A day in the life.... of us

Today is Tuesday.  Last night I wrote up on our dry erase board:
wake up, devotions
Bible, narrations

Ella, Isaac, Isaias- math @ table, 20 min
Audra & Adelia- school with mommy: birthday thank you's

memory work
picture study spelling: Isaias
dictation: Ella & Isaac

mommy: sourdough
These are the things I wanted to get done before we ate lunch, did our after-lunch chores, and headed for our daily quiet time.  Yet even as I wrote all of that on the board I had a sneaking suspicion we wouldn't get it all done.

Here's how it went down: 

Mark and I got up at around 7:20, thanks to Audra- who hollered from her bed to tell us that she wasn't feeling well.  :(  [Side note: I am positively longing for spring, hoping that by then the germs will leave us be and we can all be healthy again.  I don't think we've had three days in a row where we've all been healthy at.the.same.time since December.  Currently, Ella and I are getting over another nasty cold that started for us on Friday- the coughing, congested variety.  Isaias and Adelia are a couple days behind us.  Audra and Mark came down with it yesterday.  Isaac keeps telling me he doesn't feel well but I have yet to hear coughing or see him blowing his nose so I'm not believing he has it yet.] 

Anyway, back to our morning: I think Mark had already snoozed his alarm once so it was time we were up anyway.  Mark checked on Audra and then we headed out to the kitchen to check the ant situation.  We have little black ants that are invading our home.  I think they live in our walls, and a few times a week they find another way in, and before long, a whole trail of ants are traipsing across my counter, or walking through my cupboards, or on the floor, or up a wall.  Delightful.  So we head to the kitchen armed with caulking and try to find out where they are coming in so that we can seal that spot shut (and keep the ants out until they find another way in). 

I left Mark killing ants while I made him coffee, got him breakfast (leftover lemon-poppyseed bread from yesterday morning's breakfast) and packed his lunch. 

After I saw him off, I killed some more ants, and began making breakfast.  [I'll stop mentioning the ants from here on out because they're gross, but as you read on, just know that every 10-20 minutes I'm walking through the kitchen, noticing more ants, and killing them.  And puzzling over where they're getting in.  Okay.  Enough about them.]

I then told the boys it was time to start devotions, (and set the timer for 15 minutes, for the oatmeal and the boys) and headed back to my room to do the same. [I do my official devotion-time later in the day, during quiet times, but I always try to sneak in a little Bible reading in the mornings while the kids do theirs, too.]  The little girls were out of their room by then, and I invited them to come sit quietly in bed with me to do devotions.  Adelia opted to go out to the living room, but Audra cuddled up next to me, all stuffy and a little feverish, and colored in my journal while I read my Bible.  She drew a picture of us in bed side by side, and the rest of my room.  It's very cute, her drawing, and I love it that it'll be in my journal so that I can look back on it as I flip through.

The timer went off, I took the oatmeal off the burner and told the boys they could be done. Then I asked them to please go let the chickens out, check their food and water, collect eggs and bring in some firewood.

I checked in on Adelia and Audra again and then hopped in the shower.  I prayed for our day while I showered.  Ella slept on, and I let her, because she's been sick and I knew she was up past ten writing a letter to her cousin last night.

The girls went to get dressed, the boys came in and when I checked in with them about what they'd done outside, I discovered they'd forgotten to collect eggs and bring in firewood.  Okay, so... those things still need to be done.  But later.  Because it was breakfast-time and I felt like we were already running behind.  The little girls joined us and we all set the table, Audra prayed and we started eating.  Ella joined us early on.  My kids love oatmeal.  I've never liked it.  Maybe it's the toppings?  We always have butter, brown sugar, craisins, grape nuts, yogurt, and cream on the table to go with it.

I finished eating first.  (I'd skipped the oatmeal and fried myself 2 eggs.)  I started reading from our Bible story book.  We're reading in Joshua when they crossed the river Jordan to finally claim the land God had promised them.  We talked about it for awhile so I skipped the narration part.

Next up: chores.  While the kids did chores, I loaded the dishwasher and started my sourdough.  When the boys finished their regular chores, I sent them back outside to collect eggs and carry in some firewood.  The girls finished their chores are were waiting on the couch with library books, so I sat down and read to them.  Ella got her letter ready to be mailed out while I read, and Isaac read his book on my bed.  Isaias joined us.  Three library books later, and we were done.  I wondered if Ella and Isaac would end up joining us-- they often do-- and thought to myself that I should make it my goal to be so engaging and animated while I read that they cannot help but come over and join us on the couch.  :)

Then it was time for the older kids to do math at the table.  I realized that we (Mark and I) hadn't assigned math the last time we'd corrected [*groan*], so I had to quickly (as in 10-15 minutes, so actually NOT quickly at all) go through each of their books, figure out what lessons they were on, and assign them problems for the day.  Isaac's math book is not the kind you write in, and since writing is laborious for him, and it's not really the point, I usually write out his problems into his notebook and he solves them.  So I wrote several division problems for him, jotted down what else he should do, and noted on top of Isaias' pages which ones I wanted him to do (4 pages worth) and then I started to assign Ella's.  As I was doing this, Isaac noted the grade levels listed on their front of their math books, and that each of them were working a grade-level behind in math.  True.  [Side note:  Maybe if I had stuck with one curriculum the whole way through, we'd be on target, but for the past few years Isaac was doing another curriculum (Math-U-See) and last year we had Ella try Teaching Textbooks for the year.   When we decided to switch all the kids back to Rod & Staff this year, which is where we began years ago, we realized Ella (after only ONE year away from it) and Isaac were behind in learning some concepts, so they're both a grade-level back, playing catch-up.  Isaias is behind simply because we didn't have the right books at the right time or something so he started with what we DID have on hand and that was a grade younger than where he's at.  But he's nearly done with those books so he'll move to his regular grade soon.]

Anyway, as I was assigning Ella her math, she asked me to please proofread her letter to her cousin because she REALLY wanted to get it into the mailbox TODAY, before the mail lady came, and she might come any time, so please????  So I did that first, pointed out a few spelling/grammatical errors, which she fixed, and then assigned her math work to her.  I set the timer and went to join the girls, who were patiently waiting in the living room.  [I'd instructed the little girls to gather a few things we'd need while I was assigning work to the older kids, and they'd done that.]

I then got out several stamps and stamp pads, white paper and envelopes, and instructed the girls how to use the stamps again and told them we were making thank you's for their birthday gifts (both of their birthdays were last week).  They happily stamped.  Well, not so happily when Adelia kept vigorously stamping and in her enthusiasm, kept stamping on Audra's paper.  And not so happily when the damp paper towel I'd gotten out to clean the stamps with got Audra's paper all wet.  But mostly happily.  :)

There were NO QUESTIONS FROM THE OLDER KIDS DURING THEIR MATH TIME TODAY.  And that right there deserves all caps because that happens exactly never.  Usually there are tears (Ella) and confusion (Isaias) and interruptions from each of the older kids.  Not so today.  YAY.

They all finished up somewhere around that 20-minute timer going off.  [This is new this year, setting the timer for math.  And it's working.  The focus is short lessons (Charlotte Mason), and attentiveness to the task before them.  Last year one of my complaints was all the dawdling and doodling and distraction that came with math time.  This year: I set the timer, they have 20 minutes to finish their math, so they'd better GET TO IT.  It helps Isaac particularly (my main Distracted Dawdler) and it completely stresses Ella out (the pressure of being timed), but I'm sticking to it because it's made such a difference for Isaac.  Isaias is speedy and always finishes early so the timer doesn't really affect him.

Isaias finished first, and headed into the living room to observe.  I took advantage of his down time (and mine, mostly... the girls had the hang of the card-making with stamps by then) and asked him to get his spelling stuff.  We started Sequential Spelling with Isaias this year.  Ella and Isaac are great spellers.  Once they've seen a word, they can generally remember what it looks like and spell it.  Isaias reads well but does not apparently notice what the word looks like or remember it when it comes time to write it, because his spelling is atrocious.  [Examples: today one of his spelling words was out.  He spelled it: awt.  For words with -er endings, he omits the e and just adds an r, as in dinnr, instead of dinner.  (Except that he'd likely drop the extra "n", too, in that word.)]   Thus, when he writes, it takes a good deal of time to figure out what on earth he's written, as nearly every word is misspelled.  So I bought this workbook because I think he's a little young yet for dictation.  Although I'm confident in the method of dictation for teaching spelling (which is what I do with the older two), all the writing it entails would be too much for him.  But I wanted to a) get a better grasp of the areas in which he's struggling, b) have him think about the words and practice spelling things correctly.  And I wanted it to be cheap and teacher-friendly (meaning, not a lot of prep time for me, but rather something I can open up and roll with).  So this was a good fit for that.  I'm undecided as to whether or not it's working.  But he likes it and I hope it's sinking in.

So he and I did spelling on the couch while the girls finished their cards.  Isaac joined us when he was done (and started playing Solitaire), and then Ella came in (and stamped with the girls).  Then I had to transcribe what the girls wanted to say on each of their cards (8 total) and address the envelopes and get them into the mailbox.  So that gave everyone else some down time for a bit.  And because this took so long (it was nearly noon) I decided then and there we'd be skipping some things on our school list.

I really wanted to do dictation because I knew Ella, at least, hadn't done it last week.  I have to do dictation separately with the older kids, so I began with Isaac while Ella took a shower and Isaias and Adelia headed outside to play in the snow, and Audra played by herself.  I chose a selection from The Jungle Book (one of Isaac's assigned reading books this year, and one I know he enjoyed.)  I chose a short paragraph- maybe three sentences, total.  I purposely select one that has challenging words and something interesting grammatically (this one had quotation marks).  Then he looks it over, finds the words he thinks might be a challenge for him, and tells them to me.  I list them on the dry erase board and then he studies them until he can picture the word in his head.  I have him write each word in the air (eyes closed) until he's confident to begin.  Then I have him look over the paragraph one more time for grammar, checking for commas, apostrophes, capital letters, etc. and when he's ready, I erase the words on the board and we begin.  I slowly read the passage from the book to him- four or five words at a time- while he writes.  When we're done (and this takes awhile), he checks his work one last time and then he gets the book and corrects his own writing.  He uses a red pen, making a dot under any errors, and then he goes back with white-out and corrects each error.   

I start heating up lunch, talk with Isaac about some books he likes, chat with Audra, check on the kids outside, and then begin dictation with Ella (repeat above, just with a different book and a longer passage).  Mark calls to check in and I chat with him for a bit (10 min?), then I tidy up and realize it's 1:30 and we need to eat and get on with quiet times.  So we do.  I heat up some curried lentil stew but serve it as a dip with chips, sour cream and salsa, slice up some apples, and we eat.  Then: after-lunch chores, and quiet times.  Which is where I am now, writing this.  :)

It's now nearly 4 o'clock and Mark will be home within the hour.  My sourdough is rising in the oven with the oven light on.  I have no idea what we're having for dinner.  Again.  And I still have "memory work" and "picture study" on the board that we didn't get to today.  So either we try to tackle those tonight (unlikely, unless Mark is game) or we try to fit them in another day this week (possible, we'll see) or we simply skip them for the week (probably the most likely scenario).

Amazingly, we didn't have any discipline issues in our day today, either.  That and the no-questions during math time makes for a smooth day.  :)

How was your day?


  1. I always feel like I know you just a little bit better after posts like these :)
    My big girl has cried tears over math too. :(

    So much flex is needed to live this life all together, eh?

    1. Sandi,
      Poor Journey. Ella just does not like math and gets so overwhelmed by it. (I've always felt the same way so I totally get it!) ;)


  2. I just loved reading about your day! And if it's any consolation I have several kids who spell like Isaias. It takes great de-coding skill to figure out what they have written :)

    1. Sarah,
      Oh, good. That does make me feel better. It's the strangest thing to me. I've just never seen such awful spelling from a good reader! ;) I guess he just doesn't pay attention to how the words LOOK, which... just means he has a different learning style (not visual) and we've got to figure it out. :) Fun homeschooling challenges.

      Love you, friend. Praying for you and your boy, too.

  3. We just recently switched over to using pretty much everything Rod and Staff. We are loving it! We do a good deal of the Science and History just orally and I generally don't assign all the math problems. Blessings to you! ~Crystal~

    1. Oh, Crystal. Such a good point. We never assign all the math problems, either. (And when we were doing R & S English I never assigned everything, either.) It's a LOT. But I do love the drilling and the constant practice of new AND old concepts.

      Blessings to you and yours,

  4. On your ants! Have you heard of Terro? It is a gel-like product available at home stores. You basically let the ants eat the gel...and be prepared, because they LOVE it and you will soon have a flock of ants. But persist in letting them eat and then crawl home. They "bloat" the queen and then the colony dies. It was the only solution that worked in our past house, where we must have had a secret ant opening. :) We took to using Terro on the perimeter of the house in the Spring, and that seemed to ward off the new colonies. We used to joke that our house may have been built on an ant hill. :) I love ants-- outdoors. In my kitchen they totally lose their cute. Wink.



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