Friday, August 31, 2012

A Trip to the Store

We are having company this weekend.  Our friends who happen to have ten kids are coming down for a visit.  Can you believe that soon we will have 27 kids in our house?  I shudder to think. ;)  Anyway, I went to Costco with a few of the kids, one of them being Paul.  As I rattled off things I needed to get so Julia can write them down, Paul spoke up and said we needed mustard.  I smiled ear to ear because this is such a huge thing for Paul.  For one he is very soft spoken.  And two, it takes a lot to get him to speak up about anything.  I loved how he took the initiative to make sure I didn't forget the mustard.  After shopping and loading up the van, Anastasia hopped into the front seat right on top of one of her sister's MP3 players.  That sister went to open the front door to find Anastasia there.  A little annoyed, she asked for her music and went and sat in the back.  Anastasia looking clueless, I seized the moment to tell her that when she sees something like an MP3 player or purse or book sitting on the seat, it usually means that the seat is saved.  I think she gets it.

Our phones stopped working today so I had to go and buy new ones.  They were old and on their last legs anyway, but who knew they would just stop working. Caleb wanted to drive and it was the perfect opportunity to spend some one on one time with him.  Afterwards, we stopped by a restaurant that had a help wanted sign in the window and Caleb got an application.  It would be awesome if he gets a job because he really wants to work.

We are enjoying the cooler weather.  We have no big plans for the weekend other than hanging out with friends.   Any of you doing anything special this three day weekend?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Home School This Year

Days fly by pretty fast around here. With home school in full swing dinner often comes around with one of my kids asking what they can do to help get it started. Thank God for amazing kids like that.  I know that is their sweet way of reminding me that I do indeed have to cook dinner.
When I decided to start a week early part of the reason was to allow room to take a few days off when Nolan has his surgery.  What you don't know is that the main reason I had us start a week early was because  I was wondering how in the world I was going to get my act together with two new little ones underfoot, and I figured it would take a whole week just to fall into some manageable routine that resembled last year.
And yet God is so gracious and faithful.  
Here is what a normal home school day looks like.
By 6 am I can hear cereal being poured into bowls downstairs.  That is usually my alarm clock-- that or the  boys arguing. :)  I can hear Oliver stirring in his crib in the corner, but I let him be.  I wake up Dennis and Alex unless one of the girls beat me too it like Galina did this morning.  The boys clothes are already laid out in the hallway as to avoid waking Nolan, and after I cath Alex I leave them to be the big boys I know they can be.  "Boys, be down in ten minutes to eat breakfast."  It used to be wishful thinking on my part, but now do I rarely have to call up to them that I am setting the timer.  Yes, I set the timer.
All of the kids that go to school are gone by 7am except on Wednesdays when Caleb and Adam start an hour later.  Us home schoolers start around the same time.   And not because we are some super organized family-- it just happens to be the schedule that works for us.
Oliver eats breakfast and then sits in his highchair watching us while his food settles.  Since I mentioned his eating, I have to share a quick praise.  I have stopped all of Oliver's medications for his reflux to see if things could improve on their own.  Well they have!  Just like one of you said, as he has gotten stronger and learned to use all of his muscles and body functions, the reflux has improved so much!  Nowadays he spits up 75% less than he used too. 
Anyway, after that I move him to the living room where he sits on the floor with his toys.  At first he was offended when one of us set him down-- like how could we expect him to entertain himself.  But as we showed him how to play with his toys and he realized that Nolan is a pretty fun brother to play with, he has become very content doing this.  By 9am he is taking his morning nap.
The kids are doing quite well with home school.  I have always felt very inadequate about being the kids' teacher even though we have many teachers overlooking them.  Other than the highschoolers who have a set curriculum that is college-prep, non-college-prep, or remedial, I am the one that is ultimately responsible for choosing their curriculum.  I am the one who goes over what I think they should learn, and I am the one who needs to keep as close to the state standards while finding curriculum that fits their learning style and is easy enough for me to teach.  It is incredibly challenging for me to say the least.  So when we found out that the state test scores were in the mail for last year we were all under pressure.  How did we score?  Imagine all of our surprise when we found out that majority of all the scores went up from last year!
What a confidence booster for all of us!
So what exactly are the kids doing this year in terms of curriculum?
Here is a breakdown.
Sveta and Anastasia are doing exactly the same schoolwork this year.
For math they are doing Teaching Textbooks grade 4.  They are also finishing up Saxon 3rd grade from last year beginning at lesson 84.  We are doing one lesson a week of this.  Plus, they are doing worksheets reinforcing double digit multiplication and division.
For science they are doing Remedia Publications Reading for Details.  This is more of a language arts packet  which is what our main focus is but most of the stories are related to science.  Paul does this too.  Once they are done with that they will begin doing this.
For social studies they are doing this workbook by Frank Schaffer.  It covers a little of everything  and keeps things simple while challenging them to learn something new.
For language arts they are doing Daily Language Review grade 2., Spelling Workout C and Phonics C both by Modern Curriculum Press, Open Court Reading 3-1 book with Comprehension and Language Art workbook and Inquiry Journal.  Plus we are using a 3rd grade Writing Journal that gives lots of prompts to encourage creative writing.

Paul was supposed to do Teaching Textbooks 4 with the girls but he could not finish up TT 3 over the summer. Half way through it was very clear that he did not have a grasp on counting money so we stopped it and began working on learning how to count money.  He is doing quite well and will resume TT3 next month.  Since this particular math program is done on the computer and seems to be lacking is some areas, Paul is doing Saxon 2nd grade math too.  Though it is a grade lower, it lays a much better foundation for all future math concepts in my opinion and is actually harder for English Language learners.
For social studies Paul is doing Maps, Globes, and Graphs level A.  The work is pretty easy for him but not when he has to read the directions and figure them out all by himself.  :)  He will be done with this workbook on Friday and will begin level B next week.  As the work gets more challenging for him, we will slow down.
For language arts he is also doing the Daily Language Review and Open Court Reading 3-1 book with Comprehension and Language Art workbook and Inquiry Journal.   In addition to that he is doing Phonics B by Modern Curriculum Press, Draw Write Now Book 1, and Handwriting W/O Tears in cursive.  I must say that I am impressed with how far Paul has come in just two weeks.  At first he would hardly speak up when it was his turn to read and it took him nearly an hour to draw his first picture. He was afraid to take a chance and do any of his work unless I explained it in detail.   Every single time he finished one problem he would come up to me looking for praise.  Now he is reading with more confidence, does pages of work without me explaining a thing and comes to me looking for praise every other problem. :)

William and Anna are doing exactly the same curriculum.
For math they are doing Teaching Textbooks pre-algebra.
For social studies they are learning about important American Women through the years.  
They are currently doing  Life Science grade 7 by Prentice Hall, but I am unhappy with it.  I have since ordered two other science workbooks that will be supplemented with Discovery Ed online videos.
For Language Arts they are doing Spelling Workout G, Wordly Wise 6, a writing journal with prompts, Edcon Reading Comprehension level 9 , and Glencoe Reader's Choice Course 2.

Galina is doing the 2nd half of Saxon 8/7 for math.
She is doing the same social studies as William and Anna.
She is doing  Physical Science by Prentice Hall, but will also be changing to the new science workbooks that I just got.
She is doing Spelling Workout G, Wordly Wise 7, 8th gr. writing journal with prompts, Words on the Vine, and Glencoe Reader's Choice Course 2.

Since beginning homeschooling, I have come to enjoy looking at different curriculum.  When I take a few of the kids for their IEP services, I have three hours to kill looking through the warehouse stocked full of it.  It's such a wonderful feeling to find something that I know the kids will enjoy, and I can actually teach!
When the kids finish early which is before noon, I encourage insist they find an activity in one of these workbooks.  When they complete a page, I have them sign their name.  
Nolan has adjusted well to the new schedule.  He not only plays well by himself, but he plays well with Oliver too.  Here he is enjoying playing with the rice bowl.  It usually keeps him busy for 15 minutes to half hour.
Paul is also learning to tell time.  Here he is doing a time telling puzzle while listening to music.  He gave Nolan one of the earphones so that he could listen too.  Paul then told me that Nolan said he wants an MP3 player when he turns 9.
Anna working hard on her social studies.
Paul got this ping pong set for his birthday.  Who said we don't have a ping pong table?
Last night Debbie came over to visit.  She took me out to dinner.  I showed her my favorite Chinese food restaurant.  There were no greasy little hands rubbing my arms. . . no drinks of water to fetch. . . no mouths to feed other than myself.  It was a nice two hour break.  She even brought Russian chocolate.  We talked about things we don't post on our blogs.  Gosh it was nice. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

It Helps To Wait

When it rains it pours.  Our garage door stopped working just a few days after our small garage door cables broke.  Then one of our cars needed a big repair.  Then I came home to find that two of my boys broke our pencil sharpener-- the third one in less than a year.  And these are supposedly the heavy duty kind that cost $50 on sale!.  Had I sat down to write this post a few hours ago, my list would have been a lot longer.  Oh yea, and our printer stopped working right when we needed it most-- the beginning of the school year.  Three printers now occupy our trash can till Friday morning.  Needless to say I was having a mini pity party as I tried to help Dennis and Alex with their homework.  I can't believe what the school already have the boys doing.  One page of their homework was unscrambling sentences.  I think I wasted 1 hour of our life.

Oh and then there is the news that two of my boys who go to public school have been taught to play Bloody Mary.  Not happy about that.  All I have to say is what a stupid game.

On a happier note, Nolan is 100% better.  Oliver is noticeably moving from here to there doing the army crawl.  My son Adam has morphed into this super helpful son of mine that I still can't think of what I've done to deserve him.  Caleb pumped gas for the first time with me.  And Galina got an A on her Wordly Wise test last Friday.

William tried some of my coffee this morning because it had some creamer in it that I had splurged on for the birthday party.  He liked it and I threw out, "Hey maybe it will make you behave better."  :) Then I forgot about it.  Just a while ago, William came to me exclaiming that after drinking the coffee (it was two sips BTW) he had zero urge to bug Paul.  Could it be?  He even peeled 30 potatoes for dinner without complaining.

Life is definitely hectic around here.  The dogs barking at night don't help my beauty sleep either-- LOL.  Out of sheer busyness and an upset stomach I canceled my dentist appointment for the 4th time in a row.  But home school is going well.  And the garage doors are fixed.  And John bought a printer that was the last of its kind in a damaged box for $50 out the door.  And it works great! And I know what two of my boys are getting for their birthdays making my life a whole lot easier.  :)

Hope your week is going well.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Sliding Good Time!

Yesterday was a blast! We celebrated Paul and Caleb's birthday. 
In the morning while we made nacho fixings, Dennis was busy carefully selecting Paul and Caleb's birthday presents.  He insisted that he needed the biggest gift bags I had!
(BTW, he is obsessed with wearing ties and dressing like Daddy)
With so many birthdays coming up, I have decided to leave up all the streamers.
We rented a big water slide for the day.  This is the first home that we have a yard big enough for it!
The kids enjoyed it so much!

The weather couldn't be nicer.  It was wonderful to have our friends and family their to celebrate with us.  We are blessed.

Caleb and Taylar
Water balloon volleyball!

Happy birthday boys!  Paul blew out 12 candles and Caleb 16.
Thank you everyone for the thoughtful gifts.
I love my family so much!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cute As Peach Pie

With so many peaches we have made countless peach pies.
However no matter how delicious we think they are, nothing is more irresistible than our Oliver.
He is cute as pie, and then some. 

Just in case you were wondering, if he did need spectacles we would definitely go for this style!
What a peachy, hammy, chubby, lubby Ollipop!
Can you tell, I am in love and a bit delirious from lack of sleep.  A great combo to make for some fun bloggin'.
Goodnight.  Tomorrow is Friday-- yay!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Whole Lot of Cooking

My Mom and Aunt Tanya came to visit this past Sunday. They brought us tons of peaches.  We made peach cobbler one day, cooked up peaches to freeze for later on another day, and today we made three homemade peach pies.  So yummy!
For Paul's birthday Adam brought him home lunch from Carl's Junior.  He got the sodas from Jack's though because they were cheaper. :)  That's my boy!
Paul is loving home school, but I will save that for another post.  Here he is making bread by painting the egg wash on it.
Our garden is still producing tomatoes and ever since watching Fried Green Tomatoes we have all wanted to try making them.  Today Anna talked me into it.
They came out great!  Who knew they were so good!  We will definitely be making these again. Here is the recipe.
Nolan is still running a fever.  Nothing else, but the fever is around 103.  I feel bad for my little guy but he has definitely attached during this time.  He is such a cuddle bug right now because he is not feeling well.
Hope he feels better soon.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Smiles and Trials Blog Post

Hmm, this blog post is going to be a true Smiles and Trials post if I have ever seen one. It has been one of those days.  Let's start with the great stuff.
One of my favorite boys turned 12 today.  What a gorgeous face my sweet Paul has.  Though we are having a big party for him this weekend to celebrate his and Caleb's birthday, we did do cake and presents tonight.
He had no trouble blowing out his candles.
He saw this mini longboard at Costco when we were out shopping, so I went back and bought it a few days later.  Even though Alex had walked in the door from that shopping trip telling everyone about the new skateboard I bought, Paul was genuinely surprised to open his gift tonight.   Too bad one brother was so jealous that he had very little nice to say at first.  
Happy birthday Paul!  We are blessed to have you as a son!
Alex and Dennis managed to get up for school this morning without waking up Nolan.  This is no small feat for either of them.  Little did I know that Nolan's fever made it a bit easier for him to continue sleeping through the commotion.  It was only when he came down to breakfast and refused to eat so I sent him to lay down on the couch that I noticed he was burning up.  Poor guy.  I'm positive it didn't help that I gave him a multi-purpose cold medicine on accident that contained only a little bit of fever reducer.  My eyes only read  acetaminophen on the bottle.  When I noticed his fever was not coming down enough I checked the bottle and saw that it wasn't what I thought.  Whoops!  So glad I read more closely and praising God that my whoops wasn't a bigger deal.  This time I gave him Motrin and read the bottle three times!
Nolan has been very sweet today letting me take care of him.  Towards the evening I had to give him a cool bath to bring down his fever because the wet washcloth wasn't cutting it.  He had the shivers for a while, but his fever came down.
As I watched Nolan throughout the day, in the back of my mind I kept thinking about his pre-op this coming Wednesday.  I doubt they would give the okay for surgery next week.  Then I got a call from the office telling me that the hospital that I want to have the surgery at will not admit a child overnight under the age of four.  So we rescheduled the surgery for October right after his 4th birthday.  He should be good to go by then.
Lately we have had some issues with lying.  Dennis came home saying that he bought hot lunch because he forgot his lunch at home.  As soon as he saw me ask Rachel if she put his lunch in his back pack this morning he looked at me and apologized for not telling the truth and buying hot lunch when he wasn't supposed to.  That was easy enough.
Then one of our daughters put on a movie in my room without permission when I left with a few girls to the grocery store and then lied about it saying that it probably was Dad who put the movie on when he came home briefly from work to get something.  "So let me get this straight," I told her.  "You walked into my room to find the movie already on and even though you know you do not have permission to be in my room watching a movie that you haven't gotten approval for, you laid down on my bed and watched the movie until a sister came in and told you to turn it off because you shouldn't be in my room."  I must admit, she almost had me there for a moment even though I knew it was her and could only be her.  What really got me was that even when I explained to her that by process of elimination and past behaviors she was the only logical person it could be, she still denied it.  I had her sit at the kitchen table while I made dinner.  Nothing more, nothing less.
She knew my sadness and eventually the guilt got the best of her.  Literally.  She asked to help with dinner.  I accepted.  After a while, she confessed over frying chicken.  Another praise although John and I wonder why the apology came right before she knew he was coming home.  Hopefully it was just a coincidence.
Still, she is grounded from computer and movies.  I told her that her grounding would have been less had she been honest with me from the beginning. Yes, there would have been a little trouble for going into my room and putting on a movie without permission, but nothing compared to her lying over and over about it later.
Then there is the nail polish incident.  Ever since the girls knocked over a whole bottle of bright orange nail polish back at our old house, I have insisted that the girls paint their nails in the garage or outside.  They all know this rule.  Who knows what was going through two of my daughters heads when they decided to paint their nails on their desks and in the bathroom today.  Needless to say, the polish has been confiscated and they are no longer allowed to paint their nails until further notice.
 Home school has officially begun.  We started at 7am and the kids worked straight through till 10:30am.  And then they were done.  I was shocked at how well they worked today.  It probably helped that many of them did a lot their school work last night.  Hey-- whatever works!  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Newport Beach

Our friends invited us to the beach.  John and three-quarters of the kids really wanted to go.  I sort of did, but not really.  Big sigh~~
It really was just one big disappointment for me.  For the longest time I romanticized the whole beach thing.  You know-- Fun in the sun.  Digging for crabs, playing frisbee, splashing in the waves, building sandcastles with the kids, eating watermelon while laying on a blanket on the sand.
But after having a dozen kids, I learned.  The beach experience is more about the packing, chasing the kids with sunscreen, running on the hot sand to the bathroom, keeping the younger kids from being carried away by a wave, and frantically doing a head count every five minutes.  Oh and then there is the long drive home in SoCal traffic and lastly unpacking, washing towels, and rinsing sand out of the tub after bathes which I am still doing today.
The only joy I got from the trip was seeing how happy most of the kids were.  A few just wanted to go home like me.  Oh and our friends that invited us, bless their heart.  They are amazing.  They brought the sandwich fixings and cut-up fruit and put up with me.
The funny thing is, even as I type this I know I will be going again because that is what Moms do.  But hopefully that won't be until next summer!
Until then, here are the beach pictures.
Anna had a blast!
The water was warm.  The weather was great.  Despite the sunscreen, all of us got sunburned. :(
Nolan and Dennis loved being chased by the waves.  Even though I worried about a wave knocking Dennis' prosthetic eye out, their laughter and excitement made me smile.  However I am not sure what the lady next to me thought when she heard me yell, "Be careful!  Don't go under the water or the wave will wash away your eye!"
The riptide was strong that day but there were lots of lifeguards out.  We know because Adam had to have one of them pull him back in where he could stand.  
Nolan saw his big brother and copied what he was doing.  Too funny.
Seaweed is a fascinating thing.  It is the best feeling to have it wrap around your leg while you are in the water.  Not.
Paul really enjoyed himself.  After going to the beach half a dozen times, this is the first time he really got in the water and swam.
All the girls boogie boarded.
Oliver with his Daddy.  We had to hold him most of the time or he would have eaten all of the sand on the beach.
Sveta riding in a wave.
John and I
Alex and Dennis playing in the sand.
Today Nolan and Oliver were dedicated to the Lord.  Oliver slept right through it. :)
Praise the Lord for our two precious little boys!