Friday, February 27, 2009

Show and Tell ~ Parthenon

My Show and Tell for today is about our studies of Ancient Greece. Our progress with our Ancient Greece studies is going a little slower than I thought with the arrival of a nasty virus and high fever which has struck three of the children so far. However, we have squeezed in some fun learning.

We built two replicas of the Parthenon, which was built to honor the goddess Athena. The first one was premade out of paper.

The second we made out of biodegradable peanut pellets and cardboard. It is a little lopsided, but it was about to be destroyed anyway. Since the real Parthenon was destroyed in 1687 by an explosion during an attack on Athens, we had to burn ours down as well. You would expect nothing lesson from us, right?

Yes, the kids really loved this lesson. Now they want to build other famous buildings that were burned down in history. Hmmm. Anyway, we are limping along and hopefully all will be back to normal by next week.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lent 2009

This is our twist on Lent this year. In the past we have given up a food item to represent Jesus' fast. However, since we have already given up a lot of food for our special diet, we are going to stress the purification aspect of Lent. One area that needs to be purified in our family is the clutter in our home. We are going to give up at least six items (because we have six family members) from our home each day of Lent. I find that our belongings are often a vice to our family. (They are a vice because there are arguments over who owns what, taunting with items, and the fussing that occurs with having to maintain/clean up our belongings.) Even I am guilty of fussing about how much there is to maintain. Everything being messy is the number one reason I freak out. We will move from one area to another and sort through our things in an attempt to get down to the truly meaningful belongings. Once each belonging is placed in the give-away hamper, we will say what is important to each of us that is not a material item. We will then write these messages down and put them in our Lent Jar. The writing of the messages will be the little ones' copy work for this period of time. Lastly, we made a list of 40 people in our lives, and we will be praying for one of these people each day.

Today the kids and I sorted a rarely used drawer and found 16 things we did not need. Hurray!  We then prayed for Grandpa Phil and wrote what we enjoyed that was not material objects. For day one, everyone seemed to record that pets were what they enjoyed.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Friday Show and Tell ~ Homeschooling the FASD Child

This week I was able to see a really great documentary on FASD. Since our adopted dd was recently diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, we have been trying to catch up and learn how to help her. This documentary really was informative for us. If you know any woman of childbearing age who drinks any amount of alcohol, please go see this movie. When you consider that 50% of pregnancies are unplanned and 50% of women in childbearing age drink, this is a serious issue. I would not wish this on any family or child, and it is so preventable. My dd struggles every day with the basics -- all because her birth mother drank while she was pregnant. It is a very sad tragedy.

I was thinking about this and how I homeschool my little girl. We try hard to keep things fun and new to help her constantly wandering attention stay with us. However, she cannot learn a thing if there is a shred of chaos going on. Just having three other kids at the same table can be way too much for her most of the time. Everything must be repeated literally hundreds of times, and then she may remember it 60% of the time. She gives up easily, forgets over and over again, and if pushed too far will melt down. So how does one teach this child? I am still trying to figure this out. However, this is some of what I know.

She learns best with lots of games, especially if they let her move around. She loves reading lessons to consist of reading games and index cards of spelling words all over the room that she can crawl along while sounding out the words.

Art is very important to Goldilocks, the messier, the better! She loves to receive sensory input this way.

Life skills are just as important as reading lessons. She really enjoys cleaning, and it gives her self-confidence to do a job well done every day. 

Table time (especially group time) must be done in short time periods to maximize on her ability to focus on me and what I'm talking about. Here they are reviewing really cool safety cards that show a picture of something dangerous (example ~ a kid chasing a ball into the street), and they have to tell you what is wrong and what they should do instead.

Of course, it is so important to focus on relationships all the time. This is a huge challenge for Goldilocks. Interacting peacefully with her siblings takes a tremendous amount of work. She very much looks forward to alone time (one hour every day in her room), when she does not need to interact with anyone. 

Every FASD child is different, but this is what I have figured out so far.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Homeschool Open House ~ Our Tea Time

For homeschool open house this time, I am going to talk about one of our favorite times during the day that used to be a real problem area. This school year we added in a special time we call tea time. We get out the teapot, a variety of teas, and a good book to read aloud at snack time. I wanted to start reading all of the great literature that was out there but was having trouble keeping my 5, 6 and very special needs 8 year old engaged with chapter books that had no or few pictures. So I decided that if their mouths were full they would not interrupt me as often. Once everyone has selected their tea and snack is served, I read to them while they eat. It has become a time that they really look forward to, and we manage to do it about three to four times a week. We only read for about 15 minutes a day (we read a lot more during the day but only 15 minutes during tea time), but it is a time when I want them to give me their full attention and enjoy themselves. When I am done, they narrate back or are asked questions. So far this year, we have enjoyed the following books:

What Would Jesus Do?
Jeremy: The Honest Bunny
Farmer Boy
Sarah Plain and Tall
The Gift of the Magi
Little Women (we read about four chapters relating to Christmas and winter activities)
Skylark (currently reading)

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Do we have eggs back in our diet?

We continue to see great things on our diet. Tom Sawyer (6) has been dry every single night recently! WOO WHOO!! I just don't know what to do with myself after getting to sleep through the night many nights a week after 6 years of getting up at 3 am to change Tom Sawyer! This weekend I decided to reintroduce eggs. I added back egg yolk first because most people are not allergic to this part of the egg. His right ear and cheek turned red and hot while he was eating and for about 40 minutes afterwards. Hmm! Not a very good sign. Since he stayed dry that night, though, I decided to try egg whites the next day. This time, his LEFT ear and cheek turned a tad red while eating and for about 5 minutes afterward. Okay, I can hear some of you all laughing! Tom Sawyer suggested that, as long as he didn't eat both parts together, he would only turn part red! I love that boy's sense of humor! He was dry again at night, so we decided to go for it and give him a whole egg. He made no changes in color. GO FIGURE! I have no idea where to go with all of this input but am happy to report that he was still dry all night. 

So I am left with thinking that he has some intolerance problems with eggs, but is it enough to keep eggs out of our diet? Eggs would really pull down the overall cost on our grocery bill. Also, is it the feed the chicken is getting (corn) that is causing the problem? Would cage-free eggs solve my problem? I think for now I am going to add one egg meal to our menu a week and use store-bought Egg Replacer in our baking. We will see how that all goes.

A few side notes ~ I made gluten-free biscuits with raspberry jam to go with dinner the other night. They were a huge success! Yeah!! I am so proud of my children. There has been no rebellion or attempts to cheat.  Even in social situations (ballet, church, swimming), they have politely turned down the food offered them and stuck to their own snacks. I think it helps so much that we are doing this together as a family. Also, I really think that Little Red Riding Hood's dark circles are smaller. Hopefully, this will be obvious when I take the end of the month photo and compare it to the photo taken the first day of the diet. We are going to reintroduce chocolate on Valentine's Day. I bought a gluten- free chocolate cake mix ($5.99!!) for the occasion. After chocolate, we will give it a few weeks and then try corn. As for dairy and gluten, I really think they are out of our life for years. I may try them again in the fall. We shall see.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Friday Show and Tell ~ Our Next History Unit Study

We are busy starting our study of Ancient Greece with Story of the World (SOTW). I think we will be studying Ancient Greece for about 5 weeks, maybe less. However, this month is really busy with appointments so it will probably be more like 5 weeks. Thanks to the great activity book that goes with SOTW, I have some fantastic ideas planned to make this time extra fun. We will make a labyrinth out of blocks, write our names in Greek, make an Olympic Wreath, write on an Athenian Wax tablet, make No-Sew Greek Clothes and paper dolls, draw a home for the Greek Gods, build the Parthenon, make Athenian Coins, and learn to tie a Gordian Knot.

I made a learning corner with books, Greek figurines (I found at Target on clearance last year) and a cool puzzle book that has stories from Greek Mythology with corresponding puzzles. The kids are already having fun with them.

We will keep you posted on our fun and learning.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Am Not a Southerner

I was born in New Hampshire and raised by Northern parents in the Washington, DC, area (which gets a lot of snow). When I married, we moved to North Carolina where I have lived ever since. However, for all the time I have spent here in this lovely state, I am not much more of a Southerner than I was as a child. How do I know this? I looked out the window this morning, hoping for major snow. Major snow in my thinking is more than 4 inches. The weather report has been predicting major snow for days now. What I saw was about an inch! Big deal! Booooring! Not enough for a snowman! That is my Northern girl response.

My three little children had a different response -- they leapt around the room like crazy little monkeys. They were so excited about finally getting a whole bunch of snow. LOL! You can tell that they are all native born Southerners .... They want me off this computer so I can start searching for enough mittens and scarves to cover them and get them out there.  

On the subject of Southern traits.... My little boy says he does not have a last name ~ he has a front name and a back name.... I am told that this is an Appalachian trait and I think it is used in the book, Christy by Catherine Marshall. I can guarantee he did not get this phrase from any of us. It must be genetic! While doing research on his family history, we discovered that he and his sister's family history is from a small cove in the Tennessee mountains. This explains so much about our adopted children...but can Appalachian traits really be inborn? These two run up a mountain trail but want to ride in a wagon on a straight away sidewalk. They love peas with honey ~ even better if the peas are frozen! They will eat the peas with any utensil. Our Goldilocks is a mountain goat crossing a stream, but often falls walking up the stairs in our home. It is all very interesting ~ to me at least. Well, I am going to put on my happy Southern face and go out there and enjoy the snow as if it is "the biggest snowfall the world has ever seen" (my dd's quote).

Blessings, Dawn