Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Nearly finished

My whirlwind, last minute, obsessive bout of school planning is nearly done. Once it is, and I've caught up with everything I've been neglecting, I'm going to update my homeschooling page. It is woefully out of date and I know some of you may be interested in what we are studying this year and what resources we will be using. (And by putting it all there, I will spare the rest of you tedious information that you really don't care about.) I'll let you know when it is done.

And I do have a lot of resources to list. Here is the stack of books (minus a few yet to arrive from the library and the regular texts that everyone uses for math and English) that made the cut.

When D. saw the pile of books we would be reading this year, he was a little concerned. His first question was, "Do you think we have enough?" Yep, that's my boy.

To show you the number of books I've slogged through over the past week or so, here is the stack that didn't make the cut and will be going back to the library today.

Now, to put all of this away, put the finishing touches on each child's printed schedule, and make a couple learning activities and quiet time bags.

Almost done...

Monday, August 31, 2015


I wanted to share a little personal achievement with all of you, but first you need some backstory to fully appreciate it.

I have never been terribly athletic. It was the combination of not being able to do something well the first time and little natural interest. (Equestrian sports aside, of course. For those I have both aptitude and interest.) I was the child who hated PE. The child who was always one of the last to finish that dang 600 m. run. (Oh, how I loathed the 600.) The child who preferred sitting and reading to just about anything else. It was a good thing I was also blessed with a fairly high metabolism to make up for my sedentary preferences.

Fast forward to a body who gave birth to a set of large and full-term twins combined with heading rapidly towards age 50. (For those of you a little ahead of me, you know exactly what's coming, don't you?) You see, it seems that as we age our metabolism can slow down a bit. Okay, a lot. It also seems that at the same time our metabolism is slowing down, hormone levels are deciding to kick it up a notch, or ten. It makes for a rather toxic cocktail.

All this is to say why last summer, I decided that I had to something to if not reverse, at least stem the affects a bit. I really felt as though God was nudging me to run. I would have this little voice say to me, "You should start running." My reply to that little voice was always, "What are you insane (and since I was seeming to talk to myself, that was a valid question.) I don't run." And that statement was true. I didn't run. Ever. This conversation played itself out more than a few times until one day I found myself in the store buying running shoes.

Well, having spent money on those shoes, I felt as though I needed to use them... at least a little bit. So, without telling anyone what I was doing, I started. As I've already told you, I've never been in great shape. When I started I could only (barely) run one block and then had to walk the next. Over time I could run two blocks, walking the next, and so on and so on.

So I find it nothing short of amazing that last week I discovered that I could run the entire mile and a quarter.

Other than the fact that I am pretty amazed, why I am sharing this with you? Mainly it's because the difference this regular exercise has made in my mental health. I can't say that I have noticed a significant change in dress size (which, truly is why I do this), but I keep going because of the change in my outlook on life. There really is something to this exercise-thing. I feel better about myself and that spills over into all sorts of things. I notice a huge difference in the days where I run and the days where I don't. I just cope better.

And now I come to the real point of this post. If you find yourself in a similar situation, try getting out and starting some sort of exercise. I don't have anything to sell you, it just has made a pretty significant difference in my being able to deal with life. For the record, I still don't like it. I am never going to be a marathon runner. I find it dreadfully dull and cannot wait to be done. I make it marginally more bearable by putting language CD's on my iPod and listening to that. But I keep doing it because of how I feel afterwards. The running may be boring, but it certainly makes the day go better.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Poor little girls

G. and L. (and K. and H. to some extent) have had a hard day. This morning, J. (along with some littles) helped B. move into the house he is sharing for the school year. At one point, J. looks and sees G. sitting on a tree root, looking extremely glum. B. spent some time holding her before J. took everyone home.

Life has been hard and things have not been good today for people. Life has also been loud since little people are having difficulty regulating their emotions. The low point came when J. headed up to the little girls' room to sort out the aftermath of a World War III scale battle between the two of them over doll clothes. When he gets there, he sees G. sitting on her bed with her little bottom lip quivering and L. curled up in a fetal position on the floor. When he says, "It's really hard to say good-bye to A. and B., isn't it?" The flood gates open and he has sobbing girls on his hands.

So it turns out to be a very good thing that we are not trying to start school in Monday. We need a week to recover from saying good-by and to do some fun stuff. The down side of a large family is that older brothers and sisters head off to school and the little people who adore them are left behind. It's not all bad, though, because it shows how much love there is between all of them.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Moving In

Today was move-in day for freshmen and so we piled into the van along with all of A.'s stuff (which wasn't a whole lot) and took her to school. We will miss her a lot, but she is oh, so ready for this next new adventure.

Her dorm

Unloading the van

Does she look a little excited?

With all the stuff piled in the little, bitty room, before any organizing or sorting took place.

B. with L., G., and K. standing in the hallway. (No room inside the room for everyone.)

Bunking the beds. (B. is handy to have around and M. is on the other side, you just can't see her.)


Really, they knew each other before this. (Both also have parents who teach at the university.)


The requisite family picture. We're missing M. She stopped by a couple of times to see the progress, but had to go back to work before we organized a picture. (It's really handy when you're entire family all works at or attends the same university.)

This is what the room looked like when we left to feed the masses. I'm sure it is all organized by now. Some of us will be returning for the new student family dinner this evening.

It seems a bit odd to have a third child entering college. It will take a while for everyone to sort themselves out a bit to fill in the void that our energetic, bouncy, and funny A. will leave while she is gone. 


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Drowning in books

Normally this would be a good thing. Right now, though, having put off my homeschool planning for the coming school year, it means feeling a little overwhelmed. From past experience, I know this is a passing feeling and as that I sit and look at them and sort and re-sort them into piles, the important ones (for us, for this year) will rise to the surface and I will begin to make sense of it all. The trouble is, I usually allow a couple of weeks for this sorting process and I really need to be done in a few days.

Part of the difficulty is that we have moved along to the Renaissance in our cyclical cycle of history. As we get closer to our own time, the breadth of things to learn about increases dramatically. It's pretty easy to take the resources for Ancient Egypt, fit them in a school calendar and have it be all nice and tidy. Not so much with the Renaissance. I could make any one aspect of the era take up an entire semester (or year!), so trying to fit the whole thing in just goes against my compulsive tendencies to learn everything I can about something before moving on. Plus there are so many really good historical fiction chapter books for this time period. How does one possibly fit all of those in as well?

But that's just half of my difficulties with planning the school year. The other part is that I realize I have a goofy combination of abilities this year. P. is in high school, so she is pretty much on her own. TM and D. are now in middle school and all the rest are in the pre-reading, focusing on phonics group. They are great listeners, so that's good, but there is a definite ability gap between the two groups. For someone who likes to combine children together this makes for a tricky dynamic. I'm still letting ideas about how to deal with this flit about in my head as well.

It all boils down to  there is a whole lot of ideas floating around inside my head, but nothing to grab onto and put down on paper. What it looks like from the outside is me picking up a book, looking at it, putting it back down. Looking up something on the computer. Writing another book idea down on my list. Picking up a book, etc. etc.

Of course, having the 12 year old being three again today (and the 6 year olds doing a mighty fine rendition of the terrible twos) doesn't help the thought processes. Plus I get to try to make the schedule flexible enough to accommodate a three week trip to China at some unknown point in time. I keep telling myself I like a challenge.

Here is what my desk area looks like at the moment.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

National Dog Day

What would I do without Facebook? How else would I know that today is National Dog Day? Thank goodness I have been saved from missing out on this major holiday. In honor of the occasion, I present you with a brief poem in honor of Gretel, completely and totally stolen from a meme I saw on, you guessed it, Facebook. Without further ado...

We were brave.

We were fierce.

We were wild.

We roamed free.

And then we discovered you had couches.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

And now we are 12

One of the things about older child adoption is that you just never know what age your child is going to be. Now I don't mean that the paperwork is wrong and you're not sure if it is correct, though that certainly is a very real thing. No, I'm talking about what age your child is going to be on any given day, or at any given moment. It's a moving target.

As I wrote about earlier, H. has been going through some emotionally younger ages recently, which even though it's hard, is a very good thing. Every child needs to move through these developmental stages to reach full health and maturity, and for adopted children with a trauma history, their past did not allow for them to do this work at the optimal time and so they do it later. 

What I find to be the trickiest thing, though, is that while they are doing this younger work, they are also continuing to do the work of their chronological age. This is also healthy and appropriate. It is also the cause of a bit of parental whip lash as their parents try to keep up with whichever developmental age they happened to jump to at that moment.

Case in point. The day after the post about H.'s regressive behavior, she was happily and calmly spending her day making complex origami creations. (She really wanted me to share these with everyone.) The frames are made separately from the stands behind them which are separate from the pictures she drew to put in them. I think  friend showed her how to make them initially, but from that point, she was completely on her own. I have no idea how to make them. Considering where she started three years ago, this is no small feat. 

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