Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Day

Dare I admit that my schedule is sometimes far from ideal? Ok, here goes. My ideal is to follow a nice simple rhythm (I gave up on schedules a few years back, rhythms are so much nicer). The day started as normal-I wake, yoga for 15 minutes (yep, that's it these days, but at least some exercise is still in there), read scriptures with notebook and pen, pray, make my husbands lunch and that was as far as I got in the normal routine of things. It was one of those rare days where I actually had to leave all of my kids for most of the day. I dressed and prepped for work, while hugging a child, who just needed a cuddle time that I could not do sitting, so carry, walk, hug, kiss, sit down, while I slip into clothes, pick up, hug, kiss, sit child half on counter with one arm around him while I do my make up with the other... As I served oatmeal and gave final instruction to the older kids I knew my daughter needed an I appreciate you day and while it couldn't be today, I made a mental note.

Then I was gone, off to a learning record appointment and then to meet an advisor and other educational specialists to discuss student portfolios, complicated high school transcripts, BTSA requirements and new laws that may or may not affect our school. What were my children doing? Well, my two workbook loving children were working through workbooks, one child was writing an essay on justice and mercy and how it relates to "The Merchant of Venice," and one was doing Brain Pop, watching videos about the brain, brushing teeth, and the earth's crust. Milly was waiting for her aunt. By 9:30 the oldest two were off to a Shakespeare co-op, and the younger four were off to cousins to play. Then friends returned them home and three left for PE at the park where they stretched and did a soccer scrimmage working on skills they previously had learned.

At six we were all back together, only for me to take the three older ones to see a play their cousin was in about the rock cycle. By seven we were home again and I was hugging and tickling Milly, while listening to Logan read. Kamron was reading his science text, and Aubrey was reading. Then Brennen and Logan and I decided to hang up skip counting charts in the bathroom so they could practice while brushing teeth-online search, print, done. Brennen got work sheets on the rock cycle, we then watched videos on the rock cycle, learned a song, pulled out a rock collection named them, pulled out loose rocks and looked at which could float and which sink. Then it was story time and we reviewed the card on red-winged blackbirds, sang nursery rhyme songs, read a chapter from the Charlotte Mason Geography book, then the story of Saint Augustine and his mother all while cuddling little ones on my lap. After prayers I tucked them in with audio books and said good night. An ideal day? No, a decent day? Yes, as long as I am not away from them that much that often. And that is true life in this homeschooling household juggling two full time jobs, six kids, and 11 weekly extra curricular/outside classes.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Youth and Youth Leaders

I am feeling so blessed by those in my ward and stake. Because I often feel so much of the weight in raising my wonderful children to have values, love God and want to serve others, I am so grateful to have other older children and adults who really want to help them be great people.
Kamron was interviewed for Boy Scouts by three of his leaders two weeks ago. I got to sit with him as the leaders each bore their testimonies of the gospel and what makes a great man and that while learning to camp, shoot, climb and meet any emergency situation they are really learning to be men who help and step up when it is time to serve the Lord. One of the men called his older son in and he also explained how what he was learning in scouts was helping him to make good decisions.
Kamron went to Boy Scout camp and had a great time. He failed his swim test the first time in the ice run off water. The next day he tried again and passed it. Then he got to take a rowing class, where he learned to swamp a boat and then get out of it. He was the only boy in his troop who passed his rifle shooting badge. He had to shoot 3 times into a target the size of a quarter, five times. He also learned to paint and take care of painting supplies. He also passed off his woodcarving badge. He rubbed shoulders with funny and fun kids and got along with everyone. He loved it.
This last week Kamron also went on a pioneer trek, where he helped push a handcart 18 miles over part of the Mormon Trail. He came home so uplifted. At church today his trail “Grandpa” Brother Rogers spoke. He talked about Kamron, who was the youngest in their family of 13. He said Kamron was the cutest kid with his hat too large, pioneer outfit, and pants that ended in puffs of dirt where his shoes should have been. He said the big boys were pulling the large cart up a rocky hill and he and a couple of others were pushing when suddenly he felt the cart get lighter and he looked down to see Kamron pushing with both his hands and everything he had. He said, "right then I thought here is a boy that is going to be a great missionary, a great dad, a great husband, a great young men’s leader, primary teacher and bishop. Here is a young man that without being asked is going to give everything he has to help others." Of course, as a mom, hearing this from one of the great men in our ward, as his story of how great this trek was, tears came to my eyes and it was one of those moments when everything I’ve ever put into this child was bearing glorious fruit, because I have a boy who doesn’t shirk but steps up and helps. Could there be anything greater? His sister leaned over to me and said, “I am so proud of Kamron and I want to be like that too.” Kamron told me when we got home that on the trip he had borne his testimony for the first time and said he talked about how important it is to be kind and do right, because everywhere you go people are watching you. He said after what Brother Roger's said he really knows people are watching him and it makes him want to do right.
I am so grateful for others who care about my kids and provide experiences that challenge them and help them to grow. And I am grateful for long conversations with these kids that help me to help them to see a vision of who they can be, how and why. I am also grateful that they talk to each other and encourage things that are good in the heart-to-hearts I overhear. I am living my deepest desire and I am sure blessed to be their mama.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Today, we hung bells and let the fairies know they were welcome in our yard.

Aubrey built a fairy house and planned to spend the entire day outside, except for when she came in to make brownies and collect donuts (cheerios) for the fairies.

Brennen made two small houses.

Logan and I made a snail out of beeswax and a snail shell.

Then a giant game of building houses overtook the whole yard.

Summer Project

One of our summer projects this year is to walk all of the trails in our city. Because a creek system sprawls through it, there are a lot of trails. We drive to where we left off last time walk a mile of two and then walk back to pick it up at the end of where we walked previously. A lot of the trails run into parks and then we stop and play. We are trying to go really early in the morning, taking picnic breakfasts, so that if we spend three hours out we are still out before it gets too hot. The children have caught fish and taken them home to put in our kiddie pool to watch before releasing them again. They have also caught a snake, which took the place of the lizard we just let go. We also saw a beaver leave its den and return. Such fun rambling summer days.


Kevin and I went to Monterey for two days. We were supposed to be gone four, but our poor baby caught pneumonia and we came home early. We had fund though. We walked on the shore for a couple hours the first night and saw little, dark dolphins for over an hour, jumping and playing. They looked like they were herding fish with birds following them and diving into the center of their circle. At one point one came within 20 feet from shore. It was so awesome.

County Fair

We went the first day when it was almost empty. It was great. I really want to have my children enter something next year. Four of the kids did the tractor pull. When Seth went he was soo excited. Everyone laughed and said that is what it is all about.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

How to Get Kids to Clean the Car

This time I had no complaints, because I bribed with a secret project-hidden crayon rubbings. They loved finding the hidden objects.


My sister-in-law came out from Georgia the beginning of May and stayed for three weeks with her little one, Braden. We went camping at Folsom Lake, which is only a half hour from home. S'mores were delicious. The most precious was that Milly was scared and wanted to sleep on me with her arms wrapped tightly around my neck. I didn't get much sleep, but it is worth it just to hug that precious girl for hours on end.

Memorial Trip to the Beach

We have decided to start summer with a bang around here. My sister and her husband and their 5 little ones stayed with us for a week. We went to the beach on the most perfect day.

The water was cold, but the sand and air were warm. Jenna and Seth played and ran in the waves and then made sand angels, then would act surprised to see themselves covered with sand and they would then jump in the water only to repeat it all over again as a great game.

Here I am being mother hen and calling my little ones, plus a half dozen and more cousins to stay together where I could watch them better.

Milly was very scared of both the sand and the water. She sat on my lap, Nanny's lap or Aunt Helen's lap or held in arms the entire seven hours. Helen got her to touch the sand with a big toe a few times, but she wanted nothing to do with standing on it.

Helen and I.

There was a lot of buried treasures in the sand.

Brennen and Andrew caught sand crabs.

All of the children played in the sand for hours. I didn't get many pictures of them in the waves, but the older ones were up to their chest for a couple hours also. This was the perfect beach day--so fun.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Encouraging Moms of Many

I got a question about how to homeschool with many children. While I wrote a post here about it I thought I'd add a few things.

Everything has a season. We all know this. We know that when we are pregnant and the oldest children are still just becoming helpful everything is not going to be as smooth as we like. But some times this does not help when we are in the midst of it all, because we really want it to be smooth! When we find ourselves here I think we need to do two things, smooth out what we can and redefine smooth.

To make things smoother we need to go back to the management side of things. Set a calm schedule with extra time in it-delete some things from the schedule. Add those things in which are really important. Switch over to learning modes which allow the kids to learn independently most of the time. Train the most important aspects of behavior. Set up realistic chores systems and basic meal plans. Purge belongings in each room. And set up realistic help when possible. All of these are topics in their own right and perhaps I will get to them soon.

The second area is one I keep having to remind my husband and myself of-when we have a houseful of little ones the expectations can't be as high as they would otherwise be. It is okay if the house is not spotless and our son does not finish his logic program. It is okay to eat hot dogs for dinner. It is okay if all the little girls don't have bows in their hair and the boys are wearing mismatched socks. Of course these things aren't preferred but there are seasons and sometimes whole lives lived in less than ideal conditions and joy is still present, the gospel lived and service and love is still given. We have to realize that what makes life smooth and that what creates peace and joy and passes the greatest things possible on to our children is not always having every detail perfect, it is instead in our attitudes and the general atmospheres that we give off.

I'm not perfect at any of this, my kids aren't perfect, but we are growing and we do find delight in the process. Creating home centered families is worth the work and the less than ideal situations we find ourselves in.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Online Classes

For work I have been comparing online classes and I thought I'd share for anyone interested in this type of schooling for their kids. These prices are not all accurate for those not in our charter school, but for they give a good starting place.
k-8 grade (working on 9-12 grade license) $175 per course per semester
Each course includes
a. Online access for 10 months
b. Standard materials and printed Student Pages and Teacher Pages when
c. OLS—Online Learning System
4-12 grade $130 for all courses, minus foreign language per year
$85 for one course
Parent grades against answer document. Parent grades essay answers with less guidance.
Tutorials, text reading, quizzes, assessments. Can get teacher grading for $200 more per course and the teacher will do all of the grading for that course.
k-5 grade $25 per month for full access
Offer complete online curriculum in Language Arts, Math K-8, Art, Science & Social Studies. Automated portfolio, teachers guides & answer keys. Parent does grading. Email and phone support with system. (in Fort Lauderdale, FL)
$360 per year for full year license.
Has a-g tracks (University bound students)
Parent uses rubrics and answer guides to grade
Must purchase required course materials separately-much lower price than on website-description here
6-12 grades About $126 per one semester course
Some a-g courses. Graded by teacher, online real time discussions in some parts. Some finals given by ES.
6-12 grades. $150 or more per semester course.
Online teacher, graded by teacher.
9-12 grades $100 to $150 per recorded class or $200 to $250 per live class.
Williamsburg Academy, Scholar Phase classes, classical book discussion method. School gives assignments and kids study independently then get together for virtual video based classes and to turn in assignments. Graded by teacher.
6-12 grades. Between $220 and $290 per semester class.
Teacher evaluates and grade student work.
2-12 grades. $625 per full year of unlimited courses for first student $525 for additional students.
Can use audio component for courses to be read to students. Videos to enhance lessons. Pulls from other websites when they are appropriate to the content being studied. Parents given answer keys to grade student work.
Free. Trying to get more info on this. Looks promising.

Subject specific
2-12 grade. $99 per course.
Subject specific writing classes. Graded and coached by teacher.
3-12 grades. $75 for first month. $95 for 3 months after.
This is one on one coaching by published writers in various aspects of writing, including SAT prep and other writing tests.
2-12 grades. $25 per year.
State specific test prep, CASHEE prep material. Quizzes, reviews. Automatic grading by computer. This vendor also has reading comprehension material using graphic novels etc. for an additional fee.
3 years to 7 years. $50 for 6 months, $65 for a year.
This is a guided interactive phonics program with plenty of review built in. The kids work through learning paths to build their skills. My son loves this. Evaluated by program.
6-12th grade. $427 per year for complete language arts class.
Students are given instruction and assignments with a due date a week later. The assignments are graded by the teacher and new assignments are given.
k-12th grade science classes.
You get a membership for $6 then buy science kits according to subject then watch videos of a teacher walking through the kit and explaining it.
3-12 grades. $40 for 1 full year.
This is an online math program that assesses students and only teaches them what they don’t already know. It reteaches until areas are mastered. It has a drill component where students can unlock games. Students can move up or down a grade level very easily. Computer does all the grading.
3-10 grades. $60 for 1 full year
Online video based lessons. Students use a study guide, watch a video, practice, review and take an assessment that is graded by the computer. Focus on comprehension. Not full years course in the younger graders.

3-10 grade $99 per year. K-3 grade Brainpopjr $125 per year.
Fun animated videos on almost many areas, including science and history. Students can then take quizzes on the videos.
k-12 grade videos on all subject areas. $265 per year.
Thousands and thousands of videos. Has some series that can make up full instruction for a class. Some lesson plans to go with them. Also library of articles and pictures. Multiple ways of searching to find videos.
k-12 grade videos in all subject areas.$100 per year.
8000 videos including A&E, history channel etc. Also audio clips of speeches. Multiple ways of searching.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Being Busy

Melissa means honey bee, did you know that? Honey bees are busy workers in a state of constant activity. I have been well named. I have been in a state of constant activity since I went back to school five years ago, telling myself when I was done it would slow down. Then I got a job. After I learned the ropes I'm sure it will be less busy. Then I got a house. When the house is finally organized I will be less busy, I said. So I took the spring break week off and didn't do work-work, mostly. I organized my house. It is almost there, really it is. So when school is out for the year and I have the final report cards in I will be less, no, no!
I want to live the life I've always wanted right now, starting today, not in three weeks. So today I was not too busy to make and have milk and cookies with my kids. I was not too busy to have family home evening and sing all four verses to the hymn my four-year-old chose. I was not too busy to begin a 1000 piece puzzle with my son. And I was not too busy to read "Anne of Green Gables," to six children and listen to their delighted cries as they met Anne and listened to her talk most of the eight miles to her new home. I was not too busy and it felt great-and I still have an hour and a half until midnight to get my work reports done=).

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Lady of Shalot

I love a good discussion don't you? I also am beginning to value a sad tale. My children and I are studying paintings by John William Waterhouse. Our Second one was "The Lady of Shalott." After the children memorized it and told it back to me they wanted to know the story. As I didn't know it I couldn't tell them. Kamron said it reminded him in a scene in Anne of Green Gables. It is the same story they were acting out in that movie I said, but they didn't really explain it there either. We looked at the painting a few more nights. I tried to pull out a new painting but the protests at leaving this painting were so large I had to find the poem by Tennyson so they could know what it was all about. We read it and the Sparks notes verse by verse. They were fascinated, but saddened at the death of the lady simply because she looked up at Sir Lancelot and then when he sees her all he can say is well she was a pretty lady. We then talked about some of the analogies that others have found in this poem (leaving ones art to join the world even a little will ruin you etc.). We talked about the effect of the poem and painting if it had been a young man or a knight and not a lady, and my daughter protested at the sadness of it all. Yet, I found that I think there is value in not always reading stories to my children with happy endings.