Friday, March 28, 2008

Our First Lapbook

We did the book, A Chair For My Mother by Vera Williams.  This is a very nice book about a family saving to buy mother a new chair after they lost everything in a fire.  We focused on two things this week from this book.  First, the kids learned the value of each coin and to identify them.  Everyday we counted out a pile of coins and played games, such as, "Give me 30 cents in 4 coins".  This was easier for some than others, but they all understand money much better.  We then put the change into a jar to save money for Dad's Father's Day gift.  We will continue this lesson over the next weeks.  Hopefully, they will understand coins very well by the end.

Secondly, we did many activities around fire safety.  We developed an escape plan, learned how to "Stop, Drop and Roll", did many fire drills from all parts of the house (crawling, of course) and meeting at the large magnolia tree, and going over fire safety rules.  We also practiced what to do if one is trapped in a room.  The kids did a great job of testing the door and then stuffing clothes in the cracks to keep the smoke out.  They did freak out a neighbor when they called out their window, "FIRE"!  Luckily, I was standing right there and able to say we were doing a fire drill.  LOL!

Lastly, we did our first Lapbook, and I am pleased with how much of the work they did themselves on it.  

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Warm Day

Yes, you see right!  The temperature reached 72 degrees today, and of course, that means break out the sprinkler, right?  According to two of my little ones, that is plenty warm enough.  I honestly didn't think that they would stick with it, since the water in the hose was very cold.  After all, we had a high of 49 degrees earlier this week.  They stuck with it for about 30 minutes, though. 

Little Red Ridinghood did not think it was a grand idea to get wet. Nonetheless, we all enjoyed the sunshine. 

Notice my wet son wearing a T-shirt that says Future President.  Tee Hee  Hmmm ... could he be our future president?  I asked him what he would do if he were president.  His reply ~ "I would bring peace to the earth and everyone would get along and be happy."  And how would you do that son?  Reply ~ "Easy, Mom, I would make a giant house of candy and everyone would sit down and do art lessons and eat lots of candy and remember that God wants us to love each other."  Aha ... If only it was that easy!

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Fun Tag

OK, sahmto4ormore tagged me with this fun tag so here we go.

5 random facts about myself:
  • I love used book stores and consignment shops more than department stores.  I just adore getting a deal!
  • I love taking walks with my kids but really only like to be outside when the temp is between 65 and 78 degrees. We go outside almost everyday, though. 
  • I really don't like going into pools very much. (Should that be under the weird group?)
  • I knew I wanted to be a teacher at the age of 5, and I love it so much that I can't imagine doing anything else.
  • I would like to try some kind of "not buying" project for several months, but I haven't had time to think about how to do it.

5 weird things about myself: 
  • I enjoy cleaning my own toilets and vacuuming.
  • I don't mind sharing my drinks with my children but want my chapstick all to myself.  The result is that we have several labeled chapsticks around here.
  • I would rather go on a date to a bookstore than to the movies.
  • I count my four children's heads so much at the playground that my 4 year told me she was proud of me for learning to count to 4!
  • I have never felt homeschool burnout for more than three days! 
5 things on my desk:
  • Pictures waiting to be scrapbooked
  • Lots of pens
  • Scrapbooking glue
  • Film from my other camera waiting to go to Sam's Club
  • a stack of stationery 
5 of your best friends:
  • My Husband
  • My Mother
  • My Stepmother
  • Crystal
  • Kristi 
I tag 5 people:

TKB  (my son)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

We have been doing Easter around here for about a week.  The kids had a great time going on a treasure hunt to find all of the Resurrection Eggs.  I found that having them go all over the house and read about each egg as we found them helped them stay with the program better than doing the whole story at once.

We also had a great time dying eggs with natural dyes.  We used coffee, spinach, grape juice, beets and orange peels.  I was pleased at how well they came out. 

We also went on an Easter egg hunt at our pastor's home.  The kids had a blast and all got to hunt on the "Big Kids" side of the yard this year.  Little Red Ridinghood was really good at finding eggs in trees and then asking me to get them down.  Little Red Ridinghood brought along the baby Jesus doll that they earned from Christmas.  I love how our pastor has the kids come back after the egg hunt and share their eggs with others to make sure everyone has enough.

Last but not least ~ We got two new pets this Easter.  After the terrible loss of our rabbits earlier this year, we decided it was time to get some new pets.  One dog just is not enough fun around here.  LOL!!  So the little ones got a Beta fish they named Napoleon, and the big teen got a female rat that he named Isabelle.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Couple of Hard Days

Goldilocks(7) started falling apart on Monday.  It started off with some back talk and quickly turned into mean-spirited play with her siblings and hitting them.  Then she started putting herself into unsafe situations.  She also -- in a blink of an eye --completely "forgot" how to obey me.  This is a normal cycle with a child suffering from Reactive Attachment Disorder, and it means that they need their world smaller, tighter, and safer feeling.  RAD children crave structure and a very strong adult (even though they act like they want the opposite).  So here is a look at Goldilocks having a tight day with lots of structure.  She started her day with strong sitting (first photo).  Strong sitting is not exactly a time out, but more of a time to collect herself and think about how she can have a strong heart.  She ends a session of strong sitting with telling me her six jobs.  The six jobs are to (1) be respectful, (2) be responsible, (3) be fun to be with, (4) doing things fast and snappy, (5) doing things right the first time, and (6) doing things the adult's way.

Next, Goldilocks moved onto a chore.  She actually really enjoys chores and always responds well to these extra tight days.  On this particular day, she cleaned both bathrooms, her bedroom and folded several loads of laundry with me.  Then it is back to strong sitting whenever she is done with a task.

She stays in a strong sit until you see her attitude change by showing a more relaxed manner.

This goes around and around until I think she can handle some play or school time with just me.  She is then allowed to play on a blanket.  I pick a few toys for her to play with on the blanket. Everything that she is playing with stays with her on the blanket, and she can play by herself or with me for awhile.  (In the photo, she has a bowl of Legos to play with.)  There is no play with siblings on these days.  However, her sibs can be near her and can occasionally talk to her but must stay off her blanket.

The standard rule for Goldilocks is that she must stay in the same room as me unless she is in her bedroom.  But on special days like these, she stays within a few feet of me.  It still amazes me how quickly she responds to this tightness and how much she obeys.  There are no spankings or yelling -- just consistent and tight parenting.  We also have several cuddling times with conversations to get her feelings out on days like these (and every day, of course).  The hardest part of a day like this is getting everyone else through their school work and chores.  However, keeping peace in my home is more important than getting through my To Do List.

We did have some Easter fun this week, and I will be posting that later today.  I just thought some of you may be interested in the day in a life with a RAD child.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, March 17, 2008

Vacation Part Two

The rest of our visit was filled with lovely park days, the zoo and a great fine arts museum.  We spent a wonderful afternoon at the Shakespeare gardens.  The kids loved the sculptures and feeding the geese, ducks, and cranes.

Allthough this park was lovely, it had one downfall -- it was infested with fire ant hills.  If you have no experience with fire ants, consider yourself blessed.  We didn't have any serious run-ins with them this time around but experienced them when we were stationed at Fort Bragg. 

On the property of the same park was the Fine Arts Museum of Montgomery.  It was wonderful and FREE!  I was raised in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (literally, my Mom took me to the museum several times a month and my Dad and Stepmother worked there, so I visited them often).  I can honestly say that this museum was of that quality.  They did not have as many art works from famous artists, of course, but they had a children's wing.  The children's wing was filled with interactive exhibits.  The kids didn't want to leave even after 2.5 hours.  Now that's a hit!

Another day we visited Grandma's Attic in the Archives Building.  This is a wonderful off-the-beaten trail FREE activity.  It was nice to have some downtime and let the kids explore the many discovery boxes and enjoy the dress-up area.  See my sweet little bride?

As I said earlier, one of the reasons we picked this location for vacation was to see my dear friend.  We spent a wonderful afternoon at the zoo with her and her kids.  The Montgomery Zoo is a bit small but does a great job of showing off its animals.  My kids also loved the train ride that gives you a nice overview of the park.  It was great to see my friend and to meet each other's children, those who had been born since we last saw each other.  The lions were wonderful because they roared a lot of the time.  They also had several baby giraffes, my favorite animal.

The best part was going there during the off season.  Montgomery was like a ghost town.  We had most of the museums to ourselves, and there were no crowds anywhere.  Well, that was the end of our fun, so I will leave you with one last pic...our little prairie girl complete with Dad's sunglasses on the way home.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Vacation Part One

We chose Montgomery, Alabama, for two reasons.  The first reason is that my very dear friend whose hubby is in the military is stationed closer to me than she has been in 5 years, and I really wanted to see her.  Then I was sold on going when I started looking into what was in Montgomery and discovered all of the civil rights museums.  My big teen just finished studying the Civil Rights Movement a few months ago in history.  Besides, how could we go on vacation without it being educational?  LOL

On day one we did the civil rights tour.  We started with the Civil Rights Memorial.  It had a lovely water feature and water table with the names of many people who changed the course of the Civil Rights Movement.  The children loved putting their hands on Dr. Martin Luther King's name and watching the water run over them.  The children all signed the Wall of Tolerance.  They promised to try to be tolerant of others and work towards justice for all.  Actually, even though my Mom has never been to Montgomery, her name is one of the original names listed on the Wall for all the work she has done in her life for social justice.  Once they realized we were homeschoolers, the workers at the Memorial gave us the teacher's package. 


We also went to the Rosa Parks Museum.  There were two sides to the museum and it was a bit expensive but really a good experience.  The first side takes you into a "time machine" that is a stationary bus that takes you from 1830s to 1955 and the eve of Rosa Parks' famous bus ride into history.  We were not allowed to take photographs, but it really was exciting and has won many awards.

Then you go to the other side to learn about the year of the bus boycott sparked by Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat. 

They had a spot on the bus for the kids to sit and see what it was like during segregation.  We also got to see Dr. Martin Luther King's church and home that he was living in during the time of the boycott.  This home is also where he and his family were living when it was bombed.

It was a fascinating day and a great experience with our children.  It is so important to us that our children walk in the path of justice and grow up with an ear to Jesus' words.  We want them to show love for their fellow beings and do all they can to leave this world a better place than it was before they entered it.  So that was the civil rights part of our vacation.  There is much more to come in the next few days ~ stay tuned.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, March 13, 2008

We are home!

I know you didn't know we were gone, but we were.  We went on a wonderful vacation to Montgomery, Alabama.  It was great!!  But it is wonderful to be home.  I will be posting several installments of our vacation with lots of pics over the next few days but now for the only downfall.  PUBLIC TOILETS!!  Why is it so hard to keep them clean and tidy?!  On the way down we stopped at a park.  Unfortunately, the public restrooms were closed.  However, my husband saw a portable potty across the way.  This was my children's first experience with this type of toilet and my 4 year old was not impressed! Then there was the very clean toilet in the Rosa Parks Museum that flushed while my 4 year old was still on it!  She was terrified and ran out of the bathroom with her undies around her ankles!  Then there was the toilet in the Archives Museum that must have been 80 years old and burped when you flushed it.  LOL  My 7 year old "had to go" several times so that she could hear it burp.  But the worst was the trip home.  The toilet at the Chevron in GA was the most disgusting bathroom I have seen in 20 years.  There was grease all over the floor, and it was a challenge to stand up -- let along figure out how to go potty without touching anything.  I was thinking of you, Jimmie, and your public potty story a while back. 

However, I am very sure that this bathroom was much dirtier.  YUCK!  It really didn't matter that there was 320 miles to go.  I was done with public restrooms and waited to get home to my very own bathroom.

Well, if anyone is still reading, I promise that the next installments about our vacation will be filled with fun and bliss.  Also, I have to write about our Easter week unit study.  So hang in there, tons of fun to come.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, March 7, 2008

My Desk

Well, I have been tagged again.  Kellieann wants to see my desk!  Now there is a different tag.  My desk is mostly used for scrapbooking and card writing.  I wish I could say it is used daily or even weekly, but more like once a month.  I love my desk, though.  I inherited from my Grandmother.  It is a beautiful antique secretary that these photos don't really do justice.  The lamp on top was used in the framed still life photograph above it that my Father did in college.  He was a photography major in college and now heads up the photography department at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.  I like having some of his early photography in the house.  On with the pictures ~

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What Happens When You Get Just One Ball Stuck in a Tree ...

Well, my kids did it again.  First they got one of those big exercise balls stuck in our huge magnolia tree.  Of course, the most logical way to get it down is to throw more balls at the first ball, right?  Before all was said and done, they had two large exercise balls and one pink soccer ball struck in the tree.  (You can barely see the red ball in the lower right corner from the blue ball.)

Luckily, we ran out of balls about the time that Dad came to the rescue, so they had to think up something else.  How about a long pole and ladder?  Now there is a good use of your noggin.

Hurray!  The return to earth of ball one.  You can see the red ball still trapped up there.  The wind finally blew it down.  LOL!

My 4 year old came to get me so I could take photos!  She said it was a blogging moment, and I would want to put it on my blog.  LOL  Now there is a girl after my own heart!

Back to the "how high can you throw the ball" game.  Perhaps they learned to play a little farther away from the tree, but I wouldn't count on it.

Blessings, Dawn