Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nothing for 30 Days Challenge!

Owlhaven is doing an amazing challenge that I am really excited about doing.  It is the 30 days of NOTHING challenge.  The rules state that you are to find ways to spend less in the month of September.  You make the rules apply to your family the way you see fit.  My reasons for wanting to do this challenge is to save money for our October vacation, teach my children how to live a more frugal lifestyle, and work on the sense of entitlement that we all have.  I have seen too many entitlement issues in my children and, on closer inspection, in myself as well.  My family had a family meeting and everyone has agreed to take the challenge for this month.  Here is what we plan on doing:
  • Only spending money on out-of-home classes (swimming lessons and ballet), groceries, and gas.

  • If emergencies come up or things break, we will determine if we really need to replace or repair the item.  If at all possible, we will get along without.

  • The entire amount of the children's allowance will be saved for vacation.

  • I am going to try to keep groceries to $100 dollars a week. 

  • We will pay the $5 registration fee for our Homeschool International Night and $5 for any more supplies that we need to get our display ready.

  • We will take the minivan to Jiffy Lube for an oil and fluids change.

  • We will pay for everything with cash.
Here is what we will NOT be doing ~
  • No order of books this month.  (We often take advantage of the free shipping on a $25 order.)

  • No extra school supplies (except for International Night) or books from anywhere! (Yes, that exclamation mark is meant for me.)

  • No thrift store shopping.

  • NO EATING OUT ~ NOT EVEN A SODA OR BAG OF TARGET POPCORN!  (My kids are less than enthusiastic about this one.  LOL)

  • No family activities out that cost money ~ no State Fair this year.
This month will be especially challenging because of our Tomatis loop, which starts on September 8.  It is too far to go home during the 2 hour appointment, so I have to kill the time doing something else.  We have gotten used to wandering around the shopping center next to Tomatis, which ended up costing us a few dollars each time.  The waiting room is very small and often crowded.  Blessedly, the three children that get Tomatis will be treated together most of the 10 days of the loop.  This means that I only have one child to entertain.  It also is getting cooler outside, so parks are more of an option.  There is a library within a short drive, too. 

Well, here we go.  I will keep you updated on our progress.  If you want to see more great people taking the challenge, go to Owlhaven.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, August 30, 2008

September Plans

Here is an outline of our September school plans.  It is time to get ready for our homeschool support group's geography night, which we call Homeschool International Night.  It is at the end of September.  My kids love doing this each year and it is really a fun event.  We have decided to do Italy this year since my Father and Stepmother went there this summer. 

The little ones have a list of things they will present.  First, our Flat Stanley Project has returned from Italy safe and sound.  He had an exciting journey, and the kids are looking forward to making a display about his adventures.  They will map out his journey and make a scrapbook of his adventures.  The children will also be studying Leonardo Da Vinci and doing a report on him.  We have several wonderful kid-friendly books about this artist.  Additionally, they will be making a flag, diorama of Venice, and Italian finger food.  Lastly, they will narrate book reports from Papa Piccolo and The Clown of God.  Both of these FIAR books were studied by the little ones last year and take place set in Italy.  They will be a nice review.

The big teen's contribution to the project will be a report on an Italian artist and a general report on art in Italy.  He will also make an example of Fresco artwork.  This will count toward his art history course.  He will also be doing a report on religion in Italy for his world religion course.  In addition, he will do an essay on The Prince by Machiavelli, which he is reading for his world literature course.  All of the reports will count for his creative writing course.  Now I just have to figure out the kids' costumes and what food we will be taking.  I think I am as excited about this study as the kids are.  LOL!

The big teen will continue his usual lessons.  I am putting FIAR and SOTW on the back burner for the little ones this month.  We will have our hands full with circle time, tea time stories, reading, and math lessons -- on top of our unit study of Italy.  We also have another Tomatis loop that starts on September 8, so we will be super busy.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Show and Tell Friday ~ Table


It is time for another Canadagirl Show and Tell.  To see more great Show and Tells, go here.

This past weekend we went to a moving sale up the street from us.  I really didn't think we would find anything, since it was a moving sale of a bachelor neighbor.  Well, wouldn't you know, something I have wanted for a long time was waiting for me to come and get it!  I found a wonderful solid oak table that has two leaves and seats 10 comfortably!!  He offered the table and the six chairs to me for $150!!  It even has locks underneath so that the table will not separate and let food get in the cracks like the table we've been using! Woo Hoo!!

My old table had been bought at a thrift shop and was functional but not so lovely when I got it.  Over the years and with the heavy use that our homeschool family had put that table through, it was a wreck!  It shook when you cleaned it, and the chairs got caught under it all the time.  Furthermore, we were running out of room when all the kids' school work was spread out on it.  We won't even mention how crazy it was when guests were over.  LOL

So here is my new table set up for eight with one of the leaves in it.  I have two more chairs in the basement for when we have lots of company.  Everyone has plenty of elbow room now!  Nobody is complaining that so and so's book is touching them or that the lefty child is elbowing them while he writes.  Hurray!  Grandma came to dinner the other night, and we all got to sit around the table together with all the dishes on the table.  Well,  as you can see I am just beyond excited about this purchase!

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Schedules, Schedules, Schedules ...

For more schedules, go here.

During my reflection time on how last school year went, one thing stood out as the problem area.  Last year our out-of-the-home schedule was out of control.  We were at one appointment or another every day of the week.  So after much prayer and thinking, I decided that we had to be home as many days as possible this year.  That is not to say that we are not going to continue to take classes and do doctor/therapy appointments.  However, I am hoping to find a balance this year.  Here is what is important to me...
  • That we do not travel more than 8 miles from home for any classes.  I know that we will have to travel farther for some doctors.  This is in part because of the price of gas but also because my dd with FASD and RAD has many behavior issues in the car.  Everything must be taken into consideration -- from where she is placed in the car to the route taken so that I can get off the road quickly if she is having issues.

  • I also wanted to be able to put all of their regular appointments and classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays.

  • I wanted to make all the doctor appointments on W/TH/F and only one appointment a week so that we would be home most of those days.
So this is what I have so far as out of home experiences ...

Monday ~
  • The big teen will be at the nature center doing his internship for 6 hours.

  • Ballet and tap combined class for Little Red Ridinghood (4).

  • Swimming lessons for Goldilocks (7).

  • Neurofeedback for Goldilocks (7).  Neurofeedback is a program that helps rebuild the neurons in the brain due to brain damage.
Tuesday ~
  • Neurofeedback for Goldilocks.

  • World history homeschool class for the big teen.  This is a 10 week course that will complete his world history course from last year.

  • World religion homeschool class for the the big teen.  Taught by the same professor as above.

  • Speech therapy for Tom Sawyer (6).
W/Th/Fri ~
  • We will be at home most of the time!

  • I will probably do errands on every other Friday with payday.

  • Little errands like milk can be picked up when we are out and about on Mondays and Tuesdays.

  • I worked hard to get as many doctor appointments out of the way this summer, so there are only six doctor appointments currently scheduled before Christmas.  In addition, we have two Tomatis loops (8 days each).  Tomatis is an auditory processing recovery program for children with autism, PDD, or Sensory Integration Dysfunction Disorder.
Saturday ~
  • The big teen will be at the nature center for his internship.
Sunday ~
  • Church
So what is left?  Not much, thankfully.  I still have to set up Tom Sawyer's private swimming lessons.  He really likes his current teacher, and we are waiting to hear her new schedule.  It looks like it will be at night but that is okay, since my dh will be able to take him.  Also, I will be signing us up for a theater production or two with our homeschool support group for the group discount.

Secondly, I belong to four support groups in the area.  Each meets once a month at night.  I am considering taking a break from our main homeschool group, since I get lots of support online.  We will continue on with our homeschool special needs support group, FASD support group, and RAD support group.  We also will continue with our adoption play group.

Lastly, I am trying to start up a homeschool special needs co-op with my special needs support group.  If I have to do it all by myself, we will only get together once every other month; but hopefully, I will get some volunteers that will help so that we can get together every month.  I am thinking of doing a FIAR book, activity, social time, and potluck.  I see a real need for a co-op that would be a "safe haven" of sorts for those with special needs.  This is not to say that local homeschoolers and co-ops have been unwelcoming.  However, our special kids are sometimes disruptive with their behaviors and often aren't able to do the level of academics that is expected in normal co-ops.

Wow, this post got much longer that I thought it would.  Thanks for hanging in there.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs ~ Assignment 1

This sounds like a really fun meme.  It will be held every week.  I am not sure I can keep up but think I will give it a go.  If you would like to get to know more homeschoolers, go here. 

This week's theme is "All About You".  I am a blessed homeschool mom of 10 years and am married to my college sweetheart.  We have four imaginative and creative children, two homemade and two sewn into our hearts and lives through adoption.  Our children are in 12th grade, 2nd grade, 1st grade, and kindergarten.  Three of our children have a variety of special needs which keeps us hopping from appointment to appointment.  Some weeks it feels like we "carschool" more than homeschool, but we are finding a balance.

We decided to homeschool when our oldest was in 3rd grade.  He is very learning challenged and has many developmental delays.  He is also pacemaker dependent and suffers from pulmonary issues.  We had tried public and private schools in two different states and were always unhappy with the schools.  The final straw was the bullying our son had to deal with every time he stepped out of his classroom for medically-fragile children.  Also, by the end of 3rd grade, he still could not read at all.  The teachers felt that he was unable to learn, and I just could not believe that.  In addition, I was teaching remedial reading and math to 4th and 5th grade students in his school and could not believe what I was seeing (way too much to go into here).  Anyway, we pulled him out and began homeschooling the next year.  We repeated 3rd grade and he was reading before our first year was complete.  He was afraid to draw because he had been limited to only one sheet of paper in art class and was scolded if he made a mistake.  We saw his love of learning come back to life.  Within months, he was filling notebooks full of drawings.  We never have looked back and love homeschooling more and more with each passing year.

This picture is from last Christmas.  However, it was the only picture of the four kiddos I could find quickly.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Show and Tell ~ Tea Time

It's time for another Show and Tell Friday with Canadagirl.  We started doing tea time this week.

I love to follow the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling whenever I can.  How much more Charlotte Mason can you get than to cuddle up with a good book and drink tea while reading to your dear children?  Each afternoon when the kids start asking for snack, I bring out a tea set and serve tea or hot chocolate and our snack.  While they are eating, I read to them.  Then when the tea runs out, they narrate back what I have read.  We are currently reading a whimsical tale about a stuffed bunny who must deliver himself to the far off land of North Carolina, America.  Since we live in North Carolina, I think the kids are half expecting a bunny to knock on our door at the end of the book! LOL!!  So far, this special time is going better than I expected.  The kids are listening much better and narrating back more information. 

The first photo is of my little guy with his tea, marshmallows, and sunflower seeds.  Strange tea time snack, I know.

Last thought ~ here is a real little bunny who visited our yard the other day.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Charlotte Mason Planning Bash


Wow!  It is time for another great Charlotte Mason carnival hosted by Westward.  To see more great entries, go to Westward.  I am going to talk about the areas I am planning to change or improve in my homeschool for this post.  If you want to read about all of the subjects we are doing this year, go here to read the big teen's plans and here for the three little ones' plans.

There are several areas of a Charlotte Mason education that I want to improve in our home school this year.  First, I want to use many more living books for math.  There are so many wonderful living books out there for math now.  I plan on using at least two a month with the little ones.  I will read them and do a few lessons around each book.  I also plan on adding in more hands-on activities, such as measuring/weighing stuff, playing all kinds of time/clock games, and lots more measuring in the kitchen.  However, I was concerned about how I was going to add in living books for the big teen.  He is studying algebra this year.  I have found two literature-based books on algebra and so far they are going well.  They are The Journey of Al and Gebra to the Land of Algebra and A Gebra name Al.  My son is really enjoying doing literature instead of math.  LOL!  He doesn't even mind learning the terms and definitions that will help him so much when we crack open the algebra textbook.

The second area that I would like to spend more time on is drawing with the children.  I still have not gotten nature journals going because I have some kids that want to draw what they actually see, and their hands can't create it exactly.  We spend a lot of time out in nature, but they are never satisfied with their drawings.  So instead of being excited about drawing what they see, they complain.  The point of education is to learn and get joy in doing it.  So this year, I am going to work on teaching the kids to draw so that they will hopefully enjoy keeping nature journals next year. I am using the Draw Write Now series.  The kids really respond well to this series and are pleased with their drawings.  I hope to have all the books in the next few months.

The third area that I want to see the little ones improve in is narration and attention to task.  The main way that I will be working on these areas is by reading chapter books to the children.  This has been going okay in the past few months, but I am not completely pleased.  For one thing, they like to play on the floor while I read.  This always worked fine with my oldest, an only child at the time, but the littlest ones start playing with each other and forget about listening to me.  Also, I have one dd who is a visual learner and paying attention to me is very hard for her.  I try to pick chapter books that have a picture somewhere in each chapter but that is sometimes limiting.  I have decided to move chapter books to the afternoon and have a tea time where the kids can eat and drink tea or hot chocolate while I read.  No more playing while I am reading.  

As for narration, I am sure that will improve as they become more practiced.  I am still thinking about how I can help my visual learner concentrate better on chapter readings.  She is my flighty child, anyway, so this is an area that is very hard for her.  I plan on reading the little ones 12 to 15 chapter books this year.  We are currently on our second book, Jeremy the Tale of an Honest Bunny, by Jan Karon and will then move onto Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls.
Lastly, I will be working very hard on character training this year.  Most of my children just need a tune up, but my dd (7) needs an overhaul.  For those of you who follow this blog, you know that she has many issues, and although I understand that she is disabled, this does not excuse her constant disruptions in the home, disrespect to elders, and unkind attitude toward her siblings!  I have decided to take a "no tolerance" attitude toward her for the next few months and see if it will pull her around.  This does not mean that she will not be nurtured and have fun, but a lot more of her days are going to look like this until I see a shift in her attitude.

Thanks so much for coming by.  I hope we all gain lots of ideas from this great carnival.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Show and Tell ~ What to do With a New Sidewalk


It's Friday ... time for another of Canadagirl's show and tell!!  This week I am going to show you the latest way my dh and children have found to give me gray hair.  LOL!  The city has put in a sidewalk from our house to the church up the street.  It spans about a total of four houses and the church parking lot.  It is a gradual hill all the way down past our house.  That is, a gradual hill that goes pretty fast when you are on wheels.  We have been busy playing with our new sidewalk.  My husband had the grand idea to start giving rides to the kids on our flying turtle.

Here he is giving our oldest daughter a ride.  They are going at a pretty good clip.  My dh is using his shoes as brakes which is quickly ruining the rubber soles.  All in the name of fun, right?

Tom Sawyer wanted to ride alone with Daddy running along behind holding his shirt.  I am so glad that my dh is out there playing with them.  He is a great dad!

The big teen had to get in on the action with his skateboard.  I am proud that in 18 years of being a mother none of the children ever have had a broken bone.  I hope this new sidewalk doesn't ruin that record!  I hope you all have a great weekend.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Circle Time

I hope I don't come off too public school like, but I decided to add in circle time this year.  I felt like there were so many subjects that I was not hitting regularly last year.  However, they were subjects that I did not want to create 20 to 40 minutes of space in a scheduling book for every day.  So I decided that circle time was the way to get all the little things squeezed in.  Every day circle time consists of family prayer, saying what we are thankful for, calendar skills, the Spanish word of the day, and an Occupational Therapy (OT) project.  I also add in something else such as music, character training, math game, reading game, or cooperative game.  This way I can touch on a lot of subjects in 40 minutes or less.  

So far this week, our circle time is looking like this:

Monday ~ After opening prayer and saying what we were thankful for, we learned our Spanish word of the day (El Globo=balloon).  Then we did our calendar skills.  We then moved on to a money matching game, Don't Break the Ice (OT and cooperation) and two songs from the kindergarten song CDs I have. 

Tuesday ~ We did calendar skills, Spanish word (La flor=Flower), cutting skills (OT) and more kindergarten songs.  We reviewed the Brother Offended chart (character training).

Little Red Ridinghood loved cutting time!  She is really concentrating in this picture.  I think she cut out about five patterns and asked to do more later in the day.

Today ~ We opened with prayer and gratitude.  We then reviewed our Spanish words so far and added with a new one, El libro=book.  The kids loved doing the mazes and did several before I could get them to do the dot to dots (OT).  We finished with more kindergarten songs.

I think this is going to prove to be a great way to get in the extras and wake up the kids' brains at the same time.  Now I just have to figure out a way they can exercise so that I can exercise.  They walk so slowwwwly!

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Show and Tell Friday ~ FIAR Lesson

This week we stepped away from SOTW to concentrate on a Five in a Row (FIAR) book.  We did The Little Red Lighthouse and the Big Gray Bridge.  This is a great book with several themes to follow.  We chose to study New York City, lighthouses, bridges, compound words and boats.  The kids also made a lapbook about this book.  The kids loved making lighthouses out of cups, paper plates, and lots of paint.  Then we studied bridges.  What can you do with 300 tongue depressors and a glue gun?  Make a bridge, of course!  The big teen joined us on this venture.  Of course, after you have made a bridge, you need to walk on it!  Little Red Ridinghood said it looked safe enough for her.  (Notice the children's "cave painting" on the wall behind her.) youngest ds makes it sway, however.  I'm not sure about this bridge...when my oldest dd got on it, I thought it might break.

Yikes!!!  Remarkably, the bridge did not break even when my big teen stood on it, but we decided it would make a better bridge for Play Mobil figures, not real people.  LOL!

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

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Simple Woman's Daybook


 Outside my window ~ The sun is just now coming up.  It is going to be HOT today.

I am thinking ~ Here we go again.  One more crazy week to get through.

I am thankful for ~ Laughter.

From the kitchen ~ This week we will be eating a few meals of Italian and NYC street vendors' style food to go along with our FIAR book, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Big Gray Bridge.

I am creating ~  Model lighthouses with the kiddos later today.

I am going ~ To Tomatis and then tonight our homeschool support group meeting.

I am wearing ~ My nightgown and robe.

I am reading ~ Obit:  Inspiring Stories of Ordinary People Who Led Extraordinary Lives by Jim Sheeler.

I am hoping ~ That we will have a smooth week.

I am hearing ~ The hum of the computer and my dog waking up.  Kids are still asleep.

Around the house ~ Keeping things on the level.

One of my favorite things ~ Sitting outside on a breezy day.

A few plans for the rest of the week ~ My dd (7) has 5 more days of Tomatis, both girls have physicals and shots, swim lessons for two kiddos, and changing the big teen's volunteer schedule so he can take some outside classes this year.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing for you ~ Rub-a dub-dub, two kids in a tub...

To see more Simple Woman's Daybooks, go to the simple woman.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, August 2, 2008

SOTW ~ Ancient Egypt

Things continue to go well with the SOTW.  The kids are really enjoying the coloring pages while I read. They love doing all the great activities.  Actually, we have only been doing about half of the suggested projects.  I love how they have so much variety; that way I can pick and choose what we are capable of.  The kids made a sugar cube pyramid this week.  It is amazing how many building blocks disappear when they are made out of sugar.  LOL!  They also made cuneiform tablets.  Tom Sawyer wrote the word "tap" in cuneiform.  He decided which letters were easiest to write and then made a word out of them.  The kids also made a model of the Nile River and a doll mummy.

The first photo shows the Nile River dry stage with grass seed.  After the kids flooded the Nile River for about a week, the grass sprouted (second photo).  What a great way to teach about early irrigation.  The pot in the corner represents the mountains.  The third photo shows our mummy, pyramid, and cuneiform tablet.  The final photo is a close up of Tom Sawyer's cuneiform tablet.

We are going to take a one week break from SOTW to do a FIAR book.  I found it hard with our many doctor appointments this week to keep up with both SOTW and reading, math, and language arts.  We have even more appointments next week, so I am hoping that doing a FIAR unit study that includes all the subjects will help. 

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, August 1, 2008

Show and Tell ~ PlayMais

My kids and I love different art mediums.  We are really excited about the newest one we have been exploring.  It is called PLAYMAIS ~ a kind of cornstarch pellet that looks like a packing pellet and comes in lots of colors.  What is really great about these pellets is they require no glue.  All you need is a damp sponge and a surface to attach them onto.  You just touch the pellet to the sponge and then stick it onto cardboard, paper, glass, wood, or whatever else you want.  You can squeeze them into different shapes and pull them up and reuse them if you wish.  I love things that allow my kids to explore their imaginations.  They made magic wands, villages, and a house.

Tom Sawyer wanted to make a house.  After his sisters explored their own ideas, they decided to help him with his house (see first photo).

This was a lot of fun.  They had a great time, and we look forward to using PLAYMAIS again.  PLAYMAIS is sold at Amazon, but I found it for less in a museum gift shop. 

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

Blessings, Dawn