Life is made up of many pieces, like a puzzle. Here I attempt to put them all together.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Homeschool Reflections - Looking Back at September

This year we started our homeschool year the day after Labor Day. It took us a couple weeks to find our groove we seem to be in a good place right now.

Our routine this year is very simple and takes about two hours a day. Math and Independent Reading are done in the mornings between 10:00 and 11:00. The math assignment is done first and when that is finished the rest of the hour is filled with independent reading. A few of the books the kids have read so far this year are The Black Stallion by Walter Farley (Amanda), Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (Austin and Amanda) and The Story of King Arthur and His Knights from the Classic Starts series (Austin and Amanda).

Our second hour of work is in the afternoon when the little kids are napping. During this time we sit down together and I read aloud. We do Bible, Science or Social Studies (alternating books) and Literature. Our Bible reading takes 5 - 10 minutes and then we finish the first half hour with the Science or Social Studies book that we are reading. The second half hour is spent reading our literature books. So far this year we've read Don't Know Much About Space by Kenneth C. Davis and Death on the Nile (A Hercule Poirot Mystery) by Agatha Christie.

This system is working very well for us. I feel like we are covering the basics without taking too much time away from all the other things that are capturing their interests at the moment. Things like building endless models with K-Nex, nursing a sickly abandoned kitten back to health, self inititiated reading just because the book looks interesting, walks through woods and fields, and watching The Learning Channel, Discovery Health and Animal Planet. It allows us time to work together as a family in our home daycare business and gives them the opportunity to earn money of their own. And, of course, earning money and learning how to manage it is another important part of their education.

And I do not have to worry in the slightest about lack of socialization. Amanda has five really good friends and Austin has three that they spend time with, both in their homes and with them in our home. Then there are all the families we learn to know through our business. Add to that activities at church and time spent with extended family and they are in no way lacking socialization.

So over all I feel like our first month of school for this year has gone very well and looking forward to October.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I mentioned in my last post that Mona's nineteen year old son had a blood clot. Later in the week things took a turn for the worse and he began having seizures. Then he completely lost consciousness and finally had to be put on a ventilator. This was on Wednesday. He is now off the ventilator, awake and talking but when I last talked to his sister this afternoon the doctors still did not know what had caused the seizures. They are saying that they believe the blood clot and the seizures are unrelated. This family could certainly use some prayers right now as they go through this.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Thought I Lost the Chicken Nuggets

When I came downstairs this morning at 6:00 I was startled to find Mona (my helper) standing in the kitchen reading the weekly menu that I had posted on the bulletin board. She wasn't scheduled to come in until 10AM so I was very surprised to see her. It turned out she had been at the hospital all night with her 19 year old son who has a blood clot in his leg. She was on her way home and stopped by to see what was coming up for the day  and to see if she could get a head start on anything. I told her she could take the day off if she wanted/needed to, but she insisted on working.

 Since there were green beans on the menu she took a large can of them and a large kettle home with her to get them started cooking while she took care of a few things at home and made some phone calls. I told her I would start the chicken nuggets and french fries and keep an eye on them when the time came if she wasn't here by then. So when it was time to start lunch I took a few minutes to get the food out of the freezer, put it on baking sheets and put it in the oven. Then I took the kids into the back yard to play. Since the door to the back yard is right off the kitchen in was easy enough to pop in and check on them now and then. After we were out a little while I decided to check on the food. I came in and looked in the oven and the fries were coming along nicely. But I didn't see any chicken nuggets. Irritated with myself for forgetting to put them in the oven I turned around to see where on the kitchen counter I had left them. No chicken nuggets. Now really annoyed with myself  I opened the oven door again to see if I had somehow missed them there. Still no chicken nuggets. I checked the freezer to see if I just thought I had gotten them out. No nuggets. Now getting a little concerned about my state of mind I looked in the refrigerator, in the freezer again, in the second refrigerator. No nuggets. Getting a little desperate I checked the cabinets. Still no nuggets.Now feeling a little hysterical I started laughing and looked some more. Nothing. Finally, I called Amanda, who was in the yard with the kids to come in for a little. I was laughing so hard I almost couldn't talk.

"Amanda" I said. "I have a little problem." She looked puzzled and very unsure of what on earth this problem might be. "I lost the chicken nuggets."

Now she started laughing. "Mona came by and got them and took them home with her to finish baking." she said.

I still haven't figured out why Mona decided to take the nuggets home with her and leave the fries in the oven but I'm sure she had her reasons. I'm just glad to know that I wasn't hallucinating when I thought I put them in the oven.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Meandering Through Saturday

All day I've been enjoying these roses that Mona brought with her when she came to work Wednesday. They are on a little shelf in the kitchen where I can see them while I cook and bake and feed the kids and clean up after them. Somehow they make me happy just to have them there to look at.

I tried some new recipes to today and they all turned out very good. I made Pumpkin Bread, Chili, and Amish Bread. The last few weeks I have been using the bread machine more and it's so much fun to try new reicpes in it. And I love the smell of baking bread. Another thing that makes me happy.

The rest of the day was spent with the kids and at naptime I printed the pages for our new circle time book and the pictures for our new wall display for next week. Most of what I printed came from one of my favorite sites for kids activities - DLTK Kids. Our letter of the week is Kk, the shape is circle, the color is purple and the number is 8. I printed several songs for the letter Kk and some pictures of things that begin with Kk, as well as some songs about dinosaurs  to compliment our dinosaur wall display. The only thing that did not come from DLTK Kids was our sign language lesson for the week. That came from Lesson Tutor.

Doug took trash to the landfill, went grocery shopping (Amanda and Michael went with him), did some laundry (Thank you!) and mowed the yard at our rental house. Austin slept until after 2:00 this afternoon and then I had Amanda go wake him. He's had a cold and was really sleepy yesterday, so I thought he probably needed the rest, but I also wanted him to be able to sleep tonight. Amanda spent most of her free time either playing with Toby and Scout (our cats) or on her laptop watching YouTube videos of WebKinz.

And that in a nutshell was our day. I feel like I just kinda meandered through my Saturday and it was good.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Another Day in the Life

Some days I sit down to write and think that I really don't have anything to say, that nothing has happened today. Then I realize that I am just so used to the daily chaos, drama and doings around here that I forget that it may be at least somewhat interesting to write about.

One parent today experienced a lot of frustration and what she felt was unfairness at work today, leading to her walking out. She called me and asked to come by and talk. The kids had just gone down for naps so I met her outside and we talked. She decided go talk to the owners of the business she had worked for to make sure they understood her side of the story and then she was  planning to see if she could put in some applications at other places. About 45 minutes later she called me back to tell me that she was back at work. When she came in this evening she told me that when she went to talk to the business owners and they in turn called the manager of the place where she was  employed and they were able to work things out so that she could return to work.

Another parent, actually a grandparent who has custody of her grandchild, has started radiaton treatment for breast and thyroid cancer this week. She had breast cancer five years ago and just a couple months ago found out she has it again. It has been really hard for her to make the decision to go ahead with treatment but her love for her grandson has won out.  Prayers for her and her grandson would be greatly appreciated.

Still another grandparent is temporarily taking care of her granddaughter for about ten days after the child's mother was unexpectedly unable too. I have cared for this child in the past and received a rather frantic call from the grandmother wondering if she could come here again for a little. I'm glad to say it worked out that we can so she was back today after being gone about six months. It's amazing how much a toddler can grow and change in six months.

 The stepmother of two of our kids works at Hershey Chocolate Factory brought us a whole box of Mounds candy bars this afternoon. SO GOOD! I don't think they're going to stay around long at all. Especially with four tween/teens in the house this evening. Of course I have definitely had my share of them as well.

I had a little scuffle (playfully) with one of the kids this afternoon and lost. Painfully. I was sitting in a lawn chair outside and just when I said "You win!" the chair tipped over backward and I hit the ground so hard I heard my teeth grind together. The chair folded up and I folded with it. I think I'm going to be a little sore tomorrow. The fourteen year old I was scuffling with thought it was a lot funnier than I did (although I think it did scare her a little at first.)

Amanda is still spending a large amount of her free time with Toby, the cat who showed up at our door last week. Wednesday evening Toby discovered Amanda's pet rats, who were safely in their cage. Of course he had to get as close as he could and try to figure this out. Two of the rats stayed at the back of the cage, but Amber, the feisty one, was not going to be afraid in her own home and gave him a good little nip on the nose. He jumped and fussed but went right back to the cage so she nipped him again. At that point Amanda seperated them and took Toby outside. Our other cat, Scout, just considers them a  normal part of the family and ignores them, even if Amanda has them out of their cage playing with them. He has been known to go to sleep next to them playing.

I made this pizza recipe for lunch today and we really like the flavor and texture of the very simple crust. It disappeared very quickly and even though I doubled the recipe I really should have made twice as much. I'm planning to make it again Sunday evening for a simple dinner. I was going to make this Chocolate Chip Bread for afternoon snack and then realized that somebody (Amanda) had eaten all the chocolate chips. So I guess it will have to wait now until Doug makes another trip to the grocery store.

And now my brain seems to have gone numb and I'm having a hard time writing a coherent sentence. I think it's time to go read a few blogs and maybe play a game or two of Mahjong.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yesterday and today have been the kind of days that just move smoothly along pretty much the way they are supposed too. Which is a wonderful and somewhat rare occasion around here.

The weather has been nice, not too hot and not too cool. The kids have been in pretty good moods, homeschool has gone well and life looks good.

At the moment (9:22PM) we only have one daycare child here and he's asleep as is Michael.

The Wednesday evening children's program at church has started again so Doug took Michael and Austin. Doug always stays and helps out then brings the boys back home. Amanda would rather stay home and we have decided not push the issue. So she was home with me. I stay home because of the kids we have here in daycare. Some are too young to go and some leave at a time the would make it difficut to go to church. But I enjoy the quieter evenings with Michael occupied at church.

Yesterday I heard a sudden little yell from Amanda and then Austin and Amanda came running to the kitchen to tell us they had found some kind of strange insect and didn't know what it was. I had an idea when I saw it what it was but wasn't completely sure. The kids caught and kept it until we could look it up. This afternoon we did looked it up online and found I was right. It is called a camel cricket. I think the kids are planning to take it along to Grandma's tomorrow evening to show everyone there and then they will probably let it go.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vacuum Repair Lessons

Austin was vacuuming the nursery today and accidentally got something caught in the vacuum cleaner resulting (we thought) in a broken belt. So Doug told him this was a good time to learn how to replace the belt on the vacuum cleaner. As it turned out, he had turned off the vacuum before the belt broke but since they had already taken it apart Doug went ahead and showed him how to replace the belt. My very important contribution to the whole process was to take pictures.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Catching Up Again - Our Somewhat Crazy Week

This past week has been a little crazy. In some ways not so great, in other ways wonderful, but either way very busy.

Tuesday we began our homeschooling year. We had a great day Tuesday and the kids really enjoyed it even though they weren't to excited at first. Math is our biggest challenge and it is done first thing in the morning and gotten completely out of our way before we move on to anything else. The other morning subject is reading and they are both loving the books they are reading. In the afternoons we are doing Bible, Science/Social Studies (alternating days), and Literature. We are also spending about 30 minutes each afternoon watching a video from Snag Learning. We watched 3 Points and I felt it really made all of us think about how fortunate we are and what role each of us has in making life better in some way for others.

On Wednesday we had two new kids start coming to daycare. Unfortunately I got up that morning and discovered that I had been hit with some kind of stomach but. There absolutely no way I could handle taking care of the kids so I had to call Doug home from work. I felt so bad doing that but Mona (my helper) had left early on Monday because she was sick and had not been able to work at all on Tuesday. I had no idea if she was coming in Wednesday or not but even if she was she normally doesn't get here until 10AM. This was 6:30AM and I new I couldn't handle things that long. Thankfully, Doug was able to leave right away and as soon as he got home I went to bed and stayed there until about 3:00 that afternoon. Also, thankfully, Mona was able to come in for a few hours and make lunch, clean up, and get dinner in the oven, before she had to leave again. I was grateful that the mother of the two new kids took everything in stride and understood these things happen and they were back the next day to a much more normal schedule.

Thursday evening shortly after Mona left for the day she had to turn around and come back because the radiator in her car developed a big leak. So Friday her son brought a new one and Saturday Doug put it in for her - with supervision.

Another wonderful fix-it project that Doug had to deal with when he came home from work on Friday was a stopped up toilet. It turned out that "someone" (translate that to Michael) had flushed the end of a paper towel holder (that I accidentally broke the other day and should have thrown away) and it was causing major issues. Lovely!

The church we attend just finished building a new addition and this weekend in celebration of that there were a lot of ativities going on all weekend long. We've had to miss most of it because of daycare schedules but we were able to go Friday evening to a concert by No Greater Love. It was great to get out for an evening and the music and singing were beautiful. We took our kids and some their friends and they had a great time as well. Michael was even out in aisle dancing for the last half of the concert. Also wonderful was getting see for the first time all the renovations and additions that have been going and I have to say the architects and builders did a wonderful job.

Amanda has adopted a stray cat the she originally named Lola. When we realized that Lola is a boy she changed the name to Toby. It was very malnourished and starving for attention and Amanda has been spending a lot of time nursing it back to health. She even bought him special food yesterday when she went grocery shopping with Doug.

 We have five daycare children so far today and three more scheduled to come later this evening but it has still been a pretty quiet and peaceful day. Hopefully the week is that way as well.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Catching Up

It's been almost a week since I've been here. I didn't intend to be gone this long but things have been pretty busy.

Austin's 14th birthday was Tuesday (8/31) and Michael's 4th birthday was Friday (9/03). We had a small party for them here at home on Sunday. It's amazing how fast they are growing up and I am enjoying seeing them grow and learn but at the same time I find myself wanting to hold on to each day as it passes, not wanting to miss a moment.

Austin had a friend here from Friday evening until this evening. Amanda had two friends here overnight Saturday night and then another friend came to visit for a  few hours Sunday evening.

Even though today is Labor Day we were open for business and had seven daycare children. My helper came in for awhile but left early because her allergies were bothering her so bad she just wanted to go home and try to sleep.

I spent a large part of the day doing the final preparations for our homeschool year which begins tomorrow. I had gotten all the materials we need but needed to organize a little and plan out our time. The current plan will probably take us about 2 1/2 hours a day. I'm looking forward to it and I think Austin and Amanda will enjoy their studies. Math may be an issue because neither of them like it but we will do that first thing in the morning and get it out of our way. We are doing a lot of reading aloud with me reading to both of them. We always enjoy learning this way, it gives us a chance to learn together. History, science, Bible and literature are all going to approached this way, at least at the beginning of the year. There will also be silent reading assignments for each of them.

So I guess I'll get some rest and get ready for our fun tomorrow.