Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Snow and Colds

From the Heart

I am thinking, thinking, thinking about kindness and helpfulness among siblings. I found out that the Duggar shows can be watched on YouTube (we don't have cable). I have gone a bit "Duggar crazy" this past week. The thing that really stands out to me with the Duggars is the way the siblings help each other and are so kind to each other in words and actions. I look around me and see room for improvement in my own home. I have a few plans to put into action to start us on a better path.

On the Homefront

Hurray, we got to stay home a lot more this week than last. However, illness struck early on and is slowly moving through the family. We have kept the house afloat but not a whole lot more. We got 8 inches of snow last night so the kids are having a blast. I think they were outside for the first time today at around 8 am. And now we have power outages!!  Hurray!

In the Schoolroom

I adapted our lessons mid-week when it became obvious that we were going to be under the weather. We did lots of snuggling and reading of library books and made a good dent in our teatime book, The Railway Children. Tom Sawyer is really hoping that we are on the mend and back to our normal routine by Monday. I think I heard, "I'm bored" or "When is science or art?"  from him at least 50 times on Friday alone. Tom Sawyer has now memorized four little songs on the piano and read his first chapter book! At least they got lots of P.E. in the snow today.

In the Way of Parenting

So back to my obsession with the Duggars and how to bring more kindness and teamwork into my home. I am starting with words. When a child does something for another child, the child who was shown a kindness is to say "thank you" (no matter how small the kindness). The child who received the thank you is to say "my pleasure". We are on day two of this and so far it is almost 100% prompted by me, but I see happiness in their faces over the thank you's. It is always nice to feel appreciated. We will see how this goes.

Secondly, the extra nurturing with Miss Goldilocks seems to be holding her much more steady. She usually goes downhill real quickly when I am sick (even with a simple cold). She does not like to see any weakness in her Mommy, and it make her behavior go out the window. This week she has stayed the course of "pretty good" behavior.  Hurray!!

As a Wife

It was a nice week with hubby getting home from work on time most days. We are looking forward to our once a month date night next week. I need to start thinking about where to go. This time, it's my turn to plan the evening. We so often go out to dinner followed by drooling at the local bookstore. I would like to do something different this time. Maybe bowling or ????? Anyone have any ideas for somewhat cheap and fun dates?

Family Time

Lots of snuggling and watching the Duggars together this week. Do you see a theme here? LOL! We did brave the great outdoors today to have some fun sledding and making ice/snow forts. 

Charades has become an absolute favorite game around here. My kids' creativity is amazing! They really think up some clever things to do. They are also getting so good at UNO that they are beating my husband and myself on a regular basis!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Big Snow Storm Is Coming

The news says a big snow storm is heading our way. It should be here in about 6 hours! Usually, I am very excited about snow, since we do not see it very often. However, I'm concerned because it is supposed to start during rush hour when my dh is coming home. Also, most of us our sick. We are fighting a nasty cold and some of us even have fevers.The thought of sledding is making my head hurt! Since the weather man is predicting up to a foot of snow and possible widespread power outages, I feel like there is lots of work I should be doing to prepare. I really should make some food that needs no heat source and catch up on the laundry (our laundry room is unheated and the pipes often freeze in storms like these). In addition, the yard should be prepared, car moved out from under the tree so falling branches don't crush it, and the sleds found. To add to my worries, the one child who is not showing any signs of illness is the one who needs to be supervised at all times. So I am adapting our day to get through it and handle the extra workload with lots of rest for Mom and the little sickies. 

We will run our day like this ~   
  • 30 minutes of work time
  • 30 minutes of rest time
  • 30 minutes of school time
  • 30 minutes of rest time
Around and around like that until we get to the afternoon where there will be a 2 hour nap time. I can't wait for nap time!

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Circle Time

I bet you can't guess where we do circle time? We do circle time on the upstairs stairwell landing and in the stairwell. Sounds like a funny place, huh?! It works great for us. I was trying to get all of the posters in the house in one place and started putting them in the stairwell. Then I thought it would be a great place for our weather tree. Since the weather tree is part of circle time, we decided to move our calendar and routine chart to that location as well. 

So each morning after morning chores are complete, the kids gather on the top stair landing.

(Little Red Riding Hood is sick and couldn't muster up a smile this morning.)

The first thing we do each circle time is go over the routine for the day. I love the system I came up with last year. We can move the little velcro cards around according to what we will be doing on any given day. Next we go over our calendar skills and family rules. Our family rules are ~   
  1. Mind your own business
  2. Obey Mom and Dad
  3. Respect all living things
  4. Respect everyone's belongings

(Under our calendar is our people timeline.)

Next we record that day's predicted weather on the weather tree. We just started this New Year's Day and are really enjoying it so far.

Once we are done with the weather tree, we review one of our posters. We either review the world map, U.S. map, continent map, geography terms, solar system chart or the Pledge of Allegiance.

Lastly, we review one of our books. Right now we are doing a book on families around the world. It is interesting to see how others live. The kids then find that family's country and continent. Before this book, we reviewed safety cards and next we will be doing a book on body language.

It is amazing how much we can get done in about 20 minutes time. So do you do circle time? What does it look like in your house?

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up ~ January 23

From the Heart

I am thinking about what more our family can do for Haiti. It is just crushing to know the horrors that are happening to the people there. Additionally, Goldilocks' doctor wants her to start a medication that I am really not thrilled about. I understand his reasoning, but I don't like the possible side effects. I guess we will reluctantly give it a trial run. 

On the Homefront

It doesn't seem like I was home much this past week. I think we drove about 160 miles this past week with 89 miles being on one day. I really want to get control of the doctor/therapy appointments so that there is only one or two a week. Weeks like this past one makes that desire seem impossible. However, I did manage to stay on top of the laundry, bathrooms and kitchen. The kids are doing a great job keeping their rooms up. I am surprising them with nickels some days if their rooms are really clean, but the catch is that they don't know what day they may get surprised with a nickel.

In the Schoolroom

Even though we were not home much this week, we made it through 90% of our lessons. The only subject that was not touched was art. Our books and the lesson plans I had prepared on Botticelli are missing. Go figure! I have started teaching all three little ones the piano. Tom Sawyer likes it the best and has been learning a little bit here and there from me for a year or so. The girls are not so sure about it but sit through my very short lessons. We are starting the Middle Ages and I am really excited about some of the projects I have planned. Much to my surprise, all of the kids are really enjoying Latin and are starting to retain vocabulary. 

In the Way of Parenting

I am trying to work very hard on the nurturing piece of parenting with my Goldilocks. With her special issues (RAD/FASD), she often really resists being nurtured. I am afraid I have developed a habit of not being very affectionate toward her since it makes her uncomfortable. However, the last 2 months her behavior has slid further and further downhill. One morning recently, I woke up convicted that what I needed to do was gently but forcefully bring the nurturing piece to the forefront of my parenting. So for the last week, each morning I have taken 20 to 40 minutes to have one-on-one time with her. I try to paint her nails, rub her back, put lotion on her hands, clip her toenails (whatever she will let me do peacefully). She has made a drastic shift in attitude. I hope this will prove to be the next piece to the puzzle in helping her heal.

As a Wife

I have had to bite my tongue this week about my husband working late every night. I know his promotion is a blessing and that his work ethic is what got him there, but I am really struggling with the change in our routine. Hopefully, he will have the job down and organized in the next few weeks. They are terribly understaffed in this new department so it may take some time. We are making the most of our weekends together as a family and wife/husband.

Family Time

We went to an inflatable indoor playground this weekend, since it has drizzled both days. Everyone had a great time. Daddy really got into it. We are also adding in a game night each week. We played charades this week. The kids really loved playing this game for the first time and were very creative.

 Can you see my husband underneath the children?

Blessings, Dawn


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Viking Funeral

A few days ago, we held our Viking funeral to finish up our studies on the Vikings with Story of the World (SOTW). The kids made a man out of a wooden clothespin. Little Red Riding Hood painted the man all in blue. Yes, it was the Celts that went into battle painted blue, not the Vikings, but she wanted to paint him blue. The kids really had fun with this project. Hey, it is always fun if it involves fire, right?! That is the way the boys think, anyway.

I am going to set SOTW aside for our study of the Middle Ages. I feel like the book is not meaty/interesting enough to really hold the kids' attention for this time period. I know loads about the Middle Ages and look forward to diving into a nice unit study. Happy learning!

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Our Latest Nature Walk

This week's outdoor challenge was to go back and look at the tree we are following this year. Our tree (an Oak) had many brown leaves still on it. We were really surprised to see leaves still on it considering all of the high winds we get around here. The kids studied their fall drawings and added winter drawings in their nature journals. They also did some bark rubbings. We are going to go back with a pruning shear and get a branch that we can put into water and try to get the buds to bloom. 

We also went on a wonderful nature walk at a local waterfall. The ice around the water fall was actually blue. I had to go research why that was and found out that, basically, ice acts as a filter. If it is thin, all of the light hits the ice and reflects white; but if if is really thick, then visible light gets absorbed into the ice, with yellow and red at the beginning of the spectrum, and blue is what remains to be seen.* See footnote for more detailed explanation. Very cool. This is one of the things I really love about homeschooling! All of us are learning something new.

The stairs were so slippery and still covered with ice.  You really cannot see how blue the ice was in these pictures.  It was really neat to see.

On this same adventure, we also went to our local fish hatchery.  It was so much fun to feed the trout and learn about their life cycle.  If we had brought more quarters for fish food, the kids could have stayed there all day.

Little Red Riding Hood fed one fish pellet at a time. She would carefully pick out a special fish and try to feed it. Not an easy feat when there are hundreds of trout trying to get one fish pellet.

Blessings, Dawn

*The color is caused by the absorption of both red and yellow light (leaving light at the blue end of the visible light spectrum). From the surface, snow and ice present a uniformly white face. This is because almost all of the visible light striking the snow or ice surface is reflected back, without any preference for a single color within the visible spectrum. The situation is different for light that is not reflected, but penetrates or is transmitted into the snow. As this light travels into the snow or ice, the ice grains scatter a large amount of light. If the light is to travel over any distance it must survive many such scattering events. In other words, it must keep scattering and not be absorbed. If it is only a centimeter thick, all the light makes it through; if it is a meter thick, mostly blue light makes it through, and that is what we see.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help For Haiti

In the wake of the horrible earthquake in Haiti, our family wanted to do something to help. But I did not just want me to write a check and then tell the children that we had helped. I have stated before that one of our main goals is to teach our children to be charitable toward their fellow beings, so I really wanted them to be part of this giving process. We are loaded down with medical/therapy appointments right now, and the kids are too young to work for local organizations that are helping out. So what to do? I was standing in my kitchen thinking about what to do and realized that even though it was almost grocery shopping day, we were not down to crumbs like we often are. There were lots of varieties of flour, 4 pounds of carrots, a little bit of meat (about 1.5 pounds) and a bag of organic potatoes (please note, it is essential to eat only organic potatoes or those you grow yourself), several cans of beans, four gluten-free muffin mixes, two bags of rice cakes, 3 pounds of frozen fruit and a host of miscellaneous items. My children eat lots of fruit and LOVE vegetables, but fruit is especially expensive this time of year. My dh and I decided that we would try to get by on what we had and spend only $30 for groceries this week. We usually spend about $100 per week for our family of six. Our grocery shopping runs from Thursday to Thursday. We will send the remainder of our grocery money to Samaritan's Purse or Partners in Health. This is the best way I could think of to help the kids FEEL that they were giving. Yes, they will probably complain a little bit, but they are so blessed to have all that they have.  I am sure that we will have many teachable moments in the coming week. I expect that our week will have very few desserts; we will probably run out of fresh fruit by mid week; and there will be almost no meat with meals. Did you hear my husband and Timothy groan on that last one? Gasp -- ALMOST NO MEAT?!!

I am also going to use this opportunity to learn some of Clara's cooking techniques. Have you watched any of Depression Cooking with Clara on YouTube? I love her show.We had Peppers and Eggs for lunch today. Yummy!!!

This is what I bought today for $22 from our scratch and dent store. They carry organic produce and meat from local farmers as well as scratch and dent items.

My husband's only request was that we stick with our plan of eating 75% organically and mostly gluten free. Everything here is organic except the red pepper. The remaining $8 will be spent on organic peanut butter and yeast to make bread. We will only give a tiny bit of homemade bread to Tom Sawyer, who is the one we notice has the most trouble with gluten. He seems okay if he only has a little bit of gluten three times a week. I know groaning about this amount of food is really silly when you think of the Haitians who have been surviving on MUD cookies for the last couple years, but we are spoiled. I'll let you know how we did. 

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter Nature Walk

We went on a nature winter walk this weekend with Daddy. It took some bravery since it was only 21 degrees outside (not including the wind chill). Brrrrr!!! While on our walk, we decided to try to find some cattails to see what they looked like during the winter time. 

We went to our local wetland park. The kids were so excited to see iced over bodies of water (even if it was 9 inch deep wetlands~lol). Before long they were walking on the ice with Daddy in the lead.
They found dog and bird tracks in the snow.  They had fun taking pictures of the tracks.

After a bit of looking, we found the cattails. The kids checked their nature journals and were surprised to see how much they had changed. 

They were all fluffy and the seeds were blowing away in the wind.  My most impulsive child picked one of the cattails, so of course we had to take it home and study it.

When we got home, we explored our cattail in more detail. That one impulsive child (again) encouraged our study by pulling some of the fuzz out of the cattail. Before long we had it floating all through the air. What a scientific mess!

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Room Reveal Part 2

Here are two more rooms in our five bedroom makeover. Unfortunately, none of the photos of Timothy's room came out well. I am not sure what went wrong. Anyway, my 19 year old son really did not want his room in the reveal. So I will leave his room out.

Goldilocks was the only one who did not switch rooms during this big room rotation. It was important to us that she get something special in her room so that she felt part of the transition. I was so excited when I found this vanity at a thrift store.

Cute, huh?  Well, it opens up to reveal a cute chair that my Mother found at a different thrift store and decorated to match the mirror that she also found and painted. The drawers are filled with fabrics and ribbons so Goldilocks may decorate her horses.

My Mom also took an old matelasse coverlet and dyed it purple. It came out much nicer than we could have imagined, as it was her first try at dying fabrics. As you can see, Goldilocks' bedroom is painted in two walls with purple paint and two walls in pink, per her request.
She also got a new rug and curtains since her shades were in terrible repair.


The Parents' Bedroom

We moved back to the master bedroom. Ahhh! The space in our new room is fantastic. My Mother gave us an unfinished wood sleigh bed for Christmas (which dh stained a beautiful honey maple), and my in-laws gave us some deep pocket sheets. Since my Mom now feels like an experienced dyer, she took our fading yellow matelasse coverlet and dyed it yellow to brighten it up. It all feels so calm in my room now.

My Mom also gave me this sweet little rocking chair.  It is perfect to sit in when I want to do a little light reading. 

I still need to paint the baseboard on the wall.  We did the same curtain treatment to our closet as was done to Little Red Riding Hood's closet, as they don't have doors.

Here is one of my favorite new things. My Mother (once again) found several radiator covers on the side of the road. Two of them fit perfectly, and the others can probably be adjusted. My dh painted it to match the wall, and it looks great. You know the saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

Well, that is all, folks. I have some homeschooling posts floating around in my brain. Hopefully, I will get one of them up this weekend. It seems like I have been ignoring homeschooling lately on this blog. It really is still happening, and I look forward to getting back to posting about it.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Starting out the New Year with a Bang!

We tend to start out each New Year with a bang. A few years ago, the car needed huge repairs just days into the new year and last year the water heater died on New Year's eve. It has kind of become a habit to wait and see what is going to break down before we can use our Christmas money on something fun. This year we thought that a big chunk of money was going to go to the bathtub that needs refinishing. That is still a priority since we fear it is leaching lead. No one is allowed to have a bath or shower in that bathroom until it is resolved and the tub man comes out today to give us an estimate. However, as in years past, The House let us know what IT needs, too. Last night fire shot out from behind the stove. I screamed for dh and the electrical system tripped and put the fire out on it's own. Thank the Lord!!  However, the wall behind it is burned. The electrician is laying a new line to the stove as I type. All should be safe again in just a few minutes. We are so blessed that the fire went out on its own, no one was standing at the stove, the stove was on its own line so that it did not spread throughout our electric wiring and that we were at home so were able to get help right away.