All’s Well That Ends Well

Well, we have made it through the flu (relatively) unscathed. Peanut finished her Tamiflu this morning, Little Miss Sunshine finished hers yesterday, and Nugget is on his until Thursday (but has shown zero flu symptoms). Greg, Wok, Moose and I managed to dodge the flu entirely, thank God.

I did end up at the hospital on Saturday night with tachycardia and shortness of breath; which made everyone concerned I was experiencing a pulmonary embolism. Again, thank God; the doctors ran every possible test on me including an EKG, chest x-ray, the D-dimer test to check for clots, liver function, electrolytes; etc. Everything came back fine (and now we have some groovy baselines for some tests) and it was probably due to stress and anxiety. I had heard all week long from well-meaning people how absolutely bad the flu is this year and how people were just dropping dead from it and the like. Honestly, that really got into my nerves and contributed to my anxiety. My discharge instructions say “avoid stressful situations”. As if it were just that easy! 😉

At any rate, everyone is feeling better and I’m (literally) breathing easier. Now I’m working on getting our life back onto the regular routine. I had no menu plan ready so I sent Greg to Costco with a cobbled together list of what we use the most and instructions to “get food that’s easy to prepare”. So now I need to make a menu plan for this week, get back on chores, and the like.

Honestly, I am 1000% ready for winter to be over and spring to arrive. I noticed that the cedar waxwings are back with a vengeance so hopefully that means spring isn’t too far behind. The official “beginning of spring” birds are bluebirds and robins, who typically arrive within a week of each other. You can be assured that there will be a happy dance done by me when I see one or the other.

AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 9

Despite the sickness that has invaded the house, we slowly chiseled away at Moose’s week. It’s important to give him some level of routine, even when the days are really NOT routine. Both days where we were taking kids to Urgent Care were just free days for him, in which he used his free time to build a giant diorama of Jurassic Park. Once everything settled down, I just looked at my list and picked something off of it to read/do and left it at that.


I’m experimenting with a Happy Planner “Trendsetter” planner to record all of our schooling. Right now I’m recording the hours in the notebook that I’ve been using all year; but will switch over to the Trendsetter for the next school year once I find a good way to use it. The “daily” pages are simply lists like the one above – my goal is to use each week, record all the kids’ weekly assignments, and cross them off as they do them (and record times). There’s a two-page spread at the beginning of each month that I plan on using to track homeschool goals, when to administer reading level tests (for my own edification), etc. So far I’ve just done the one page up there, but I’m really liking it. Red is Moose, purple is Wok, and pink is Peanut.

(I should do a “how I plan” post because I’ve totally figured out a great system for recording all the things that need to be recorded.)

Anyways.

The big shocker this week in our reading was the SHOCKING DEATH in chapter 11 of The Little Duke. I cried during the pre-reading and got choked up when I was reading it aloud to Moose. Even he was shocked and stunned and didn’t know what to think. Interestingly, I received the best narration from him that I’ve ever heard. So it clearly left an impact on him!

We still have a couple things to wrap up for Moose, which we will probably do sometime today or just push it to Monday. My overall goals for the week are to keep the healthy people healthy and the sickies comfortable and not get worse; which seems to be happening nicely. As everyone get better we’ll slowly return to our regular schedule. But until then, it’s nice to sit back and take it easy.

 

What I’m Reading and Watching This Week

We managed to get two school days in for Moose until influenza moved in and has been slowly taking people down. Little Miss Sunshine was the first one to get sick, sporting a 105 degree fever out of no where. Greg came home from work and took her to the doctor while I stayed with the rest of the flock; where they confirmed influenza and sent her home with Tamiflu. Due to Nugget’s age, he also needed Tamiflu. Yesterday Peanut told me she didn’t feel well and started getting a fever (not as high as LMS’ though) so off she went. Flu was confirmed, Tamiflu prescribed. Thankfully Greg has been able to work remotely during this season of influenza so he can take sickies to the doctor.

School has been officially canceled although I have been doing some things with Moose as he’s still standing strong against the virus and needs some level of the routine. It’s been very light though so I can take care of the ones who are sick, make sure that things are getting disinfected, making sure no one else is developing fevers, and so on.

Anyways.

I did finish watching Erased over the weekend, and it was quite good. Lots of plot twists at the end and a tie up of all the plot lines. I think it was quite well done and much different than Western shows. I think if it had been done in the U.S. it would have been much more violent, possibly having some love interests, and loaded with profanity. It’s nice not having all that around.

I’ve moved on to Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City, which is like a Japanese version of The Real World. I love(d) The Real World in college, especially since MTV was blocked in my house growing up. I described Terrace House to a fellow Real World loving friend as “100% less edgy and 100% more polite than The Real World”. It’s in Japanese with English subs, but I’m finding that I can recognize and understand a lot of the words if I concentrate hard on what they’re saying. So far it’s enjoyable but really different from anything in America – much more slow paced, a lot of extra noise is left in (like footsteps on floors, grocery store music, etc), and it just seems like nothing really is happening. It’s great.

I received A Brief History of Japan, but haven’t been able to start it yet. Hopefully soon but maybe after we’re well past the influenza infestation. 😉

AO Year 4, Term 2, Weeks 5+6 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 7+8

We resumed school last week, and did a great job of not doing the weekly write-up. In my defense I slammed my hand in the car door and typing up anything was the last thing on my mind. Happily, nothing was broken (but my poor pinkie is beyond bruised and still slightly swollen). Typing is getting easier and easier. (This week’s injury was a pulled muscle while shoveling snow, sigh. I’m thinking I’ll just wrap myself in bubble wrap this year!)

At any rate, we had a gentle week last week to help everyone get back into the routine. This week I made judicious use of the Technositter as in addition to my mangled finger, three of the five kids had the same cold. It’s passing through, but this week was definitely a low expectations week.

Some highlights:

  • Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson is picking up (finally) and it’s becoming a favorite of both Peanut and me. I’ve found it best for Peanut to read almost all of the book selections except for the literature selections, history biographies, and mythology. I reallllllllllly want to read ahead but I’m being good and sticking to the schedule.
  • Moose had a great breakthrough with math and is so exciting to watch. I’ve noticed he’s been drawing and coloring more, as well as building more intricate creations with his Legos. I wonder if there’s a correlation between that and his sudden “aha” with regards to math.
  • Even Wok is getting in on the fun – her drawing went from the “tadpole people” stage to “stick figures” to “stick figures with lots of details, like fingers”.  She continues with her kindergarten-y workbooks and thoroughly enjoys them. I’ll start moving her towards Mater Amabilis’ kindergarten program when she’s done with workbooks in preparation for her starting first grade in the fall (!).
  • Peanut and Moose lost the same tooth about 3 days apart from each other.
  • I’ll be slowing Peanut down in Latin, as it’s getting harder as we go along; and I prefer she actually learn the lesson vs cramming it in and forgetting about it.
  • Moose is beginning to read chapter books (Magic Tree House) which is quite exciting for him. He’s currently into pirates so no surprise he should begin with the pirates MTH book.

Peanut goes on break week next week, and I’ll continue on with Moose. He’s desperately excited to get to Robin Hood, but that’s in Term 3. Almost there, buddy!

I’m starting to put down on paper the next school year – Years 5 (!), 3 (!!), and 1 (!!!). I find it helps me get through the February burnout if I start thinking ahead to the next school year – what books I want to use, substitutes, etc. Right now I’m in the brain dump stage – looking at a variety of sources and dumping everything into a text document. As the weeks move on, I’ll start organizing things and removing books from the list; until I get a final list and start book shopping. Moose will finish Year 2 first, so I need to look at a calendar and figure out when that is. He’ll get a week or two off and then move right in to Year 3. I have a similar plan for Peanut, although her break (may) be slightly longer than Moose’s).

What I’m Reading & Watching

First, the Netflix show Erased: This show is still really good. In episode 8, it goes dark really fast and rather intensely (violence and assualt). Peanut had been watching this show with me (after I watched each episode and screened it for fast-forwarding purposes), but she fell out of interest around episode 3. I’m quite happy that she did because well; there’s no way she could continue to watch it. I haven’t finished said episode yet because it’s obviously not something I want the kids wandering in on and how much free time do I get to myself to just watch Netflix? Not a lot.

I plowed through some books at the beginning of the year, including Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, the rest of The Japanese Mind, and finished off A Song for Nagasaki.

My friend Laura had asked why I rated it 3 stars on Goodreads, so I figured this would be a good spot to elaborate. It’s the space stuff, really! I find it so hard to get into anything that takes place in space. I also felt like the plot stalled a couple of times, or at least had to be drug on a little bit. But what I did like is just how utterly crazy Willy Wonka is. I grew up with the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka, and while Gene did a great job at portraying Wonka as someone who’s eccentric (and deep); the books really show that Wonka was just plain crazy and I think Johnny Depp portrayed a much better version of Wonka. And I’m typically someone who prefers the original to the remixes.

(Laura, I have completely scandalized Greg by my confession of my three star rating for Great Glass Elevator AND that I haven’t read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So you’re in good company! 😛 )

This book is in Give Your Child the World, and I was quite thrilled when I saw it in a thrift store for $0.50. I bought it, read it in under an hour, and cried my eyes out at the end. I will be putting this into the rotation when we learn about World War II. The book is based on a true story, which makes it even more intense.

(I can also state that the book, Give Your Child the World is fantastic and highly recommended. I’ve found so many great books in that book that I would have never even come across on my own.)

I finally finished up The Japanese Mind on New Year’s Day. I found it quite interesting and could easily pick it up and put it down as I needed to. I think the title is a little eye-rolly – can you really sum up an entire population’s ‘mind’ in one book? I do like that the essays talked about the traditional view of things, and then if that view has changed – how it’s changed. I also like how balanced the essays are – it’s not a “100% Japan is amazing” or “Japan is the worst place on the planet” type book, which is appreciated.

I’m glad I came upon this book and will probably end up reading it again when I need something casual to read.

I also finished this book early in the New Year and oh my. Another book that I just put down and cried at the end of. I’ll be putting this book into the highschool study of World War II, simply because of the sometimes graphic descriptions of what happened after the atomic bombs were dropped.

What’s incredible is that Dr. Nagai saw first-hand the devastation of the bomb, had to bury his wife after she died in the bombing, saw the illnesses that came up after the bomb had been dropped, watched the Cathedral go up in flames; and still was steadfast in his Catholic faith. Even when people confronted him about why he was so at peace with everything; he never wavered. It really helped me put a lot of things into focus, and I now have something stored in my mind the next time it feels like God is absent.


I have some books in the currently reading stack – one for the local Charlotte Mason group discussion, The Tale of Genji (and check it out, a site devoted to it that has pictures and explanations, hooray!), and How to Cook Everything. I haven’t decided which book about Catholicism to read yet, but I’ve narrowed it down to a couple of books.

(As always, book links are affiliate links so I can continue to buy books – thank you for your support!)

New Year, New Beginnings, New Hobbies

Well, that was quite a break! I hope everyone had a blessed Christmas and New Year, and are ready to get back into the swing of things (and prepare for Lent – you know it’ll be here before you know it!).

I received the results of my bloodwork that was done right before Christmas in order to see what my ferritin iron level was at. My overall levels almost doubled, but I still have at least another three months of iron supplementation ahead of me. The good news is that I was able to reduce my supplementation amounts, so hurrah!

What really made me happy was that my doctor ordered a lipid panel as well as a vitamin D panel in addition to iron. Obviously, my vitamin D needs supplementation but my cholesterol is finally doing good things. The overall level went down, triglycerides went down, and “good cholesterol” went up. I can live with that.


We resumed school last week, which was a rough reentry into the routine. In hindsight, I could have waited until yesterday or done a “light” school last week. But, homeschooling means adapting, and I’ve found that if I keep my death grip on what I think is “right” nothing will get done and the kid will get frustrated. We did some adjustments and things flowed quite smoothly yesterday, hopefully we can have the same momentum for the rest of the week.

I changed things up by letting the kids pick where to do things that aren’t writing related (Moose chose snuggling on my bed, Peanut was content with the kitchen table), as well as making sure we are sticking to the schedule and the time limits.

The one thing I’ve done that has had the most effect on my life is getting serious about self-care. I used to think I was serious but oh no, I was not. It takes a lot of effort from everyone but I feel like it’s really paying off for everyone. My doctor suggested a hobby, so I stumbled on some things I like to do (I don’t know if they’re hobbies per se but it really helps my mind to relax and not think about the 493496734699401 things going on that are stressful that I can’t get away from):

  1. Japan. I need to get a system going for learning the language; but while I work on that I’ve been enjoying learning about Japanese culture, history, and pretty much everything else. My husband is awesome and bought me a couple of Japanese cookbooks for Christmas (Iron Chef Morimoto’s, to be exact) and has lovingly put up with me trying out some recipes. We have found that hambagu (think meatloaf but better) is absolutely incredible and the kids will eat nikujaga (beef stew) as long as you don’t tell them that the broth is actually a seaweed broth. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t taste like seaweed. (I’m absolutely shocked I could find kombu (seaweed) and shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) locally.)
  2. Cooking. Between Morimoto’s cookbooks and Bittman’s How to Cook Everything {aff}; I’m learning so much about food and cooking and seasoning and the like. I’m not exactly a culinary genius, but it’s really fun to learn and try things out.
  3. Reading. Now that my brain is back up and running thanks to the iron; I can get into books again. I try to have several books going, not so much an easy/medium/hard but more of something related to homeschooling, Catholicism, and Japan.

I used to think that homeschooling would count as a hobby but it can’t; at least not in the capacity that I’m doing it in. It’s really tempting for me to think “oh, I’m starting a Charlotte Mason group as a hobby!” or “oh, I’m reading this book/blog post/etc about homeschooling as a hobby!” but in reality it’s more like a job than a hobby. I do read homeschool books but I try to keep a balance in that I’m reading more about Catholicism and Japan than I am about homeschooling; and trying to talk more with homeschooling friends (both in real life and online) about what’s going on.

I’ve also been extremely picky about my emotional bandwidth. There are some situations going on that are just draining the life out of me but I need to deal with them (aka my mom’s health, the possibility of another one of my kids being on the autism spectrum, etc) and so I’ve had to limit other stressful input. I’m in a group on Facebook for caregivers of people with Parkinson’s; and I’ve had to unfollow the group simply because I just couldn’t handle the posts anymore. I still am in the group so I can get questions answered and the like but I simply can’t emotionally see the posts anymore. (And I’m not even my mom’s main caretaker, I don’t even know how my dad does it.) It feels really selfish but honestly I need to do it or else I’m probably going to have a massive crash and burn fest.


All that being said, I can feel the effects of turning off my brain and just losing myself in a good book or a good recipe. I feel much more peaceful, I’m sleeping better, and I’m not nearly as cranky as I am overall. And because I am more refreshed and patient, everyone in the house is benefiting.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 5

This week was another one of those wild weeks we just roll with things. It helped that Moose was on break week this week.

On Monday, Peanut and Moose had some dental work done which went off without a hitch. I was really impressed with how well they tolerated everything. We did as much school as we could in the morning, then left the afternoon for the dentist and hanging out afterwards.

Tuesday I went to the doctor for a follow-up (which I talked about here). Easier to work around than the dentist.

And this morning I had bloodwork done which almost required a dogsled to get to thanks to the amount of snow we’ve received this week.


Peanut is continuing to ride her improved spelling streak; whipping through words and lessons much faster now. Her handwriting also had another leap and it’s starting to take on the form of an older kid.

Our new schedule is much happier, although I think I need to throw in an extra reading session for a couple books. But other than that minor adjustment, things are looking much better. If you’re curious about the new schedule, it looks like this:

Monday: Copywork, US History, Math, Poetry, 30min break, Biography, Latin, 30 min break, Spelling, Religion
Tuesday: Copywork, Church history, Math, Poetry, 30min break, Mythology, Latin, 30 min break, Spelling, Religion
Wednesday: Copywork, Saints, Math, Poetry, 30min break, Literature, Latin, 30 min break, Spelling, Religion
Thursday: Copywork, US History, Math, Poetry, 30min break, Geography, Latin, 30 min break, Spelling, Religion
Friday: Copywork, Saints, Math, Poetry, 30min break, Science, Spelling, 30 min break, Catechism

Based on last term and this term, her favorite books tend to be biographies. She’s had a lot to say about Abigail Adams, and the social norms at the time regarding the education of women and their role in society.

I’ve decided we’re going to do a little bit of schoolwork today, mainly finishing up a couple things and then calling it quits for a little while for Christmas/New Year’s. I’m not sure if we’ll take a solid week or so off or just dabble here and there; but it will be good to get outside and sled and enjoy the copious amount of snow that has falling.

Blessed remainder of Advent and merry Christmas!