Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

The kids performed in "Beauty and the Beast" this past weekend. They all did an awesome job and had so much fun. The picture above really came out bad but it is the only group shot I got.

My father got much better pictures during the performance. This performance was based on the original story written in old French in the 1700s.  It resembles the more commonly known Disney version only slightly. Timothy was a guard who protected the queen and prince from assassins. (Timothy is in the front with the plaid hat on.)

Goldilocks was an invisible fairy who helped to serve dinner to Beauty's father. The fairies led the father to the Beast in order to try to break the curse. Goldilocks is the one in the middle with the cast on her hand.  I guess I will have to get around to blogging the story behind that one.

Once Beauty was brought to the magical palace to live with the Beast, she was cared for by parrots and monkeys. Every day she went to different rooms and saw a new entertainment. In one room was a classic ballet performance. Our Little Red Ridinghood was in this part of the show. She is the little one up front with the purple and pink tutu on.

In another of the rooms there was a gladiator battle. This was our Tom Sawyer's boy dance class. They were so energetic and exciting to watch! They really got into their characters. He is the one with the red plumage on his hat.

Here is one of their bows....

I just love this dance studio. It has been such a wonderful experience for my children to learn theater and dance through it. The kids are sad to see summer come because there are no more classes. We can not wait for next year. There is a rumor that we will be doing the Nutcracker again. I never envisioned myself as a backstage mom. However, I have become one. I love seeing my kids enjoying themselves on the stage and developing so many skills. They are building self-confidence and great work ethics (with all the rehearsals), in addition to learning so much about acting and dancing.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Summer Plans

I can't believe the first week of our Spring/Summer break is already gone! It was a pleasant week with much completed. I really like to spend the first week of break going through all of our books and pulling all of the books for next year. Having everything organized on the school bookcase and a shopping list of what is needed already to go is so helpful. I have all the books organized, my Amazon wish list organized, a rough outline of our studies and my brand new "thinking book" nearby, so I can record all of my thoughts for the upcoming year. Now that I know what we have and what we need, I can embrace our break without worrying about planning for next year.

Next year's books...

Ahhh! Now to get down to Spring/Summer break. I have two possible start dates for getting back to school, one in July and one in August. Depending on how the kids do with our break will determine how long we are on vacation. Sometimes, they are really eager to start back to school after just a few weeks and other times I am. One of my kids really does better with the same old routine and finds vacation time and having to entertain one's self to be very difficult. Another child is very messy and destructive if left to one's own devices for more than ten minutes. We have a very long summer wish list this year, so I am hoping that we will be able to make the break last until our August start date.

The kids and I wrote out our summer wish list on the last day of school. It's all on a poster board next to our front door so we can cross off what we have done. I'll be standing in several hours-long lines to sign up for free and discounted lessons ... first come, first served. 

The list is as follows:

  • Watching a thunderstorm
  • Playing in the rain
  • Swimming lessons (offered by the city for free)
  • Extend the 6 foot fence in the backyard
  • Tennis lessons (offered by the city at major discount)
  • Laying in the sun watching some clouds
  • Making emergency "to go" kits (all the disasters we've been experiencing in the Southeast got me thinking I should do this)
  • Gymnastics (probably will be done in our backyard, not in a class)
  • Go to Disney World (this will be the biggest vacation we've ever taken, so we're really excited)
  • Summer library programs
  • Perform six times on stage in "Beauty and the Beast"
  • Grandparents visiting
  • Summer movie camp ($1 a movie) 
  • Organize the basement
  • One day of play at the city pool
  • Berry picking (hoping to do lots of this so we can freeze extra berries)
  • Learning some new recipes for ds's allergy diet
  • Camping
  • Gardening
  • Play dates
  • Balloon water fight (there's usually more than one of these)
  • Catching fireflies (a favorite summer evening activity)
  • Working on our goal of going to "52 parks in 52 weeks"
  • Late night trip to get ice cream
  • Reading books
  • Barnes and Noble reading program
  • July 4th fireworks
  • Bowling (with some free coupons)
  • Mountain hiking (a favorite weekend activity)
  • Splashville (a free park in our city where kids can play in water spouting out of the pavement)
Whoo Hoo!  What a list .... We will see how much we get through! We will be striking two of those things off the list this week. Our children have three sets of grandparents. My Mother, who lives only six miles away, their Father's Dad and Step-Mother, and my Dad and Step-Mother. All but my Mom live out of state. One set of out-of-town grandparents will be here in a few days to see the kids perform. My children will be starting daily final rehearsals for "Beauty and the Beast" tomorrow. Opening night is just a few days away!!!

We do have some goals to work on this summer and a little bit of school to do. We will continue with circle time for 20 to 30 minutes each morning. During circle time, we will read a chapter in our family book, review an educational poster, do a math page and review a few sight words. The kids will also be doing lots of reading for the different reward programs in our area. 

The kids' goals for the Summer are as follows ~

Little Red Ridinghood ~ Learn how to swallow a pill and to eat more than the three required bites of beans
Tom Sawyer ~ Learn how to ride a bike and showing appreciation to older brother
Goldilocks ~ Learn how to wash her own laundry and keep her face clean

What are you all doing during this warm and pleasant season?


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

About a year ago, my husband and I heard about a self-guided tour in a nearby county in which you search for quilt squares on barns and buildings. We decided that Mother's Day was the perfect day for such a Sunday drive. My dh printed off maps of the quilt square locations, set up the DVD player in the car for kiddos, packed snacks and we picked up my Mother for a leisurely country drive. 

It turned out to be a fun adventure. We were only able to see about 15 quilt squares due to a late start on our journey. We only saw the ones in a small town and did not go off to find all of the ones in the county. However, it was lots of fun and nice to see another small town we had never seen. This small town was the county seat and very pretty, with buildings dating back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. We look forward to going back some other time to see the several dozen more we did not see.

This one, depicting a house with a quilt on it, was on a real estate building.

On the county courthouse.

This quilt is called Roses and is on the county library building, dated 1833.

There were also many nice murals in the town. 
The kids like this one of the yellow brick road
and the Wizard of Oz characters the best.

I hope all of you had a nice and peaceful Mother's Day!

My Mom and me.


Friday, May 6, 2011

So How Was Your Year?

Today is our last day of school. I remember when I was a kid loving the last day of school. We turned in our books and had a party. There was lots of free time out on the playground, and we washed our desks. There was a feeling of completion. My kids don't really sense that very much. Sure, the books have been finished up and the days marked off, but we will still do a version of school come Monday morning. It will be low key and take about 20 minutes, but it will be there. I wanted to bring my kids more of a feeling of transition and thought I would start a few traditions. We wrote out all of our summer wishes on a large poster board. Then, I decided to survey my kids on their homeschool experience as we did at the end of last year. We will do this on our last day of school for now on.

Here are the results of my homeschool survey. I interviewed each child privately.

Little Red Ridinghood (7.5 yr)

What Worked ~

  • I like math books with stickers.
  • I love geography.
  • I like tea time with story time and music time.
  • I like our history timeline.
  • I like field trips.
  • I like Explode the Code.
  • I like nature study.
  • I like lapbooking.

What Could Change ~
  •  I want more snacks.
  •  I want more stickers on my (corrected) lessons.
  •  It would be fun to take gymnastics.
  • We could get rid of any out of the home classes that are science, music or art and use the money for gymnastics or swimming classes.
  • Do nature study more often.
  • I want more Five In a Row (FIAR).

Tom Sawyer (9 years)

What Worked ~
  • I love my boy dance and theater class.
  • I like cooking with mom.
  • I like that we are getting school done before leaving the house some days.
  • I really liked history this year (picture books and biographies).
  • I want to keep doing the science class at the museum.
  • I want to continue circle time.

What Could Change ~

  • I do not like speech therapy.  (He graduates in June.)
  • I want to do gymnastics.
  • I want to do more science, especially chemistry.
  • I want to learn how to blow things up in science class.
  • I don't want to do the art museum class anymore.
  • I want to skip music day.
  • I want grades.

Just a funny ... Tom Sawyer told me that he really needed more science if I wanted him to grow up to be a good scientist or demolition artist! (A demolition artist?! NOT.) When Daddy came home, he ran to tell him that Mommy was going to teach him how to blow up things around the house! Oh, my goodness!

Goldilocks (10 years)

What Worked ~

  • I like lapbooking.
  • I like cooking with mommy.
  • I like all field trips.
  • I like science experiments.
  • I like geography.
  • I like tea time and music time.
  • I love our history timeline.
  • I like the days to have a theme.
  • I like FIAR.

What Could Change ~

  • I want to take horseback riding again.
  • I don't want to ever go back to homeschool choir.
  • I want to do cooking based on our history and geography lessons.


If you could  do one of the following which would it be? (They were given the choice of Latin, Spanish or Sign language.)  They all want to do Sign Language.

They were also given the choice of dropping narration or copywork.  They chose to drop copywork, which is fine with me since they need to be writing more independent thoughts anyway.

They were given the choice of learning typing or cursive, and they all chose typing.

My Thoughts ~

I love doing these interviews with the kids and seeing how they feel about things. I learn a lot about how the school year went from their perspective and will put many of their ideas into practice in the coming years. It turned out to be easy for me with their choices, since each one separately made the same choices :-).

But for now ... HELLO SUMMER BREAK!


    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    The Biltmore Homeschool Festival

    Going to the Biltmore Homeschool Festival has become a family tradition. They do an awesome job of putting this day together for homeschoolers. I do think we will try the Fall event next school year instead of the Spring. I always want to delve into whatever the topic is at Biltmore, but have trouble doing so because of all of the loose ends I am trying to tie up with the approaching end to our school year.

    This year the theme was "Passport to the World". The children learned about nine different countries ~ Spain, England, Egypt, India, Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan and France. They learned about how the Vanderbilts traveled the world and about their personal experiences. There were booths with activities for each country. The kids really enjoyed getting temporary henna tatoos in India. They then moved on to England to attend an afternoon spring tea party.

    The kids also got to do some punch embroidery in Russia and make crowns in England. In Japan they learned how to make origami puppy dogs, and in Egypt they wrote some hierglyphics. I thought the lesson on pointillism painting in France was excellent.

    Tom Sawyer liked making castanets in Spain. He had to warm up to the idea of spending the day at the Biltmore on his birthday. He gave us a difficult time for a while, but after a talking to from his Dad and seeing that some of the crafts were really fun, he shifted his attitude. They also enjoyed the shows. They saw a Russian ballet and Flamenco dancing.

    After an early lunch, we went to the barn to pet the baby animals. This is always a highlight of our day.  The kids petted chicks, lambs, goats, and a horse. They also saw a goat being milked.

     We then took funny pictures in front of the country poster boards on our way to the Biltmore Winery.

    The Winery was interesting and was a short factory tour. I loved factory tours as a child and want to share more of them with my children. However, there are not many factories near us anymore. We decided to skip the Biltmore House tour this year and take more time in the gardens. Even though we spent all day there, we still saw just a tiny portion of the Biltmore Estate. We are considering getting a year-long pass sometime in the next year so that we can explore the miles of bike and nature trails, as well as watch the huge gardens change from season to season. 

    What a fun and educational day. That is my favorite kind of field trip.


    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    Happy Birthday, Tom Sawyer!

    My little boy turned 9 on Friday. Does that mean he is not my little boy anymore? Be still my heart! He planned his own birthday party this year and even wrote out a schedule of events. I loved that the first thing on the list was to meet and greet his guests. I love to see the little host in him. He requested a sleepover and one of his guests was able to spend the night. The rest came just for the party. 

    The highlight of the party was playing silly string and confetti egg war.  The kids had a great time making a total mess of the yard and themselves with the confetti eggs and silly string.

    The kids also had fun breaking the pinata that was filled with pennies, nickels, dimes and high bouncing balls.  

    It is wonderful that Tom Sawyer planned the activities for the party, because I needed all of my energy to figure out a tasty kid-friendly menu that would work around Tom Sawyer's complicated diet. We settled on organic, nitrite-free hot dogs, french fries and blackberries for dinner and organic sausages, strawberries, and hash browns for breakfast. The cake was the most difficult part. However, I found a bakery that made us a vegan (he's allergic to dairy and eggs), gluten-free lemon cake. The cake didn't even have any rice flour in it, which is good since he's allergic to rice as well as gluten. To my surprise, it was delicious and everyone liked it.

    Happy Birthday, my sweet boy!