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.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Taking off

I love this. From the line at the airport, I've been grinning. I think everyone should experience being the minority sometimes. I love hearing Mandarin over the speakers. I love seeing red passports. I'm so excited to be on my way at last.

I'm not feeling well, so I'd appreciate your prayers. 

There's my plane. I'm off!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Our Week - the Mom's Outta Here version

I'm all packed and ready to leave tomorrow!  Not looking forward to the 12.5 hour flight, but hopefully excitement will carry me through at least half of it.  I usually hit a wall about 7 hours and and just want off the plane.

Milestone this week!  Miss Hannah finished her CursiveLogic book that we reviewed this summer!  She's done a lovely job completing every last page, and she wants to keep it because of the write & wipe pages in the back.  She's got beautiful handwriting, and often asks, "Can I do this in cursive?" when I give an assignment.  (The answer is always yes, except for in our spelling copywork.)

I realized I mentioned Open House in last week's wrap up, but forgot to show pictures!  See those flags?  Guess who painted most of those for community service hours last school year?  My artist girl!

Eli is in both computers and robotics.  Here, he's showing me the program he wrote so I could interact with the little rolling robot.

Walking into one of the classrooms, I got a nice surprise... my big kids' hand prints up on the wall!

Annaliese's hand with the rest of her class,

and Zach's hand, with his graduating class.  It made me smile to see them, but it was also sweet to see the names of their friends around them.

You may remember a couple weeks ago when I showed Brianna's bronze helmet made from clay.  It was on display at open house with the other "artifacts" the kids made.  Hers was one of the very coolest, of course!

In the science lab, Eli had to show me the dry sand & water.

Eli carved his mini pumpkin, and I thought it would be fun to stick a glow stick in there and sneak into his room and scare him with it.  The joke was on me, however, since he was asleep already, and even though we woke him up, he didn't remember anything about it the next morning.

I know I shared this picture in our Peter and the Wolf CD review, but I just have to share how exciting it is for me to watch Katie's learning explode.  She's transferred her knowledge of the continents from our book to our Hugg A Planet, and she knows that Antarctica is really cold and that Australia is where 'Ese lives, and she knows where China is, and where we live.

In our art DVD, the kids made rose windows.  Unfortunately, I realized when I sat down to write this post that the rest of the pictures for this week are on the camera card that is in the camera.  Which is in my suitcase.  Packed and zipped for tomorrow morning's departure.  So I'll have to share the rest of the week's pictures with you after my trip.

I'll leave you with this instead.

We had family pictures today, and while we were there, I had a shot done of my four teenagers.  Gosh, I love them!  They're a fun bunch.  I wanted to be able to look back at this picture and remember the high energy season of 3 in high school together and all the chatter that brings.

Once I get home and pick up the family pictures, I'll update the blog header.

Next post should be from China, if all goes well with my VPN and technology cooperates.  I'm always a little nervous about making it all work, but we usually figure it out.  I'm excited to meet the rest of my team, and the folks from the other agency who will be joining up with us over there.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

China Trip 2015

In just 3 days, I'm off to Beijing.  I'm very excited about this trip!  The adoption agency that we used (both times) has a good relationship with Chinese officials, and has been asked to take part in a pilot program.  It's a sort of "reverse hosting" scenario.  If you're not familiar with orphan hosting, that's where a bunch of kids come to the US for a few weeks and are hosted by American families who advocate for them to find adoptive families.  This trip brings Americans to China to meet with a group of orphans and spend the week interacting with them so we can come home and advocate for them to find adoptive families.  Same basic idea, right?

This is the little boy I've been paired with for the week:

Isn't he a cutie pie?  His advocacy name is Aury, and he lives in Beijing.  His file is Special Focus, meaning you don't have to have a dossier logged in with China to be matched with him.  As you can see from the pictures, his special need is that his hands are a little different.  I'll be watching closely to see how he's adapted to his special need, and I'll be writing about what he can and cannot do on his own once I get to know him a bit.  As the mom of 2 girls with "different" hands, I'm anticipating he'll be a pretty capable guy!  He's less than a year older than my Hannah, so I imagine we'll have lots of fun together.

The other children in our group range in age from 2-10, and I'll be sharing a little about them, as well.

If you want to follow along, I'll be sharing pictures from the trip on Instagram, too.

Please pray for the health and safety of the group as we travel, humble and willing hearts to serve the kids we're meeting, and that our stories and pictures will reach hearts softened by God to be open to adopting these precious kids who need families.  It would be a huge blessing to me if you would share the posts I write about these kids, so they can be seen by as many people as possible and have the best chance of reaching their mamas & papas.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Peter and the Wolf and a Russia mini unit study

Our family was excited to review Peter and the Wolf from Maestro Classics.  We have reviewed for them in the past, so we knew what a treat this would be!

I remember, as a kid, listening to my Peter and the Wolf record on my little, white, Holly Hobby record player.  It was fun to share the story with my kids.  What I didn't know was that composer Prokofiev began writing music at the age of 5!  This we learned from the teaching tracks on the CD we received.

Maestro Classics Review

The first time we listened to it, I put it on our school room computer and listened with just my students.  The second time, I popped it in the van CD player on the way to take the high schoolers to school.  Their school is not very far away, but because of traffic, it takes about 20 minutes to get there in the morning, so I knew we'd have time to get into the story.

The CD begins with an explanation of which instruments represent which animals in the story.  This is very helpful for kids, otherwise they may not have caught on to the meaning of the music.  Then the story begins, with a few sentences being read, and then the music for that portion being played.  I found an instrument worksheet for the kids to do to introduce them to different types of musical instruments.

I loved the way my older kids got into it!  When they introduced the music for the cat, Sam said, "I can picture it playing with a ball of yarn!"  When the duck got swallowed, he said, "Dangit!  I liked the duck!"  I found it interesting that this version of the story ends differently than the one I remember as a child.

In addition to being a wonderful story all on it's own, Peter and the Wolf is a fabulous jumping off point for a study of Russia.  I told my kids, "My great grandparents were Germans who immigrated from Ukraine when it was part of Russia."  So we looked up the Russian flag and colored maps of Russia.

I played the musical (instruments only) track of the CD while we worked on our coloring pages and worksheets.

I've mentioned that Katie has just learned the names of all the continents.  Now it's time to start filling in some of the countries.  She learned where Russia is on our Hugg-A-Planet.

We also took this opportunity to learn about Russian nesting dolls.  I think it would be fun to paint a set of these someday.

And we learned about wolves, of course!  Because of what we've been learning in science, the kids were able to deduce that wolves are vertebrates and mammals.

Maestro Classics offers curriculum guides on their website for all their fabulous tales, as well as little activity books nestled within the CD case.  The curriculum guide was my inspiration for coming up with other Russia related learning activities to tie into our listening experience.  One of the suggestions was to watch the movie Anastasia, which we found on Netflix and watched as a family.

If you have a road trip planned over the upcoming holidays, you'll want to check out all the great audio dramas that Maestro Classics has to offer and bring some along to keep your family entertained on the road.  These classic children's musicals come in CD or MP3 form, so you can take them along in whatever form you prefer.

You can connect with Maestro Classics on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.  To read what other Crew families have to say about Peter and the Wolf and The Nutcracker, please click the box below:

Maestro Classics Review

Crew Disclaimer

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Our Week with another Pumpkin Patch Trip

It's been a busy week this week!  We went to another pumpkin patch with friends.  The high school had Open House.  Luke had a visit from the Regional Center.  And I went to the doctor for travel meds.  Somehow, we still managed to get our schoolwork done!

This time, instead of taking 8 kids to the pumpkin patch, I got out with just my "class."  Three is a great number of kids to homeschool.  When it was Brianna, Eli, and Jack, we had a blast.  While the dynamic is very different with Jack and the little girls, I'm hoping we can enjoy it just as much.

These two are great together.  I'm so incredibly blessed to be their mommy and get to see what a close sister relationship looks like.  I'm so glad they have each other.

And nothing slows them down!  Hay pyramid 3 times taller than the grown ups?  Bring it on!

The patch that we went to this time had "sandboxes" of corn for the kids to play in.

And a giant pillow jumper.  Jack was running with a pack of homeschooled boys around his age, so I don't have many pictures of him, but he was having a great time.

After the corn maze and our picnic lunch, we did the hay ride.

There's Jack!  By the end of the hay ride, all the boys were standing (on the floor, not on the bales!) and "surfing" since they'd noticed the driver wasn't paying attention or telling them to sit.

After the hay ride, the kids selected their pumpkins.

Jack and Katie found theirs quickly.  Hannah was a little more selective.  She wanted a small pumpkin that was not bumpy and had a stem.

Many of the pumpkins were very bumpy, so she had a hard time finding just the right one, but eventually settled on a lopsided one she could barely carry.  I don't think I want to watch her pick out a Christmas tree!  (Good thing we have artificial ones.)

We've learned about birds, and fish, and now we're working on reptiles and amphibians.

This week, we finished our Squanto book.  Jack and Hannah have been taking turns reading aloud.  As slow and painful as this can be sometimes, I really think it's good for them, and I'm going to have to come up with a way to continue to incorporate it.

There was a little craft where they cut off boarders and glued two pages together and then folded to make a sampling of the New England Primer, a schoolbook from colonial times.

Listening and following directions can be a challenge sometimes, but we eventually got it done.

I came upstairs and found a spontaneous game of Ancient History Memory going on, so I grabbed the camera.  Jack was surprised at how well Katie was doing.  I'm embarrassed to say, I don't think she's ever played memory before.  Must be time to get the Very Hungry Caterpillar game down and let the girls play.

Luke had a haircut this week.  We finally had our appointment with the Regional Center to get his file reactivated.  (We closed it in April when he left, and started calling them in August when he came back.)  Hopefully he'll start getting some respite services next month.

Our art project from the DVD this week was Op Art.

Hannah loves doing art, which makes it more fun.

We managed to finish Week 8 this week, so we're just one week behind in History and Science now.  Bible and art, we're not on a rigid timeline for.  Handwriting, spelling, English and math, we've been keeping up with.

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