Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year in Review...

This is a fun meme.  You take the first sentence from the first entry of each month in 2008 and add a picture if you wish.  I got the idea from Canadagirl.  The photos are in order of the months.

We got snow last week!

I am continuing to record my big teen's high school courses here, so they are documented in more than just a lesson book. 

Well, they did it again...

Sometimes you get lucky and find something that will make a real difference in your homeschool and save lots of money. 

Outside my Window ~ A sunny day begging to be enjoyed.

We finished off our week on manners with an end-of-the-year tea party. 

Well, we have lots of mulch now!

My kids and I love different art mediums.

This morning I am resisting running off to the state fair.

We really enjoyed our unit study on Italy.

These are amazing times that we are living in.

I am going out to look at Christmas lights.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Nice Weekend...

My husband just finished up a 4 day weekend, and we really enjoyed having him home for a few days.  The Extreme Coaster is a real hit.  The kids spent hours on it over the weekend.  Even the rain did not keep them off it.  My dh angled it going down hill and the kids soar out about 20 feet.

Little Red Ridinghood sure does enjoy her new carriage.  She has given a ride to every doll and stuffed animal in the house.  It even runs well on sidewalks, so we went on a walk around the block a few times.

My poor big teen and dh took hours out of their Christmas Day to help Tom Sawyer make his new Bionicle.  It is huge.

My dear big teen can not wait to break into his very large chemistry set from the grandparents.  It looks like a lot of long as my house doesn't explode!

As if we didn't have enough excitement with Christmas, our dd turned 8 yesterday!!  Where do the years go? 

Well, after all that fun, it is time for us to get back to our routine.  If there is one thing these kids need, it is routine and structure.  My kids did better than ever before getting through so much change and excitement, but I want them to be able to leave it all on a happy note.  This way, they can feel good about themselves and we can ease back into our daily structure.  I am so impressed with our 8 year old dd.  Considering how difficult Christmas and her birthday usually is for her, she cruised through really well.  (Older adopted kids often have trouble with Christmas/birthdays, and with Goldilock's FASD issues, a lack/change of routine usually upsets her a great deal.)  Except for a few meltdowns in the last 3 days, she has pushed through with a good attitude.  A few years ago, we had to postpone her birthday for almost 3 weeks, while we tried to get her behavior under control.  Yes, improvements are being made all the time.  However, I can see that things are getting a bit slippery, so back to school we go.  Yes, we start school today! We will still celebrate New Year's Eve and make a gingerbread house, but otherwise back to the books.

I hope you all had a great holiday.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve...

Well, the kids are all tucked into their beds.  My husband and I have finished tip toeing around putting out the goodies for tomorrow.  We tried very hard to buy American-made and avoid Chinese products completely this year.  We also tried to buy local from locally owned stores in our area whenever possible.  We did pretty well.  My husband made one of our dd's gift (a horse stable shown in second photo), and I found a carriage in a high-end children's consignment store that was made in Germany.  I paid 75% less than it's price because it had been in the display window for a long time.  It is just perfect!  As is our tradition, the kids only get one gift from us and stockings filled with food goodies and a few little toys/books.  We are also giving the children the American made Step 2 Extreme Coaster as a joint gift this year.  In some ways, it is a physical therapy gift.  We are hoping that it will help our CP son with his upper body strength, since he has to push it up the hill each time before riding it down (pictures to follow later of it ~ the rain prevented my dh from getting it completely assembled).  We think this will be very popular with the little ones. Everything else under the tree is from relatives or siblings. (Gifts from parents are not wrapped.)

Our birthday cake for Jesus is in the shape of a heart this year, and the kids earned many ribbons ("straw") to cushion our Baby Jesus doll by doing good deeds.  We will count the ribbons up (each has the value of 25 cents) and buy food for starving children around the world through a charitable organization. 

I hope you all have a peaceful and merry Christmas.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sweet Moments

My youngest little one has been discovering prayer recently.  I often see her stop what she is doing to send a little prayer up to God.  It is really sweet to see.  It is also such a delight to see her developing her faith and finding strength in prayer.  I so cherish these moments and am very glad to be home to witness each and every one of them!

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Our Local Science Museum...

We had a lovely day at our local science museum.  I wanted to get there before the Curious George exhibit left town in a few weeks.  The kids had a great time as always.  It was even better because no one was there.  I think I saw two other families the whole morning.  It is not a very big museum, but they do a really nice job with their exhibits and one of the halls changes every few months.  Also, we got in for free because I bought the membership at a museum in Nashville that belonged to the Association of Science-Technology Centers program.  We have two museums and the local nature center in our area that belong to this association.  There are 250 museums across the country that you can get into free with this membership.  I highly recommend it if you love science museums.  Both of our local science museums have homeschool classes, too.  I really have to try them out.

Little Red Ridinghood loved the contraption that you cranked the balls up and then built a tube for them to come down through.  Yes, those are giant teeth in the background.   The girls had a great time flossing them.

Of course, the boys had a blast building air-propelled ball shooters.  They had a very long ball war.

Finally, we got to the Curious George exhibit. 

The kids learned all about wind and building.  I had fun reading about the history of Curious George.  What a great day!

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Show and Tell -- Circle Time Revisited...

At times over the last few months, circle time has seemed like a burden or something to get through instead of a pleasurable way to get in some of the extras.  Consequently, I dropped circle time a few weeks ago.  With the holidays approaching and our current loop of Tomatis, I really thought getting school in would be very difficult.  However, I found that adding back in circle time helped me so much these last two weeks.  With just 30 to 50 minutes of effort, we have accomplished a lot of school.  I made a circle time shelf with everything we planned on learning each morning, and then we just naturally flowed into it after breakfast.

On the left of the first photo, we have audio books, so we can listen to Christmas stories during breakfast.  Then we do our calendar skills, look at a famous work of art, which this month is a different picture of Mother Mary and baby Jesus each week.  We then review our Spanish words for the month and work on narration skills by reviewing the Christmas story.  Lastly, we do our math worksheet.  This is working out great!  The rest of the day has been "school lite" with just reading lessons and a craft in the afternoon.  We then do our Advent story and activity with Daddy at night. The basics are still happening and a little bit of extras happen, too.  I feel like we are sticking with school but without a lot of pressure.  They are getting tons of life lessons (shopping, charity work, working on Christmas cards, preparing the home for Christmas, weeding out old toys to make room for new, baking, and of course, two hours of intensive auditory and occupational therapy each day for two of the little ones).  The big teen has managed to stick with his studies for the most part, too, despite doing Tomatis each day.  We have one more week of school and then about a 2 week break.

So what's working for you during this busy season?

To see more great Show and Tells, go see Mary.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Muffin Tin Lunch ~ Christmas Stories

Her Cup Overfloweth is hosting Muffin Tin Monday.  The theme this week is Christmas Literature.

This is our first Muffin Tin Monday lunch and the kids loved it.  We read the book, Grandfather's Christmas Camp, by Mark McCutcheon.

This is a sweet story about a 3 legged dog who goes missing on Christmas Eve in the mountains.  Grandfather decides he must go find him and his granddaughter goes along.  They end up camping out on Christmas Eve and finding their dog Christmas morning.  For our meal, we had camping food.

We had pickles, hot chocolate, raisins and nuts, baked beans, hot dogs, and saltine crackers.

What a fun way to have lunch!

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Friday Show and Tell ~ Our Tree and the First Week of Advent

It is time for another Show and Tell Friday with Canadagirl.

We picked out, bought and put up our tree last weekend.  I love the smell of a fresh cut tree.  A few years ago when I was brave enough to put ornaments back on the tree (those toddlers sure are dangerous on ornaments, huh?), I decided that I would like a semi-themed tree.  So we decided to go with "white, snowman, snowflake, and pictures of the kids".  Of course, A few heirlooms have slipped in.  Since I make a real effort to not buy from China, a lot of the ornaments are homemade.  We especially like making borax crystals.  We have made hearts, snow flakes and dangling crystals.  Today we are going to make candy cane crystal ornaments.

Here is our Baby Jesus cradle.  The kids made it, and each day my husband or I tell each child something we are pleased with them about and give them a ribbon "straw" to put into the cradle.  On Christmas morning, the ribbons will cushion our baby Jesus doll.  Then the ribbons will be counted up, traded in for money, and given to the kids' chosen out-of-town charity.

I took the tree trimmings and made a swag for the front door.  It is very simple, but I like it and it was free.

For our first week of Advent, the kids loved opening a Christmas book each night.  We did a very small activity each night to go with the books.  For instance, when we did Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett we had gingerbread cake during the story.  Another night we gathered all of the dog's stuffed animals in the house to listen to The Dog Who Found Christmas by Linda Jennings.  The first night of Advent, we read The Biggest Snowman Ever and decorated the house with our snowman collection.  Tonight they get to open The Legend of the Candy Cane and have candy canes while Daddy reads.

Go see Mary for more great Show and Tells.

Blessings, Dawn

This Week's Charity...

We hope to do a charity each week in December.  We started the last week of November with giving a bag of food to the food bank Christmas drive.

This week the kids and I decided to buy diapers, wipies and a Cabbage Patch doll for a teen parenting program called Mother Love based at our local YWCA.  This program helps teen mothers stay in school and learn how to juggle parenting, work, and finish school.  For anyone who may be shaking their heads at this being our chosen charity because they think I am advocating teenage pregnancy, I am not. 

I feel silly even mentioning this, but I have encountered so many Christians who say they are pro-life yet feel that supporting teen mothers in any way encourages them to have children out of wedlock.  This is simply not the case.  I know from personal experience that a helpful hand only enables the teen mother to climb out of her hole and be able to parent better and become independent.  In everything I do, I try to ask, "What would Jesus do?".  I feel that Jesus would forgive the young woman for her untimely pregnancy and thank her for giving the baby life.  I think He would reach out and help her.  Of course, adoption is a great option but not one that a teen mother often chooses.  The third option is a horrible one and exactly what the professed pro-lifer is against.

Anyhow~let me get off my soapbox.  The kids decided on size two diapers because, as Little Red Ridinghood said, "12-18 pound babies are so adorable and chunky".  They walked the gifts in, and we talked to the director about what possible things we could do in the future.  I am not up to mentoring at this time but perhaps teaching a parenting class in the future or something else would be useful. The kids want to take diapers there again so we probably will.  I am glad that they got another opportunity to feel that warm feeling of giving.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thirty-Two Snippets

My bloggy friend kidcraze has tagged me for this fun thirty-two snippets about me:

Eight things I am looking foward to:
  1. Going out to look at Christmas lights

  2. Our Special Needs Support Group Christmas party next weekend

  3. Getting all the gift packages out in the mail in the next few days

  4. Watching our Christmas book Advent unfold with the children

  5. Our first real snow (more than a dusting) for the year

  6. Making Christmas cookies with the kiddos

  7. Starting a yeast-free diet for my youngest son. OK, I am not looking forward to the diet, but I am looking forward to seeing him feel better day in and day out.

  8. This one is a ways off ~ seeing my oldest son graduate in the Spring
Eight things on my Wish List:
  1. To see my oldest launch his career in his preferred field at the nature center here in town

  2. That my Goldilocks (7) will learn how to read

  3. That my Goldilocks will make it through this Christmas/birthday season without any major meltdowns or her causing days of total chaos

  4. That my Goldilocks will continue getting services to provide her mental health one-on-one worker.  There is a serious threat that the services will be cut on December 11.

  5. That each of my children will continue to grow to be loving, giving, and caring people

  6. That my children will enjoy giving to others just as much as receiving during this giving season (so far, this is going well!)

  7. To get some deep pocket fitted sheets for dh and my bed

  8. A dry and sealed basement (without living through drought conditions), as we are now in the third year of a 200 year drought
Eight TV shows I watch:
  1. 15 to 20 minutes of "Good Morning America"

  2. "Sherlock Holmes" on PBS

  3. "Keeping Up Appearances" on PBS
Hmm...that about does it.  If you count videos of old shows, I love to watch "The Cosby Show" and "The Waltons".

Eight things I did yesterday:
  1. Took my kiddos to their most recent loop of Tomatis

  2. Almost finished Christmas shopping

  3. Opened our first Advent book, The Biggest Snowman Ever, and did a snowman craft

  4. Worked on lots of doctor paperwork for my oldest son

  5. Started organizing next year's calendar and setting up doctor appointments

  6. Did math under the table ~ just because it was fun and where the kids were

  7. Made a swag for the front door out of the Christmas tree cuttings

  8. Attended a doll tea party in Little Red Ridinghood's bed
I tag ~ anyone who wants to do this.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Friday Show and Tell ~ Christmas Books Revisited

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We had a very nice one.  To see more Show and Tells, go see Canadagirl.

Back in October, I decided to do an Advent Christmas book activity this year.  I asked you all for advice and got a great list of ideas from all of you.  I put many of the books on my Amazon Wish List for future years and bought a few to add to what I already own.  Here is the final list for this year:

The Christmas Story~Carol Heyer

Gingerbread Baby

The Wind and the Willow Christmas

Animals' Christmas Carol

The Legend of the Candy Cane

Ellis Island Christmas

Silver Packages

The Dog Who Found Christmas~Linda Jennings

The Steadfast Tin Soldier~Hans Christian Andersen

The Christmas Day Kitten~James Herriot

The First Christmas According To Luke

A Winter's Night Tale

Woodland Christmas~Frances Tyrrell

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey~Susan Wojciehowski

The Chanukkah Guest~Eric A. Kimmel

The Gift of the Magi~O. Henry

The Legend of the Poinsettia~Tomie dePaola

The Crippled Lamb~Max Lucado

Grandfather's Christmas Camp~Marc McCutcheon

Christmas in the Trenches

The Christmas Candle~Richard Paul Evans

The Biggest Snowman Ever~Steven Kroll

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona~Tomie dePaola

Jingle the Christmas Clown~Tomie dePaola

The books are all wrapped and numbered in accordance with our calendar.  I picked short books for our busy days and longer books for the weekends.  I hope to do some activities around some of the books, too.  It should be fun and a great way to count down the days to Christmas.

We also went to the Grove Park Inn after Thanksgiving dinner to try to take our Christmas photo for our Christmas card.  My poor Mother had to take a lot of pictures of her wiggling subjects to get this shot.  However, we are glad that we got it on our first attempt.  I had to dress the kids up 4 times last year before I got an acceptable one!  Here is  our 2008 picture.

Here is a cute shot of just the kiddos...

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ask If You Dare

I got this great interview from Denise.  I had to try it with my three youngest.  I was amazed by how correct some of their answers were.  I have to work on measurement, though ... hee hee hee.

Here are Little Red Ridinghood's (5) answers:

1. What is something Mom always says to you? do the dishes

2. What makes Mom happy? kisses and hugs
3. What makes Mom sad? when the computer is being difficult
4. How does Mom make you laugh? when Mom makes funny faces
5. What was Mom like as a child? a girl
6. When is Mom's birthday? Can you give me a clue on this one?
7. How tall is Mom? 17 inches

8. What is Mom's favorite thing to do? cook
9. What does Mom do when you're not around? sleep
10. If your Mom becomes famous, what will it be for? racing around

11. What is Mom really good at? cooking
12. What is Mom not very good at? catching and throwing (so true)
13. What does Mom do for a job? be a Mom (lots of giggles about my silly question)

14. What is Mom's favorite food? salad

15. What makes you proud of Mom? she gives great hugs
16. If Mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? Martha the dog on "Martha Speaks"
17. What do you and Mom do together? cook
18. How are you and Mom alike?  our hair

19. How are you and Mom different? I wear dresses all the time.
20. How do you know Mommy loves you? She is nice to me.
Here are Goldilocks' (7) answers:

1. What is something Mom always says to you? in a minute...
2.  What makes Mom happy?  when I am being good
3. What makes Mom sad? when I get hurt
4. How does Mom make you laugh? by tickling me
5. What was Mom like as a child? She was like grandma. (!)
6. When is Mom's birthday? Hmm. I don't know.
7. How tall is Mom? 10 inches tall
8. What is Mom's favorite thing to do? play with her kids

9. What does Mom do when you are not around? clean the house
10. If your Mom becomes famous, what will it be for? for loving her children
11. What is Mom really good at? giving hugs
12. What is Mom not very good at? putting on her snow pants

13. What does Mom do for a job? take care of us
14. What is Mom's favorite food? tea
15. What makes you proud of Mom? She is really good at hugging.
16. If Mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? a mommy on TV
17. What do you and Mom do together? do the dishes
18. How are you and Mom alike? We have long hair and wear bows.
19. How are you and Mom different? I don't wear glasses.
20. How do you know Mommy loves you? She takes care of me.
And last but not least, Tom Sawyer's answers:

1. What is something Mom always says to you? take your dishes to the sink
2. What makes Mom happy? helping her clean
3. What makes Mom sad? not helping her
4. How does Mom make you laugh? by tickling me

5. What was Mom like as a child? a kid
6. When is Mom's birthday? I don't know
7. How tall is Mom? 10 feet
8. What is Mom's favorite thing to do? do art projects
9. What does Mom do when you are not around? clean
10. If your Mom becomes famous, what will it be for? making furniture (!)
11. What is Mom really good at? reading
12. What is Mom not very good at? being Martha Stewart
13. What does Mom do for a job? teach Sunday school
14.  What is Mom's favorite food? tea
15. What makes you proud of Mom? she helps us
16. If Mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? Helen's mother on "Martha Speaks"
17. What do you and Mom do together? doing reading lessons
18. How are you and Mom alike? We both like tea a lot.
19. How are you and Mom different? I have blond hair and she doesn't.
20. How do you know Mommy loves you? She does nice things for me and changes my bed in the middle of the night when I wet.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, November 21, 2008

Show and Tell Hunger Banquet

Last night we attended our church's Hunger Banquet.  Every year, our church youth group puts on a Hunger Banquet and invites the community to raise awareness of hunger around the world.  They divide the room up into First World (America, Europe, Japan, etc.), Second World (countries like Mexico), and Third World (such as most African nations).   When you arrive, you purchase a ticket and reach into a bowl to get the piece of paper which tells to which world you have been assigned.  The slips of paper are in proportion to the population of those who live in these world divisions, so there are many more Third World pieces of paper.  Our entire family got Third World this year.  In Third World, all of the women and girls have to wear head coverings.  We sat on the floor in a very crowded mass of people.

Each family in the Third World was given a baby doll to represent all of the starving babies around the world.  Every minute 12 children die from hunger and hunger-related diseases around the world.  To our dismay, our baby doll was taken by a boy dressed up as death about 30 minutes later, after the "baby" had starved to death!

The girls were excited about our "new baby".  However, when I explained how the people sitting at tables with china were not where we were going to be eating and showed them the mats on the floor where we were headed, they became hesitant about this whole event!  While we were waiting for First World and Second World to be served food, we were growled at questioned by the guards/soliders about possible trouble we might be causing, and some men in our section were dragged off to jail.  Our oldest son was the head guard, so we got treated a bit better than others.

When it was time for the Third World to eat, we lined up with our bowl and cup (empty yogurt containers) to get our rations.  Our children were sent to the back of the line, since children eat last in the Third World.  We chose to join them.  When we did get food, it was a serving of one small spoonful of nasty, partially cooked rice and 1 ounce of water and a 1 ounce piece of bread.

My youngest son ate the rice, but both my daughters picked at it and did not eat much.  Occasionally, someone would stop by our area and try to sell us food from the black market, but we did not buy anything.  We figured most in the Third World could not afford to buy it.  Sometimes food would be thrown into our Third World group by "relief workers", and people would scramble for it.  If you could get the food and hide it before  the guards got it, you had a bit more to eat.  We were fortunate to get two snack size bags of chips and a candy bar.  However, the guards stole our candy bar.  We managed to hide the chips and eat them secretly.  The whole time there was a slide show running with pictures of starving children and hunger statistics.  I must say, that made us feel guilty even eating in the Third World seating.  My son, who was the guard, took pictures of the First World and Second World.

Second World had more comfortable seating and were served tasty rice and beans.  They also had as much water as they wanted, plus seconds on beans and rice.

First World had chairs and ate off of china.  They had a catered pork meal with all the trimmings.

At the end, we all stood in a circle and talked about our experience and what we could do to help with world hunger.  The people in the First World talked about how embarrassed they were to be eating so well while looking over at the rest of us.  However, in the beginning while people were sitting down, I actually saw a woman leave our Third World group and sneak over to the First World and took a seat as if she belonged there!  My children said they could eat what was put in front of them without complaint.  That would be a nice change.  We will be following up on this by studying how we can help children in Haiti and taking some food to our local food bank.  My Mother asked that she get no Christmas gift this year but for us to just donate money for starving children. The kids are already talking about going next year and hoping we get to Second World. 

To see more Show and Tells, go to Mary at Canadagirl.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Question...

I spent some time this morning putting a line up of Christmas movies on my Blockbuster account.  I am hoping that we will get two Christmas movies to watch each week of December.  I feel like I am missing some great movies, though.  What is your favorite Christmas family movie or favorite kid Christmas movie?  I don't mind a movie here or there that includes Santa but I want wholesome.  (We really do not do Santa and the kids understand that he is pretend, but they have seen Santa movies before.)  They loved the Santa Claus last year.  We are planning to continue keeping Christmas simple around here, but I thought having a movie night each week would be fun for the holidays.

Please leave me a comment with your suggestions.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, November 17, 2008

Unplugged Project~Donate

The theme at Unplug Your Kids this week is sort and donate.

This one was right up my alley.  My house has been a bit overwhelming to me recently, and I knew with the holidays coming it was time for a sort and donate.  Out with the old to make room for the new....  So I handed everyone bags and we went about weeding out the unwanted.  My big teen managed to find two big bags of stuff to donate (mostly clothes he had grown out of years ago).  We worked on cleaning up the basement, too.  When we had everything gathered, we decided to weigh it.  We were shocked to find that we had 94 pounds to donate!!  Hurray! That is 94 pounds that I will never have to clean up again.  The kids made a graph of the weight of each bag, so it counted for math, too.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Show and Tell Friday ~ Our week

A week mostly at home with our normal schedule has done me so much good.  We had a nice homeschooling week with the 3 R's covered, and we got to another chapter of SOTW.  This week we concentrated on Ancient Africa and stories about Anansi the Spider.  We read several stories about Anansi and made spiders and ate yams in different ways.  Sorry, no pictures of all that activity.

The big teen is really getting into chemistry.  Thanks to another blogger (sorry, I don't remember who you are), we found this site  It goes through all the elements of the Periodic Table in video form.  Some of the videos are very explosive!  So if you are studying chemistry, go check this

Lastly, we made our Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes this week.  They are due next week for collection.  If you are interested in doing this activity, you still have time.  I think this is the kids' favorite Christmas charity.  We decided that this year all of our charities will be hands-on so the kids can really be involved.  We are hoping to do a hands-on charity each week of December.  I will list our schedule later.  We started collecting our loot for the boxes in August with the back to school sales and finished up at the dollar store this week.  We ended up with 5 boxes this year.  The kids included little notes in each box.

Yeah! There were no tears this year about saying goodbye to something that one of them wanted.  I am happy to see their hearts growing in charity.  It is so much more of a blessing to give than to receive.  I really want them to get that concept as early as possible.

To see more great Show and Tells, go see Canadagirl.

Blessings, Dawn