Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Homeschool Adventures: Shakespeare, Brave Writer, & a new High Schooler

Even though I consider us year-round homeschoolers, we always have week when the officially, or maybe unofficially :), move up in grade level.  This year we did it the week before our church moved all the kids up in classes.  It’s a fun time to take their “school pictures”, start a new study or implement a different approach to something, etc.

This year we started out our new school year studying Shakespeare.  We kicked it off with going to a free performance at a park, and we plan go to another one this weekend.  We read through A Midsummer’s Night Dream aloud (a children’s version, that was easy to understand), as well as passages from the original. The kids are all memorizing bits of this play as well. One of the books we are using is How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. Our local museum, in which we have a pass, has a Shakespeare exhibit going on right now that we will go to next week. I haven't planned everything out but I think after we finish with our initial study (his life, studying a few more plays in depth, etc.) that we will continue to just read aloud some of the other plays throughout the rest of the school year. 

Poetry Tea Time is another thing that we started last month before our new start of school, it was an idea we got from Brave Writer (a new, not just writing, but learning philosophy we’ve been into, which I am loving(!) it basically reaffirms everything I have been doing/my own homeschooling style, and is giving us some fun new ideas) In the past we have done many “tea parties” and things like read aloud’s with hot chocolate, etc., so the idea of pairing poetry with a tea party was super appealing to me!  My 11 year old is really into it and picked out a tea pot and tea cups from an antique store for her birthday, she sets our table every time.  We’ve been doing it once a week and the girls usually take turns (or the boys will help me) making a homemade treat to go with it…and this is why even my boys love poetry tea time!  They won’t complain about reading poetry when there’s treats involved!  We’ve also had fun including friends or Nana in our poetry tea times.

Freewriting Fridays is another “Brave Writer” thing I have started this new school year with my oldest 3 children, ages 14,11, and 9.  Each Friday they free-write about anything they want, I will give them a topic only if they ask.  It’s completely free writing, I don't check it for mistakes of any kind and they don't even have to show it to me if they don't want to, it just goes in their binder. After 8 weeks they will each get to pick out which piece of their writing they want to improve on/revise/share with someone outside the family. So far they have enjoyed this and it seems to have inspired even more writing out of them.  My 11 year old has always been working on stories and writes poetry, plays, etc. But last week my 9 year old wrote a cute story/play all on her own, 4 pages handwritten front and back. She wanted to work on it by herself but has trouble with spelling so I told her to just spell it how it sounds so that SHE could read it to me and then as she read it to me I typed it all out for her, spelling everything correcting and adding appropriate punctuation, then we emailed it to my mom who printed it off, put it in a “Lily’s Stories” folder, and gave it to her. She loves it!

Even though it is still summertime the weather hasn’t been too hot so we have been getting outside and doing a lot of nature activities that sometimes we don’t do until fall.  We’ve been doing little nature classes at a nearby “Discovery Garden” each week, my 8 year old boy is obsessed with the little frog ponds there, last week he found 8 and his hoping to beat that number tomorrow when we go again.  

My oldest is doing high school now, which is intimidating and sometimes gives me anxiety.  My laid back, unschoolerish approach works wonderfully with my younger ones but when I think about high school credits, ACT/SAT testing, colleges, etc. it can be scary!  We have never done testing, I don't grade papers, we just learn, I know that they are learning because they can narrate it back to me, or draw a picture of it, or tell dad about it, etc.  I’ve never felt the need to keep track of things so that has been a challenge already for my oldest, she is keeping track of all her hours in each subject so that we make sure she gets the credits she needs.  She has picked and pieced together her own curriculum or topics to study this year, but she has no idea what she wants to do after high school and whether that will involve college or not.  This is the first time in a long time that I have felt like I don't know what I’m doing when it comes to homeschooling.  She’s in her fourth week of high school and so far I feel like we’ve been able to have a good balance between bookwork type things and hands-on fun learning for her.  I definitely don't want it to be all work and no play but I also want her to be prepared for college or whatever else she wants to do, so just keeping a good mix of both will be the key for her high school years, i guess????

Well, at any rate we have some fun (and educational) things planned coming up over the next month and I have been enjoying being able to gather ALL of them around to learn.

Back to HomeSchool Picture
Brave Writer online "camp" I did the beginning of August

My evening out planning and getting mentally prepared for the upcoming school year, it was wonderful!

big brother pumping water for baby brother


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Homeschooling Adventures: Castles, Cacti, & Hikes

 Schools around here are all on summer break, for us not much has changed though.  We do “school” through the summer, but it doesn’t really look like “school”.  Here are a few of the things we have done over the last couple months (I had originally started writing this at the end of May but it’s already July now!)   

My mom and step-dad went on a trip to New Mexico/Arizona about two months ago and that sparked an interest in the cactus, particularly in my oldest son.  When they got back from the trip my mom brought over a book called Cactus Hotel and the kids all wrote or drew a picture (or both) about what they learned from it. Since then any time we come across a picture of a cactus they have to point it out. 

Something that was really cool for me (and the kids, of course) is that we got to go to a castle.  It’s called Chateau Laroche, around here it is called the Loveland Castle.  It was neat learning the history of how a guy built it himself, sort of as a replica of medieval castles in France, and about knighthood, etc. The kids all thought it was neat and wished they could have explored the locked areas! I had written a paper about Chateau Laroche when I was in school so the kids got to read that and see pictures that my mom had given me that she took of the castle from over 30 years ago.  That inspired them to paint pictures of castles, a few to write their own papers, and we also found a nice book of pictures/descriptions of castles from Britain and Ireland.

We have been visited several local parks as well as doing our neighborhood nature walk thing we do.  When we go do this stuff, especially hikes, I try to make sure we can take our time, we can walk slow and notice the different plants, interesting scenery, etc.  We usually have things we want to come home and look up, like “what does poison ivy look like?”/“what is that bird called?”/“what type of butterfly is that?”  

Sometimes I feel emotional about just how fast time seems to be going, BUT it is fun how the kids are all getting older (besides the baby, who is usually happy to go along for the adventures as long as he’s strapped to me!).  They are all big enough to do things like hikes that a few years ago we couldn't really do when we had several young kids at once, even my 5 year old can walk over 2 1/2 miles without much complaint, she’s use to having to keep up with all her older siblings! (even when we got lost in the woods for over an hour on a hike, she complained less than some of the older ones hahaha!)

Baby is waking up so I will save the rest of what we've been doing for another post!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Homeschool Adventures: Farm & Fossil (Spring)

Trying something new here, I have written many posts on random homeschooling topics but I would like to start writing more regularly on just our everyday homeschool life. 

As I sit here typing this I have the baby (well, 1 year old, I can still say baby, right?) asleep attached to me in a wrap, my oldest daughter (13) sitting about 6 feet away reading, and the rest of the kids downstairs doing what they call “Summer’s School”; where my 10 year old, Summer, puts together a lesson and craft for the others, ages 9, 8, 6, and 5.  This little routine has become sort of an afternoon quiet time lately, doesn't happen everyday, but when it does I enjoy it!

Part of my vision for homeschooling is just doing fun things with the kids where they are learning without even realizing it, I love the unschooled approach where learning is based off the interests of the children, and I especially love then I can get ALL the kids together as a group learning things, working together, sharing ideas with each other…that makes a large family mama happy!  Too bad half the time things end in fights and them yelling at each other!  But I will take that other half of the time when they do get along as a win!

Last week we visited a little local farm down the street, we have been there a lot of times but not  yet this year.  We had a great time exploring the grounds, seeing the animals (and trying to coax them closer), and really just enjoying the beautiful day.  Everyone had their own favorite parts so to extend on it I asked them to put together something to share with each other.  My oldest helped my five year old look up some facts on turtles and wrote sentences for her (and 6 yr old) to copy. My 10 year old wrote a little paper on horses after pulling out several of our horse books and finding interesting facts.  My 9 year old spotted a cool bird while we there and found it in our bird book so she drew it and memorized some of the facts to share. My 9 year drew a detailed picture including all his favorite things from the day.  The next day they all went around a circle sharing what they had come up with and a few of them then wrote a couple sentences about what they learned from someone else.   THIS example is one of my favorite things about homeschooling, especially homeschooling lots of kids!  It is NOT easy to homeschool several children, but things like this make it fun and worth the effort and reminds me of some of my reasons why I homeschool. 

Today we did something similar, this time we went to a local Fossil Park, again somewhere that we have been several times but not this year.  Before we went my 10 year old found one of our fossil books to bring with us in the van.  We pulled out shovels, buckets, magnifying glasses, rulers, etc. We love going there, it is basically just a BIG hill covered in rocks and fossils (and casts as we learned).  They think its awesome getting to hike up and down it with their buckets finding “treasures” to bring down to the bottom to share with each other.  They measured and compared a bunch their and then each selected a small one to bring home to study more (we will bring them back next time we go;)  At home they got a closer look, wrote a bit about it, my 13 year old looked up facts in a science book to share, and each selected a few “Rocks & Minerals” cards that we will look at/read tomorrow when they get out their rock collections as we expand the study, hey maybe we will even bring some math into it using all those rocks!   Sounds like a success right? I won't mention the moments when one person is yelling over another, kids fighting over who does what first, and baby trying to get into everything!

We had an “ART” day last week when everyone got a canvas or canvas paper to paint on and some of them looked through art books for inspiration.  We pulled out the big easel, covered the school table with paints, brushes, and sponges, then they all painted whatever they wanted.  I even got to work on a painting, which makes me very happy! (I love to paint but don’t take the time to it nearly as much as I would like!)

Fossil Park

The kids also just made slime,  which was just another simple, fun thing they all worked together to do (found recipe, gather supplies, measured, mixed, etc.) with no help from me! :) That’s always nice!  Actually they made slime twice in the past two days, the first time was a bit of a fail since they didn't use a recipe and just started combining different things they (mostly my oldest) thought would work, haha.

Ok, enough for now, time to make dinner before 3 of them go to soccer!   

"Parky's Farm"

The slime

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Where do I begin?? Dylan has` been the highlight of all of our lives since he’s been born.  He is just such a cool little dude, and SOO adorable, we still ooohhh and aaahhhh over him all day long!  

There was a period of time after losing the other babies (in 2014) when I couldn't imagine feeling this kind of happiness again….but THIS…this is why they call them rainbow babies, he is a rainbow in our lives that wouldn’t have been able to have made such an impact on us had we not gone through the losses.

I can’t quite believe he’s a whole year old already, it goes so fast.  Part of me wants him to just stay my little baby, but the other part of me is LOVING how much fun he is as he gets bigger, along with his big personality showing! 

I never let any of the other kids co-sleep with us, but Dylan does.  All the others took good naps in their crib, Dylan still naps attached to me in a wrap.  He still nurses several times during the night, which means it’s been a year since I slept through the night.  It’s never taken me this long to lose the baby weight, still working on it. It’s much harder to baby proof this time around, I don't know if it’s because he’s just into more than the others or if it’s because the others leave their stuff all over the place.  I have trouble getting things done because he wants to be with me all the time! There may be a lot of things about having him that make life more difficult but those things are nothing compared to everything he brings to our lives.

I am still feeling like he is our last baby, which means this is the last time we will be celebrating a "Babies First Birthday", he has already had all his first holidays.  It is bittersweet.  Kinda makes we want to cry actually, I get emotional thinking about fast he's growing up.

Looking back through his scrapbook over this past year (+pregnancy) I am almost brought to tears by how much fear I felt at times through the pregnancy, how perfect he was when he was born, how small he was just one year ago, how much he has grown, but man my heart just explodes with thankfulness.  He isn’t just the rainbow, he's the whole pot of gold!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Rainbow Baby is 6 months old!

Hey, everyone!  I know I haven't written much recently at all, in a way I feel like I achieved the purpose I started this blog for in the beginning…to share my story of losing my babies.

 I do like to write though, when I make the time for it, so I will continue to do so on and off, if that’s ok?? :) And, of course, I wanted to give a quick update since my sweet rainbow baby is now SIX months old!! 

Life is a bit chaotic (overwhelming/
crazy!)  at times, keeping up with 7 children including homeschooling, so I have had trouble finding time to just sit down and write when I can actually focus on what I want to say!  I started a post a few months ago about having a teenager, baby, (and several in between) but I got like a paragraph into it and then got busy with something, or most likely SOMEONE else, and never went back to finish it….whoops!

I can’t believe it’s been six months since I gave birth to baby Dylan, he has changed so much already though, he’s huge!  He has big chunky legs and rolls on his wrists! It’s so funny!  He sure does love mommy’s milk and still nurses like every 2 hours during the day, even through the night there are some nights he will eat every two hours, and some nights he will go longer in between.  He has been going through a growth spurt or something and waking up even more than when he was a newborn, so that can get exhausting…but he did better last night, so there’s hope!

I am SOOO thankful that he is part of our family, we are all crazy about him!  He gets too much attention if that’s possible, which I would say it isn't possible except for the fact that now he’s pretty spoiled and will only nap in a baby wrap attached to me and always wants someone to talk to him and play with him, ALWAYS, haha!  I am “trying” to get him to nap in a crib, it worked once recently for 20 minutes. That’s it.  I will keep trying.  I don't really mind him napping attached to me (I love having him snuggled up against me!) but I think it might help him do better during the night if he would sleep alone for naps some, plus it would be nice to be able to get more done during his naps…so we’ll see how it goes. 

Every morning my other sons, ages 6 & 7, come jumping up on the bed to see baby Dylan and he loves it, he smiles and laughs at them and they are so happy to see him, it totally melts my heart, one of my favorite times of the day for sure.

I can't imagine our life without him...I think a lot about our babies we lost, and I guess that just makes me even more thankful for Dylan, more attached to him (he's 6 months old and I have only left the house without him twice, for like an hour or less each time!) more emotional and sentimental about him, more protective of him...he was worth the wait, he was worth going through everything.  I don't know "why" we had to go through the storms but I do trust in God's plan.  He is my rainbow.  And it's hard to believe he is halfway to one year old already! Slow down time!!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Baby Boy is Six Weeks!

Hey everyone!  I have been wanting to write a post to update you all for a while but getting things accomplished with a newborn is easier said than done!   Currently baby boy is snoozing on my chest :)

Dylan is six weeks old today!  He is doing great!  All the kids have adjusted wonderfully to him, I have a lot of big helpers.  My older two daughters like to cook/bake so they can easily take over fixing meals when Dylan needs his mommy!  We up-sized to a 12 passenger van that we call “the truck” 3 days before he was born and I can drive that thing like a pro now! (Notice, I didn’t say I can park it like a pro haha! but I’m not too bad) 

Having 6 other kids means that, even though I have simplified our schedule as much as I can, there has still been dance classes/recitals, story-times, homeschool playdates, park days, etc. since he’s been born, not to mention everyone still needs clean clothes, clean bathrooms, and to eat several times a day(!) but I still spend a lot of time sitting snuggling with him in a big comfy chair in the living room just like the first week he was born…sometimes it makes me feel lazy, like I should just lay him down and get something done…but I am really cherishing this time with my precious baby.  My postpartum healing was worse than previous times (even now I still have a bit of spotting) so baby Dylan and I have really gotten into the habit of taking every opportunity to sit and rest together.

These first 6 weeks have flown by, I am already packing away a few onesies and sleepers that he has grown out of, didn't I JUST have him?? But it’s a good thing, breastfeeding is going great and I’m so glad he growing just as he should be!  On the other hand, I have 20 pounds to lose, I have wanted to make sure my milk is well established so I haven’t tried to lose weight yet, but I have always struggled with body image issues, even at my lowest weight, so it can be very depressing at times when I am trying to figure out what to wear and nothing fits! Trying to cut myself some slack, he’s ONLY 6 weeks old.

Getting ready for bed, I put him in a cloth
diaper over his disposable to prevent leaks,
Brian calls them his "fancy pants"!
We are getting into a little bit of a routine, like he seems to know when it is actually bedtime because that is when he gets swaddled, nurses extra and gets put in his crib which is right next to our bed, he will usually sleep for 4-5 hours before waking to nurse, then after that he goes (hopefully) another 2.5 hours maybe, then at that point it’s like 4 or 5 a.m. and that tends to be his fussy/gassy/grunting time when I just pull him into bed with me for the rest of the night/morning.  So I am getting some sleep, but I haven’t always been going to bed when he does because I need that little break when all the kids are in bed to spend time with my husband, it’s hard to juggle the need to sleep vs the need to have some time to yourself and marriage.

He is quite a needy baby during the day, I can have him sound asleep in my arms for a nap but if I lay him down to go to the bathroom or try to do something then most of the time he will wake up right away and cry for me…Brian says “You created that because you hold him ALL the time”…and yeah that may be true but so what, he’s only little like this for such a short time and I love that he wants me all the time.

Having a newborn is a full-time job, and a job I so desperately wanted and prayed for, it’s not always easy but it is SOOO worth it!  I still get tears in my eyes sometimes when I look at him and think about how blessed and thankful I am to have him.   After losing my two babies in 2014 I had this emptiness inside my heart and since having baby Dylan I feel like our family is complete now, it is a wonderful feeling.

Look at that smile!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

My Rainbow Baby~The Birth Story

Baby Dylan is here!!

The Birth Story

Last Sunday, April 17th, I had been up and down the stairs a lot through the day just doing laundry and cleaning, etc. so when I was feeling extra pressure “down there” and some random contractions (which I assumed where just braxton hicks) I figured it was just because I was on my feet a lot.  Around 8:45 the contractions started to become a little more regular but at that point I was still not thinking it was the real thing (I remember with one of my other kids I had a couples hours of contractions that ended up being nothing) and I didn't want to start getting my hopes up.  I went to lay down in bed and read around 9:30-10 figuring they would just go away.  

I ended up falling asleep only to be woken up a short time later (a little after 11pm)with stronger contractions, then I began to feel a slow leak, I managed to slowly make my way up to the bathroom before the big gush. I just stood there shocked for a moment, my water had never broken at home before, but I had been hoping it would!  I grabbed a big pad and went to wake up Brian to tell him it was time to go to the hospital, I didn't bother calling the doctor on call first because my water wasn't clear (it had meconium in it) and with my contractions beginning to get strong I knew we should just get over there. 

When we got there I was 5cm dilated.  With the last several kids I hadn't had an epidural but with this one I was not as set on not getting one as I was with the others, the delivery of my 6th child was very rough and I just didn't want to go through that again.  So when the nurse asked me about it I told her I was still deciding.  The more I progressed the more I felt like I just didn't want to do it natural this time, so when she checked me again and I was 6 1/2-7 cm I told her I was ready for the epidural.   I am glad I did it.  About an hour and a half later I was 10 cm but he wasn’t moving down well because is head was turned to the side so the nurse had me lay on my side to try to get him to turn it…after a little while she decide I should just try pushing and see if that moves him.  

I was worried that the pushing would take a long time since I couldn't feel what I was doing (with all the ones I went natural with I pushed so “well” that it only took a couple pushes because the pain was so intense I just needed it to be over!).  I pushed through 2 contractions with the nurse before she got her phone out and said jokingly “I’m calling the doctor, I don't get paid to deliver the babies” ha! I was happy that my pushes where that effective when I couldn't feel them!  The Dr. came in and I delivered my baby in the first push with the doctor….relief doesn't begin to explain what I felt as he came out and they put him on top of me.  It was such an amazing feeling. He was born at 5:29am and was 6lbs 9oz. I would have wanted to hold him longer but with my water having the meconium in it they needed to check him out right away, he was wonderful though!  

I got him back in my arms very soon though and snuggled him skin to skin calming him down (he came out crying and hadn't stopped yet!)  He calmed enough to try to nurse for the first time and then fell asleep, they wanted to give him his bath after that but I asked for them to wait awhile since he was so peaceful at the time…and I just wanted to keep staring at him!  

Two hours after delivery is when they move you into postpartum,  I hadn't gone to the bathroom yet and they were threatening to put in a catheter, which I did not want! Luckily the nurse gave me a little longer and I was able to go on my own.   As the epidural wore off I began to feel how sore I was, I tore and had stitches…I asked the Dr. when he was doing the stitches how bad it was and he said it was a 2nd degree tear.  I didn't know at the time that it meant that tissue and muscle tore instead of just tissue….it has been so so painful this week!!  Today is the first day I have been able to even walk across the room without being in pain.

Since my water broke so late at night I didn't call or text anyone that I was in labor so it was fun to be able to surprise family by sending a picture of Dylan first thing in the morning.  They had no idea!  

It’s hard to put into words how blessed and thankful I am to have baby Dylan here in my arms (he is currently napping on my chest:) and I praise God everyday for him! It has been a long and heartbreaking journey at times, that really started two years ago when we had our first loss.  Holding this sweet little boy makes it all worth it,  the storms were harder than I ever thought it could be but it has turned into something beautiful, he truly is my rainbow baby.