A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

A Moment of Silence

I want to take a moment of silence today.  I want to stop and remember the American lives lost this year.  

First, the more than 250,000 who died of COVID.  We, as a people, never expected this.  Epidemics are things that happen in other places, to other people.  We’re a modern nation.  We somehow believe we’re “safe” here.  That even if we do get sick, modern medicine can heal us.  (Newsflash, God heals; medicine treats.)  

Let’s hold space for those who died because they were unable to access health care for other maladies.  Those who died because important procedures were delayed or cancelled.  Those who were afraid to go to the hospital when they needed to, and missed out on life-saving treatment.  

Let us remember those who succumbed to suicide and drug overdose, during this stressful time of hopelessness.  

Be mindful, even, of the expected deaths, whether from old age or terminal illness, those who spent their last days/weeks alone, because loved ones weren’t permitted to hold their hand and ease their passage.  

We must recognize that America is grieving.  We’ve lost so many of the unique individuals that make up our amazing country.  Grief is hard.  Grief comes with many emotions.  We’re cranky due to grief.  

The fear, anger, and divisiveness we’re seeing online is magnified because for many of us, it’s our only human interaction outside our household.  Online interactions have always had the potential to become confrontational, due to the lack of voice inflection and body language.  We can’t read each other’s intent, we can only read their words, and we’re not always careful with our words.  But in the pre-COVID world, online interactions were a smaller part of our social life.  Now, they’re almost the entirety.  I can’t dilute the online strife with chatting with other moms at the park about homeschooling.  I can’t forget the pandemic by laughing with a fellow volunteer at Book Den over a hilarious title that comes across our sorting table.  I’m not getting the weekly puppy kisses and grateful thank yous from volunteering at the animal vaccine clinic.  I miss the elation of participating in a 5K race with hundreds of other people.  

At a time when we should be drawing closer together, our leader is fueling the divisiveness.  Instead of graciously bowing out, and wishing us all the best, he’s practically clawing at the columns to hold on to the White House.  

Let’s take a moment of silence for all the lives lost this year.  Then another moment for the less tangible things we’ve lost.  Because mask/no mask, Trump/no Trump, open up/shut down, we’ve somehow created a culture where it’s okay to attack and disparage our friends.  And that grieves me, too.  Like I always tell my kids, “Be kind humans.”  

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Our Germany, Turkey, Spain Week

Somewhere around the start of the school year, we sent off letters to the embassies of all the planned countries we would be learning about (I did not have the foresight to anticipate adding several extra countries along the way).  Mexico was the first to respond, but we'd already finished Mexico by the time their little packet got here.  

Germany went all out, sending us this array of goodies.  Josiah swiped a bracelet, Brianna swiped a pen, I gave the girls the color change pencils the first day we started Germany.  But the coolest thing in the package turned out to be...

...this wall map!  It's actually double sided, with the political map on one side and the physical map on the other.  We used it to locate some of the highlights we learned about in Germany, including the Black Forest, the Berlin Wall, the Elbphilharmonie, Neuschwanstein Castle, a Cold War era listening post, and a Volkswagen plant.  Oh, the former blimp hangar that they turned into a water park.  The girls thought that was pretty cool, too.  

We've also received a package from Australia, so we have something extra to look forward to when we get there.  One of our group members posted the package they got from China recently, so I'm cautiously optimistic about that one, too.  

A friend was having a Thirty One fundraiser, so I bought this bag to turn into a first aid kit for (minivan) Matilda.  I felt like the colors would go nicely with her burgundy paint.  When I cleaned out the big, white van to sell it, I realized my first aid kits were hopelessly outdated.  Old, gross band-aids, expired meds and creams, basically not what I wanted to have in my new car.  I reorganized, purchased some fresh items, and was carrying it all around in a green plastic grocery bag.   

When the bag arrived, I fired up Crikey to make the sticker for it.  Now, when I open the back of the van, instead of thinking, "I need to do something about that," I smile.  

Speaking of Crikey, I forgot to show this card that Brianna made last month.  

This week, I found myself thinking I should make some Christmas cards to send to the adult children in their various far-flung locations.  In Design Space, most of the card ideas had either the new Cricut foil (which looks amazing, but I haven't tried it yet), or metallic or glitter papers or sparkling cardstock, which I don't have.  I finally came up with a design that I have all the supplies for, but I haven't actually cut anything yet.  I'm finding I have a lot more ideas than follow through.  

On the subject of follow through, I did finish up some more masks recently.  There wasn't a big demand for Halloween masks, so I'm stuck with a few outdated left overs.  I've started on Christmas masks, since they're already cut out, but I suspect I'll have the same issue there.  People are tired of masks, and since commercially made masks are available everywhere now, people aren't buying hand made ones any more.  There's a shoe company that was collecting home made masks and giving out generous coupon codes to people who sent them in, so I did turn masks into shoes at one point.  I imagine I'll end up donating some to our local food bank.  

I finished a roll of elastic.  Fortunately, I have plenty of both black and white elastic on hand now.  Crazy the things that we've run short of this year.  

This week, we left Germany for Turkey!  

We used the instructions from Art Projects For Kids to draw mosques.  Hannah's is in colored pencil.  Sorry, I meant to get a better picture of it later, and it slipped my mind.  

We saw mosques, complete with whirling dervishes in a couple of the videos we watched, which was really interesting.  Although the girls like the Nat Geo Kids' Are We There Yet? series videos on YouTube, they're geared toward a younger audience.  The Rick Steves travel episodes are aimed at adults, but pretty easy to follow for the most part.  Probably the most interesting has been the Europe From Above series on Disney +.  In addition to Europe, there are also episodes on India and China, which we're looking forward to watching when we get to those countries.  

I also discovered that we like Turkish music.  In each country that we "visit," I use YouTube to play the national anthem, and then as we're doing other schoolwork, I often have instrumental music from that country playing in the background.  This has given us exposure to a lot of different sounds this year!  

For one of our Turkish snacks, I introduced the girls to pistachios while we watched a documentary about this fascinating country.  We came up with a large binder clip for Hannah to use to pop open the shells on her own.  

Both girls really enjoyed the pistachios.  I've always felt they were more trouble than they were worth, but it was fun to have something different.  

I did stop at the local Indian market to see if they might have Turkish delight or baklava.  Yeah, no.  I knew it was a long shot, but I know sometimes the little markets have more than one theme country.  We'll definitely head back there when we study India!  

As a treat, I splurged on a package of Turkish candy bars from Amazon.  We had fun guessing the ingredients and sampling various flavors.  The dark chocolate with pistachios was really yummy, but had a slightly greasy aftertaste.  I skipped the coconut ones, but there was something for everyone in this box.  

Turkish flag, paper dolls in traditional costume.  

Since there was no Eat 2 Explore box for Turkey, I used a couple recipes out of a library book to make a Turkish meal.  This was so good!  Josiah said it reminded him of the meal we had at the Moroccan/Lebanese restaurant in Hawaii a couple years ago.  It's lentil soup, lamb, and flatbread with sesame seeds, served with cherry juice.  I had seconds, and I saved the recipes.  Totally going to make this again.  

Books, books, and more books.  We go through scads and scads of them.  I'm very grateful our libraries have found ways to keep operating safely.  

One day, I dashed out to pick up some books, including one I was waiting on for a specific school project, and I forgot my phone!  Ack.  Hard to curbside pickup without the ability to text.  

I masked up, dug out my library card, and went to the door.  One of the librarians I've never seen before came and opened it, and I stepped back and explained my predicament.  "What's your last name?" she asked.  I told her.  She immediately knew what my first name was.  I didn't know whether to be proud or embarrassed.  

All the Thanksgiving books for kids are reserved or checked out, so I put some Christmas books on hold.  Hard to believe we're that close!  I need to finish up my shopping and get stuff in the mail.  No "I'll Be Home For Christmas" from any of the adult children this year.  

From a Medieval project book, Katie used metallic markers to create this "illuminated manuscript" version of her name on faux parchment (old resume paper).

Still working on insects in Flying Science.  

I printed a variety of buggy options for them to draw.  

Any Psych fans out there?  This is Jack's favorite show, and since there's a pineapple in every episode, when we were looking at shirts for picture day, this was what he chose.  

2020 face

School pictures were this week, so I took Jack to campus and he jumped in between the preschool and the 3rd/4th grade class.  

After 2 days in Turkey (which felt like not quite enough!) we meandered over to Spain for the last 2 days of the week.

Since we didn't acknowledge Columbus Day this year, studying Spain gave us a good reason to review Columbus and his voyages, since Spain paid for them.  Bendy guy from Famous Figures of the Renaissance.  We discovered bendy guys 4 years ago, and we're still using them!  

We've been to several of the missions along our coast, but we've always viewed them in light of California history.  This time around, we looked at the missions through the lens of "this is something Spain did."  

Self portrait project from one of the French artist books

We're all done with Europe and moving on to Africa!  MFW has us spending 3 weeks in Kenya and then going on to Asia, but we'll be bouncing around other African countries to learn as much as we can about the Dark Continent while we're there.  As an adult, I really notice the disparity between how much white history we teach and are taught, versus how much non-white history we're exposed to.  I think public schools are doing a much better job of evening things up nowadays, but Christian schools and Christian homeschool publishers seem to be late to the game on this issue.  Parenting children of color has made me less dismissive of "political correctness" in this area.  I look forward to learning more about the various countries of Africa alongside Hannah and Katie.  

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Learning About Germany

Not a whole lot of pictures this week.  My phone keeps telling me there's no room for pictures.  

This was our first week in Germany, which meant lots of books, and travel episodes (the girls like Rick Steves on Amazon Prime), and even a Disney + documentary, the Germany episode of Europe From Above, which was really interesting.

The recommended art project this week was beeswax modeling, which we did not do, since we don't have beeswax.  

Instead, we did the next project on our Home Art Studio DVD, which was Blue Dogs.  

The girls painted theirs, but I did mine in marker.

In regular science, the girls are learning about lakes and ponds, and of course, in Flying Creatures, they're learning about things with wings, so I felt the duck was a good crossover.  

This is Jack's duck, drawn on Hannah's "protect the table from artwork" paper.  

And Hannah & Katie's ducks.  

We got a new printer this week!  So Katie was able to finish up her poster with a map of Europe.

Those are Jack's feet.  He asked if I wanted him to be my table.  

Our local libraries have opened some locations to indoor use, but I'm such a fan of the curbside pickup routine that we're sticking with that.  I feel like they're getting faster at getting the books I request, too, which is nice.  

We have several books from this series, which we were introduced to way back when as a review.  It's been fun to pull them out for the various countries we've been learning about.  I even added a few new ones to our collection.  

 You may have noticed the castle books in the book pile pictures.  Neuschwanstein castle in Germany was the inspiration for Walt Disney's iconic castle.  We read about castles this week, and our curriculum suggested drawing a castle.  Fortunately, the Art Projects For Kids website, which I've been relying on heavily this year, had step by step castle instructions.  

Although we have another week in Germany, we're pretty close to being done with the actuall stuff about Germany.  I'm planning "day trips" to 2 other countries this week, before we head off to a new continent.  

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Our Week

Last week found me making alterations to the adult XS scrubs I bought for Hannah's Halloween costume the night before Halloween.  

I did custom lengths to accommodate her limb difference and prosthetic, and was surprised at how far off the two sides really are.  

After Halloween, I un-hemmed them, ran them through the wash, and will pass them on to our favorite tiny nursing student.  

Hannie-poo went as a doctor, and Katie-bug went as a lion (makeup by Brianna)

Also makeup by Brianna.  She scared the DoorDash dude.  

I took the girls to a drive through scavenger hunt put on by our church.  It was pirate themed.  They got candy and assorted booty, including Chik Fil A cards we'll have to put to good use soon.  

While we were out for the Halloween hunt, we stopped by the library to scare up some books.  

Our Parisian Sunset pictures.  I used Crikey to cut out some Eiffel Towers, and we used marker to make a sunset background for them.  I actually did another Cricut project this week, but I need to wait for permission before I share it.  

We were going to do another fun project, making models of Parisian landmarks, printed on cardstock, but my printer died this week.  It's been fickle and persnickety for a while, and it finally wheezed it's last.  Even the photocopy feature is gone now.  Hoping to replace it in the coming week.  It's hard to homeschool without one!  

The prescribed art project in our curriculum this week was silhouettes.  

It did not go well.  

Hannah's came out better because I stepped in and traced her.  

Grumman, judging me, from his flag-free perch.  

We watched a couple Nat Geo Kids videos about France, and Bertie curled up with Hannah.  

Grumman is not a lap cat, at all, but he does like to be near us, and he does enjoy videos.  

In keeping with our France theme, the girls also watched The Hunchback of Notre Dame in their down time.  

Katie's work-in-progress travel poster.  She is planning to print a map of Europe and mark the featured locations on it.  When we can print again.  

Our Eat2Explore box for France was another hit!  This was the beef stew.  

And this...  I'm going to call "French inspired" rather than strictly French.  I was tired, and didn't really follow the instructions.  I pulled everything out that was on the recipe page, and after the first step or two, just did my own thing.  But the masses were pleased with it, so I'm calling it a win.  

Why was I tired?  Because Josiah had his wisdom teeth out.  We're waiting for his prescriptions here, after the procedure.  

The girls did drawings from a library book, How to Draw France's Sights and Symbols.

I've seen some real improvement in Hannah's drawing this year.  

More books.  We actually got down to only 40 (of 60 possible) books on hold at one point because I forgot to add new ones when we brought these home.  This has since been remedied.  

Grumman checking out the new science selections.  I swear he's been interested in our Flying Science this year.  From gnawing the notebooks, to watching bird & butterfly videos, to giving the pteranodon books an extra sniff, he monitors it all.  

Bertie had next to no body fat when she came back, so she loved to lay in front of the space heater to keep warm.  I'd turn it on for her whenever she went over to it, so she wouldn't be losing extra calories trying to regulate her body temp.  

She was down to 1# 9 oz when she came back to us.  (She'd been 2# when we dropped her off.)  But she quickly thrived here, with people to snuggle her and Grumman to chase her, so she's back at the shelter awaiting her surgery again.  

I'm missing my furry little friend today.    

From 12 ounces... to 2#7 ounces.  Bertie the first day we had her, and Bertie the last day we had her.  A beautiful cat with a sweet purrsonality.  She left paw prints on my heart.  

Okay [sniff] back to homeschool stuff.  

I added a "day trip" to Greece, since we were about France-d out.  Since (broken record here) my printer is broken, I used Crikey to cut some flag pieces for the girls to DIY their passport flags.  

This proved to be more of a challenge for Hannah and Katie than I was expecting.  Note to self, might want to pull out some spatial awareness puzzles for them.  

I sent a Halloween care package to Sam and got a "proof of life delivery" photo from the delivery lady.  So good to see my boy on US soil again, even though he's still far away.  

Eli is even farther away now, and his Halloween box has yet to get to him, unfortunately.  Knowing this, I ordered his Christmas packages this morning, hoping they'll get to him by Christmas.  Fortunately, he's a good sport, and we've learned to be flexible with all things military over the years.  

Up next, we'll be learning about Germany!  We'll be adding a couple of "day trips" in the next two weeks, when the library books I've requested get here (and this time, I have the flags).  Looking forward to castles and some tasty German snacks.