Saturday, April 14, 2018

What's up in our homeschool? 2017/18

The kids a few weeks ago: Miss Z up front (K'er), Mr. D (5th), Mr. A (7th), and Miss L (3rd).

The kids are trucking away at their school work. The end is in sight!!

In the middle of thinking about next year, I find it is always a good time to review the good, the bad, and the ugly from the current year.

So what's happening this year?

Certainly not being entertained and interrupted by the cute gerbils in the room.


For Miss Z (K'er), I'm using the Who am I? series alongside our family's around the year liturgical activities. The other kids are using Faith and Life online. This is the first year to try the online version. The kids seem to like the audio/visual format, and I certainly like freer time. The kids have run into a few bugs, but overall I have heard no complaints. Looking at scores, I see a lot of up and down scores, which may say more about my kids than the program as that's par for the course for two of them.

In addition to the Faith and Life series, Miss L (3rd) reads stories of the saints. Mr. A (7th) does extra confirmation prep. While he does attend our parish's CCD program, I added extra work for him to do - copy/memory work, videos, books to read with me, etc. Mr. D (5th) also chose a few topics to create lapbooks on: the 7 sacraments, the Mass, and the Beatitudes.

Tied to our history, we have been listening to Tan Homeschool's Story of the Bible (Old and New). This has been hit or miss as we usually do it in the car when we are all in it together.


Miss Z and Miss L are using MCP math at their with my supervision. The boys are using Teaching Textbooks. One does it on the computer with the cds and a small erase board while the other struggled (an ongoing issue) and he's now back to using just the book and lots of mom-intensive math moments. Slowly...

Language Arts

Miss Z is all about phonics and learning to read this year so I used a variety of items for that: abc flashcards, Handwriting without Tears, and Seton phonics. I also read different books out loud to her, she's creating a poetry book (illustrates well-known poems), and has a "journal" where she narrates her stories to me. Miss Z has a big imagination and wants to draw and have me write her stories so this is an extra for her at the K level.

A little of Miss Z's creativity... The kids were writing fables.

I have the other kids reading an assigned book each quarter at their level as well as reading out of the Seton Faith and Freedom readers. Once a week the kids read out loud to me using these comprehension books which they all love to do. I like the variety of stories. Miss L also used Playful Poems for additional practice in comprehension, rhyming, etc.

My spellers use Apples & Pears spelling at their level. The boys do vocab on the computer using Word Build, which only takes about ten minutes a day for my oldest. Grammar started off as something else, but we switched this spring to IEW Grammar and Writing, doing it all together, which is freeing up our day already.

History & Geography

We do history together, roughly following a four year cycle. This year's topic is Ancient History. I decided to try mixing Tan Homeschool's Story of Civilization I and RC History. I read the "spine" from Tan Homeschool, the kids read additional books, and we do a variety of map and copy work, as well as a family timeline and a few hands-on activities.

For geography, the kids work on map skills using these books. Most of the time they can read the information given and do the problems, but occasionally I do have to help. In addition, we are studying the continents. The boys have been going through these workbooks and want to continue them into next year to finish the continents. The girls have done a very light introduction to the continents using map work, videos, music, and some hands-on activities.


Mr. A is doing his own science following CHC's grade 6 science. He's been following the workbook, which he is not thrilled about, and that is something I am tweaking next year.

The other three work together with a homemade science booklet covering monthly topics each chose at the end of last year. This has worked really well for them (and me) this year.


Surprisingly, art has fallen through the cracks this year. The thought of making yet one other mess has really kept me from doing my scheduled weekly projects. Well, that and the fact I scheduled art on a Friday when I am just so tired from the week. I had a book of lessons, but often we simply draw or make something else. Or do nothing...

This Thanksgiving Inchies project is my favorite of the year so far!

All the Other Stuff

Field trips have been few. Fatigue has been an ever-increasing issue for me. Plus, whenever we do something for a day, I somehow feel a week behind in everything else. It's a struggle. Though the ones we have gone to have been so much fun.

Awesome picture from the zoo!

Family fun night exploring a local town: seeing the oldest lighthouse in the area, snagging some homemade flavored popcorn at the Popcorn shop, and playing at a park.

Music... The boys are meh about music. I try to play a variety to listen to, and point out music at Mass. I did catch my 13 year old singing to some music the other day so I know he can sing! The girls play piano. It is a bear to practice with them at home and some weeks I just want to give up, but then I hear them play or struggle through a piece only to come out the other side playing it beautifully that I keep on. One of my kids needs plenty of physical and artistic outlets so piano works as one of those activities.

P.E./Health... This is daily stuff for us. Most of my kids eat a ton, and then move around a ton, and all is good. I do want Mr. A to start making exercise a habit though as karate has been shelved for now. The girls are in dance again this year. Miss L and Mr. D played basketball. If the weather ever warms and dries up, I want to start having family hikes on Saturday mornings.

This girl needs to run! This was at a homeschool field day in the fall. Miss L had to take her shoes off mid-race and run in her socks the rest of the way.

All in all, this has been a good year for us. We have moved steadily through our scheduled work, and growing in all kinds of ways. I'm happy with this year, but I have a few ideas for next year. Until then...

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Not AIP: End for Now

It happened again. Another infection. Since last spring, every time I try to eat cleaner, an infection happens. I've been struggling with kidney stones and infections for nearly a year. I wonder if it's my protein increase that triggers it? Or an increase of phosphorus foods (who knew?)?

I don't know. It needs some thought.

What I'm keeping from AIP:

  • No dairy or eggs.
  • No huge meals and chew slowly. No overeating!
  • "Good" carbs - I don't do well on very low-carb diets but keeping it under 45 carbs a meal seems to work well for me.
  • No coffee or alcohol (for now) - my kidneys and bladder certainly don't need the irritation, but I found on days I was excessively tired, coffee would not have done me much good anyway.
  • No dining out (our Lenten family sacrifice).
  • Drinking loads of water, which I did before anyway.
  • Avoid processed food as much as possible.
So, basically, what I have been doing except allow some gluten-free grains, nightshades, and nuts in (for now) as well as: 
  • Reduce protein intake or making sure not to overeat (sticking to fish and poultry over beef and pork).
  • And I don't know what else. Keep a good food journal - not a fun chore.
It's a struggle. In so many ways I feel so good - bloat is gone, losing that inflammation weight, steady energy, not hungry.

According to my doctor and nephrologist (sent there in the spring) my kidneys are "fine" according to labwork. So why then does my office visit sheet state "kidney disease" and I have to go for annual checks at the nephrologist's? It's like my dumb thyroid - all is "ok" until it's not. In-between fine and not fine is the body breaking down, causing issues for me that's "ok" enough to feel ignored by doctors - or patched up with medicine until the problem is too big to ignore.

My grandma apparently is having similar kidney issues. My grandma. Is this genetic? Shouldn't I try to take care of my kidneys as best I can now using preventative measures?

Now, please excuse me, as I drink a gallon of water and curl up for a nap.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

AIP: Day 12

Today was good.

It was difficult to wake up, but at least I did not oversleep. I also walked today and was not completely worn out after!

Breakfast: leftover chicken, sweet potato

Lunch: leftover chicken, mandarin oranges

Dinner: sausage notato soup with cassava biscuits

Snack: chunk of cucumber, banana, rest of chicken

Sausage Notato Soup: so hearty and satisfying.

Lots of chicken today. My goal was to eat small, simple meals as my gut is still hurting. It definitely did much better today. The stomach pain lessened as the day went on. I jokingly told my SIL this morning on our walk that maybe I'm just allergic to vegetables. ;)

There was a moment today I really wanted to order pizza for dinner. My oldest kid immediately said, "But we're not eating out for Lent!" And then my SIL texted and reminded me that soup was the healthier and on-plan AIP meal. I'm glad I listened. I'm glad for the support. I guess I should have turned to them on Sunday (everyone was asleep).

I was thinking how gray and blah this week has been. Usually this kind of up and down weather brings fatigue, pain, and headaches. While I have been more fatigued in the AM and had a dull headache yesterday, overall my mood and energy are good comparatively.

AIP stuff aside, if you are still looking for a short, "easy" read for Lent, check out Characters of the Passion: Lessons on Faith and Trust by Fulton Sheen. It is 7 chapters - perfect to study and reflect on one per week of Lent. It is kicking my butt.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

AIP: Day 11

Awesome news! I weighed myself and I was down ten pounds! Ten pounds of inflammation. Wow. I knew my coat was looser, but it sure felt good to see that on a scale considering how impossible it is for me to lose weight.


Last July I exercised consistently (jazzercise), swam with the kids, ate great, and I lost half a pound. Half! Diet-wise, I've restricted calories (very slow weight loss movement that would be annihilated with my next cycle), went gluten-free with my celiac diagnosis (and did lose around 30 lbs before thyroid messed up and I gained it back and then some), and tried trim healthy mama. I did see promise with trim healthy mama, but some foods bothered me which is why I want to stick with the AIP. I want to know exactly what is bothering me so I can nix it.

Today I did not feel hungry, and I kept it light accordingly, especially with the vegetables.

Breakfast: rest of steak

That's it. Not hungry, had nothing else made, the morning was a late one (I could not wake up), and I needed food for a medication.

Lunch: avocado and plantain chips

Again, not exactly hungry, but was feeling a little nauseous and knew I should eat.

Snack: applesauce

Just a little something to hold me while dinner was cooking. I felt a bit light-headed and headachy, but spending time outside in some unseasonal nice weather did wonders for my mood.

Dinner: chicken and white sweet potato

I actually felt hungry. Unfortunately, reflux showed up an hour later.

Snack: chicken and mango

Only slight heartburn this time. Hopefully tomorrow is a bit better. On my way to half-way.

Monday, February 19, 2018

AIP: Day 10

Success today. I stuck to the plan. Honestly, the GI symptoms are flaring as they have done every time I try AIP. I feel so much better in so many other ways so this is super frustrating.

By the way, that cheat last night? I had to take Tums this morning from that. Definitely something should be out of my diet.

Breakfast: leftover salmon/pumpkin cakes with kale

The cat loved me. I was sooo tired this morning. I wanted coffee badly, but had a cup of green tea instead. It did nothing to help.

Lunch: leftover soup

Dinner: few bites of steak and apple

I felt slightly hungry but my stomach was hurting all afternoon. A few bites in I was full. Today is just going to be a light day.

Snack: few bites of steak and a mango

My stomach seems to be handling this better, and I actually feel a tad hungry. It is so close to bed so I will have some water instead which I need more of today anyway.

That's all for today.