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, December 31, 2016

Education at Our House

We're weird.  We even have a motto when it comes to schooling.  "Education is a year by year, child by child decision."  What this means is that we're not One Size Fits All homeschoolers.

I'm linking up with the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair.  This week, our topic is See How We Learn.

While I have been homeschooling for 19 years now, the number of students I've had has ranged from one or two to five and has never included all my children.

We sent our first child to school for K4 and K5 at a private Christian school.  When I brought him home for first grade, it felt like a grand experiment.  And it went well.  But when kids 3 and 4 were ready for K, we chose to send them to school, too.  Public school, because that's what we could afford at the time.

This made us weird in the eyes of the local homeschoolers and weird in the eyes of the school parents (and teachers).  Awesome.

We brought the boys home for first grade, and while we had our challenges from time to time, we managed to make it work.

As the kids started getting older, it became time to think about high school.  My husband wanted our oldest to go to private high school to be around other kids his own age.  It made sense.  We were young parents, and many of our friends' kids were younger than he was.  It just so happened that when Zach was a freshman, Brianna was a kindergartener.  So we sent them to school together at a local Christian K-12.

The following year, Brianna came home for first grade and Eli went to school for K.

A couple years later, we decided to put Josiah in Zach's school.

All that to say, we've done what works for us.  Most of the children have gone to classroom school for K.  3 (Annaliese, Jack, and Katie) have not.  Most of the kids have come home for first grade, one did not.  Most of the kids have homeschooled through 8th grade and done high school elsewhere, one did not.  One crazy year, we had 2 in private school, 2 at 2 different public schools, and 2 homeschooling--and a preschooler.

For last year and this year, these guys have been my "class" here at home.  The older kids are still in private high school.  We're talking about changing things next year, but one thing remains constant:  I'm grateful to have the freedom to choose the best fit for our family, each year, each child.

I invite you to see how my fellow bloggers learn in their homeschools (note: all posts will be live by noon EST, Jan. 2nd):

The Evolution of Our Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Us-School Because We Are Us, Not Someone Else by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
It's All About the School by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Setting the Stage- the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair! by Lisa N. @ Golden Grasses
New Year, New Goals, New School! by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool
Homeschooling - A Glimpse into How We Do it by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Spotlight on How We Learn in Our Homeschool by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Our Unique Eclectic Homeschool  by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life
How We Learn on the Go by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Home Education - 10 Ways We Make It Work by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Schedules, where would I be without them? by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Education at Our House by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Starting the Day Well by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Making a Change - Accountability and Responsibility Through Routine by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
A time to be encouraged is coming.. the Virtual Curriculum Fair by Annette @ A Net in Time
Loving the Moment! by Jen K @ A Peace of Mind
Keeping Our Homeschool Organized by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Homeschool Goal Setting – Looking Forward, Looking Back by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
How We Choose Curriculum by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
This Is How We Homeschool by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
How we don't learn in our homeschool & how I don't plan {2017 Virtual Homeschool Curriculum Fair} by Meghan @ Quiet in the Chaos
Learning Our Way by Lisa @ McClanahan 7
Limping Along: Our Semi-Eclectic Approach to Homeschooling by Debra @Footprints in the Butter
2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair: See How We Learn by Dana L @ Luv'N Lambert Life
Come visit the linkup and see how other families learn!
An InLinkz Link-up

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Faux Gingerbread Houses

We don't have a lot of family traditions, but we do have a few at Christmas time.

Every year we make candy creations loosely based on the concept of Gingerbread houses.

Most years, I've made nativity scenes.  The kids have made everything from houses to tanks.

We celebrated Christmas on the 23rd, due to work schedules.  The kids got their new jammies on Christmas Eve.  And as you can see from Brianna's attire, we made our structures on Christmas Day morning.

We started out with 2 kinds of graham crackers and 5 tubs of peppermint frosting.

Plus, of course, loads of different kinds of candy, from red hots to peeps.

Sam was a riot.  His method of building involves making a box, filling it with candy, and putting a roof on.

The final creations were as varied as the participants.

But everyone had fun.

Jack appears to have a forest of Peep trees on one side of his structure.

Hannah's house was full of Peep snowmen.

My creation was a simple house with a "tar & gravel" roof and a jelly bean walk way.

And Brianna made a ship this year!  The blue things on the sides are waves.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Our Christmas Week

Somehow, this week, I didn't even try to do anything in the school room.  I mentioned that we should do spelling on Christmas Eve, but I didn't actually follow through.

My beautiful girls wore their smocked nativity dresses to church Sunday.

They looked so fabulous that I took a few pictures of them when we got home.

I'm such a lucky mama.

Sam, with a little person on his back.  He'll be off to boot camp in less than a month.

I feel like I should get some kind of cool mom award.  We used packing tape to attach glow sticks to Jack's light saber and...

...Eli's sword, then I sent them out in the back yard in the dark to dual on the trampoline.

Because OUTSIDE seemed like a better plan than in my room.

Every time I think, "We're done with little ones, we should get rid of all the Baby Legos/board books/ABC magnets/tray puzzles/etc," I end up having littles visit.  So I'm glad the tray puzzles were spared my last cleaning purge.  I pared down the board books from a large laundry basket full to a single shelf.  I kept thinking I'd do a blog post on which books survived the culling, but it hasn't happened yet.

I was super excited to get a free pack of diapers in the mail to try out with the littles mentioned above.  Ever since Katie and Luke came home, we've used Honest Company diapers (referral link) because they're cute, and they deliver.  I was pleasantly surprised that generic Target diapers work just as well, even overnight.

I've jumped on the Lu La Roe crazy train.  A friend of mine is a consultant, so I got a couple of pieces to try out.  The dress I'm wearing is the Carly.  Katie promptly told me it looked like a nightgown, hence the cardigan.

Our Christmas happened a couple days early, so everybody could be here.

I was a mean mommy.  I told everybody they had to let me take a picture of them with their stocking before they could get into it.

We don't do Santa in our house.  The kids still love stockings, even though they know I fill them.

I wanted to get a family picture while everyone was here, but it didn't work out.  My mom and Annaliese sat in traffic for 4 hours to get here, so we pretty much ate, did presents, Zach's family had to leave (because of early morning work the next day), pie, then Grammy and Ese left.  Honestly, I was in bed with a headache at 8.

So, no family picture, and a couple of the stocking shots are blurry, but fun was had, and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were very relaxed play days around here.

Zach & Heather got the girls scooters for Christmas!  They tried them out on the porch, since it was rainy when we opened gifts.

Pretty sisters.  All 4 of my girls, while very different, are quite beautiful.

Bri enjoying her new camo shirt from Buddy & Grandpa Gino in Nevada.  We were able to FaceTime with Buddy while we opened our gifts from them.

We have a tradition of passing out new pajamas on Christmas Eve.  Even though our present day had passed, we still did jammies on Christmas Eve.

Bri got more camo.

Eli's PJ pants are super soft!

Christmas day, we had our traditional cinnamon rolls and orange juice for breakfast and then made our faux gingerbread houses, but those pictures will have to wait for another post.

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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Our Week with an Unplanned Trip to Santa

Another week whizzes by as we careen toward Christmas.

My girls, being "snow cute" in front of the Christmas tree.

 Beautiful Brianna, lounging on my bed.

This week has been busy, but we've had plenty of play time, too.

I got the rice tray out for the first time in months.  It may be time to make a new batch of rice to add, since after this session, I vacuumed up at least half a cup worth out of my carpet.

It was worth it, though.  They were having so much fun, measuring and pouring with our science beakers.

I spy Josiah mopping!  Such a rarity I had to capture it "on film."

Jack Jack, being goofy.

I sewed!  I made 3 pairs of pants for our little friends.  (The other is striped leggings that haven't been worn yet.)  The denim is embroidered with pink and purple flowers.  Brianna had a pair of pants out of this fabric when she was about 6.

Another trip to Shriners.  Still no good on Katie's new leg.  They're pretty much going to rebuild it.  We go back in January to try on the new new one.

Poor Hannah got sick right after we got there.  Seems to have been a 24 hour bug.

So, one day, we ended up in Sacramento early in the morning.  And Hannah needed to use the bathroom.  We were sorta near the mall, so we stopped there to hit the potty.  The stores weren't even open yet.  But the decor was really pretty, so I told the kids, Hey, go stand under that neat tree!

It seemed vaguely elfin.  Jack looks like he's at parade rest here.

While we were there, I noticed that Santa was already present and receiving visitors.  Since there was no line, I decided we'd go check it out.  The fee covered a "package" of photos, printed from ONE pose, and online access to all the shots from the quickie photo session.  That worked for me, so I paid and we took turns sitting on Santa's lap and telling him our materialistic desires.  As an aside, Santa was giving out cheesy little coloring books instead of candy canes this year.  Color me traditional, I'd have preferred the candy cane.

So we get done, and the girl pulls up the images and is trying to select the best one of our little friends.  When I realize that she's picking a pose to print, I say, "No, the Chinese ones are mine.  The blonde ones are not mine."  She gave me a funny look and said, "I need more coffee."  It was kind of hilarious.  We laughed, I showed her a family picture, and she asked how many kids we had.

Paul had a birthday this week.

And he got all the candles out in one blow!  (It was only 3 12 packs of candles, not his actual age, but still lots of flame.)

I wanted to send a panda ornament from my recent trip to China to Lukey with his gifts.  I thought I'd be all crafty and make this little button with his name and the year on it.  I used a circle punch, Dimensional Magic, and an acrylic circle to make the little button.

The button turned out fine.  A little blurry from the ink running, but totally legible.

I plugged in the glue gun and put hot glue on the back of the button, burning myself in the process, because, let's face it, I haven't crafted in ages.

So I make the decision to press the panda onto the gluey disc instead of picking the button up and potentially getting more hot glue on my fingers.

I press the panda onto the button.  I hold it in place to let it set for a while.  And when I pick it up and turn it over, I realize that I'm kind of an idiot.

You know what?  I sent it with his presents anyway.  I'm hoping his family will laugh at it every year and think of that crazy lady who couldn't quite parent Luke, and couldn't quite craft either.

Killing time, waiting to pick Brianna and Eli up from a half day (finals) at school.  They're OUT now.  2 weeks of 4 teenagers all the time.  But without the nice summer weather to send them out into.

Paul, helping Katie with her oral subtraction drill.

I think Jack and I playing games has reignited interest in them.  There will be a couple new games under the tree this year.  I'm looking forward to playing them with the kids.

I thought Wheelie looked pensive as he stared out at the rain.

Honestly, I have no idea what the coming week will bring.  I keep thinking I'm going to get more school work done, and it keeps not happening.  I'd like to pretend that with the teens home to help, it will happen, but I think I should know better than that by now.

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