Friday, March 16, 2018

Week 27 ~ The Building and Creating Continues

We had a really productive week. Due to the fear of snow here in the south and some light snow that occurred over several days, all of our morning appointments were cancelled this week. That meant that we got lots more done with full days at home. Sometimes it is nice to have a break from the grind. However, all of Anne's evening dance classes continued on as usual.

Home Economics ~ Anne is not a big fan of chicken. She was not thrilled to be assigned to learn how to roast a whole chicken and then divide it into multiple meals. However, she complied and willingly did her assignment. She washed, oiled and prepared the chicken for roasting. It came out perfect.
She learned how to cut and strip the chicken of as much meat as possible. She started the carcass in water, spices, onions, celery and carrots to make a rich broth. She divided the meat into three piles. The first pile was made into chicken salad; the second pile was made into chicken fajitas; and, lastly, she made chicken noodle soup with her chicken broth. All of the meals were marvelous.

Preparing for the Showcase ~ This was tech week and the showcase starts tonight. There will be three shows over the weekend. Anne spent much of the week finishing up projects and putting costumes together. She has two "quick changes" with no time at all between dances. She is literally changing in the wings. She is in 10 of the 16 dances and is loving every minute of it. Many of her costumes are simple for this show, so I only took pictures of the more exciting ones. Mostly, she is in matching solid color leotards and plain skirts.
This house and doll are being used in a dance about a sleep over party.
Salsa dance
Jazz dance

Trio piece about body shaming and reclaiming yourself
(She does have a leotard under the t-shirt.)
Things people say to us or we think about ourselves that reduce our self esteem are written on this t-shirt.
Building a Wooden Stage Weapon ~ Dean has been very busy this week, too. He got inspired to make a stage combat weapon out of wood. This was a great experience for him. He did loads of math through measuring, converting fractions to decimals, taking his drawing and increasing the scale by 17 times and graphing.

He then used a bandsaw and a jigsaw to cut out the parts. He sanded all of the parts and used wood glue and screws to attach to each other. He then spray painted and finally used acrylics to decorate the weapon. He is not completely done with it, but it is coming along great. Dean did a marvelous job of solving problems, being patient, and using caution with some fairly dangerous tools. I am so proud of him!

Tools used include:
  • bandsaw
  • jigsaw
  • measuring tools
  • sand paper
  • spray paint
  • acrylics 
  • power drill
  • hammer
  • electrical tape

The rest of the school week was filled with biology lessons, math lessons and literature. We completed Stig of the Dump, watched Agatha Christie's The Crooked House and started The War of The Worlds.

What a blessing it is to homeschool!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, March 9, 2018

Week 26 ~ The One with the Phantom, Grandpa and Woodworking

I left off last week with the announcement that we had an amazing weekend planned. It did indeed happen without a hitch. We traveled across state for a weekend getaway. We picked a hotel with an indoor pool and spent hours swimming, played miniature golf at night and went to a huge mall which had a huge H&M (Dean's favorite store) and Dean spent his allowance + a bit kicked in from us. On Sunday Anne and I went to Phantom of The Opera which was the true point of this trip. Dean did not want to go, so he went with dear husband to the Duke Gardens and took pictures.

My husband only took a few shots at the gardens and dear son's pictures refuse to come off his phone.

Phantom of The Opera ~ This was Anne's very first Broadway Musical. She was spellbound. It was wonderful and perfect. We purchased seats in the orchestra with a warning that there may be obstructed view for less than 10% of the show. I figured that was worth it for $100 discount off our tickets. It didn't matter in the least. The show was fantastic. We were so close we could see the facial expressions of all of the performers.

Grandpa Visited ~  My father made a two day stop with us on his way to Florida. He rested up and visited. It was so nice to see how well he is doing. It is hard to believe we rushed up to Washington, D.C. to say goodbye to him just two Easters ago. The doctors really weren't sure he was going to make it through brain surgery to remove fungus from his brain. It has been a long road to recovery, but he is doing great.
Dean was still asleep when he left so missed getting into the photo.

Building a Desk ~ Grandpa spent a lot of time with Dean this trip helping him build a computer desk in his closet. They picked out wood, did tons of measuring and used tons of tools (drill, circular saw, t-square and level, etc.). It was a great experience for Dean. I am so glad they had that time to bond.

The Presentation on Mexico~ We got together with our friends and had our culture club day. We studied Mexico this time. They told us all about the Mayans and we told them about the Mexican American war and the Day of the Dead. Then we had a little Mexican feast.

A Sneak peek at one of the dances for the showcase ~ 

I little Cha Cha... I hope to get a picture of her in all of her costumes this weekend. There are 10! of them. She is in 10 of the 16 dances. She is going to have some crazy costume changes. I am especially looking forward to the trio dance that she and her friends choreographed themselves. It is really gripping both in music and choreography.

One more performance ~ We also saw a school Matinee performance of a dance company called Body Traffic from Los Angeles. They were great and inspiring to my dancer.
Image result for bodytraffic dance group

What an action packed week. We did get a bit of book work done, but we really have to buckle down next week after all the fun this week.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, March 2, 2018

Week 25 ~ An Average Week with a Touch of Heartache

The heartache this week is that our sweet bunny didn't make it. He passed away peacefully in my son's arms Thursday afternoon. We knew when we got him that he had not been well cared for and the vet felt that he had a bacterial infection (most likely Pasteurella). We hoped that antibiotics would work but realized that we might be in a hospice situation. We made him comfortable and enjoyed him for the three short weeks he was in our lives. We are all sad, but coping well with the loss. We learned a lot about rabbits and how one fit into our lives. Some sweet souls touch our lives for only a short time. I think, for now, we will store the cage away and go back to being a one pet family. I think a smallish dog would be the best fit, but we are not up to financially affording two dogs right now. Rest in Peace, Phillip Teaberry.

The rest of the week was pretty normal. Most of our courses are moving along smoothly, and I can see the end in sight for a few. I sprinkled in a few new books this week and brought back some habits that work well for us when the outside world has us hopping. We are using audio books, documentaries and more than usual read aloud time to get through this extra busy season.

Anne's dance commitments are coming to a peak. She is preparing ten dances for the showcase in two weeks! Her teachers are still working out the details of a few of those dances. Anne is altering costumes, memorizing choreography, counting out dance steps. stretching, soothing aching feet that are not used to heels and generally having her head in the clouds. Well, truthfully, her head is really just in dance all the time. Here are her accomplishments this week:
  • 16 hours of dance classes/rehearsals
  • 1 hour teacher assistant job
  • 3 hours of sewing
  • 1 hour babysitting a special needs child in a restaurant while moms talked at a different table.
  • 3 math lessons
  • 3 English lessons
  • 4 hours on Culture Club project ~ She is learning about the Day of the Dead in Mexico.
  • 2 hours of In the Womb, a National Geographic documentary ~ biology
  • Made edible DNA strands ~ biology
  • 2 hours reading ~ Harry Potter, book 4
  • 4 hours Literature Movie Club. They had a double feature, Black Stallion and Black Stallion Returns.
  • Listened to stories of great heroes from Character is Destiny (Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Sojourner Truth)
Sugar Skulls

Dean had an emotional week. While he is getting through the hard patches in life much better than he did this time last year, they still take over when they occur. Many of his lessons this week were hard to document, but so important. He spent hours processing his feelings, caring for a sick bunny and then saying goodbye when the bunny passed. He also needed a lot of sleep this week. Perhaps he is growing or warding off some germs. Nonetheless, we muddled through and got a fair amount done.
  • 4 hours Literature Movie Club. They had a double feature, Black Stallion and Black Stallion Returns.
  • Listened to stories of great heroes from book, Character is Destiny (Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Sojourner Truth)
  • Made a DNA strand
  • Watched a National Geographic documentary, In the Womb
  • Observed and tracked progress on his compost project and made a potato clock to test (earth science)
  • Went to art class and spent two hours learning about watercolors and preparing for his Monet inspired self-portrait
  • 3 math lessons
  • Worked a little bit on Culture Club project about the Mexican American War
  • 2 hours guitar practice at home and tuning all of his guitars/ukulele with his new tuner
  • Reading ~ Gregor The Overlander series
  • Two earth science lessons in his Spectrum workbook
We have an absolutely amazing weekend planned. I hope it comes off without a hitch.
To see a day in our life recorded this week, go to Day in the Life.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Homeschool Day in the Life with 14 and 15 Year Old Teens

This is a day in my life as a homeschool mom. It is not an extraordinary day. Each day is different in our little homeschool. There is a rhythm to our weeks and we get more accomplished some days than others. This is a typical Tuesday for the most part. My son got less done than some days because he had an emotional day and had to process for a while which took away from book work. However, my job as a teacher and a parent is to turn out the most well adjusted adults that I can. I consider learning how to manage life, relationships and feelings to be way more important than book work. We are a special needs family. Three of our four children have multiple conditions. One of our children is so high end needs (behavior-wise) that she doesn't live in our home anymore. Our days are filled with a need for grace, faith and patience. Usually our days run pretty smoothly (by my standards), but rough patches crop up almost every day.

6:00 am ~ I hear the dog (Boomer) scratching at my disabled adult son's (Tim) door. The wind is whipping this morning, and Boomer wants to go to the bathroom and snuggle in my bed for a bit. I oblige him, and we all go back to sleep for 25 minutes until my husband's alarm goes off. We slowly pull ourselves out of bed and get ready for our day. Dear husband is off to work by 7:10 am.

7:00 am ~ I am fully awake now and start what I call my work to begin a successful day. It involves cleaning all of the light switches, door knobs, cell/house phones, remotes, keyboards and so on with Clorox wipes, starting the diffusers with Thieves essential oil and starting the laundry. Next, I get the rabbit (Phillip) out of his cage and set him up in the dining/kitchen area. He spends most of his day out and about, since he is litter box trained and a very social guy. Luckily, he gets along great with the dog. I clean the cage so it will be ready for him to return to as needed during the day. Lastly, I make tea and breakfast. This morning we are having English muffins with jam, organic chicken sausage and oranges. The kids will toast their muffins and collect their food from the kitchen as they awake.

8:00 am ~ The children are still asleep which is not unusual. I make a second attempt to wake my adult son since he needs to leave the house to attend his day program for  brain injured adults. He gets up and I lay out second son's supplements for the day. He takes about eight pills in the morning to help with digestion and a B12 deficiency. The kids straggle in and collect their breakfast and head off for a bit of media. Anne (14) watches a Blue Bloods show, and Dean (15) watches comedy shows on YouTube. I get distracted by Facebook and make Tim's bag lunch. I also give Phillip the bunny his antibiotics for a runny nose.

9:00 am ~ This is my first driving hour of the day. I take Tim to his day program and return home. I then gather up Dean and take him to his art class on the other side of town and return home to do school with Anne.

10:00 am to 12:00 pm ~ Anne is busy working on her presentation for Culture Club. We are presenting about Mexico this month. She is doing her project on the Day of the Dead. She made a sugar skull yesterday and paints it today. She then moves on to writing her report. I do laundry, clean the kitchen and pack up three packages from recent sales on eBay. I then head out to pick up Dean from art class.

12 pm to 2:30 pm ~ Dean settled into playing his guitar while I made lunch. Anne finished working on her Day of the Dead paper. After grilled cheese sandwiches and apple slices, Anne went off to do math and do a chapter in her English book in fictional writing. Dean started his math page on converting percents to fractions and decimals. Unfortunately, this turned into a meltdown. He was still upset about an argument we had yesterday and was generally feeling bad about having special needs. He had to process his feelings for a long time. By the time he had pulled himself together, we were both spent and didn't want to move on to our Understanding Shakespeare video. I decided to close school for the afternoon with a promise from Dean that we would resume school after dinner. Somewhere  during that crisis, Anne also managed to finish sewing the alterations on her skirt for dance class. Both children wrapped up with their chores. Dean cleaned the counters and rotated the dishwasher. Anne rotated the laundry and cleared off projects left on the table. 

2:30 pm to 4:00 pm ~ The kids were free while I went off to pick up Tim. I do spend a fair amount of time in the car ~ LOL. Tim had a good day at the program. He attended book club, did speed walking in the gym, cooked in the kitchen and attended a goodbye party for one of the staff members. I dropped off Tim at home and picked up Anne to take her to dance. Dean enjoyed talking with his friend on Skype. 

4:00 pm to 8:00 pm ~ I dropped Anne off at the dance studio. She will take three classes today and be a teacher assistant in a fourth class. Today she is taking modern, jazz and a rehearsal class for an upcoming performance. She is a teacher assistant in a Ballet III class. Dance is her life and she can be found at the studio for three to six hours each day, five to six days a week, depending on the day. I didn't get a picture of her today, so I am adding in one of our favorite shots taken this winter.
Image may contain: one or more people, shoes, tree and outdoor

While Anne was at dance, I took a 30 minute walk and then returned home to make dinner. Dear husband came home from work sick and went straight to bed. He made it through the day but looked positively green. I asked him to sleep in the guest room, so we could try to contain the germs. He slept through dinner and into the night. I served burritos tonight. After dinner, Dean and I resumed school. We started our next science experiment (a potato clock). We are comparing the energy of a potato clock and a lemon clock. Our lemon clock lasted an amazing 2 weeks and 2 days. We will see how long our potato clock provides energy to run the clock. Dean observed that the rods are more stable in the potato clock so that the clock doesn't turn on and off if you bump the counter, which happened a lot with the lemon. We also observed our long-term compost project and added more water to it.

Dean and I then watched a 25 minute video on the importance of Shakespeare. Dean was surprised to realize how many phrases and words he uses every day that can be attributed to Shakespeare. Dean went off to play with his rabbit and watch videos. I made a phone call to the caseworker for our 17 year old daughter who lives outside the home in a facility for special needs. I went off to the grocery store and to pick up Anne.

8:00 pm to 10:00 pm ~ When Anne and I returned home, Dean was waiting for us to watch a funny meme video he had found on YouTube. We watched it and then played our Scattergories board game for about an hour. I was beyond ready for bed by then. The kids took showers while I gave the bunny his last antibiotic and put him to bed for the night. Lastly, I started the dishwasher, checked in with adult son, checked on my sleeping husband and tucked the teens into bed with kisses and hugs all around. I like and need to be the last one into bed to know that all my crew is safe and sound. I read for a few minutes before falling asleep.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Blessings of Homeschooling

Let's be frank! Homeschooling is hard and it certainly isn't for everyone. Homeschooling takes over your house, is time consuming, costs money, takes away a second income for many and requires lots of sacrifice on the parents' part.

I am writing this morning next to a dining room table that is overflowing with papers, books, water bottles and stuff while holding a rabbit that needs his antibiotics and a to do list a mile long. I need a shower and the kids will be up any minute. Yet I stand here before you facing the end of our 19th year of homeschooling, and I feel so very blessed. I have spent the week listening to mothers talk about their fear of sending their children to school and facing school violence. I remember well the school violence I witnessed attending a large urban school and later working in schools in two states. I have attended a meeting to address the bullying situation that my teenage daughter is dealing with in public high school (Goldilocks who does not live with us). I have counseled a family in how to start an emergency homeschool after their middle school daughter made a suicide attempt partially because of public school issues. It has been a heart-wrenching week for our country; and although we are safe and free of school violence in our little homeschool, we are certainly not isolated from the crisis gripping our nation.

All that said, my post about what we did this week seems so trivial. We did school, we went to dance, art and therapy. Dean and Anne saw friends and enjoyed the spring weather we are having. The end of the school year is just a few months off, and I feel confident that we are going to make it with most of our goals achieved. Enough said....
Image may contain: drawing
Dean's self portrait this week
So here are a few blessings from this week ~
  • I can let my kids sleep. Why have we avoided the flu so far? I don't know; it is all around us. I do think that my kids being able to sleep most days until they awake is of great benefit to their growing bodies. 
  • We can take advantage of the amazing weather we are having this week. We are not confined to a building, agenda or schedule.
  • My kids can follow their dreams and passions. Dean is making amazing strides in portrait drawing. Anne received her first ever payment for performing with the adult company recently. She even framed one dollar of the money. Anne is also falling more and more in love with sign language every day. Our adult son, Tim, completed orientation with the Humane Society this week so he will be able to perform volunteer tasks with dogs.
  • We can be the rock and foundation for our kids. I am here at all times to flush out concerns, help make important decisions, process social situations. My kids turn to me first. For that, I am so grateful.
  • We have the margin to reach out to others in need and lend support.
  • Anne and I attended an anti-gun rally. 
  • WE FEEL SAFE and can live most of our hours WITHOUT FEAR.
So that is all for this week. Just so we are clear, yes, I  think assault weapons should be banned. Yes, I think our mental health system stinks and needs a complete overhaul. Yes, I think it is more important that our children stop being killed than that people have the "right" to own military style weapons. My husband was a soldier for 13 years and wasn't allowed to take his M-16 home. It lived in the weapons room at work unless he was deployed to a war zone. Yes, I have a child with mental illness who cannot live in a family setting, because she is considered too dangerous to have around her family. However, the mental health system is going to drop her like a hot potato on her 18th birthday in just a few short months. Friendly comments welcome.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, February 16, 2018

Week 23 ~ Chugging Right Along

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, plant, child, outdoor and nature

We had one of those weeks that was not really all that picture worthy, but filled with lots of progress. I sure do like weeks that flow peacefully.

Dean is really embracing the workbook style of learning right now. The lessons are quick, clear and to the point. Just the way he likes it. He is moving through his lessons with a speed I haven't seen in about two years. He has very few complaints, too. He is using history worksheets from this site. He is also using Spectrum workbooks and homemade workbook sheets for earth science, math and English (writing skills). He is also doing a few different long-term experiments right now. We have a lemon clock going. Everyone made a guess on how long it would run before the lemon energy ran out. It has now exceeded everyone's estimation. The clock has been running for five days now. Once it dies, we will test the energy of a potato and compare.

His compost study is coming along well, too. He is two weeks into the observation and the banana peel is very hard to find because of its color but otherwise seems solid and unchanged. The potato chip is moldy and breaking down; the orange peel is starting to get mold on it; and the carrot is showing no change. Dean is most surprised by the potato chip. He thought it would be last to change because of the chemical changes it underwent during the process of being fried.
Anne is working so hard on all of her subjects. She seems to be on fire right now. Each lesson completed fires her up to complete the next. She can see the end in sight for several subjects, and it is really motivating her forward. She also got one of her top two desired positions in the upcoming performance of Alice in Wonderland. She is the caterpillar, which is a solo role that combines acrobats, aerial arts and dance. She also will do multiple group dances. Lastly, she got her date set for her level 4 Cecchetti exam this Spring. She will take the test on Memorial Day. She is one excited, busy young lady right now. 

We enjoyed a spring-like walk at Biltmore this week. The weather was amazing. Dean was in his element, setting up one photo shoot pose after another. Unfortunately, he erased lots of pictures, because he felt they were "meh". He is such an artist in that way. Nonetheless, it was fun to see his creative energy unfolding. The pictures below are my photos of him creating his shoots.
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

Lastly, we took the family to the mall on Valentine's Day and tried Dragon's Breath, which is liquid nitrogen-infused puff cereal. We felt a bit crazy putting them into our mouths. However, it was totally fun blowing smoke through our noses!

Well that is a wrap for this week. We plan on getting as many lessons done today, so that we can possibly do a field trip with Daddy on Monday for Presidents Day.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Week 22 ~ A Week of Real Life Lessons

We had  a strong week filled with learning. This week the real world lessons will stick in my children's minds much more than anything we learned from a book. We had some reminders of just how blessed we are and were thankful for how far we have come.

We have been looking for a pet rabbit for a little while now. We wanted a therapy rabbit of sorts who would sit in my son's lap and reduce his anxiety while he was doing school work. A bunny was offered on the Yahoo Freecycle group with all of his belongings. We went out to meet him and he had the personality we were looking for. We brought him home and he is transitioning well into our family. He is even getting along great with our dog! We kept the name his previous family had given him and then added our own middle name. Meet Phillip Teaberry.

On Monday we had tickets to see a professional rendition of Hamlet. This is by no means my favorite Shakespeare play, but the production was fantastic. There is really no better way to study Shakespeare than seeing it live in the form in which it was intended.

After the play, we joined up with another family to go out to lunch and try a new pizza place. We found the prices a bit high, but decided to eat there anyway. As the food started to arrive, my friend commented quietly to me that she was surprised by how small the portions were for the cost. We were sitting in a hallway right next to the bathroom. There was a person standing behind us who we thought was waiting for the bathroom. He turned out to be the owner and verbally attacked my friend. He slammed his hands down on our table, startling us, and suggested we go elsewhere if we didn't like his food. When our dessert was ready, he brought it, slamming the plate down on the table and scaring us all. He then told all the other customers in the restaurant about us, referring to as with rude language and ranting for the next 10 minutes. We got out of there as soon as we could and left negative reviews on Yelp. It turns out others who were in the restaurant also left negative reviews after witnessing his outrageous display toward us. The children were very shaken but received a host of life lessons (such as not to engage with a ranting person) that they won't soon forget!

Tuesday through Thursday were relatively normal days. We had dance, art and lots of workbook-style school. We also completed the projects for our Culture Club. We are learning about the United Kingdom this month with our friends. Dean wrote a report about Charles Darwin, and Anne wrote about Queen Elizabeth II and her first major challenge as queen (the Great London Smog of 1952).

There was lots of Home Economics this week. Anne is three-fourths of the way through her home economics class. Her goals for home economics were flexible. As long as she was learning/perfecting skills that were new to her, I wasn't a stickler to what she learned. As the course is winding up, I see that there have been four main areas of learning (bulk cooking, painting/refinishing furniture, serving those less fortunate and hand sewing). She has done lots of what we call "dance hand sewing" which entails sewing her pointe shoes, repairing leotards, and small adjustments to costumes. This week she sewed her eighth pair of pointe shoes in record time. They are very neatly done and clearly show how much she has improved. She also started painting her last piece of bedroom furniture. The big reveal will come soon. Lastly, we visited a friend who is going through a very hard time right now. Her young daughter had a complete mental breakdown and is in the psychiatric hospital. My oldest daughter was in that very institution four years ago, so we were able to talk on common ground about this experience. We took the mother some flowers, cards and treats. Anne showed beautiful compassion to the mother and is growing beautifully into the role of a compassionate caregiver.

On Friday we had Culture Club with our twin friends. After club we had art class with Grandma. Our friend Rose joined us. We had a quick English tea. It wasn't our prettiest display, but everything tasted good. We learned about Faith Ringgold. We reviewed Black History Month and how Faith Ringgold's art focuses on black history and breaks down stereotypes. The kids then did a picture of their own in her style. They made collage boarders with a hand-drawn picture in the center to simulate one of her story quilts.

Creating is messy!

The finished products



Blessings, Dawn