Saturday, September 26, 2020

Welcome Cooler Weather

 I love Fall. I am so happy it is finally here. Our week passed without anything monumental happening on the homefront. Outside our door history is marching on and much of it is sad and alarming as we watch our very democracy standing on shaky ground. It is made even more alarming as we work our way through our government course by a George Mason University professor on The Great Courses Plus website. Realizing how our government administration is threatening our democracy leaves me with a very heavy heart. We are left to just do our best to have peaceful, healthy and successful days. There is nothing more we can do.

Anne dressed up our sweet cats in our pumpkin costume. Not surprisingly, Salem was more cooperative about the whole affair than Rosie. They are both just the cutest and fill our days with so much laughter.

Things continue to move very slowly on the job market front for Elijah. It is rough out there as the economy struggles to move forward. His job coach is doing a great job of staying in contact with him and they are working on plans.

Elijah had a very nice time at the birthday party he attended last  weekend. They sat on the porch and had a lovely dinner prepared by the father (who was a chef in another career). They talked, laughed and had socially distant races up and down the sidewalk in the dark. It was a simple and fun event for all. 

With the cooler weather comes family board game nights. It just naturally happens every year and I love it. Game night comes almost every night and is always loud and fun. Below are the games we played this week.  I enjoyed Snake Oil and Superfight the best. 
Anne is concentrating on her U.S. History II and Government course right now. She is doing three lessons a day so that she can hopefully finish by next week. Once this course is completed, she will only have English IV, Fashion Design, Latin I and Sign Language III (which is two thirds done) complete. She is moving along. She also started her research paper on family gardens and did a weeks worth of Latin lessons. Lastly, she attended all six of her dance classes (in person and on zoom). In two weeks she starts a seventh class with the return of Cecchetti. 

My major accomplishment was painting our bedroom ceiling this week. The crisp white made a huge improvement from the dingy tannish color that was there.  I am just loving all of the projects I am getting done. I am also following an adapted version of The Flylady cleaning system and it is doing wonders for some of the neglected corners of my home. The next projects are laying wallpaper in my crystal cupboard and maybe a new back splash on the kitchen wall. However, I think next week is going to be preparing the house and front gardens for fall.

We have decided to have a Halloween or somewhat scary theme for our movie night through Halloween. This week, Anne picked Miss Peregrin's Home For Peculiar Children. I have picked The Goonies for next week. It should be a fun theme at least until it is Tim's turn. He likes scary movies much more than the rest of us.

What we ate this week for dinner ~ 
  • Grilled Burgers
  • Herb Chicken Tortellini
  • Roasted Chicken and garden green beans
  • Red Beans and Rice
  • Take Out Pizza
  • Left Over Night
Our cats love their water fountain. They drink plenty and we only have to add water to it every few days and change the filter once a month. Otherwise, they have clean fresh running water all the time.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, September 18, 2020

A Rainy Day in Our Beautiful City

Anne started in-person classes at her dance studio this week. They dance in masks within taped off squares to maintain social distancing. For safety, the classes are much smaller than last year's. There are many other rules they need to follow during these COVID times, but Anne is so very happy to be back in the studio. Anne is taking one class a day, four days a week. She is still maintaining two online dance classes, as well. Because her classes are only a bit over an hour each day, there is no reason for me to go home during her class. I have decided to return to walking 2 to 3  miles during her class time each day (at least until it gets dark in a few weeks).

In recent years she has been in classes for many hours and I returned home. I forgot how much I enjoyed walking around our beautiful city. It is really so refreshing to me (even while wearing a mask on the crowded streets). Our city is one of the only cities in America that didn't declare bankruptcy during the Great Depression and proudly paid all of their debts in full. This took them many decades and so they were not able to afford the urban renewal projects that swept much of the country during the forties through sixties, which often involved tearing down whole city blocks and modernizing them. For that reason, our city is filled with buildings from the late 1800's through the 1940's. In fact, we have the second most Art Deco buildings in the country (Miami has the most).

Everywhere you look there are beautiful old buildings with so much detail. You just don't see that attention for detail these days. I am so glad our city decided to save these lovely pieces of history.
When new buildings or stairwells are added, they are built to peacefully fit in with the rest of the city. Also, artists often add to the beauty of the city with the many murals that can be found everywhere.

I see new things all of the time, such as little statues or emblems that I never noticed before. There are just many tiny details on every building.

All these photos were taken in a three block radius. I think I will walk just a few blocks at a time (several times each walk), so I can see things that I have missed in the past. It should be a fun fall project.

The sign above is outside the church where our children were baptized. I love the reminder during this hard year. We are still so very blessed.

Other Highlights ~ Tim got to attend a virtual camp for brain injured adults this week. He especially enjoyed the cooking day and the virtual field trip day.

Elijah has been invited to a socially distant birthday party. I am happy that he is getting this opportunity.

Anne completed all of her reading assignments for English. The rest of her year will be devoted to essay writing and research papers.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Accomplishments, Balloons and Cats

 Our week flew by. We started the week with a trip to Ikea. It is about two hours away and has been on our list to do for over a year. Our nearest Ikea is in a city that has horrible traffic and so we usually don't choose to go there if we are considering a day trip. However, this was the week. We have a few family members that love Ikea and just like to wander around. We did get some new lighting for Elijah's room and a few kitchen odds and ends (like a cutting board and wooden utensils). We then went on to the mall and visited Lush which is the females in our family's favorite bath store. We only buy the bath bars and break them into lots of tiny pieces for lots of lovely baths.

Elijah decided with his job coach to just start looking for a job instead of doing lots of job shadowing. His job coach will help him develop a resume, fill out applications, and get through interviews. He also will work alongside of him for a few weeks after he is hired. I am thrilled with all of the support that is being offered to Elijah. I do wish he had been willing to work in a few different settings through the job shadowing program, but I also feel that Elijah needs to make his own decisions and have ownership of his life. He is much more likely to work hard for his own decisions and dreams. There really is no wrong answer and we are just so grateful for the support being offered. Elijah really wants to work at Target and we will see if there are openings and if his job coach can broker an opportunity there. We shall see what comes next. 

Elijah also went into the doctors for his physical on his own this time. It was his first time seeing a doctor on his own and advocating for himself. He did a great job and got all of our questions answered.

We got Anne's Marley dance floor and installed it this week. It was a necessary expense to protect her ankles on pointe. No more slipping. She will be taking two classes on zoom this fall and four classes in person with a mask and limited students in the building (as long as the cases stay under control in our area).

Our sweet kitties are the best of friends, but also double trouble. They knocked down the back door curtains and made themselves a bed this week. They were so proud of their accomplishment.

We got to celebrate with Anne's best friend,  JoJo for her 16th birthday before dance class in the park. She was shocked by the bouquet of balloons Anne bought her. I am so glad for friendships. These two girls have been friends for 11 years now.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Elijah Dean's Transcript ~ English III

Elijah's third year of high school English focused on authors who he really liked through his earlier years of education. We explored some of their writings that he had never read and learned more about their lives. He either read some himself or heard books read aloud through family read aloud time and then discussed essay questions. He also watched several movies that are based on literature. Lastly, he did several grammar, vocabulary and critical thinking workbooks. Below are the books, movies and workbooks that he completed.


  • Use It! Don't Lose It!
  • Word Roots 
  • Critical Thinking Detective Beginners
  • Writing prompts from the Internet for teens ~ 16 writing prompts completed
  • Christy by Catherine Marshal
  • A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck
  • Kidnapped by Robert Louise Stevenson
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louise Stevenson
  • Who Was Roald Dahl? by True Kelley
  • Who Is Stan Lee? by Geoff Edgers
  • The Seer of Shadows by Avi
  • Robinhood by Howard Pyle
  • Who was Edgar Allan Poe? by Jim Gigliotti
  • Who was George Lucas? by Pam Pollack
  • The Magic City by E. Nesbit
  • Under The Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Poetry Teas ~ Our poetry teas involved learning about the poet and studying three or four of his/her poems while having tea...of course.
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Maya Angelou
  • The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
  • Goosebumps 2 (2018)
  • Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018)
  • A Christmas Story (1983)
  • Guess Whose Coming to Dinner (1967)
  • The Little Prince (2015)
  • The Princess Bride (1987)
Elijah earned 145 hours of credit and received an A for this course.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, September 4, 2020

A Nice Day Out

It was another emotional week around here. I think we are all struggling with the endlessness of this pandemic and the reality of all that is being permanently changed. Our youngest daughter is a planner. She has planned out her life for several years to come and now everything is in question. Even things that are supposed to happen next week are questionable. She is learning to walk in faith and let go a bit. I do feel strongly that she will find her niche. It is just going to take time.

This one makes life better, though.

Elijah had another appointment at Vocational Rehabilitation. I am so glad we are finally seeing some movement. He was assigned a job coach, who will help him find a job and stay with him while he trains. They are going to start job shadowing and working on his resume in the next few weeks. I have high hopes that this will be a positive experience for him.

We just needed a break from the grind of the pandemic and decided to get out to an apple and flower farm. They had pick-your-own flowers and apples. We decided to pick flowers and cut a huge bouquet. They had lots of other fun outdoor activities, too. The one that really made my family's day was the apple cannon. I don't know who loved it more, the kids or my husband. They hit the target several times.

After picking flowers, we had apple cider slushies and apple cider donuts. They were so good. We also bought some lovely apples for baking at home. 

Standing in the sunflower field was just lovely. The sunflowers were above our heads in some places. If there hadn't been so many bees, my teens would have started a hide and seek game. You are truly never too old for hide and seek...right?

My sunflowers are a lovely reminder that we got to have a bit of fun and "normalcy".

They also had lots of cows and donkeys to pet. They came right up to the fence. The calves were so sweet and cute.

What a lovely outing! I can't wait for pumpkin season. We will go out to another farm when pumpkins are ready.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, August 31, 2020

Elijah Dean's Transcript ~ World Cultures

Elijah's World Culture course was developed to be a special interest course for him in addition to wrapping up a few areas of world history that I felt he had missed. We used numerous resources to complete this course. ~ Elijah watched this 10 minute show geared toward high school students at least three times a week for the entire school year. We occasionally delved deeper into the news that was presented. 

Universal Yums Subscription Box ~ We enjoyed 12 Universal Yums boxes over the year. These boxes are filled with snacks from a different country each month. In addition to the snacks, there is a book that describes the history of each snack, a brief history of the country, a recipe to try at home, a trivia game about the country (Elijah's favorite part of the book), and a few other fun pages that rotate such as a few language words from the given country, puzzles or a suggestion of movies to learn more about the specific country. Elijah always read the entire book and did the activities. We only got around to about six of the recipes. Here is the list of countries he learned about with his Yum boxes.

  • Poland
  • Brazil
  • Thailand
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Ukraine
  • Israel
  • Austria
  • Spain
  • Philippines
  • Egypt
  • Scotland
Guns, Germs and Steel ~ We watched this series on National Geographic with some further research and discussion from the book of the same name.

Mini Unit studies ~ We used YouTube videos, Internet research and a few books from the library (in which my list was lost). For each mini unit he read a book or two, watched a few documentaries and narrated answers to my questions.
  • The British Empire
  • Mother Teresa
  • The Cold War
  • The Korean War
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis
Games ~ He played each of these games dozens of times until the facts were memorized.
  • Professor Noggin ~ Ancient Civilizations
  • Professor Noggin ~ Wonders of the World
  • Timeline ~ Inventions
  • Timeline ~ Classic
  • Timeline ~ Events
Field Trips
  • Addissae Ethiopian Restaurant
  • Suwana's Thai Orchid Restaurant
  • Kathmandu Kitchen ~ an authentic Tibetan restaurant
  • The Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Movies and Shows ~ 
  • Suffragette (2015)
  • Good Morning Vietnam (1987)
  • The Monument Men (2014)
  • 1917 (2019)
  • Midway (2019)
  • National Geographic ~ "Ancient Egypt"
  • Netflix series ~ "Civilizations"
Books with Homemade Worksheets
  • Who Was Mother Teresa? by Jim Gigliotti
  • Who is the Dalai Lama? by Dana Rau
  • Who is Malala Yousafzai by Dinah Brown
  • Who was Genghis Khan? by Nico Medina
  • Who Was Alexander the Great by Kathryn Waterfield
  • Who Was Fidel Castro? by Sarah Fabiny
  • Who Was Napoleon? by Jim Gigliotti
  • Who Was Winson Churchill? by Ellen Labrecque
  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
Elijah Dean did all assignments and reading activities. He participated in all field trips and unit study work. He earned an A for this course.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Pushing On ...

This week was filled with highs and lows. There were tears for what has been lost and what is yet to be lost due to COVID-19.  Seeing all of the unkindness, fear, hate and violence that is sweeping our country is really taking a toll on us. But there were also joys over the opportunity to perform -- even if it was outside, with a tiny audience of 12. We push on and remain flexible to opportunities that come our way. We work to be kind to all that pass our way and to do all that we can to keep ourselves safe. It really is all that we can do. I am short for time today and will highlight our week through bullets.

  • We finally have another appointment for Vocational Rehab. Elijah will meet with his support person next Thursday and decide the next course of action.
  • Salem (kitten) got her check up and last kitten shot. She is now 16 weeks old and 5.9 pounds. She is doing great.
  • Anne finished her U.S. History Detective Book 2 and her midterm exam. She has only 10 more weeks of history to go.
  • I recorded a few more of Elijah's credits here on the blog. I hope to finish the rest next week.
  • Anne finished reading The Pearl and will be doing a paper on it next week.
  • I managed to get rid of or sell 111 things this week. Yes, I'm keeping track of it. We cut the DVDs down by two thirds and sorted through all of Elijah's clothing for the first time in more than a year. It feels good to make space and be responsible for a lighter load.
  • Elijah and Tim took over responsibility for their own laundry a few weeks ago. It is going well so far. 
  • My Mom is back in her home, but it is still filled to the ceiling with packing boxes that need to be unpacked and the kitchen floor is not done yet, so her kitchen/dining room furniture is still in the living room. We will be getting her settled over the next few weeks.
I do hope that all of you are safe and sound. Bless those less fortunate.

Blessings, Dawn