Wednesday, June 13, 2012

And Summer Begins

With the arrival of my mother for a 2 week visit (see photos on my last post), our summer had officially begun.  We enjoyed quiet days with her - playing Uno and doing crossword puzzles with her in the evenings!

While our school year was less than optimal (mom on limited activity/bed rest/recovering from surgery/knee injury and lots of doctor appointments), our children completed their year end testing and did well - some of them skipping several grade in some subjects!  I can not take credit for that, it's just kids learning at their own rate, some years it's slow progress, and other years it's stellar!  Some kids learn to read early, other learn late.   Some kids learn to read over the course of a couple of years, others take to it like water and are devouring books their second year of reading.  Some kids struggle with math for years, and then suddenly something clicks and it's easy and fun for them.  Our philosophy for homeschooling is to teach the kids to learn.  We want our children to be capable to learn on their own.  When something catches their attention, we want them to have the skills it takes to learn about it - whether it's reading a book, doing on line research, going on a tour, joining a club/group...whatever.  When you learn something because you are interested in it, it sticks...learning facts and figures because someone somewhere determined that certain materials are the *right*  materials for a given grade level does not automatically mean that your child will do best learning that material at that age.  Our homeschooling never seems to look the same from year to year, and some years it is very minimal due to situations beyond our control that keep us in survival mode for weeks or months.

The house Rachel and Elizabeth built!
Summertime is a great time to re-evaluate our past year and plan for the next year.  Of course, we hold all our plans loosely as we do not know what the future holds (like last year - we planned for group study with me teaching in a couple of subjects, like history and science, but due to my pregnancy I was unable to follow through with that plan).  To play it safe this year, we are going to return to Switched On Schoolhouse (SOS) (computer based Christian School type education) for most of our school aged children.  Elizabeth and Dayton will be doing traditional learning for reading/writing/math for another year.   For Rebekah this will be her last year in school officially. Since we haven't been using this curriculum for her recently, we are going to do the same thing we did with Jason and Jessica for her last year in school - she gets to select the courses she is most interested in for each subject, and that will be what she will study for this year (for example, she can choose between Government/Economics (12th grade), American History (11th grade), World History (10th grace) or World Geography(9th grade)).  If she works hard and completed any subject early, she will be finished with that course!  Jason chose to finish his last year once subject at a time, and that worked great for him.  Jessica did the more traditional approach, using the SOS program to schedule out her daily work and completing it through a more traditional school year.  We are planning to use Math-U-See for math for the other children doing SOS, and selecting one subject in SOS for all the kids to study together for History, Bible, Language and Science, instead of choosing it according to age/grade as the rest of the children are close enough in grade levels  that this will work and have the advantage of their being able to help each other and be learning the same information/completing the same book reports and such.
It's Esther size, but they all enjoy it!

So enough about school on a summer blog post!

What does our summer look like? So far the children have been working very hard around here on large projects like weeding, rototilling, clearing out brush and soon will be putting in new lawn outside.  On rainy days they have been doing the spring cleaning (they got the downstairs finished last week).  I have not been able to be of any assistance due to my knee injury and caring for Carese.  You may be wondering how in the world we have been able to get our children to accomplish such great feats, and I'll tell you - BRIBERY!

Last April Daryl and I attended the Christian Heritage Homeschool Conference and we were shown a long trailer for the movie "Captivated."  It inspired us to severely limit our intake of media.  We shut down all our electronic games (Wii, Xbox, Facebook, computer games), and packed up all our videos into the attic.  This has led to quiet evenings doing crossword puzzles, lots of board and card games being played, and lots of outdoor fun - including the kids building a house out of mill ends!
Esther hanging out with her Daddy
 at Seattle Children's Hospital
We decided that we would reserve having a movie night as a reward for work done.  So we compiled lists of things that needed to be done around our place, inside and outside, and broke it down into "projects."  So far they have earned 3 movie nights - complete with pizza and popcorn!  There's still lots of work to be done, but things are looking so much better around here.  The amazing thing is that it's getting done without my help and I don't even have to encourage/nag them to get it done!

June's calendar is blissfully empty!  We took Esther down to Children's Hospital for a cardiology check up this past Monday (you can read about it on Esther's Story).  We started the summer reading program at the library today, and the kids have spend literally hours reading today..they want to win the pass to the Birch Bay Water Slides like nobody's business!

July has every weekend booked - BBQ on the 4th, Daryl's work camp out, my 30 year class reunion, my family reunion and our week long camp out that ends with the church camp out!

The girls goofing off on the way to the library!
August looks pretty boring, but I am hoping that we can get away as a family camping once more this summer, possibly up to Salt Creek (just past Port Angeles) or Baker Lake (our two favorite camping places).

Serious reading after our visit to the library!
I am planning on using at least some of my extra time this summer to invest in our home business - I'm developing a new infant multi-size diaper right now, but my main focus is building our inventory now that our business debt is paid off.  I am still very limited in my activities due to my knee injury, but I can get things done if I do it bit by bit.  As far as my knee injury goes, I did go to see a orthopedic surgeon and he hopes I can avoid surgery by doing the PT exercises and icing it two to three times a day (this is getting old), but I am scheduled for an injection to reduce the swelling if it hasn't gone away by the first week of July.  So far, it was improving until I spent too much time standing a couple of days in a row and now I'm paying for it...learned that one the hard way as it doesn't always hurt when I'm doing something I shouldn't - it hurts later!

And, finally, an update on our newest little Einfeld!  Carese is 3 months old, and as of last weekend she has passed the 11 pound mark!  She's still tiny, but she makes her presence known around here.  She has learned to smile and talk.  Her latest accomplishment is blowing bubbles.  She is learning that she has a tongue and by playing around she makes bubbles!  It's weird, but so cute!  She also loves to bounce when you hold her in a standing position - never had such a little one enjoy bouncing like that!

She's so nice to her old mom - she sleeps at least 6 hours every night, waking only once around 3 am for a night feeding.  I have finally achieved enough milk that she was only getting about 12 ounces a day of formula, but starting yesterday I am not giving her formula after every feed, and so far she's been feeding a little more often, but I have only had to give her 1 ounce yesterday, and the girls gave her 2 ounces this afternoon so I could get a nap.  She is so much happier when she doesn't get a bottle, so I'm going to keep working to keep up my milk supply for her.

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