Friday, December 30, 2011

Baby Update

I've referenced the pregnancy but have not discussed it directly in a while.

I had an OB appointment on Tuesday.  I gained 2 lbs in the last month and the heartbeat is strong and healthy.  I'm starting to feel our sweet baby move fairly often, which is such a delight!

I had an ultrasound at 13 weeks that showed I was off in my dates, but my OB hasn't officially moved my due date yet. So the result is that while I am (I think) 18 weeks, she only has me at about 17.  That means that my "20 week ultrasound" will be closer to 22 weeks.  Which is fine.  That's scheduled for the end of this month.

We will, we hope, find out the gender at that point.

I still work at being at peace with this pregnancy in a number of ways.  I am 42 years old, and thus at higher risk for chromosomal issues.  I used to really fear Down Syndrome...I pray against it now, but I know if the Lord brings us a T21 baby, we will take good care of him or her.

But of course I do pray that our child is healthy without chromosomal problems. DS children and adults are blessings from the Lord but they are at much higher risk for some serious health issues.

By the way, we chose not to do any blood tests to check for DS or other chromosomal abnormalities.  All those blood tests are "screening" tests, which means that there are quite a few false positives for problems. The definitive answer comes from an amniocentisis, where a long needle is inserted into the uterus to draw some amniotic fluid to be analyzed.

I have no issue with needles, but amnios are not safe.  Babies die from amnios at a rate of about 1 to 2% of the time.  That's too high a risk, in our view. And I wouldn't want a screening test to show I have a "high risk" and then have to live with major uncertainty the rest of the pregnancy.  (And I know of 2 older moms whose blood screens came back positive for Down Syndrome, and neither child had it.)

The 20+ week ultrasound will search for DS markers and I welcome that, but don't want any testing that could endanger our child.

Homeschooling: What's Working, What's Not

One good thing about a break from school is that it gives me time to step back and evaluate how the year is going.

Things have been tough as I've not felt well for months.  However, I am past the pregnancy nausea and exhaustion and feeling quite perky.  It's exciting!  I am hoping to have a very productive 3 months of school, while realizing that there will be frequent interruptions. We never get quite as much done as I hope, and that is fine.

So, really most things are going well. 

Naomi is doing well. We are working together to keep her challenged, while she also is diligent about some material that is somewhat dull.

I can see progress in Isaac's handwriting, and his bad eye has improved significantly in the last year.  Lydia has made significant progress in math, and can now do long multiplication problems.  Her big issue is that her handwriting isn't very neat and sometimes she makes silly mistakes when lining up numbers.

I have been doing midline exercises with both boys because they are "mixed dominant" and their handwriting has issues.  Mixed dominant means that they are left eye dominant, right hand dominant.  Actually, that's not true -- Isaac is right eye dominant, right hand dominant -- but the way he writes his letters indicates he's a natural lefty who chose to use his right hand. When he was younger, he would switch between hands.  Now he has settled on right, but he draws "o" counterclockwise which is typical of a lefty. And his handwriting still isn't good.

Ok, let's talk about this mixed dominance thing.  According to Dianne Craft, a teacher who has worked extensively with right brain/left brain issues, 80% of the world's population is right eye dominant, right hand dominant, or left eye dominant, left hand dominant.

Naomi is right eye/right hand.

And the next FOUR children seem to be mixed.  I don't know about Angela and Sarah yet.

What's with that?  We are WAY out of the statistical norm.

Actually, I'm going to give Kevin the credit.  He is fairly close to being amnidextrous and is a skilled drummer. I think there is something in his gene code -- his sister and father are lefties.

So anyway, there we are.  Mixed dominant children have a higher chance of struggling with handwriting and sometimes other things as well.  I believe we are seeing improvement in several areas after months of doing exercises, so we'll keep on keeping on.

I haven't done much school with Miriam (just 6 this week) and Angela.  And that is Ok.  Next year Miriam will officially be school age and I'll need to be more focused.  She is already learning to read a bit, and has some obvious math gifts.  I think she'll be relatively easy to teach though she may also have handwriting struggles.

Update on Joseph's reading

First, let me say I hoped to blog a lot more than I have this Christmas season. The last few months have been busy and while I've posted occasional blogs, I've not talked about HOMESCHOOLING much, and this is a homeschooling blog!  But this holiday has flown by and we've been busy.

So, Joseph.  He is 7 and a few months.  He is not a fluent reader yet. That is no real problem, but he is behind where his older siblings were at this age.

When I got pregnant with Baby, I knew that I'd have to slow down.  During Sarah's pregnancy, I was so ill that I stopped formal school for 6 weeks or so during the first trimester.  I did better this time, probably because the older 3 are able to work more independently now.  But I didn't have the energy to work through all the phonics materials I wanted to with Joseph.

An older mom of 9 suggested to me that I focus on doing a little reading work with Joseph every day.  I thought that was a good idea, and turned to a series of short phonics books by Nora Gaydos.  The first 30 books or so only use short vowel sounds; the later ones in the group include "th" and "sh" and "ch" plus a few sight words.

I have introduced long vowel sounds to Joseph as well as "ing" and "ee" words, but these Gaydos books didn't have those so those phonics rules fell by the wayside.

However...Joseph really improved his basic reading in the last few months using these books!  2 months ago, he struggled through almost every word.  He also was mixing "b" and "d" a lot, and often mixed "m" and "n" as well.

A few weeks ago, he seemed to turn a corner.  Now, I am confident he has not memorized the books.  There are a lot of them and he's only read them 3 times at the most.  And his reading is MUCH more fluid.  It is really encouraging!

So I'm delighted and grateful to God.  I was stressed, once again, about falling behind with schoolwork during my pregnancy.  Once again, the Lord showed me that doing something different for a season can work just fine.

I am feeling much more energetic, and will soon go back to Alpha Phonics and Explode the Code so we can make some progress on other phonics rules.  Joseph is a long long way from being a fluent reader, but I believe we are making steady progress.

One very encouraging thing is that I don't think he is dyslexic.  We have a relative who is severely dyslexic and while he is doing well, I know it has been a struggle.  If one of our children has dyslexia, we will find a way to teach that child with God's help. But I believe that Joseph is not ... in spite of the mixing of "b" and "d" and "m" and "n".  Actually, all my kids have mixed up "b" and "d".

So, whew, I think we're well on our way to fluency for Joseph.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas!  I do appreciate the festivals of the year that point us towards particular sections of our Savior's life.  And right now, we celebrate his incarnation as a tiny baby in Bethelehem more than 2000 years ago.  It is truly amazing that Christ was willing to give up all He had in Heaven to come to earth as a helpless child.  It is beyond my understanding, but then many things are.

  We have talked frequently about Jesus' birth in a stable (though almost certainly it wasn't in December, but the spring) but of course the children had a major interest in the presents under the tree.  Today was the big day, the day that seemed to take forever to come. I will say with joy that all the children went to bed at the normal time last night, and none came drifting out of their rooms at midnight to ask if it was time to get up. The rule was that they couldn't come down until 7 a.m. and they didn't, though little feet were heard on the stairs at 7 a.m. and 5 seconds.  They were indeed waiting by the door, staring at the clock.

  Without further ado, a few pictures...

Opening stockings

Waiting (not very patiently) to open presents.

Oooh, remote controlled helicopter!!

Daddy and Sarah.

Post present chaos!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


2 weeks went by.  2 long, painful weeks.  With NO eggs.

Then on Tuesday, Naomi came in from feeding the chickens, and she had a smile on her face.

She showed me an egg.  And not just any egg.

A GREEN egg.

Yes, one of our Auracana's laid an egg!

The Auracanas are known more casually as "Easter egg" chickens. They lay eggs with pretty colored shells.

Yesterday, we got a normal brown egg.

Today, we got another green egg.

Aren't they pretty?  (Well, I think so -- Kevin says they are ugly.)

So, we are feeling cautiously optimistic.  We changed their food recently and perhaps they've gotten a renewed lease in their egg laying life.  Of course, one egg a day is pathetic.  But it is better than no eggs.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lydia's recital

Busy Week

We tend to live quiet lives.  I don't have the personality to be dashing around much. Some moms do, and I think that is wonderful.  There are so many opportunities to do exciting things in life.

But as I said, I just can't do it.  Right now I am pregnant and have a baby who needs an afternoon nap.  So we can go somewhere in the morning but I prefer to be home in the afternoon. And if we are gone in the morning, we don't get normal school in.

And in the evening, I'm tired.  And I don't like driving around in the dark.  So I prefer to be home in the evenings.

Ok, this week was a bit crazy.  Our girls started learning how to play the piano earlier this year, and Tuesday was their first recital!  And Monday was the rehearsal. So I drove them half an hour both ways on Monday and Tuesday nights as part of the piano recital.  It was a great success and we thoroughly enjoyed our girls' opportunity to play in front of a crowd, and the opportunity of listening to many other pianists and vocalists.

Kevin had a very important presentation at work today so he had longer days than usual at work and even brought some work home.  Last night, he worked while I ran off to Kroger to get a prescription and buy some groceries, which meant I was out THREE WHOLE EVENINGS this week.

I  know that sounds wimpy to some of you, but to me this is a big deal!

Today I took Isaac and Sarah to the opthalmologist.  The news was good.  Isaac's bad eye is close to 20/40 both near and far WITH his glasses on.  He is going to start patching 6 hours a day instead of 8. That will make it somewhat easier for me to carve out time for some other eye exercises and work.

Sarah is doing well.  She is very farsighted but the glasses are correcting her vision.  She is seeing well and responding well to visual stimuli. We'll need to stay on top of her vision issues but so far, so good.

Yesterday was the last school day of the calendar year.  I am looking forward to a 2 week break from school and the children are as well.  They have made good progress since August 1st. I think I'll continue to do a little phonics work with Joseph, but mostly we'll just enjoy Christmas family time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sort of funny, but sort of NOT

Remember a week ago I said the chickens laid 3 eggs?

And I was all excited?

Well, that was IT. We have not gotten one, single solitary egg since then!

What's with that?  We were getting at least 1 a day most days, often 2. Then 3.  Then...


I'm bewildered.  I'm annoyed.

It's a good thing they are so cute.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Feeding Issues

  Look at that face!  Isn't she priceless?

  Ok, back to the regularly scheduled blog...

  Sarah has some feeding problems. I think I've mentioned them before...she doesn't self feed very well.  As of a few weeks ago, if I threw a cracker or baby puffs on her tray, she wouldn't eat them consistently.   That seemed odd since she does gum books and toys.

 Well, I've figured out a few things.  Sarah has some food allergies.  I learned of the first one when she started rejecting cow's milk formula.  I weaned her at 9 months as my milk supply was failing.  She drank cow's milk formula for a few days, then the next day started pushing the bottle away from her.  I forced a little into her and she broke out on her face with hives.  Ok, she's allergic to cow's milk.  No huge surprise, as 3 of her older sibs were allergic to milk as infants (2 of them have completely outgrown that allergy.)

 Then the same thing happened with eggs.  I fed her eggs a couple of times, no problem. One day, she started pushing eggs away. And her face broke out. Ok, she's allergic to eggs (Naomi was as an infant.  She outgrew it.)

  A couple of weeks ago, she happily grabbed a cracker and ate it.  The next day, she did it again. Then she wouldn't eat them anymore.

  I tried baby puffs.  She ate them happily for a couple of days.  Then she wouldn't eat them again.

 So...I'm guessing she is allergic to wheat.  She hasn't actually broken out in hives, but her eczema flared up after she ate those things.  (Isaac was allergic to wheat as an infant.  He outgrew it.)

  She WILL eat cooked broccoli with her hands.  And she ate crackers and puffs for a few days.  So she can self feed. I think she just is aware when something doesn't agree with her and won't eat them after that.

 So now I'm trying to find good food for a baby who is apparently allergic to milk, eggs, and wheat.  Sigh.  We live in a place and time when stores have a myriad of good food options, so I know I'm blessed.  I bought some egg replacer at a health food store last week and will try making coconut pancakes and bread for her soon, maybe today.

  My conclusion is that she doesn't really have a gigantic oral aversion issue, she has food allergies. That is good to know. But I do need to get creative in finding more foods she can eat herself. 

Any suggestions?

More Baby, Less Blog

That's the title of a previous post, many months ago. I was referring to Sarah then, but this time I'm referring to the baby I've been carrying.

Yes, it's been a moderetely hard pregnancy so far.  I am almost over the nausea portion, however, and am SO thankful.  I expect to have a surge of energy too.  Usually, my 2nd trimesters are quite delightful. Unfortunately, my 3rd trimesters are rather difficult as I've had preterm labor issues with the last 6 babies.

One of my life verses is:

2 Corinthians 12:9
New International Version (NIV)
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

  I am not someone who likes being weak.  I like working hard, I like serving others, I like feeling strong!

 When I was much younger, I would sometimes push myself physically but not resting or eating enough.  I had a subconscious belief that my physical abilities rested on my mental determination.  If I wanted something enough to work hard, I could do it.

  With my second pregnancy, I was pushing myself too hard.  At 30 weeks, I started having regular contractions 3 minutes apart.  Kevin rushed me to the hospital and I spent the night on drugs.  By God's grace, the contractions stopped and I went full term with Lydia.

   Every full term pregnancy since then I have had preterm contractions. We've never had to rush to the hospital, though we've come close.  I have had episodes of frequent contractions but lying down has caused them to stop.

  But I have to take it easily.  And I have to budget my time and energy.  I have to rest enough, and get enough sleep (inasmuch as that is possible with a baby jumping on my bladder at night!)

  Many things have to go by the wayside.  The first trimester of this pregnancy, I had to drop some aspects of school and I couldn't blog as much.  Our breakfasts got more boring, as I didn't have the energy to make muffins and eggs for breakfast most mornings.

  The last trimester, I'll probably have to spend more time on the couch. I won't be able to chase the kids around outside.  I'll be able to do less housework.

 All this is humbling and discouraging.  I have ideals of what I want to do, and be, as wife and mother.  And I feel like I'm falling down on the job sometimes.

  But God brought us this baby. And he wants me humble.  I know that this baby is a blessing in many ways, but ONE way he or she blesses me is by helping me see I need other people.  I need God, I need my husband, I need my kids, and I need my friends.  I never have been able to "do it on my own", but pregnancy helps me to grasp that truth in a very real way.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

3 eggs!

Our chickens laid 3 eggs yesterday!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

(That's a quote from a weird poem, The Jabberwocky.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Color experiment

3 test tubes with a primary color in each -- namely, blue, yellow, and red.

Then, using pipettes, the children put differing amounts of the colored liquids into these trays.  Here they were investigating red and yellow.  Obviously there is a range of colors depending on how much red or yellow was in each hollowed area.

It was a very popular experiment to study color this way.

First Snow of the Season

The children were so excited!

And then it melted.

But yes, winter is here!!

New baby pic

Here is an ultrasound picture of the new baby.  I know it's not a fabulous picture, but it's precious.

Daddy and Angela

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hello, Baby!

Kevin and I are expecting another child!

I have an ultrasound picture but I'm tired (that's definitely part of being pregnant) so I'm not going to post it right now.

I'll confess that this pregancy was a surprise on a number of levels.  First, I got pregnant in September when I was a month shy of being 42 years old.  Kevin and I have been blessed with 12 pregnancies during our marriage, so we obviously conceive easily.  We've had 7 live births, 4 miscarriages, and I'm carrying little #12 right now.

BUT, 42!  I mean really, at 42 you would THINK that I wouldn't get pregnant this quickly.  Or at least I thought.  Our little Sarah was only 9 months at the time!  But life, and the Lord, are full of surprises.

Surprise #2 was that I didn't miscarry.  Pregnancy hasn't been easy the last few years, and I've not carried 2 babies to term in a row since our 5th child was born.  In fact, I had lost 4 out of 6 pregnancies to miscarriage.  So when I got pregnant, I was concerned that I would lose the baby.

But here I am, at 13 and a half weeks, and so far Baby and I are doing great.  Now there is a long way to go, but I've always had first trimester miscarriages so I am feeling hopeful.

I had an ultrasound last week and the baby was very active and looking good. 

It has been a hard first trimester. All my first trimesters have been hard, but as I get older they've gotten harder.  But a baby is a great reason to feel sick.

I relish your prayers that this pregnancy will go well and that Little One will be born healthy, and at just the right time. He or she is due May 31st, 2012.

Friday, November 25, 2011


True confessions here, I am not a huge holiday person.

I am not a Scrooge, I hope.  It is more that I try to have the spirit of the holidays all year long. I mean, we shouldn't JUST be thankful at Thanksgiving, and we shouldn't JUST think about Jesus' birth at Christmas time or His death and resurrection for our sakes at Easter!

All that is true, but it is ALSO true that God very definitely blessed and even created holidays and celebrations for His people. There are very detailed instructions in the Old Testament about the Feasts that the Israelites celebrated to remember the Passover and the harvest and things like that.

So there is very definite place for holidays and contemplating the blessings of God.

And Thanksgiving, while it isn't an overtly Christian holiday, certainly shines a light on an important mental exercise...being full of thanksgiving and gratitude.

So today I thought about being grateful.  It didn't come entirely naturally...

I had a well child checkup for our 1 year old daughter, but yesterday it became clear that Lydia had an eye problem so I brought her in as well.

Lydia has a raging case of pink eye.

Sarah needed some bloodwork to check for lead levels so after the appointments, I took her to get that taken care of.  She didn't appreciate it very much, but didn't wail for long.

Then we went off to Kroger to fill an antibiotic prescription for Lydia.  Turned out that the pharmacy didn't have the medication we needed. Sigh.  Her eye is BAD and it is very contagious so we needed it.

I got home at 11 a.m. to find Kevin had just gotten up. He is not feeling well.  I called the doctor and they called in the prescription.  I listened to the messages on the answering machine and discovered that I had left a credit card at the doctor's office.  Sigh.

So, no huge biggie, but this morning just didn't go that well.  I felt stymied in trying to do things efficiently, and I'm all about efficiency.  I was sorry that Kevin didn't feel well as he's had a cold off and on for several weeks and is tired of it!

But then I realized how much I have to be thankful for.

I have a car so I can take my kids to the doctor.

We have insurance so I can take the kids to the doctor.

The credit card is in a safe place though it isn't in the place I want it to be.

We have pharmacies on every corner so I can get medication for my children.

My husband is generally healthy.  A cold is tiresome, but a cold is just a cold.  There are people battling far more serious health issues.

Our children are all quite healthy too.  Pink eye is a pain (figuratively and literally) but in the grand scheme of things, it is small.

All these are minor things compared to the joys of salvation and the joys of a strong marriage.  But its the little things that sometimes wear me down, and it is good to think about the things I am thankful about in the midst of life's little irritations.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sarah is 1!

We celebrated Sarah's birthday this week!

Since we were in a hurry, we bought a carrot cake box mix from the grocery store, and some fluffy icing. But Naomi went the extra mile and colored some of the frosting so it came out nicely decorated. The weird part in the corner without frosting was for Sarah and Miriam, both of whom have problems with dairy.

Sarah didn't have a clue about what was going on but she knew we were happy, so she was happy.  And we are happy. Sarah is such a blessing to us and we were delighted to celebrate her first year!

She has a strange aversion to dry or chunky foods, so I knew she would gag and protest if I tried to feed her plain cake. So I took a piece, mixed it with coconut milk, and fed it to her that way.  It looked weird, but she liked it.

Ah, a mysterious picture.  What IS this?

It's a bonfire!  This was not for Sarah or indeed any of the little girls, as it was late and they needed to go to bed.  But Kevin and the older 4 spent several hours outside enjoying a bonfire. 

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Our Fall Back Science Experiment

When I'm at a loss to find a good science experiment...

we make a volcano!

This one never, ever, ever gets old.  We pour vinegar into a bottle (a flower vase, in our case.)  If we feel adventurous, we add some food coloring.

Then we pour in baking soda.  Voila, wonderful chemical reaction!  Lots of carbon dioxide!  Foamy stuff pours everywhere!

The kids love it. So do I. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Barn, and internet access

First things first, our internet access has been mostly off the last couple of days. I'm expecting to lose it any  minute now.  The little lights on the modem keep appearing and disappearing.  This happened once a few years ago and we needed a technician to come and fix something.  We have an appointment scheduled for next Tuesday. It is hard not having internet!  But I suppose it is a good experience to have a break.

So, big news...we are going to build a barn!  Our home is big and out in the country. We own 5 acres of land.  Long ago, before we owned the house, there was a building with an apartment on the 2nd level sitting about 100 feet from our back deck.  Then, one exciting night, the whole thing burned down.  Now there is just a slab of concrete.

 Kevin has long been interested in building a barn. Now we have a tractor so a barn is even more attractive.  He spent some time this year hunting up bids and just this last week we got a bid that works for us.  We need to get some concrete work done to make sure that the concrete and foundation are stable for the barn.  That's going to happen in the next couple of weeks.  Starting in mid-December, the barn will go up.

I'm expecting the children to be quite excited by the process.  It surprises me that a barn can be built in winter but apparently it can.  We have electric cables that run back there (from the previous building) and at some point we'll put in electricity.  It should be a multipurpose building which will house the tractor and possibly some animals.  (We keep muttering about raising and then slaughtering a pig.)  Kevin has also thought about building a climbing wall for the children. So exciting stuff!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chicken Update

Sigh, our poor chickens.

In some ways, they are doing well. We've not had one keel over dead in a few weeks.  They are strutting and scratching and generally looking healthy.

But they still aren't laying much. We've gotten 2 eggs quite a few days.  We get 1 egg some days.  Sometimes we get none.

We're still waiting for 3.

We suspect that only 2 are actually laying and the others are just eating and getting fat.

It is frustrating. It is probably the cooler temperatures and the shorter hours and the trauma of getting sick. We understand it, but it is still a disappointing thing that we are getting so few eggs.

Last night I dreamt that I was hunting for eggs and found 2 of our chickens up in a tree, sitting on a nest full of chicken eggs.  "Ah, " I thought, "That's where all the eggs are!"

So I've got chickens, and eggs, on the brain.


Lydia is our 2nd child.  She is sort of in 5th grade. I say that because I really don't think about what grade my children are in but it is useful to peg them somewhere so people can relate.

Lydia is our first "mixed dominant" child. She is right hand dominant, left eye dominant.  According to Dianne Craft, mixed dominant children often have more trouble with handwriting glitches.  Lydia's handwriting is readable but she does struggle to stay on lines.   Her letters tends to rise and lower as she is writing across a page.  We are working on that.

She's a very bright girl, and in many ways different from her older sister Naomi.  Despite the occasional sibling fight, though, they are very much best friends.  And they have a great deal in common too.  Both are artistic and love animals. They like some of the same kinds of games.

Lydia read very early, even earlier than Naomi.  I was shocked when she sounded out a 3 letter word at the age of 3 and a half!  She was fluent by 5 and reads voraciously.

Math proved more of a struggle.  Naomi, Isaac and, I think, Miriam are hard core mathies.  Math concepts just come easily to them.  That wasn't true for Lydia.  She didn't learn her math facts very easily and some of the concepts were tough. She has gotten frustrated with math on occasion and said that she was not "very good" at math.

We encouraged her that she WAS good at math. This year she is charging through MathUSee gamma, which covers multiplication.  And she finally has all her multiplication facts down cold.  She also understand completely how to do long multiplication, which is my goal.  It is important to understand the concept of long multiplication though in actual fact, she'll rarely have to do a long multiplication problem as an adult.  Unless she is stuck somewhere without a calculator (and that HAS happened to me) she'll just reach for a calculator.  But I want the children to understand where the number comes from and she does.

Lydia has never written long prose and even her emails generally are short.  Naomi encouraged her to start a story for Na-No-Wri-Mo and she decided to try for 2000 words.  (Naomi decided on 10,000 words and is almost there...she might try something longer since Nov. 30th is a long way off!)  Lydia sat down and started plugging away. She hasn't worked on it a lot the last few days but she is over 1000 words at this point.  That is very impressive for her and she thought through her plot carefully.  So I'm delighted.  We haven't done as much structured writing practice as I would like due to busyness on my part, but so far the older girls are developing as writers anyway.  It probably helps that they read so much. Well, I know it does.

So this year is going well for Lydia. She does some of her work with Naomi and I am thankful that works well.  There are things that are tough for her, and Naomi is usually willing to lend a helping hand.

I am grateful that the Lord blessed us with 2 girls close in age who were both early readers and can work together so well. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sarah Locomoting

Honestly, this is just TOO CUTE!  We don't need a dog.  We have a baby that will play fetch!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The School Year So Far: Naomi

We started our homeschooling journey for this year on August 1st, so have been toiling away for over 3 months now.  How is it going?  Welll, I meant to write one post about everyone but Naomi's update got long, so I'll just talk about her now.

Naomi (age 11):  Naomi is the quintessential student. She writes well, learns math rapidly, and is in every way a dream to teach. I am thankful our eldest learns easily and doesn't have the handwriting glitches of some of the younger children. It helped me have confidence as a homeschooling mom when she read early and picked up math concepts enthusiastically.  The fact that she can write easily and well made it possible for me to turn over some of her schoolwork at an early age.

So far this year, academics are going well for Naomi. She is charging through Fractions in MathUSee. She and Lydia are working on Cantering the Country and Story of the World with relatively little attention from me.  My job for both curricula is to copy pages and check out requisite books from the library.

One issue for Naomi, and it IS an issue, is that she and I both have to work to make sure that academics are not too simple for her.  Kevin and I might qualify as gifted students.  Certainly we both found public school not very challenging.  While that sounds nice, in actual fact a student who learns very easily can become lazy.  Naomi and I had a really good talk about that a couple of years ago.  I told her about how I was the best student in my high school class, one of the 3 best students in my undergraduate metallurgy classes, and was taken aback when I went to graduate school and met students who were smarter than I was!  I remember sitting around listening to some Indian and Chinese students chattering away about thermodynamics and feeling like I had strayed into another world and that my brain just didn't work well enough.  Fortunately, I had a long history of working very hard and so what I lacked in brains I made up with hard work, and I did fine in graduate school.   While I probably strayed towards being obsessive at times about school, I did at least learn to work hard.  That is my goal for all of our children, that they learn to work hard.

Another issue for Naomi, and indeed all the children, is that at times school is boring.  I was bored a lot in public school and I want to avoid that in general for the children.  But reality is, sometimes there will be boring material and the kids have to learn to buckle down and do the boring stuff.  So long as it isn't boring all the time, I think some boredom is a good thing.  Sometimes life isn't very exciting.  It is good to tolerate some degree of boredom in doing tasks that must be done.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Amazing Writing Girls

Word count for Naomi:  over 2000 words!

Word count for Lydia:  over 500 words!

On Day 1!

They are charging along with this Na-No-Wri-Mo thing:-).

Our 2 little girls

So our family is laid out as follows:

Kevin and Laraba:  parents

Naomi and Lydia: the "big" girls

Isaac and Joseph:  the boys

Miriam and Angela: the "little" girls

Sarah:  the baby

Miriam is 5 and will be six soon.  Angela is 4.

If we sent our kids to public school, Miriam would probably be in kindergarten this year.  She wouldn't have to be, legally, but she would be ready.  Like all of our girls so far, she has been excited about drawing and coloring and even forming letters.  She is starting to read.

At the beginning of the year, I had vague plans to do kindergarten with Miriam and "preschool" with Angela.  And ... I guess you could say I am. But I spend very little time teaching them. 

There are 2 reasons for this.  One is that the older 4 children take most of my time and energy, especially Joseph (age 7), who is learning to read, write, and add. 

The other reason is that the little girls LOVE to play together.  Love love love it.  Fairly often, a homeschooling mom finds herself chasing around the preschoolers.  I chase the baby a lot, but most mornings, Angela and Miriam disappear into our playroom and play very happily for literally a couple of HOURS.  It is really amazing!  I sometimes feel guilty like I should be interacting with them more, but they are happy!  When I do pull them out to read to them or do a little preschool work, they participate gladly but are eager to go back in and play some more.

So...sometimes, often, having kids close together makes it much easier for mom to get stuff done because there are built in playmates.


Ok, that title just does not "trip off the tongue", does it?

It stands for National Novel Writing Month.  During Na-No-Wri-Mo, adults and young people are encouraged to write a novel in a month.

I believe adults are required to start at 50,000 words minimum.  Young people can choose their hoped for word count.

This year, Naomi (age 11) and Lydia (age 10) are participating. Naomi chose her initial word goal to be 5000 words.  Lydia chose 2000 words as her goal.

Naomi is, well, an astonishing writer for her age.  To give you an idea of how easily words flow, she wrote more than 1500 words today.  We are in agreement that perhaps she needs to "bump up" her word goal.

Lydia is much earlier in the writing process and finds it quite laborious at times. I am delighted that she is tackling this goal of writing 2000 words in November.

So I'll keep you updated!  Both girls are thinking about their plots and working on descriptive prose.  I am so proud of them.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Two Eggs (2 days in a row)

Things are looking up with the chickens. The last one that died did so almost a week ago.  And the last 2 days, we've gotten 2 eggs each day.

That is still pretty wimpy for 15 chickens that are egg laying age.  But it is better than none a day.  It is better than one a day.

Now, we're holding out for 3 one day.  Go chickens!  Go chickens!


I remember my Saturdays when I was a young child.  My memories go back to about age 6.  I would get up early, like 6:30 a.m.  I would go into the kitchen and get a bowl of cereal. I would go in the basement and turn on the TV and watch cartoons for about 6 hours straight.

Well, let me say that watching cartoons for 6 hours straight is not a good way to spend one's time.  My parents were diligent in many ways but let us watch a lot of TV.  I am guessing they liked me (and my brothers) watching cartoons as that gave them time to get stuff done around the house.  I can relate to that.

 We rarely let our children watch anything on TV "live".  I DVR "The Magic Schoolbus" every Saturday morning, and we watch the occasional sporting event with our children. 

  Ok, back to the theme of the blog...I must admit to a little bit of longing for those childhood Saturdays, not because I want to watch cartoons but because life was obviously mellow and full of extra time when I was a child. And that is as it should be.

  But wow, Saturday is CRAZY now.  Saturday is the day when Kevin and I are both around so one of us can easily run off to do errands.  Saturday is the day I am frantically finishing all the grading from last week, and preparing the children's work for next week. Saturday is the day we change all the sheets on the beds. Saturday is the day I try to do some extra cooking and cleaning.  Saturday is the day when we're out of routine, and the children notice it. :-).

  Oh, Saturday, Saturday, Saturday!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Book Review: Debt Free U by Zac Bissonnette

This fascinating book by Zac Bissonnette tackles that serious concern of many a modern day parent and to pay for college without incurring a high debt load. The book was published in 2010 and the author was 21, and in college, when he wrote it.  He has thought long and hard about college and has come up with powerful arguments and data to support his belief that no student needs to incur vast amounts of debt in pursuit of a college education.

  I advise that any parent whose child might be going to college read this book. I don't agree with everything Zac says, but he thinks so "outside the box" about college that the book is worth reading just to get some fresh ideas flowing about college.

 In a way, this post is a follow up to a post of a few weeks ago when I discusssed some thoughts I have about college.  Among other things, I stated that I highly desire that our children graduate from college with no debt.   How reasonable that is, I don't know.  Our 7 children were born in 11 years so obviously we COULD have many kids in college at once.  While Kevin's salary is good, it isn't enough to pay for college for all of our children to expensive places.

 But then, Zac argues that parents should NOT pay all their children's college expenses.  He himself got zero help from his parents as they were poor. 

There are parents who feel that they have an obligation to pay their children's way through college. My own parents felt that way. I appreciate the thought behind it, but I believe it is beneficial for most students to have a "stake" in college. I was fortunate enough to have scholarships and fellowships that paid for more than 95% of my college expenses. And I needed to maintain a high grade point to keep those scholarships, so I was motivated. I have known some young people who bounced happily off to college, partied a lot and generally had a great time on their parents' money. Other young people are very responsible with their parents' support and work hard.   It obviously depends greatly on the temperament the young person.

Zac advocates that students work to earn money in college, and either go to community college for a couple of years or go to an inexpensive state school.

I have some reservations about both those pieces of advice, but again ... it is thinking outside the box, and that is helpful.  First, I have some thoughts about working many hours in college.  Zac advocates an average of 30 hours a week, with the student working more hours when classes are not in session.  Well, I didn't work much while in college but then my courseload was so intense that it was moderately hard to find time. I was in engineering and many of the classes were challenging.  On the other hand, I started working 15 hours a week on research as a junior in college, and somehow found the time. So I could have worked as a freshman and sophomore.

Zac's love of state colleges is that they provide a large varietyof majors and they are tax payer funded.  Well, as a homeschooler, I've already rejected the idea that we should go entirely for the "bottom line" as it would be cheaper for us to send our children to public school than homeschool them.  I have serious reservations about some state colleges in that they are "party schools."  Actually, I don't subscribe to the idea that a young person must "go off to college" to be well rounded in life.  I believe living in a non college environment while attending classes as a commuter student can be a fine, healthy option for those students who feel led to go to college.

But I do appreciate Zac's concern about private colleges and how expensive they are.  There are cases where students get huge grants and scholarships. That's great.  Other times, large loans are lumped in with the financial aid package and students are encouraged to "go to school now, worry about paying it later" and that can lead to disaster and discouragements for decades after college.

Zac also discusses the financial aid issue at great length, including the infamous FAFSA.  This document is full of complicated formulas for determing what aid a student can earn based on family income and the student's own savings. One interesting and sad fact is that students with a lot of personal savings through working hard in high school are penalized compared to those students who have almost nothing in savings.  So a student who sits around all summer playing video games has an advantage (on the FAFSA) over a student who works 40 hour weeks to save for college.

So again, if you will likely have a child going to college, I heartily recommend this book.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Perfect (Chicken) Storm

Years ago, a movie came out called "The Perfect Storm".  I haven't seen it. Not my kind of movie.  Most of the main characters die, apparently.  But I guess the idea was that 3 weather systems came together in such a way as to generate a truly horrific storm, which did BAD things to ships out at sea.

Ok, so we are in the middle of a perfect chicken storm.  Poor chickens.  They were uprooted from their homes. They are sick. They are being fed weird food, in weird containers, and therefore haven't been eating well.

Yesterday we lost a 5th chicken.  We are down to 19 chickens, 4 of which are a bit younger. The 15 that are almost a year old SHOULD be laying, but are not.

I guess it has been educational.  Our previous 2 batches of chickens just ... laid eggs.  The ladies we have are so stressed and messed up that they mostly are not laying. We got one egg today and had one a couple of days ago.

I thought that chickens that were the right age would just do their business, but this has been too much for them. We have taken steps to help them out.  We're giving them antibiotics and vitamins in their water.  We bought a tub that sits on the floor of the coop, and bought them some scratch food (a different kind of food) yesterday.  So we are hoping that we won't lose more chickens, and that the ones that are alive will grow healthy and strong.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn't the end of the world.  But it is frustrating...lots of extra work and care, five dead chickens, and very few eggs.  Next time we're in the same situation, we'll wait until spring to get new chickens.  I guess the weather changes and shorter days are another part of the "perfect storm."

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I turned 42 a couple of days ago.  Kevin got me these flowers from Sam's Club for my birthday.

We joke about how cheap I am.  I have said more than once, "Please DO NOT buy me really expensive flowers from a flower shop."  I love the fact that Sam's flowers are reasonable and beautiful. Isn't this a lovely bouquet?

I had a splendid birthday. Kevin came home a few hours early so we could both rest before an exciting NIGHT ON THE TOWN.  Yes, our wonderful babysitter came and watched the kids so we could go out on a date.

We went out to eat at a barbecue place, went to a dollar store, roamed the mall and found that Chick-Fil-A sells lemonade sweetened with Spenda (yummy!), and then went to Kohl's. So, a lot of shopping, obviously.  We usually do go shopping on our dates though rarely buy much.

I have been a bit under the weather the last week but was feeling well that evening, which was great.

I always like looking back on my birthday. What I thought about this year was my 30th birthday.  Kevin and I had just moved down to Ohio. I was 7 months pregnant with our first child.  My big job was getting the house unpacked and I seem to remember feeling moderately busy.

Now, of course, I am mother to 7 children and homeschooling 4 or 5 of them (depending on if we count Miriam.)  Life is SO much more complicated and busy than it was back when I was 30.  But it is ... splendid.  Blessed. 

God is good.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Science with Joseph

I said in a previous post that I was going to try to do regular science experiments with our son Joseph, age 7.  He loves science and especially loves hands-on science.

The little book I've been using, Simple Science Experiments with Everyday Materials by Muriel Mandell, has been invaluable.  Most of the experiments really do have everyday materials that we have around the house.

Here was an incredibly simple experiment.  I boiled water and poured it into the bowl on the left.  I put water in the one of the right and added ice cubes until the water was quite cold...then I removed the ice cubes.  Joseph chose green food coloring to test diffusion properties as a function of water temperature.  You can see that the food coloring in the hot water bowl diffused far more rapidly than the food coloring in the cold water bowl. I talked a bit about how hot water molecules are moving faster and bouncing around more, so that the food coloring spreads quickly.

  This experiment was a bit more complicated.  Joseph collected 15 pennies and we added vinegar and a pinch of salt.  After a few minutes, the vinegar and salt had removed the outer corrosion products and left a bunch of shiny pennies.

  Then we got a plain ordinary nail.  I scrubbed it with a wire brush to remove any dirt on the outside, and dropped it into the solution of vinegar and salt.

  15 minutes later...

  Voila!  Copper was deposited on the nail!  The nail on the bottom is the one that sat in the vinegar/salt solution. The one on the top is an untreated nail for comparison purposes.

  Why did this happen?  The acid in the vinegar dissolved some of copper into solution.  The iron in the nail is less chemically active than copper, so the copper deposited onto the nail.

    I didn't think it would work so was very pleased when it did!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chicken Drama

Well, the chickens aren't doing very well.  We hope that we've turned a corner, though.

We lost another chicken Sunday morning.  On the way home from church, I stopped at Tractor Supply and talked to someone about getting medicine for the chickens.  An employee kept saying, "We're not vets, but..." and recommended antibiotics that go in their water.  She also said, cheerfully, that "chickens get sick so easily and you should always give them antibiotics when you acquire them." 

  We read up on chickens some before we got our first batch, and I knew chickens can get sick.  But our first 2 batches were very healthy, so this is all new and  discouraging.

  As of this moment, we don't seem to have lost another though I've not checked the coop yet.  We are HOPEFUL that most who were sick have gotten better.  Now that we know we have an illness, we can see they weren't doing well last week.  A healthy chicken struts around and pecks and scratches the ground with her feet.  Last week, all the chickens looked strangely immoble and sluggish. They spent a lot of time just standing still.  Now most of them are looking lively, though a couple are obviously sick and one was (as of yesterday) apparently on death's door.

One aspect of the illness is that the really sick ones don't open their eyes. We don't know if it is photophobia or if their eyes are gunky. Probably the latter. Yesterday, our older 3 children worked on gently wiping the eyes of a couple of birds to try to help them open their eyes.

This is the sickest of them all.  We of course were cautious about washing hands carefully afterwards though I don't think people can usually get bird illnesses.

One last highly discouraging thing is that the chickens aren't laying. We've not gotten an egg in 2 days.  That is strange because most of them are looking quite lively.  Perhaps they are still recuperating their strength after being sick.

So...we'll see what happens.  In the large, grand, scheme of things, this isn't that huge but it is not what we hoped for when we got our new, handsome flock of chickens.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

And Then There Were 23

Ok, I admit it. That is not the world's most catchy blog title.

But yes, we are down a chicken. Kevin went out this morning and the sick chicken was dead.  Not a surprise.  I'm not  heartbroken, but do hope that it didn't die of some nasty illness that will result in more dead chickens.  Kevin says that three other chickens aren't looking good, unfortunately.We'll see.

In much better news, our big girls are home!  They had a great time with our grandparents but we are very glad to have them with us again.  We missed them!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Eye Updates

Isaac and Sarah had appointments with the opthalmologist this morning.

Isaac has amblyopia, more commonly known as "lazy eye".  His left eye had almost completely shut down becuase his brain decided the information from it was useless.

He has been patching his good eye for 6 to 8 hours each day for the last 6 months.  Isaac is not one of the world's most mellow, compliant people, and I prayed before we started that the patching would go well.

Wow, God answered that prayer!  Isaac has been SUCH a trooper about wearing the eye patch.

We saw dramatic improvement the first 2 months, almost no improvement the second two months, and good improvement today.  I was so relieved that he did improve.  His left eye started at 20/150, and now is at 20/50 WITH glasses.

Sarah is very far sighted with both eyes and is wearing glasses when she is awake. The doctor did a bunch of simple tests since of course she can't talk yet :-).  Sarah is responding well to visual stimuli and her eyes are not crossing at all.  So she is doing well but needs to be monitored carefully.

We are thankful that the results have been good so far, and that we can have access to an excellent opthalmologist.

Chicken problems?

We purchased 20 10 month old chickens, and 4 pullets, more than a week ago.

We've been disappointed with egg production so far. I believe we've gotten 9 eggs total since we got them.

We knew they'd be stressed by the move and were hoping that as time went on, their egg production would pick up. And we still hope it will. chicken is dying of something respiratory.  Ugh. That is NOT good. Besides the fact that we feel sorry that we have a dying chicken, it may be that we have some respiratory virus that will sweep through our flock.

Some of the chickens have been looking quite sluggish. 

So...we may have a chicken disaster on our hands. Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of Chicken Adventures.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I'm thoroughly the weather and scenery this week.  Temps in the low 70's.  Sunny skies.  Beautiful trees.  Ah...

Our chickens seem quite content but still aren't laying much. We got them 5 days ago and we've only gotten 5 eggs...however, 3 of those were yesterday and today.  The chickens should "come on line" soon, and then we will be inundated!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Weird Week

Our 2 older girls are in Michigan this week visiting my parents.  It feels strange around here with only the younger 5!

I know they'll have a great time and we'll have a pleasant time here as well.

I will have more chores to do than  usual.  Our big girls do a lot around here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sweet Potato Harvest

Kevin harvested our sweet potatoes last weekend.

The good news is that we harvested many fine sweet potatoes.

  Aren't they nice?

  The bad news was that some nefarious rodent-like creature chewed on a number of sweet potatoes. But as you can see, we still got a lot to eat ourselves.


We are very happy!  We have new chickens.

Loyal blog readers will remember that our last batch of chickens got old and stopped laying much. So we took them off to the butcher.  Two of them are in the crockpot right now.

We wanted more chickens, but the closest reasonable place to get chickens was some 2 hours north. This weekend, the big girls are visiting their grandparents and we are meeting my parents 2 hours north, close to the chicken farm. Ok, fine, we thought. We'll go get chickens this weekend to combine trips.

Except that earlier this week, we discovered the chicken farm wasn't selling chickens anymore.

Kevin did another Craigslist search and found a place an hour away with 10 month old chickens that have been laying for about a month.  PERFECT!

We were originally going to get all Golden Comets, which is a breed that lays eggs like crazy. But it turned out their were only 8 Golden Comets available.  So Kevin did a little mix and matching, kind of like when you get doughnuts at the doughnut shop.  A couple Auracanas, a few White Rocks, a few Barred Rocks, perhaps a Buff Orpington or two,  some Black Sexlinks, and we were in business.

 We bought 20 ten month old chickens, and the seller threw in 4 younger pullets for free. So now we have 24 chickens and a very grateful, very happy, very relieved guinea hen named Cookie.

 Cookie has been ours for years and was disturbed by the removal of her flock. Very disturbed.  She took to standing mournfully on our back deck all the time and peering through the double doors into our breakfast room.  Kevin would sometimes go outside and chase her around to give her a little social interaction, but it wasn't enough.  Now she has a flock and she is delighted.

 And so are we.   The chickens are really attractive and we hope to get many eggs from them. So far, we've only gotten one egg (and we brought them home 2 days ago.) That is not surprising as when chickens are moved, it takes a while for them to get back on track with egg laying.

   Here are they in the minivan.  They were obviously packed in quite tightly but didn't mind too much. It was after dark so they were mostly asleep.

 Here is one of the white chickens.

  Here is the happy guinea with a variety of chickens near her.

The first egg!!

Naomi wrote a great post about the chickens.  Here it is:

Budding Book Enthusiast?

  There must be some kind of genetic component at SOON as one of our babies starts locomoting, she (or he) starts yanking books off the bookshelves.  I like this picture because it almost looks like she is solemnly paging through the book, when of course she is just engaging in wanton messiness.

  It is fun that she is moving now, but we have to be on our toes to keep her safe, and there are more messes to clean up at the end of the day!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Been Thinking About...College

So the issue of college has wafted across my consciousness the last couple of weeks.  There was a lively discussion on Facebook about whether it was good for girls to go to college. Then my blog friend Annie Kate had a discussion about college.

Our eldest daughter, Naomi, is 11.  So she's ONLY 6 or 7 years from potentially being ready to attend college.  And given that many homeschooled teens start attending community colleges during high school, it could be earlier still.

Here are my perspective and my thoughts right now.  I'm sure they will change and adapt as our children grow.

First, some background. Kevin and I both have Ph.D's in engineering.  You don't get a Ph.D. without an amazing amount of time in college.  We each spent close to 10 years attending college.  (Ack, ack!  Just writing that amazes me!)

The good news was that we both graduated with comparitively little debt.  We were both blessed to have substantial scholarships as undergrads, and graduate school was paid for.  Kevin went on the Air Force's dime.  He committed to many years of working for the Air Force in return for them (it?) paying for his Ph.D.  I got fellowships and assistantships in college, so while I had to live modestly, I did not  incur any debt.

Kevin has spent the last 11 years working as an engineer on base.  His salary is good, and he is able to comfortably support our large family. 

I got my Ph.D., got married, worked full time for 2 years as Kevin finished his Ph.D., and then had Naomi.  And then had many more babies.  I have actually worked on a very part time basis most of the time I was a mother.  I taught one class a quarter at a local university for a few years.  For the last 7  years, I've worked one day a week at the Air Force base where Kevin works.

So, some questions. 

1.  Do I think that college is necessary for everyone?

NO!  I do not.  Some young people have skills and gifts that are not best served by a college education.  I love the idea of apprenticeships for some young people.  I would say that MOST people would benefit from some kind of post high school training, however. There are jobs out there that require a high school diploma, but they generally (not always) don't pay particularly well. I am not obsessed with salary, I really am not.  But I know that if a couple of blessed with many children, it is a struggle to get by on poverty level income. It can be done, but it is really tough. 

2.  Do I think that girls should go to college?

  Well, maybe.  See #1...obviously I don't think every young woman should go to college.  There are those who argue, however, that a young woman shouldn't go to college at all because she should be focused on being a wife and mother.
  I resonate with that a little.  I don't remotely think that a woman being "only" a wife and mother is a demeaning thing, like some feminists imply . That is absurd.  Being a stay at home mother is a wonderful calling.  I am SO thankful that my husband is commmitted to me being home most of the time. And he is very happy to have me here.
  Having said that, my argument for women pursuing some kind of career has a lot to do with not "testing God".  Let me explain THAT.

  It seems to me that if parents are focused on training their girls up to be wives and mothers, they are making the obvious assumption that the girls will get married, and get married relatively young.  I personally have known more than one godly young lady who greatly desired to get married, but it didn't happen at all or until the lady was much older than she desired.  I have a dear, dear friend who longed for marriage in her early 20's, and God led her to her husband when she was 37!   The timing was perfect from God's perspective, if not for my friend's perspective.  (They have 3 children, praise God!  That is one dicey thing about late marriages, in my view...the possibility of not being able to have children.)

  So, I would prefer not to have all our eggs in one basket for our girls.  One of my grandmothers married at age 30.  My parents married at 20 or 21.  I married at 26.  Sometimes a woman doesn't get married young, and in this day and age she may need to support herself in some way.

3.  But what about college debt?

  Ok, here is where I want to jump up and down and scream.

 Yes, I think college can be appropriate for young women. But, but, but!  They should do everything possible not to have a huge amount of debt when they graduate.  That's true of boys too, but maybe especially for girls.  Because what if a young lady does go to college and graduates with lots of debt, finds the man God has for her, and gets married? 

  With lots of debt?

  I think she is stuck to some degree, or at least she and her husband are greatly burdened.  They may be led to have children right away, but the debt will drive them towards the wife working full time and/or delaying childbearing. 

 That's an unpleasant situation.

  I'm definitely not of the view that a young person needs to "go away to college" to be fulfilled in life.  Jesus didn't.  I mean, we don't know for sure what he did until age 30, but he was still in Nazareth so was probably living as a carpenter with his mother.

  There seems to be this idealistic view that college is the place where a young person matures and "finds" him or herself.  I think college can be a positive experience but it isn't necessary that a young person LIVE on campus.

Also, what do we look for in a college?  There are books and articles that have discussed this far more superbly than I can, but let me say this...many so called "superior" universities are not providing a particularly good education.

I'm going to gently slam the University of Michigan, where I got my Ph.D.  The graduate school was very good.  I would argue the undergraduate engineering programs have their flaws...namely, most professors put teaching at the bottom of their priority list and sometimes it shows.  Add to that the truth that many classes are taught by graduate students (yes, I taught classes) and sometimes those grad. students (through no fault of their own) had major communication issues because English was not their first language.

And here's another pet peeve I have about U of M.  They put tons of money into their atheletic program. I actually like college football, but the truth is that while football MIGHT make money, most athletic programs in college are totally money sinks.  All those salaries and scholarships are being paid for by the common student.  And are athletics remotely vital for learning a profession?

U of M of course isn't alone about athletics...many top tier universities spend a lot of money on athletcis.

So my thought, for now, is that yes... probably our kids will go to college. But likely they will go locally and live at home.  Likely they will go to a community college for a couple of years. 

I pray that they can avoid going into much debt.  We can't afford to send them to Harvard.  But perhaps we and they can work together to pay for a local school with modest tuition prices.

Well, that's probably enough cogitating for now...

Trip to the Air Force Museum

We live near the United State Air Force Museum.  Yesterday, I bundled all the kids into the giant van and we went to the museum.

When we got there, the parking lot was full of large vehicles, even some 15 passenger vans like ours.  That seemed odd. There were a number of large families heading into the museum with us.

When we stepped through the doors, a courteous museum volunteer mentioned that it was Homeschool Day!  Ok, I didn't know that. 

In actual fact, I wasn't delighted. There were a great many people at the museum and that made it a bit harder to keep track of my children. There were wonderful classes going on for homeschoolers, but I hadn't signed up ahead of time for them, obviously.

But still, we had a great trip. And it was fun seeing all those homeschoolers roaming around.  I fell into conversation with a fellow homeschooling mom who has 9 children. She and her husband have 2 year old twins AND 3 year old twins!  Ok, I thought I was busy.  But of course she is delighted and said it is great fun that the little ones each have a twin to play with.

Angela in space!

The children were able to walk through the body of this military aircraft.  There were oxygen cylinders lined up and various other paraphernalia.  And it was bright yellow!  So cheerful!

  This time around, I found a couple of annexes of the museum I had never seen before.  The first annex had Cold War military aircraft.  The second annex had space vehicles like this one.

Isn't it impressive?  That's Lydia standing in front of it.

The museum is free, but they have this ride where passengers sit in what appears to be a cockpit -- and it isn't free.  There is a giant screen and the ride moves around.  I splurged and let the kids go on it. They were excited. I tend to be a super cheap mom (kind of need to be with our family size) but I decided to go for it.  The tickets were cheaper because it was Homeschool Day, so we benefited from HD that way!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review: Simple Science Experiments with Everyday Materials by Muriel Mandell

I was complaining commenting a few days ago that I don't like most "experiments at home" books because they require esoteric ingredients that I don't have around the house, even though the books assume that I do.

I was going through my shelves last week, and came across this little gem.  There are many experiments in it that really and truly use simple materials.

I've been trying to do at least an experiment a day with our son Joseph, age 7.  He is a science nut and I realized we needed to do something fun to mitigate the struggles he is having with reading and math.

The experiments have been a hit. 

Here is a fun one!  I put 1 inch of water in the cup.  I cut a long strip of paper towel and put the bottom inch of the towel in the water.  I dripped one drop of green food coloring about an inch above the water line.  Then we walked away.

When we came back 15 minutes later, the water had wicked up the paper towel and was carrying the food coloring with it.  But here is the really fun food coloring is made of yellow and blue dyes mixed together. And blue wicks faster than yellow. So the green food coloring started to separate into yellow and blue!  You can see the blue clearly, the yellow much  less clearly.

I have been praying about Joseph and school, and know God answered by directing me to this book and our new approach to school. Joseph is only just 7 years old.  I want him to find school interesting, not drudgery.  These science experiments are helping.

She's (Finally) on the Move!

Sarah is 10+ months old, and has mostly been content to sit and look at the world around her.

But all that is over.  She is not crawling, but she is scooting around on her bottom.  4 of our previous children did the same thing.  We have laminate floors and they are slippery, so most of the children have found it easier to move along with arms and legs while sitting upright.

I've looked forward to this, but then again, I haven't.  Now things get exciting as our sweet little pumpkin decides to get into everything. I already stopped her from pulling books off one of our bookshelves.  What IS it about babies and bookshelves??

But obviously this is an important developmental stage and it is fun to see it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

More Krispy Kreme Pictures

I didn't post all the pictures I wanted to from our Krispy Kreme trip (see post below.) 

So here they are!

This is a perfect picture of a lone doughnut gliding under the glorious waterfall of glaze!

Here are some doughnuts that were generated from a hand held vat (barely seen in the upper right hand part of the picture) and are frying in very hot oil.

  Here are the doughnuts in a vat of hot oil.  The machine at the right of the picture flips them they are fried on one side, go through the machine and are flipped over, and then fry on the other side.  Very cool!