Henan Trip – Orphanage Visit on Friday

Jill Posted in Uncategorized

I’m cross posting this from our adoption blog since it is also part of our Henan trip.

Puyang SWI Visit

If you haven’t been by our adoption blog, that’s where all my blog time is currently being spent. :)

Adoption Adventures

- Jill

Henan Trip – Shaolin Temple and Luoyang

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[Written 10/10/2011, published 11/8/2011.]

We started our day early (at 7:30am) with our Chinese tour. We loaded our “little” American family on the bus and, to the surprise of the guide, were not a Chinese family.  She had spoken to “Jia Wen Bin” (aka Todd) on the phone and didn’t realize he was a foreigner. :) Our kids were also the only children on the tour.  Thank goodness we’re in China where everyone loves kids—even noisy ones.  (Actually, the kids behaved quite well.)  The tour bus wasn’t too bad. The driver drove it like it was a motorcycle—flying down the highway along the center stripe between oncoming traffic and the lane going in our direction. Oh, and there was smoke. I forget that all the no-smoking laws have yet to make their way to China. People—men especially—smoke everywhere. Restaurants, restrooms, elevators…crowded tour buses with children aboard.  On a positive note, the kids were great, the company was friendly, and we made it to Shaolin in record time. :)

We visited Shaolin Temple with the girls last year, but it was the boys’ first trip there. It was neat to see hundreds of young boys in formation and practicing all over the grounds. We saw groups of them everywhere we walked. We really enjoyed the scenery, the pagoda forest, and the Kungfu show. I think the kids’ favorite was the Kungfu show. There were some younger boys, maybe 6-10 years old, that performed. Impressive! (Sorry, will have to get the Shaolin pics from Todd!)

Fancy lady serving our fancy lunch.

We headed out to lunch at a very showy, traditional Chinese restaurant with our tour group. They rang the gong as groups entered the room, and all the servers were in traditional Chinese clothing. As is customary, way more food was ordered than we could possible eat. So we stuffed ourselves silly and saw that half the food was still on the lazy susan in the center of the table.

Next was Luoyang. We visited the Longmen Grottoes—a series of caves, carvings and statues–both big and small–on the side of a cliff along the river. Amazing! We saw the first set of carvings and were so impressed!  Then, wondering what could be further down the walkway we continued on with the group.  To our astonishment, more caves, more carvings, more statues.  They went on and on and on.  I cannot imagine how long it took to carve every intricate details on hundreds of feet of cliffs, sometimes many feet up in the air.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  On a sad note, many of the statues have been defaced–literally.  Over the years people have removed the faces to try and sell them. :(

- Jill

Henan Trip – Train to Zhengzhou

Jill Posted in Uncategorized

[Written 10/10/2011, about 10/9/2011.  Published 11/03/2011.]

Hello from Henan! Today was a great day! But as tempted as I am to begin this entry about today, I should start with yesterday.

We thought it would be a lot of fun to take a train across China so this was the perfect opportunity! After 1 bus, 3 subway transfers, and about a 1 mile walk carting 5 children and luggage through the middle of Beijing, we arrived at the train station. Only 2 hours after leaving our apartment. :) The train station was very large, and very crowded. The kids were completely worn out after the long trek and there was not a seat to be found. Well, actually, there was exactly 1. So we squeezed two tired kids into the one seat and the person next to us was kind enough to offer up their seat. So we squeezed the other three kids onto that one. Then, daddy made everything better by buying everyone an ice cream treat. We all gobbled it down while the masses gawked at the only foreigners in the station. (Being foreigners with FIVE kids never ceases to create a stir in China.) We only had about a 15 minute wait—just enough time to sugar up—until it was time to board.

The train ride itself was fairly uneventful, except for a little altercation between a couple passengers and then a security guard. I tried to get a little video of it with my phone but Todd was afraid I might get my phone confiscated. :) We ate a little Chinese meal on the train, had a few snacks, and played with media. I was really excited about seeing the countryside, but hadn’t thought about the fact that the sun would set only one hour into our 5 hour ride. Oh well.

We arrived later than scheduled at 11pm and headed outside with a thousand other people to find a taxi. After making our way to the front of the line we had 3 or 4 taxi drivers in a row tell us they didn’t know our hotel OR the street it was on—never mind the fact that Todd was speaking Chinese and showing them a Chinese map!  (I honestly think it was because we were foreigners.) Anyway, the 5th driver said he knew, and we didn’t want to risk not finding another willing driver, so we decided to perform the “circus clown car” stunt to fit our family of 7 (and our luggage!) into the one taxi.

I won’t go into detail about the hotel much. But can I just say that I’m glad we’re at one of “the nicest” and “most well-known” Chinese hotel chains?  Time for bed so I’ll have to write tomorrow about today. :)

- Jill

Our week: Daddy Dates, Mommy Moments, and Bounteous Blessings

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I am feeling so incredibly blessed.  More than once this week I felt the need to pinch myself and make sure my life is real.  My life isn’t perfect, but it is GOOD and HAPPY and I am so grateful for that!  What made this week so special?

First, I have THE BEST husband in the world!  (Ladies, I don’t mind if you feel the same way about your husband.  I won’t argue. :))  This week was China’s National Holiday–a major holiday–and everyone was off work.  Except Todd.  We decided that he would work this week and then take off next week so that we could do some family vacationing without fighting off hordes of people.  (As you might imagine, tourist places get INSANELY crowded when 1.3 billion people are on holiday at the same time!)  So, his manager allowed him to switch his vacation time which meant he would be mostly alone at work all week.  Well, fortuitously, Todd forgot his badge on Monday morning.  So, instead of taking over an hour to travel home and back, he had the brilliant idea to send Michael on the subway.  Michael was STOKED.  He took his first solo subway ride on Monday to bring Todd’s badge.  I sent him with his homework and he got to “work” with daddy for the day.

Well, once Michael came home and told all the kids how AWESOME it was to go to work with daddy, of course, they all wanted to go!  So each day this week Todd took one of the kids to work with him.  It was such a great week!  Each one of our kids had the privilege of spending an entire day with daddy all to themselves.  They did their school work with him, and then got to do fun things at his work when they finished.  They also did McDonald’s for lunch!  Kids said, “Yea!!!”  (Mom thinks, “Ewww!!!” But oh well.  The memories matter more.  And I didn’t have to eat it 5 times this week like Todd did. :))

Second thing that struck me this week: I have 5 amazing children.  The blessing of motherhood really sunk in this week.  I can’t tell you how many times I found myself thinking, “Wow.  I must be the luckiest mom in the world!  What did I ever do do deserve these awesome kids?”  I love each of them so much!  They are so unique, with their own strengths and talents, weaknesses and challenges.  I don’t feel like I could ever love them more than I do right now.  If you’re a normal, imperfect mother like me, maybe you’ve also experienced times when you wanted to yank all your hair out?  (I’m not the only one, right?)  There have been times I was tempted to put a child in the front yard with a “free to good home” sign around their neck!  (Obviously, I didn’t.)  So that is why this week was so special.  I don’t think I felt anything but love, and awe and a deep gratitude for the five little blessings who have been placed in my care.  At this moment, I LOVE my life. I am so happy I can teach them at home and see them all day every day.  (I couldn’t have always said that!)  Honestly, it would be hard to get much better than this week.  Although I know there will be challenges ahead, I want to continue to bask in the beauty of this nearly-perfect week, or I should say, my nearly-perfect feelings of this week.  Yes, this really was a good week, but I think it was my own feelings toward my children that made it so sweet.  I need to remember that.

Third: answers to prayers.  I wish I could share everything, but a public blog is probably not the place to “cast my pearls.” :)  (I trust my friends and family…but not the weirdos that leave their spam comments on here!)  I will say that there are things that have been in our hearts and on our minds lately, questions about the direction our family should be taking.  After much thought and prayer, and finally fasting, we we have been able to receive some answers.  We still can’t see the whole picture, but we have more pieces of the puzzle in place–big pieces.  We both feel really good about it and it has brought a lot of peace to my soul.

Fourth: preparing for our first vacation in China!!!  Money is pretty tight right now, but we decided that this was important.  If something is important enough that I’m going to spend money on it, you know it must be REALLY important!  (I’m frugal, a saver, a cheapskate–whatever you like to call it.)  I’m so happy we’ve been able to make this fit into our little budget.  We promised Jasmine that we would visit Puyang this year, so this is the week!  We leave for Zhengzhou this afternoon (Sunday).  We will spend a few days touring in and around Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province.  Then later in the week we will meet  up with friends (who are here in China adopting their daughter from Puyang) and travel to visit Jasmine’s friends and ayis (nannies) from the orphanage!  She is so excited, and so are we!  Kaylee Ann has been there before (for our first visit), but the boys haven’t.  We will try to blog about our trip this week!



- Jill

Oh give me a home, where the elderly roam…

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Our Chinese friend, Mary (her English name), invited us to visit a park with her family and some friends.  Todd was in San Francisco so he missed out :(, but she drove the kids and I out to this beautiful little park to feed the ducks and fish.  The grounds were so nice and the weather was perfect!  I love Chinese-style gardens.  There’s almost always a water feature, lots of trees, and sidewalks and meandering stone paths.  Here are some pictures of our little Saturday afternoon outing.

This was such a nice place–clean and quiet with lots of families strolling through.  I also noticed lots of older folks sitting around too, but that’s not unusual in China.  (Everyone is family here, and everyone is always outside hanging around visiting with anyone who happens to pass by.  It seems hardly anyone stays indoors.)  I finally asked Mary what this nice place was exactly.  Surprise!  It was an “old folks” home!  Not the answer I was expecting. :)

- Jill

Old habits die…easy? (Grocery shopping, eating, cooking)

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I’m beginning to take for granted all the little changes we’ve made since coming here.  If I stop and think about it, it’s quite startling to think about how drastically we changed 12+ years of shopping/eating/cooking habits after moving here.

First there’s grocery shopping.  An ordinary shopping trip is not the ordinary shopping trip you imagine in the U.S.  Actually, I’m sure there are people here who do the normal American-style shopping, but they probably have more money than we do. :)

At home I would have planned the week’s meals, made the 2-page shopping list, driven to the store, and filled up my minivan with $100+ worth of food.

In China, there are 2 stores we frequent: a little store/market next to our house that sells fresh produce, and a bigger Wal-Mart type of supermarket a few blocks away that sells everything.  (The actual term used on their sign is “hypermarket” which I guess is even MORE crazy than a supermarket?) So here is our grocery shopping experience during a typical week.

The little store.  I don’t plan the meals (thanks to our ayi) and make no list.  I walk to the store (3 minutes away) 2-3 times a week, and carry home 2-3 days worth of fresh produce for 20-30RMB (about $3-5).  Have I mentioned how much I enjoy that walk to the store?  It’s very pleasant. :)

The big store.  Once a week we make a 5-10 item list, walk to the bus stop, take the 10-minute bus ride to the big store, buy a week’s worth of meat, grains, snacks, dairy and other miscellaneous items (spices, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc.) for about 250-350RMB ($38-$54).  Have I mentioned how much I dislike waiting for the bus to go to the big store?  The bus itself isn’t bad, but sometimes the wait almost as long as it would take us to walk there.  Oh!  And we have to be careful not to buy more than we can carry home!

Chicken, beef, pork, shrimp--meat for a week or so.

Yogurt is much more popular than milk, hence the small milk carton and 2 large yogurt cartons. (This half-gallon carton is the largest size milk I can find.)

Next, diet.  Our eating habits have changed quite a bit.  You can buy western food here, but it’s harder to find, so much more expensive, and so much harder to prepare.  (See tiny oven picture below.)  It’s okay to eat it occasionally, but would be unrealistic for us to do on a daily basis with a large family.  I was thinking about it today and I don’t think I’ve bought a single can of food since we’ve been here.  For me, that’s weird!  We buy meat and veggies and our ayi slices and dices and turns them into something delicious.  I also haven’t bought a single box of cereal.  It’s outrageously expensive for a teeny tiny box.  (We were the biggest cereal eaters ever!) Now we have oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, eggs, or fried rice for breakfast, and occasionally pancakes or waffles.  Lunch and dinner are whatever Chinese food our ayi makes–usually veggies stir-fried with a little meat or tofu served over rice.  She also makes baozi (buns), jiaozi (dumplings), xi’er bing (never seen this anywhere else so I don’t know what it would be in English), and fried rice.  Snacks are fresh fruit, dried fruit, freshly boiled peanuts, edamame, and occasionally crackers of some sort.

Apples, grapes, and boiled peanuts. Typical snacks.

A bit about our kitchen.  The things that get used most often are the rice cooker and the tiny two-burner range.  Notice the counter height in the picture??  (Makes me look like a giant.)  It’s a bit low for us, but perfect for our ayi. :)

And the tiny oven.  9×9 is the maximum size I can fit in it!  But that means I can at least make cookies and (little) cakes.  I can also fit two loaf pans.  I’ve even made some little pizzas!

Teeny tiny oven (that Kaylee Ann is laying her head on), and our water dispenser–a necessity since we don’t drink the tap water.
Teeny tiny fridge. (Freezer is on the bottom.)  This is AFTER going shopping. :) We hardly keep a week’s worth of food in the fridge anymore.

So, there you have it.  Our new normal here in China.  Coming as soon as I can collect a few–photos of meals, courtesy of our ayi.

- Jill

Holy Guacamole!

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Two Fridays ago Todd and I were out on our weekly date, wandering through Wudaokou.  (Wudaokou is the neighborhood where Google is located here–a hip and happenin’ area near the universities that caters a bit to foreigners.)  Todd met me at the subway station and we started walking.   At about the same moment that he asked where I wanted to eat, I glanced to my right and saw a glorious, shiny new sign.  (I probably noticed it only because I could actually read it; it was in English.)

Avocado Tree

Mexican Food Restaurant 

“Todd!  What’s that?!”  asking the obvious.  “A Mexican food restaurant here in Wudaokou?!”  ( There is Peter’s Tex-Mex here in town, but it’s an hour and 15 minutes from our house–2 subways lines and a taxi ride away.  Not convenient.)  He said he had noticed their grand opening a few weeks before. Then the same thought crossed both our minds.  If it’s called “Avocado Tree” did we dare hope they might have guacamole???

I should explain a little about our love of guacamole here.  We specifically discussed guacamole before moving to China.  And I decided that if we couldn’t find guacamole this wouldn’t be a problem because I know how to make it!  Just give me some avocados and I can whip it up.  What have we discovered since moving here?  No one in China knows what an avocado is, so there is no store we’ve found that sells them.  Ahhh!  So when Todd goes back to the States he eats guacamole for both of us.  And when we traveled home as a family this summer, we ate guacamole to make up for lost time.  Anyway, back to the Avocado Tree…

We decided to give it a shot.  After walking through the small, nondescript entrance we were surprised to find a rather large, exceptionally clean restaurant.  (This is a treat here in China. :) ) After the cleanliness, the second thing I noticed was a big picture of guacamole on the menu!  JACKPOT!  We were almost giddy with excitement.  I say almost because sometimes food here looks American but tastes Chinese.  So, there was no way to be sure if this was Chinese food in a good disguise until we tasted it.  The menu wasn’t huge, but WHO CARES!  It has GUACAMOLE!  We each ordered a burrito with a side of chips, salsa (more like pico de gallo) and GUACAMOLE.  (Sorry, have to keep shouting GUACAMOLE because yes, it IS that exciting!)  We took our first couple bites, and then we really were giddy.  It was not Chinese Mexican food!  (That sounds weird.)

We were so excited about our little discovery that we brought our new friends, the Carters, to try it out the very next night.  (You can read their perspective on dinner here.)  Well, I am really craving guacamole after writing this post, so I think I’m going to end here and stop teasing my stomach. :)  Viva el guacamole!


- Jill


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This should have been written back in May, but better late than never.  We bought a new piano!  I am so happy!!!  Most of you will probably think I’m just weird, but maybe some will understand.  I feel like I go through piano withdrawals when I don’t get to play for a while!  I knew when we moved here that we would be without one until our piano in Albuquerque sold.  (Let me know if you’re interested in it; it’s still not sold!)

Anyway, after about 4 months of not playing a single note I couldn’t take it any longer.  I think Todd also realized I was slowly going insane.  So, piano sold or not, we busted out the bank card and bought a brand new Yamaha upright!  It is very similar to my other piano (the one that is still waiting patiently for a new owner in our house in Albuquerque…).

I’ve been so happy to be able to play again!  And what makes me even happier, I’m teaching again.  I had decided that once we got a new piano I would make piano lessons for the kids a priority.  So, beginning in May I started giving the 4 oldest kids piano lessons.  Yea!  I have been telling myself I would do it for a long time.  I did give the oldest 2 lessons for a couple months and they played at my last recital.  But after that life got crazy–adoption, overseas move, etc. and I let them, and myself, quit.

Well, this time it’s different.  We don’t have a million after-school activities to get in the way.  No other piano students to schedule around.  I don’t even have to stop to make dinner.  (Love that.  Thank you, Wang Ayi!)  I’ve scheduled the time and we do it.  Every Wednesday.  Faithfully.  We took a month off when we were in the States for the summer, but we haven’t missed a single lesson otherwise.

KIDS’ PROGRESS–oldest to youngest.

Michael is doing well.  I think he has the potential to be quite good if he decides he likes it.  He does love to play once the song is learned.  It’s hard for him to start on a new song and put the work in up front to learn it.  He just wants to be able to play it–immediately!  Fortunately he learns quickly and does pretty good at practicing if I remind him.  He’s doing much better practicing the last couple of weeks thanks to Trevin.  (I’ll explain later.)  He started in the middle of the primer book and is now half way through the grade 1 book.  Not too shabby for 2 months of piano lessons!

Kaylee Ann is also doing well.  I think she also has a lot of potential if she can focus more when she’s practicing.  She is usually more interested in making up her own pretty ditties, but will get back to the task at hand if I remind her. :)  She’s at the same place as Michael–half way through grade 1–and picks up new material very quickly as long as she doesn’t forget to practice.

Jasmine is also doing piano!  She actually begged to, and I thought it would be a good idea too.  She cannot move her left hand fingers independently, so we are focusing on playing with her right hand.  Even though she will probably not be a concert pianist (though you never know!) learning to read music, increasing hand/eye coordination, and reaping all the other brain benefits of music still make piano lessons very worthwhile.  We work with her left hand to play as much as it is able, but we use her hand more than her fingers, if that makes sense.  She works hard, but it is difficult for her, even with the right hand.  I’ve discovered that rhythm is very hard for her to hear and feel, but she always practices when it’s time.  She is in the primer series for younger beginners.  She finished book A, most of B, and will begin book C in the next few weeks!

Trevin.  What can I say about Trevin.  Trevin is giving his 3 older siblings a complex!  First with spelling and math, and now piano.  (The kids didn’t notice these things while they were in school, but now that they’re all at home they get to see the work that everyone else is doing.)  He started at the beginning of the primer book (half a book behind Michael and Kaylee Ann) and is now in the same place as them in the 1st grade book.  That boy LOVES to practice, he does it all the time, and does it exactly how I’ve showed him to do it.

When the kids first started piano I told each of them who my best students had been in the past.  I said, “My very best students were the ones who did exactly what I asked them to do every single week during practice.”  I write down their song assignments in their notebook (about 5 songs per week) and they are required to play each one at least 5 times a day exactly as I’ve written in the notebook.  With each song I write something like “count out loud” or “say the note names” or “use good legato technique.”  Anyway, Trevin does exactly what is written every day (and MORE) and has made tremendous progress because of it.   Michael and Kaylee Ann are realizing this.  Trevin is flying through these books, and the thought of their barely 7 year old brother surpassing them is spurring them into action. :)  They didn’t realize he was catching up until they heard him playing songs they’d just played the week before.  “Wait a minute, TREVIN is playing that song?!”  Ahh!  Panic!  Now EVERYONE wants to practice more!  Thanks, Trevin. :)

- Jill

Potty Talk

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As I walked to the store this morning, like I do about every other day, I happened upon two nai nais (grandmas) helping little babies squat to pee on the sidewalk.  The women were chatting while the kids did their business.  They looked up and greeted me with smiles; I smiled back, then continued on my way.  And I realized later that when we first arrived in China, this would have been a blog post by itself!  So, I thought I should share this fun little bit of China while I’m thinking of it.  (If you’ve already been to China this probably won’t be anything new, sorry.)

Like everything else, toileting practices are different in China.  First, there are squatty potties–rectangular urinal-type things in the floor.  Luckily most homes have regular western toilets, but public bathrooms are almost always squatties.  I admit, sometimes I am grateful that I don’t have to touch a single thing when I use these bathrooms.  I don’t have to worry about placing my bare bottom on (beyond) questionable surfaces.

Second big difference, you don’t flush the paper!  Toilet paper goes in the trashcan, no matter what’s on it.  Plumbing here is not designed for it.  I was quite disgusted at this thought when I found out about it, but I’m pretty used to it now.  I was worried the bathroom trashes would smell terrible, but they really don’t (unless you’re in a bathroom that’s just dirty and gross).  We had to train Jasmine not to put the paper in the trash when she came home.  So I found it very ironic to have to train everyone TO put it in the trash when we moved here.  Fun times.

Third difference is children.  For some reason, I don’t think the Chinese people view human waste the same way we do.  I think they find little kid pee to be somewhat innocuous.  If a child needs to go, they go.  Doesn’t matter where they are!  And it doesn’t matter who sees.  Find a nearby tree, storm drain, trash can, planter box, corner of the grocery aisle.  Babies and toddlers wear split pants in lieu of diapers.  So when they have the urge, they just squat down, the pants open up, and they go.  It does have its advantages.  First, kids are potty trained (or maybe it’s more like “house trained”?) at a very early age.  I remember potty training my kids and so many times they’d need to go at exactly the wrong time.  No potty in sight!  It would have been nice to have the public acceptance to squat my child down anywhere. :)

Honestly, I can not begin to count the number of times I’ve seen children doing this outside.  It is a daily occurrence.  The little playground outside our apartment always has “puddles.”  Word of advice to those who plan to visit: if it’s not raining, don’t step in that puddle!  And if there’s a puddle in a store, building, etc., it’s NOT water.

Okay, last point.  I might as well tell you now since you’ll see it if you visit anyway.  Peeing is not the only thing kids do in public.

[Pretend I inserted here: a picture (that someone's child managed to delete off my phone!) of a cute little girl pooping in the middle of the shiny new kids' museum.]  Yep, she did her business right in the middle of a large room.  Dad picked up the solid stuff, but left the puddle.  [And now pretend there is a contorted, grossed-out face emoticon that doesn't exist right here!]

Consider yourself educated. :)


- Jill

Back to School!

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Yea!  Back to school!  I always loved this time of year as a kid.  By the time August came each year summer had long been boring and I was ready to see friends again.  And the best part, we got to buy new school clothes.  That probably sounds totally silly, but choosing a new outfit from our new wardrobe for the first day of school was one of the most exciting parts.

Anyway, school is here!  I’ve decided that “back to school” feels a little different when you’re homeschooling, but it still has some excitement to it.  It feels new, like a fresh start.  The kids have all moved up a grade, they have their new books and materials, and we’ve tweaked the schedule to make room for some new things.  (Namely exercise and piano.)  They are now in kindergarten, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, and 5th grades.  (My baby is in kindergarten!  So hard to believe!)  Between the 5 kids, here are the subjects for this year:

  • Math
  • Reading/Language
  • History
  • Geography
  • Chinese (speaking, reading, writing)
  • Gospel study (Religion)
  • Science
  • Art
  • P.E.
  • Typing
  • Read Alouds (reading novels to the kids, usually done just before bedtime)


Yes, it’s going to be a good year.  I promised a while back that I would post our homeschool schedule.  So, if anyone is interested, here is our fall schedule. And if you can decipher my craziness, you’re good.  Real good.  It took me a while to figure it out myself! :)

This is the second homeschool schedule I’ve made; the first was for the spring.  It is a definite process.  First, I spend hours getting everything to line up, making sure to mix up independent work with dependent work.  If I put too many dependent things in the same slot, everyone gets short changed.    Next step, I implement it and find out very quickly what works and what doesn’t.  (For example, having all the kids do language at the same time was a disaster.  Had to switch that around.)  Then, after 2 or 3 weeks of testing and tweaking I feel comfortable enough to use precious paper and toner and print the hard copy.  We just completed our 3rd week and I’m feeling pretty good about it.  So good that I printed it on Friday.

I should probably give a brief explanation for those who may be scratching their heads.  My column on the left tells me who I’m helping with what subject.  For example, “MK: Language” means I’m helping Michael and Kaylee Ann with language.  The asterisks just mean they’re computer-based activities.  The bolded subjects in the kids’ columns are ones that require my help.  I know it’s a little redundant, but I added my column as an afterthought because it was hard to look through all the kids’ columns to figure out what I was supposed to be doing when.  *”Rotation Station” (see below) and “electives” are different for each day of the week so they’re listed at the bottom by day.  Take Monday for example.  I teach art on Monday during Rotation Station.  Then, Michael would do science during elective time, Kaylee Ann would do computer, Jasmine would do her art project, etc.  (Electives is listed twice for each child because sometimes it can take up to an hour.)

*”Rotation Station” is the “fun” sounding name we came up with to describe the classes I teach on a weekly, rotating basis.  I originally called this block “Mom’s Choice” but Michael and I decided that was a terribly un-fun sounding name.)

One of the things I’m most excited about this year are the two new things we’ve squeezed into the schedule.  I’ve found that if it’s not on the schedule, it doesn’t usually happen.  For this reason we have piano practice and exercise in their very own time slots for each of the kids.  And so far, they’re both happening!  Yea!  And no, that’s no typo.  The kids will be exercising 3 times a day this year.  More about piano and exercise will have to wait for another post. :)

- Jill