Saturday, May 29, 2010

Weekly Review

From the Heart

I just finished a heart-wrenching book, The Broken Cord, about raising a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder. I saw so much of my Goldilocks (9) in the child in this book. I also saw a little bit of Tom Sawyer (8). We know that the birth mom drank heavily during both pregnancies, so even though only Goldilocks has been officially diagnosed with FASD, it seems likely that they both are affected, except in different ways. Although the book held no answers, it did reinforce some of the odd and often frustrating behaviors that plague our adopted children. My heart is filled with loss for the potential that their birth mother took from them with each swig of the bottle. I do, however, feel so blessed that both function as well as they do. There is hope for both of them having full (adapted) lives. We will keep up the struggle of teaching our children to work to the best of their potentialities.

On the Homefront

Little Red Riding Hood (6) was the first of the Littles to earn the right to her very own pet. Our kids are required to prove that they can be very gentle and patient with something small, agree to full care of a pet or it will be given away and save $8 to take care of the initial pet's food expenses. They also need to agree to continue to save money toward the pet's food. Little Red Riding Hood decided that she wanted a parakeet. Today, she got a blue one and named her Periwrinkle. After just a few hours, Little Red Riding Hood is already able to pet her bird's belly.

On the School Front

We are not currently in school but are doing our Summer Plan. I like to take a nice break from our normal routine during the summer, but I want to keep the kids fresh. So we do math, reading, and writing a few times a week. We also have some history to catch up on and will be doing an explorer unit study in the next few weeks. I decided to give the work box system a try with the kids this summer. We are only doing three boxes a day. The kids love them. Even Timothy has decided to do them and work on his editing skills, writing skills and life book (a book with directions of how to do things he may forget how to do).

Also, Little Red Riding Hood finished dance class for this school year. Her dance and theater studio performed Alice and Wonderland. She was one of the Cheshire kittens. The kittens were the youngest performers, and they did an awesome job. I hope to figure out how to put a video up of them later.

I hope you all have a blessed week.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wrapping Up Vacation

On the way home, I asked everyone what their favorite event was on the trip. Several mentioned the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. No one said Dollywood! It just goes to show that the most expensive thing is not always the best thing. What was most popular you ask? THE TITANIC!!!

Yes, there is a huge Titanic Museum that has just opened in Pigeon Forge. It looks like the Titanic jutting out from the street. Disclaimer before I go on ~ I have always been a bit obsessed with the Titanic. It was one of the best museums I have ever been to. It combined history with science and lots of hands-on activities. When you arrive at the museum, each person is given a card that tells about the life of one of the people on board the Titanic that fateful night. The card tells what the person was doing/did when the Titanic hit the iceberg. You are left to wonder until the end what will happen to your character. Three of us were crew, three 3rd class and one was 1st class (albeit a maid to the first class passenger). We knew that the 3rd class passengers had been gated in at night so they wouldn't wander into 2nd or 1st class quarters. As we were touring the 3rd class deck, outfitted with four narrow beds and a sink to each room, we then came up to the gate and saw the water rushing down the stairs into our quarters (held back, of course, by a sheet of glass). It was startling and very realistic. My heart sunk as I felt the fear those people must have felt.

There was no photography allowed in the museum. Some of the highlights were touching a very cold, large iceberg while standing on deck; waving our arms around in a trough of 28 degree water (the temperature of the ocean that night) -- the more you moved your hand, the colder the water felt;  the decks that increased in inclines so that you could see how hard it was to keep your footing as the ship sank; and finding our character names on the wall at the end under the lists of survived and dead. As was the case for most folks on the Titanic, only one man in our family group lived and most of the women lived. There is also a life-size replica of the grand staircase. It was really cool.
We did not give them lollipops every day of the vacation. It just looks that way in the photos! 

Of course, the gift shop was great, and I spent way too much on children's books. All in the name of education, right? It was a great destination to finish up our vacation. If you have the chance to go, they do have a really good homeschool discount on tickets, if you call in advance. No proof needed once you are there.

When we were not out touring, we enjoyed the swimming pool at the condo. This picture is so exciting to me. Little Red Riding Hood would barely put her face in the water when we started this trip. Look at this dead man float. Yippee!

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, May 22, 2010


We spent one of our days of vacation at Dollywood. We stayed in the park from opening to closing.  This was three of our children's very first amusement park, and it will be their last for a few years. LOL! To say that this day was a major challenge for my sensory boys, especially the younger of the two, is a huge understatement. He cried many times and needed loads of patience. He did have some fun on the Country Fair rides and enjoyed the sand table a lot! In fact, he said the sand table was his favorite part. He also liked the pop guns a lot. He is looking at them in the background.

I am glad we got to give the kids the experience of a real amusement park, and I am sure we will go back again in 5 to 10 years. LOL! Everyone loved the cars. I think we went on seven times. There were no lines anywhere. I think the longest we waited was 6 minutes.

We saw two shows and spent most of our time in the Country Fair section. Dad and Tim went on some of the scary rides and obstacle course, but the rest of us were happy to go on the kiddie rides (both Mom and Grandma included).

 Everyone enjoyed a ride on the coal steam engine, too. It was a nice ride through part of the Smoky Mountains. I will say that the staff at Dollywood was very friendly. They made everything easy, from tram rides to and from the parking lot to the nice changing rooms.

Here is some of the tired crew in their new glamorous hats and really big lollipops. We just love dress up around here and the hats were priced just right for a souvenir.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

My father-in-law blessed us with another week of his timeshare condo. Our vacation led us to Pigeon Forge this year. One of the top destinations on our list was exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We devoted two days to visiting the park.

It was important to us to visit Cades Cove because our adopted children's lineage is from there. Cades Cove is a small community that sold their land to the National Park Service in the 1930's. Many of the churches, homes and other structures were preserved and made part of the park. We were able to find several graves of relatives in our kid's family tree. They are a bit too young to truly understand it all, but we were excited to be able to make that connection for them. So many adopted children are left with a big empty hole when it comes to where they came from. Our children are blessed to have an actual place that they can visit someday that will always be preserved in a national park.

We visited a grist mill in Cades Cove and were able to buy flour that was freshly ground.

We visited three churches in Cades Cove and looked for gravestones. I love graveyards, but this was extra special to be tracing my children's lineage.

In addition to all of the wonderful historic buildings, there were many animals. The kids loved petting the many horses. Wild animals were easy to see in Cades Cove. They were everywhere and we were able to get so close to them. We also saw a bear, wild turkeys and several deer.

We also got to visit a one room school in another part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The kids really got into playing school. They wanted me to teach them, and we ran through some multiplication tables, the continents, and other math facts. I thought it was funny that the kids started calling me Miss Dawn and raising their hands when I asked questions. There was another graveyard right outside the school. Almost all the people buried in this grave yard were children under one. It really hits home how blessed we are in this day and age that our children usually live to adulthood. I know that in my family, only one of my children would have survived the first year.

What a gorgeous place to visit. The views in this Cove are just stunning. It must have been so difficult for the families to leave this place.

We had a wonderful two days in the park. We saw several waterfalls, lots of wildlife and got some exercise on the wonderful nature trails. The kids located a snake basking on a rock. They insisted that it was a water snake, but I am pretty sure it was a copperhead. I have to get my hands on a snake book and compare pictures. We plan to go back another year and spend more time there. Maybe we will even be brave and camp. LOL!

I will continue with the rest of our vacation another day.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, May 13, 2010

School is out or is it?

What happens when the teacher packs up the books and calls a break from school? Well, if it is Geesecrossing Homeschool, the kids follow the teacher around bored, complaining, and lost for about 5 days. They sigh a lot.... They turn on and off the TV repeatedly because there is nothing on (we only get about three channels). They get all the toys out and then sit in the midst of them, asking when they are going to be taught something. When the teacher starts threatening them with more chores than they are used to doing, they are forced to entertain themselves. So what do they do? Why, they homeschool themselves. Yep! My dear children are busy schooling themselves on their school break. Here is a list of what they have been up to this week:   
  • Making a Medieval Castle and defending if from invasion.
  • Playing I Spy with the Periodic Elements Table poster on the wall
  • Writing long letters about our upcoming trip and what they want to do on it
  • Making up their own language that sounds a little bit like Latin, Spanish and Ewok
  • Watching our new Muzzy French Videos (three times so far this week)
  • Studying and quizzing each other on our new parts of speech poster
  • Counting our vacation money over and over
  • Listening to the Veggie Tales Easter music CD too many times to count
  • Reviewed their sign language knowledge and taught each other a few extra words
  • Reading an entire book about biology and three graphic novels based on Greek mythology (Tom Sawyer)
  • Quizzing their poor teacher on the above books and snickering when she does not know the answers (also Tom Sawyer). I did get an A in college biology but didn't study Greek mythology, and besides, college biology was a looong time ago!
Oh yeah, and just in case you think that I have been totally neglecting my children's starving brains, I did take them to this month's homeschool art class at the local art museum. I also carted Little Red Riding Hood to her recital rehearsals every night this week and will again to the big performance tomorrow night.They have also been on two play dates and gone to church. I am keeping up with reading lessons, and I started back up stories on tape at lunch time. We are mostly listening to My Story Hour ~ Columbus.

They studied cityscapes this month at the art museum.


Little Red Riding Hood

Tom Sawyer (Is that a man parachuting in front of the building or someone bungee jumping out the window?)

I do plan to try a small modified version of the work box system with them this summer. I'll probably start that in another week. I just love the way they keep right on learning despite my not actively teaching them. 

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Field Trips Galore

Our last week of school turned into the week of field trips. Since we had family visiting and Tomatis most almost every afternoon, we spent the mornings doing fun trips around town.

On Monday we took Grandma Sue to Build-a-Bear Workshop. My kids have several friends with these bears and talk about how fun it was to make them.  However, I wanted it to be clearly a once in a lifetime opportunity instead of just another thing to do at the mall. Doing it with grandparents made it a special and rare treat.

It really is a fun experience. They get to pick the shell of a stuffed animal, a heart to go in the animal and then it is stuffed in front of them. Then they get to brush it and pick an outfit out for it. At the end, they name it and get a take home box for their stuffed animal.

While we were at the mall, we went in the Hurricane Tube. It only goes to a category 1 but is fun for those who want to experience some real wind in a safe environment. You can also stuff a few people in each time so you get more bang for your 2 bucks.
People with long hair are especially fun to take pictures of when they come out. Sorry, Grandma Sue! This picture was too hard to resist.

On Tuesday we went to education day at the baseball field. Unfortunately, it got rained out in the 3rd inning. We were able to see our team play two home runs and get to see the mascot Teddy.

On Wednesday we went miniature golfing with Grandma and Grandpa. This was fun and only the kids' second or third time.

Check out what Little Red Riding Hood wears to play golf. She and I were born in the wrong century when it comes to fashion. We both like to wear long dresses. LOL

We finished out the week with Tom Sawyers' birthday on Thursday and Biltmore Estate on Friday.

I probably will not be back on for a week or so. I am hoping to back-up my blog before the big upgrade. I'm a worry wart that way.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Biltmore Homeschool Day

What a perfect day for a field trip. The weather was balmy and the sun was shining! We set off for homeschool day at the Biltmore this week. We had the pleasure of taking Grandma Sue along with us. She picked a great week to come visit us since it was our last week of school, and we spent the better part of it going on field trips!

The theme at Biltmore House this year was Farm to Table. We arrived bright and early at the front gates and received our homeschool packets. They are wonderful books filled with games, info, recipes and coloring pages. The kids will enjoy and learn from them for weeks to come. We headed first to the education area that was set up in Antler Hill (the brand new shops of Biltmore). There the kids visited the petting zoo and got to pet and hold baby chicks.

The highlight in the petting area was seeing hens laying their eggs. I have never seen that before. I was one very impressed city gal!

We then learned all about campfires and cooking over them. Tom Sawyer loved learning how to start a fire with flint.

The kids got to make peanut butter, popcorn, and weather vanes as well as stomp grapes for wine.

(shucking corn for popcorn)

I can't believe Tom Sawyer stomped the grapes. What a sensory milestone for him!

They had a lovely dress up area and lots of old fashioned games for the kids to play. 

Boys! What is one to do with them? LOL!

They also had a blacksmith shop, woodworking shop and composting area. There was a dress up area for grown ups, too. Then a Biltmore employee took pictures while we posed on a wagon.

We enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch with one of our friends from our homeschool group and then had ice cream. Of course, that led to a change of clothes for all of the little ones. I forgot the baby wipes, so cleaning them up was a little bit hard. We had 1:00 pm tickets for the Biltmore House, so we got into our car and headed to the other side of the 8,000 acre estate. Can you believe I forgot to take a picture of the outside of the house this year? Shocking, I know! What kind of a tourist am I?!!

We finished our day in the house gardens. They were lovely, as always, but the tulips seemed to be at the end of their peak. 

We were pretty tired so we sat down on some benches in a lovely tree-lined avenue and waited for the shuttle bus to take us back to the parking lot.

(Timothy resting on a bench and a self-portrait of me below.)

Why is my Biltmore picture always the last one taken after 6 hours of carting children around? Boy, I look tired.

We did have a great time. The kids are already talking about next year!

Blessings, Dawn