Thursday, October 29, 2009

Friday Show and Tell ~ Tim's Shoe

Timothy is really enjoying his continuing education classes at our local community college. This quarter he took classes in woodworking and in learning about his digital camera. In his woodworking class, he made a wooden shoe with hand tools. 

This is the front view. I love all the detail he put into it. The little lines used as trim were burned into the wood.

Here is the side view.  I love the detail of the tongue in the shoe.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trees ~ Outdoor Challenge

We have enjoyed several nature walks around the neighborhood, collecting leaves and observing the change in season. We found an Oak tree as our tree to follow for a year and watch all the changes it goes through.

While taking our nature walks, we found this book to be particularly good for early readers.  It is easy to use to identify common trees. 

Here are some interesting shots that our children took of the neighborhood foliage.

The kids thought this bark looked like a face!

Tom Sawyer misplaced the adult tree identification book, so we cannot identify these strange pods. Hopefully, we will identify them soon. In the meantime, anybody out there know what this is?

Tom Sawyer insisted on stopping every few feet and drawing anything that was NOT a tree. Here he is drawing a picture of a stick. He is our budding artist, after all. 

The kids have been complaining that we have not decorated for fall. So we took the leaves back to our house and did crafts with them. We did the traditional crayon rubbings and pressing leaves between wax paper. 
While we were at it,  we made a table centerpiece with fabric leaves, pumpkins, and apples.
And decorated our own home-grown pumpkin that weighed in at 68 pounds !!
Blessings, Dawn

Friday, October 23, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

It is almost time for the Operation Christmas Child shoebox program. My kids love this every year and look forward to it. This is a really fun hands-on charity for kids. We start collecting things in the middle of the summer. This year we made our boxes early, because I knew we had several hospital trips and doctor appointments in the next few weeks that could cause illness in our family. We wanted to make sure that the boxes were ready in case we are faced with the flu or something else.
This year is really neat because Operation Christmas Child has some new features. They have fun "about me" sheets that you can fill out and put in your box. The kids really hope that they will get a letter back this year from someone. Also, if you pay online for the shipping of your box with EZ Pay, then you will get a tracking number and see where in the world your box ends up. Very cool! As always, you can still watch the boxes being delivered (although not your particular box). We plan on doing this via the Internet on Christmas Day with the kids. It is good for them to see firsthand how VERY, VERY blessed they are as children here in America.

They made five boxes this year, and we look forward to November 16-23 for mailing them.

Another blog I really enjoy about a homeschool family of 14 who are missionaries in Mexico is doing a shoebox mission of their own this year. If we have time, we may join in their box project as well. Go visit the 
Lockwood's if you want to see more boxes.

For those of you who know that we are at Ronald McDonald House right now, Timothy is doing well and we will be going home tomorrow. They figured out the problem that we have been worrying about with his heart and it has now been resolved. His pacemaker is still working well, too.
Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Beach

Bbullard, you guessed right! We did indeed go to Myrtle Beach! We were rained out most of the days but had a very nice time anyway. My father-in-law gave us a wonderful gift of a condo for the week. We so appreciate that gift. We were also blessed that my mother could join us. 
We were blessed with one complete day in the sun and a few stolen hours on the other days.

Tom Sawyer using the sea scope to look for little critters

Dh and I enjoying a walk on the beach

Lots of love notes in the sand

A rascal who was told NOT to get wet being called out

The girls spent most of their beach time digging moats and castles.

On the days that had too much rain to play in the sand, we enjoyed the game room and indoor pools at the resort. Daddy taught everyone how to play pool, and the kids loved playing Wii mini golf.

We also enjoyed going to two movies in the movie theater (a rare event for us!). We saw "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and "Where the Wild Things Are." We also took a day trip to Wilmington, NC. 

We enjoyed touring the historic section of Wilmington and going to the Cape Fear Museum of History. The kids really loved all the hands-on exhibits there. On the way back to Myrtle Beach, we took a ferry ride. The kids were amazed that we could drive a car on a boat. We fed a loaf of bread to the seagulls and pelicans.
Everyone's favorite event was the Ripley's Aquarium. If you have never been there before, I highly recommend it. They also give a GREAT homeschool discount.
The three little ones looking at a coral reef with lots of fish!
One of the most awesome things about this aquarium was a tunnel underneath the huge tank! You are surrounded on all sides by fish, sharks, and sting rays. This sawfish was laying on the roof of the tunnel right above our heads! They even have an area where you can pet stingrays and horseshoe crabs. Some of us were brave enough for that. 

All in all, this was a great trip!

Blessings, Dawn

My Life Is Crazy Busy

I know some of you are waiting for a vacation post, and there will be one soon. Really, I promise. Some of my favorite photos are on the grumpy camera, and I need some help from my dh getting them and loading them up. 

In the meantime, I thought I would talk about lessons learned on vacation. Hmmm ... cable TV is really fun, but I am so glad we do not own it. It was amazing how often all three TV's in the condo were going with an audience of blank stares looking at the screens.  Communication going on? No ... Playing with each other? Not so much ... Noggin has some borderline appropriate shows for my kids to be watching (in my opinion) and the whole channel is geared toward American preschoolers. Hmmm ...  A "clean slate" condo with one floor living is way easier to clean and watch children than a big house. Why does everyone on HGTV want bigger homes when the bigger ones take more work to maintain? I really, really need to get rid of more toys and stuff in general. On vacation, you should have seen how much fun my kids had with two paper cups, a straw and two matchbox cars! I want my children to spend time with people, not maintaining relationships with their things. I really need to think through our schedule and rethink what our priorities are. I think we still have too much on our plate. The problem is that so much of what is on our plate is forced there (for example ~ speech, psychotherapy, Tomatis, allergy diets, and doctor appointments galore). 

Which leads me to the next question ~ What are we really obligated to give our children? Since my children "supposedly" will benefit from speech, OT, Tomatis, neurofeedback, biofeedback, therapeutic horseback riding lessons, swimming, acrobats, therapy, and doctor/orthodontist appointments galore, am I obligated to get ALL of these services for them? What if from some of these services I have seen little to no improvement? What if I am spending so much time chasing all of these services that I don't have enough hours in the day to child train, form the best loving relationships possible between sibs or establish a better bond with my dd who suffers from RAD/FASD? What about all of those support groups I belong to ~ RAD, FASD, Homeschool, Special Needs Homeschool Support groups? It all just seems like too much. I need more time to just enjoy my kids and watch them grow.

Just since we got home on Sunday, I have already dealt with a few voice mail and snail mail crises, unpacked, answered lots of questions from the contractor, and taken one child to an orthodontist appointment. On Thursday, I blow back out of town with my Mother and kiddos to take Timothy for his annual pacemaker check at Duke Hospital. AND then there is the paperwork and battles to be fought to keep some very necessary services in place. 

AND what to do about that nasty H1N1 flu ~ do I vaccinate the kids or just try to isolate more? Ha -- who am I kidding on the isolation thing? We have three more doctor appointments before the end of the month and two additional outpatient stays in the hospital in the next three weeks. But still, I am not sure about vaccinating them for this flu. I am not real eager to fill them with more chemicals. 

Did I mention that there is a thick layer of dust throughout my house (construction), which has the asthmatics in my house sneezing, and that I am trying to homeschool a bit. CRAZY BUSY ....

We have decided to drop speech and several support groups at this time. We will keep up with swimming, acrobats, necessary doctor appointments, our special needs homeschool group and Tomatis. We will pray about what else will stay or go.

Well, I have vented. Come back in a day or two for a really fun post.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, October 16, 2009

Show and Tell Friday ~ Vacation

We are just wrapping up our vacation and packing up to head home. I wonder how many of you can guess where we have been? I bet most of you can figure out what type of place we are in, but can you figure out the state or actual location? Here are my hints:
There are loads of these in the area.
My dh and I can write each other love notes on public property, and we are not breaking the law.
We spent lots of time in the indoor pool, even though one would usually spend all of their time outside. But the weather did not cooperate.
These little critters are nearby but out of sight. Yikes!
So where are we ... for a few more hours at least?

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Little Red Riding Hood!

Little Red Riding Hood is 6 years old! We scheduled a camping birthday party and then had to cancel it, because all of her little friends had the H1N1 flu. So we had a small family camping party on Friday. We set up the tent and played with glow in the dark sticks. The kids loved story time in the tent. We even had a teddy bear cake which Little Red Riding Hood decorated herself.

In keeping with our tradition, I will list six words for 6 years to describe my little sidekick.
  • Expressive   
  • Mother's helper
  • Athletic  
  • Loving  
  • Nurturing  
  • Friendly


Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Friday Show and Tell ~ Week 2 Construction

We are in week two of construction and so far, so good. The framing is almost done, and we should be "dried in" within the next few days. Our contractor tells us that this is the fast part when the weather is nice, and it will get slower down the road. We are hoping to be done by the first week of December.

It is starting to get really noisy around here. There is loads going on inside and out. More of the house is being affected than I expected, but it still is not nearly as bad as people told me it would be. Yes, there is more dust, but the guys clean up after themselves really well. There is always the backyard to escape to when things get really loud inside.

The roof going on

Inside the house, there are pressure beams and bracing going on in Goldilocks' room to  give added support to the new room above.

Also her radiator is out and being replaced with a smaller radiator so that she will have more wall space. Her radiator was so large that it never could warm all the way across. We are very blessed that the radiator man is trading our huge radiator for two small radiators. The only cost to us is the labor. What a blessing that is!

One of our new to us radiators

Yikes, somebody get me some paint! The beams will be covered back up once the inspector has looked everything over at this stage.

As for the new room ~

It is coming along and we are starting to get a better vision of what it will look like. Several of you asked, "Who gets the new room?" That is a really good question. I don't know for sure. Timothy has first choice because he is the oldest. However, he is thinking that the room looks a bit claustrophobic with the attic like walls. More likely than not, the new room will go to Tom Sawyer (7), who is chomping at the bit to have it.

Next week our electricity is being brought up to meet fire and city codes, and our circuit breaker is being upgraded so that we have enough electricity for the new room as well as for the rest of the house. We've been tripping the circuit breaker for years.

Have a blessed weekend!

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Outdoor Challenge ~ Cattails

We finally found some cattails. They are in our local bird sanctuary, so it will be easy to follow them for a year now that we've found them. The kids really wanted to touch them but they were too far away for us to reach, as well as being on protected ground. I will have to keep my eye out for some they can feel.

Here is a picture of my sweet boy trying to climb a tree to reach the cattails.

Here are the children and my drawings of cattails.  Going clockwise~ Tom Sawyer (7), Me, Little Red Riding Hood (5), and Goldilocks (8).

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, October 4, 2009

FIAR Activity Group ... #2

I chose Owl Moon as our theme book for this month's FIAR activity group to read. We went to the WNC Nature Center with our Five in A Row special needs group to learn about owls. We had a wonderful class hosted by Timothy's boss, Keith. He did a great job of including all of the children regardless of their special needs. He even communicated with one child in sign language. I was very impressed. 

We learned all about raptor birds. The kids were really engaged in the learning process and asked lots of great questions. There were lots of hands-on things to touch, including eggs, feathers and nests. The highlight was getting to meet a real live owl.

The kids learned all the body parts of owls, their habits, how they fly and how they hunt. Then they played a game based off of "rock, paper, scissors" to learn about the owl's food chain. We all started out as acorns and went around saying, "I'm a nut" until we met another nut. Then we would play "rock, paper, scissors" and the winner would become a mouse. We went around and around until everyone made it to a predator that could eat an owl. Did you know that crows will dive bomb an owl while it is sleeping and eat it? Owls and crows are lifelong enemies.

After our class, we had a picnic lunch and toured the rest of the nature center. I did not get many photos, since I was talking to other mothers. However, the otter was very entertaining and I did get a picture of her.

I am glad that our special needs group is starting to take off. It is wonderful to have a "safe" place filled with understanding within the homeschool world for our special needs kids. Even in the homeschool world, it has often been a challenge to "fit in" with the normal homeschool groups because of academic requirements or behavior requirements. This group is working out well and hopefully will provide a well-needed service in our area.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A New Adventure

After much thought and prayer over the last year, we have decided that our current home is the "forever" home. We like our low mortgage, land, location, and living in a vintage home. There was only one major problem ~ we needed one more bedroom. We have a unique situation where each of the children needs their own room. Because of Goldilocks' psychological issues, it is not safe for her to share a room with Little Red Riding Hood. Her behaviors are just too unpredictable, and we want both of our dd's to find their bedrooms to be a peaceful, safe place. Goldilocks also sleeps behind an alarmed door for everyone's safety. Furthermore, our disabled 19 year old son will continue to live with us for many years to come. It is important to us, while he needs much support and care, that he also have some independence and a space of his own. So it would not work for him to share a room with his 7 year old brother. That has left our youngest son and daughter sharing a room for a few years. All that said, we decided we had to add a room to our home.

So....the adventure begins. The first indication that something was really going to happen was this showing up in our driveway.

I bet this had any neighbors that we don't know talking up a storm. (We know the neighbors well on either side of us, but cannot seem to get past the waving stage with the folks across the street ~ they keep to themselves but watch us a lot.)

Then changes started inside the house. Bye-bye, bedroom window! This will all be dry walled over after the inspector comes out.

Then this morning the crane came! It was really cold and foggy outside, so the kids only stood outside for a few minutes. I kept telling them how exciting this was but they just kept shivering.

It will be a small railroad room (meaning you have to walk through one room to get to the other), but we are so happy the project is underway. We are also very happy with our contractor, so far. I interviewed a lot of men, but one just stuck out as being really honest, caring, and willing to really look at ways to save us money and build a little bit green. He really is proving to be all that and more. He is very good about safety issues and in giving the kids a safe space to watch and learn. He grew up in a family with 13 kids, so it must come naturally to him to think what the kids need! Also, the men he has hired are very respectful, and I have heard no bad language out of them at all. 

Week one down!  I can't wait to see what next week brings.

Blessings, Dawn