Autumn/ Fall in New Hampshire

I have been loving the fall here.  It is the most amazing thing, I just keep snapping photos and I wish I had more!!  The weather has been perfect and the trees are just absolutely amazing!!  Here are the kids playing in the hammock I got in Mexico– it had some rather large holes that kids would fall through, so they brought out a blanket to cover the holes.  A lot of fun, and not too much fighting!

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One thing we have started doing is going for walks or being sure to spend time outdoors and exercise.  It can be forgotten when there is so much work to be done inside.  But I have been jogging (slowly) pretty regularly. I jog about 2 miles, this cute Congregational church is about 1 mile from my house, I jog around the village green right past the little schoolhouse below (which is still in use for Kindergarten and 1st grade), and then around the town hall and past the cutest little village New England houses, I love it so much.  Anyway,  my older boys often come with me on their bikes.  Also, my oldest son has slowly been getting a little chunky and since both my husband and I tend to lean towards chunkiness we decided he probably needs more exercise especially since he isn’t involved in any organized sports at the moment.  So my husband has started running with the boys, this also makes the little boys want to go too, so I take them on a walk when I get back from my jog since I usually go in the afternoon.  My older daughter has been running on her own ( as a requirement from me).  Today we went in the mist, it has turned cold since these photos were taken.  But it does a body so much good to be outside, especially here where the air is clear and now in the fall when the beauty around us is just breathtaking and amazing.

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The kids put together a couple bookshelves for me, we sure do have a lot of books!!

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House Cleaning and Organization

A clean and organized house makes for a much better homeschool.  For me, this has been the hardest part of homeschooling, but I think it has been especially hard for me because of the twins and all the moving and commuting we have done the past 5 yrs.  So my youngest is now 2 and I have older kids who are actually helpful.  It has made a huge difference for me to not be interrupted as much.  Cleaning is not in my nature and it takes a lot for me to get started, and every time I would get interrupted to change a diaper, nurse a baby or stop a fight, I would lose my momentum and then try to get motivated again with a bunch of other things calling out for my attention.

We have a decent system going on now, each of the 4 older kids have an area of the house they are responsible for keeping clean, the 5th child helps me in the kitchen and the twins unload the dishwasher everyday.  The older kids rinse their dishes, but I do the kitchen– we have a septic tank with no garbage disposal (the only downside so far to living here), and so the sink just gets clogged too often when the kids do it.  So I do it.  I used to not know where to start in the kitchen, I would gather all the dirty dishes over to the sink, scrape them and then start washing them.  But I finally tried fly lady’s method of cleaning out the sink first.  This has made such a difference for me– with a clean sink, there is room for more dirty stuff– so I clean the dishes sitting in the sink first and then I just keep on going, there is always room in the sink for more and it seems to go much more smoothly, even though my sink is not always cleared and clean, this has made a huge difference in the kitchen.  We are keeping on top of the mess way better than we have the past 5 yrs and it doesn’t seem like such a chore anymore.  I even like it, I have been trying to practice more awareness and being in the moment– and this is nice to do while cleaning– feeling the water over my hands as I rinse, fell the scrubbing of the sponge as I scrub.  It’s even therapeutic.

We also had company coming this week to stay so we had to get the kids’ room under control and the laundry.  We got a ton done and were still able to do most of our regular schoolwork, not as much as usual– we missed a few lectures this week, but all the important math and Greek and reading and writing stuff.  So what I found in doing that is to get some laundry started and then fold and put away the clean clothes in the morning before we go downstairs.  Also, get all the bedrooms cleaned up and everything up off the floor and get the bathrooms wiped down.  It took some effort to get the kids’ rooms cleaned up, we took out quite a few trash bags of trash and old clothes, but now the kids should be able to keep them up easily.  I also paid my 11 yr. old $3 an hour to steam vac clean the carpets especially the big stains.  And I paid the other kids for jobs they could do that are extra like washing walls, and vacuuming the edges and doing other kids’ jobs that they weren’t doing well.  That was a win/ win, until my 10 yr. old told me that he already had enough money to buy the legos he wanted and didn’t need to work anymore.

So we have had a nice time with family, we even washed all the bedding and decluttered and got all the game pieces put in with their proper games.  I love a clean house.  It doesn’t last long especially when everybody is home all day, but I think we have a good system going on and a good start to keep it more orderly than we have in the past, and thus the ability to do some more learning.  I am looking forward to this week!!

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Mexico City

I still have to finish my post on Canada, it’s much more time consuming when adding pictures, but definitely worth it!!  In the meantime, I took my girls to Mexico City visit my brother, my mom went also.  It was really really awesome!!  We went to church in both English and Spanish on Sunday, English, cause my brother goes to the English speaking ward and Spanish, cause I wanted the girls to experience a tiny bit of what life was like for me as a kid ( I grew up in Guadalajara).

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Monday we went to the pyramids of Tenochtitlan.  It was awesome– huge ancient city, with more and more ruins being uncovered, there were archeologists working that day, so interesting, so many unanswered questions.

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There were a lot of vendors at the pyramids, they pretty much make everything themselves by hand.  The obsidian and the silver is beautiful.  We got some cool things, and the vendors were so grateful and so incredibly nice, I wish I had more money spend!!  Then we ate at an authentic restaurant, it was so good– I like cactus and we got serenaded by a guitarist.

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This is where we were waiting one evening, I just like how my photos came out!!

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We happened to be there over Independence Day so we got to watch the military parade on Tuesday.  The parade route shifted a few times, and it ended up being long, but it was worth it for the horses at the end.  Also, the soldiers would touch the hands of the kids as they passed by and they would periodically stop the trailers so the kids could get pics with them.  So cool.  My favorite was the fresh sliced mangoes with limon y sal (lime and salt).

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Wednesday we went to Chapultepec Park and castle. The castle was the dream castle of an Austrian prince and was amazing.  It later served as an observatory and a presidential palace and is today a museum.

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We also rented a row boat, and had a hard time of it, but lots of fun. We also went to the zoo.  We saw lots of animals, this baby monkey was especially cute!!chapultepec19zoo1

We returned in the evening to watch the Ballet Folklorico which was also at Chapultepec castle.  It was so Mexican and so cool!!

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Thursday we went to the Ciudadela to buy trinkets.  They had so much cool stuff and the people were all so incredibly nice, I wish I could have bought more, but I am pleased with my purchases!!  They had hammocks, purses, shoes, toys, clothes, amazing art of al kinds, mostly hand made– truly truly amazing, I was so busy looking at things, I never took a photo!!  Afterward we got some bread at a panaderia and waited for a taxi.  I took some photos of the area there, it looks like I remember Mexico looking like– the rest of the time while at my brother’s place, it felt very modern and upscale– he lives in a super nice area.  Costco is nearby, Office Depot, Chilis, California Pizza Kitchen, an amazing grocery store, so different than it was when I grew up there– there was no way to buy anything American.  So these pictures show the area I related to:

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Friday, the girls and I went by ourselves to the Centro where the National Cathedral is.  It was hot and the air was pretty bad, it was not nearly as nice as it had been the other days of the week– rainy season had just ended and now there will no storms to clear out the pollution.  There were lots of true worshippers at the cathedral, and we walked passed the Palacio de Bellas Artes, and onto the Ciudadela again.  We got the rest of our souvenirs, and enjoyed our last day there.

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It was so fun to spend time with my brother and his family and with my mom too.  I am so glad I got to go and take my girls with me.  We all learned so much.  Now that I have been, I would do it again, but I would not have attempted the trip without my brother being there to visit and inform of us of what to do.  Advice to those wanting to visit Mexico– contact the Embassy for updates on where and when and how you can travel safely.  We stayed in the safe areas and we only used Sitio taxis which keep a record of all their clients.  My brother told us the regular taxis are the ones that Americans get kidnapped in periodically,  we also stayed on the toll roads and traveled during the daytime.

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Home at last, I really missed my boys, here are some of them with their Mexican luchadores masks!!

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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.

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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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Summer

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!!

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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 )

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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