Friday, October 28, 2011

A Day in the Life ~ Schooling Around the Edges

Welcome to my October edition of A Day in the Life of our homeschool.  Our Fridays are very busy with an 3 hour doctor appointment taking up much of the morning.  Three of our children, including our adult son, receive neurofeedback treatments for a variety of issues, including developmental delays, learning challenges, PTSD, processing issues, and sleep issues.  Every other Friday is also our biggest grocery trip in the 2 week period during which we hit several stores. Also, this week our theme has been art, and we have been studying Edgar Degas.

7:30 am ~ We were really low on food that could be prepared quickly, so I decided to treat the kids to breakfast out.  As soon as everyone was dressed and ready, we headed to our local health food store that has a very nice breakfast bar.  Breakfast consisted of sausage, bacon, grapes and roasted potatoes (all organic).  We then did our first shopping trip of the day at the same grocery store.

I expect that all of the food you see here will be eaten in this next week.  I typically buy meat every week unless there is a great sale on something.  The grain-free pizza and soda are treats for Halloween night.  The kids can not dip into the Halloween candy bowl we will have for trick or treaters this year (due to food allergies), so we will have a pizza and soda for treats that night.

9 am ~ We went home and walked the dog and put away the groceries.  Then we headed to our neurofeedback appointment.  Basically, the kids and I have 30 minutes or so of family therapy with the doctor and discuss what has worked and not worked in the last week and any updates/issues that need to be processed.  Then the kids all take turns going back to receive their treatments.  I homeschool the children that are with me at any given time in the waiting room.

 In the waiting room, the kids did language arts, math,
and heard another book about Edgar Degas (art).
Tom Sawyer likes to do his school work in a little fort, as you see here.
Tom Sawyer really has to work on relaxing to make the neurofeedback video work.

12:15 pm ~ We ate lunch at Hardees.  Eating at fast food restaurants or even anywhere but home is actually not typical for us.  Tom Sawyer had a thickburger without bread.  It only had onions, lettuce and mustard, which seems to agree with him. We then did our second grocery trip at the "dent and scratch" store in our town.  Fortunately, it carries lots of organic food.
 Shall I tell you why the toilet paper packages are ripped open? 
We were completely out, so the kids were really anxious to use it when we got home. LOL!

1:30 ~ We dropped Timothy and the food at home.  The rest of us went on to our favorite bakery which is right around the corner from our home.  I love living in the city with so much right in our neighborhood.  I wasn't more than 3 miles from home the entire day. The bakery is celebrating the coming Day of the Dead by selling sugar skulls.  We bought two and decorated them at the nice decorating station provided (art).  We will be learning about the Day of the Dead at the homeschool library program next week.

2 pm ~ We came home and my kids had some movie time.  I talked to my Mom while sorting laundry.

3 pm ~ We roasted pumpkin seeds.  This is a favorite autumn treat around here.  The kids love cooking and this counts for home economics.

Do you see that doggie snout?  He is just hoping something will fall!
He already ate the first 2 tablespoons of butter we had set on the counter for the pumpkin seeds.

3:30 pm ~ We headed out to do our week's laundry at the laundromat.  We have been without a washer since July.  So many things have gone wrong with the mini-van this year that there has not been money to fix the washer.  However, we have finally saved up the money and are buying a new water pump for our washer this weekend.  Woo Hoo!  We have met so many interesting people at the laundromat from all walks of life.  I could write a blog just about them.  The kids like the elderly, widowed men the best.  The men are always ready to listen to the kids' stories and jokes. 

 The girls had their reading lessons while we waited for the clothes (language arts).

On the way home, we stopped at the last grocery store and bought the last of our groceries for the next week or so.

4:45 pm ~ The kids finished their Degas pastels by outlining them before I sprayed them with a fixative.  We used the Meet the Masters program to do this project.  My children had to draw the picture upside down to trick the right side of their brain.  They were not thrilled with this project but liked the results, and so did I. (art)

5:30 pm ~ Dad is home!  We ate dinner of mashed potatoes mixed with ham and with raw carrots on the side.  Then we played Hedbanz, a fun guessing game.

We finished the evening off with some of the children making potholders (art) and others reading Zoo Books (science) with Dad.

What a busy day!  The trick to getting school done on a day like this is doing it around the edges.  I just think, as I am going through the day, "How can I make this a teachable moment?"  Oh, the kids also listened to Beethoven's Wig whenever we were in the car (music).


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ A Costume Party


We had the opportunity to go to a costume party that was being hosted by a local homeschool group. We looked through all of our dress up clothes and the girls came up with these pretty outfits.  Tom Sawyer managed to avoid my camera during the entire event.  He is such a stinker sometimes :-).  I caught him later on the sofa.  He wore his skull shirt, black pants and carried a grim reaper scythe. He really looks like I surprised him in this photo, huh?


I was really happy to check this group out.  They run a co-op that meets for a few hours one day a week.  I may consider them next year.  I was really happy to see that the group was very food allergy conscious.  Not only were there grain-free, vegan cupcakes at the bake sale, but the cake walk had grain- free cup cakes, as well.  It was wonderful to let Tom Sawyer join in with eating items that were safe for him.

There was lots of wholesome fun.  The kids did a cake walk, made a scarecrow, played ring toss, stuck their hands in mystery boxes, did donut on a string, and played for a long time on the playground with some of their friends.


We set up the scarecrow in the front yard.  Boomer found the scarecrow as soon as we let him out.  He sniffed and sniffed at the scarecrow and then sat for it.  I guess he thought that it would give him a treat, because he nudged its hands several times and whined.  Then he would sit again and wait for a treat.  It was sooo funny to watch.  Poor Lady (who is 12 years old and nearly blind) has not noticed the scarecrow yet.


Against my better judgment, I allowed my Goldilocks (who has a severe case of PTSD from pre-adoption experiences) to go through the haunted house at the party.  She really wanted to go, because other kids she knew were going.  I lined up and went through with her.  It was really a tame haunted house but terrified her.  I did not realize to what degree she had been scared until bedtime.  It took her until almost midnight to get to sleep.  I sat on her bedroom floor for a long time last night.  We won't be doing that again for a long time!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Chemistry

In Our Homeschool This Week ~

We had one of those stellar homeschool weeks when the kids were overjoyed with learning and could not wait for more.  It sure does a Mom's heart good to call "school time" and the kids RUN to the table. So, what was the excitement all about, you ask?  Well, this whole year is going better, using my new schedule. The kids just have more time to really get into a subject when we spend a whole week on it, instead of 20 minutes each day the way I did last year in order to fit in 8 or so subjects (the basics sometimes took more time).  So now the first hour and half (or so) of school is reading, writing, math, and literature. Then we move on to our weekly theme topic ~ history, science, music/Bible study or art.  The time is open ended so that the kids can just enjoy and learn the material in depth.  Next, we spend a few minutes doing occupational, speech or vision therapy.  Lastly, if time allows, we do one of the following ~ geography or sign language.

This was science week and we are starting chemistry!  We are using Real Science 4 Kids.  I love this program.  We are also using the Basher books for chemistry.  My son is obsessed with the Basher books and reads them over and over again.

They started the week off making Oxygen atom models.

The kids then made a Periodic Table shadow box with elements or things made out of elements that they found around the house.

They experimented with magnesium ~ sparklers!

They made molecules out of marshmallows and toothpicks.  (I see that some of the labels got a bit messed up in the picture.)

Lastly, we pulled out the microscope, which always causes great excitement.  The point was to look at and compare sugar and salt.  However, we did that and then looked at all of our pre-made slides as well.

Besides science, we almost finished Mary Poppins for literature.  It seems like we have been reading this book forever, but we simply got side tracked with some other great books.  We are back on track and should be finished next Tuesday.  The literature activity for Mary Poppins was making stars.  The kids loved this, and we may make a whole bunch to decorate our Christmas tree with this year.

In the Rest of Life ~

We finished up birthdays with my Dh celebrating his 40th.  Little Red Riding Hood also got her last two gifts in the mail.  Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, and Miss Kristi!

She loves the Analogy Crossword puzzles!

I hope you all have a great week.  Please go over to Homeschool Chick to see more weekly wrap ups.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ The Big 40 and A Love Story!


I am so happy to wish my husband a "happy birthday"!  It is hard to believe that he turned 40 this week, and that I am only a few months behind him.  It seems like we were fresh, young college kids just the other day.  We met in a criminology class called Crime and Punishment.  My dear husband has made up a few silly jokes about that over the years.  I arrived late for the class and ended up in the back of the room being heckled by some trouble making boys.  I spent the entire class trying to decide where I could sit for the next class, so I could be left alone.  The class was packed and there were not very many options.  There was a young soldier in the front row (everyone knows the nerds and serious students sit in the first two rows).  He looked like a safe bet.  I saw a broken seat behind my future beloved and waited to move the desks around after class so I could sit behind him.  When I arrived the next week, my plan had worked.  Everyone had skipped the broken desk, and I had my seat behind the young soldier.  Now, I could concentrate on this class and get another A (I was more than a little obsessed with my GPA back then)!  Or, that is, I thought I would be left alone!! 

Happiness is taking a walk with your beloved and family.


Just months before that fateful class, I had begun praying and looking for my future husband.  I was a young, single mother of a very special needs child and had only dated one boyfriend in my past.  This was not going to be easy, or so I thought.  I had my list of what I was looking for and, funny thing was, that young soldier did not even get a second glance from me at first.  After all, I was a Quaker.  A Quaker and a soldier ~ who would have thought?  Apparently, that soldier had other ideas.  He asked me out after just a few classes.  Thinking there was no way that he could be the answer to my prayers, I used my typical "get rid of the guy" technique and told him, "I am a single mother of a very high end special needs preschooler."  He nodded his head and asked if it would be hard for me to get a babysitter.  I told him that I was not an easy girl and would only be eating dinner with him ~ nothing else.  He asked if Friday would work. WOW!

We surprised dh at work with cake and
all of the Big 40 stuff the party store had to offer.


To make a long story short, we were a couple from that day forward.  He met everything on my list and more.  To my amazement, he was great with my son, Tim, and routinely helped out if I had classes when Tim's preschool was closed.  He would sit in the back of my class and play with Tim or walk the halls with him outside my class.  He was and still is the real thing and pretty awesome!


It hasn't always been easy.  We have adopted some children that are very challenging at times.  We have had to make small and large sacrifices to keep me at home.  My husband works hard to provide for us in a job that brings him little pleasure.  Of course, we both have real flaws that trip us up at times.  But, it has been good.  Thank you David!  I have loved you in my 20's, 30's and soon to be 40's.  I look forward to loving you in my 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and beyond.

Look what came of those two lovebirds.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ October Fun

We have had a productive week.  This is really a review of the last 10 days or so. 

Last Weekend ~
We went apple picking.  The kids also picked the perfect pumpkin at the orchard. I think it is the largest one we have ever purchased.

We also finished up our study of the underground railroad with a nighttime walk with our homemade candles in cups.  Harriet Tubman always carried a cup with a candle in it, because it could give very direct light and be easily put out, unlike a lantern.

Monday ~
This week we concentrated on music as our focused subject.  We still did math, language arts, reading, literature and occupational therapy/vision therapy each day.  We enjoyed listening to Peter and the Wolf and then acting it out.  I love to watch my kids take what they are learning and use it in their play.  We also reviewed all of the orchestra instruments.

Tuesday ~
On Tuesday we had the opportunity to attend a performance of Peter and the Wolf.  This was the children's first experience viewing an orchestra.  They very much enjoyed the performance.  The conductor introduced the orchestra and did a few extra songs.  He also came down and moved through the auditorium and answered the children's questions.  Lastly, they got to see a brief bagpipe performance. 

Wednesday ~
We attended the wonderful weekly library program for school-age kids in our area.  The theme this week was beads.  The kids got to make homemade beads and beaded necklaces.  We also were the fortunate recipients of five boxes of homeschool books off of Freecycle.  Many of them are textbooks that I will probably give away (since textbooks are not my style of teaching), but there are many picture books, math videos, writing programs and unit studies in the stacks.  I am looking forward to having the time to really see what nuggets of knowledge are in the piles.

Thursday ~
On Thursday we finished up our study of crystals and rocks.  This was our concentration in science for the first quarter.  Now that we are entering our second quarter, we are moving on to chemistry.
The rocks we tumbled in our rock tumbler.

Popcorn Rock

The crystals we grew.

Friday ~
Friday was filled with preparations for Little Red Riding Hood's evening birthday party.  We had a wonderful princess party.  The kids had dinner, played with Silly String, broke a pinata, played Pin the Princess on the Castle, cake and gifts, a princess movie, and manicures.  The evening was finished off with donuts.

My Mom drew the castle.

Saturday ~
Today is Boomer's birthday.  He is one year old and so full of chewy love.  He got lots of chewy toys (one made out of fire hose) and a new dog bed -- his third.  Let's hope he doesn't eat this one!  Lady even wore a birthday hat to celebrate the occasion.
  The birthday boy on his brand new bed.

"Do see the way they treat me? 
I am 12 years old and almost blind! 
They do take advantage of me."

Side note ~
This is for those who follow our son's food allergy story.  We decided to give him a donut at the party.  They have talked about eating a donut for nine months. It had wheat, corn, yeast, eggs and soy in it -- to all of which he is allergic.  Even though we are starting to retest a few foods, this was not going to be a fair test.  Also, we know that corn is a big problem, causing hives and behavior problems for up to a week.  After talking to our nutritionist and our friend a nurse practitioner (who was at the party the entire evening), we decided to give him 1000 mg of Vitamin C, Benadryl, and Urtica Urens (a homeopathic remedy for food allergies) before the donut to prepare his body.  He also had his digestive enzymes.  To my utter amazement, he came through with NO hives and only a few behavior issues.  He said his feet itched very badly for about an hour and he has been a little bit weepy today, but that is all.  I am not about to go crazy and let him have this kind of food on a regular basis, but it is nice to know that we may have found some support when we want to have a very special treat.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real ~ Apple Picking


We really enjoyed apple picking this past weekend.  We hadn't been apple picking in about five years.  That is a pretty outrageous statement when you consider we live just miles from the apple capital of our state.  I mostly took photos of my pretty children and the pretty mountains.


We picked Fuji, Arkansas Black and Pink Lady apples.  The kids must have eaten three apples each out in the orchard.  Arkansas Blacks seems to be the new family favorite.  They seemed to be a popular apple, since the  kids had to climb the trees to get to the nice Arkansas Blacks.  We were under a bit of a time crunch and were worried if we would be able to find enough apples.  We were so funny to worry.  The kids picked a bushel and a half in about 20 minutes.

It makes me so happy to see this child smile a natural smile.  With her sad history pre adoption, we still have to practice smiling with her.  It is so nice to see her throw out real natural smiles now and again.


I have a lot of apples to process.  The afternoon required a ton of walking.  The farm was 40 acres and the apples that we wanted were about halfway down and down hill from the entrance.  It was hard work carrying all of those apples back up hill and then a half a mile to the car.  We got some great excercise.