole road was also empty and there were tons of trees, it was very private, but made me a little nervous.  But I fell asleep quickly and it was fine.


We then drove to Toronto the next day.  We toured the CN Tower which was the tallest building in the world when it was built.  When you look out, it looks like you are in an airplane.  Pretty cool!!

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To be continued….

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Adjusting the Goals– My Creative Daughter’s Math Journey

My oldest child was born with a super creative ability and it has come out mostly  in her music.  When she was 7, she would sit down at the piano and just pay beautiful music.  She was always writing and illustrating her own stories.  She was great at art, she excelled in her ballet class and was recommended to move up a class.  She is just plain awesome that way.  However, as you can imagine and as I have documented in past blog posts- at my previous address, math has been a struggle.

When she was about 3 or so, I decided to experiment with homeschooling, so I started with teaching her the names of the colors.  It didn’t go so well.  She just could not remember the name of which color went with which one.  So I assumed that I had just tried with her a little too early.  She of course eventually learned all her colors, no big deal. So when her younger sister was about her age, I didn’t even bother teaching her the colors, I figured it was a waste of time, she probably wasn’t ready.  Then one day in the car, the said younger daughter just out of the blue started pointing to colors and telling me their names– she knew them all!!

Same thing happened with math for daughter#1, we were doing an early level in Singapore Math and this daughter just could not get the concept of “how many more or less than”.  I got a whole bunch of colored pencils and we counted them, I put 5 in one hand and 3 in the other and I would ask,”which one has more or less?”,  she would pick the right one, but when I would say, “how many more or how many less?”  She just would have no clue and would just say a random guess.  We spent about a week on that and I even had my husband come try to explain it to her, but to no avail.  She finally did get it, and I was in my experimental stage of figuring out the best way to homeschool, so I backed off of math with her, and let her just be creative a lot and just do like a page or 2 of math a day.  It was definitely easier.

But after a couple years of that, she turned 10 and I saw that she was only on like 2B and I just felt that that was totally unacceptable, that there was no way she was going to be able to do calculus on my time schedule not to mention earlier.  Plus I had decided that for us the unschooling just wasn’t really working, my kids were not motivated to learn math or do anything a tad bit difficult on their own, they mostly just made huge messes and got into fights with other.  Structure was a good thing for us.

So I spent 2-4 hours per day focusing on math with my then 10 yog.  She worked really really hard, and she learned a lot and got through it, but it was not easy for her.  But she did feel accomplished.  The other kids didn’t need hardly any help with math, it came easy to all of them, so it’s probably good I had this one first, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was for the other kids and not disappointed with her because I didn’t know any different.  She started Pre-algebra in 7th grade along with her younger sister who was in 5th grade at the time.  They did fine and got through it pretty well, there wasn’t a lot new and it was pretty basic.  Then they started algebra the following year,  this is the year we had issues in pretty much every facet of our lives– our homeschool friends and co-op all moved out of state, my extended family was being their normal difficult selves, we had the twins who were a lot of work and took most of my time, and our church/ward which had been a source of comfort and goodness in the past, now became awful, and instead of working from home, my husband now had a 45 min- 1hr. commute to work each way.  So we had a lot of personal obstacles which took my main attentions away from schooling as we moved into survival mode.  Long story short, we moved in that time also and had another baby, and sent the 3 older kids to public school for a semester.  We also tried the BYU independent study course for Algebra, just so the girls could have a transcript, but it ended up being a lousy course with very little instruction or feedback or practice tests, and they did not get A’s on their tests, so they have just barely finished Algebra 1 and started Geometry in March of this year in 9th and 7th grades.

However, the reality is that Geometry and math have taken huge amounts of time for this daughter to learn. The second daughter is ahead of her in Geometry and spends far less time on it.  It is really sad, when the older one finds out the younger one is done and ahead without hardly being on the computer for that online class at all, and the older one asks,”how did she do that?”  It’s just not fair, and it is at the expense of her music and other creative endeavors which are harder to teach and learn and which she loves, which kind of defeats the whole purpose of homeschooling and being able to cater the curriculum to the individual needs of the students.

So for her, we have looked at the graduation requirements for high school and for getting into college and for being able to not take any more math in college and we will have her do that much and call it good.  We wanted to make sure there were no doors closed to our kids, so that when they went to college and found they wanted to be a vet or a biologist or engineer or architect, but couldn’t because they didn’t have the math, that just wouldn’t happen.  My daughter absolutely could keep going and learn calculus, she is bright, it just takes a really long time, and she doesn’t love it.  At this point, she has composed some really beautiful music on the piano, and that is really the direction she wants to take with her life.  She wants to study music of some sort in college.  So that’s what we will be encouraging her to aim for. The reality for her is that she is not going to be interested in pursuing the math and science fields any further than a basic knowledge.  She does like science, but she loves music. Geometry will probably take her 1 1/2 – 2  yrs. to get through the course, Biology may take that long too.  She may need an extra year after high school to get some of these foundational courses strong or she just may start college the way most people do, not ahead, just right where she needs to be.  And that is just fine.  We just want her to be happy and find what she wants to do with her life.  We have to let go, and allow her to find her wings.

So we will be researching music schools and music programs.  We will be encouraging her to finish the improv dvd’s I bought.  She will take music theory and learn how to use the computer programs to get her music on paper for others to play and she will be learning how to record her songs and share them and make a name for herself.  It actually sounds pretty fun and very exciting.  I’m very proud of her.  She has certainly learned to work hard  from math, and that in and of itself will help her throughout her life.


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Summer School

Swimming and having fun in the sun is very much part of the summer school curriculum.  This is a photo of the kids’ first meet.


All the kids are doing really well with their swimming.  The older ones are getting to be quite strong swimmers and the younger ones are getting really close to swimming on their own.  I really like the instructors and coaches, although I felt really old when the swim coach told one of the kids he was born in 1993– that’s when I graduated from high school!

We took an evening to go to the Boston Children’s Museum for the 2 yo boy’s birthday party.  It is only a dollar on Friday evenings.  It was way crowded, but totally worth the dollar and the trip especially as it cleared out around 8ish and was open til 9.  Riding the T and walking around the city is as fun as going to the museum.  I really love Boston, it is such a beautiful city.  Here’s a pic of a replica of a boat the Tea partyers threw tea into Boston Harbor, connected to another museum I really want to take the kids to– so much history.  And some people riding their Segways around.  There is a Segway factory somewhere around here.


Here are some pics from the museum:

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And headed home, walking toward the subway station:


The girls are doing much better keeping up with their online classes.  We sat down with the oldest and made up a chart with all the classes she’ll need to graduate from high school and what colleges are looking for.  I think it helped her gain perspective on why she has to do her online classes.  I have also been making group time more of a priority and we had a good day today school wise when we got home from the lake.  The boys just have to do math, greek, piano, reading and journal for the summer 4 times per week.  If they don’t whine and cry, it takes them about 30 min. – 1 hr.  For group time we watch a Great Courses lecture- we just finished photography today, it was awesome. We watch some science videos and talk about science with Super Charged science, then we practice our scripture memory verse and scripture read aloud.  And then I read a Chicken Soup story.  That’s the minimum group time stuff.  If we have more time, then we do some Spanish together, and a piano DVD course we have on improvisation.  And I have a few books I am reading to them.  I try to do group time at least 3 times per week.  I try to read to the little kids also, but that hasn’t happened much lately, but they have been watching the Letter Factory, playing fun learning games, one of the twins finished his first math book.  I will have to incorporate teaching the twins to read and helping them with math in the fall.  It will be busy, but I love teaching. We are doing a little better with the house, it sure makes a difference to not have a nursing baby and to have older kids who actually help and can do things without supervision.  I am enjoying this stage.

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Fourth of July & Summer Learning

We have had a nice holiday with a hurricane off the coast, we got lots of rain, which postponed fireworks to tonight, but the parade was nice and cool.  I love our little New England town and celebration, booths displaying old crafts, small animals, art, food and speeches in the square.  Old churches were open and a little town museum.  Very fun to walk around and then the older kids rode home on their bikes.  Unfortunately the roads are all just small country roads and seem quite dangerous for bikers so that doesn’t happen often, but it is close enough.  I go on some really nice jogs in the mornings.  Anyway, #’s 2, 3, and 4 rode their bikes in the parade, #2 won 3rd place and #3 won 2 nd place in the bike decorating contest because there were only 3 bikes in their age group.  Sometimes, you just have to show up!!


The girls finished volleyball camp this week.  There was no air conditioning in the gym and it went from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm Mon. through Thurs.  They worked them hard too.  Both girls were glad to be done, but also glad they did it and have improved their skills tremendously.  I hope the older one makes the team.  #3 has been fishing everyday at the lake and has gotten pretty good at it.  He throws them all back in.  #’s 4, 5, 6 and 7 all finished their first session of swim lessons this week.  They all made pretty good progress.  We will do the next session coming up also.  I’m so excited that they are all going to be swimming rather well by the end of the summer!!  Yay!!

We didn’t get much schoolwork done this week with all the stuff going on, but the plan this coming week is to watch some lectures after we eat lunch when we get back from the lake.  I’m going to make sure we have bread most of the days so we can just eat sandwiches for lunch, quick and easy.  Then we can watch a couple lectures, read books, do some science, some spanish and some book work.  High hopes for Monday!!  Should work out after such a nice relaxing weekend.  I plan to get a bunch of cleaning done this morning.  We replaced the broken washer and dryer with the ones we brought from Utah, so nice to have laundry efficiency again.  It was just taking all day to get one load done.  Crazy!!

The kids also got medals for participating in track, check out those trees!


This quarry is right in our backyard!!  Lots of frogs, water plants, tadpoles and turtles.  I think it is a lot deeper than it looks though, so no little kids out there without me.  I love living in the forest! Nature Study made easy!


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