Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, My Treasured Son!

Could it really be that my ds is turning 8 today? He is growing up so fast!

He started his day by getting up at 3:30 am and getting his morning present that we had set outside his bedroom door. Then at that hour in the morning, he played with his new Lego set.

When I checked on him at 5:45 am, he was asleep again. He slept until 7:30 am which is late for him.  We had a relaxing day at home and then headed out to Chuckie Cheese to see some of his friends and play games.

 Then we went to dinner at Ryan's. The kids loved the all-you-could-eat buffet. Tom Sawyer really liked getting lots of Legos and the game, Bug-opoly!

Here is a list of 8 characteristics that describe our son:
  • early-riser
  • affectionate
  • artistic 
  • very smart
  • sensitive
  • curious
  • strong-willed
  • a leader
Blessings, Dawn 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Day in the Life ~ April Edition

Here is the day in the life of our homeschool for April. We are wrapping up school, since we will be done with this year's requirements next week. For that reason our days look different than most of the year. We have finished most of our books and are either reviewing, finishing projects or not doing some subjects at all.

7:00 to 9:30 -  All the kids got up at about the same time as me and got ready for the day. The kids watched Curious George on PBS and I did my morning chores. Then the kids did their morning chores plus helped me fold a mountain of laundry. Tom Sawyer had his computer time while the girls had reading lessons and games. We came back together for circle time and to start our group seat work.

9:30 to 11:00 - This was our seat work time. The kids and I went through a stack of library books (literature) that need to be returned, did two pages of Horizon math, and made candy necklaces.

(Art and Occupational Therapy)

11:00 to 11:30 - The kids watched a Magic School Bus video on Bats. (science)

11:30 to 12:00 - The kids played outside. The tree house was especially popular today.

12:00 to 12:30 - We had hot dogs, baked beans, rice and salad for lunch. We listened to Latin songs while we ate. (Latin)

12:30 to 1:30 - Tim and Tom Sawyer played and weed whacked in the back yard. The girls and I made cornbread stuffing and cranberry sauce for dinner. Everyone cleaned their own rooms. (life skills)

1:30 to 2:00 - We drove to Tomatis. We listened to Your Story Hour ~ The story of Joan of Arc" while we drove everywhere in the car today. (history)

2:00 to 4:00 - While Tom Sawyer and Tim were doing Tomatis (OT and Auditory Therapy), the girls and I made folder games in the waiting room. The waiting room is empty during shifts so we can really spread out with our projects.

This is a pressure swing that is supposed to calm them. He was being a real goof ball in it but did almost go to sleep a few minutes later.

In the waiting room.

4:30 to 6:00 - We arrived at ballet and fencing classes. Dh picked up Tom Sawyer and Goldilocks and took them home. I stayed at the classes with Timothy and Little Red Riding Hood. We are lucky to have the kids taking classes at the same dance studio at the same time!!!

Timothy is the one advancing in the center.

Little Red Riding Hood's ballet class is rehearsing for their part in Alice and Wonderland. They are kittens of the Cheshire cat.

Today, they got to rehearse on the stage they will perform on in a few weeks. They are all very cute.

6:00 to 7:30 - We went home and ate dinner. Dh had already fed the others and they were playing outside, so we joined them as soon as we were done eating. The kids then got ready for bed and were in bed by 8 pm.

That wraps up our day.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Homeschool Survey of Kids

I saw this great idea at bbullard's site and wanted to try it with my kids. The idea is to ask the kids separately what they liked and disliked about their school year. They are free to say whatever they want with no judgments. Then their ideas will be taken into consideration for the next year (within reason, of course). Paraphrased from my notes:

Goldilocks (9)

What worked --   
  • I like Explode the Code.
  • I like piano lessons with Mom.
  • I like the Story of the World coloring pages.
  • I like FIAR and the FIAR field trips.
  • I "medium like" math but it is very hard.
  • I want to continue all the field trips and (out of the home) classes (swimming, art, bowling).
  • I like story time and library books.
What could change --   
  • I want more cooking time with Mommy.
  • I wish all of school could be easier so my brain would not hurt.
  • I want more worksheets and copy work.
  • I want seat work to take most of school time because it is faster than projects.
Tom Sawyer (8 next week)

What worked --   
  • I like nature studies and other hunts like the president hunt.
  • I like our Latin program.
  • I like piano lessons.
  • I like picture books of history and biographies more than SOTW.
  • I really like math games.
  • I like hands-on projects.
  • I like my schedule that tells me what is coming next.   
  • I like the museum art class and FIAR field trips.
  • I like swimming.
  • I like reading to myself (especially historical graphic novels such as Journey to the Center of the Earth).
What could change --   
  • I want more math games and math stories.
  • I don't like read-aloud books because it is so hard to concentrate.
  • I HATE narrating back.
  • I do not like Explode the Code. It is boring and a waste of time.
  • I do not like copy work for the same reasons as Explode the Code.
  • Stop making us leave the home in the morning before we get our school done so it can be finished all at once.
  • We need more science.
  • We need more art lessons and less music lessons. 
Little Red Riding Hhood (6)

What worked --   
  • I like history celebration parties and dressing up like historical characters.    
  • I like nature walks and our nature journals.    
  • I like Explode the Code.
  • I love FIAR books.
  • I love field trips and playing with friends.
  • I like SOTW coloring pages.
  • I love P.E. classes (bowling, swimming and ballet). I wish we had them every day.
  • I love tea time and snack time. I wish we had more snacks.
  • I like math stories and flash cards.
  • Horizon math is okay.
  • I like circle time.
  • Latin songs are so much fun.
What could change --    
  • I don't like reading lessons.
  • I want you to teach more Spanish and start teaching me sign language.
  • I don't like copy work.
  • I want smaller math pages (fewer problems on the page).
  • I wish we only did Bible time on the computer (children stories played on CD player on computer). 
My Reflections --   
  • I think Tom Sawyer is ready to move on to real grammar and creative writing.  Maybe that will reduce his stress around writing. I did not realize it was boring to him. I will look at our grammar programs and decide which one to move him into.

  • Is Little Red Riding Hood planning on become an ambassador or working for the U.N. as a linguist?!? She really seems to like the languages. I would love to bring sign language into our home. It is the only language that comes naturally to me.  I will look into how to add more Spanish and sign language into our days and keep up Latin. 

  • We will keep up the field trips, FIAR support group and some classes. The kids have done well in all of the classes we tried this year (regardless of special needs status), so I will be looking at cost and value more than special needs vs. normal kids next year. 

  • I suggested to the kids that we could listen to more books on tape in the car and have less of my reading aloud at home. I have noticed that they like to listen to Latin and poetry in the car. They loved the idea. Tom Sawyer said it was much easier to concentrate in the car. Look into books on tapes and make a list of what the library has.
  • I will have to think about narration and read aloud books for Tom Sawyer.  I think narration is a very valuable skill but one that really is causing Tom Sawyer problems. He does not seem to have any auditory learning bones in his body. Perhaps if he created his own picture from what I or a tape is reading and then narrated from his picture, it would help him. I wonder if he is too young to start learning note taking and then narrate from that. Think it through.

  • I find it interesting that no one mentioned educational DVDs. I wonder if they see that as TV time because it counts against their media time. Keep some educational DVDs, because they are good for visual learning and to give me a little free time when I must do something else around the house. 

  • Hmmmm! Tom Sawyer's desire to stay home and finish school in one lump is difficult. That will take some thought. Think of options.

  • Goldilocks wants school easier and more busywork  workbooks. She is my most learning-challenged child at the moment and has a low IQ to boot. She made some real progress this year on testing, however. She is a child who needs to be gently pushed but also needs to see her improvement regulary for her own confidence. Look at her suggested goals from our professional education tester and keep the learning bar high but within reach.

  • Keep what worked on the schedule!

Blessings, Dawn   


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Pollen, Pollen Everywhere

From the Heart --

We had another good week. It really shows how being organized can help avoid many bumps. I keep reminding myself to maintain balance and peace as much as possible. The pollen is really getting to be a bit much. It's draining our energy and making us feel miserable, but it is so lovely outside that we can't keep ourselves inside. 

On the Homefront --

We are getting the garden underway. I am doing a salsa garden this year. We will also have some melons and pumpkins. The kids are excited to see if our raspberry bushes produce this year. They look very healthy. We lost most of our strawberry crop last year. I do not know if I put the straw on too thick or if the unusual amount of snow we got had something to do with it. It's a big disappointment, as the children love to eat them right off the plant. I'm doing more and more container gardening in the hopes of cutting down on weeding. Old tires and buckets from the basement are being filled with good garden dirt and a plant or two.


In the Schoolroom --

The most exciting part of school this week was getting to go to our museum's homeschool art class. The kids toured the portrait gallery and then made self-portraits. The teacher did a lovely job of explaining how to make a face. Tom Sawyer loved that there were nine boys in the class this time.

Little Red Riding Hood really worked hard on hers. She was not able to find the right color for her hair but it came out great anyway.

Tom Sawyer was way too busy talking to the other boys to be bothered with his mother's picture taking. He was trying to make a caricature of himself, so he made the eyes red and a crazy hand/fist.

Goldilocks really concentrated on her project this time. It was nice to see her putting real effort into her work.

In the Way of Parenting --

With our schedule being so hectic due to Tomatis and so many other appointments this month, my Tom Sawyer's rigid ways are driving me a bit crazy. I am working hard on keeping my patience in check and remembering that being flexible is a huge challenge for this child. I have taken to having a few minutes in the morning cuddling with him and praying for our day together. We mostly pray in silence (Quaker style), and our days go so much better when I start the day this way. 

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Hanging in There!

From the Heart

Well, we are 11 days into this very busy month and so far things are holding steady. Most of the time I am hanging onto joy and making the kids' world enjoyable as well. The next 2 weeks will be the most difficult of the month, so I am just praying and bracing for it. I might as well get used to a really crazy schedule every few months anyway. When my son went in for his occupational therapy evaluation at Tomatis this past week, the evaluator told me what I kind of suspected. Our experiment of doing Tomatis every 4 months instead of every 2 months had failed this past year. Since Tom Sawyer is really struggling with sensory issues and seems very autistic some days, we need to resume the 8 day loops every 2 months for the coming year. Hopefully, after the loop we are just beginning, which will actually last 10 days this one time, Elijah MIGHT be back to the great place he was in 10 months ago.

On the Homefront

When the going gets tough, the tough get help! I brought back by popular demand the chore packs! The kids have morning chore packs and evening chore packs with an extra 15 minute "help mom time" in the middle of the day. The kids really prefer to have their chores in a little pack than to have to run back and forth and check the chart.  Hey, as long as they do the chores with happy hearts, I don't care what system they use.

In the School Room

We are winding down school now. The kids are done with language art books, science goals, art goals and music goals. Little Red Riding Hood is on lesson 80 of 100 Easy Lessons reading book. She might even get her reading party before school lets out.   That is the goal anyway. The kids really enjoyed our travels on the silk road last week. 

Family Time

We still managed to get some nice family time this week. We had a picnic this weekend and then walked on our city's urban trail. Here are some pictures from our walk.

Behind the children is our brand new city park with a splash zone that will open this summer. You know where I will be soon!

 I love this picture of Little Red Riding Hood with a statue.

I love this sculpture of Thomas Wolfe...can you see Tom Sawyer?

They had fun standing in Thomas Wolfe's enormous shoes.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Our Travels on the Silk Road

We took a history walk this week. The kids loved doing this and I think I will be using this teaching tool again. I got the idea from our SOTW activity book, and it only took about 20 minutes worth of effort to put it into practice.

I told the kids to find their book bags and put some goodies in them to trade for new goodies. They were then instructed to put their shoes on and sit on the back porch with big brother (Timothy) and listen to him tell them new and interesting facts about Marco Polo. Timothy is a walking "history book". He comes in very handy in this way. I highly recommend getting a walking history book if you can. While he was telling them about Marco Polo's adventures, I ran around the house building the Silk Road.

The kids were then instructed to get their Silk Road map and start their journey through the "Taklamakan Desert". They were instructed to listen for the music of this desert, which is created by the sifting sands and to reserve their energy because there was no oasis until they reached "Tun-huang-shih".

This is them trying to look like they are suffering in the heat! Just ignore the grass, people. That is really sand dunes you are seeing. You have a great imagination, right!? LOL

They arrived at "Tun-huang-shih" and were delighted to rest and have a snack.

Then it was time to move on through the great "Gobi Desert". Unlike the previous desert, this one has oases throughout.The kids stopped for a drink from a cool water pool at an oasis.

At last they made it across the desert and to "Loyang-shih". Here they were able to rest and enjoy exotic dishes. (The most exotic thing I had in the house was homemade lemonade and organic onion rings.) The kids only get juice about twice a month so it is exotic to them.

Now it was time to journey up the Yellow River.  

They used "oars" to row on the "Yellow River" all the way to "Peking".

Ahhhh!  Peking, the land of trading ~ silk, gold and spices of all kinds...

The kids traded for a long time before traveling the Silk Road about three more times.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Timothy!

Wow!  My oldest is 20 years old today! We had a lovely day. The kids and I took Tim out to see the movie, How to Train a Dragon. It was a fun, family-friendly movie. When Daddy got home, we went to a Himalayan restaurant. Timothy really likes experiencing different kinds of ethnic foods. Grandma also joined us for dinner. The food was spicy. I was pleased and surprised that all of the little kids found something they would eat from the two meals bought to split between them. 

We came home for cake and presents. Timothy got a new keyboard pull-out shelf for his computer stand, fencing clothes and foil (the sport he has been into for a few years now), and a travel vest with many pockets.

Our tradition is to list a descriptive word for each year of our child's life.  So, here are 20 words to describe Tim:   
  • Brave
  • Strong-willed
  • Talkative
  • Protective
  • Obedient
  • Loving
  • Devoted
  • Naturalist
  • Intellectual
  • Funny
  • Curious
  • Helper
  • Friendly
  • Exuberant
  • Survivor
  • Energetic
  • Egalitarian
  • Spiritual
  • Strong

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, April 5, 2010


The kids have wanted to go on the jump thingy at the mall for a few years. However, I could never be convinced to pay $6 for less than 5 minutes per child. This year we decided to give them a go on the jump thing as their Easter gift! We were there bright and early this morning to try it out. The pictures came out kind of blurry.

Goldilocks went about 15 feet in the air. Her take on it was, "That made my stomach wobble in a "wibbley" kinda way. I am never going on that again."

Little Red Riding Hood said, "I am scared" the whole time she was jumping with a smile on her face. She would like to do it again when she is a little bit older.
Tom Sawyer was jumping so high and so fast I did not get a good shot of him at all. He had a blast and said, "I could do that all day long!"

They wanted me to go on! No, thanks!! My dh wants to go on sometime, though! He is a braver soul than I.

Blessings, Dawn