Sunday, March 29, 2009

Our Plans for Ancient China

We are starting our unit study on Ancient China. The kids have been waiting for this ever since we went to the High Museum in Atlanta to see the Terracotta Warriors. We have lots of great plans for the next few weeks. We will be using Story of the World as our base and lots of great books as supplements. At the High Museum gift shop, I was able to buy some inexpensive, little stone Terracotta Warriors for the kids to study. Here is a rundown of what we plan on doing.   
  • Make a lap book    
  • Learn some calligraphy   
  • Make a Great Wall of China replica    
  • Learn about and play with Tangrams    
  • Have a green tea testing party    
  • Make and paint clay pandas    
  • Learn about and fly a kite    
  • Make our own Terracotta Warriors    
  • Work with our abacus to increase counting skills by 2's (10's for Goldilocks)    
  • Study and make a map of the Silk Road
To supplement Story of the World, we will be reading:
  • We're Riding in a Caravan (all about the Silk Road) 
  • The Seven Chinese Brothers
  • Ms. Frizzle's Adventures, Imperial China
  • The Warlord's Kites (This is a great math/literature series)
  • The Warlord's Beads


The kids loved learning about Tangrams. They started off building with just the seven tiles but quickly moved on to using all of the tiles for their masterpieces.


(a dancing woman)


The kids also really enjoyed learning some Chinese calligraphy. 

(symbol on left means tree and the two on the right mean field)

We also had a blast this week watching this YouTube movie on the Great Wall of China. It is really worth it if you are studying this time period.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In the Final Stretch

Fifty-eight days ... that is how many days are left before the Big Teen's graduation. He graduates on May 23 at the homeschool convention in Winston-Salem, with cap and gown and high school diploma. To say we are excited for him is an understatement. We are elated. So many in the medical field said he would not even survive to be making his way into adulthood. However, we are scared for him, as well. I am sure all parents go through these thoughts of "Did we do all that we could to prepare our child for adulthood?" This is doubly so when you are preparing a disabled child to make his way in the world. The Big Teen will continue to live with us for years to come, which gives my Mother's heart a sigh of relief. That will give us more time to fine tune all that we can and guide him on his journey. My Mother wants to have him do a post-graduate year next year that she will supervise, since he's not going on to college. There's still so many things he wants to learn about -- more about world religions, philosophy, US and world history, and world lit. We are very blessed that he is willing to be guided and wants to continue living with us. Nonetheless, a major milestone is on the horizon. 

We are still thinking about all the ways we would like to honor this special event. We will do the formal graduation and a nice dinner out. But it seems like there should be more ~ something else more momentous then just dinner out. We are going to be giving him a bus pass to start learning the bus system better (driving still appears out of the question at this time) and some other things to help him move more into independence. He has very few friends so having a big party doesn't seem logical. Most of our family is out of town. However, one set of grandparents will be coming for graduation and one grandmother lives here. My creative juices are a bit low with all that has to be done to get us through this final stretch. So those of you who have graduated a child or are already thinking of ideas ~ what do you suggest, considering that we have very little funds? 

The next few weeks are going to be used to finish his credit hours in chemistry and algebra. I was afraid that these two subjects would be neglected, because the Big Teen hates them -- and sure enough they have. At least 22 of the 28 credits required in this state for graduation are completed, and there are only a handful of hours left to complete two more of the remaining credits. So we are going to be burning the  midnight oil to complete the hours for algebra and chemistry credits. He will make it, but he is going to have to push a bit. Did I mention Senioritis has kicked in big time for teen and teacher?! I really want him done by May 15 so that we can rest the week before graduation. We shall see if I get my wish. Thankfully, the little ones only have 20 days to go before they have their required 180 days. Woo whoo! They will be done in no time, although they beg for school even on weekends, so I'm not sure they will be pleased about my concentrating only on the Big Teen until May 23.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, March 23, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday ~ Rainbow

The theme at Muffin Tin Monday this week is Rainbows. I thought this might be hard but found that I had several choices in most of the colors! The kids loved their rainbow tins. Going clockwise in the photo are rice noodles with spaghetti sauce, carrots, potato chips, grapes, blueberries and organic grape roll-ups.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another Milestone

Well, my youngest lost her very first tooth today. That means that we have just passed another milestone in our home. Since she is the youngest, today was the "Very Last First Tooth" milestone. Oh, my! They grow up so fast. Sometimes the days seem so long, but the years are so fleeting. 

Her new big girl tooth was coming in behind the baby tooth so it is already starting to poke through. The other bottom baby tooth is pretty loose, too. We may get to celebrate twice this week. We do not do the tooth fairy tradition anymore. Our youngest son is very serious about honesty. He didn't like the idea of a tooth fairy coming into his room to look under his pillow at night. He was alarmed about that and even more alarmed when he found out that adults in society make things up, such as the tooth fairy, Easter bunny, and Santa. So early on, we got rid of the tooth fairy tradition. Now we do an ice cream sundae. Since we are on a dairy-free, gluten-free diet, we do a Rice Dream sundae instead. The one who lost the tooth gets to pick out the type of Rice Dream/Soy Dream flavor and which two toppings to go on it. Little Red Riding Hood picked strawberry with pastel sprinkles and organic gummy drops. This morning we got to have sundaes on Sunday for breakfast, which the kids thought was really cool. LOL

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Friday Show and Tell ~ Games, Games, Games

We love games in our family. My kids were so excited when a friend gave us the game, Horton Hears a Who! They could not wait to get home from their play date to play it. 

No wonder this game has won so many awards. It kept my kids busy for 1 1/2 hours the first day. After setting up the board and hiding the clovers, the players move around the board and have to wear the Horton hat when it is time to go out and find a clover. My kids hid the clovers all over the first floor of our home. Then the player must pick up the clover with their Horton hat only. What a great game! Not only does it include some thinking skills but physical skills as well. It is also great for the wiggly child who needs to move around often.

We were also lucky to find a brand new game, Money Matters A Christian Financial Game, at a yard sale for 50 cents. The Big Teen and I had a good time playing it. It took about two hours to complete the game but was a great review of what I've been teaching already about budgeting.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday ~ Green

With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner, we decided to join in on Muffin Tin Monday this week. I had fun coming up with a green meal to fill our muffin tin. Going clockwise in the photo, we have salad, broccoli, grapes, cucumbers, mayo, and Shrek drink (smoothie with spinach, grapes, honey, lime and ice cubes). We also had eggs to complete the meal, but I decided not to make them green this time. The kids loved their green meal and had fun with the Shrek drink. I am so glad I have kiddos that eat their veggies!! The smoothie was a fun way to get in spinach which is new to them. I am not too hip on spinach myself, so never gave it to them!

I hope you all have a wonderful Monday!

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Our Unit Study on Money

We finished Ancient Greece on Monday and are moving onto a unit study on money. My goals for this unit is to get the little ones (especially Goldilocks) to understand the names and values of coins and how to add them up to a dollar. To make this unit more challenging for Tom Sawyer (who already knows all of the coin values and how to add them up), I am making this a math/literature study. We will be reading My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tololwa M. Mollel, which is a wonderful book about a little boy in Africa who tries to save up enough money to buy a bike so he can help his mother get to the market more easily. We will make a lap book to go along with this book. Tom Sawyer will be doing a lot of advanced money combinations and working on understanding banking skills. He also is very interested in saving his allowance and has been doing a good job of it. All the children will work on paying for things and making correct change. Tom Sawyer will also work on learning the value of special coins (half dollar and such). It has become obvious that Tom Sawyer is going to have to break away from the girls in his lessons very soon. He often knows already what I am about to teach, and I don't even know where he learned the information! Schoolwork comes so easily to him. Little Red Riding Hood is learning fine in her kindergarten materials and Goldilocks (age 8) with all her special issues is working below kindergarten in some areas and a bit more into kindergarten in others. I am really starting to see that Tom Sawyer is being held back in some areas, and I will have to either do his lessons separately or do more advanced multi-level teaching than I have been doing. I will see if I can do the advanced multi-level teaching with him in this unit study.
(Our unit study corner)

We kicked off this unit study by going to our local hands-on museum to see Moneyville! The kids had a blast in this special exhibit, and it ties in so nicely with our unit study. We plan to go back at least one more time before it leaves. 

The girls loved being bank tellers.  After about an hour of playing in Moneyville, Goldilocks could tell me how many quarters were in a dollar. That doesn't mean she will remember it this morning, but she did know the correct answer for a while.

Tom Sawyer got some help from his big brother at the lemonade stand. They were making a very nice profit by the time they were through.

They had lots of self-correcting puzzles to help the kids learn their money values. Puzzles are one of Little Red Riding Hood's favorite things. Overall, it was a great exhibit and a wonderful kick-off to our unit study.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, March 9, 2009

Update on Our Diet

I've received many questions about our special diet. We are doing well. We got back chocolate on Valentine's Day. We saw very little reaction. However, we really overdid the chocolate consumption and Tom Sawyer had trouble going to sleep. So far we have not been able to eat out with much success. Tom Sawyer has had accidents almost every time we have eaten out, even though we thought the food was safe. Also, Goldilocks's eyes have turned purple and grey underneath whenever we have eaten out as well. Still, I think we are seeing an improvement in behavior with both Goldilocks and Tom Sawyer. They get through the day without seeming quite so irritable. I am able to push them just a bit harder to get through things that before would have been asking too much of them. However, there is still a lot to work on in their behavior.

Basically, we eat an abundance of fruit with homemade hash browns, garbanzo bean biscuits or an egg for breakfast. For lunch, we eat lots of salads (lettuce, nuts, veggies without dressing or a little organic mayonnaise) with rice/rice cake/or homemade french fries. Sometimes, we have rice cake sandwiches with organic lunchmeat and fruit. Dinner consists of organic meat/veggies/rice or rice noodles. Snacks can tend to be the hardest thing of all. Filling them up seems to be a real problem. I've found that something either chewy or that they can suck on seems to be more satisfying to them. They like homemade popsicles, fruit, raisins and peanuts, popcorn (however, I am not sure whether or not Tom Sawyer should be having corn), and store bought gluten-free pretzels. They also love organic dried fruit bars. For dessert, the kids love Rice Dream ice cream; homemade chocolate Rice Dream fudgesicles; homemade gluten-free blondies; store-bought, gluten-free cookies; and organic jelly beans. Luckily, they were used to only getting ten M&M's before for dessert, so they are happy with 10 to 15 jelly beans for dessert now. After all, organic candy is expensive! 

In fact, eating this way is indeed expensive. We are hoping to offset the cost of this diet by planting a really good garden this year. We also hope to purchase a freezer and buy a half of a grass-fed cow. With the leftover space in the freezer, we can freeze veggies from our garden. We also plan on going berry picking and making refrigerator jam. I am not ready to learn how to can food but find that jams and sauces last long enough in the fridge. My kids could eat homemade jam and applesauce straight from the jar. 

Well, that is where we are now. We are pleased with the diet so far. I can't wait to see my dh's cholesterol results next month. I hope they will have improved. We are all feeling healthier. Having Tom Sawyer be dry at night is so worth the effort of learning a new way of eating. If I have not answered somebody's question, please ask again. I'll answer you if I can.

Blessings, Dawn 


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Friday Show and Tell ~ Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

A few days ago, we celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday. We read lots of Dr. Seuss stories and talked in rhyme for the fun of it. We made a lap book with lots of Dr. Seuss stickers and did lots of Dr. Seuss math pages. The real highlight of the day was making our own Dr. Seuss Play-Doh characters. The kids loved making these. It kept them busy for a long time, which I really appreciated. (I was still a bit slow that day from the flu and needed anything that would slow down the kiddos.)

Allergy side note ~ Did you know that store-bought Play-Doh can cause a gluten allergy? A few weeks ago when we were at the beginning of our allergy journey, Tom Sawyer reacted to playing with Play-Doh. This time he wore plastic gloves. No reaction this time, thank goodness. I think his little body is getting stronger, and he can take tiny little bits of exposure. However, we won't be racing out to test that theory much.

We finished off our Dr. Seuss day with a video of The Cat and The Hat and a meal made of green eggs and ham. Green eggs were a big hit. They taste the same, don't you know!? We may have to have them again for St. Patrick's day.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Remarkable Event

 An amazing event has taken place in our home this past week. Our little Goldilocks got the flu with the rest of the family! What is remarkable about that, you say? Well, in the more than six years we have had her she has only been mildly sick three or four times. Is her immune system that good? (no) Did her birth mother nurse her with some really powerful breast milk? (No, she was fed Mountain Dew or alcohol for the first 16 months of her life.) It is a little known fact outside of mothers of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) children that these kids simply do not get sick. The professionals are not entirely sure why. However, they suspect that it is because these kids' survival instincts are so finely tuned that their bodies actually ward off germs. I don't know how factual this is, but I do know that most mothers of RAD children agree that their kids do not get sick until they are really starting to let their defenses down and begin the healing process. So that is the remarkable part of my week. Goldilocks not only got the flu with a fever, but she took a nap two days in a row without sedating medication. She has not slept one night without sedating medication in 6 years.  Just another way my Goldilocks is letting us know that she is healing little by little. 

This is one of the only pictures I have of my little one sleeping. Even as a toddler, you could not look in on her without waking her up, let alone take a picture.

Blessings, Dawn