Archive for October, 2009


Yes, this is a Thanksgiving paper!  We are enough ahead of schedule, that we are pretty close to Thanksgiving in our schoolwork.

This week I am going to write about something that I really don’t notice much, but that does come up from time-to-time:  Kara’s hands.  Kara had multiple birth defects, some of which have been corrected, and some of which are permanent.  Her hands are permanent.  When she was born, her fingers on both hands were fused together ( a condition called syndactyly.)  In fact, she had quite a bit of syndactyly on her feet as well, although that didn’t cause her nearly as much trouble as her clubbed foot which we had corrected after her adoption.  She had already had surgery on her hands when we met her, so her fingers were already separated.  She was left with very functional hands, but with permanent deformity on both.  Her left hand is missing her thumb and one finger, and even though her right hand has all of the digits, they are all misformed and of differing sizes.  This really has not affected Kara in any way, and she functions so well that most people don’t even notice her hands!  So, on a day-to-day basis, it is not something that we think about much.

Every now and then, though, we are reminded.  Like when Kara was learning to tie shoes.  That was a trick!  She didn’t have enough fingers to tie them like I do, so we had to invent her own way–and it works just great!  Other times were when she learned to hold a pencil and began learning to play the piano.  She always manages to figure out how to get along and adapts accordingly.

This week in school we had another “hand encounter.”  She was supposed to trace her hand to make a Thanksgiving turkey.  It didn’t even dawn on me that this would be different for Kara because of her fingers.  She is right-handed, so the video teacher said to hold her pencil in her right hand and trace her left hand.  She asked me if it was all right for her to hold her pencil in her left hand and trace her right.  I asked her why, not even thinking about the obvious!  She said that if she could do it her way, her turkey would have all of its feathers!  Of course, that was fine.  I told her if she could manage the pencil in her left hand, to go for it.  Well, as usual, it was no problem for her, and I think her turkey came out just adorable!  In fact, we have done several handprint art projects over the years, and I think her special hands make very cute projects!

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Last week I wrote about how our electricity going out for over an hour really threw a wrench into our school day.  Well, October must be the month for technical difficulties, because today we had two more problems!

Cosette has complained all week that her DVD’s were skipping, getting stuck, etc.  I just assumed it was a recording problem, and told her to do her best.  Well, this morning the video completely froze!  We couldn’t get her class to play at all!  It would go straight from the beginning of one class back to the menu or skip to the next class.  I decided that it was worth trying the disk in a different DVD player, so we took it upstairs in our living room to try it out.  Lo and behold, it played just fine!  So, I guess the problem was not the disk, but the player.  Really that was no surprise since she was using one of our older units–and those units get used a lot each day!  So, I temporarily let Cosette move her school to the living room.  She didn’t mind being able to relax in my recliner for a change!  😉  She did admit, however, that running up and down the stairs for questions, books, papers, etc. got pretty old very fast, and she is ready to get back to normal.  After school we went to Wal-Mart to pick up a new DVD player.  I got it all hooked up so it will be ready to go tomorrow morning.

Believe it or not, that was not our only technical problem today!  Brock finished his classes early today, so I decided to put Luke on his system so that he and Kara could finish up their classes at the same time rather than taking turns with their one television which is what they usually do.  Luke was thrilled to get to use the “big boy” desk and headphones.  When his class was done, though, he forgot about the headphones, and as he got up to come upstairs, they pulled off of his head and pulled the cord right out of the headphones!  Ugh!!  Oh well, we were already going to Wal-Mart for a new DVD player anyway, so I just added another set of headphones onto my shopping list.

I am thankful that this equipment usually works well, and that replacements are not that expensive anymore.  Being able to pick up a new DVD player for less than $30 and new headphones for less than $5 is a blessing!

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Boy Scout Popcorn

We have been busy selling Boy Scout popcorn for several weeks.  It is really not our favorite thing in the world to do, but it is important to support the organization so there are funds for the boys to use throughout the year.  So, we do what we can.

In the past, we have gone door-to-door, and that just has not worked for us.  So, this year we tried a new approach:  we set up a table outside of the main grocery store in town for a couple of weekends to sell to people who were interested.  This by far has been our most successful year, and we are grateful.

All of the kids took shifts in selling–including the girls.  In fact, since Dan and I are both helping with Cub Scouts this year, the girls have been coming with Luke and me to the Wolf den meetings.  They have had a lot of fun, and the boys in the group don’t even seem to notice that there are are couple of girls hanging around!  Actually, that is not surprising since my girls are pretty rough-and-tumble.  They fit right in with the Cub Scouts!  They actually enjoyed selling the popcorn more than the boys did, but they all did their parts with good attitudes.

Here is a picture of Kara at the table.  Look at that smile!  She loves meeting people!


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Well, this picture is a common sight these days:  John sitting on the couch with his books and note cards.  He is making great progress on his DNA research paper, and this phase will soon be over (hopefully!)  I think he only has 15 more cards to do before he will be ready to begin writing his first draft.

This week marks the end of our first quarter of the school year already.  The youngest three kids are on a 6-week grading period, so I sent in their progress reports a few weeks ago.  John and Brock, however, are on a 9-week grading period, so I’ll have to put together their tests, quizzes, etc. to send in this weekend.  It’s a big job getting all of that organized, but it’s nice to empty out the folders and start a new grading period too.

We had a strange day today.  There are very few things that will keep us from having school.  Certainly not the weather!  It can be blizzarding up a storm, and we can still get down the stairs!  😉  One thing that does affect us, though, is the electricity.  We really depend on that for our school with the DVD players.  Well, today the electricity suddenly went out, so that really threw off our school day.  We waited a few minutes to see if it would come back quickly, but it didn’t.  So, I had the kids work on their seatwork, reading, etc. while we waited.  The electricity ended up being off for over an hour, but we were able to still squeeze in all of the classes since we did some of the off-camera stuff during our unexpected interruption.  It sure did make for a mixed-up day, though!  I wonder what “regular” schools do when the electricity goes out…..

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Our lives have been anything but dull lately!  Between school, selling scout popcorn, cleaning the church, and, oh yes, having an extra girl in the house, we have not lacked for things to do!

This week we have had the privilege of taking care of this precious two-year-old who is one of my Sunday School class students.  Usually her grandparents keep her while her parents work, but this week they had a family emergency and had to be gone.  I think it just about broke that grandma’s heart to leave her sweet baby with someone else!  The parents thought that she would do well with us since she knows me from Sunday School and is friends with our kids, and we were happy to help out for a few days.

This little girl is an absolute sweetheart, and really, she could not have done better coming to a new and very different place.  She was a good helper with school and let the big kids get all of their work done.  The big kids, in turn, were great helpers too and had a lot of fun playing with her.  It was neat seeing how all of my kids jumped in at different times to help out during this busy week.

So, we had a crash course reminder of having a toddler hanging around, and it was a lot of fun.

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Wow–we have been SO busy!  I guess my blog has been neglected for a few days, but hopefully things will settle down soon so I can get back to normal posting.

School is continuing to progress.  Our days are filled with books, papers, pencils, reports, tests, etc.

Cosette has begun her major project for third grade, an animal notebook.  Cosette is our third child to go through A Beka third grade,  and we come up with new tricks to make a nicer notebook each time through.  The animal notebook is a collection of pictures divided by category (mammals, amphibians, birds, fish, invertebrates, reptiles).  Each category is required to have at least 5 labeled pictures, a summary of the category’s characteristics, and a brief report of an animal for that category.  Cosette is loving this project!  I learned the first time through the animal notebook that it is good to tackle a little bit each day–about one category per week–so that it is not all crammed in at the end.  So far, Cosette is staying on schedule.  We bought a paper trimmer and an electronic label maker, both of which help make the final product so nice.  When her project is finished, I will try to post pictures of some of her pages.  It really is coming along nicely.

John’s science project is progressing (and growing) well too.  He is busy making notecards for his research paper, and we are beginning to plan his actual experiment.  Basically, he is going to be extracting DNA from a variety of fruits and vegetables to determine if the extracted amount corresponds to the number of chromosomes in the food items.  The experimentation will be the fun part.  John feels kind of bogged down right now with the research paper, but I am pushing him to get those cards completed.  I think once that is finished, the actual paper will come together nicely, and then we can focus on the rest of the project.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, our lives have been totally crazy lately, but it looks like things should be slowing down (ha, ha) to a regular routine soon.  Hopefully, my weekly school updates will come weekly soon!

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