Sunday, October 31, 2010

When Halloween is on Sunday......

We did Halloween on Saturday.
Here they are dressed up in their costumes for our church's Trunk or Treat.
Sophie just reused the witch costume I made her last year. Henry could just barely fit into the skeleton costume which he wore a year or two ago and for Ian we found a Harry Potter robe at Goodwill and some big round glasses at the dollar store. All were happy with their costumes. Molly was not so happy with her costume. She was supposed to be a kangaroo. It is the 2T costume each of the kids has worn but she wouldn't wear it. She didn't like it over her head so we improvised with the tu tu. She could handle that so it worked.

One the kids jumped out of the car at the trunk or treat we hardly even saw them. They ran from carnival game to carnival game winning little toys and candies. Henry stopped just long enough for me to draw a skull and crossbones (his choice) on his face.

Then it was time for go outside for the big candy getting. Again, we couldn't see our kids as they ran from car to car. I was surprised by how quickly Molly picked up on the idea that she could go up to each car, hold her hand out and wiggle her fingers and soon a candy would be put in her little hand. 

She even figured out that the bag was useful to hold her stash. It was very cute to watch.

So even if my kids don't get to go door to door asking for candy they still got quite a haul.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Funny Nose

A week or two ago Sophie made a "Journal Jar" at her weekly church group/activity. This jar is filled with topics to write about in your journal that day. Evidently the lesson on keeping a journal struck a chord and Sophie has been writing in it. I wouldn't say everyday but often, and totally on her own. The other day she brought me her journal so I could read her entries.  Most of the entries were about her favorite things and some of the typical events of the day. One of the topics, obviously from the jar, was about things she didn't like. She listed a few things like oatmeal and scrabbled eggs but then she added she doesn't like her funny nose. That is all she said. She didn't elaborate any farther.

I know she doesn't like that she is different than others. She is at an age where those things become more and more important. And I have heard her say many times that she wishes she hadn't been born with a cleft. When we were expecting Molly she was very worried that Molly would have a cleft too. I don't know if it would have made her feel better that her sister also had a cleft. She just feels a bit singled out I think. She is the one for whom we often have to go to doctors appointments. She is the one who has to have braces and ear tubes. A lot of these feelings are especially pressing right now because her braces are coming off next month and that means she is ready for surgery.

We met with the cranial facial doctor a few weeks ago to talk about this next surgery. This is the big one. The one where they take a bone graft from her hip and insert it into the space in her upper jaw. And if that doesn't sound bad enough, the doctor explained that they pretty much have to do a nose and lip reconstruction to do that. Since Sophie was right there in the room with us, while we were talking to the doctor, she knows exactly what is ahead. She is scared, and rightly so. It doesn't sound fun.

Today at our homeschool co-op there was a mom there with her newly adopted little girl. The baby has a cleft and is just starting the whole process. She is having her lip surgery next month and the mom was asking me questions. I know it was always nice to talk to other moms who had been through this too. It brought back a lot of memories to see her pull out the squeeze bottle to feed the baby. In fact it was the bottle that clued me into the babies cleft in the first place.

I was also sent a link to a blog where a mom who has recently given birth to a baby with a cleft and had just had her first surgery.  She has taken so many pictures of her little girl. I was a bit jealous that she has so many. When Sophie was small we were still using our regular film camera. We got our digital camera when she was almost two years old. I remember taking picture after picture of her trying to capture the smile. The night before her lip surgery I took a bunch more but since I couldn't see the shots until I had them developed, I never knew if I actually got them.
Digital cameras are such a blessing! I not only can check to make sure I captured what I wanted to capture but I can take as many pictures as I want and print only the ones I really like or as I need them. I wish that had been available back then. Digital was still new and so expensive not that long ago.

Here is Sophie with her face all swollen after her lip surgery when she was 3 months old.

She hated the "No-No"s but what person would. Doesn't that face just look traumatized!

Here you can see her black eye and stiches just a few days after lip surgery.
This was the day she got her stitches out.

This was taken on her first birthday. It was about 2 weeks after her palate surgery. It is amazing how quickly they bounce back.

This was taken when she was 5. Sophie was hamming it up for the camera but the close up really shows what a great job her plastic surgeon did. There is a scar and a funny little dip to her nose but when you see the before picture and compare, it is amazing!
I was a little sad to read that one line from Sophie's journal. She knows she looks a little different. I just don't want her to feel like her "funny nose" is some sort of punishment, or that she needs to feel ugly as a result. I have a feeling the coming years may be difficult as she goes through these preteen and teenage years.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Little One

One of the things that has been taking up a lot of my time is this little one.  I know I post pictures of her all the time and she is very cute. She is also my constant companion. When I sit down to read a story to the kids she is right there hitting the book out of my hands. If I try to read my own book she quickly decides she needs a drink or a diaper change or has made a mess that I need to clean up.  If I sit down to practice the piano she is right there hitting the keys and screeching to be allowed her playing time.
We keep hoping the screeching and the desire to play the piano will pay off one day and she will be a great musician. For now we often call her "Seniora Castafiore", who is the opera singer from the Tintin books. This screech must be good for something. She doesn't seem to be growing out of it. It is growing with her and she is using it quite often. Perhaps when there are words the high pitched vocals will subside but for now they are always there and always very nerve wracking.

Molly loves to get into everything too. She is constantly rearranging my cupboards. My pots and bowls are banged about and filled with all the treasures she finds in the pantry.  Oh, the pantry is her absolute favorite place to play. She can find bottles of all shapes and sizes there. For some reason she likes to carry around the big bottle of vinegar while making sounds like a weight lifter.

Last night she sat on my kitchen floor and played with some steal cut oats for a good 20 min. I was busy grinding up wheat and rice to make flour as well as watching a pot of oats that I was cooking to go in oatmeal bread. Molly got a hold of the oats and dumped out a bunch. My first reaction was to get peeved but then I thought about how easy it was going to be to clean up. Just a quick sweep and all would be well again. Even her clothes wouldn't be covered with anything, they would brush off and all would be swell. So I let her play.
She made oatmeal angels laying on the floor and swinging her arms and legs through the oats. She picked them up and put them in the bowls and then dumped them out again. She would have stayed longer but I was done and needed to move on to other things. I will have to remember steal cut oats as a good "clean" fun mess for her to play in. Luckily she didn't have that much in the can to dump out. 
So yes, Molly keeps me busy.  Maybe I am just getting old.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Since I haven't posted in almost a week......

I don't know what my excuse could be or what problems I am having. I just haven't been motivated to blog recently.  There are all sorts of things going on in my life right now, some good and some challenging. I guess I just don't feel like talking about them. Or else I am too busy dealing with things, I just can't find a moment to write about them here.

I haven't even been taking many pictures lately. I finally took the camera out yesterday to take pictures of my kids because it had been a week or more since I took any pictures.

So even if I don't post anything meaningful right now, at least here are a few cute pictures of my kids. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Odds and Ends

Since I can't seem to find a moment to actually write a post I figured I would just throw a few pictures up of a few things that I don't want to forget.

 Here is Sophie displaying the flower arrangement we made together at the Mother Daughter activity that they had last week. It looked so cute in the pumpkin. We had to throw the pumpkin out after a few days because it got soft but the flowers are still holding on a whole week later. It has been nice to have such beautiful colors to pass around our house. We don't have a great place to put the arrangement so it gets moved from the table to the counter to the table and then the counter.  Sophie is very proud of it!

 This little lady is growing up too quickly. I can almost say she is my easiest baby... but only certain aspects are easier. She goes to sleep and stays asleep better than any of my other kids did at her age. She is a breeze to get her down for a nap (at home).  But she is also so difficult at the same time. Her screeching is getting out of hand and it is driving me bonkers. But she is a cutie and I really hope she grows out of it.

 Sophie is doing a project on Presidents of the United States. We are doing parts of the lapbook from Homeschoolshare. As part of this project she wrote a letter to President Obama. It was sent on Monday so we are going to see how long it takes before we get a reply. We are hoping for a signed picture or something to put in the lapbook.

We haven't gone to any pumpkin patches this year. I don't know why I have so little motivation to do some of these rituals. My kids don't seem to mind. We did pick up a few pumpkins at the grocery and a few Halloween decorations at the dollar store which seems to be enough for my kids. I am glad they are easy to please. I just never feel the need to go all out with decorations. I don't have the space to store such things year after year or the money to spend on such things. So for now they have to be content with disposable decorations.

This post ended up with only pictures of my girls. I will have to make an effort to take more pictures with my boys.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Levers and Forces

I am really enjoying our change to doing History and Science Units separately. It is so nice to really focus on one subject each afternoon rather than alternate days or try to do both in the same day. Our mornings are spent doing scripture, language arts, reading, writing, math and we have even been doing Latin. (We finally have added it back into our schedule) The afternoon is always devoted to, at the moment, science.

This week I started reading aloud a book about Issac Newton and we have been learning the 3 laws of motion. We have done a number of different experiments that illustrate each of the laws.

My kids can't get enough of these hands on experiments. They ask to do the next one as soon as they have finished this one.
I do make them stop and take time to do the workbook pages so they have to think about the experiments. They all love getting to draw pictures of the experiments.
But the laws of motion weren't enough. We haven't finished our book about Newton but my kids decided they really needed to break out our Knex kit that demonstrates simple machines. So we have added in Levers too. We built the three different types of lever.
A blance or scale is a 1st class lever.
A wheel barrow is a 2nd class lever
My kids really love building these projects. They want to do the whole book in one sitting. I have to hold them back a bit and make sure they understand why each is a lever and where each part is.
They are getting really good at telling me where to find the fulcrum in each lever. And we have talked a lot about where the load is placed and where the effort is applied.  The New Way Things Work book and videos (which we get from the library) have been very helpful in explaining this new vocabulary and elements of a lever.

A fishing rod is a 3rd class lever
Mostly my kids are just having fun.
And because they just couldn't resist we also built an elevator which demonstrates the next simple machine, the pulley.

Science has been loads of fun... maybe we will never head back to History.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Questions for me to answer.

Andrea at Harvest Academy tagged me over a week ago to answer a few questions. It is very flattering to be tagged since I don't comment very often on blogs. I tend to read and then move on without adding to the conversation. I guess the shy side of me comes out and I just don't think my opinion or thoughts are that exciting anyway.

These are her questions for me.

• What are your top 5 favorite books?

It is too hard to pick books. How about authors?
Jane Austen - I never get tired of rereading her novels.
Elizabeth Gaskell - Even named Molly after one of her heroines.
Chaim Potok - He may be writing about Jewish characters and communities, but each of his stories makes me think about myself and my own struggles with doing what I know if right.
Shannon Hale - I can't say her works are life changing but they are fun "mind candy" to snack on.
C.S. Lewis - Narnia is great and all but I actually really enjoy reading his other books too. I don't do it often because they are a lot of work to get through. I have to really decipher and work at these but the insights are worth the effort.

• What is one of your favorite scriptures?

Mosiah 3:19 - It is a seminary scripture and everyone has heard it many times. But It took on special meaning while on my mission and has been helpful ever since. In the margin of my scriptures I wrote "bloom where you are planted" next to it.  I reread this scripture all the time to remind myself that when I am struggling it is usually my attitude that is making things difficult. I need to be more submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love and willing to submit my will to the will of the Lord. Then my struggles seem to vanish and I progress or bloom in whatever the situation.

• What is your favorite homeschool curriculum that you have used?

This is actually really hard to answer. We tend to use curriculum as a jumping off point or a guide but study from many different sources. But when I look back there are a few things we have used from the beginning that just seem to work well for me. Singapore math has been with us since I started homeschooling. I think it must progress though the concepts and explain things in the same way my brain works because I can see why they teach this or that before going on to this other idea.

I also love Story of the World. It has been my go to History curriculum for years. It has been a little frustrating to have to find my own way through modern history this year since the 4th volume is a little too advanced for my kids. But we will most likely go back to it and rotate through the series again use it as the framework for our history studies for the next few years. I have learned so much from this series. Having never studied history sequentially I never saw how everything that was going on in the world was all linked together. It has been so good to finally put pieces of many years of history study together to understand better the story of how we got to where we are.

But I almost always talk about Five in a Row. It was what gave me confidence in teaching my children. I started to use this curriculum when Sophie was only 4 years old. She was ready for more than just reading and playing so we jumped into "doing school" by rowing a new book each week. I learned a lot about how to bring out the important aspects of books and to look at children's books as only the beginning of our studies. I think this is a great place to start for homeschoolers. It is a natural transition from just reading books to your child to doing school work.

• What led you to homeschool your children?

When Sophie was tiny we lived just down the street from a middle school and I used to push her in the stroller past the school yard in order to get the park. The language and dress of those kids was such a turn off. It brought back all those memories of how ugly kids can be to each other. Those middle school years are hard and from what I could see there it was worse than even I remembered it.  I don't remember actually sitting down and talking about homeschooling with my husband we sort of both agreed that it was what we wanted to do. Some people are worried about socialization when kids are homeschooled. I would worry more about socialization if I sent them to school.

There is also the fact that despite getting good grades and being at the top of my class each year I still didn't get a very good education. Most of what I learned and remember the most, I learned at home from my mom and the many, many books, movies and such that we had around the house. Those are the things that stayed with me, not the memorized facts that I crammed in for the test that was coming. So I figured I could save them the boredom and drudgery of school by just creating a learning environment at home and hopefully instilling in them a love of learning. I think so far we are doing pretty well.

Those are just a few of the reasons that led us to homeschool. But really the best reason is that I get to stay home with my kids, play, read, and learn right alongside them. It has been wonderful (at least on the good days).

• If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be?

There are many places that would be really interesting or fun to see. It is hard to pinpoint just one. I don't think there is any one place that stands out above the others. Any place can be fun if you have people to enjoy it with. My family loves cruises. It really doesn't matter what the destination. We have so much fun on the boat we almost don't care to get off when the ship is in port. Days at sea are some of our favorites!

• If you had one day all to yourself, what would you do?

This idea seems so foreign to me that I can't even think what I would do. Most likely I would sleep as long as I could, lay in bed and read a good book. Take a long shower or soak in the tub.  Sip a cup of hot coco while I read some more.  Take a walk or hike to get fresh air. And then return to watch a good long costume drama with no interruptions.  Then go to bed early so that this day could end. I am sure by the end of the day I would be bored and weary of being by myself and not doing anything except my own pleasure.

• What is your favorite food group?

Fruits and Vegetables? bread and grain? meat and dairy? no... I think my favorite is always that little one at the top of the pyramid that says "eat sparingly". Who can pass up the sugar, salt and fats. I have no will power when there is chocolate around, or chips and salsa or warm bread with butter and honey on top. Oh.... those always sound so good. But I need to stick to my green smoothies and stay away from the top of the pyramid if I plan to ever get these extra pounds off.

• What is something that your child(ren) did recently that made you laugh out loud?

I have made each of the kids their own mix of songs and burned them on a CD. Henry's includes the Herman's Hermits song I'm Henry the VIII, I am, I am. He puts that CD on every chance he can and always makes us listen to that song over and over again.  It makes me giggle and smile every time I hear him sing it to himself.

I am choosing not to pass on the tag. I know I am a party pooper. I don't forward emails either. I am just that way.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Henry's Choice, Every Time

It was Henry who got to pick our activity for Family Home Evening tonight. Before he even walked to the game closet I knew what he would pick. It is always the same game. Good thing it is a fun game.

I picked this game up on ebay a few years ago. Eldorado is a Discovery Toys game from the late 80's. It is just known in our house as the Goldmining game. The boys especially love it. Sophie always rolls her eyes. Not that she doesn't like it she just thinks it is funny that it is always what Henry picks.
The object of the game is to empty the fort of gold. You collect gold by landing on the mines.
This is the fun part. You get to use your little pick ax to pull up a piece of the board and put it on the scale to weigh it. You get the keep the weight of that piece in gold.
There are also places where you spend some of your gold. If you need supplies from the general store or victuals from Joe's then you weigh the store (part of the board comes up)  and pay that much from your stores of gold. You can also land on bandits that steal your weight in gold.  If you land on an already occupied square then you get to also steal gold from the miner already there.  So there is a lot of gold passing back and forth between players and lots of opportunities to use the scale.
We usually break out the math scale rather than use the one that came with the game. It was getting hard to use the cardboard scales. My kids didn't feel like they were as accurate.

At least if we play this game so much, it is a good one. And doesn't take hours to play. It only lasted 20 minutes tonight. We have had to put a 30 min limit on the activity for FHE. We play the longer games on Sunday afternoons. But of course on what ever day it is this is always Henry's choice.