Saturday, September 21, 2013

Our camping trip

I am very happy to report that our second family camping trip went MUCH better than our first (which was 4 years ago, where most of us vowed we would never go camping again!).  It was a short trip.  We drove to the zoo on Friday, visited one half, then headed to the camp ground, all of 10 minutes away.  We set up camp and explored a bit. We only went swimming once this summer, so the pool at the camp ground was a big hit.  Saturday we headed out to see the other half of the zoo, and spent the remaining of the day swimming, jumping on the huge "pillow", and playing putt-putt at the camp ground.  After breakfast Sunday, and a quick walk on the walking trail we packed up and headed home.

There was a lot of walking to be done back and forth between our tent and the bathrooms.  Little boys decided 10 minutes *after* the other had gone to the bathroom, that they too had to!  Ha!  We were very blessed with wonderful weather.  So thankful for that.  Not all went as planned.  The first night two of the boys were freaked out about sleeping in the tent.  Jonah kept begging to go home.  The funny thing, by the following evening he was saying, "I love this place!  I want to live here forever!"  So he got over his fears.  Unfortunately one of the girls was experiencing extreme anxiety.  Extreme.  I didn't get much sleep because of it, and neither did she.  However, when we got home, she slept like a rock until after lunch time!  Being the Mom, meant I didn't get such the privilege of doing the same :-)  Which made me very thankful that everyone wanted to just chill out that first afternoon home, and I got to take a nap with Aubrey.  Phew.

We had some neat evenings at the camp. The first night there was an elderly couple who drives around the camp ground in their *very fancy* golf cart, giving rides to the kids.  They insist that an adult goes with them, for safety, which I appreciated.  I went along, and the kids loved the ride, singing and laughing all the way.  The second night we had a bonfire, with s'mores.  The s'mores were compliments of two families that we met earlier that afternoon.  They were friends (each having 4 children), moving down from New York.  It was a lot of fun.  The kids had a ton of fun telling scary stories and running around in the dark.

A few other lessons learned:
::  It took 3 days to prepare for our camping trip.  Lots of food prep and packing.  But we only spent 2 days there.

::  Definitely must convince everyone else the importance of organization.  I wanted all like items in one bag, but everyone else just wanted to throw things together.  That meant there was a LOT of searching for things like tooth brushes, flash lights and food items.

::  We figured that the time it would take to uninstall the back seat of the van would not be worth the time and effort.  Wrong!  The van was packed to the hilt and it was not exactly a comfortable ride with things under our legs, and crammed in between people.

::  Simple, cheap, Dollar Store items really, really held the boy's attention, making the car ride go smoothly :-)

::  I'm very thankful I packed more clothing than we thought we would need.  We ended needing pretty much all of it.

 I'm quite certain there were more!  Oh, yes, next time I really need to *chill out*.  Which, for me, surrounded by woods, next to a deep creek....well that's just hard.  But despite trying to keep track of everyone at the campsite and at the zoo, it was fun and I think all of us, save the anxious girl, wants to go again.  Here are some of the pictures.  Some came out really blurry.  Something is really not right with my camera.  I just got the focusing figured out and 'something' happened.  Nothing physically that I know of (like being dropped or the like), but everything in the view finder is blurry, blurry, blurry, and it seems like the camera is not focusing properly (taking longer, not really engaging on the first attempt).  Sigh.  We shall see.

We had just arrived at the zoo, time to unpack our lunch and eat before heading in.  We really try to not bring much with us, as there is a lot of walking!

 I think most of the kids got up that tree at some point.  Here is Moira and Flannery.  I was surprised that Moira climbed up, and also surprised that Flannery didn't go any higher!  Both odd events :-)

 Unfortunately you can just barely make out this duck's bill.  If you look really closely to the brownish duck at the bottom of the picture you may make out that his bill is *blue*!!  A BLUE bill?!  How cool is that.  I've been to the zoo quite a bit, but never saw this.  Ends up, it only happens for a few weeks out of the year, during mating season. The rest of the year it is the normal yellow/orange.

 Saoirse and Flannery hanging out on a bee.  The kids were all looking forward to watching the bees at work.  They all kept asking when we are going to get our own bees.  So glad that non of them are afraid of the prospect of having hives of bees on our property!

 Although very blurry, his smile was just too cute!

 Oh. My. Word.  This picture *really* shows how much Jed has changed in the past few months!!!  He looks like a BOY!  As opposed to looking more like a toddler/preschooler for years.  So happy to see that improvement.

 You can see Isabella's notebook in the lower corner.  She kept notes on everything we saw and did!

 Almost everyone!  We usually get a family photo at the zoo, but we failed this time around.  Here we are eating a snack before heading on to see more exhibits.

 Isabella was really thrilled with getting her picture taken.  Looks like I was too :-)

 Ugh.  I snapped two pictures of the kids against this wall, and both are blurry with silly faces.  It is hard to get them all looking decent at the same time.  I am pretty sure that I put my camera in auto mode to get a picture quickly, but it is still all blurry!!!  Grrr.  Like I said, something is not right with my camera right now.  I have to find out if it is under warranty.  I've had it less than a year and I have not been happy with how it's been acting.

 Jeremiah took Saoirse and the boys to a special dinosaur exhibit at the zoo.  The rest of us hung out by the carousel.  They got to "dig" for fossils.  They had fun.

 Looking for fossils.

 Jonah having a fun time with a jeep.

 There was one dino that you could get on for photos.  Not sure where Jonah and Aubrey are for the picture.  Oh, well.

 I usually don't put pictures since, well, they are just animals at a zoo.  This one however is of the polar bear, who we found out on our return, died the very next day!  So sad.

 The highlight of the walking...the playground.  There is a huge kid play area that was supposed to be finished this summer, but was still under construction.  Such a bummer.  It looks like it will be a lot of fun.  Though, do to it's size, it looks like a lot of work for parents!

 Jed climbing the spider web.

 The girls wanted their picture taken on the praying mantis.

 Jonah was very pleased to show off his monkey skills :-)

 A fellow camping family gave us the red box of kindling for our fire starting efforts.  The boys immediately saw this wood for what it really was....building blocks! 

 They actually made some impressive buildings, but I got side tracked and didn't get a picture of them.

 Jeremiah starting the fire.  All of our folding chairs out.  I do believe we took up a lot of space.  As it was we had to have two camp sites, due to our size, but with no one else there (on our side of the road) we got to spread out a bit more.

 Moira peeking out of the tent.

It may look like we either just arrived, or were packing up.  Actually this was our second night there, and in one nights and day time the tent was a wreck.  Isabella pulled everything out to put everything back in as it should be.

It proved to be a lot of fun, a lot of work and in the end we were sad to go.  We did have a sad arrival as we found that our baby male goat (he was about 6 months old) had died while we were gone.  He had never been well since we got him.  We made the decision, that should we ever get him well, that we would sell him as he wasn't fit for our purposes.  He was taking another, out of the many over the past few months, turn for worse the day we were leaving.  I had hoped with the meds we were giving him that we could see him through another bout of 'whatever was ailing' him.  But that was not the case.  I felt bad for the family that was taking care of our animals, as they were the ones to have to find him :-(  Poor little guy.

I was able to get all the laundry washed in quick order when we got back.  However, with the extra work, the long weekend, things fell apart with the rest of the house.  With Jeremiah being home on vacation we were all out of sorts schedule wise.  It took us the following week until we were completely back on track.  BUT, I am grateful that we did indeed just jump back on the wagon!  Phew! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

An update to Moira's New Look

Sixteen months ago I had a post titled, "Moira's New Look".  Well, she has another new look today.  It was a BIG day, long in the making.  Here she is:

Doesn't she look awesome?!!  She is VERY happy with her new look.  She is now having to get used to 'normal' teeth :-)  She also has to learn to talk with her new retainers, but either way, she is happy, happy, happy!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Baby update

I just had my second appointment with my midwife.  Things look well.  I measured 19cm (I am 21 weeks along), so if things stay that way (growth rate wise) then hopefully we are looking at a 7 pound baby and not an 8 pounder.  That would be a welcome relief.  My 8 pounders were all hard to deliver.  I don't look forward to a repeat, 3 of them was enough :-)

My midwife does not use a doppler, so for now she just makes sure she can locate the heart beat, and she said it sounds to be around 140.  And anyone who knows us, knows that we use that number to play our 'baby guessing game'.  Ha, ha.  The old wives tale is that a heart rate of 140 is a boy, and one that is around 160 is a girl.  Sooooo, it's still looking like a boy :-)  However, she didn't actually clock it, so we really don't *truly* know.  Once the baby is a bit bigger, and it's heart rate is louder she will record the actual rate.  But that is the number we have for now.

The last time the midwife was here she gave me a folder of informational papers.  However, her printer went out on her and she only had half of them.  This time she gave me the rest.  One of them was the supply list.  Pretty much most of the homebirth supply lists are the same.  But I made sure to look over it.  And, I know it sounds silly, but I got SO excited looking over it, imagining gathering all of our supplies.  I am so grateful for that excitement.  As some of you know I have had huge apprehensions about this birth.  This is due to Aubrey's labor and delivery.  But with prayer, and with doing what I know to do (read, and read some more :-)), I am finding that I am more at peace with this baby's birth.  I am still being cautious, listening for those small voices that were being spoken with Aubrey's pregnancy.  So far I haven't heard any. 

I am also happy to report that so far I have gained a total of 6 pounds...if you go by my starting weight.  I am still not sure what number to use, as I lost 5 pounds during that first month.  Either way, that means a possible 11 pound gain, which I am very grateful for.  For most of my pregnancies I've gained 40 plus pounds.  That makes those last couple of months *very* difficult.  With only one of my pregnancies I gained a total of about 28-29 pounds, and what a *huge* difference in my energy levels, and ease of moving that made!  So even if I were to suddenly start gaining a pound a week (I think that doesn't start till after 28 weeks?) that leaves me with a total gain of 25-30 pounds.

Please note, I do NOT limit my food intake.  I feel VERY strongly about nourishing my baby properly.  And although I do not enjoy gaining 40 pounds, during pregnancy I eat until satisfied.  This time around after being on GAPS, this is my first pregnancy that I wasn't "starving" the first 4 months.  As opposed to when I was pregnant with Jedidiah, and I gained 60 pounds because that 'starving' feeling lasted all 9 months!  My theory is that my body knew the baby wasn't getting what he needed, and as such I felt hungry all the time, eating in order to try to get those calories to the baby (which obviously didn't happen!).  Either way I listen to my body and eat accordingly, no matter what that means for a final gain on my part.

Overall, I am very happy with how things are going.  I am still nervous that this baby will be mispositioned, but I still have weeks till I have to worry about that.  But, honestly, after 7 pregnancies my tummy muscles are not what they used to be.  And that's putting it lightly :-)  With weaker muscles, the baby has more room to move at will, and get itself into positions its not supposed to be in.  But, I will at least be trying all I can to sit properly, and continue to exercise, to do all I can on my part, to encourage the baby to be head down AND facing the right direction for its birth.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

8 is Great!....Advanced Maternal Age

Today marks my half way point! Twenty weeks!  Hard to believe.  Today I thought I would write about being an older pregnant mama :-)  At 42, I am considered past my prime in the baby making area.  Thankfully, after doing a quick search on 'older pregnant moms', I was pleasantly surprised to find some sites that took a balanced approach to this idea of being older.  I know there are a lot of doctors out there that are also changing their views on older moms, for the better. 

One of the biggest concerns about being an older mom is chromosomal abnormalities (CA).  Yes, the rate of babies being born to older moms have a higher chance of having a CA, but what do the numbers mean?  When being told that I had a 1 in 40 chance of having a child with any type of CA, that sounds pretty bad.  But percentage wise that only means a 2.5% chance of a child with a CA.  Just over 2%.  That means I have a 98% chance that my baby will be healthy.  So, yes, the risks have risen from someone who is only 30, but my chances of having a healthy baby are still on my side.

Please don't misunderstand me, I know the risks are real.  But at the same time, I know (personally know) multiple moms who's first children, or a child born while still young that have Down Syndrome.  For them, their 1 in 1,000 chance became 100%.  We are not exempt from the possibility at any age.  My thoughts are that there are risks in pretty much everything we do.  Driving a car?  Risk.  My daughter horse back riding...who is now *jumping* horses!  Gulp!  Risk.  Taking medications or receiving or not receiving vaccinations.  Risk.  And by golly the risk of your child having autism is 1 in 50, but I don't see that stopping people from having a child.  And boys are at more risk than girls.  So just being born is a risk.  The rise in cancer?  We are all at risk.

None of us knows what life will hold.  Only One.  And He is in control, nothing is a surprise.  This doesn't mean I wouldn't be heartbroken if there was anything wrong with my child.  We all, myself included, want the very best for our children.  That includes being healthy.  But living life in fear isn't an option either.  I know for one that my oldest would think life isn't worth living if horses were not involved :-)  We've also had many a fun adventure that took a car drive to get there. 

So CA behind us, the other biggest issues of an older mama is her health.  The risk of diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and high blood pressure rise with age.  But I know that all of those issues can be avoided completely with a healthy diet and exercise.  I read how a mother's blood flow isn't as good as when she is younger, possibly leading to a smaller baby.  But, again, how our bodies work is directly related to how well we've taken care of them (obviously lacking any physical disabilities from birth or accident).

Now, another issue that has been raised, even from someone in my own age when the child will be 18, an adult.  Yes, I will be 60 by the time this babe is old enough to leave the nest.  I think this is a matter of perspective.  Most people think that life should go a certain way (all of us have *A* view).  The idea of being 'free' of children at 40 or 45 so that you can go on to live life as you please is not my view.  Oh, don't get me wrong, there are days where I just want to go grocery shopping with out a little one in tow, or get a meal made without a diaper change needed, BUT I do not want to live my life just for myself, doing as I please.  I personally have always wanted children, lots of them, and I look forward to being a Grandma one day with lots of littles to dote on.  Jeremiah has talked about downsizing once all the kids move out.  I just laugh and say, WHERE would all of our grand kids fit?!  There will be a time where I have more time to read, more time to crochet/sew, more time to get out and do things.  There are days when I am plumb worn out from chasing little boys around, but why would I want to exchange that for more time to 'golf' or 'travel' (I do not golf, Im just using it as an example), or 'make money'?  Life is short, too short, and I want to spend it with my family.  Each and every one of them.  If I die when I am 60, I would only be sad for not being able to see my younger ones through those amazing adult situations (marraige, having a baby of their own, etc.), not because I didn't get a chance to visit the Grand Canyon, or that I didn't have enough free time to knit, etc.

I also read that we older moms will have more aches and pains.  Again, this will depend on how well you've been eating and how great a shape you are in.  Or that we will be more tired, etc.  Seriously, this pregnancy hasn't been any harder than my others.  I did have that bout with my 'heart issue' which I found was just a magnesium deficiency.  My morning sickness was the best this time around, again because of the magnesium.  Had I started a month or two before getting pregnant I truly think I would have had no morning sickness at all.  I actually have more energy this pregnancy than any other pregnancy thus far.  In all of my past pregnancies I've needed to take a nap, but besides the couple of times my mag. was down, I haven't had to nap. 

So, being older isn't necessarily bad, it may just be different.  But most of these older mom issues are avoidable.  The ones that are not, though real, are still not as scary as some would have us believe. 

Any other older pregnant mamas out there? What are your thoughts?

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Scheduling Part 4: Homeschool

Scheduling homeschool felt like making a schedule within a schedule.  I had to first figure out the time I wanted our schooling to take place.  Then I had to figure out how long each book/subject takes my children to finish.  Next was to figure out who was going to need my direct help.  And to top it off....what was I going to have the boys be doing during this time.  Jedidiah joined the homeschooling ranks these past few months, but since he is just starting off his schooling isn't time intensive.  In another month or so I will be adding Jonah to the mix as well.  So the schedule will change up a bit, but I only plan on doing math and phonics with him.

I made sure to make up the bulk of my schedule first before arranging the specifics of homeschool.  Thankfully I have a few orginizational papers and charts that we will continue to utilize each year.  The first year of implimenting Charlotte Mason was HARD.  Which books to read and when?  Oh, that was hard.  But I made up a sort of template that I now just plug in the next years history readings on certain days, their literature readings on another day, etc.  That first template took forever to work out and tweak, but all that work paid off since it has been succesful for each year since. I found that in the older years, with the heavy book load, that I did have to switch things up a bit, BUT having the ground work covered I wasn't reinventing the wheel.

Since CM is heavy in reading material, it is parent intensive in the beginning years.  I have found a couple of ways to ease the load.  The first is to find out if any of their books are on Librivox, where people have volunteered to read books for audio that are in the public domain.  This has really eased my reading load this past semester.  When I add in Jedidiah, his readings will not be as long, nor as many, so it shouldn't be too bad.  Plus, my second 'mommy saver' will be to have my two older girls read any of his history readings to him.  Since we had switched curriculums a couple of times over the years I feel that the older ones didn't get everything that they might have had otherwise.  So this will cover two birds with one stone. 

Below is the sheet that I fill in first for each schooling child (Isabella and Moira are on one sheet as they are using the same materials). The example below if for Flannery.  This paper is kept in what we call, "The Green Binder".  Oh, yes, we are so creative ;-)  This paper is specifically for me, but also for the girls to flip to easily to see which books, at a glance, they have to read that day.

The above blank schedule can be obtained from Donna Young's wonderful website.

After I fill in which books they will be using on each day I then fill in the Daily Schedule sheet that each child has in a special folder of their own.

The numbers you see in some of those spaces are the pages or chapters that need to be read that day.  The other books are done a page or lesson each day, so they just do the next page/lesson.  Above you just see the page for Monday and Tuesday.  This is for our third semester, as you can see by the weeks at the top, 25-36.  So all of the Monday's for the semester are in one block.  Flannery is to check off each item as she finishes it.  I get the page numbers from Ambleside Online. Here is a sample of the weekly charts that AO has to offer, GO HERE.

This year I switched Saoirse over to Higher Up and Further In (this is the curriculum name, which is on the Charlotte Mason Help site).  It is CM based, and has some of AO's books as well.  However, I found I like HUFI's approach to history better.  So anyone after Saoirse will start off in HUFI.  The rest of the girls, since they are so far along with AO, will stick with AO's book choices.  (I have all of the years of AO, and HUFI semester charts printed out and laminated for my reference.  I also put a separate paper copy in our Green Binder.  Around here, having multiple copies of any needed paper work is essential :-))

Once I did this paperwork for all of my children (who are schooling) I then had to figure out who is going to do what, when!  Then the work really starts! Although the below segment from our schedule may seem simple, it was no easy matter to figure out what everyone was to be doing at each given time! 

A couple of things didn't get typed up correctly, but we all know what needs to be done. For example, with Flannery, you see the second slot is 'school', and the third is, 'first book'.  Those slots should be switched, and the one that says, 'school' is supposed to be 'second book'.  I suppose when I have to re-do the schedule to add in Jonah I will switch things then. 

 Saoirse has two blanks in her schedule, as she is usually either helping with the boys, finishing any chores, or having some free time.  Although she has come a long way with her reading, she still has a LONG way to go before she will be able to read any of her books on her own.  You can see that I have turns with the older two girls for 'narrations/math'.  Narrations are them retelling me what they have read so far that day.  This year they are writing up 3 of their narrations, the rest are oral narrations.  And each girl has found that they do better with math if I am going over their lesson with them.  I stop them before they make a mistake on their problems.  They take all quizzes and tests on their own though.  This has REALLY helped them to stay on top of any problem areas.  This is one reason that Isabella fell behind in math.  She kept plugging along, getting so-so grades, until one day she was failing everything.  I had to take her back....WAAAAY back to go over those critical elements that she never really got when she was doing math on her own.  I do not think it is a downfall of the curriculm at all, which I really like, and will continue to use.  I believe she just wasn't catching on to this element, then that one, until it just all crumbled down on her.

The older two girls have time after lunch, not shown above, to finish their schooling since their schooling takes longer than the others.

(All links are just the google results when I typed in the book title.  No affiliate links.)

Besides the books on AO, and HUFI, we also use the following curriculm/books:
Science: This year Isabella has chosen to use "Exploring Creation: Biology" for science.  For this we are following HUFI's layout, using the chart from Donna Young to keep track of those reading assignments. 
Grammar: She will complete one page daily from "Easy Grammar Plus".
Math: Everyone 3rd grade and above uses, "Teaching Textbooks".

Science: She too has decided to go with Exploring Creation for her science. We have not determined which book she will do this year yet.
Grammar:  She will use the same book as Isabella.
Handwriting:  Yes, my naturally talented artist is doing handwriting in 9th grade.  Don't ask me how that works out!!!  The poor girl can do a beautiful rendition of another drawing or still life in front of her, but could not copy a cursive 'b'!!  So she will be learning italic cursive this year, using "Italic Handwriting Series".
Art: She and I working through the book, "Drawing with Children". Since this covers the basics we will probably work through this quickly and move on to the author's second book, "Drawing with Teens".

Flannery and Saoirse:
Science:  I am using "God's Design for Heaven and Earth" (this link shows only three of the 9 or 10 books that we have for the whole series).  The lessons are short, and easy.
Handwriting:  They are using the same Italic series books, but for each of their grade level.
Phonics:  Flannery can read well, but she still has some issues of just skimming over words that she can not easily read.  Unfortunately for her the drawback of most of her schooling coming easy for her is that when faced with something more difficult, she just tries to ignore it!  So we are continuing with our phonics book, "Phonics Pathways" for her.  I usually have to only go so far in the book, but for her we are continuing on to help her learn to really decipher those sticky words.  Saoirse is very, very slowly working her way through the book.  With my other girls, once they got the basics down we were able to go through one page a day. For Saiorse we take three days to go over one page.  But that is the beauty of homeschooling,  taking the needed time for a child to grasp the needed concepts to succeed.
Math: For K-2nd grade the kids use Saxon Math.

With all of the girls we are using the free online curriculum for American Sign Language, which you can find HERE.  The older two girls are deciding on a foreign language that they would like to study.  So far they can't make up their minds :-)

There you have it!  Homeschooling for our family :-)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...