Off to Florida

We’re leaving tomorrow for Florida. It will be me, two family friends and my four kids, packed in our minivan.  It should be a wonderful trip but I imagine there will be more than a few moments that will age me a few years.

I’m going to desperately miss Daryl, and I so wish he could come.  His legs cause him considerable pain and that long in the van would be torture, but at the last minute on Monday he decided he was game to come along anyway.  He’s never seen the ocean, much less Florida or the South, so we were really excited at the thought of sharing that with him.  It would  mean taking two vehicles though and the others we’re traveling with absolutely don’t want to do that, so it’s not to be.  Maybe someday…

We have a pretty laid back trip planned — no Disney, only one day at the Harry Potter park for the girls with our friends, and most of our time spent at the beach, parks and Val’s parents’ home.  I just want to find some shells, get some vitamin D, see some cool stuff and experience the ocean as much as possible.  I miss it so much in landlocked Minnesota!

Okay, and I hope to sneak in educational opportunities left and right too. 😉

See you soon!

10 Fun Ways We've Learned and Played Lately

In between hyperventilating about our current news, we’ve done some fun learning around here lately.  Here’s a bit of it….

1.  We’ve been doing lots of reading. Anna got Harry Potter 5 as a late birthday present and we’ve been bringing home bags of library books.  Jack is still on his Garfield kick and he also likes to read our pile of picture books. Alex has me reading some of them many times a day, so it’s a good thing we got some very fun ones.  🙂

2.  Anna has been ice skating with a friend every Thursday. She has a lot of fun, but yesterday it was so cold they gave up after 20 minutes!

3.  We played a dice game I invented for multiplication and addition. We used two dice and took turns shaking them with a cup.  Whatever numbers came up, we had one minute to figure out their product (what number they equaled when multiplied) and write that down for points.  If we could figure out the answer, we got to roll again, up to three times.  If we didn’t know, the dice were passed to the next person.    We added up our points as we went, and figured out how many we needed yet to get to 100.  The first person to 100 won.  Jack won, and everybody managed to find a way to figure out all of their products so everybody got three turns per time.

4.  We met friends at the Washington Pavillion Science Museum in Sioux Falls. This was actually last Friday but I’ve been so busy I didn’t get a chance to post about it!  It was a planned outing with an unschooling e-list for South Dakota.  We’re so close to the border that we used to be members of one of the SD HS groups, but it’s been years since we’ve anything planned down there.  It was really fun seeing old friends we hadn’t seen in years, although the day went so fast and the place is so big that there were people there from the group that I still didn’t get a chance to meet.  Next time!

I didn’t get a single picture of Anna because she was off with her friend Accalia for most of the day!

6.  Jack has been doing lots of chatting with Victoria, googling and emailing so he’s been figuring out how to spell lots of words. He comes to me and asks, and I help him figure it out.  Then he has to remember long enough to run back to his room and type it, which I think helps too!

7.  We checked out the nature center and aquarium at the Sertoma Butterfly House.

8.  Daryl found the directions to the original 1800’s game “the Checkered Game of Life” by Milton Bradley online, and made up a home version that he played with the kids. It was pretty interesting!  We also found out that Milton Bradley had a business selling portraits of President Lincoln and he lost all of his money after a little girl told the president he should grow a beard (and he did)!  🙂

9.  Daryl also found the instructions for another old time game that he converted to a PDF and printed. He’s going to put it online and I’ll post it here!  It’s a bit like mad libs with old fashioned businesses and products, and lots of silly fun.

10. I’m giving Jack cooking lessons. He asked if I’d teach him how to make something new 2 or 3 times a week.  We started yesterday with making yellow rice in the rice cooker and steaming peas, which he served up to everybody with salt and butter (and much satisfaction!).

We’ve also been… playing with playdough, watching movies, using the Wii, coloring, planning for our Florida trip, reading a new read-aloud, playing educational and non-educational games on my iPod, chatting on the phone with friends, making up games, tickling, snuggling, doing chores, building with LEGOs, learning about what causes ice dams and why they’re bad (and dealing with leaks in the house because of them!), drawing, video chatting and so on!

I am still really nervous about our surprise news, and it’s hard to keep on as normal! I’m also really anxious to get Victoria back!  We’re getting her Sunday and we all can’t wait.

Oh yes, and I’ve been writing, as always!  Here’s a sampling of recent articles:

Five fun poetry exercises to try with your kids

Candy heart homeschool

Monday math: jokes and riddles

Read LLL’s beautiful breastfeeding magazine online for free

From U-boats to the bayou to Buckingham Palace:  Great virtual tours online

Free seed starting charts and calendars to help prepare your garden

Statistics

Statistics are for suckers.

When my mother had her brain surgery, there was a 99% chance of a full recovery.  Her tumor came back.  And came back again.

According to statistics, one of my four children should be Chinese.  😉

Here’s some more odds for ya.

  • I’m 42 years old.
  • We are very careful.
  • There was ONE TIME we weren’t careful.
  • I was nowhere near ovulation.
  • “Statistics show that an average couple over 35 needs up to two years to conceive.”

Um, yeah.

Daryl and I have been walking around in a state of utter shock. He occasionally hyperventilates a bit too.

The doctor estimates I’m about 5 weeks along.  She also says that my levels of everything are so high that I don’t need shots this time.

I know my odds.

At my age, half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.  There are lots of other things that can happen too.

I had 12 miscarriages before I had my children, before a specialist diagnosed me with lupus anacoagulate (thick blood) and said to take daily baby aspirin during my pregnancies and do Pregnyl (hCG) shots the first trimester.

And now my doctor wants to skip the shots.  She says my levels are even higher than they should be and there’s no justifiable reason to give me the shots.  Back with my other four, they didn’t test hGC levels so I have no idea of knowing what they were back then.

I’m taking my daily baby aspirin and they’re writing me a prescription for progesterone suppositories for the first trimester.  They’re supposedly messy and will make me extra nauseous, but for a little extra peace of mind I’m thinking it’s a small price to pay.

I know “conventional wisdom” says to wait till after the first trimester to tell people.

I have never been conventional.  🙂

They say there’s so much that can go wrong.

That’s precisely why I do want to tell people!  If something bad does happen, I’d much rather be able to talk about than to suffer through it all in silence!

And how could I mindlessly yap about free algebra pages and news stories and keep it to myself?  I am just far too much of a big mouth.

The due date is October 17.  We will have to do a planned C-section (no matter what lengths I have gone to, I am physically incapable of delivering naturally) about one week early, so around October 10.

If it happens…

I keep repeating those words.  My odds are so slim.

But so much for odds.

Eek! 🙂

A Little Bit of Sunshine

Last week, we headed to the Sertoma Butterfly House in Sioux Falls to pick up a family membership at half price.

We were on our way to the science museum to meet friends, so we didn’t get to stay too long.

You know what, though?

It only takes a little time in a place like that to make up for a whole lot of winter.

We plan to go back a lot.

If you have access to any sort of indoor arboretum, butterfly house or other source of lush, warm green and life right now, I highly recommend it!

Lesson of the Day

Last week I took the boys to the Windom library while Daryl took Anna ice skating with friends.

After I was there a little while, I started to feel pretty weak again (I was very sick last week) and went to get my purse.  I called Daryl and asked if they could be done at 2:30, and went back into the library room where Alex had been reading a board book on a cute little chair.

And found that Alex had become bored.

Books were everywhere.  My knees nearly buckled.

And so, I told the boys we needed to clean it up. I got down on the ground and began picking up books.  Jack jumped up to help, and he was quickly handing me piles of this series numbers 8 through 12, and reshelving this series numbers 44 through 50.

Alex occasionally threw himself on the floor and muttered about being bored.  But he was a little jealous of the way I kept thanking Jack and saying how much he rocked, and he does like numbers.  So he at least occasionally put in a bit of an effort.

Lesson of the day for the boys:

Numbers, letters, alphabetizing, helping out

Lesson of the day for Mama:

Next time, send Alex with Daddy.

Fun and Freebies

Here’s a few tidbits I thought someone might be able to use…

  • CurrClick has a free printable animal report form.
  • Do you sprout your own seeds?  It always sounded fun to me but so complicated.  This post by the Greenest Dollar makes it seem so easy even I could do it!  😉
  • Here’s an early literacy site full of games and online reading activities where you can get a free year subscription (valued at $99) with the code “learntoread.”  I haven’t tried it but the code supposedly worked this morning.  Personally, with all the wonderful free sites out there these days, I wouldn’t pay $99 for anything that didn’t come and clean my kitchen in the bargain, but free is good!
  • Looking for businesses that offer HS discountsHere’s a list of all sorts of places who offer educator discounts, though lots of them don’t apply to homeschoolers or are specific to teachers in certain states.  There’s some nice ones that do apply though! (Thanks, Not So Average Mama)

We tried to head out to get Victoria today but our roads were too snowy, so she’s down in Nebraska for another week.

This is what it looked like out here Friday before we got more snow…

Now it’s all that plus 3 more inches, packed snow, slush, ice and drifted snow from the fields.

I am so tired of this winter.

Thank goodness Victoria loves it down there and they love having her.  I’m starting to miss my girl though!

10 Signs You're Doing Something Right as a Homeschooler

It’s easy to doubt yourself when you homeschool.

You find out the neighborhood school kids are studying calculus in second grade.

The other parents in your homeschool group brag that their kids are six grades ahead of where they should be.

You read homeschool blogs where parents explain how they schedule and organize 18 children on a hundred acre hobby farm in an immaculate home full of elaborate craft projects.

You can’t remember the last time you finished a lesson plan, and your kids stare at you blankly when you ask them how many states there are.

Nevermind all that.

Here’s 10 ways to know if you’re doing okay anyway.

  1. Your children view trips to the library with the same enthusiasm as trips to the ice cream store.
  2. Science supplies are considered cool toys.
  3. Your kids know how to google or otherwise search out information on whatever subjects spark their interests minute by minute.
  4. You have so many books that you could build a guest house in the backyard with them all (though you’d never do such a thing with them!).
  5. You need a break from all the socialization opportunities your family is taking part in.
  6. You can turn absolutely any errand, TV show or innocent question into something educational.
  7. Your dining room table is piled high with art projects, lapbooks, science experiments, math manipulatives and other non-dining related items (bonus for each type of mess it houses!).
  8. Your kids feel bad for kids who go to SOTH (school outside the home).
  9. You consider museum memberships, zoo passes, magazine subscriptions, art supplies, karate classes, electronic gadgets, trips to ethnic stores and restaurants, Netflix subscriptions and overdue library fines “educational expenses.”
  10. Your kids still get excited about learning.

See?  I bet it turns out you’re rocking it after all.  😉

Any you’d add?  Leave them in the comments!

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