Pregnancy Update: 28 Weeks

Yesterday, for the first time this pregnancy, I was able to feel a large, hard mass in my abdomen that was either Baby Girl’s head or her bum. I’m hoping it was the latter, and that she has turned head-down.

She has been dancing and swimming around like crazy in there lately! She also gets hiccups sometimes, which is such a strange feeling, but kind of cute.

I’ve been very happy with my experience with Samaritan Ministries. It looks like 100% of the expenses from both this pregnancy and from my appendectomy several months ago are going to be covered. In fact, I’ve already received most of the money in the form of checks from other Samaritan Ministries members.

This past weekend, I was at my church’s women’s retreat. Another lady and I led the worship sessions. She played guitar and sang, and I played piano and sang. I’m very comfortable singing in front of people, but this was really my first time playing piano in front of people as an adult, so it was definitely a stretch for me. I enjoy playing piano, but I’m not great at it. I’m really slow at reading sheet music, so I prefer to just play from a chord chart and by ear. Anyway, things went pretty well, and I’m glad I did it. It felt good to not allow fear and anxiety to hold me back from trying something that was outside of my comfort zone.

Homeschooling-wise, we are winding down for the year. I’m planning to focus mostly on science over the summer, since I didn’t do much of it with the kids during the school year.

My husband’s car was stolen two nights ago night from our driveway. :-( A generous friend is letting him borrow a vehicle for a while, so T can still get to work without leaving the kids and me stranded at home all day, every day. We’ve reported the theft to police, so I hope we will get the car back.

Pregnancy Update: 21 Weeks

Well, I will be 22 weeks tomorrow, actually. We found out yesterday that we are having a girl. My midwife called me today with additional information about my ultrasound. Baby Girl looks great. She is measuring about a week “small” for how far along I am currently, but my midwife said it’s not a big deal, because of normal growth variations in the middle of pregnancy. Also, she said that, for me, because I personally tend to have “late” babies (my 3rd was born at 42 weeks, and the others also came after their “due dates”), having this ultrasound which gives a later due date will give us a little extra leeway at the end of pregnancy to maintain a hands-off approach longer, instead of feeling pressured to induce or try other interventions if this pregnancy goes long. Midwives in my state can legally perform home births until 43 weeks, but this ultrasound extends what I originally thought would be my 43 week cutoff, if that makes sense. Not that I really want to be pregnant for 43 or more weeks, but I trust my body and my baby, and I want Baby Girl to come out whenever she is ready, without being evicted too soon.

Her placenta is low-lying at this point, but that’s not a problem at 21 weeks, as it almost always “moves” out of the way in plenty of time of give birth naturally at term. But it does mean that I will have to have another ultrasound, which I was not planning to do, at around 34 weeks or so.

She is also currently in breech position, which I’m not too worried about yet, but that is another reason my midwife wants me to have another ultrasound in late pregnancy: to confirm that Baby Girl has turned head-down.

In addition, the placenta is anterior (by my belly instead of my back). This doesn’t really mean anything, but it does explain why I have really only felt kicks and movement really low and/or toward my sides, instead of in front, and also why it has been challenging at times to locate Baby Girl’s heartbeat with a doppler (including the morning after my appendectomy when two nurses tried, unsuccessfully, to find the heartbeat–that was kind of scary, but they said since I was only 11 weeks along at the time, it was probably fine, and I guess it turned out to be).

Anyway, I am grateful that overall, things are going well. I am physically feeling fine, just easily tired/overwhelmed and very emotional, but that’s normal for me during pregnancy.

We’re not telling anyone Baby Girl’s name until she is born, but it has been fun to be able to privately call her by her name, talk to her, and sing to her. I love her so much already.

We’re Having a Girl! Due July/August 2015


Book Review: Begin (Growly #1), by Philip and Erin Ulrich


This is a fun adventure story for kids. There is nothing at all inappropriate in the book, and it is full of positive values (friendship, courage, loyalty, and kindness, to name a few) without being preachy. Family ties are important, and the characters all treat each other very respectfully.

I read this book to my 8- and 6-year-olds. They are in the perfect age range to experience this book as a read-aloud, and they really enjoyed it. My 4-year-old listened in about half the time, and was somewhat interested, although some of the plot and words went over her head.

Overall, I personally enjoyed the book, although I felt that the narrative occasionally became excessively, tediously descriptive. The kids didn’t seem to mind, though, and remained attentive even through long passages about the landscape.

This book, the first in the Growly series, is definitely not a stand-alone. Growly’s quest remains unresolved at the end of this book, so the kids and I are looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

Our 2015-2016 Homeschool Plans!

I just placed orders for all (or almost all) of our homeschool supplies for 2015-2016! It feels so good to have the decisions made and to have everything ordered early. My personality is such that, when I have a decision to make, I research the heck out of my options and am very anxious and unsettled until I make the final decision, and then I feel relieved and can finally rest and not have a million thoughts constantly swirling around in my brain. I’m generally not a procrastinator and like to get things done way ahead of time, for my own peace of mind.

Anyway, this is what I decided on:

Main Program:

Sonlight Core B (1st year of a 2-year World History program) with Grade 3 Language Arts/Readers


I think that this program should appeal to both my 4th grader and my 2nd grader, and the Kindergartner can listen in as much as she desires. I love that there are so many fun and informative “real” books, not just boring textbooks. This Grade 3 language arts program covers paragraph writing, which is a skill that I’ve not yet worked on with the kids. The Grade 3 readers are probably the right level for my 2nd grader. They will be a little simple for my 4th grader, but he will probably enjoy some of them.

Additional Grammar:

Easy Grammar: Grade 3


I really like this program, since it covers all the basics, but it only takes a few minutes a day. It is easy to use and easy for kids to understand. My son has been using an older 2nd/3rd grade version of this program this year.


A Reason for Handwriting


The kids will be using books K, A, and T of this program.


Singapore Math


I love Singapore Math. It really teaches kids to look at math problems in a variety of different ways and to solve problems creatively, but accurately. The workbooks are easy-to-use and kid-friendly, with lots of graphics and some “fun” puzzles, and not oppressive like a giant, black-and-white, picture-less, heavy textbook (Saxon, I’m looking at you. Oh, man, I hate Saxon. Don’t even get me started). My son has been blowing through this program. Currently, he is just about done with his 4B book, so I expect he’ll get through the Level 5 books and into Level 6 next year. Well, maybe, because, I also want him to go through the math workbook that comes with…

Additional Math:

Complete Mathtacular Bundle


The older kids have been begging me to buy the Mathtacular 3 and 4 DVDs. We already own 1 and 2, but it was a good deal to just buy this whole kit, which happens to come with all four Mathtacular DVDs and a bunch of other stuff, including manipulatives that my Kindergartner will find useful. The workbook that comes with this kit looks to be on my son’s level. I think he will think it is fun to have a workbook that goes along with Mathtacular 4.


Hooked on Phonics Kindergarten


My currently-4 1/2-year-old is pining to know how to read, but she really needs a step-by-step program to get her there. I researched probably close to two dozen phonics programs and decided that this would be the best fit for her, despite my memories of making fun of the cheesy “Hooked on Phonics worked for me!” commercials in the 1990’s.

Thinking Skills:

Developing the Early Learner, 4-book set


The reviews I’ve read for the four books in this series have all been really positive. I think they will be right on my Kindergartner’s level.

Well, those are the materials we’re planning to use next year. We might even start using them this year, since, as I mentioned in this post, we are probably going to be cutting our current American history course a little short, since I don’t think the kids are emotionally ready to study the World Wars yet.

I didn’t mention science, because that is the one thing I’m not sure about yet. Soon, we are going to begin (well, continue, since we did get through about one unit) the Apologia Botany course that we already own. When we’re done with that, I’ll get something else, probably a different Apologia course. I’m not at all concerned about my currently-3rd-grader’s science education, since he constantly checks out piles of nonfiction science books from the library and devours them. I’m pretty sure he already knows more about most scientific subjects than I do.

A Thought About WinterPromise American Story 2

The kids and I have been working our way through WinterPromise’s American Story 2 program. Well, more accurately, we’ve been working our way through the awesome booklist without actually owning the guide/schedule. I thought about buying the guide at the beginning of the year, but that was the only thing I wanted from them, and shipping for that one item was, like, $15! So I decided I could put the books in chronological order myself and obtain supplemental resources online and from the library as needed. We don’t have a huge homeschool budget, and I would much rather use our resources to buy “real” books than spend $95 ($80 for the guide and $15 to ship it) on a guide that I might not get much use out of, anyway. I did buy the guide when we were doing American Story 1, but I definitely don’t feel that it was worth the price. Mostly, I just glanced at it occasionally to see which new books were coming up.

So far this year, we have made it from the Civil War period to right around the year 1900. Currently, we’re reading about the Klondike/Yukon/Alaskan Gold Rush, which is really an interesting subject that is somewhat near and dear to my heart, as I did a big school research project on it when I was in eighth grade (including writing and illustrating a fictional short story). Also, I used to really love playing a computer game called The Yukon Trail, created by the same company (MECC) that made The Oregon Trail game. I was able to find The Yukon Trail game for my kids, and they are now enjoying playing it as well, and I love that it is enhancing their studies.

It occurred to me, today, though, that we are approaching the World War era, and I just don’t think my kids, at ages 6 and 8, are ready to learn about the harsh realities and tragedies of modern warfare. Besides, there really are not many good books (like, pretty close to zero, it seems) for young children about World War 1. Even the WW1 book WinterPromise includes in this program is not written at an elementary level at all (I skimmed it this morning and realized it would bore the kids to tears). So I think my new plan is to finish up the program books about the Klondike Gold Rush, immigration, and inventions, and then save the war stuff for a while, maybe inserting our leftover books into a more advanced American history course in a few years.

Maybe when we’re done with our history studies this year, I’ll actually get around to doing the Apologia Botany course that I’ve been avoiding (ugh…experiments! I even have a ready-made experiment kit, so I really have no excuse). Actually, doing the course in spring and summer makes a lot of sense, due to nicer weather and more growing things to observe.

Decisions, Decisions…A Homeschooling Ramble

The time has come for me to be looking at homeschool curricula for 2015-2016. Since I have a baby due in July, it would be ideal to have one main, open-and-go “core” curriculum that I can use with the three older kids, who will be in kindergarten, second grade, and fourth grade. I also need to figure out the best way to teach my kindergartner to learn how to read. I had it so easy with the big kids. They both taught themselves to read at age three, through no real instruction from me (other than reading lots of books with them). But my littlest one has an extroverted, happy-go-lucky, social butterfly personality, and she’s not necessarily as focused or determined about “book learning” as the older kids. So I have to figure out how to actually, for the first time, teach phonics and all that jazz.

For the past two years, the older kids and I have been doing WinterPromise’s American Story 1 and 2. It’s been great, and they and I have learned a lot, but some of the reading has been fairly academic and somewhat mature-themed, and I don’t think my youngest is ready for a similarly intense, history-focused program. Besides, WinterPromise doesn’t offer any history-based programs that are appropriate for the grade range I will be teaching next year. They do have an Animals and Their Worlds study which is supposedly appropriate for Pre-K through 4th grades, but it doesn’t look as academically rigorous as the history programs (which may be a good thing, considering the new baby factor and the kindergartner’s interest level). I’ve also been perusing My Father’s World’s programs. We’ve used Sonlight in the past, and I like it a lot, but they don’t seem to have any programs that would be appropriate for a kindergartner, second grader, and fourth grader to participate in at the same time. I am very interested in Homeschool in the Woods’ Middle Ages and Renaissance and Reformation studies in their Project Passport series, but because they feature a ton of crafts and projects, I think that, realistically,  they would be too much to handle when I have a new baby. Generally, I tend to prefer literature-heavy programs, which is why I like Sonlight and WinterPromise so much.

We’ve been really happy with Singapore Math, so we’ll stick with that for now. It’s sooooo much better than Saxon, which is what I grew up with and absolutely hated. I would never inflict that boring, horrible, dry, miserable, tedious program on my children. I do like the concept of Teaching Textbooks, but the grade levels seem way off from Singapore Math. Teaching Textbooks seems to be at least two or three grades below Singapore Math! But the video instruction would be nice for upper level math courses, so I’ll keep the company in mind for later. We also supplement with Mathtacular DVDs. Right now we have the first and second in the series, but the older kids are ready for the next two and really want me to buy them! Just today, my son came to a new concept in his Singapore Math book, and I was all ready to explain to him how he should do the problems, and he said, “You don’t have to tell me; I already know!” I was surprised and asked him where he had learned the concept, and he said he learned it from Mathtacular. Awesome!

We use A Reason for Handwriting for penmanship. It’s fine for the older kids. I’m going to try using it for my youngest, and then, if it really doesn’t work for her, I’ll look into other programs. I’ve thought about Handwriting Without Tears for her, but the reviews are very mixed, so I’m kind of leery of that program.

I’m planning to get Kathy Troxel’s Audio Memory Geography songs (along with the corresponding workbook). The program has very good reviews and seems to be very effective for teaching US and world geography.

Well, these have been my rambling thoughts and ideas about what to use next year. I really enjoy the process of researching different options and figuring out what will best suit my children.