Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tea Party!

We finished off our week on manners with an end-of-the-year tea party.  Little Red Ridinghood (4) invited her friends from ballet class and about half of them showed up.  The girls had a great time.  The boys went off with Daddy to play miniature golf and ride go-karts instead of hanging out and being proper little gentlemen.  Actually, I am sure they had more fun with Daddy, and having quality time with Dad is always coveted.  The girls all came dressed up, and we had a dress up corner to try on even more fun things.  On the menu were ham and cheese croissants, thumbnail size chocolates, strawberries, lemon squares, and cupcakes.  Of course, we had a selection of hot tea or cold fruit punch.  The girls did such a nice job, and we didn't lose any of the china I inherited when my mother-in-law passed away.  They all really liked using real china and crystal. 

After tea, we made beaded bracelets with beads and pipe cleaners.  That was a fun, easy activity.  The girls also made bath salts, complete with rose petals from my Mom's garden to take home.  Hurray -- my first all-girl party turned out to be very nice!  I was really nervous, since I am not used to doing the girly thing.  All of our past parties were unisex and heavy on the boy themes.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Fun Side of Duke

We did find some time for fun while we were at Duke University Hospital.  We had to wait an extra day to wait for the big teen's cardiac Holter monitor to be finished recording.  Thus, we took the time to visit two museums and the homeschool store in Raleigh.  We went to the Life and Science Museum and had a blast in their renovated outdoor area.  The kids really enjoyed the Butterfly House.  The big teen, my naturalist, found an injured one and let all the kids hold him.

The kids also loved the new water area.  They had a play water table for little people to build boats and then sail them.  For the bigger kids, they had remote control sail boats to sail around.  My kiddos could have spent hours in this section alone.

We also went to the Marble Kids Museum in Raleigh.  It was so much fun and the kids were able to see their first IMAX film ~ Bugs 3D.  After the movie, we played for about an hour before leaving for the 4 hour drive home.  The kids enjoyed the building area and the pirate boat area the most.  My camera battery died, so I did not get a picture of the three level pirate boat.

My favorite part of the week was the Homeschool Gathering Place.  This is a used and new bookstore that has lots of supplies.  I was able to get the program for our big teen's course in government, Teaching Textbooks Algebra I (big teen), and The Story of the World book and workbook for the little ones' world history studies.  Hurray!  I have everything for next year, except chemistry supplies for the big teen.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, May 25, 2008

RMH, Our Big Teen's Appointment and the 1,000th Comment

As you can tell from the title, this will be a bit of a ramble.  We are back from Duke University Hospital.  It sure is nice to be home.  Our big teen's cardiac appointment did not go as well as usual.  We knew going in that something was not quite right.  He has been having the feeling that his pacemaker was shocking him and having strange feelings in his chest for a few months.  The doctor did several tests via the phone with a pacemaker transmission machine and sent us to the local cardiologist (who is not all that awesome) but could see nothing dangerous or obviously wrong.  Well, at the appointment he saw a variety of things that were not quite right.  Blessedly, he was able to fix the majority of the shocking feeling since that was a glitch in the pacemaker lead, so our big teen will be more comfortable now.  However, he saw a few other things that worried him, and it is going to take some time to figure out what it is.  Worst case scenario ~ he would not explain to us because he thinks that is very unlikely.  The other possible issues should show themselves now that the pacemaker has been adjusted.  Hopefully, we will have some answers in the coming weeks.  There is no doubt that our teen will have to return to Duke in 6 months, if not sooner.  Even though things are unsure right now, I really do feel at peace.  The journey that we have been on for 18 years with my son has been filled with alarming obstacles, and each time God has moved them out of the way.  I feel secure that Timothy will get the best care and all shall be well.  Our son has been living on borrowed time since he was a newborn, and we are so blessed for each precious day with him.

On a brighter topic ~ I wanted to sing the praises for Ronald McDonald house (RMH) again.  What a wonderful place this is for families far from their home trying to take care of their sick children.  If you have never been to RMH, it is basically a house with many family bedrooms.  There is a central kitchen, living room, playroom, dining room, and teen room for everyone to share.  Most people have to share bathrooms, but those who are there for long stays (months) often get a room with a bathroom.  The staff are always so kind and helpful. They are all about the families and the children's comfort.  They provide dinner each night and the cost is only $10 a night for the entire family.  This price has not changed in the ten years we have been staying there.  Our children were given two small handmade quilts that are just adorable on this particular visit.  I believe this was our 15th or 16th stay at RMH, and as always, it was a wonderful experience.  Here are a few pics from RMH-Durham.  The first photo shows our big teen playing video games in the teen room, followed by photos of Little Red Ridinghood having a blast in the playroom, and the final photo is of me playing guard outside our bedroom door.  Once the beds were all folded out, there was no room for me to sit inside the room until everyone was asleep, when I could then crawl over their beds.  LOL!

Okay!  If you hung in this long and are the 1,000th comment, then you are the lucky winner of a "Friends of the RMH" bracelet!  I will contact you, so I can get your address and send it to you.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Our Plans for the Next Few Weeks

I had a talk with the kids about what they wanted to do on their "school break", and after we weeded out the "not going to happen list", we have come up with some good ideas.  I have the next 3 weeks mostly figured out and thought I would share what is bouncing around in my head.

This coming week is "child led" or "Mommy is not going to help you become a rocket scientist or any other such thing" week.  During the first part of the week, I am going to clean the house and put away the books we are done using.  The second half of the week we are off to Duke for our big teen's annual pacemaker check up.  Hopefully, all will go well, and we will be back next weekend.  We hope to have time to go to a museum or two and visit the large homeschool consignment store in Raleigh while we are there.  The kids are totally excited about staying at Ronald McDonald House again.

Week 2 ~ We will be studying manners.  I have to finish gathering the stuff I already have and printing games off of the Internet.  At the end of the week, we will be having a formal tea party, complete with (mismatched) china.  Little Red Ridinghood will be inviting all of her friends from her ballet class to the party to celebrate the end of the ballet year.  I have no idea how she is going to survive the summer without weekly ballet classes!

Week 3 ~ I am really excited about this week.  We will be studying the Hungry Planet book.  It looks like a really special book and depicts what kind of food/how much food people eat around the world.  After we have looked over the book, the kids are going to try to figure out which country's photo looks most like our family's diet.  Hint ~ in my opinion, it is not America.  Then we are going to buy all the food we eat in a week and take a photo of it to compare to the book.  I wonder who will guess the closest?  I am also considering an international night meal with some unusual dishes but not sure I'll pull that off.  The point of this break is keeping me sane by not overloading myself.  LOL!

Week 4 ~ We will be trying out the making friends program.  A friend of mine told me about this, and it looks like a neat way to get mail and find out about other kids in America.  She says it is more of a one time pen pal situation, which I think is easier for little ones.  I had a pen pal for years, and it is hard to keep up with the letters sometimes.

Week 5 ~ We will read Flat Stanley and prepare our own Flat Stanley paperdoll to travel to Italy with my Father and Step-mother.  I also want to look into the Flat Stanley Club on the Internet and the geocache boxes that trade Flat Stanley dolls.  I am hoping that this will prove to be very fun and an exciting way to explore geography for the little ones and we can continue it throughout the coming school year.

I am not sure what we will do for week 6 yet.  I also plan on signing up Tom Sawyer for the reading programs at the library and Barnes and Noble so he can earn books.  You can do the program for kids who can't read, but my opinion is that kids will be more motivated to learn how to read if you aren't just handing them books for listening to you.  Having your parents read to you is reward enough.  As I stated before, I am also hoping to get more children swimming.  Currently, only the big teen can swim.  Well, I am glad I got my thoughts to paper...I mean Internet.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Our Last Day of School...

In a few minutes we are off to our end-of-year testing.  The big teen and Goldilocks are the only ones in our family at the moment who are required to be tested by our state.  Since they both have learning challenges, we opt for the one-on-one attention and untimed Woodcock-Johnson test with an educational evaluator.  The downside is that we are not allowed to leave the evaluator's office during testing and the two have to go one at a time, so I will be entertaining the little ones for the duration of the testing in the waiting room.  The estimate is 5 hours total.  I have packed two big bags of crafts, books and puppets to play with.  I am taking the portable DVD player, too, but it didn't behave very well a few weeks ago.  I am not sure how useful it will be.  I fed the kiddos eggs this morning so that their brains will be extra awake.  I think the big teen will do fine, as long as he doesn't rush.  He likes our evaluator, and she has worked with him for several years.  Little Goldilocks is not looking forward to this.  This is her first time being tested.  She has already cried twice.  I told her it is a series of games to show what she has learned this year, but she is still upset.  She really doesn't like anything new.  She was tested a few years ago when they were looking into whether she had FASD or not, but she doesn't remember that.  I pray that she will stay calm and not have any major fallout as a result of today.  Hopefully, our evaluator will be up to the challenge.  She is usually really good with special needs kids.

In other news ~ The kiddos enjoyed playing with The Lab Brats Investigate the Science of Cogs and Pulleys book this week.  This is a wonderful interactive book, and the kids made a helicopter, pin wheel, car, gears, and spinner.  There are a few more activities to do.  We look forward to learning more about cogs, gears and pulleys next week.  I have to see if there are some more books in this series. 

For the next 6 weeks, the "schooling" for the little ones will be very relaxed and almost completely child led.  The big teen will be watching an educational video every few days and follow his own interests.  I am also looking forward to doing activities with unplug your kids each week.  Hopefully, I will manage to get at least one more child swimming this summer.  I think teaching kids to swim is harder than teaching them to read -- if that is possible!  We will resume formal school in July.  I will still be here recording our lives, so check back to see what crazy stuff we get into.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook

The Simple Woman holds a really fun meme and I thought I would join in this week.  If you want to read more daybook entries, go to the above link.


Outside my window ~ We have a high winds warning out today and everything is blustery.  The windows are shaking, but we feel safe tucked into our 77 year old home nestled here in the mountains.

I am thinking ~ Our last week of school...our big teen must finish up The Time Machine, Rich Dad/Poor Dad, and his current affairs book.  The little ones are transitioning into more child-led activities.

I am thankful for ~ My sturdy home and reliable Internet connection.

From the kitchen ~ Not much cooking today.

I am creating ~  Scrapbooking all of my kiddos best art work from this school year.  It is nice to get it all in one place, instead of scattered to the four winds.

I am going ~ To our attachment therapy and RAD support group for our Goldilocks tonight.

I am wearing ~ Jeans, long sleeve flower shirt and socks.

I am reading ~ Transforming the Difficult Child's Mind.

I am hoping ~ That none of our trees blow down or lose too many tender leaves.

I am hearing ~ My children watching the movie, Water Horse Legend of the Deep.

Around the house ~ I need to finish putting the laundry away and get out art supplies for art lessons in a little while.

One of my favorite things ~ Watching thunderstorms and windy days like today with a warm cup of tea in my hand.


Nature center, end-of-year testing on Friday, doctor appointment on Wednesday, and pulling together and finishing up school projects.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you ~ Who is studying whom?

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, May 9, 2008

We Have Another Reader!

Tom Sawyer (6) finished Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons today! He really is super great at sounding out words and is really doing well in reading.  He is very excited about moving on to early readers.  I really believe in this program, but it was not all smooth sailing.  It was just too dry for my little guy.  He is a very creative soul and found the lessons boring.  Some days he would use his toes to follow along instead of his fingers and even read upside down for variety.  It came very easily to him, though, and we finally made it through!

We celebrated by making him a cake and giving him a reading certificate.

Now, I will try to teach Goldilocks (7) again.  This will be attempt number four.  Having Fetal Alcohol Dysfunction is so damaging on so many levels.  I am torn between trying 100 Easy Lessons or another phonics program.  She couldn't get 100 Easy Lessons the last time or Museum Phonics or the Bob Books.  She is motivated to get the cake this time, though, so maybe I should try the 100 Easy Lessons again.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook...

The Simple Woman holds a really fun meme and I thought I would join in this week.  If you want to read more Daybook entries, go to the above link.


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

I am thinking ~ About fun things to do around home over summer break. Only two more weeks of formal school!!

I am thankful for ~ The wonderful opportunity my husband has given me to be a stay-at-home Mom these past 10 years.

From the kitchen ~ I hope to make Peanut Butter Pie today.

I am creating ~ Lesson plans! Lesson plans! Lesson plans!!  I look forward to a real school break, so I can plan away for the next year.

I am going ~ To our homeschool support group used book sale tonight.  Yippee!!

I am wearing ~ Long pink shorts with an aqua blue t-shirt and pullover morning sweater.

I am reading ~ Transforming the Difficult Child's Mind.

I am hoping ~ That the pollen will not bother me too much today.

I am hearing ~ My girls playing with dolls, my younger son conducting a science experiment with salt, water and chalk, and my oldest son cleaning the kitchen.

Around the house ~ I need to get the green beans in the ground and the raspberry bushes planted.  I also need to catch up on laundry and clean up the bookshelves to make space for the stack of books I am sure to come home with tonight.

One of my favorite things ~ Taking walks with my children on a spring morning.


The big teen is back to his normal schedule at the nature center.  The big teen needs to finish up his biology course this week, which means my house looks like one big science lab.  I will be babysitting my friend's son later today. Tomorrow, we have play group with our special needs homeschool support group.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing for you ... learning how a heart pumps with a Heaving Heart Science Kit.

Blessings, Dawn