two boys playing legos

A typical literature/history session. The boys quietly build with legos while I read. Soon they will sit with me and look as the next history books coming up are more picture book style.

We’ve begun a new semester with the new year. I’ve been very happy with my choices for homeschool; that we are homeschooling, the curriculum and topic choices, and even that I started Nathan early. He’s learned so much and really doesn’t seem to mind it. We work on staying on task some days, but he doesn’t give me a hard time about getting it started each day. It probably helps that we can arrange the subjects as needed. Either ‘bang-out’ the math and reading to get to the listening and history, or keep playing with legos with his friend and listen about history for a while then do math and reading. There is always the homeschool perk of doing more or less (or none) of a particular subject based on the needs of the day. We’re on track to finish everything I wanted to accomplish for the year, and I’m focusing on not focusing too much on that.


He’s starting to draw ‘real’ things now!


A painting of Sparky Bot for the library’s art contest

Considering that we now have other children awake while Nathan does school and he’s still into getting it done I think things are going quite well. We’ve added a whole bunch of points to our timeline. I’m very happy with that. Nathan seems to enjoy learning the subjects as he drops pieces of history and culture into regular conversation. I’m looking forward to the more modern points of history coming up which will have nice picture books. It will be easier for both Nathan and I to enjoy. I took a break from subtraction when he was loosing interest and not quite getting it. We did the easier shape and pattern unit during Christmas when school was more sporadic and now that we’ve moved back into the subtraction again he’s more ready and doing much better, so I’m happy with my decisions. As far as reading, we’re on the last section of Hooked On Phonics 1. He enjoys the reading for school and has a special little folder with all of the HOP books he’s read. He’s beginning to read them to himself sometimes at bed time, and sometimes asks us to stop the closed captioning so he can read words on the screen; things like that. I keep an eye on attention span, or mostly when I can tell his little brain is getting tired during our reading sessions, as far as how much to do each day.

So what have I changed from my original school plans, and what isn’t going so well?
~I’ve decided to save letter writing for next year, with a little introduction at the end of this year. We’ve focused on numbers (since you can’t really do math without writing numbers) so he is practicing pencil work and his number writing has come a very long way. I think one down fall has been that the answer slots for the math questions are not all the same size. I don’t know if that is good or bad for learning to write well, since they don’t have a marked top-middle-bottom line. I might switch to having him write the answers on a separate paper just for that reason. Also I added a fill-in-the-date calendar for number writing, sequencing, and date learning.
~We are not doing as many projects and I had thought we would. I’ve heard some other home school families say the same thing. We all think that we’ll have time to do awesome projects and field trips and in the end we don’t. Perhaps next year, (since he’ll be able to do a little more with projects) I will schedule one day a week or biweekly to do a project related to the theme. In the mean time we’ve done a couple and plan to do a few more as the semester comes.
~I have also not done so well with bible lessons. That do go along with my original plan for bible related projects weekly, but with homeschool adding to that idea I really am just running out of time. Bed time is a great time, but I’m also reading chapter books at that time. I guess the question becomes,
“where are your priorities?” Work it like that and I know what I need to do. :S
~Lastly, Nathan wanted to make a change with homeschool. 20160125_112639We brought out the Snap Circuits kit one day which Nathan has always enjoyed; even when he was just turning 3. I like that it requires using a grid, following instruction and order, and that with each activity we practice returning all the pieces to their proper slot. He likes that things light up and ‘do stuff.’ (I like that part, too) He likes it so much we decided to add it to school each day. There are 101 activities in the Jr kit and when we’re done I’m going to order the upgrade kit for $40 and then we’ll have 200 more experiments. After that we’ll upgrade again, $40… I scored a whole mess of kits on craigslist for $80. It’s turned into a bit of an upfront investment but less than it would have been building on each set. The good news is that I can ‘craigslist’ them again when we’re done (or worst case, loose interest – Andrew suspects this) and probably come out even. Very manageable price, education, and fun. Win! I do require that we do the other subjects first.


Fun Christmas time activities; a train show and the museum







Nathan’s last check-up went well. We brought a daycare friend. I don’t know if that helped or just made more noise, but the kids enjoyed it. He’s grown MRSA in the last two throat cultures. I mentioned it in my last blog. We did it, the MRSA irradiation protocol. I wasn’t as much of a nightmare as I thought it would be, however there was a LOT to it and it became very exhausting trying to keep up. Fortunately I just purchased a 7 day pill organizer which made it all a lot easier. It involved the addition (to our already lengthy list) of 2 oral antibiotics, probiotics, a nose swab, a nose rinse (which we still do daily) a mouth rinse, a full body wash down (hair, crevasses and all), bleaching all doorknobs, switches, and counters daily (would have been toys also, but there is no way I could do that), and weekly bedding and towel wash (for the whole family)… yes plus breathing treatments. It was exhausting as I said before.

20151212_161028Within all of that I found one thing to be amazing. Nathan. It didn’t matter what he was asked to do or take he understood why never griped and just did it. Dutifully and with a great attitude. These kids are amazing. I especially admire children who have treatments that are painful or more challenging. “The mouthwash tastes nasty? I’ll just eat a tick-tack after.” “I have you need to wash my private areas? I’ll take care of that and tell you when I’m done.” (He’s very bent on privacy, however he is also able to be flexible, trusting that I will not ‘stare’ if I have to do something for him that requires his nakedness – dressing, washing, or such.) “I don’t mind the nose swab. It doesn’t hurt.” He doesn’t even complain about the nose rinses. I am quite certain that I would not let someone squirt water in my nose as a child… not even now! He does them himself, and might fine job at that. Long story short: we’re done with that. We were all dutiful and though not an “A” I think we did a good “B” worthy job. (Nathan gets and A+) We’ll see if it did the job when he has clinic in February.

It was SO exciting to have my Dad surprise our family by coming up for Christmas! I’ve grown to understand the distant relationship I will have him, but will admit I was longing for the years they had visited for the holidays. We did several fun things together and really had a good time.

Our family Christmas was great. As a family we go pocket microscopes and slides, and the ‘ingredients’ to make candles together. Andrew and Nathan really enjoyed that I made it into a game where they drew numbers with little pun-ny clues on them deciding which present they would open. It worked out perfect to where Andrew couldn’t piece together what the ‘ingredients’ went to until the end, and he was very confused about what might be in each box. The metronome was a complete surprise. It was just great.

There were however other parts of Christmas that were not so pleasant. I’m not going to go into details here for many reasons, but working with OCS can have it’s challenges, and having major issues or concerns or Christmas was REALLY not pleasant for us. In fact some of the decisions we had to make, and concerns we had to voice, and just to stand firm for ourselves and our family, and our businesses… We both agree it was the TOUGHEST emotional situation we’ve had to handle together ever! (Including Nathan’s diagnosis!) We’ve learned a lot about what it’s like to foster and work with OCS in the last 6 months. We will certainly have more information to work with for future life decisions! The good thing is that I feel we are coming out stronger together, stronger as a family, and stronger as individuals. BOLD and BRAVE. Those are the words that come through this situation.


Vincent Van Gogh exhibit at the museum

The best part of the holidays for our family is the time to rest. We get the holidays themselves off, but often there are families out for vacation or other family activities so we end up with less children on the days we do work. Sometimes shorter days go with that. So more sleep. More down time. Less work. It’s great for catching up for sure, but mostly I take that time ‘off’ from extra tasks. I even take a break from bible study and anything else ‘extra.’ This year we stayed in our favorite Hotel with a pool over Thanksgiving weekend, and were so thoughtfully gifted another night for Christmas by a friend so we stayed on New Years, too!

By the time January comes around I feel very much rejuvenated and ready to put my nose down again. And as I said about homeschool, I think things are picking back up to ‘normal’ quite well. Our daycare will be expanding. The kids (and especially I) are enjoying simpler weekly themes based on the alphabet. We got some snow and can go sledding now, AND our lakes froze again! Maybe we’ll get to go ice skating this weekend!

In the end it is always true: God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.


Anchorage Symphony Free Neighborhood Concert


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