Thursday, February 27, 2014

Homeschool writing

My kiddoes, especially the boys are not fond of writing. It is torture.
But then we found these free lego writing prompts.
The kids had so much fun.
(yes, we wear pj's all day on cold winter days)

Elizabeth made a limo.
Each child made a lego structure in secret.

 David made a giant cabin.

They wrote 4 sentence clues, using capital letters and proper punctuation.
They had to present their item and description to the group. 

Lee made a really cool houseboat.
Their siblings had to guess what their project was supposed to be.

Fayth made a giant pool. 
After the item was guessed correctly, they had to write a paragraph on who guessed their project. 
It was a simple, basic writing exercise that they enjoyed. Did you catch that? They enjoyed it!! Writing... They enjoyed it! 
Did you hear the angels singing?!!? 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Homeschooling Routines

 Every day looks different in our house. Every week looks different. We have many, many appointments each week.

I have  daily guidelines that help with those who need routine and yet works with our insanity...

1. I must get up, consume coffee and God's word, before any kids get up. (with much lost sleep lately, this has been hard)

2. I must plan to have atleast 15 mins of hanging out (reading, playing, talking, goofing) in the living room with the kids before we move into our day. (this has proved to be incredibly crucial to my relationship with my kids)

3. I have a schedule on the fridge for breakfast. The kids  favorite are Wednesday when we have baked oatmeal made by Fayth and Saturdays when we have pancakes made by Lee.

4. Hot breakfast is important. By giving the kids a good solid start to the day, they can manage their behaviors better. No sugar high/crash here!

6. The 3 oldest kiddoes feed the animals every morning while I cook breakfast. The fresh air and the hike up and down to the barn, really does wonders for them. . This has been a huge blessing.
Fayth helps me with Nesiah's morning routines and getting breakfast ready.

7. Each child has one a job they must do after every meal. (that will be another post)

8. I usually serve cereal or have "find your own" lunch. School is usually done and its often a crazy time of day.

9. Until about 9 months ago, we had nap or quiet time every afternoon. This has changed to allow the kids more play time, if they play nicely. If we are home days on end, then we do quiet time, which usually involves listening to audio books. A woman needs her quiet time! lol

10. Animals always need fed  at 4:30.

11. Evenings tend to be chaotic, as we  have one who fusses much at that time of day. I try, "try" being key word, to have crockpot meals or casseroles for dinner, so there is little prep or clean up.

12. We clean up toys/books etc before lunch and before bedtime. I have this need to have counters and floors clean in order to relax.

13. 6:15 to 7 is kids radio time. We generally are done with dinner and they listen as we clean up.

14. 7:15  is time for bedtime routines. (another post on life changing routines)

15. I try to be in bed by 9:45 as I am often up several times a night.

I find that this season in my life to be very hectic and exhausting. I have the older kids who have more emotional needs rather then physical needs, then I have the littles with more physical needs. Trying to balance everything has been a challenge. I find that organizing and detailing my life helps me to feel less out of control. But then when I have to constantly change things up, I still have days where chaos reigns!  

My children have from day 1, needed consistent routines. I need routines. I am a much calmer, happier mom when I have a "plan" and a goal for each day. The kids do better with a "plan" and a goal. Yes, I do ask them frequently to think about their daily goals/plans. I am raising future adults. ;)
Sometimes abrupt changes in plans are handled well, other days abrupt changes bring a frustrated mom and upset kids...

Some of my kids thrive on the chaos, others need calm.

This season of our life has been stretching, challenging and chaotic. Its has stretched me more then I could ever imagine.  Living at the beck and call of the caseworkers, birth parents, therapists, court hearings, and worst of all needing to "work" while loving, nurturing, guiding and teaching 6 kids, has def brought me into the most challenging time ever.

However, I have seen years of hard work and training paying off. My kids are incredible strong and responsible. They are also very good at adapting to strange and unusual circumstances. Which is very important in our lives.

I have been blessed with an incredible support system, more then I have ever had before. Neighbors who can babysit at the drop of a hat, and church friends who walk alongside us, mentoring, supporting, babysitting.

In this season, I have a constant flow of people through my house. Professionals and friends... Its is exhausting, but an oppurtunity to show God's love and share His many miracles in my life.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways, acknowledge Him,
And He will direct your paths.”

(Proverbs 3:5-6)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Farm

Ben the bull, now a steer,  came to us at 2 days old.  I had been praying about raising our own beef. We live on 3 acres with a huge pasture. We have the room and the grass to feed animals!

 We found out that our neighbor raises calves for beef each year. We asked if he could get one for us too.

 We waited for several weeks until we finally got the call, a calf had been born, do we want it? Yes we do!!
The barn was ready, the cow pen mucked out, fresh straw put in.  

Ben was brought to us in a trailer on the back of Mr. C's  riding mower.  (yes, we live in neighborhood where lawn mowers are a mode of transportation)

David and Elizabeth were given the responsibility of  feeding and caring for Ben. They have done a wonderful job. We bottle fed him 3x a day for 2 months. They were very dedicated. They were careful to watch for any health issues/concerns. They made sure his pen was dry and clean.

When Ben was approximately 3 months old, our friend Miss B came over and did a quick "surgery" on him. Miss B is great with kids and knows I love for everything to be "educational". So the big kids got to watch and got a good explanation on the procedure.

Ben has been a good experience for the kids in so many ways. They have fed him, kept him warm, dry and safe. He is growing quite big.

 They are working on teaching him to lead and other tricks. I have tried to explain the importance of not getting attached to our future hamburgers. They don't seem to grasp this concept. I am afraid that by this fall, all my children will be vegetarians.  They were quite disgusted when I suggested names such as meatloaf, hamburger, and steak instead of Ben.

Friday, February 21, 2014

schedule?!?!?! What Schedule?!

Even the best laid plans are subject to weather and illness... I am OCD. I do not like my schedule disrupted, especially after I have put a lot of effort into making it all come together.

disclaimer; whining, TMI post... Read at your own risk!

Yesterday was a caseworker visit and a specialist appointment... I had planned on taking all my kiddoes along. Two kids ended up puking, one in the car, on the first trip we took to take Nesiah to school.

So I quickly called an emergency sitter, a teen who is great with the kids, but it is the first time I left her alone with them. Three kiddoes with me, two at home and last minute it all came together. But it left me feeling frazzled...

I sat down and pulled together all my details for today. 5 appointments, grocery shopping, a trip to the market for produce and a hair cut for me.
I had a new mother's helper coming to stay with the kiddoes. I also planned on her making lunch and dinner for today and tomorrow! 4 big meals, in addition to helping them with school. I was looking forward to some "alone" time and getting my hair cut!

This morning, Miss J texts, she is sick. Do I still want her to come?

Taking a minute to drink some coffee and mentally rearrange my day... I decided I would rather she not come. Taking care of 4 kids and making meals is not an easy task, especially when one is not feeling well.

I dropped Fayth off to help a neighbor with her toddler and to lighten my load.  First stop, lab.. I HATE watching the kids have blood drawn. Thankfully it  went really well.

However I was now late, and dragging 4 anxiety filled kids everywhere, on a tightly scheduled day!

I heard this song twice today....

Appointment #2  was a situation that I had been praying about and had really no clue what I was to do with the kids. It all worked out... despite the pouring rain, walking through snow drifts in flip flops and having a caseworker walk up behind me as I was rather ungracefully scolding  a child who was struggling to function through his anxiety.

Now off to Central Market for produce... the kids were sure the homeless guys were going to murder us. So add more anxiety, plus mom's freaking out because of prices! Its been a long time since I was in there!

We grabbed some lunch... dashed back to make a meeting time.

Off to appointment #3. Traffic, I am sure I hit every red light in the city!!

Now I was late for appointment #4, which was my hair cut! So I canceled that.

Made a quick stop at walmart, picked up formula and groceries for Mrs. R, my neighbor. But I forgot my phone and couldn't remember everything she needed. So back to the car, a quick call and a stop at Amelia's for the forgotten items.

Back to pick up...

Now on the way home. Tired, grumpy kids in the backseat. Mom, incredibly irritable right now. Oldest son, mirroring mom. There is nothing quite like seeing your impatient, frustrated and snappy self mirrored in your child!

Stop #5, CVS .... The original meds I needed are on back order, insurance won't pay for the alternative... frustrated! I wasted a good 30 mins driving over there!

Home... Finally.

I gave the kids 15 mins to unwind before chores and moving towards evening routines. I locked myself in my room, with orders to not interrupt me, unless there is blood! Sat down, took a deep breath... ahhhh THE BUS IS  HERE! NESIAH IS HOME!

Let's try again... Nesiah is home and comfortable.  10 mins guys, 10 mins of peace I need it! NOW!
Sat down on my bed, took a deep breath, ahhhh... phone rings! Its the specialist. She and I discuss the meds. I spent the next 15 mins on the phone trying to find another pharmacy to fill the script.

Pharmacy calls... they can fill the script, but they are based in center city. My heart sinks, that will mean 3 trips to the city next week. But wait, she is asking for my address... THEY DELIVER! tears of joy!

But I will need to be home between 6-9 pm tonight and Nesiah still needs to be taken to respite, 30 mins one way...

Turn off the oven, pack up the littles, load up whining, grumping, but helpful kiddoes... we are now on 7 hrs of running after being home only 45 mins.

The sun breaks through the clouds, the air is warm... Its time to count my blessings.

Spring is coming...

The sun is shining..

I have willing babysitters...

I have a working vehicle and money for gas...


my kiddoes are good and willing helpers....

my big kid sitters tomorrow are coming to MY HOUSE and watching the kids ALL day and making two meals for them. That is almost as good as winning the lottery!

All kids are sound asleep in bed, house is clean and ready for sitters tomorrow...

We were able to enjoy the most beautiful setting sun, pink glow, fog, shimmery snow, fiery sunset and God's holy presence as we drove that hour at dusk.

Add in some loud music and relieved kids and it became a fun evening!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Homeschool P.E

The boys have been running at the local Rec Center's running club with their favorite coach, Mr. B. Who also happens to attend our church. 

In October Mr. B had arranged a race for the elementary kids at Nesiah's school.
Lee, David and Elizabeth all ran in the race. I believe each one ran 1/2 mile.

David came in the top 4 for his grade. He advanced to Regionals at the high school several weeks later.
Elizabeth did great in the girls division! 


Lee was strongly encouraged by Mr. B to run this race. It was a huge challenge for Lee. He is not naturally a runner. He has to work very hard at this particular sport.
He ran and he persevered. He wanted to give up, but he did  not. He gave it his all and was able to finish the race. I was very proud of his perseverance and determination. 

(Before the race)

David is a natural. He runs like the wind. I am green with envy.

He got to run with many, many kids at the high school.
He did a great job. But learned that running is more then speed. 

(after the race)

David and Lindsey, on the day of the Regionals.

Weekly Homeschooling Routine...

Routine is incredibly important for my kiddoes. They need to know what is coming next, what will happen tomorrow. What to expect etc... Some of my kids even benefit from having me walk them through different steps of coping skills to deal with unexpected and unwanted interruptions so that they don't erupt.

The benefit of routine has been huge since our last family addition...

We have morning routines, meal time routines, school routines, afternoon routines, evening routines. Meals are always served between 7-9 am, 11-1 pm and 5-6 pm.

I write out routines and schedules. The daily routines, like getting up, meals, clean up and school work are posted on the fridge. The weekly routine for appointments and social activities are made up every Saturday, then the daily activities are adjusted as needed to fit those.

Some weeks, we double up on school, other weeks we do the bare minimum. I do my best to schedule all appointments between 1 and 2 pm. This allows me to finish school, do all my morning routines, get to appointments and be back home in time to get Nesiah off the bus and dinner on the table.

I just revamped our schedule to adjust  to the kids activities and our new helpers.

We have choir  practice and running club on Mondays. Miss D, our mother's helper comes to the house and cleans for me, while I take the kids to their activities. (this is the ideal, which has not happened in 3 weeks and I am fighting tooth and nail to get back on track!) We do math and count the choir (music) and running club (P.E) hours for school.

We babysit on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 2 lil boys, delightful, but energetic. They do really well at adapting to our "big" school days. It also motivates my kiddoes to hurry along so they can play.

Thursdays has become the day for random appointments. As a foster parent we have lots of therapists, caseworkers, and therapists, in addition to Dr appointments, regular and specialists.

Friday has become my CYS day. Miss J, my new helper will be watching the big kids. I hope to run to market for fresh produce on Fridays, taking one kiddoe each week, as a "momma date".  Miss J will help the kiddoes  with school and make  weekly freezer meals for us.

Saturday is kickback day... we like to sleep in, eat pancakes, listen to Ranger Bill and Odyssey.
Saturday is also hair day... 3 african american girls = lots of tears and sweat! #lovemygirlsdreadcombingthem

Sunday is church, we love our little church. The kids are motivated to get moving on Sunday mornings and it is rarely a time we are late. They hate being late! Sundays are a day of rest, literally. I need my Sunday afternoon nap, like an addict needs his next fix.

Coming up next... more schedules and routines. I am OCD. I make no apologies.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

homeschooling in winter time on the farm!

I have not seen this much snow, since I was a kid! It  comes, one storm after another. We had one big storm with over 15'' of snow, followed by several smaller storms.
  My driveway, while very small and easy to get in an out of, is an absolute mess. We have three of these huge piles of snow, much to the kids delight!  

They have had loads of fun, they build igloos and forts. It has really helped with the winter blues.
They get outside, dig, build, imagine and expand energy. (very important for the mothers of 9 yr old boys)

Our neighbors have blessed us abundantly this winter. Every snow storm my driveway gets plowed. Often in the morning before they go to work.

I am so thankful for warmer temperatures with this last storm. The kids play for hours without getting cold. They come inside soaked through layers of snow clothes. 

We thought this was a lot of snow.... then the real storms began.
We had cold, cold winter days through December and the beginning of January. The water pipes in the barn froze again and again.
The kids had to drag water down the hill.

More snow... it keeps coming.... and coming... and coming... 

This was after 2 days of snowing... the big storm of the year. I can  not keep my bird feeders filled!
We woke up this morning to another 2 in or so of snow. I am done now. Ready for warmer weather! Sunshine. pools. shorts. bike rides. hiking.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Starting over

I have blogged over the years. I first blogged on when Mr. was sick. After his death, I blogged on xanga. When I got serious about parenting and adoption, I switched to blogger.
I enjoy writing, it is therapeutic for me, when I have the time.

We are in a season where the biggest part of our lives can not be blogged.

However I want to remember these days. I want to remember the days in the trenches with 6 kids, homeschooling, living on a tight budget, single parenting,  watching my kids heal and move forward in life, and learning to eat gluten free.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I missed you...

It has been a long time since I stopped by here.
Life has changed.
I am making some changes.