Friday, July 13, 2018

A Dance Intensive, Spray Paint and Backyard Jam

This week was the first week of Anne's dance intensive. She had fun doing ballet, modern and an intro to belly dancing each day. She really enjoyed exploring the silk dancing fans in the video below. They did lots of improvisation with the fans while they learned how to move them.

While Anne was at the dance intensive, Dean did some projects to earn money at Grandma's house and spent hours playing video games with friends on the Internet. 
Two handed spray painting gets the job done faster!
We completed Uncle Tom's Cabin this week. We did not read every single chapter since some of it really disturbed the children. We read the chapter summary on SparkNotes for  the more disturbing chapters like Tom's flogging and death. Reading the summary on SparkNotes was a little easier to take than the imagery portrayed in Stowe's excellent writing. We are happy to move on with something lighter for the rest of the summer!

I started going through my Rainbow Resource catalog which arrived this week. I had already placed a large order on their website, but had so loved looking through it each year over the last two decades of homeschooling that I gathered up my morning tea and snuggled in for some exploration. Wow, this coming year is our 20th year of homeschooling! I am almost speechless about that. I guess I really don't need anything more right now, which is a relief. I felt a sense of dread that I might find something that I wanted to add to our already crowded schedule rather than joy about it, so I took my helper's (Rosie, our kitten) lead and set it aside for now. I really do love Rainbow Resource. They have helped me so much over the years.

We also had a lovely evening at our friends' semi monthly backyard party and music jam. The kids got to catch up with friends, and Dean even got to see a friend he hadn't seen in years.

Lastly, the past few weeks have been very tense between our daughter Goldilocks, her caregiver and ourselves. They are really pressuring us and Dean's therapist to have a visit with Dean, and he doesn't want any contact with Goldilocks. She has had no contact with anyone but parents and grandparents in four years. We completely support his feelings and wishes. We are not sure why she suddenly wants a visit with him but with no one else in the family. Also, Goldilocks and her caregiver are demanding more money for all kinds of strange things. We already pay the difference of our insurance which is many hundreds of dollars every month for her room and board, and we have no more to give. So tensions are very high right now, and we have had to turn to several professionals to try to settle the issues. Our caseworker feels that we need to develop a safety plan for our children in case Goldilocks shows up unannounced while parents are not at home.  She will be 18 in five months. What will happen then is anyone's guess. We did get a nice photo of her in her new eyeglasses during our visit this week.
Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Anne's Transcript ~ Sign Language I ~ 9th Grade

Anne fell in love with Sign Language in middle school. She took a year of Beginner's American Sign Language (ASL) at Elevate (a local homeschool co-op). None of those hours are reflected in this course, but that class did launch her love for signing. For her second year of ASL, we created our own program at home since we could not find a course for her to take in a group setting. She used YouTube as her main curriculum and forged ahead on her own. She focused on vocabulary and now has around 1,000 signs memorized.

She found that YouTube had a plentiful array of songs that had been translated into sign language. However, they were mostly translated into Pigeon Sign English (PSE), which is the most popular way for a deaf person to "listen" to a song. However, PSE does not follow the same syntax or grammar as ASL. The vocabulary is the same between the two forms of sign language. We decided that it would be acceptable for her to concentrate on songs, even if they were translated into PSE for this year, since she was focusing on vocabulary memorization and conversational comprehension.

She memorized 98 songs this year and performed each and every one of them. She maintained accurate speed with the song and was able to go back and perform whatever song I requested on her mid-term and final exams. She tends to sign even when she is talking and loves to quiz the rest of us on our rather poorer signing vocabulary.

 Here is a short list of some of the songs she learned this year.
  • "Death of a Bachelor" ~ Panic at the Disco
  • "The Adams Family" ~ theme song from TV show
  • "Feel it  Still" ~ Portugal. The Man
  • "Sarah Smiles" ~ Panic at the Disco
  • "Hard Times" ~ Bob Dylan
  • "Closer" ~ The Chainsmokers
  • "If I Die Young" ~ Taylor Swift
  • "Heathens" ~ 21 Pilots
  •  "The Star Spangled Banner" ~ Francis Scott Key
  • "Chasing Cars" ~ Snow Patrol
  • "Victorious" ~ Panic at the Disco
  • "Tear in My Heart" ~ 21 Pilots
  • "The First Noel" ~ traditional Christmas song
  • "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" ~ traditional Christmas song
  • "Silent Night" ~ traditional Christmas song
  • "Last Christmas" ~ Wham
  • "Away in the Manger" ~ traditional Christmas song
  • "Cancer" ~ My Chemical Romance
  • "Amazing Grace" ~ John Newton
  • "Emperor's New Clothes" ~ Panic at the Disco
She went for an interview at Elevate to see what level she should be placed in next year for ASL classes. The interview was held in ASL and Anne held her own. She was placed in level II for next year and will have the opportunity to increase her grammar and syntax use. She is currently considering a career as a sign language interpreter and researching how to combine her love of sign language with her love of dance. She would love to have a career in both.

She received an (A) 100% for this course with 144 hours of practice and performance of the songs recorded.

Disclaimer for those who wish to learn this way ~ To my knowledge, the songs above have no curse words. However, my daughter did have difficulty finding songs that were completely free of profanity, and so after she started running out of "clean" songs to learn, with my approval she learned many more songs that did have curse words in them. We do not use curse words in our home, and I knew she could be trusted not to use them outside of this course.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, July 9, 2018

Dean Transcript ~ Earth Science ~ 9th Grade

Dean completed his Earth Science course. He participated in all field trips, experiments, projects and covered reading material. This course had a high concentration of hands-on projects and studies in the field.

Topics Covered ~
  • Volcanoes
  • Forest fires
  • Earthquakes
  • Geology
  • Hurricanes
  • Plate tectonics
  • Erosion
  • Fossils
  • Sun and planets
  • Black holes
  • Environments of the earth, including wetlands, deserts, coral reefs, plains
  • Environmental disasters relevant to the world today, with an in-depth study of Flint, Michigan
  • Caves 
  • Sinkholes
Projects and Experiments ~
  • Made a volcano
  • Made salt crystal geodes
  • Made an Earth model with edible layers
  • Experimented with a clean water science kit
  • Performed experiments with mini composter
  • Made a potato clock
  • Made a lemon clock
  • Reconstituted a dinosaur plant

Field Trips ~ We went on many field trips for the Earth Science course, since this is one of the ways Dean learns best. We are fortunate to live in an area that is rich in geology.
  • Arboretum ~ went five or six times
  • AMOS Science Museum ~ went every month for a year
  • Hendersonville Mineral Museum ~ cracked authentic geodes
  • Elijah's Mountain (gem mining) ~ found some tiny rubies
  • Gem store in Chimney Rock ~ had some very unusual fossils
  • The Great American Eclipse ~ 99% totality in our area
  • Hamlin Beach on the Lake Ontario
  • Niagara Falls and Cave of the Winds
  • Duke Gardens to study botany
  • Biltmore Gardens and Conservatory (five times)
  • Louisiana swamp tour
  • Mississippi bayou
  • Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi
  • Dry Falls in Franklin, NC
  • Franklin Gem Museum was filled with petrified wood and local gems
  • Mammoth Caves (the longest cave system in the world) ~ took the Discovery Tour and the Domes and Dripstones Tour.

  • Spectrum Science book
  • Book of Trees (Memoria Press) ~ completed all lessons 
  • Global Warming with Max Axiom
  • Exploring Ecosystems with Max Axiom
  • National Geographic Space magazine
  • National Geographic Grand Canyon magazine
  • Numerous environmental articles
  • Bill Nye Saves the World ~ Full Series
  • Voyager ~ Space Exploration
  • Wild Alaska ~ Full Season
  • How the Earth Changed History ~ Full series
  • Desperate Hours ~ Environmental Disasters show
Dean did a great job on all of his studies and earned a grade of an (A) 99% for this course. He completed 144 hours.

Blessings, Dawn

Our Travels through the Midwest

The main focus of our trip through Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio was to explore the Underground Railroad which you can read about here. However, while we were traveling, we visited several other places that were along the way.

Kentucky ~ We visited Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. This is the longest cave system in the world and is a world heritage site.  There are a dozen tours to pick from. We decided to do the Discovery Tour, which was an easy self-guided tour, and the Domes and Dripstones Tour, which was much more intense and went deep into the cave system with two guides (one at the front and one at the back of the group).
Entrance to the discovery tour
The first afternoon we went on the Discovery Tour, we learned the history of saltpeter mining in the caves. It was an enjoyable walk through large cave rooms and was delightfully cold. Our entire trip was during a nasty heat wave, so the cold was very welcome. We spent the night in the non-air conditioned cabins provided in the park. They were a cheap choice, but I would not use them again. My dear husband is still covered in chigger bites. The bugs in our beds, food, and shower were incredible. Two of us ended up playing hosts to ticks. Luckily, the park provided a fridge in the cabin, and I managed to squeeze all of the food we were traveling with into it. Also, as I mentioned there was a heat wave with high humidity coupled with high temperatures -- it was very hot in our cabin. We did have lots of fun cooking out, visiting with the many wild deer who came right up to us, taking photos of the sunset, playing with our Dollar Store glow stick Frisbee and attending the ranger presentation on the history of Mammoth Cave.

The next morning we had some time before our Domes and Dripstones Tour. We decided to take a half mile hike to an ancient sink hole. We were dripping with perspiration by the time we got back to the top of the hole and it was only 9:30 in the morning. We opted to sit in the hotel lobby for an hour or so and cool off. It was the only place with A/C and an Internet connection so the kids could chill on their phones for awhile. We had planned to have a picnic lunch from our cooler, but it was so hot (notice the theme here) that we bought just enough food to be allowed to sit in the cafe and combine it with our cooler food. All of this was pushing my husband's comfort level, since he is a super rule follower. Sitting in a hotel lobby at a hotel where we were not staying and eating our own food in a cafe was pushing the envelope to him, but it all worked out just fine.

Finally, it was time for the Domes and Dripstones Tour. It was worth the wait. We had to climb down 250 steep, steep metal stairs through very narrow passages. Those of us over 5'4'' had to bend over several times to squeeze through. This was a dry cave tour, so it did not have many beautiful formations like you find in an active (wet) cave. But it was a lovely 54 degrees and our tour guide was wonderful. She even turned all of the lights off for two minutes which Anne loved. Dean preferred the Discovery Tour because it felt safer, and I was glad we were doing this tour when we were still young. Some of the older people on the tour were struggling a bit. It was a completely different world and we got to spend two hours in it.

Indiana ~ After we finished the tour, it was time to leave Kentucky and move on to Indiana to spend the night  in Indianapolis. We decided to visit the canal that runs through the middle of Indianapolis and have dinner in a local deli. It started to rain just as we arrived, but that didn't hamper our spirits. We darted from canal bridge to bridge until we found a nice deli.

The rain intensified so we decided to take a nice walk around a downtown mall. I hate to admit it, but my kids are complete mall rats. They love to visit malls wherever we go. We don't really shop, but they just love walking around them. After our somewhat harrowing "camping experience,"  we decided to spring for a hotel with an indoor pool for the night, since I found one discounted on The kids stayed in it until the pool closed at 11 pm.

The next morning we checked out a local park before leaving Indianapolis. Holliday Park has a demolished skyscraper from New York City that has been turned into a lovely work of art in the park called The Ruins. The skyscraper was called the St. Paul and was created by the architect Karl Bitter, who also designed the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The St. Paul had three famous sculptures called the race of man on its facade. When the building was demolished, Indianapolis won a contest to have the sculptures and some of the beautiful parts of the building incorporated in their park.

It was another scorcher of a day, so we got back in the car and headed for the Levi and Catherine Coffin home, which you can read about here. We had lunch in Fountain City at the Amish grocery store and deli. If you ever find yourself in Fountain City, Indiana, the $3.75 sandwiches are HUGE and really delicious at this Amish-run deli! The peaches were to die for, too. We bought a whole bag for snacks on the road.

After the Coffin home and museum, we moved on to Xenia, Ohio, where my husband's grandparents and father are from. There is no one left there now, but we took pictures of his relatives' graves and his grandparents' home.

Cincinnati, Ohio ~ By nightfall, we had found our way to Cincinnati, Ohio, where we would stay for the remainder of our trip. We got in so late that we just ate a dinner of pizza and fell asleep. I had planned on us going to a water park while in Cincinnati, but the kids thought it was too hot, even for a water park, plus Dean hates crowds. Since it was the 4th of July, it was bound to be crowded. The kids voted to go to the Cincinnati Museum of Art and see the Terracotta Warrior exhibit instead. They had seen it as preschoolers in Atlanta but, of course, didn't really remember it well. It was marvelous and not too crowded. The entire museum was first-class quality, and we enjoyed a lovely half day wandering the halls and seeing many famous works of art.

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We even got to see more Chihuly art.
By the time we left the museum, we were starved and headed for another mall. I told you, they are mall rats and the A/C didn't hurt either. We had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, which was a first for all of us. 

We finished the day off with a long visit with my aunt and uncle, whom I hadn't seen since I was about 18 years old. We had a lovely visit with them.

We awoke on our last day in Cincinnati and went back to explore the Riverfront Park, which we had quickly walked through the day before while we waited for the Underground Railroad Museum and Freedom Center to open. It was a lovely park with lots of kid-friendly, interactive things to do like splash fountains, swings and life-size board games.

You can read about our wonderful tour of the Freedom Center at our post on the Underground Railroad. It was a great trip. I am so glad the kids are finally comfortable riding in the car for long distances. That piece and eating picnic style most of the time (rather than in restaurants) have dramatically increased our ability to travel farther from home.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Unit Study about the Underground Railroad with Field Trips

We are home from our fantastic Underground Railroad tour of the Midwest. I really want our American history studies to come to life and how better to accomplish that than to go to the sites where history took place? We are currently focusing on the Underground Railroad and a few of the brave people who contributed to this important period in our history. Our studies are leading us to dealing with the difficult reality of slavery in the modern world. Unfortunately, slavery still exists in our world, and there is a continued need to find ways to help those who live in bondage so they can live free.

Books we are reading ~
  • Who Was Harriet Beecher Stowe?
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas: An American Slave
  • Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities
  • What Was the Underground Railroad?
In addition to these wonderful books, we had the opportunity to go to a Chautauqua History Alive performance of Harriet Tubman. It was a wonderful performance. The interpreter told about her adventures escaping from slavery and then going back to rescue many more slaves. While she was talking, she reenacted an episode of narcolepsy without warning us. Since childhood, Harriet Tubman had suffered from this condition ever since she was hit with a heavy weight on the head by a master. The performance was a perfect compliment to our studies.

I was pleased to discover that we only lived about six hours away from several Underground Railroad sites, including the Levi and Catherine Coffin home that I had wanted to visit since I was a little girl. I was raised a Quaker and heard about their harrowing work on the Underground Railroad all my life. Their home was a major station on the Underground Railroad, and they moved more than 2,000 freedom seekers (runaway slaves) through their home over a 20 year period. It is believed that they never lost a single freedom seeker. Their community was a great support to the Coffins' work by providing protection, clothes, and a look out system for slave hunters and runaways. The Coffins did many creative things to make their home work successfully as a slave station, such as having their well inside of their home, having hiding places built in and Levi ran a mercantile so no one noticed if he was buying lots of extra food for many freedom seekers. They hosted groups as large as 18 at a time and sometimes harbored people that were sick for up to six months. The bell in the picture below was used to call out the community as witnesses if a slave hunter was trying to break into their home. By law, only an owner of a particular slave could search a home and then they could only collect that particular slave.
Coffin home in Fountain City, Indiana

The board at the end of the rocker bench kept a baby from falling out when the women were sewing and needed both hands.

This false bottom wagon could hold up to eight runaways at a time.

The Coffins built their well inside of their home so that no one would notice them needing to fetch water constantly
because of harboring so many extra people. 
This little attic space was once used for hiding 16 freedom seekers at one time. The bed was pulled over to block the door.

We also visited the Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. What a wonderful museum! It traced the roots of the Underground Railroad all the way through current efforts to help enslaved people all over the world. My children were only marginally aware of human trafficking and what is going on beyond our small existence. The exhibits on the Underground Railroad were a wonderful summary of all that we have learned so far, and the human trafficking and modern day slavery exhibit gave them a thorough introduction to current issues and how they might help.

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I am so glad we pulled this trip off. It was a wonderful hands-on way to learn about a time in history that is very near and dear to my heart. I love the humanitarian heroes! So much of history is depressing and can make one lose faith in mankind. This is one of those moments when human beings got to show that they could rise above the law of man and be caring and kind. After all, we all answer to a higher spirit than the law of the land, which is sometimes created by cruel men and women.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Recap of June

I haven't put up a weekly wrap-up in a few weeks. Life has been busy and restful at the same time.  Here are the highlights from June. Anne danced in the Hola Festival in our city. It was a big crowd. Dancing outside on an open stage in the middle of a festival is a new experience that she can add to her list of accomplishments.

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Dean has spent the last three weeks at an acting day camp being a camp counselor. He did a great job and loved the experience. The director was very pleased with his work and said he was welcome back next year. He helped kids sew costumes, design and build shields, ran games, took them on hikes, watched them in the pool, created clay creations and generally helped keep things running smoothly.
His partially made Mayan shield.

While Dean has been busy every day, Anne, Tim and I have been busy doing some long neglected chores. We cleaned all the windows in the house (inside and out), washed curtains, sorted every single book in the house, did lots of gardening and got rid of about 200 items. We also bought a riding mower with our tax refund, and the kids have been taking turns learning how to drive it. Tim thought it was a bit fast, but I think he enjoyed his very first driving experience.

Anne spent much of the last month exploring thrift shops and buying clothes to modify. She has been sewing, tie dying, and generally having so much fun creating new styles. She spent her entire childhood only wearing dresses and then gave them up completely about four years ago. She is getting back into them now. It is fun to see her style emerging. 

Well, that really is about it for June. Here comes July, which I'm sure with have lots of fun, learning and excitement.

Blessings, Dawn