OUR PLANS MULTIPLIED
Saturday, February 26, 2011
One of those decisions is my homeschool plans for next year. This morning I ended up going to a Classical Conversations meeting for a new group that is starting in our area. I would be interested in feed-back from others, that are in the group in other areas around the country, if it is really workable for a family as large as ours. After getting the price run-down, I definitely would need to be a tutor if I'm going to send all six of my school age children. The plus side is that Elijah could stay with me while I taught; the down-side is I could never make that commitment if we are able to bring home new children next school year.
While my mind has been swirling, I started potty-training Elijah. He is really catching on quickly for being a two year old boy. He currently isn't interested in wearing pants - just his "wonderwears." I think the wonderwear and mud-boots is a charming look and it's another one of those times that I'm thankful we don't have near neighbors!
For the moment, I'm going to just take one day at a time, one decision at a time with prayer. At this point Monday is our scheduled home closing, so that's one HUGE prayer request turned praise. Thankfully, Aunt Deb is off on Mondays so she can take Alei to work, Tori to gymnastics and hold down the fort while we sign our name over and over.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
This house is the first time we've had a laundry room and it's helped my system so, so much. Right now, my oldest two children store their dirty clothes in hampers in their own rooms and do it as their schedule permits. My next two children are permitted to put to their clothes in the laundry system, but they usually pile it up in their rooms until they have a few of their own loads and they just do it. By "doing" it, I generally mean they put it in the washer and forget about it. At that point, I move it to the dryer, then a basket, then make them come and fold it and put it away.
The regular laundry system is JD and I and the youngest five children. We have a hamper in the master bath and the little girls have one in their room. The boys just sort their clothes directly into the "system" since their room is down-stairs. Every morning, I haul down the two upstairs hampers, sort them and start the first two loads.
This way the clothes are then pre-sorted in the laundry room by whites, colors, darks and towels (which are around the corner). I like these hampers because I just drag over whatever color I'm doing and easily load it into the washer. When they are full, they are two loads each.
It's an enormous blessing to have two sets of washers and dryers and it really saves on how many times I'm running down the stairs every day to switch loads. We have an older stacking set and then a newer unstacked set. I generally put two loads in first thing in the morning, two mid-morning and two more at lunch time. I've never been one of those people that runs for the dryer buzzer, in fact, I turn the buzzers off. So, yeah, our clothes are generally wrinkled, but it's either non-wrinkled wear or homeschooling at this point.
As I pull the clothes out of the dryer, I try to sort them into kid baskets and line them on the laundry counter; however, if I'm in a hurry (or someone is crying), Alei handles that step in the evening.
Alei is the chief folder, she assumed that job a few years ago when she wanted relieved of all kitchen duty. She takes the baskets to the couch area to fold them, generally in the evening and watches a DVD at the same time. All the towels go in one basket, which is folded by Moriah. Alei folds mine, JD's and Elijah's in one basket and the little girls into another. The boys clothes go into the green basket for them to fold and any Moriah and Alyssa clothes go into the blue basket for them to fold.
I generally bring up the baskets of folded clothes and put them away the next morning, after I start the next day's first two loads. Then the story repeats, unless we have one of those weekends that is so busy I don't do any laundry, then on Monday the washers and dryers run all day instead of just until lunch!
While I can't predict anything with the real estate market, I can predict that Elijah is going to be musical! He plays the guitar and sings several times a day and requests that I stand by and clap! I'm definitely going to be shopping for a smaller guitar before his birthday since this one is almost as big as him.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Today we are experiencing this issue in another form - cereal. This issue is really more an issue that I bought good, healthy cereals on sale and the kids just won't eat some of them. Although I do eat them, it's not been at near the rate that I stocked them. This is actually quite embarrasing, but here's my just expired cereal collection - (and any hope of an image I created of being an organized person!)
They are currently being turned into morning muffins box by box. The muffin turn out hasn't seemed to be much different even though I've used three different kinds. I adapted a recipe that was intended for bran muffins and have created Jenny's cereal muffins.
Jenny's Cereal Muffins:
-1 c. raisins (optional). If you use raisins, cover them in water and microwave one minute. Drain and set aside.
-1 1/2 c. milk
-3 cups healthy cereal
-2 c. flour (any combo of white or whole wheat)
-2 tsp. baking soda
-2 tsp. cinnamon
-4 T. melted butter
-4 pieces of fruit, either apple or banana. (if using apple, core and shred it)
- 1 c. honey
So, preheat oven to 400. Grease or line 24 muffin cups. Beat the egg with the milk and then mix in the cereal. Let the mixture stand 5-10 minutes until the cereal absorbs the liquid. Gently mix in the raisins, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, butter, fruit and honey. Stir a few times to mix.
Spoon the batter into cups and bake in pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
As you can see, these are pretty healthy since they have no sugar (sweetened with honey) and have little butter. They also have the healthy cereal and possible whole wheat flour. At this point, I used white flour to counter my really whole-grain cereal. When I use less sturdy cereal, I'm planning on going 1/2 white and 1/2 whole wheat flour.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
I got a few pictures now, because it won't stay clean for long. I also plan to screw the train-tracks down on the train table, because Elijah loves to play train but is continually frustrated that the tracks mess up.
At this point we plan to carpet the three downstairs bedrooms and the play room, but just do large area rugs in the family room and game room. We definitely need to leave the long hall-way uncarpeted because that is our Heelie track!
Saturday, February 19, 2011
JD finished the playroom ceiling last night. It really makes a big difference coming down the stairs. Now he's cleaning and rearranging the back game room to move on to the last big room that needs insulation and ceiling.
I spent several hours cleaning and re-organizing the storage room. I also brought the rest of my canning jars in from the barn. I'm reading a book called Backyard Homestead and hope to be able to grow and preserve more vegetables this year than ever before.
This cracked me up. The boys were tasked with getting these items to the area that JD breaks down boxes and prepares for the dump run. They were smart enough to go get the wagon and try to get it all in one load - it is a trip from the back-yard to behind the barn. They were stacking and piling, until JD came out and helped them stack efficiently.
Thankfully, the boxes were empty, but it was still a challenging load with the incredibly bent wheel on the wagon. I honestly think these tasks are good for working together and brain-storming skills!
As I mentioned yesterday, I did get a picture of Julia's smile with her new missing tooth. I'm not sure you can actually see the spot, but it's a cute smile either way.
Here she is sporting her new twists we did yesterday. I went for random pastel bands and barrettes, but she looks a bit like an Easter egg. Oh well, at least it's done.
Elijah woke up congested again; it seems to be a common Saturday occurance. We'll see if he's fit to attend church tomorrow.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Here we are saying good-bye to Deb and Alei; they'll be back on Monday.
Deb and Alei were kidding me about being such a mom since I was following them out with my camera. I was having a good time snapping pictures as Debra was lecturing me about no pictures on the blog since she didn't put on any make-up. (I'm being nice since you really can't tell with her finger pointing at me.)
Here's Alei asking me if I got a picture of the contents of the hatch-back. Actually, I did since it's her new birthday luggage that she begged to take in spite of her birthday not being until next month!
Due to the money disappointment, she refused to let me get a shot of her missing tooth; I'll try again once we turn that darling 'fro into some hair-style this afternoon. What hair-do goes with a princess night-gown and mud boots?
in as much literature as I can get them through. They are both taking Apologia science at our co-op - Zoology for Alyssa and Physical Science for Moriah. We are supposedly doing My Father's World for history, but I admitted last post that we aren't keeping up with it to well, so they are independently reading a set of history books as well. I do hope to finish My Father's World this summer when our homeschooling load lightens.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
My most exciting project of the day was ironing the boy shirts and ties that are heading to Uganda for the wedding feast. This afternoon I also got 10 pairs of boy's underwear on clearance at Kohl's for $8. If you want to know more about this wedding feast, or help the 200 invited street children, check out Linny's blog at www.aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/2011/02/wanna-kind-of-go-to-africa-with-us.html. While this event is in April, these are the same street children that Alei will have a chance to love on in June!Aunt Deb is staying tonight and heading to the mountains on a youth retreat with Alei tomorrow, so I have home-made pizza to make.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Before I hit the books, I would like to comment on the absurd amount of pencils that we go through. It really seems that a pencil eating monster emerges at night and consumes them. I have lost count how many days I bring out a new pile of pencils and sharpen them. My question of the day is WHY do people create pencils that refuse to sharpen evenly. This pile seems to always have a spot at the end that is wood instead of lead, know what I mean?
Back to the books... Tori is a kindergartner this year. We started the year with an old book from a phonics curriculum that I used for Gabriel that is just for teaching the sound of each letter. It simply has a big letter in the center of the page and several pictures around it, so we do A,A alligator, etc, until each child knows the sound each letter makes. Tori is the 7th child to start this way and it seems to get the job done. After that, we progress to Handwriting Without Tears, Phonics Pathways and Explode the Code A,B and C books. Tori is just starting to take off understanding that the letter sounds combine to make words.
As for Math, we started the year with Saxon 1, but she was really lost when we got into the 20s, so I ordered the K Math U See and she is progressing nicely in it.
Other than that, we just read. We throw in a little science and little history (very little actually) and that's K at our house.
I decided last year that James and Ben were going to be 3rd graders again this year and it was a good decision. They were just not ready to be pushed through 4th grade anything. Ben was struggling so hard in 3rd grade Saxon that I put him back into 1st grade Math U See in the middle of last year. James dropped the 3rd grade Saxon and repeated the Math U See when Ben hit the 2nd grade level. We just started the 3rd grade, but I still plan on finishing it this year. Once they are 4th graders next year, they should be on track with 4th grade math as well. Saxon worked great for my first four children, but I have to say that I think Math U See is much better for children that may be a bit more learning challenged!
As far as reading, Ben and James have worked through a few phonic books this year, but Explode the Code is still my favorite. James is in book 6 and Ben is in 5 1/2, so I hope we can finish book 8 by the end of the summer. We also just began Beyond the Code, which is reading comprehensiton. Other than that, they read quite a bit; generally because I make them but I still have hope that they will read more for enjoyment once it comes easier. I have seen that progression in James and Ben isn't too far behind.
For Bible, Science and History, we are/were attempting to finish the geography My Father's World. While I can really sing the praises of the curriculum, we have not always maintained it since they are all attending science and art classes at co-op. James and Ben also love Bible, History and story CDs; they generally listen to a full hour every night at bed-time. James even sits up in his bed so he won't accidentally fall asleep and miss any of them. They have learned a ton from working through several sets. Our favorites are Our Story Hour, which have been on extended loan from my friend, Wendy.
In the interest in space and attention span, I'll hit the Alyssa and Moriah list tomorrow.
I do have to show you the nice sticker that Ben blessed Elijah with at lunch. Yes, we eat our sandwiches on cheap white paper plates every day and I still run a dish-washer after each meal. I pulled out the camera to capture Elijah wearing his "big, blue sticker," but he got camera shy and immediately hid his face with his toy.
I sat and waited for him to put it down, but this is all I got -
Once he saw the camera, right back up it went.
I hope his camera shy stage is short lived!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
On a disappointing note, we were hoping to cash out enough to pay off another real estate loan that is higher interest, but the house didn't appraise for enough to do both. Did anyone follow that?
At this point, there are many around us being laid off, so I'm thankful that JD has a great job and I'm going to be very thankful if we can just close on the house. The rest will come in time; the hardest part is waiting to begin the adoption we are so excited about. Waiting isn't my favorite thing to do!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
We did have a break for cake -
And some exciting gifts -
But other than that, they ran and played and had a great time. Julia and Elijah loved the trampoline! We'd have one if I could talk my husband into it, but I gave up on that at least a decade ago.
My last few days of blog silence has been due to my computer deciding that it was broken; it turned out to just be the monitor. Other than that, I've been having a great time coupon shopping the new CVS where Alei works, JD is making big progress on the playroom ceiling and today is Tori hair day. Ben took her hair down for me yesterday and I have to get it re-braided before she goes to gymnastics this evening.
Happy Valentines Day - I'm meeting JD for lunch since this evening is consumed with being the Mommy chauffeur.
Friday, February 11, 2011
After church on Sunday I'm going to rest - as long as you count cleaning the house and catching up on the laundry rest.
And I wonder why my brain isn't very blog focused. Hopefully next week will be easier, although I just got 11 "time for the dentist" post-cards in the mail! (sigh)
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
I say all of that only to say this - this video should extend beyond ALL pro-life/pro-choice lines as well as all political lines. This video outlines clear and deliberate abuse by this Planned Parenthood clinic. The man in this video claims that he has illegal child slaves from Asia and they had no problem helping him further abuse those children. I am so flaborgasted at the woman in the video and the reality that we give $300,000,000 a year to this organization. What is so depressing is that there will be more attempts to hush this story than there ever will be to use it as a demand for reform. Everyone should be up in arms at Planned Parenthood as a whole, because this is unfortunaely not an isolated incident and other videos from Planned Parenthoods around the country are emerging.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing - Lee Frank
(I have no idea why I can't make the screen a bit smaller.)
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Here's Elijah's right before bed show - first a bit of Sharpie art-work on the computer desk.
Followed by me walking in to check on the girl's cleaning progress to find Elijah standing on Tori's dresser wearing the pink lamp-shade on his head. What did I do? I told him to stand right there and ran for my camera. Two weeks ago, he would have waited, but today I returned to the new Spider-man Elijah scaling the bed.
Some days I think we might be getting a little old to add more toddlers. We better hurry...
Saturday, February 5, 2011
So, when I opened this check the other day, I was excited thinking that the $500 check arrived, but no, apparently I overpaid a Durango doctor by a penny and he was refunding me. Wow, and I didn't even have to call. I wish some local doctors could take a lesson from them.
To add insult to injury, Congress now decided that we can no longer buy over-the-counter medicines with our own Flex medical spending money. The bad part is neither can we reduce the amount that we are paying into the account each month; so although it's our money, we can't have it back or use it! I can't take much more medical "reform."
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Other than not being home much, poor Tori is quite sick. She's been running a fever and rather lethargic for a few days. Today Elijah seems to have a low-grade fever and lots of snot. I'm planning a doctor run first thing in the morning; the problem is that we rented a gym for Tori's birthday party on Saturday afternoon. I'm crossing that bridge tomorrow after the strep cultures!
I got a question from a nice lady that attended our orphan, foster, adoption meeting the other night at church. She asked about my girls hair. My long time readers know that I have done many posts on hair, but more "complainy" about the time investment than helpful. So, I'm going to do a summery of what I've learned and how.
First of all, when we adopted Tori, she was bald - way bald, like so bald we wondered if her head had been shaved. I basically greased (our favorite Liberian term) her little head and hoped it would grow. Once it was long enough for tiny, tiny corn-rows, I had a wonderful friend from church faithfully drive to my house every other week and re-put in the corn-rows.
In the mean-time, we adopted Julia who had quite the head of hair. Since she wasn't going capable of sitting still too long at a time, I just learned to do simple twists and braids on her. In the hair care department, I've tried tons of stuff. I still buy things when I see how people brag on the wonders they've done for their children's hair. At this point, I don't buy anything that isn't organic, but really like the Organics line that is sold at our local hair store and Wal-Mart.
When I really learned to corn-row was when Dena cut her finger and was unable to do Tori's hair for several months. At first I literally sat by the computer and played Katelyn's You Tube video, paused it and copied it. After several attempts, my fingers figured it out. I'm no expert at this point, but do smile big when people ask, "who does their hair" and then look shocked when I answer, "I do."
As far as the whole "have their hair done at the beauty parlor idea", that is a very real possibility when they are older and we are beyond twist and corn-rows. For now, I wouldn't want to make them sit without breaks and I don't want to pay for it. We are very much do-it-your-selfers. We have been the general contractors on our own house, JD is the current basement finisher, JD fixes our cars, I do the house painting, we cut the boy's hair, you get the idea. Over the years, we have saved a ton doing projects our self, so the girls hair is no different for the moment.
So, I highly recommend Katelyn's how to everything on YouTube. I also joined a Yahoo group - adoption skin and hair care. Those have been the most helpful, along with real people I know that have walked before me in the hair realm!
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Over the weekend, I painted the master bath-room. My heart sure wasn't in it, but I wanted to hang the Ikea shelf we bought and it needed painting so badly first. This has been the end of the bath-tub ledge for the 2 1/2 years we have lived in the house - it's all the girls hair stuff! It was stored in a combination of plastic, basket and tangerine crate.
Here's the hair stuff now. I wish I had bought a third basket, but guessed that only two would fit when I found them on the way home from Johns Hopkins the other day. I just painted the bathroom the same tanish-green that the majority of the upstairs is painted, since it matched the curtains and carpets so well AND I had two gallons left over.
On bigger notes than paint and baskets, we held an information and question and answer session at church last night for anyone interested in orphan care, fostering or adoption. It was really encouraging to see people that are willing to step into the role of being the hands and feet of God to the least of these that the Bible refers to!