Friday, June 28, 2013

A Day in the Life

On a good day, we start with getting everyone up at 6:20...otherwise, it might be an hour, or more later before everyone gets up in the morning!

We come downstairs for Bible.  The girls especially love it when Daddy is here for this part of our day, too!

The littles spend time playing quietly while we do read alouds.

Then we have breakfast, and do a quick clean up.  During this time, we check on animal food and water, too.

After our clean up time, we move onto individual school time for the olders, and therapy for Brianna and Callie.  The little ones get to play on their own with school time activities to keep them busy.

Brianna working on some of her school/therapy.
I am so grateful that her therapy encompasses her school work, too!

 The twins and Ashley have language arts, typing and math on the computer (and will hopefully very soon have Bible, Science and History added as well!

Brianna has math on the computer.

All 4 of the olders have piano practice, which is mostly done in the morning.

Then the twins also have more animal chores and training.  In 4H they have to do all of the grooming and upkeep on their show animal.  And they have to work on some training.  They are planning on showing the puppies at the Evergreen State Fair this year!

The puppies both got new hair cuts this week.

The girls did a great job - the puppies look great!

Brianna deep in thought with the flash master (a math tool that drills addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts).

Callie looking over Bailey's shoulder as she plays a spelling game.
In between school and therapy, we try to keep laundry going.  Like most things at our house, this goes better on some days than on others!  Ideally, I am able to fold each load real quick as it comes through.
This is the first 4-5 loads of the day, folded and  ready to be put away...I kind of lost count of the loads of laundry.  But rest assured, I have PLENTY left, lol!
By the time we are done with school, it is lunch time!  Again, during lunch I read aloud.  I normally start with history, if we have not had a chance to do it earlier in the day.  If that is done, or sometimes in addition to that, I read whatever other book we are reading.

Today's read alouds...
We read 2-4 chapters of the Old Testament in the Chronological Bible.
1-2 Chapters of the New Testament, in a regular Bible
Then we read the chapter of Proverbs that goes with the day of the month.

We also read through Mystery of History together, whatever lesson we are at for the day.
I really love this history curriculum!

We read through biographies in the evening.  Tonight, we will be stating Lillian Trasher.

And we often have another book going...right now it is "God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life; The Myth of the Modern Message, by Ray Comfort.
(So far, I am pleased to report that my children do NOT share the views of the majority of young people their age in the church!)
After lunch, the girls do a quick clean while I read and play with the littles.

Then it is littles' nap time.  I currently have 3-4 nappers each day.  Callie is getting to where she is napping less and less though.  I go up and listen to a sermon, or a part of a sermon while I make sure the littles stay in their beds and go to sleep.

The girls then have some free time!

We come back together at about 4:30 for another clean up time.  Then I start dinner, often with 1-4 helpers.

While we eat dinner, or after dinner before bed most nights, we have one more read aloud time, when we read a biography.

It is such a joy and a blessing to be able to homeschool my children!  I love getting to learn with them each and every day.  I love the opportunity to be here for them.  I love to see their joy and excitement when they find a new chick has hatched, or when they catch a frog or a snake.  I love to share their enthusiasm when they understand why something happened in history, and now, as they see the patterns in history repeating themselves all the way up to the present day!

I love being able to be the one to dry their tears, comfort their hurts, encourage them in their weaknesses, witness their milestones, laugh with them, enjoy their strengths and talents, and learn with them each and every day.

I am so richly blessed that it is almost embarrassing!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chicken coop project day 1

As I mentioned, the chickens are way over crowded.  They really need more space.  So today was the day that we working on building a new, bigger, stationary coop!

We dug a trench, and buried a 2x8 to avoid predators from coming into the coop.

It has very much been a family project!  Everyone has been working today.

Then we put up a wall, with a big vent window for the chickens.  This will give them with fresh air, light, and help make things cooler in the summer.  We will cover part of it in the winter to help keep things warmer.

Alright, so almost everyone was working - but we took breaks, too!

Even Judah joined in for a bit!

Dad is really the mastermind behind the construction and design of the coop.  He will stand there and think about things...asking how we want things to be in the end...and then come up with how to make that happen.  We are so blessed to have him!

Framing in the nest boxes.

Bailey getting a lesson in how to use the saw.

We definitely put in a solid day's work.  It is not done, but we have a good start on it.

This coop will be 12' x 5.5' with 12 nesting boxes, and it will be the full height of the overhang, to make it easier for us to go in to get things.  There will be a door for us to get in from a storage area, also under the overhang, where we can put straw, feed, etc.

I am so thankful for my wonderful husband and FIL!

And for my hard working family!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Little Man!

 We had such a fun time celebrating Justice!  He is so much fun.  And he is very different than his sisters.  He wanted to go out to lunch with Mommy, and when he heard that Daddy would be home, (after working ALL NIGHT, and until noon the following day (a 28 hour shift), he wanted Daddy to come, too...and with that, how could his Daddy say no?  We took him to Red Robin, while the older girls stayed home and decorated the house for his party!

Then he got to pick out what kind of cake he wanted (Lightning McQueen), and frosting (blue with sprinkles?) and helped Anna make it!

She used a shaped pan, and did a great job decorating it to look like Lightning - even with the blue frosting, lol!  (she used lots and lots of red sprinkles to cover up the blue!)

Justice got a new roundhouse for his train table (which has just be set up again, and is like new all over)!

A cowboy dress up set and...

"Shooters!"  As Justice called them.

He has been instructed to not point the new guns at people or our pets...but that he can shoot at any coyotes that come into the yard, or any imaginary bad guys or animals.

After everyone went to bed, I played dress up with Judah, who had been trying really hard to get to all of Justice's new things all evening - but all of his older siblings move too fast for him, lol!

Isn't he cute?

Happy birthday to my talkative, story loving, ticklish, strong little man.  I can hardly believe that he is 4 years old already.  It seems like such a short time ago that he was born...and now he is running ahead to open doors for people, and asking if he can close doors for people, he tries to carry in groceries, and find other ways to use his muscles.  He likes to look for bugs and snakes.  Loves to ride his trike with the trailer (and to give his sisters rides).  And loves to curl up on someone's lap and listen to story books.  He enjoys playing with his trains, and his cars. He loves the water, and anything having to do with outside!

What a blessing this little guy has been to us!  What a privilege it is to be his Mommy.  He adds so much to our family!  I thank and praise God for Justice so often.

Happy Belated Father's Day

We had a really nice Father's Day here!  I am so lucky to have the best husband and father that I have ever known my husband and the father of my children!  He is such a great man!  I would be thrilled for our daughters to marry someone like him, and also for our sons to grow up to be like him.  Who take the precious little time that is not taken up with his crazy work schedule to spend with his the big chicken coop project today...and who takes the time to put his children in bed any chance he can.  They ALL really love having their Daddy tuck them in!

We also got to celebrate his dad, who is also such a great guy.  He is willing to take time out of his day to help with my crazy projects, to help the girls with projects, to read stories to the littles - really, I couldn't imagine a better grandpa for my children, either!

We also have the privilege of celebrating Chris' grandpa.  Grandpa Pence enjoys watching the children, seeing what they are doing, hearing reports they are writing, piano pieces they are perfecting, and just watching them play and interact together and with him.  We really wish that he lived closer so that we could have him out more often!  As he was getting ready to go, he asked if he could come out more than the twice a year that he normally does.  It was both sad and a relief for me.  A relief because I always feel like we wear him out so much when he comes out, and yet sad that he is so lonely and just wants to be with people who love him!  He asked if we could figure out like once a month or we are absolutely working on that right now!

Mom made dinner for all of us on Father's Day, and it was great, as usual!

Praising God for the heritage that my children have, for our families, and being able to get together to celebrate what God has blessed us with!  God is so good!

School Changes

With a full therapy schedule for 2 of my girls, I really do not have time, and honestly HAVE not had enough time to get school done to a level that I would consider acceptable for the last 3 years.  So, we are (finally!) going to try something different.

We are moving everyone over to Alpha Omega's Switched on Schoolhouse (SOS), at least for 4 of their 5 core subjects (Language Arts, Science, History and Bible).  The last subject, math, is already on the computer, and going we are going to stick with teaching textbooks (TT) for that!

I am looking forward to this, but also a little concerned about our computers...TT has been a challenge because our computers do not always work reliably.

We actually have a whole stack of laptops that we have collected.  We are working on getting them fixed up and running, so that we can have each of the older 4 have a computer station.  Then I also need a computer station for therapy as well...So ultimately, we need to have 5 computers set up so that I can get all of this schedule for the same time,  which is going to be a requirement for it to work on our schedule - which is getting a major overhaul with the computer school!

On the computer, the girls will have Bible, language arts, science, history, math, and typing.  We will also still do history and science, together, but it will be more for fun, rather than 'for real.'  We also read biographies in the evenings together as a family.  The girls have lots of projects for home ec going much of the time, not to mention the cooking/cleaning that they help with frequently!  I am hoping that this makes for a good addition to our schooling.  I am hoping that it streamlines things for them, and that they enjoy it.

It really is a huge change for us.  I have always been against screen time for children...and yet, here I am giving them lots of it each day for school...I hope and pray that it goes well!

New and Exciting World of Food Allergies

I have known several people who have had children with food allergies.  It is a tough road.  I have always felt so bad for them.  I have always thought that probably we dealt with some things that they talked about as well, but I didn't even know where to begin with eliminating things - nor did I know HOW I would be able to manage some of the dietary restrictions that they dealt with...

And yet, here we are.  Brianna has seen a naturalist who is managing her care.  Dr. Lawler ran a blood test that showed that Brianna is reacting to egg, gluten (which we knew, and have had her off of since the first of the year, except for the time right before this blood test), soy, barley, almond, cranberry, and banana.

My first reactions were:  EGG?!?  How could she be allergic to EGGS?!  We have CHICKENS!!!  We raise our own eggs...what will this mean for us?  And BANANA?!  Who is allergic to bananas? That just seemed crazy to me.

After working on this list of food allergens now for 2 months, it is SOY that is the hardest for me.  It is a government subsidized crop, and in absolutely EVERYTHING.

Over the last 2 months, we have really not done well with her elimination diet.  On average, we couldn't get past the 5 day mark.  Until recently!  We have now done very well for the last 12 days!  She is looking so much better!  The dark circles under her eyes are gone.  Her skin is clearing up.  She has more energy.  She is better able to think through cause/effect, when deciding to do something or not.

This is not only hard on me as the one who prepares meals, and does the shopping, but also on her.  She cannot have what everyone else can (though this process is showing us that a few others, Anna, Justice and Ashley all have some sensitivities, too - they just are not AS bad as Brianna).  She has to eat something special at times...and she does feel like she is missing out.  That part of all this is really hard!

Her treatment plan is three-fold now...not only are we eliminating the things that she shouldn't be eating, but we are building her system up with probiotics.  she has a powder that she takes in a drink each day, and then she also has home made kefir each day.  She is also taking fish oil to help replenish her skin.  The final leg of this is to minimize damage caused by her eating something she shouldn't.  To do this she is taking a digestive enzyme when she might eat something that is questionable, or at a pot luck where we do not know exactly what is in each thing!

The progress she has had in the last 12 days is remarkable!  And with the first 2 months under our belts, I think we will be able to make this work for us.  It is just going to take a bit of time, and energy to find new favorite recipes, and learn which brands will work, and which will not.  And it is all worth it to see how much better Brianna is feeling!

The ultimate goal is to keep her off of her food sensativities for 12-18 months, while giving her the probiotics, and the fish oil, and the digestive enzymes, is for her stomach and digestive track to heal...and ultimately we won't have to be as careful.  She will be able to have all of these things once in a while, in a rotation.  It may not be able to be part of her 'regular' diet, but it will be able to be part of her diet...kind of an extra treat.  She will at some point be able to have a piece of birthday cake, etc!  I keep reminding her of this, and trying to keep her focused on the ultimate goal.

Therapy Update

The last session of therapy (which was actually double the normal length because we missed an eval!) didn't go well.  I just didn't get on top of things and get them done...but this time, we have renewed interest and stamina, possibly because we took 6 months off!

It is hard to believe that we are already over 1/3 of the way through this therapy session!  It is going by quickly - and keeping all of us very busy!  

For the most part, the girls like their therapy...there are certainly some things that are a challenge and that are difficult for them, but overall, this is a great mix of fun and challenging for both of them!

This is Callie's chart.  I have decided to put it on my computer instead of having a big chart.  It is a challenge getting to it, but I have a print out that I work off of between marking things off on the computer.  The hardest part of being able to get to the computer is that we are doing a lot more computer school - but more on that in the next post!

My goal going into this session was NOT to make the 100% (which after 20 months really burned all of us out - hence the 6 months off!), but to make the goal to be 80%...that means 4 days/week we get through everything.  Which is not how it works in reality, but it is a nice thought, lol!  In reality, we have a few things that are missed each day, then on Friday, we try to make up that list of things.  And we try to make the things that were missed different each day.  Callie needs someone there for about 80-85% of her program.  She needs help to get set up, help to balance, help to read aloud, help to recite, etc.

If I do not get her going first thing in the morning, she will normally ask if we can get to her therapy by the time Bible is over.

By far, her favorite 2 activities are taking a long walk, and hitting a balloon back and forth with a paddle!

This next chart is Brianna's.  While Callie is averaging the 80% that I want her to, Brianna is averaging a bit higher.  She tends to get through her program more consistently, averaging like 4 1/2 times each week.  She is able to do about 70% of her program on her own, so she is able to keep going and get things done when no one is available to help her!  And she loves to cross things off on her chart.  She really hates it when she has 'holes in her chart' as she calls the blank spots!  It makes for a great combination, especially for the things that she really her dot to dot book, Mind Benders (it is a logic puzzle book), and reading.  She is just taking off with her reading this time!  I am looking forward to seeing where she is at at our next evaluation!

Cyndi Ringoen incorporates school into their therapy routines.  and she does it in such a slow, steady, 5-15 minutes at a time that it is manageable to do.  And at the same time, the results are pretty incredible.  Callie is reading at a mid 1st grade reading level at this point, even though if she were to be in public school, she would only be in kinder starting in Sept.  She is my earliest reader, and the one who has done it with the least amount of time, effort, and energy on both of our parts!

Brianna's therapy is taking about 2 1/2 - 3 hours each day, and Callie program is taking her about 3 1/2 hours to get through.  We have what are considered to be 1/2 programs right now.  It really is all that we can manage...though there are times when I wonder if it would be better to be trying to do more - would it be twice the results?  Or would it just go undone?

I have resolved to not think on this a whole lot, as it can really get to me!

I am pleased with how therapy is going overall.  I am also excited to see the results which mean changes in the girls!

An incredible sky

At bed time one night this week, we looked out and saw this incredible rainbow...but the show didn't stop there.  It turned into this double rainbow...

And the show continued...

I am not sure that you can see it in this picture, but this is actually a TRIPLE rainbow!

And all of this was right at sunset!

The pictures do not really do God's handiwork from this night justice at all.  

How awesome to head outside and worship God through His creation.

As I watched this Psalm 19:1 came to mind...The Heavens declare the Glory of God!

They certainly didn't disappoint this night!

Calling, giving her therapy all she's got!

 This is what we call giving her therapy (which is also her school) all she has!

Welcome Chicks!

We had a different hen go broody.  This time, she has hatched out 7 cute little chicks.

And everyone is enjoying these little blessings!

I just love to see Callie's excitement in the next 2 pictures!

Our coop was designed to hold 12-15 hens.

We knew it was tight when our last broody brought us up to 17...
But with these 7, bringing our total to 24...well, it just simply is not going to work anymore!  Especially when you consider that I have 2 more hens who are sitting on eggs at the moment, lol!

Today's project is building a new coop.  Then over the next week or so, we will make a run for them so that they are more secure from predators.  

(Updating my blog is going on while the menfolk are getting some lumber for our project - and before tonight's project of formatting the hard drive and starting over!)