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Meet Nova

September 14, 2016

Because we don’t have enough going on, we got a dog.

On Prozac.

So much story to tell. . .


This is Nova.  Nova is the product of two police canine dogs who were inadvertently left unsupervised one afternoon!  She is part Belgian malinois and part Dutch shepherd, and very smart and very energetic.  Now we’re trying to remember what owning a dog entails.

It’s been eight years since Sneaker died.  We kept saying we’d get a dog after we moved, and here it’s been a year!  Our old house was just too small for the seven of us, let alone another dog.  (I might mention that we are not “small dog” people.  We like big dogs.)  I’ve been putting off the dog decision, but about a month ago Little A started talking about wanting a “goggie” and getting a dog, and would not let it go.  She was convinced we were going to get a dog.  And so we did, or rather, the dog found us.

Unfortunately Nova’s previous owners J and C had to give her up.  Nova wanted to be their alpha dog, but they also had a German shepherd which was 40 pounds bigger than she was and they just kept tussling and Nova always ended up getting hurt.  She’s currently on antibiotics for a tear near her eye and several other sores.  It was so bad that they had to be kenneled at separate times all day long, one dog in, one dog out and it was getting too hard to do.  J and C’s 6-year-old was distraught over giving the dog away, but especially after the last fight between the two dogs had fur flying, she understood why Nova had to go.

But she made her parents promise that Nova would go to nice people who would love her and wouldn’t give her away and would let the 6-year-old come and visit from time to time.  She insisted on meeting us and apparently we passed her test.

We promised to give this dog all the love she needs, and she needs lots of love.  Previous to J and C owning her, she was kept outside in a cement/chain link fence enclosure, without enough water, and apparently the neighbour boys would shoot BB’s at her for barking.  J and C said the vet found about 50 or 60 in her neck and back right after they got her in February.  Then with anxiety from trying to assert herself over the German shepherd, the vet said she probably has something like PTSD.  So they brought her Prozac pills to us!  Although right now, she can’t take them because of her medication.  We are all hoping that maybe she won’t need them in a few weeks when her antibiotic is finished and she is calming down and getting used to a new living situation with a big yard to run in and hopefully less stress.


Already she is adored.  Little A just can’t get enough of her.  Nova came to us Sunday night and was so incredibly jumpy and anxious and running her and there checking everything out.  I wondered if we were up for this.  She had a really hard time settling down, so we were back up at midnight letting her run laps around the backyard.  Then at 3 a.m. we woke up to Little A following her around the kitchen and up and down the hall whispering, “Here goggie, come goggie.”  It took a lot of convincing to get Little A back to bed!  And we’re still not sure which one woke up the other.

Monday morning DH took Nova for a run, then C took her out again for his daily rollerblading.  She was still full of energy.  Then E and Little A spent the entire morning just about playing with her, chasing her around the yard, and going in and out of the house.  Finally around lunchtime, she was sitting in the shade while they played in the sandbox.  And after lunch:

We finally wore her out.

We wore out the toddler too.

Or maybe her nocturnal wanderings finally caught up with her!

Today Nova has been sweet and calm, although she barks at the doorbell, and we found out she doesn’t like thunder.  She’s now curled up on the floor by my side of the bed.  I think we’re going to enjoy our new furry family member.

First Day, no . . . Week of School

September 6, 2016

Poppa pointed out that my school plans post had no mention of a certain little 2-year-old . . . tornado.  If this week’s been any indication, here’s what she’ll be doing this year:

  • Coloring on the bookcases (good thing I bought her the washable crayons) (inadvertently, but now I’m very grateful)
  • Hiding her crayons between the books on the bookcases (I wondered why her crayon box was empty)
  • Locking bathroom doors and then closing them with no one inside
  • Stripping down to her diaper about 15 times a day, or ditching the clothes and going back into pajamas
  • Putting blush all over her lips, cheeks, and my flip-flops
  • Finding my hidden stash of Dove’s dark chocolates and eating as many as she can stuff in her mouth at one time
  • Dumping out my jewelry boxes (and hiding my wooden cello one; I still can’t find it!)
  • Hiding my camera so well that I couldn’t find it to download our first day of school pictures

And so much more!  I feel like I’m forgetting the funniest things she’s done this week.  She’s busy!

So now that I have my camera back–

It’s getting harder and harder to get five children lined up for a photo.


There’s always that one kid.


Almost every first day of school picture has them in striped shirts, so we decided that’s our thing and we’re going to stick with it.  I even found Little A a new striped dress to wear.  She’s learning from her older brother how not to smile for the camera.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut ahead of hiding the camera, I found that someone had taken a few shots of her.

Busily working:

And finally smiling (probably because she escaped the clothes and got her pjs back on.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA E didn’t want an individual photo taken for the first day of first grade, but I got some good shots of the other three.




I usually write up a minute-by-minute account of our first day of school, but that day got derailed almost from the very beginning, so that plan went by the wayside.  Tuesday went a little smoother, although that’s when we found out that not much is brand new this year.  Either they picked up their books where we left off in June, or it’s a continuation of the same program from last year.  Effective, but not particularly exciting.

A and C are really excited to have their Liahona history and science classes, while D and E are excited to get back into ancient history this year.  On Friday, we finally managed to buy some sand so we could do an archaeological dig in the backyard.  C couldn’t help getting involved.  They dug up some play food, cars, Star Wars playset figures, a crayon, and a few other toys.



We even tried to be somewhat scientific and write down who found what in which quadrant.


We should have gotten a sandbox last spring.  E has wanted to play outside more this week than he has almost all summer long.  We have a fabulous backyard for the first time in year, but he honestly doesn’t know what to do outside to entertain himself.  I have definitely raised some indoor people and that needs to change!

After much coaxing, we finally convinced E to lie down on some butcher paper so we could draw an outline of his body for our human anatomy study.  Everything has to be such a struggle with this kid!  But now he’s excited.  And looking at how skinny he is, I may have to reduce all the copies of my body parts to 80% so they’ll fit inside his outline!  I remember doing that for A too the first time around.  We don’t grow them large at this house.  Tall, yes.  Large, no.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Really, there isn’t a whole lot more to tell about our first week of school.  We’re still figuring out how to fit it all in, and remembering just how we make this homeschool thing work.

2016/2017 School Plans

August 28, 2016

A while back I saw a picture on the internet that said something to the effect of, “So is it just me, or did June and July go by in about 5 minutes?”

Yes. Yes, they did. At least at our house they did. I know I’ve sorely neglected blogging this summer.  I’ve taken a break from a lot of things this summer, although we’ve been quite busy.  It was just so nice to not worry about moving or packing or anything else.  We feel settled for the first summer in years!  I wish we’d enjoyed our backyard a little more, but it’s been a good summer.  And I do have a lot of pictures to share.

But suddenly it was August, and now practically the end of August, so for the better part of this last week I’ve been surrounded by a sea of books, dvds, planning sheets, and my computer trying to pull everything together.  It’s always nice to write this post about our school plans.  They feel solidified when I can see them all written out in one place.

I used to do long-term planning.  Ha ha ha.  Children are getting more independent with their own ideas.  This year A decided to do choir at the high school plus seminary.  So we’re working around Men’s Chorus right in the middle of the day which conflicts with his online history class twice a week, but luckily those are recorded so he can catch up any time, and he says he doesn’t mind being responsible for that.  So if he doesn’t mind, then neither do I.  A and C are also taking science from Liahona Academy, but then everything else is at home as follows:

A (age 15, 10th grade):

  • Finishing up his MCT grammar book, plus exercises in  Jensen Punctuation and Killgallon Sentence Composing
  • German using German Made Simple and German: How to Speak and Write It (an awesome book from the 60s that I got for a quarter on amazon!), supplementing with online programs Memrise and DuoLingo.  We’re focusing on more writing and reading German this year.
  • KidCoder Advanced Web Design and then a programming course from Udemy
  • How Math and Music Relate from the Great Courses (12 lectures)
  • Finishing Jurgenson Geometry (3 chapters left!) then moving back into Dolciani for Algebra 2 with Trigonometry (and this is absolutely the end of the line for me; I cannot do pre-calculus with him next year.  I can’t believe I got talked into doing Algebra 2.)
  • Astronomy with Liahona Academy
  • Piano and organ lessons with Poppa plus Men’s Chorus at the high school


C (age 13, 8th grade):

  • Earth Science with Liahona Academy
  • MCT grammar and vocabulary
  • Finish First Form Latin and move into Second Form (which I think was last year’s goal too!)
  • Apples and Pears spelling level D
  • Dolciani Pre-Algebra just to shore up a few weak areas, then jump into algebra at a slow pace
  • How to Draw from the Great Courses plus some simpler drawing curricula that I’ve been meaning to use for the past several years but haven’t.
  • Piano lessons and bagpipes!

D (age 11, 6th grade): 

  • Apples and Pears spelling level C
  • Grammar Town and Practice Town grammar and sentence analysis
  • Continuing First Form Latin
  • Finishing Singapore 6B math and then we’ll see.  Technically 6 A/B count as pre-algebra and D is pretty math-minded so he may be able to go into algebra with C.
  • Oxford University Press The World in Ancient Times series to beef up ancient history–I’ve been tracking down the entire set used at super cheap prices and I think he’ll enjoy reading them.
  • As far as writing goes for this kid, our aim is to learn how to summarize and outline passages from his history, science, and literature books, and do a little writing every day without too much of a formal curriculum
  • Piano lessons and considering violin (because we’re not busy enough)


E (age 6, 1st grade): 


I’m kind of excited about doing anatomy again.  Making paper bodies and adding parts to them every week was one of my favorite homeschool activities when the older three were younger.  We also have a butterfly garden that we’re going to use.  In all of our many years of homeschool, we’ve never gotten caterpillars and watched them turn into butterflies.

We’re also going back to ancient history with Story of the World and the accompanying Activity Guide.  We took a year off from history last year to do world geography with D while his brothers did history with Liahona Academy.  While it was an ok plan, I’m excited to start world history over again with E and D.  I also have an activity book called Time Traveler (that apparently is now out of print) which covers art, music, drama, and architecture for Egypt, Greece, and Rome.  And we’ll be reading A Child’s Geography books covering the Holy Land and the Ancient Classical World in addition to the geography/map work and projects in Story of the World.

Science was a total bust last year for the younger ones, but we’re trying again with Science in the Ancient World in addition to anatomy.  We’re still working on cursive with Presidential Penmanship excerpts.

I found a great new art lesson website, Art tango, that I’m going to try out.  It seems like some of these fun extras are the first ones to go when life gets a little rough.  I’m going to try harder this year to not let that happen.

A and C together will be doing American Government and Civics with Bro. DeGraff at Liahona Academy.  We’re also doing a Music History course together and starting a Literary Analysis program called Windows to the World, after which we’ll go back into The Lost Tools of Writing that we began last winter and never finished.  We conquered Homer with Roman Roads Media dvd courses last spring, completing both the Iliad and the Odyssey (a huge accomplishment!), but never got to Greek drama so I’m planning to revisit that at some point.  The rest of their literature has yet to be decided, but I’m trying to balance fiction selections with nonfiction that will complement their government course.


Last, but certainly not least, we’ll be reading the New Testament together since that is what A is studying in seminary this year, and we’ll continue using  Gospel Principles as part of our morning devotional.

I think that covers it.  We start tomorrow; Liahona starts Tuesday.  And we have orthodontist appointments, orchestra rehearsal, Kindermusik, book club barbecue, and cello/piano/bagpipes all scheduled for this week.  I’m tired already just thinking about it, but ready or not, here goes!


Check out the 8th Annual Back to Homeschool Blog Hop for more curriculum posts!

The GHB: It just got real

August 23, 2016


Last summer at the Labor Day parade, the high school band was passing out flyers for free bagpipe lessons at the school on Thursdays. C was so excited!  Not our high school mind you; the high school I went to which is now 80 minutes from home.

“Mom, we’re down here on Thursdays!  I can do this!”

We had vaguely talked about maybe getting him some bagpipe lessons after we moved and got settled.  But this was an even better proposition.  Let’s just say the Scottish is strong with this one.

Of course, then I misplaced the little flyer, and we were technically homeless at that point anyway, so really can you blame me?  But eventually I found it and contacted the bagpipe teacher, then C went to youth conference, and then we had to wait for his practice chanter to come in the mail.  Finally at the end of October, he got to start chanter class while I taught cello lessons.

Truthfully, I’ve only heard him play a handful of times.  The first time I asked him to play for us, A, E, and I got the giggles and couldn’t stop laughing.  Then C got the giggles and you just can’t play the practice chanter while laughing.  So he’s mostly practiced in his room with the door shut ever since.

But last week his teacher told me that she can tell he practices and that he seems to be really serious about continuing to play, beyond just the high school band years.  She can also tell that we’re serious musicians at this house and know how to take care of instruments.  So she helped me customize a set of bagpipes for C.  She was going to put together a set from the school that he could borrow, but we’ve been putting aside money and figured why not buy him his own set now.  It would be a definite improvement over a school instrument.  (Anyone who’s ever rented a school instrument knows exactly what I mean!)

Today these came in the mail:

I feel like I should apologize to our neighbors.  I can see it’s going to be quite an ordeal to master the Great Highland Bagpipe!  Some of the difficulties can be found at this link.  Quite an educational read. I really had no idea!  But apparently we’re in it for the long haul.  Maybe some day he’ll look like this:

Incidentally, when I tell people he’s learning to play the bagpipes I get one of three responses:

  • “Oh, how awesome, I love the bagpipes!”
  • “Oh, you poor souls . . . I’m so sorry!”
  • “Oh, wow, the bagpipes!  Well . . . that’s different, but way to go for letting him follow his dreams!”

That’s us, the “let them follow their dreams” parents.  We’re just grateful we have a large basement.  I have a feeling practicing is going to get a lot louder.

For the grandparents

July 31, 2016

who complain that I never blog anymore . . .

(which is mostly true)

In the monthly Primary newsletter, there’s always a challenge from the Primary secretary for the children.  It’s usually a scripture or Article of Faith to memorize and recite to her; then they get a treat.  This month’s challenge was to visit any temple and come tell her about it.

So we decided to visit the Payson temple on our way home from Grandma and Poppa’s house on Thursday night.  Miracle of miracles!  The child who never wants his picture taken was more than happy to stand and smile for me!


Little A enjoyed looking at all the flowers.  They all smelled so good too!
Here she’s checking that some of the flowers really do match her shirt.6-28005644464_9fc8599dc8_o

Water fountains are always a big draw as well.





Then Little A screamed all the way to the car because she wanted to go inside the temple instead.  As my mother tells it, I did the very same thing when I was her age and we were at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

We stopped by Sister W.’s house on our way home so they could tell her all about it.  E will never recite a scripture for her, but was quite excited to finally get a treat for telling her all about the temple he saw.  Maybe that’s not the best motivation (although they’re very generous treats!) but we’re always thankful for a reason to stop and enjoy the beauty of the temple.  We love to see the temple!  1-28338251850_78e2c215f8_o

Mother’s Day

June 5, 2016

(which I realize was a month ago)

D and E filled out questionnaires about their mothers in Primary.  Apparently E needs a refresher on just how old I am.


We also like to go shopping. (I hate shopping, but I’m pretty sure he means grocery shopping because then we get ice cream cones at Macey’s.)  I like to eat and drink “a lot of stuff.”  And one of my favorite sayings is, “Go to bed!”  Which is true.  Especially for him when he’s gotten out of bed sixteen times already.


D got my age right and if he could anywhere in the world with me, we’d go to Payson??  We go there every week anyway, so later on I see he pencilled in “Scotland.”  And if I had time, I would do family history.

I do family history whether I have time or not.  I make time!

DH ended up having to go into work that afternoon, but at least made it through sacrament meeting with me so I wouldn’t have to wrestle the two little children myself like most Sundays when he is working, and luckily enough dinner was already in the crockpot so I didn’t have to cook.  Then A made me a double-layer chocolate cake.


Monday night Bill took me to see The Marriage of Figaro at Utah Opera.

All in all, it was a very nice Mother’s “Day.”

Somebody lost something!

May 26, 2016


E discovered he had a loose tooth last week and has had fun wiggling it.  Last night I brushed his teeth for him and told him to rinse.  He spit into the sink and then said, “I think my tooth just came out!”  Sure enough, there was a teeny tiny tooth in the sink.  I had brushed it right out.  He was very excited!

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