Friday, May 18, 2018

Week 35 ~ A Caterpillar, a Kitten and a Pig

It has been a great week. There was plenty of learning, time in nature and time with friends. Considering that it is tech week for Alice in Wonderland, everything is running pretty smoothly on the home front and everyone has been fed, has clean clothes and is nurtured. Usually, on crazy, busy weeks, I use an emergency home maintenance plan which mostly means keep up with the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry. This means the rest of the house starts to fall apart by the end of the week. This week, I tried something a bit different and I am very happy with the results. The kids took over all aspects of laundry, and I spent three minutes a day in each room of our house, including the hallway which is large enough to hold the piano. The result is that all of the rooms in my house are afloat. They are not special company clean, but they are reasonably clean and comfortable. In those three minutes per room, I was able to wipe down counters, toilets, make a bed, sweep floors, pick up clutter and generally give a room a once over. I did spend more like 15 minutes cleaning the kitchen each day. This weekend we will put more time into the house, but I am pleased with my new plan for crazy, busy weeks. Next week is bound to be even crazier.

Last Friday I lost my mind ~ and we adopted a four month old kitten from the shelter. Dean has wanted a kitten for a long time and the time seemed reasonably right. We saw that there were  four or five kittens and cats to visit with at the shelter who fit our list of desires. Indeed, Dean fell in love with one in particular and we brought her home. She is named Rosie and is living in his room for now while she slowly meets Boomer (dog) and bonds to Dean being her main caregiver.  She is more cuddly than many cats so far, which was important to Dean, and is also great at getting into mischief as kittens so often do. This is bringing much laughter into our home. We are smitten with her!

Exploring Our World ~ For Mother's Day weekend, we drove 1.5 hours away to see two waterfalls and a gem museum we had never seen before. One of the waterfalls wasn't very spectacular, but the other was great. We visited Dry Falls and got to walk behind the waterfall. It was a lovely, short hike to the waterfall. Dean enjoyed taking pictures of all the moss and ferns that were along the trail.

Behind the Waterfall
We also visited a gem museum that was supposed to be one of the biggest in our gem saturated area. It was in Franklin which is the gem capital of Western North Carolina. Dean said, "I love gem and mineral museums because each one has something unique." This museum was unique, because it was in an old jail and had the original cells and jail graffiti. It also had a petrified pine cone, which we had never seen before.

A Watercolor Intensive ~ Dean is really enjoying the watercolor intensive he is taking with his class. They are learning so many exciting techniques.

Fetal Pig Dissection ~ We had a friend over for the day because the public school system was closed. It was still a school day for us, so we decided to do something exciting instead of just reading and math. The overall vote was to dissect our fetal pig. The dissection went well, although my crew is very squeamish about dissection in general, so Grandma and I did all of the cutting. Our fetal pig was female and seemed to be missing her pancreas. We never could find it. Maybe that is why the litter of piglets were lost.

The kids also worked on drawing the human skeletal system into a life-size model.

Alice in Wonderland ~ There will be eight shows over the next two weekends, so we are going to be a busy family. Anne's main character role is the caterpillar. She is also a swinging gate to the garden, which is a dance in pointe, plus a jazzy cat. I haven't seen hardly any of the show during rehearsals so it is mostly going to be a surprise. The little bits I have seen look marvelous. I can't wait!

Jazzy Cat

Garden Gate

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, May 11, 2018

Week 34 ~ Winding Down

We are in winding down mode around here. We are basically doing half days for the next few weeks while we wrap up our remaining classes. As of this week, Dean has completed all of his 9th grade course except his Earth Science Course, which will be wrapped up as soon as I have the time to get him on two field trips that are a few hours away from home.

It really feels good to know that we have completed the most important classes (8th grade for Anne and 9th grade for Dean). Even if we had to stop now, they would both be in good shape walking into next year. Surprisingly, Anne isn't worn out and wants to keep going. She is two-thirds or more done in all of her 9th grade courses (except Math I) and wants to complete them before summer break, which for us will be the end of June. I think her goals can be completed in everything but biology, which relies on her brother being available. He will be working most of June as a camp counselor and will not able to do much school.

Exploring Our World ~ We discovered a hidden treasure just an hour south of us this week. The Tryon International Equestrian Center is the most amazing horse facility I have ever seen, and I grew up around horse country. The facility has restaurants, a general store, rows and rows of stables, several horse arenas, horse-themed stores and, best of all, the shows are free on Saturday nights!! They shuttled us in from remote parking lots for free, too. The only cost to us was food, which was very reasonable at the food stands. They had nice sit down restaurants if you were celebrating something. We saw lots of prom couples going in and out of the restaurants. We visited with the horses in the stables and then watched the show, which was jumping. There were horses and riders from all over the world. We saw horses from Colombia, Ireland, England, America, Jordan and so much more. They are even building a polo field right now. That will be exciting to see some day! We will definitely be going back.

This horse loved my husband and kicked the stall when, after 10 minutes of rubbing,
he stopped the neck rub and walked away. 

We usually share treats, but the food was so reasonably priced that each kid got their own treat.
Life Skills ~ Anne decided that her old bike, which she still fits on, was way too princess pink for a teenager. So dear husband taught her how to spray paint her bike. She is very pleased with her slate blue bike.

My Iris ~ My iris are putting on a show like never before. We did tons of work on the iris garden last year and it has really paid off. Every day a new surprise flower awaits me. Lots of the flowers are truly new to me since they were sent down from New York State by one of my aunts. She got them from my grandmother. I never know what color will appear next.

Culture Club ~ This month we studied northern Africa with our friends. We did Algeria and Morocco, and they did the Tuareg nomadic people. It is always fascinating to see what interests the kids and what they decide to teach us.

A Demonstration of Swordplay ~ Boffer games are a sport based around using foam padded implements representing swords, shields, arrows, and other gear that is designed to safely come into realistic physical contact with the players. My sons, Dean and Tim, took their boffing swords to Tim's brain injury program and gave a demonstration this week. They explained the sport, worked well together to demonstrate the many moves, explained the games they play in their boffing community, answered questions, and allowed volunteers to play fight with them. Dean did an awesome job. We have told him that he is a natural teacher (although often a bit too critical), but he thinks we are nuts. They both did an awesome job meeting the needs and disabilities of each individual that wanted to sword fight with them. I am so proud of both of them!

Today ~ There is so much house cleaning to do. I think I may just blast an audio book throughout the house while we clean. This afternoon, Tim volunteers at the Humane Society, and this evening the kids have a few friends coming over for dinner and board games. It should be fun. 

I hope all of you have a Mother's Day that blesses you!

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Dean's Transcript ~ Physical Education ~ 9th Grade

Dean completed his 9th grade P.E. course today. He started this course last Summer and has worked steadily through the year. He completed this course with 150 hours and a 100% (A).

Boffing with the Wandering Swordsman
~ One-third of Dean's hours were spent taking classes with the Wandering Swordsman. He participated in class a minimum of two hours a week and learned many skills in boffing techniques. Boffing games are a sport based around using foam padded implements representing swords, shields, arrows, and other gear that is designed to safely come into realistic physical contact with the players. A referee  oversees the games for safety and fair play, taking players through a large number of different game setups and scenarios.
Preparing to engage

Ballet and Swimming ~ The second third of his hours were divided between ballet and swimming. He wrapped up his ballet class (30 hours) at the very beginning of this class and decided to go swimming more often. He went with his grandmother and his sister to the pool. He swam laps, dived into the pool, practiced holding his breath under water, stretched his tight ligaments and swam to the bottom of the deep end of the pool over and over again.
Dean loves the water.
Lots of Sports ~ The remaining 50 hours were divided between bowling, physical therapy exercises at home to combat very tight leg muscles, family hikes, learning to skateboard, river and snow tubing and a few health classes to understand depression, emotions and social anxiety.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Dean's Transcript ~ U.S. History I -- 9th Grade

This is part one of Dean's U.S. History for high school. He will continue with U.S. History II in the coming years.

Dean covered American History from the 1400's to the 1950's in this course. This was a survey course with lots of reading, worksheets, field trips and movies to illustrate historic events. Dean's interests led him to have a stronger concentration in the Colonial Period, the Roaring 20's and the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to the below listings, Dean did 49 reading comprehension history worksheets with a section of questions and answers at the end of each lesson. He completed 144 hours with a grade of (95) A.

Books Used ~
  • A Young People's History of The United States, Howard Zinn (He used about half of this book.)
  • Washington, DC, History for Kids:The Making of a Capital City, with 21 Activities
  • George Washington, Cheryl Harness
  • William Penn Liberty & Justice for All (Heroes of History), Janet & Geoff Benge 
  • Guns for George Washington, A Story of the American Revolution, Seymour Reit
  • George Eastmen & the Kodak Camera (Inventions and Discovery), Jennifer Fandel & Al Milgrom
  • The Civil Rights Movement for Kids: A History with 21 Acitivites
  • George Washington Carver From Slave to Scientist (Heroes of History), Janet & Geoff Benge 
  • What Was the Gold Rush?, Joan Holub
  • Mathew Henson Artic Adventurer, Blake A. Hoena and Phil Miller
  • Levi Strauss & Blue Jeans (Inventions & Discovery), Nathan Olson & Dave Hoover
  • Irish Immigrants in America an Interactive History (You Choose Books), by Elizabeth Raum
  • Can't You Make Them Behave, King George?, Jean Fritz & Margot Tomes
  • Character in Destiny Inspiring Stories We Should All Remember, John McCain
  • What Was the Alamo?, Pam Pollack & Meg Belviso
Projects with Presentations ~ 
  • The Mexican American War
  • Civil Rights Unit Study
Games Played Many Times ~
  • Scrambled States of America
  • 10 Days in the U.S.A,
Shows and Movies
  • Great Cities of the World (only watched the shows on American Cities)
  • Hamilton's America
  • Hidden Figures
  • CNN Student News (daily)
  • Johnny Tremain
  • October Sky
  • The Greatest Showman
Field Trips ~ 

We have found that field trips give Dean an especially in-depth education. We had the opportunity to travel to NYC; Charlotte, North Carolina; Rochester, New York; Mississippi; New Orleans, Louisiana; Montgomery, Alabama; and explore our own city of Asheville, NC during the duration of this course.
  • The Tenement Museum of New York City--The Shop Life Tour
  • Aviation Museum - Miracle on the Hudson exhibit, complete with actual plane from the accident ~ Charlotte, NC
  • Urban Trail of Asheville, NC ~ A walking tour through history of our own city
  • Thomas Wolfe Home and tour ~ Asheville, NC
  • Genesse Village Museum ~ Rochester, NY
  • Smith McDowell House ~ Christmas Tour ~ Asheville, NC
  • Biltmore House ~ Christmas Tour ~ Asheville, NC
  • Biltmore House ~ Titanic exhibit ~ Asheville, NC
  • Steamboat tour on the Mississippi River ~ New Orleans, LA
  • French Quarter and Garden District tour ~ New Orleans, LA
  • Cemetery ~ New Orleans, LA
  • Civil Rights Memorials and Rosa Parks Museum ~ Montgomery, AL
  • Memorials plus a Colonial and Pioneer Fort ~ Old Fort, North Carolina
Blessings, Dawn

Friday, May 4, 2018

Week 33 ~ Riding Through the Bumps of Life

This was one of those weeks when the daily trials and triumphs of life took priority over "school time". Of course, there was plenty of real world learning, just not tons of learning that I could record into our current coursework. That is okay. I love the flexibility of homeschooling. This week also found us being reminded that there are many bumps in life, but the real lessons are overcoming the bumps and pushing forward.

A Celebration ~ Dean turned 16 this past weekend! My adorable little boy is growing into a handsome, tall young man. I came up with several exciting ideas to celebrate his big day, but he just wanted a simple affair. He wanted donuts for breakfast instead of cake later on. He wanted to go boffing with his brother at the Wandering Swordsman like every Sunday and to go out to eat with his family and his "sweetheart" to Red Lobster like every year. He likes routines and traditions. It was a lovely day, and the young lady in his life is so good for him and sweet as can be. They are not allowed to date unchaperoned, but she naturally just fits into our family activities. So they have plenty of social time. It is all very sweet.

The Bumps and the Triumphs Over Them ~
  • Our dear dog got out of the yard and was attacked by a pit bull. Thankfully, The owner was present and got his dog off, Boomer is a Great Dane/Lab so he wasn't knocked to the ground, and he didn't attempt to fight back. Unfortunately, the man got away without telling us if his dog was updated on shots, Boomer's face was badly torn open and it was the weekend. We ended up tending to him at home and taking him to the vet at the beginning of the week. They had to sedate him and give him six stitches, antibiotics, painkillers and a booster rabies shot. Thankfully, he is home resting and recovering.
  • Dean, Anne and I ended up with a stomach bug. The blessing in this event was that I got to see how my son can rise to the occasion when necessary. I was at the vet with the dog when Anne threw up. Dean came and attended to her, even though he was feeling ill, too. He cleaned her blanket; mopped the floor; and then got her water, an empty bowl and a towel. He even cleaned out the mop and texted me to buy soda. It is a delight to see growth and compassion in him!
  • I have had a tangled mess for months with Goldilocks' disability claim. She was approved but then they got the services and funding all wrong. I took the checks in to be voided and they were thankful for my honesty. Then they cancelled all of her services because my returning checks that they had accidentally sent me had been returned. This triggered the system to shut down her services! After another hour or so of talking to them on the phone, they supposedly got it right this time. She has been approved for the past five months, and so far they have only gotten it right one of those months. Exhausting...
  • The were many other bumps, but they were quickly managed or accepted as unchangeable. 
Anne Performed in the International Children's Festival and Was Selected to Be an Apprentice ~  Anne was also selected to be an apprentice with the adult company at her dance studio next year. She is the youngest ever picked to apprentice and she is overjoyed! She will still be in Junior Company with the teens but will do additional classes and performances with the adult company. We are so pleased for her.

Anne Took a Pair of Discount Overalls that Were Too Big and Made Them into Shorts ~ 

The Circus ~ My children had never been to a circus before this week. There were multiple reasons for them to get to be teenagers without this particular event happening in their lives. Not only can the circus be costly, but the stimulation with some of my sensory kids would drive them over the edge in a heartbeat. I also am not a fan of animal circus acts. I just think it is a hard life for the animals. This week a small, one ring circus came to town. It worked with our schedule, the early bird tickets were affordable, and best of all there were no animals. This was a clown and acrobat circus. Dean was rather resistant to going, but enjoyed himself once he was there. It wasn't very loud and we had earplugs for the motorcycle acts. It was a perfect introduction to the circus for my crew. I can check that one off the bucket list with the kids.

Update on Goldilocks ~ Goldilocks is having a harder time than usual in her mental health residential placement. She is lying, stealing, snooping, refusing to do things or purposely doing them incorrectly. She is depressed and her grades are slipping into the failing zone even in the subject she loves (choir). I imagine she is scared (although she denies this) about the changes that are possibly coming to her life over the next year or so. I know we as her parents are very concerned about how to secure her future while keeping the rest of us safe. We know we can't let her come back home and she says she wouldn't want to come back anyway. Knowing that her life could be at risk or she could become much more unstable after she turns 18 in a few months, we decided to start a "traveling hope chest". This month we bought her the largest suitcase left at Sears going-out-of-business-sale. Over the next few months, we will fill it with things that will make any home she may have more comfortable ~ her own pillow and pillowcases, a small photo album, a sleeping bag, first aid kit, hygiene kit, towel and wash cloth, etc. The last four years have gone much more smoothly than we were told they would by all of the professionals. Her housing has been pretty stable. Hopefully, we will be able to continue to get her into helpful and safe programs. I am told that this is much harder with adults.

Anxiety ~ I have been much more anxious the last few weeks. I think it is just the reality of mothering teens. There are so many milestones right now. Many of them, like Goldilocks' milestones, are scary and unpredictable. Other milestones, like Dean turning 16 and Anne's many successes, are wonderful but timely reminders that they will soon be ready to launch. The cutting of the apron strings hurt, even though it is a good thing. Even our adult disabled son has been talking about the possibility of moving out but doesn't want to go to a group home. We are discussing renovating a small outbuilding on our property to give him more freedom but still keep him within a few hundred feet of family support. It is all good, just hard for this Mama, who never wanted to do anything but mother and teach, to see this chapter coming to an end (at least in the very hands-on way that it is currently).

Friday ~ Today we have a doctor appointment, chores at Grandma's, ballet shoes and groceries to buy, and a bit of school to accomplish. We plan to wrap up the day with Star Wars The Last Jedi in celebration of May the 4th be with you day. What nerds we are!

A Glance at Next Year ~ I have combed through all of my shelves and resources, and the first box of new curriculum has arrived! It is going to be an exciting year. I will be posting our plans in a few weeks.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, April 27, 2018

Week 32 ~ Hands-On High School

This is really a two week review of the highlights. We are enjoying the first signs of spring. We are wrapping up more courses every week and see the end of this year in sight. It has been a great year with many accomplishments. We are spending the next few weeks wrapping up courses and practicing how we would like next year to go. Our homeschool is trying to move away from textbooks and workbooks (which crept into our lives more in more in the past few years) and return to an experiential learning environment with real-world exploration. I do not believe that homeschool high school needs to look like the public school, and I intend to follow a different path for our last three years. It perhaps does make a difference that my kids have career aspirations that do not require more than community college. I still intend to follow public school course of study transcripts, but without the boring textbooks. It is harder to create a hands-on high school curriculum than to follow a textbook, but I think for my kids it is completely necessary.

Full circle ~ Anne finished off home economics by mending all of the clothes in my mending basket. One of the items was her big brother's pants. The pants needed a new button sewed on them. The sweet story behind this picture is that her big brother Tim had to sew a button on her dress for his final exam in home economics back in 2007. I was able to find the picture in the album and show it to her. Sweet all goes by so fast.

Exploring the World through Food ~ This month's Universal Yums box was from Spain. We loved the ham flavored potato chips. All the food was great. The trivia games this month were challenging, too. We can't wait for next month's Universal Yums.

Exploring Towns Around Us ~ We explored Old Fort this week. This is a tiny town with a population of only about 1,000. We went to a Civil War battlefield, went to a fort that was the farthest western fort at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, and visited a manmade geyser. Fun and learning was had by all.
pioneer game

The block with the star is how tea used to come from England.

Being able to read this entire page is all the formal education you would hope to get in western North Carolina in 1776!

Andrew's Geyser

We Dissected a Sheep's Heart and Learned About the Circulatory System ~

Anne Made Candles ~ We had tons of yogurt jars laying around, and Anne has wanted to make candles for months. We finally got around to them. They are coconut scented and will make lovely dance and co-op teacher gifts next Christmas.

We Finished The Westing Game ~ What an exciting story! If you haven't read it, you really should.

We Had a Delightful Day at Exploring More of the Biltmore Gardens ~ There are so many different types of gardens at the Biltmore. We explored the azalea, spring and pond gardens this week. Spring is really blooming. It was lovely. We also visited the greenhouses, which is always a favorite.

Cypress knees...we saw thesewhen we to the Louisiana swamp, too.

Looking over the wall into the walled garden reminded me of the Secret Garden.
Sign Language Interview ~ Anne really has fallen in love with sign language this year. She has studied many YouTube videos and learned a great deal. I have searched for a sign language class and was starting to lose hope when a homeschool co-op decided to offer years 1 and 2 next year. She went in for an interview to see which level she should be placed. The entire 10 minute interview was conducted in silence. Only ASL was used. She passed with flying colors and only had to ask the teacher to repeat a question once. She was placed in year 2 for the coming school year. We are so proud of her -- not bad for being self-taught from music videos on YouTube.

Art with Grandma ~ The kids learned about Dale Chihuly this month. He is an amazing glass sculptor, who will have many works of art throughout the Biltmore gardens starting mid-May. We can't wait for the show. The kids had so much fun with this lesson. We were joined by four homeschool friends to hear Grandma's lecture and watch short YouTube videos about Chihuly. They used permanent markers to decorate plastic plates and cups and then used a hot craft heat gun to melt them into sculptures. (The plastic has to have a recycling number 6 on the bottom in order to melt well.) They did amazing art! This lesson was a real hit.
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Using the hot gun

Dean Finished Two 9th Grade Courses ~ If you are interested, you can read his transcript for English I and Math I.

Blessings, Dawn