Thursday, March 17, 2011

A nice day

Wow, it's been such a wonderful day so far. And that in spite of the fact that I stayed up until 2 am last night finishing up my previous blog post, and then got up only slightly later than usual, just after 7 am. For some reason, because the public schools are on spring break this week, I keep telling myself "It's spring break, after all!", even though our homeschool is going full speed ahead.

Speaking of homeschooling, we are just finishing up on week 18, meaning that we are halfway through our "school year". Considering I have a little baby, I am very happy with the progress we have been making, and how quickly we got back into the swing of things after the birth. I like to have somewhat of a plan and schedule, so at the beginning of the year I predetermined how much each of the kids had to do in math and language studies (grammar, spelling, penmanship, reading, composition) each week. Those are the only subjects they each study on their own level (Pre-K, 1st, 3rd, and 5th). John is finally reading fluently, although he is still lacking the motivation to want to read the way Solomon and Isaac devour books. Miriam is just starting to blend letters together and reading simple blends, something she is doing very well with. All her life, she has been unable to say the "k" sound. Well, this week, she suddenly figured out how to say it! It was kind of sad, especially for my husband who thought she sounded very cute with her "speech impediment". The only letter she still can't pronounce is "g", but I'm sure she'll figure it out, soon.

Miriam loves sorting things, so I knew she would love this educational shape game I found at the thrift store today for just over $1.

 She color-matched these treat platters (reinforcement rings) with plastic spoons, felt goodies, and hair clips.

All other subjects (history, science, geography, crafts, German, etc.) we work on together, and use "Cantering the Country" as our springboard. We have been going so in-depth on the individual states that we are still only on our 4th state so far (New Hampshire) in the last two months. There is just so much interesting stuff to learn about. We have covered whales/whaling, logging, fishing, animals that live in the Atlantic Ocean, various biographies of famous people, poetry, the American Revolution, and so much more. I love being a home educator because it gives me the opportunity to read and learn about new things every week, rather than working a monotonous job day in, day out.

Have I mentioned what an EASY baby Anna is? Seriously, I am getting very, very spoiled with her. She is content to perch in her bouncer and watch the action around her, and then just dozes off to sleep. The only time she fusses is when she is hungry, and then she eats quickly, and goes to sleep. She stays asleep for 2-3 hour stretches several times throughout the day, and goes to sleep for the night right around the same time as the older kids do. I do not put her on any sort of schedule, that is just the pattern that she very kindly has fallen into all on her own. Very mellow and laid back, and always smiling. She sucks on her own thumb or lower lip for comfort, which is not only cute, but also very convenient. I could go on gushing about my precious baby, but I'll spare you. It is so fun to see how much joy she spreads wherever I take her - people are naturally drawn to little babies and get so happy to be around them. She has been a very easy "addition". 

 There was a day when ISAAC fit into this little sleeper gown! Sad, but true!

 One of my favorite pictures, ever. I just LOVE her toesies!

 Yes, she definitely has a tinge of red in her hair.

Sucking her thumb in her sleep

So to back up, I made doughnuts for breakfast today. I have tried my luck at them before, but they never come out as fluffy and light as the ones from the store. The recipe I tried today was an absolute hit - the best doughnuts ever, hands down. I did need quite a bit more flour than the recipe calls for to get my dough to pull into a neat ball, but maybe my buttermilk was unusually runny because I cultured it myself from raw milk.

 Frosted with a simple powdered sugar glaze

After breakfast, I took the girls to the thrift store to buy summer clothes while the boys stayed home to do their math and English (with Dad, who had paperwork to do). Can you believe it's been mid 70s to low 90s in the day time here? Definitely time to retire the warm clothes! I had a 30% off coupon for my entire purchase, plus it was half off day today, so I got a ton of really cute clothes for all six of them. I also found the first 31 books of the "Nancy Drew" mystery stories, brand new. The boys have been devouring the "Hardy Boys" books, and I knew the girls would enjoy reading these in a few more years. The books came out to just over a dollar each, which is about a third of the price we have been paying at the used book store for the "Hardy Boys". There were a bunch of other really cool non-fiction books I scored for the kids. We now have so many that I am seriously thinking about cataloging the books according to the Dewey decimal system. It sure would make it easier to quickly find a book on whatever subject we are covering that week. Ridiculous, huh? :)

Probably my favorite find today was a waffle cone maker. I have been looking for one on craigslist for at least 6 months now, to no avail. The only ones for sale were commercial ones ($200 and up), and one for home use that they were trying to sell for only $5 less than it costs new at the store. I am of the opinion that if I am buying something used (i.e. no warranty, can't return it, not new, etc.) I will at the most pay 50% of the original price. The lady was adamant about not going down on the price, even though the listing eventually expired without her ever selling it. Humph! But wouldn't you know it, I found one at the thrift store today that came out to $4 after my coupon!! All so I can make my own (partially) whole grain, organic waffle cones at home. I mean, if you are going to eat ice cream every day in the summer, you might as well make it HEALTHY, right?? No, truth is, we love waffle cones, but they are pretty expensive to buy ready made.

To top it all off, when we got back home, there were TWO packages waiting for me! One was for my birthday from my husband's mom, and one was for the whole family all the way from Australia, filled with yummy goodies. THANK YOU!! This is the second very awesome package we have received this week as part of "Cantering the Country" - more on that in a later post!

Speaking of all these treats, I am now officially trying to lose the last few pregnancy pounds. As it stands, I am only 6 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight, but I could stand to lose at least another 20. I do Weight Watchers between all my pregnancies. After achieving goal weight on program several babies ago, I get to go to the meetings for free. Sometimes I manage to lose all the weight between pregnancies, and sometimes I don't, it all depends on how soon I get pregnant again. When Becky was Anna's age, I weighed 20 lbs more than I do now, so I feel like I have a good chance of reaching my goal weight again this time around. 

Now it is "silent time" in our house, which means that the girls are napping, and the boys were quietly reading and playing, until they talked me into letting them go swimming (the pool water is in the mid-60s... brrr!). We'll probably go to the library later this afternoon, and pick up a couple of groceries while out. 
Have I mentioned how much I love my life, and being a mommy to these many blessings??? Wow, so much to be thankful for!! Have a wonderful weekend with your loved ones!


  1. I just wanted to say your blog is such a blessing to me in my journey! Glad you had a wonderful day!

  2. I'd definitely say you've been busy! Anna looks just like Becky with those huge adorable eyes!

  3. I'm going to have to make those doughnuts! So no more Krispe Kreme? :) I would love to hear more about how you homeschool all the different ages, how far ahead you plan it all and your criteria for choosing a curriculum. I am still trying to decide, any thoughts on the ATI program or My Fathers World?

  4. Great pictures of the kids! They grow up really fast it seems like. I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I have deleted my old blog. My new is one is at if you want to put me on your blog roll.

  5. OK, this post convinced me! I have been thinking about asking you if you think Solomon would like to be pen pals with my 11 y.o. son and when I read that your boys like The Hardy Boys books I decided to go for it. ;o)
    Solomon seems to have alot in common with Kole and he would love to write letters and get letters in the mail!
    We home school using the classical model primarily and are KJ only.
    I would be happy to tell you more about our family. Email me privately if you are interested.
    Oh, and I don't know what it is about baby feet but I can hardly look at them! They are so amazing!;o)

  6. Aww sweet Anna sucking her thumb! I love hearing you gush about your precious newborn because...I do it too! Its nice to know that other ladies love their babies too (I often hear people complaining about lack of sleep...etc)

    I am so encouraged by your approach to home education as I too will soon be schooling more than one and I am trying to collect as many tips and ideas as I can!

    Well done on finding great bargins at the thrift store! I'm so envious...thift stores here in Ireland are still seriously expensive!

  7. Okay, now I am officially hungry after looking at your photos of donuts. Even the felt ones looked delicious! Your kiddos are all so cute, and I am glad that Anna is such a mellow baby. I am also jealous of the warm weather you have! Here in Wisconsin, we are lucky to hit the 40s. But spring will slowly but surely sneak up on us. It amazes me how kids can stand to jump into cold water and swim!

    Again, thanks for a fun blog post! I enjoy reading it.

  8. HI!!!! I finally have a computer again, so I can comment on posts. I have been reading right along, but so hard to leave comments from my phone!
    Life has been so good, and God is blessing our family incredibly! Can't wait to start blogging on my blog again! Talk to you soon!!!

  9. Don't your kids ever get to play with other kids, like at a playground? Or are they only ever allowed to play with other kids at your husband's church?

    Seems to me they are quite isolated from the outside world in that respect.

  10. This is such a happy, optimistic post!!! It's nice to have a day like that where everything seems to come together! (And though your more "controversial" posts can be thought-provoking, even when I disagree, it's nice to see the sunny side of Zsuzsanna!) I seriously should start looking into thrift stores. I never shop there, and I bet I could save lots of money. And good luck on the Weight Watchers (though you might have an uphill battle if you keep making those donuts:-)

  11. Please gush often and at length about your precious baby!!!!! Nothing is sweeter to read, although I enjoy your entire post.

    in His peace,

  12. Hi, This is not a comment about this particular blog post, so please don't publish it as such. I don't have an email address for you, so this is the only way I can contact you. I saw this story on my local TV news last night, and it reminded me of your husband and the problems he had with the border patrol awhile back. I thought you might be interested in reading it and watching the video. It's about a man who faces 30 years in prison for "interfering" with police work after his daughter was in a car accident.

  13. Kelsey, thank you. I am glad to know others benefit from my hobby of blogging.

    Trini, you're right, she does have big eyes like Becky.

    Karen R, I don't know anything about ATI. I like the idea behind the MFW curriculum. I met the family that produces it at a homeschool conference two years ago, and they were really nice and smart. It is from them that I got the idea to teach all subjects at the same time, just at varying degrees of difficulty. However, at the time, they advised me that our kids were just a bit too young to start the five year program (our oldest being 7 then), and recommended I do their one year geography course as a filler. Instead, I chose "Galloping the Globe". We liked it so much that we continued right on with "Cantering the Country". We should be finished with all 50 states by the end of the next school year. At that point, I am entertaining the options of either the Konos program, or MFW. Neither handbooks use the KJV, though, and some of the books they recommend for the students are pretty liberal/lame, so I'd have to modify for our family. We'll see.

    Brittany, good to hear from you again! I'll definitely have to add your new blog to my roll.

    Poole Party, thank you for writing. I asked Solomon, and he was thrilled! Would you please leave me your email address in another comment so I can get in touch with you privately? I won't publish it.

    Sarah, I forgot all about babies and lack of sleep until you mentioned it. We've had a couple of babies like that, too, but Anna is the opposite. The more babies we have (and the older I get...), the more I appreciate ALL aspects of parenting. It is so fleeting.

    Spooky, thank you. The kids stayed in the water for close to an hour! Personally, I prefer colder climates, but it sure is nice this time of year to be living in AZ.

    Nicole, great! Can't wait to read your updates!

    anon, thank you for your concern. Rest assured, our kids don't "only" get to play with their 5 siblings, at least 1 parent at any given time, and a dozen other children at church. They also get to interact with adults daily, such as librarians, repairmen, store clerks, etc. Because they spend hours a day playing outside, they have made friends with some kids on our street (there are not that many), but sadly, those kids are almost never outside because they are either in school, or inside doing homework, watching TV, playing video games, or whatever else they are busy with. And while they do play with other kids at the library and/or park, no, I can't say they immediately make friends with perfect strangers that they are meeting for the first time. That would be a little weird. Do you make friends with anyone you meet in public? And, are your kids exposed to children at a church with conservative values, or do you deprive them of that social experience?

    Renee, thrift stores are great for other reasons than "just" price, although that is a big plus. Another huge advantage is selection. For example, when I was shopping for shorts for the boys yesterday, there were at least 50 different ones in each of their sizes. Sure, there was only one of each kind, but I was only going to buy one of each kind anyway. They each had 50 to pick from, so finding a dozen that they liked was super easy. A department store fills their shelves with dozens of the same in every size, so they have less variety. It makes shopping so much easier and faster!

    Miriam, thank you. I have to make an effort to not constantly gush over/brag about the kids, here on the blog, as well as to them personally. Like most parents, I think they are the best (and they really are, for us).

    grade1teacher, thank you for the link. Shocking!!!

  14. 1. I tried to make the doughnuts and they were not as pretty or fluffy as yours but my family ate them all up! 2. Thanks for answering my question. ATI is the curriculum the Duggars, Bates, Kellers use. I like what I see on t.v and online but it's $$ and there are "survivor groups" that say it ruined their lives and families :(

  15. Anna is SOOOO CUTE! And her toes...simply yummy! :) I love baby toes and make sure I get pictures of them often! :) What a busy and productive house you have!

  16. Zsuzsanna, please don't make efforts not to gush!!! Given how people like to complain about their children, you are a breath of fresh air. I also love to brag about my 6, especially the oldest 2 because they are teenagers and absolutely wonderful. People don't want to hear it, they prefer to hear someone complain about their children, especially teens. Please, brag often, I absolutely love reading about it!

    in His peace,

    p.s sorry my comments are always anonymous, I don't have a blog or other internet ID, my husband prefers that.

  17. Hey Zsuzsanna, I've been following a live stream of a batch of chicks hatching from their eggs, and I thought you and the children might like it? When all the eggs have hatched they'll be moved to a pen and filmed for the next month or so, so you can see them interact as chicks too. Could be educational too - I've researched all different types of chicken breeds I've never even heard of before! And of course, it's super cute.

    Here's the link if you wish:

  18. Oh, and here's the main channel for more information:

  19. Oh, I do hope Anna stays a bit of a redhead, I'm one myself (it's faded in its intensity as I've gotten older) but I enjoy being a 'ginger.' (It's a playful nickname to call someone a ginger where I come from--and a lot of ladies pay quite a few dollars for that colour!) Just remember to flood her with sunscreen!
    Those donuts look absolutely delicious--I think I'd look past my own diet for one or two of those!
    I was speaking to a horse-friend of mine and we started discussing that there aren't many books in which the central character is a boy, as it seems so many books in his age bracket involve little girls with their ponies, and we came up with the 'Blaze' series, Fury, my friend Flicka, and Black Beauty and the Black Stallion.



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