Monday, March 28, 2011

Day In The Life ... March Edition

We are in week two of our three week FIAR unit study on Japan. I felt it was appropriate to drop our usual lessons and change gears in light of all that is happening in Japan at this time. We also decided to skip spring break, since we only have six weeks of school left. Considering how many things are going on for us late spring and early summer, I thought it best to push through so we could have a nice transition time before the next excitement. The theme of Mondays is art. So here is our day.

7 am to 9 am ~ I did laundry, cleaned the kitchen, made deviled eggs for breakfast, helped Timothy start a brine for chicken and took a shower. The kids ate breakfast, changed the pet cages/walked the dog, did their morning chores, and watched Curious George.

9 am to 10:30 am ~ We read Grass Sandals  and worked on some lapbook pages (literature and language arts).  Then we did a math page and reviewed/learned how many years were in a century (math). Our big art project today was to make Japanese words on watercolor paper with Japanese black ink blocks (art). This led into painting with all different colors for the fun of it. Tom Sawyer needed some sensory work, so he played inside the rice bucket filled with 50 pounds of rice.

Making ink with our ink block.

Lapbook we made on Japan

10:30 am to 11 am ~ Transition and travel time ... We made a quick picnic lunch and headed out to speech therapy. On the way, we listened to the CD, Yankee Doodle Mickey (music). 

11 am to 12 pm ~  While Tom Sawyer was in speech, the girls made hats at the Art for Life table. They also had their lunch.

12 pm to 12:30 pm ~ We briefly visited the sensory garden at the hospital before leaving therapy and going home. Tom Sawyer really likes the music blocks that one can play by jumping on them.

12:30 pm to 1:30 pm ~ Everyone had free time. Lincoln logs are all the rage with my kids this week.

1:30 pm to 3:00 pm ~ The kids did their afternoon chores of folding laundry and sweeping the main living areas. Then the girls did their cooking projects, and Timothy finished dressing and roasting his chicken. I love both the Mitford and Father Tim book series written by Jan Karon. I thought it would be fun to cook our way through Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader. Today we made Louella's Grandmother's Peach Cobbler and Cynthia's Roasted Chicken ( life skills).  

3 pm to 4 pm ~ We made our Japanese Sand Gardens (art) and ate our lovely early dinner.

4 pm to 6 pm ~ We went to Tom Sawyer's dance class. Timothy stayed for his fencing class and will be picked up at 8 pm. 

The kids are now playing with Daddy and will soon be getting ready for bath and bed time routine.

This post would not be complete without a picture from our newest member. This is Boomer's "I didn't do it" look.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Puppy Love!

We were really concerned that our resident dog would not take to the new puppy. She is old and has had several bad experiences with dogs in the past. We researched and talked to professionals and thought about it more. Finally, we just couldn't wait anymore and we brought home Boomer. To our shock, things have gone very well.  They are good friends and everything is going great.

Boomer is sure keeping all of us busy. He is excellent at decluttering. He is busy finding all the weak spots in our fence so that dh can fix them and he just loves eating paper. You know that old phase, "My dog ate my homework!"?  Well, that is sure true around here! LOL

Check out my son's blog in the sidebar and give him a comment.  Thanks!



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Therapy Thursday ... The Alert Program

This week Tom Sawyer is learning step one of the Alert Program. The Alert Program helps children understand how their "engine" runs and how to calm or alert themselves to get to feeling "just right". Also, for a child like mine who thinks that "just right" is a bit chaotic, this program helps them retrain themselves to more normal levels. Because Tom Sawyer was born addicted to crack and had exposure to other unknown drugs in utero, he feels "normal" at a much more chaotic internal state and desires constant stimulation. This ends up appearing ADHD or autistic, even though he is not. For example, he can be spinning or bouncing his sister's ponytail and when asked how he feels he says, "just right". For the next week, we will be asking him how he feels based on the below chart. We will then record how he feels and how we think he feels. The next step will be getting his body used to what calm feels like. 

One stimulation we have added to our home to stave off his constant sensory deprivation is a rice bucket. He sits in the bucket filled with 50 pounds of rice and plays with toys or spoons while listening to a book on tape or during family chapter book time. He is retaining more and is much less disruptive. It is a win-win for everyone. He can also sit in the rice with a clipboard and do his math or grammar page. Being in the rice gives many of the pressure points of his body input and helps him feel more centered.

Interestingly, he feels a bit uncomfortable in what we would call a "just right" state. He is not used to it, so we can see him trying to rev his engine to what he thinks is normal by spinning or leaping about.  When this happens, we have to give him more sensory input to keep grounding him. This is exhausting for his parents, since at this time he needs input every 15 to 20 minutes. However, every minute we can keep him in the proper just right state will become more normal to him. In time he will learn to desire the normal, just right state. 


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Introducing our new family member .... BOOMER!

First, I just want to say that our hearts and prayers are with the people of Japan. I can not imagine what they are all going through. The news reports get worse every time I hear them. I am praying, as I am sure we all are, that they avoid a nuclear disaster any larger than has already occurred.

Now, on with our happy news.  Timothy has been shopping for a puppy for a long time, and this past weekend he found the perfect friend. We went to our local animal shelter, which is brand new and very clean and nice, to look at a few puppies they had. One 5 month old lab/retriever mix really stood out as the perfect pet for him and the perfect fit for our family. He is a bundle of energy and full of love. He has only had one accident in the past 24 hours and already is doing pretty well with his crate. He is currently 29 pounds and a lovely shade of black with chocolate highlights.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal ~ Being Thankful

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In My Life ~
I am so busy learning a load of new things right now. It is a bit overwhelming, but I think I can see a pause on the horizon. Sometimes life just comes at you in huge waves. I am enjoying listing the 400 things I am thankful for and will list a few more below.

I am thankful for (continued) ...
17. the sun coming out.
18. a flat backyard and room for my kids to run.
19. that my husband was able to hook up my new sink. (It was a plumbing adventure, but he figured it out!)
20. for mountain views.
21. for my son's volunteer job at the nature center ... it is a second family for him.
22. for our free pass to the nature center that provided a free day of education and fun.
23. the opportunity to live in such a happy city, according to a recent national poll.
24. for satin pillow cases.
25. for sunsets.
26. for a dishwasher.
27. that my kids love their Sunday school classes.
28. for a church where our family feels comfortable.

In our homeschool this week ~
We continued our FIAR study of Betsy Ross. The kids and I are really enjoying the book. They learned how to sew a little bit more and are practicing making x's with embroidery thread. We are reviewing math to make sure there are no gaps before they have end-of-year testing. The first one is tested next Friday. We went on two field trips this week.

Places we are going and people we are seeing ~
We went on a wonderful field trip to our local nature center. They were doing a huge program on oceans and ocean creatures. Many organizations came together to make it happen, and it was really nicely done. The kids learned about whales, polar bears, had their hands cleaned by shrimp, made several crafts, held whale bones and teeth, and got to see the Arctic in a geodome. We also went to an art class at the local museum and learned how to make cityscapes.

My Favorite thing this week ~
After 10 years of disliking and struggling to keep my old kitchen counter clean, I got a NEW one! It is so wonderful and will be so much easier to keep clean than the old cracked tile counter. I am so happy and relieved. We spent the first 10 years repairing/replacing the "must do's" in the house. Now we are able to start doing some of the wants in the house. I feel very blessed to have a new counter.

What's working/not working for us ~
Our themed music day is not working very well for us. One issue is we have to leave the house before 10:30 for an appointment. I have them listen to music in the car, but I am not really satisfied with it. Our afternoon musical tea time is a little crazy some days. The appointment will be over when we finish school. I will have to think about how to change music for next year.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have ~
Does anyone know of a good blog that has done Prairie Primer? We are planning on doing that program next year.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

40 Bags in 40 Days and 400 Things to be Thankful For

It is time for Lent. Each year I try to do something to celebrate Lent. One year we prayed for a different person each day of Lent. That was really wonderful and the kids certainly enjoyed it. I thought about doing that but decided that I needed to work on ourselves/myself a bit. This year we are going to do two things. First we will be getting rid of 40 bags of belongings. A large item could be considered one bag. We already got rid of one big chair and one bag of my husband's old papers to recycling. I think it will feel so good to have less stuff. I want to focus on my husband, children, family, friends and God's great creation ... not all this stuff that always needs dusting, picking up and organizing.

Secondly, I will be listing 400 things that I am thankful for. In this season of raising several special needs kids, I sometimes feel a bit like I am drowning. I am in one of those periods right now. There are so many things to do, change, fix, let go of, and LEARN. I need to remember that old saying ... "How do you eat an elephant?" "One bite at a time."  I am looking too much at the big picture and not enough at the little accomplishments and mercies that we see every day. I will start my list below and continue it through Lent.

My Thankful List (in no particular oder) ... I am thankful
  1. for the money to replace the rest of the old, drafty windows in our house.  My dd's room is warmer already.
  2. that my youngest dd is getting vision therapy.
  3. that my oldest dd is showing interest in reading and laid in bed reading two nights in a row.
  4. that we are all healthy.
  5. that Tom Sawyer's helper will arrive in one hour to help for three hours this week.
  6. that my husband and I see eye-to-eye on how to spend our money.
  7. for a solid house.
  8. for supportive parents.
  9. for plenty of food.
  10. for a really great contractor who works very well with a family underfoot.
  11. for living on a hill ... the flooding is supposed to be bad around here today.
  12. for children who want to be good and please their Mommy ... even though they often forget.
  13. for English Breakfast tea, my favorite.
  14. for the soft fur of our dog to pet.
  15. for a devoted husband.
  16. for sweet, sleepy children who snuggle up next to me in the morning.
What are you all doing for Lent?


Friday, March 4, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal ... Finally

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life:  A new learning curve is going on in my home. We are busy changing our son's sensory "diet" (a diet of activities that will help him with sensory deprivation). It is all good but a bit overwhelming.

In our Homeschool this week: We are doing a Beyond FIAR unit study on Betsy Ross. The kids and I are loving the book. The best activities according to the kids were eating sourdough bread and learning how to sew buttons onto cloth. Tom Sawyer finished his math book and took a placement test. Not surprisingly, he will be jumping over the next book. The only place where he is still struggling is in carrying with addition. No problem with division or multiplication ... I have to think about this a bit.

Places we are going and people we are seeing: Finally, we had a great field trip. I have been trying to get a field trip group off the ground for some time now. Today we had a great turn out. I think I finally have a group that is coming together. We took a tour of our local health food/organic grocery store. It was lots of fun. The kids got to go through all of the departments.

At the end of the tour, each child was given an apple and a comic book about healthy eating. What a great event!

My favorite thing this week: I am so happy to finally be getting some sensory help for my youngest son. He really needs it and our family needs the calmness I can see in our future. My other favorite thing was my dd Little Red Ridinghood saying that her three favorite things were her family, her blanket and her coin collection. It is nice that family comes first.

What's working/not working for us: Keeping one day a week a totally at-home day is such a good thing for us. I am glad I have kept that a strict rule.

To see more great posts on Homeschool Mother's Journal, go to Homeschool Chick.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Creating Home Atmosphere

Every home has a unique atmosphere. We are all unique and have our own comforts, values, and passions.  Charlotte Mason says that up to one-third of education comes from atmosphere. Since our children are homeschooled, the atmoshere of their education is our home. I have been thinking about the atmosphere of our home and the main themes of it. Our home is loving, practical, therapeutic, adventurous, filled with ideas and encourages exploration. However, our home is also tired ... the children yawn and whine; the Mom and Dad sigh too often; the house is always in need of many repairs (she is 80 years old this year, after all); and the housekeeping is often just enough, sporadic and a bit frazzled. No one likes chores and taking pride in ones' work is an evolving process. Maybe it is just the Winter Blahs, but I feel the need for some beauty and freshness.

When it came time to put the last of the Christmas decorations and snowmen away this week (it is March after all), I decided to decorate the mantel with something the kids and I both love. I want to encourage the enjoyment of chores through sprinkling beauty around. We decided that we all love tea and books. Tea time is a favorite time around here. We decorated the mantel with the rope of flowers that lay around the table of my wedding cake many years ago, our favorite tea pots and old books. The kids had so much fun, and we created a spot of beauty into our practical home atmosphere. This led the kids and I to want to make a lovely prayer area. 

We added family photos of those who are no longer with us, a dish of rocks that my Grandma collected, a candle to remind us of those we are praying for with cancer right now (we know several people in this battle right now), and a funny note card that makes me laugh. The note card says, "I am a Quaker. In case of Emergency, please be quiet."  Like it is ever quiet around here!  So what is your home atmosphere?