Friday, January 30, 2009

Science Gone Wild

We are very busy with science around here. The Big Teen is doing a survey course of physics and chemistry this year. He got an awesome chemistry set from his grandparents and we have put it to use. Unfortunately, I have only managed to get a few pictures since I have been a bit busy making sure nothing/nobody catches on fire! We only had one spill. That was Potassium Permanganate. Talk about our own mini environmental disaster! We got it all cleaned up properly. We also got a kit to put together a tin can robot. He is very cute when he is racing after the poor dog. The kids have named him Wall-e The Tin Can Robot. 

We have lots more fun in science planned for over the next week or two. I set up a table and a specific area to do our experiments. We have set aside a concentrated time each week for lab work, so we only have to make a mess for a few hours at a time.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Plus MORE Diet

We decided to do this special diet because of our son's continued bed wetting and discoloration of his face and ears after eating. Also, both of our adopted children (who are biologically related to each other) seem so irritable and worn out much of the time. We decided that it may be due to food allergies. If their little bodies were constantly fighting with the food they were eating, then perhaps that is why they were having so much trouble maintaining their behavior. Lastly, our youngest has been suffering from gray circles under her eyes which is often linked with food allergies.  Well, we are on day 5 of a gluten-free, egg-free, corn-free, chocolate-free and dairy-free diet. For the most part, for years we have avoided food coloring, additives, corn syrup, and preservatives. However, in recent months we had really slipped on these. We are trying to avoid all of these as well. So what are we eating you ask? We are eating rice, nuts,  potatoes, beans, meat, vegetables, and lots of fruit. Everything is made from scratch, and as much of the meat and fruit as I can afford is organic. WOW! This is really expensive. The worst part of the diet so far is that I think about food all day long. "How am I going to fill them up?" "We are leaving the house, better take food, because we can't eat fast food." "How are we going to keep affording this?" "Oh, no, snack time again?!!" You get the picture... 

On the upside, I have seen improvements already. Tom Sawyer has not changed colors after any meals. His ears are staying a natural color. Even more amazing, his attitude has improved. He is doing what I ask of him the first time with a cheerful attitude. Even the simplest things like asking him to get out the markers for coloring time could have caused stomping around the table just a week ago. He says he is not so tired. He just seems more easygoing. Also, he has been DRY two nights so far and had a normal bowel movement yesterday -- the first we have ever seen in his entire life (6.5 years)!! (Too much information, I know.) Anyway we are very excited to see these improvements. 

The girls have had no change yet with the dark circles under theiir eyes, but Goldilocks is not changing color after meals. Her behavior has been worse, but she slept 13 hours last night so I think she is detoxing. Everyone's body cleans itself out in different ways. Also, any changes in routines always are difficult for her. The kids haven't given me any trouble about the diet. They miss hot chocolate and I miss popcorn. It is such an easy snack. I know this will get easier with time. I hope that the cost will come down once I learn to make more of the special foods from scratch, and right now I am letting the kids have treats like safe potato chips to encourage compliance. I also hope that we will get back chocolate and eggs in the next few weeks. I don't have much hope that we will ever get dairy back. I have suspected for awhile that it was causing us problems. Also, we had one mistake this week when a friend gave Tom Sawyer one little piece of oatmeal cereal. His ears turned red and his face got all splotched within minutes. I read the box and saw that it had wheat, oats and BHT. Methinks gluten will not be our friend for a good long time. I am relieved to be seeing improvements but miss the old ways.  Oh well, we carry on.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, January 23, 2009

Our Soda Party

One thing our children wanted to do in Atlanta was go to the Coca-Cola Museum. We did not go because it was rather costly. The kids had been once before a couple years ago, and the older ones remembered the soda fountain at the end where you get to drink as much soda as is humanly possible. It turns out that's the part they were missing. We never buy soda at the grocery store, so it is a real treat to them to get some. I decided to give them their own soda fountain night.

First we picked out some different sodas to try.

Then the tasting began...

Which quickly turned into mixing very strange drinks.

All had fun mixing and giggling.

This is what we were left with at the end.

Awww! Such sticky fun! Why did I bathe them first?!?!

Well, the fun is over. Tomorrow morning we start a gluten-free, egg-free, corn-free, dairy-free diet. We are hoping to track down what is causing some of the children to have large grey circles under their eyes, splotches of red appearing on their faces or shocking red ears after eating. Hopefully, we will also discover the solution to Tom Sawyers' bed wetting. We know that Tom Sawyers' and Goldilocks' birth father is very allergic to dairy. Perhaps that is some of our problem around here. It would not hurt if we could clean up some not so fun behavior issues, as well. However, I am not holding my breath on that one! Keep us in your thoughts, please.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The rest of our trip to Atlanta went well. We got up very early on Saturday to pull out of our driveway by 8 am. Our mission for this trip was to see the  King Tut Exhibit and the Terracotta Warriors Exhibit, which were both in Atlanta at the same time. We arrived at the Atlanta Civic Center to see King Tut at lunch time. I will give my opinion about this exhibit for those who may be interested in attending. First let me add in my disclaimer ~ I was raised in the Washington, DC, area and spent my days in some of the greatest museums our country has to offer. Also,  my parents are trained artists and my Father works in the National Gallery of Art. I saw the King Tut exhibit at the National Gallery of Art ... when I was just 2 years old. However, all I remember is my Mother's voice encouraging me to take in all that I was seeing. I also remember all that GOLD. So, in other words, I am spoiled when it comes to art. With that said, I will continue....

KING TUT -- The exhibit was very nicely laid out, and they did a great job of staggering people so that you could really see the displays. The guards were easygoing. Also, the exhibit was dark, which was very soothing to my younger sensory son and really allowed him to get the most out of it. Because we had studied Ancient Egypt for the past month, the kids really understood the displays and ended up educating other visitors, even adults. We even got a comment from one person that said, "They must be homeschooled!!" The exhibit had many artifacts from many pharaohs from the Middle and New Kingdoms. The kids liked King Tut's bed and all that GOLD. However, we were all disappointed that there was not a single mummy in the whole exhibit! The kids and I thought we were going to see King Tut!! Also, even his burial mask was not present. Honestly, I could have seen just as many Egyptian artifacts by going to several other museums. However, for the Egyptologists, at least a lot of it was all here in one place. All that said, the price was high, in my opinion, for what you got to see. We did not pay the extra for the 3D movie.

The next morning we went to the King Center, and after lunch we headed for the High Museum. The ticket price for the museum got you into the Terracotta exhibit, but we bought our tickets in advance to make sure they did not sell out. They typically sell out on the weekends.

HIGH MUSEUM -- The Terracotta Warriors were very impressive. I think there were 15 complete ones, plus a few broken ones. There were also lots of other artifacts in the exhibit. Even though we haven't studied this period of time yet, the kids really were excited to see the warriors. It was a bit crowded since they did not stagger the folks as well as the King Tut guards did. There were some nice seating areas spread around so that we could regroup/rest while others got ahead of us. The guards throughout the museum were great.  They gave a parent enough room to parent their children but not so much room that the parent had to be solely responsible for the safety of the artwork. I have found that, when I travel to a museum with three little ones, we are usually tracked for awhile until the guards see that I have the kids under control. That is fine with me. I know they have a job to do. My children are taught early not to point at pictures but to point with their elbows. A fully extended arm on a small child really worries the guards. From a sensory standpoint, the High Museum was rough on both of my sensory boys. They found the high ceilings, echoing halls and large crowds too loud and almost painful to deal with at times. Overall, this exhibit and museum were great.  The High Museum is the largest in the Southeast. This is the last year to see the Louvre exhibit which covers three floors of one building in the High Museum, should you want to go. My Big Teen saw two Michelangelo drawings in the Louvre section.  We really enjoyed our visit there with a few adjustments made for the sake of the boys. 
If you have a chance to see either of these exhibits, they will be in Atlanta through April. I highly recommend the Terracotta Warriors and recommend the King Tut exhibit, if you are interested in that time period.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, January 19, 2009


We were fortunate to spend Sunday morning at the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia. We are a family that celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every year. When I was a child, before MLK day was a federal holiday, my mother always kept me home from school out of protest, calling in to say why I wouldn't be at school! We would get up early and go down to Washington, DC to march for Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday to become a national holiday. 

This year we had the opportunity to go to Atlanta for another occasion, so we just happened to be in Atlanta for MLK weekend. Even though we woke up to rain Sunday morning, I really wanted to go over and say a prayer for peace around the world at his grave and pick up one of his speeches at the gift shop. We also enjoyed the visitor center and listened to some of the church service that was blasted out into the street from Ebenezer Church. The one part that was not fun was losing Tom Sawyer for about 10 minutes in the visitor center! Apparently, he told my Mother that he was going to the bathroom but she didn't hear him. Let's just say that event took a few more years off my life! Thankfully, we got him back safe and sound.

Grandma and the kids with a statue of Gandhi

Inside the visitor center pretending to march

At Dr. Martin Luther King's graveside, the reflecting pool was almost frozen but the rain let up.

I will hopefully get up an entry in the next few days about why we went to Atlanta in the first place.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Show and Tell ~ Parting the Rea Sea

The children had a great time reenacting the parting of the Red Sea. Little Tom Sawyer was Moses and the girls were escaping slaves. The Big Teen volunteered to be an Egyptian soldier swallowed by the sea. We set up chairs with blue sheets and blankets. The kids then colored in fish and put them on the blankets. For my kids, the most impressive part of the movie, Prince of Egypt, is the scene where the sea is parted and the fish are swimming in the walls of water. While they were coming up with their play, they wanted me to rewind that part repeatedly. 

Our little Moses

Walking through the parted sea

The sea closes and the soldiers are stopped!

The girls have also been putting "baby Moses" into a plastic tub and pushing it up and down the "Nile River" during bath time. Don't you just love it when "school" overflows into playtime?

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lunch for a Pharaoh

We are just preparing to flee Egypt with Moses in our SOTW history study. I thought it would be fun to join in on Muffin Tin Monday this week, since they are doing Royalty. Go over and see all the great royal feasts. We have spent some time over the last few weeks studying Ancient Egypt and what it was like to be a pharaoh. We found that Egyptians ate grapes in all forms ~ wine, juice, fresh and dried. They also really liked beef and ate many vegetables and fruit. However, they did not have plums, peaches, and pears and apples were rare. They believed fish and poultry were unclean, although the poorer population ate them. However, we are having a pharaoh's feast. Pharaohs never
used any utensils and washed their hands in little water bowls between courses.
Clockwise~ grape juice, beef meatballs, blueberries, sticky bread, pecans, and raisins

Of course, no feast would be complete without a "real" pharaoh. My husband stood in as our very own pharaoh, using the fancy mask we had made.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Show and Tell ~ Ancient Egypt

I am a little late for Show and Tell this week, but our way of loading pictures was giving us trouble. It is all fixed now so here I am, better late than never. We are just about finished studying Ancient Egypt. We are using Story of the World (SOTW) this year and the kids are really enjoying it. We added a lot of our own extras and spent some of this past week doing Egyptian projects. First, we excavated our King Tut emblem replica.
It came out in several pieces and needed to be glued together and then painted gold.

Here is the finished product. I was impressed at how much the little ones stuck with it.

We then made a King Tut burial mask like the one found on his mummy.

We also enjoyed our book, The Ancient Egypt Pack, by Christos Kondeatis. It had the mask to make, games and great pop-up pictures like this one.

The kids really caught on to the game, Senat, which was a very popular Egyptian game. They played the game many times throughout the day.

We are really excited about our plan to visit the King Tut exhibit in Atlanta in the next month or two. While we are there, we will also be seeing the Terracotta Army from the Chinese archeological dig that will be at the High Art Museum at the same time.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chemistry Set

The big teen received the Chem C3000 Chemistry set from his grandparents for Christmas. He is very excited about using it and today is finally the day to start using it!

If the Big Teen had his way, we would have torn into the set on Christmas day, but I wanted to do it right and read the manual. How was I to know that the manual would be 167 pages LONG! Well, I have read the important parts and we are ready to begin. I am a little nervous. Did I mention that I never took chemistry in high school or college? Also, just about every experiment in this set is flammable, an irritant, or caustic.  It does look like a great set, though. I love the step-by-step instructions and explanations.

Hopefully, I will have some great pictures for you all in the next few days. If you don't hear from us again, we probably blew up!  Just kidding....

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, January 5, 2009

I Am So Frustrated!

Sometimes living with a special needs child is so hard! My Goldilocks (8) has broken thousands of items since she walked through our door 6 years ago. Of course, I know that things are not as important as relationships and children. However, I am so tired of the constant destruction. It is very important to me to be a good steward to the Earth, to recycle and reuse, and not to waste. So I guess that's why her destructiveness pushes my buttons of frustration.

The "experts" go around and around on why she breaks so much. It's the FASD or the RAD or the ODD -- or maybe she's just rough on stuff. I don't really care what is the reason. I  just wish I knew how to stop the breakage. Since Christmas day, she has broken 2/3 of her gifts.  Interestingly, she has not broken the gifts given from three friends, only gifts given by family members, even though the gifts from family members were exactly what she wanted and seemed delighted to receive. Hmm... me thinks I see a bit of RAD here. Today, she damaged her sister's Christmas doll carriage. Fortunately, it might be repairable. 

I feel bad that Goldilocks' room looks worse than the other children's. That is because she loves to tear up paper and throw it about the room. She has a room with lots of windows and has destroyed all the shades, so they are torn. We can't afford to replace them just to have her tear them again. I'm concerned that her self-esteem is damaged by having a room that looks so bad, yet she tears up books and destroys her favorite things every single day. There is hardly anything nice in her room. She really is a little fashionista, yet she purposely rubs mud into her clothing because "it's fun". So it is even hard to keep her looking dressed as neatly as the other children.

So what do you do with a child like this? Do you throw everything away that is damaged, even though she seems upset about it having been broken? She will have hardly anything left in her room if I do. Do you have a repair time where she has to fix/maintain everything several times a week? I am leaning towards this option, but I am not sure it is worth my effort. Goldilocks is not a gentle child. She is rough on everything, and I am not completely sure how much of it is within her control. I'd really like some advice. 

For example, just the way she eats a peanut butter sandwich makes it get all over her face, even her hair and eyebrows. She colors with a crayon more like a 2 year old would than an 8 year old. If she is left unattended with a bottle of shampoo for a minute, it will all be gone. 

We had six casualties today...three items that were so far gone they needed to go in the trash. I hate the waste of it all. As you can see, I am one frustrated Mommy tonight. Oh well, my rant is over and it feels better to get it out here than rant at my dd. 

On the upside, school is going well. I have a really fun post about our Ancient Egypt project coming up soon.

Blessings, Dawn