Thursday, September 03, 2015

so I don't lose this recipe yet again lol

I am constantly losing my favorite recipes.  I print them out and put in a folder in the kitchen, and every time a kid gets hold of the folder and a few disappear.  So, I don't want to lose this egg-free, dairy-free muffin recipe again.  It was given to me by a lovely homeschool mom I know, and is one of our favorite breakfast things because it is easy and fast to make.

Updated Basic No-Egg Muffins – makes 24
•4 c. flour or a mix of flour, cornmeal, oatmeal. We use whole wheat flour with a handful of whatever other flours/grains sound yummy that day.

•½ tsp salt
•½ tsp cinnamon
•1 ½ c. sugar
•2 T. baking powder
•1 3/4 c. water
•½ c. oil
•1 cup mashed fruit
•1 tsp vanilla or other flavoring (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F. and spray your muffin pan with nonstick spray. In a bowl stir together all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir well. Spoon batter into 24 muffin cups – 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cooked through. Remember, ovens vary and the type of pan you use matters. I find that metal pans cook quicker than silicone. Adjust your time to fit your oven!

Variations We Enjoy:

We like to add 1 c. chocolate chips to the batter for just about any flavor. For the fruit we use any of the following with appropriate spices we enjoy:
•1 can of pumpkin with extra cinnamon
•1 cup mashed sweet potatoes a lot like pumpkin and gets a veggie in!
•1 cup mashed banana with Maple flavoring
•1 cup unsweetened applesauce
•1 cup frozen blueberries, slightly thawed and drained.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New curriculum

Earlier I shared that Jordan is repeating second grade with a switch in curriculum.  Yesterday her new curriculum arrived.

As you can tell, I don't have it too organized yet beyond just separating her student textbooks and workbooks from the rest of it.  However, I have had a chance to look through the materials a bit and begin to get familiar with the layout.

I like it.  A lot.

When we enrolled with QDA, they suggested we use Calvert from the start with Lydia, Kim, and Jo.  I chose their other options though, thinking a little more independence would be a good thing for all of us.  That had Lydia and Kim doing their online curriculum, OdysseyWare, and Jo doing Little Lincoln.  Lydia has pretty decent grades in OdysseyWare and isn't doing too bad with it, despite the fact that she isn't a fan.  The other girls are a different story, however.

Kim is almost finished with the third grade curriculum, she just has a little language arts left to finish for the school year.  She rushes through the work and doesn't like my reminders to read the material, and her grades reflect that.  She is going to barely pass 3rd grade as a result.  The format of the online classes annoy her, and she's too young to be annoyed by curriculum and forced to do it anyway.  She needs something more interactive, and more interaction with me directly.

Jo just flat out wasn't ready for second grade curriculum, and I had a LOT of issues with her maturity matching up with her academic abilities.  Add in a curriculum that wasn't dependable about sending materials in a timely manner and all the materials at a time, and you have a disaster just waiting to happen.  Now that I know what I know about the shipping practices of Lincoln Interactive, they will never be used by my family.  Each quarter, I had to request materials at least once after the initial shipment.  Second quarter I had to request the teacher book and student workbooks, then once I got those I had to request a couple literature books and the cursive student book.  Yes, that was three separate shipments for just a single quarter (nine weeks) of lessons.  It took us close to 3 weeks to get all her materials, which didn't make things any easier with the maturity struggles we were already having.

So, both girls are switched and I'm still debating if I want to switch Lydia as well once she finishes her fifth grade curriculum.

Calvert sent everything for the year in one big box, and I didn't have to worry about it.  I just grabbed a pen and marked items off the packing list for each of the three smaller boxes within the big box.  It took me 10 minutes to unpack and check off everything I needed for the year with Jordan.

Within it, there is a lovely folder that says "READ ME FIRST" with information on where to start with it all.  Step one was to unpack and check the packing lists as I go.  In that folder was also a page with a list of basic school supplies I'll need for the school year, which will come in very handy when I go August 7th during "tax free day" to buy school supplies.  It actually has a list for each individual grade on it, so I'm going to use one list to cover all the kids who will be doing Calvert this school year to make shopping that much easier for me.

The guides are very well laid out, which is important for a busy mom with a bunch of kids.  I can see doing multiple levels on a daily basis going very well with how it is laid out.  There is even a suggested daily schedule with times and everything in the front of the book, which I may or may not use.  But having that visual really helped me to know how to expect the days to look since I do have several years of experience with doing this schooling at home thing.

The lessons to start are going to be pretty easy though, which will work to our benefit right now since Jordan's arm is still healing and hurting a lot.  I feel really positive about this switch in curriculum, and am sure that just restarting second grade with her was the right choice.

I wish I had just gone with the Calvert option for the girls from the start.  Live and learn, at least now we know a little more about what the kids need in a virtual academy program.  Now we just have to get the school year finished up for Kim so we can order her new materials, and I have to decide what we're doing about Lydia since she's doing pretty well but passionately hating the online curriculum.  I think that will be our next discussion with the school when she's closer to finished with the current grade.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Summer break stinks

I gotta say, summer vacation 2015 is not going so well for us here.  I mean, look at what all we had happen since we finished the "official" school year at the end of May.

Scott's car threw a rod in the engine
we replaced Scott's car and took on a payment that we didn't plan
Scott's hours at work got cut 3 times in 2 weeks right after we took on that car payment
our main computer quit working after someone spilled something that leaked into the tower
we replaced that computer
our kids' medical insurance got cancelled due to a computer glitch that took me a month to fix
I'm pregnant unexpectedly
my medical insurance got cancelled by that same computer glitch and after 6 weeks I'm still trying to get it fixed
Jordan found out she's repeating 2nd grade
Kim fell out of a tree and ended up with several bruised ribs and a concussion
Jordan went flying off a swing backwards and broke her arm just below the shoulder
our sweet puppy has a knee condition that will eventually require surgery

I'm ready for this summer to end now.  But first, here's Jordan showing off her newest fashion accessory with a huge grin because she knew she was going to get ice cream and she didn't have to share with anyone.  She sees the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow afternoon so we can get a better idea of what to expect with healing it and find out if it needs surgically repaired because of the location (hopefully not!)

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Well that answered my "now what do I do?" question

Today is Wednesday, which means that Lydia has math tutoring.  This is one of my favorite parts of the cyber school.  I don't have to pay for the extra help she (or any of her siblings) needs in math.  She has really come a long way with the tutoring, and is regaining confidence in her skills after a really bad time with the math curriculum our local public school used when she was in 4th grade.

Today also meant that I spoke to QDA about a couple things.  We've been discussing switching the kids' curriculum from the online options to Calvert (for all but Melissa, she isn't eligible to do offline curriculum because of her IEP) and I sent the e-mail to our supervising teacher on Monday about doing that with Kim along with an issue I was noticing in a big way with Jordan.  Kim's all set to start 4th grade with the Calvert curriculum this fall, which makes her very happy.  Jordan, well let me dig into that now.

Jordan has a September birthday, and Ohio states that the cutoff date for school is September 30th.  That makes her the youngest in her class/grade each year.  She's always done pretty well with her schoolwork, but we've struggled sometimes with lessons that take longer than she is capable of sitting and focusing for.  We chose Little Lincoln 2nd grade when we enrolled her in QDA after they did placement testing to see where her skills were at.  They felt she'd be ok with 2nd grade this past school year based on her scores, but I was concerned about her maturity.  The maturity issues started about 5-6 weeks into the curriculum, and only got worse from there.  She started slowing down and struggling more each day, until we reached the 2nd nine weeks when the curriculum started cursive.  At that point, she screeched to a halt and it was taking us 4-6 weeks just to finish 1 week of assignments.  Her maturity had completely caught up with us at that point.

Academically, she absolutely is ready for more difficult work.  Emotionally, she's very much not at that place.  So, we discussed the issue at hand.  This has been something I've been in close contact with the school about, as we tried to find ways to keep her engaged and moving forward in her lessons with the hope of finishing within the 12 months.  We've watched her struggle with her inability to really sit still and complete longer assignments that are more complex, tiring with writing more each week.  She simply just wasn't ready for the level of work.

We made the decision together that she will repeat second grade this fall.  They also determined that we need to switch her curriculum (which I agree completely with this).  She no longer is using Little Lincoln as of right now, that order has been cancelled. They are now processing an order for Calvert second grade materials, and as soon as we get her materials and I've become familiar with it she will begin.

So far, she seems totally fine with the fact that she's repeating second grade.  Scott had to repeat third grade when he was in school, and she knows this.  He will be able to give her the encouragement that she needs to keep going instead of getting mad and giving up because she feels defeated.  He'll be able to help me combat any thoughts that she must be dumb for having to repeat a grade.  Scott is going to take her out for an ice cream cone this weekend to talk to her alone and make sure she's doing ok with this information.

So, looks like I get to spend time getting familiar with a new curriculum very soon.  That will eat up a good amount of my free time.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer prep

It's summer!  No more formal schoolwork until August, no outside activities really, no stress.  Right?  RIGHT?????

Yeah, right.

We had a lot of stuff happen, mostly just normal family stuff.  Lydia wanted to learn to play the clarinet, so for her birthday in May we got her a clarinet and signed her up for weekly private lessons.  She's doing really well, and enjoys playing.  Lucky for her, I also enjoy listening to her play so she can pretty much practice all she wants in her free time.

Other than that, the girls are finishing up their curriculum for the school year with the virtual academy.  Since we did a mid-year enrollment, they are working some through the summer in hopes of finishing up close to the start of the school year.  Kim is totally finished with two subjects, and should be finishing up with the other 2 subjects over this next couple weeks.  The other girls, well they are less enthusiastic about working during the summer so they will be finishing up after the school year starts most likely.

Friday I went to the used curriculum sale to look for a couple things.  Not for the girls, since they are in the cyber school.  I was looking for some simple things to do with Preston this fall for preschool.  He has been bugging me so much for his own schoolwork lately.  It felt odd though, being there and seeing all these great materials I want for the girls that I just KNOW would be great for them.  I finally, after several years of trying unsuccessfully, got my hands on a print copy of the Tapestry Of Grace curriculum to actually look at it.  I'm in love, and so wish I was able to buy it at the sale Friday.  It was exactly what I was hoping it would be, and a perfect fit for our needs as our family grows and the kids get older.  I also got to see Teaching Textbooks in action, not just the online demo at their site.  I had a feeling it would be a good choice for a couple of the girls just from what I did know beforehand, and seeing it Friday and getting to really get in there with it for a couple minutes confirmed that thought.  Yes, it was a good night for exploring curriculum.  I also snagged a couple of things that I did need, like a copy of Writers Inc. for FREE and a $2 copy of Before Five In A Row for Preston.

But with the curriculum sale came this odd feeling I'd not experienced before.  I realized that I really don't have any planning to do other than putting together a few fun little things for Preston to do each week this school year.  I'm so used to sitting at the computer during the summer, printing off lesson plan forms and putting together my lesson plan binder for the year with the 4 girls and all the curriculum that entails.  I've spent countless hours searching for great deals on new and gently used materials for our family, scouring the internet for free resources, looking through thrift and discount stores for things I can use, and even talking to a few people I know to borrow this or that item so that I can stay in budget.  I spend almost as many hours during the summers putting all those resources together into a comprehensive lesson plan for me to use, mainly just topic overviews and lists of things I want to cover and activities to do in the order I anticipate so that weekly I just throw an actual lesson plan together, and then creating my notification letter to submit to our district.  I spend several hours in summer administering standardized testing to the girls for our reporting portion of the notification I submit annually.

None of that stuff is happening this year.

The girls are in a virtual academy.  The school provides the curriculum, does all the planning and scheduling, and tells me where and when the kids need to be for standardized testing.  I've saved probably a hundred hours or more not having to do any of that stuff this summer.

So now what do I do?

I feel useless now, like this huge let-down has occurred.  Every school year I look forward to the summer planning.  I love doing it; the planning is my absolute favorite part of this journey of teaching my children at home.  That is gone now.  All I can do now is try not to over-plan preschool for a three-year-old boy who has determined that his favorite toy is in his underpants.  It is mildly depressing, to be honest.

My summer no longer has much meaning.

Monday, May 04, 2015

knocking the dust off the blog

Life has been pretty busy here, so I've just let things go here for a while.  Sorry!

Last time I posted was in October.  Lots of things happened then, and now we have some updates on a few of those things.  Lydia's broken foot has healed up nicely, but she will always have issues with it because it IS an extra bone that was broken.  We were able to replace Nathaniel's infant seat with a Cosco APT40 a week after the crash, and then when we got our tax refund we purchased a Graco Defender for both boys to share in Scott's car.  No more moving car seats around! YAY!

As for enrollment in Quaker Digital Academy.  Yes, we did it.  Melissa started school with them in December, and her sisters all in November.  It took Melissa longer to enroll because we had to transfer an IEP for her.  We had initially chosen the online curriculum options for them all (Odysseyware for the 3 oldest and Little Lincoln for Jordan) and it is going well.  We have discovered that we don't care for the online curriculum, so the non-IEP kids will be switching to the Calvert option as soon as they finish their current grade materials.  I won't be able to switch Melissa because school policy requires online curriculum for IEP students so they can keep closer tabs on them.  She's doing well with it though, so it won't be much of an issue.

Today we actually finished up the last day of standardized testing for QDA in fact, which is about the only real issue I have with the school.  They did PARCC testing, and Kim had to do the 3rd grade reading OAA as well because of the 3rd grade reading guarantee.  The only test that actually matters on moving to the next grade is the reading OAA, Kim has to pass it to go to 4th grade.  Thankfully, the PARCC testing and the diagnostics that the girls did don't count this year thanks to a law that twit Governor Kasich passed.  One of the few really good things he's done. (ok enough political talk, this blog is not for political talk)

Other things.....

Nathaniel is a year old as of yesterday.  Lydia got a clarinet over the weekend, and this Saturday is her first private lesson.  My old flute is in the repair shop to be fixed up for Melissa to play, once it is back I'll be doing her lessons myself again.  In February we got a Yorkie puppy and named him Spike.  I spent a day in the ER back in January hooked to heart monitors, and after over $4000 of testing (yes that is after insurance OUCH!) we have determined that I have COPD.  Yup, lots of things have happened here.  I'll have pictures later, as we are getting ready to go get lunch to celebrate the end of testing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

lots of things

Things have been kind of strange here for us lately.  Lots of spiritual attacks have been aimed at our family, and things haven't gone so well with that.  First, Lydia broke her foot on top of all the illness and other stuff she had going on.  This kid has been cursed it seems like.  Since July, she had mono, then a sprained ankle, then the flu, then broke her foot, and finished it up with what we thought was the mumps but it turned out a cold with her seasonal allergies flaring up horribly. *sigh*  This year is not being kind to her at all.  For the broken foot, we discovered that she has an extra bone in each ankle/foot and that extra bone was what broke.  This extra bone means that she can't go into a traditional walking cast too, we had to have an AFO made for her to wear instead as a walking cast.  I should be getting the call sometime this week to schedule to bring her in to get it, as we've already done the casting for the mold and it has been sent out and all that.

Which brings us part 2 of spiritual assault.  The day I took Lydia in for the casting to make the mold for her AFO, the back brakes on my SUV locked up completely.  I was meeting Scott at the orthotics place so we could swap vehicles and he could take the other kids home, so I had to limp it there with all 6 kids and then he babied it back home (all of 5 minutes drive thankfully).  That repair cost us just shy of $600 that we didn't really have, but we made it happen.

The SUV repair meant that I pulled the boys' car seats out of my SUV and put them in his car until it was repaired.  No issue, the brakes locked on a Thursday and the truck was fixed on Monday.  However, I forgot to get the car seats out of his car again and 2 days later (this would be last week) he was rear-ended on his way home from work.  It gets even better, the other driver had no car insurance.  There was no major damage to his car, just a dent and a couple creases along with paint transfer, so he didn't even bother and sent the guy off on his way after yelling at him for several minutes.  Yes, that means we get to pay out of pocket for new car seats.

Which brings us to now.  I'm selling stuff to try and get up some money so that we can cover that repair on my SUV and fix our seriously damaged budget and to replace 2 car seats that were in his car when he got hit.  I've almost got enough money to replace the car seats, which is great because I'm not comfortable using the seats at all right now (it was a very minor incident but I've done way too much research to be comfortable using them unless I absolutely must).  I'm making it easy on myself and buying this two pack of Evenflo Titan 65 seats for the boys, and I've already gotten most of the money I need to buy them just from selling off some of the curriculum I have that we won't be using. (stay tuned for a detailed post in the next few days of all the things that I'll be selling on here!).

And to top it off, Scott has been watching my lesson plan book and is concerned with a few things he's seen.  He requested that I consider enrolling the kids in a virtual academy because of what he's seen.  We discussed it, I've prayed about it, and I sent in enrollment paperwork this week to Quaker Digital Academy for all four girls.  I have a feeling that this is a long term solution to the issues that he brought to my attention, and we are going to do it period.  I'm done trying to figure out how to teach my kids, what to use for curriculum, and how we will afford the curriculum.  QDA offers the Calvert curriculum as an option for students along with online options, so I'm going to be using Calvert with a couple kids and online options with a couple.  We're going to just jump in and do it.  Hopefully enrollment happens quickly with no major bumps.  This allows me the ability to sell off all our curriculum that I can to get our budget on track again, and whatever doesn't sell I am donating to The Book Samaritan for them to pass to families in need.

It has just been a crazy busy time here, and I'm beyond ready to get back to life as usual.  But before I get back to it, here's a little Nathaniel cuteness just for your pleasure.

Yes, my 5 month old is starting to figure out how to get on his hands and knees.  Looking at him now, you would NOT guess that he was born 3 weeks early with a medical induction and was my smallest baby.  He is just eager to get moving so that he can keep up with his 4 big sisters and 1 big brother.