I can’t believe another ten years has passed since I walked the hallowed halls of my high school alma mater.  And yet, it has.  In September, we made the trek to our hometown (Mark and I graduated from the same high school) and spent time with our family and some of my classmates. We attended a high school football team and cheered on my nephew.  Ya’ll I have a nephew old enough to play high school football.  Emmie had a wonderful time and was cheering and yelling along with us.   Playing at Papa and Grandmere’s house is always a treat. We took the kids over to a local lake where we braved sprinkling rain to play on the playground and feed ducks and capture Pokemon. 

Emmie was patting her leg trying to call the ducks to her.  They wouldn’t listen.

The First Days

One of our first days of school was on fire.  Literally.

See ya’ll, this is what happens when you have five kids working on one experiment and another working on a different one…then you get confused on which eye on the stove you turned on only to smell burning plastic, metal and paper.  I toasted it good.

Ac thought for a second he wasn’t going to have to do labs.  Ha kid.  We do labs around here burnt paper and all.  Actually, my neighbor-friend (because she is a neighbor and a friend) heard of my plight and brought over the perfect binder for science journals. All set and the house is still standing.

Once we got over the shock of my experiment of trying to set the house on fire, we made rainbows with water and straws. And floated raw eggs in saltwater.

Everyone worked hard.  Regardless of what was left of our journals.

Zoe made a really pretty Franklin-ism for History.

And Ace drew silly cartoons to answer questions about Science.  Ya’ll, I know I shouldn’t allow this but I love the creativity!

Ethos Academy Resumes

We got a late start this year for school because we were waiting on Silas and Mark to come home.  And here we are halfway through and I’m getting to this post.   This year, I remembered and had time to actually do some fun first day pics!  Here they are with a little snipit of what we are using for curriculum.  Our altogether curriculum for most grades includes:

Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics (Apolgia)-This is for grades Pre-K to 6th.  This volume is full of fun experiments and information and the kids all seem to be enjoying it so far.

PictureSmart Bible Old Testament-This is our Bible for the year and we all seem to be enjoying the general survey it gives us of the books in the Old Testament.

Mystery of History Volume IV-We skipped Volume 3 of history because the new volume came out and I got impatient waiting to do it.  I have to say it is my favorite volume so far and the most thorough.  We are loving it!

Our first grader is still working on learning to read.  We’re using Primary Arts of Language or PAL as well as All About Spelling.  Usually, when I have kids who need a little extra time learning to read, this one curriculum has helped reading “click” with them. So far, that seems to be the case with Bryant.  He is now reading words when we go out and about and I feel like he should be reading really well by the end of the year.  He is doing Math Mammoth Grade 1 for math.  He’s working on First Language Lessons of the Well-Trained Mind Volume 1.

Silas is working on 2nd grade Math Mammoth and learning to read using PAL with Bryant.  He is a hard working and I can’t wait to see reading click for him!

Ceili Rain is in 2nd grade reading with our Veritas Press comprehension guides.  She is working her way through Building Spelling Skills 2 and her Math Mammoth Grade 2. She is almost complete with her First Language Lessons… Vol. 2 as well. She loves math and can’t seem to get enough of it.

Our 4th grader is rocking the grade with his goofiness.  He is in First Language Lessons… Volume 4 (and is so sad he’s almost done…not really), 4th grade Veritas Press reading comprehension, Math Mammoth Grade 4 and Institute for Excellence in Writing Student Writing Continuation Course Level A (IEW SCC Level A).

Liam is cruising through Math Mammoth Grade 5, Veritas Press comprehension guides, and is joining Josiah on his IEW SCC Level A for writing.  He is also doing Fix It Grammar: The Nose Tree.

Ace is stepping out of the Exploring Creation series by Apologia and is now in Apologia General Science.  He finished up Math Mammoth Grade 6 and is now working through Saxon Math 8/7 and doing very well.  He is also doing an IEW course but it is Level B instead of A.  He is doing the same grammar as Liam and is working on Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 7.  He’s also venturing into the world of foreign languages (although not with as much gusto as Zoe) and taking Spanish 1.

Last year, ya’ll.  This is the last year I’ll not have a high schooler!  Eek.  I think we are closed to ready for that.  Zoe has a general idea of what she wants to go to college for.  But prepping for that is adding even more gray hairs to my head.  Anyway, our polyglot-in-training (mutli-language speaker) is working on several things.  She is doing Apologia Physical Science, Algebra 1, Windows to the World/Literary Analysis, IEW with Ace and Spanish 2.  We found an ASL course online and she completed 50 hours for a course certification at the end of December.

That’s it!  All of the kids are working really hard and will be duly rewarded.  I believe this next nine weeks (our third of academics) we’ll have people finishing up several subjects and working on zoning in on the skills they need to master (read:  multiplication facts).  We’re already starting to look at next year and pray about what they will be learning!

A couple of notes:  None of the links are affiliate links.  I included them in case anyone wanted to know more about the curriculum.  Also, I purposely work to make sure a lot of our curriculum is non-consummable to help cut down costs.  And we “buy used/save the difference.”  So, while a lot of the curriculum (especially when you account for seven kids) looks pricey.  It’s not.  I make a spreadsheet of everything I need to purchase and how much it costs retail and then I work from March until the new school year searching for it used or at a discount price.  I get really excited when I see I’m saving three to four hundred dollars (which is about how much I can save)!


Jump! Jump!

Josiah and Bryant requested a trip to Airstrike for their birthdays.  Since it would cost us about a week or two worth of groceries if we had gone on their actual birthdays, we had them wait until school started back to go.  When school is in session, Monday nights are family nights and cheap to jump for our whole crew. Malachi and Bryant have been captured by blue and green hands!
Seeing Emmie’s confidence grow since the halo has come off has been amazing to watch.  She jumped, walked and giggled and was always full of smiles. Silas’s first jumping trip!

Camping Out

We picked Mark and Silas up from the airport and immediately drove to our church’s annual family camp.  It was such a great time to rejoice.  Emmie was brace free.  Silas was home.  Last year, we were in the middle of our adoption.  Emmie had just gotten the halo.  Life has certainly changed in a year!
These smiles ya’ll! The highlight of the weekend is the family olympics.  This year, Ceili Rain and I attempted the canoe race.  We did good.  Until we had to turn around and come back. Thankfully we didn’t tip over.

Mr. R let Liam get in some video training. One of the many things I love about our church is the sense of family.  Everyone helps.  So, if Malachi needed help with a game, one of the other “moms” stepped in to help!
Daddy is super talented…hold the toddler…throw the water balloon. Malachi has to be one of the cutest olympic competitors. Every year, there is a family scavenger hunt.  My kids, well, they are some pretty competitive kids (I have no idea where they got that).  The above picture was part of the hunt.  And yes, our kids won. At the camp, there is a small stone outcropping that they call Little Stone Mountain.  This is our trek up the hill. Halfway there and the view was already gorgeous. Made it!  So pretty. A little melodramatic re-play. Selfie on top of the rock. Someone forgot to tell our city girl that you need water to make the canoe go. Camp Dog Bandit and Emmie were fast friends. Well, Bandit is friends with everyone.

This is the picture where Emmie figured out she could smile sweetly and say, “cookie” to get a cookie before she finishes her supper.

Welcome Home

Mark and Silas arrived home the first part of September.  After three weeks separated, we were all extremely thrilled ot see them all. Papa had a wonderful time seeing Eastern Europe for a week with Mark and Silas.  We were glad he made it home too!

Emmie was thrilled to see Silas.  Since it had been over a year since she had seen him, we were worried she would be a little apprehensive.  She was thrilled and had to give him a welcome home hug.

August Randoms

Ya’ll, I might actually be caught up before 2018 hits…okay, don’t hold your breath.  Here’s the end of August…and our randoms.

Emmie got “Pwincess” pjs from Ge…and we just had to show them off.  A.dor.a.ble

Ice cream at Bruster’s is better if you’re in your swimsuit.  Just saying.  Don’t forget the pink bow. Having a crown is just as good. Mr. H goes to church with us and has notarized untold numbers of adoption documents and been rewarded a couple of times with supper on us.  Then there was that one day he had enough notarizing like a normal person and decided to do it in style.  With a box on his head. Smudge sensed something was up.  Again.  And did everything in his power to keep us from packing for our Ukraine/Grandparent trip.  He was not happy with any of us. Cute contemplative cookie eating. Girls in rollers…it’s a rite of passage in our house.

Just because Zoe is pretty and can do some pretty amazing things with her hair. Princess Emmie surrounded by lots of knights…traipsing through the fields. We enjoyed a subscription to Genius Box for the summer (and then three months after because I forgot to cancel it.).  Okay, we have four boxes sitting in our school area because I forgot to use them up but they will get used when we are at home with nothing to do.  Stop laughing ya’ll. Malachi’s first grown fruit…watermelon.  It was left too long on the ground and split.  But at least it was something. We got home from Josiah’s hospital stay and I walked in to the girls’ room and realized that one of the cats had used the bathroom in it.  Which resulted in me cleaning out the entire room and cleaning all the carpets upstairs.  Which resulted in rearranging the room.  Which resulted in the discovery that Emmie’s crib (bought used) was starting to tear up).  Which resulted in Emmie getting to sleep like a big girl…on the mattress…on the floor.  Which resulted in Zoe, Ceili Rain and I brainstorming how we could re-decorate their room.  Which we did this past December…and are still doing…so you have to wait on pictures of that. The night after we got home from the hospital.  Josiah wanted to crash on the couch.  So, we did. Zoe celebrated Urkainian Independence day in her traditional shirt and with a traditional hairstyle. My kids are awesome. And Emmie has shades…Her right eye (which is effected by Horner Syndrome from her first surgery) is very sensitive to light.  She finally agreed that wearing glasses was a good idea. This is pretty much how she spent her August.  At the water table, in a diaper.   Smudge is eating her toe??? We trapped a Emmie. And a Bryant. And an Emmie and a Bryant together. “Small but Mighty”  Yes, indeed.

The big news in our ‘hood in August was that Kroger opened up a marketplace with a Starbucks.  Um, yes.  Grand opening meant a cow was there to pet (some kind of creamery or something). Anyway, my kids enjoyed getting up close and personal with the bovine species.  It takes very little to entertain my city kids…okay, me too

Meet Tot

In July, while we were in Ukraine, Ginger the Dog got very sick.  Sadly, she passed away while we were flying home.  It was very sad and we all miss her and called Sunny Ginger for several days.

A long time ago, I started researching different dog breeds and had decided that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels would be a good dog breed for our family.  I laughed and told Mark that I did all this research but we’ll probably wind up with a good ol’ mutt rescue dog (when we were ready to get another dog…this was before Ginger got sick) because that is just where our heart is.  He laughed and shrugged it off.

The week before we left for our court date in Ukraine, a neighbor posted that she needed to re-home her full blooded cocker spaniel.  Her work schedule had changed and she was, sadly, not able to spend as much time with him as she wanted.  Mark agreed we could all go meet him.  We took Sunny along to make sure she approved.  And all of us fell in love.  She wholeheartedly agreed to keep him until we returned stateside.  The kids and I picked him up on our way in from me getting home.
So, blog world, meet Tot.  He had a big brother named Tater…cute, huh?  Anyway, he answers to Tot, Totty, Tots and anything else I call him.  He is definitely “my” dog and I am perfectly okay with that.  We were excited that he is four years old (no puppy quirks) and housebroken!  All bonuses for us right now.  Mark is confident he’ll never get a puppy again (working on that one).  And I am confident that spaniels are the only dog I’ll own (until we rescue a mutt…yeah, I can’t give those cuties up).

Emmie says, “My Tot.”  And sometimes, she recognizes that he is “Our Tot.”  But Bryant is a good cuddler and Tot knows that!

He likes to bring people gifts when they come over.  If you visit, you’ll be greeted with happy barks and a toy…either a kids toy or his green and white polka dot bone.

Winter was trying to escape and decided Tot’s cage was a good place to hang.I did NOT put my large, elderly dog in the cage…we had left it open for a safe place for Tot while he adjusted to our crazy house. We looked and Sunny had gone in and was just sitting there.  I think she is in denial that she is elderly.  Sweet girl.

The Appendix

One day, while Mark and Silas (and Papa) were in Ukraine, Josiah started feeling bad.  Complaining of a stomachache, I dismissed it as a come and go thing.  When it didn’t go away the next day and he started walking a bit slumped over wincing when he climbed the steps, I thought it might be something a bit more serious.  When he couldn’t jump and started running a fever, we went to see his pediatrician.  Dr. B was not very happy with her assessment and sent us on to the ER and alerted the surgeons there.

After a couple of hours (and a bad assessment from a resident who, thankfully, was overridden by the surgeon and attending), we made our way to a room to await the surgeon to remove a very inflamed and pesky appendix.

He wasn’t too happy about being up until past midnight but managed a smile or two.   I was very grateful to have a laptop for him to watch videos while waited.

He fooled everyone in the ER because his attitude and pain level didn’t come through in his attitude.  He was so brave.  He pulled through surgery in the early morning hours and by the mid afternoon was able to sit up.

He got a special visit with former submariners who showed him a video and told him all about the subs.  He got a cool hat and an awesome picture.

I praise God for our wonderful pediatrician who knew what needed to be done right away.  We also had several friends and family who dropped everything and came to help me with the rest of the kiddos.  And for technology.  Mark spend most of the night (his early morning hours) on Google Hangouts talking with us and praying for Josiah.



Papa and Grandmere, once again, took on the crew while we were gone in August.  We missed the kids but several of them seemed to have a really hard time this time around.  I’m glad I was only gone for a week.  Grandmere and Papa were so good at sending us pictures of their daily adventures which made the separation much easier.

It was time to clear Papa’s garden and get it ready for winter season. The boys learned how to use the plow and also got to practice with the lawnmower (a preview for next year).

Clearing out the garden, they found several baby rabbits.

Emmie loved her Papa cuddles. They visited a family friend and his grandchildren (who are the children of our former classmates). Grandmere had the boys help her old so that she knew what clothes belonged to what boy.  A hard task when there are so many boys close in age. Learning to trim bushes. Silly face selfies.  Papa’s hidden talent. Bubbles are great for piggy back rides. Grandmere and Papa pulled out Mark’s old Nintendo and the boys were in heaven! How to tire kids out…take them to the park!
Ceili Rain asked for curls. The girls!   Emmie enjoyed helping Grandmere in the kitchen.