Monday, July 28, 2014

Week 2 ~ Bookmarks and Petit Fours

We had another good week. It was a great week academically for the kids, but I took on more than I could get through and was a bit overwrought by Friday. If only the world would just let me concentrate on my true love of teaching and not demand that I do so many other things. Alas, I have many more roles to fulfill besides teaching and I must find a good balance. This week did not seem very balanced from my perspective.

The Saturdays ~ We finished the book and loved every minute of it. We can't wait to start the next in the series, The Four Story Mistake. I loosely followed Beyond Five in A Row with this book. We attempted to make petit fours. I must say, they did not come out at all like I imagined they would. I obviously didn't pick the right frosting. The kids loved them just the same and got lots of math and life skills out of the project. I will be keeping an eye out for petit fours in local bakeries.

The Lake ~ Like the children in The Saturdays, we also enjoyed a day at the "shore", otherwise known as our local lake with beach. Tom Sawyer made friends with another boy right away and had a great time. Little Red Riding Hood and dh spent much of the time swim racing across the swimming area.

Handicrafts ~ Our handicraft this week was making Scottie dog bookmarks for the twins' birthday. The kids traced a pattern, cut out the felt, and then used the blanket stitch for all of the edge work. Little Red Riding Hood did most of the blanket stitch part, since it was driving Tom Sawyer crazy. They came out really cute.

On the Blog ~ If you want to see what a typical day is like around here, I have our July post here.

All the Rest ~ Tom Sawyer and Little Red Riding Hood have been making improvements day by day in writing. They both wrote three paragraph book reports of The Saturdays and kept up with their journals daily. I am hoping to move them to longer paragraphs next week. I am pleased with Tom Sawyer's improvement in spelling. It really has been coming along in the last couple weeks. I am only finding a few mistakes in his work. Otherwise, we are hard at work with the multiplication tables. The eights are almost solid. Hopefully, we will have a better balance this coming week.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Day in the Life ~ July Edition

We are well into our second week of school. I am glad to see how quickly we are getting into our routine. I am not going to break our day down by the hour. That is just too exhausting. Instead, I will tell you that I started my day at 6:30 am and ended recording our day at 7:00 pm.

Early Morning ~ Dear husband had an interview this morning in another department at the hospital in which he works. I took a bit of time deliberating over ties with him and making sure his breakfast was extra special. Only minutes after he left, my Tom Sawyer (12) was by my side. He has always been an early riser. Thankfully, he is also a quiet morning person just like me. Tom Sawyer and I ate breakfast and listened to the alarm clocks going off for Little Red Riding hood (10) and Tim (our disabled adult son). They soon stumbled in and joined us for breakfast (or more sleep in Little Red Riding Hood's case). Tom Sawyer loves to get his independent work out of the way. He completed his journal, language arts workbooks, and math page.

The kids are allowed to be free until 8:50 am most mornings as long as they are not on the computer or watching television.

After breakfast, the kids wandered off to work on a video for YouTube. Little Red Riding Hood is busy trying to launch a mini rainbow rubber band business. Tom Sawyer video taped her while she made a bracelet tutorial.

School Time ~ Tim stayed home sick today from his brain injury day program. He has asthma and his lungs were really bothering him. He played chess with Tom Sawyer for a little while. Little Red Riding Hood completed her independent work (language arts workbooks, math page, and journal). We then started our group learning. I read the next chapter in The Saturdays to them (literature). We are just loving this book and only have one chapter to go. We then watched Molly An American Girl movie (history). We are almost done with World War II on the home front. The kids did their independent reading time (language arts). We concluded our core school time with how to write a condolence letter. We know a few people who have lost pets recently, and I thought this would be a good time to learn how to write that kind of letter. We studied our manner books and looked for phrases on a Hallmark website.

These two have always enjoyed chess.
Little Red Riding Hood addressing a card.
The phone rang off the hook during the morning. I am still dealing with so many calls in regards to our daughter Goldilocks (not pictured), who ran away and ended up in a psychiatric facility last spring. Her world is stabilizing in her placement out of the home, but there are many phone calls and piles of paperwork to fill out weekly to ensure that stability continues. Once we get the funding under control it should become easier. 

Our Afternoon ~ We had a rushed lunch because Little Red Riding Hood wanted to make it to the free art class at A.C. Moore. She is friends with the teacher and was allowed to use their rubber bands after completing the project. She loves making a few extra bracelets each week at no cost. 

We then raced back home to pick up Tom Sawyer who had been enjoying his media time. We picked him up and took him to his physical therapy appointment at our local children's hospital. The Arts for Life table was running crafts for kids in the waiting room. Little Red Riding Hood was delighted to see her favorite volunteer was running the table and babysitting the kids. In addition, a therapy dog was visiting, so Little Red Riding Hood was set with activities to do while I talked with the physical therapist and watched some of Tom Sawyer's therapy session. His therapist was almost apologetic that it looks like he will need PT for much longer than we originally suspected. His left knee almost dislocated last week and healing of his right knee still has a ways to go. Then there are the growth spurts in his future that will affect his bone and muscle growth differently than kids who don't have cerebral palsy. Actually, I was more relieved than disturbed that he will need more PT, because it is a relief to have a professional watching over him and trying to help him from dislocating again. I would hate to see him in so much pain again.

Our Evening ~ We returned home just minutes before Daddy. I started dinner, assembled Tim's nebulizer so that he could get medication into his lungs, and called my Mother. The kids went off to play on the Wii. After dinner the kids went outside to play with Daddy and I worked on Ebay, Amazon and this post. Before long it was bath/shower time for all. 

Another day done! This was a crafty day for Little Red Riding Hood. Crafts and dancing make her world go around so she was very satisfied with her day. Tom Sawyer would have preferred no PT and a play date with one of his friends. However, he thought the day went well, too. I, for one, am relieved that they are getting back into the groove of homeschooling so quickly after our crazy, bumpy spring and very short summer break.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Back to School 2014-2015 ~F Week One

We started back to school this week. The kids adjusted to our new schedule with minimum complaints. I explained to them that we would be focusing on writing and grammar this year. They did very well on end of year testing last year, but the testing does not look at writing. I know they are struggling in this area and I want them to become more fluent and prolific in writing so that everything else will be easier. This goal was not met with thrilled cheers.

It is our tradition to have Box Day on the first day of school and look at all of our new loot. This year our financial situation is tighter than ever, so I mostly collected things from the art cabinet or my gift giving box for the first day. The kids did not realize that most of these things had been found around the house forgotten on shelves! I do plan on buying one or two things to present at the beginning of each five week unit (we plan to do five weeks on, one week off this year). I still need to buy our Math Teaching Textbooks, the next spelling level, and a few other miscellaneous books. We talked about each item on the table and what subject it represents.
  • Foot bath, peppermint soak and nail brush ~ All of these items will be used in our coming-of-age lesson plans. We will be focusing on hygiene and self care. Our motto is the three R's of being a preteen ~ "Responsible, Respectful and Refined".
  • A lap loom and a hand spinner for making yarn ~ We are introducing handicrafts back into our curriculum this year. Little Red Riding Hood was over the moon about the loom.
  • The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook ~ One of our goals for life skills this year will be doing lots of cooking, and I am hoping that both kids will be making complete dinners a few times a month. Tom Sawyer loves anything about Harry Potter and often checks all kinds of cookbooks out from the library, so I couldn't resist this combination when I saw it at the bookstore. We will be working through this book for the next few months.
  • J. K. Rowling biography ~ The kids will be reading and writing a report on one biography a month this year. 
  • Cube Bot ~ The little purple box holds a cube bot. This represents the kind of quiet toy that the kids can fiddle with during literature time when I am reading to them.
  • Quick Pix and multiplication workbooks ~ The Quick Pix game is supposed to be very fun and help increase a child's recall speed. Multiplication is the only math we are doing for the next five weeks in multiplication. I want to be able to shake them in their sleep and get the right answer to a math problem ~ LOL.
  • Composition books ~ The composition books are for their morning journal time. These journals are to be filled with all things happy and positive so that they can look back on many happy memories at the end of the year.

This week we started a Beyond Five in a Row unit study on The Saturdays. We love the story so far. What a great book. We will be doing lots of FIAR activities associated with the book next week. We also completed Attack on Pearl Harbor and listened to all of the radio recordings of WWII in our book, We Interrupt This Broadcast. We did at least one writing activity every day and lots of language arts workbook pages. This week I assigned a certain number of workbook pages but noticed that Tom Sawyer took the lazy way out by doing only the easiest pages in the workbook. Some things never change it seems. Next week, I will be assigning specific pages!

We could not resist these pens at Sam's. We are kind of pen snobs around here.

All the Rest ~ We had an amazing amount of play dates this week. One of the downfalls of starting school before everyone else does is that our friends still want to play. We squeezed in four play dates this week because everyone's schedules seemed to finally work out this week to get together. So we did school in the morning and played in the afternoon. My To Do list is really long for next week. I have some catch-up to do. We also had a break from physical therapy this week because the therapist was away. It turned out not to be a good thing, since Tom Sawyer's other knee popped out (but not all the way out). He has been in pain every day for the last few days. Apparently, cerebral palsy and puberty are just a bad combination. His already very tight and stiff muscles just can't keep up with his bone growth. I am hoping that they can find a way to prevent his other knee from going out. They may need to brace both knees. He will be starting aquatic therapy in the next few weeks on top of PT.

When do you all start school?

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Exploring Eastern Kentucky

We were able to get away for a few days to explore Eastern Kentucky. This was the first time any of our family had visited Kentucky. I don't consider that one has visited a state unless they get off the highway and do at least one activity in the state. This is the ninth state that Tom Sawyer and Little Red Riding Hood have explored. Timothy (24) decided to stay home and stick with his schedule at the day treatment program for brain injured adults that he attends. He is more comfortable with the routine they provide. Grandma came along with us on our adventure.

We started our adventure in Lexington. We stopped at the visitors center and got our bearings. They suggested that we visit the Lexington Cemetery to stretch our legs. Well, I guess everyone knows by now that I love cemeteries. Lexington Cemetery has won many awards and is considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country. It did not disappoint. I saw headstone styles I haven't seen anywhere else. It was a great mixture of old and new. We also enjoyed the three ponds and wildlife spread throughout the cemetery.

I had never seen stained glass in a headstone before.
When we came to the Jewish section, we reviewed the Jewish custom of leaving stones at the grave instead of flowers. We visited the Star of Remembrance, which commemorates the 1.5 million children who lost their lives during the holocaust. There was a dish of stones to pick from and place on the memorial, and the children picked out a special stone to place. May we never have such a horrible repeat of history!

We settled into our motel and the kids burned off the rest of their energy at the pool. This became a nightly tradition.

The next day we explored the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. This 1800s Shaker community was the largest community in the nation. The buildings have been nicely redone, but there really were not enough interpreters. We really felt like we didn't learn very much new about the Shakers. The kids did enjoy getting to work with the carpenter on the wood turning lathe. Little Red Riding Hood also enjoyed the weaving area. She just loves all things crafty. We also had a nice game of croquet, although I don't think we were following the rules very well.

There are many limestone buildings in Kentucky.

In the same area as the Shaker Village, there was a riverboat ride. This was a gentle ride down the river and back. The kids hoped to see an abundance of wildlife, but we only saw a few turtles. It was relaxing all the same. 

The river was lined with cliffs of limestone. There was limestone all the way down to the water's edge.

We finished the evening off with a Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner eaten poolside and a trip to the Joseph-Beth bookstore, which is supposed to be one of the best in the nation. It was nicely laid out and the staff was very helpful. However, they didn't have any of the six mainstream books that I had circled in my copy of the Rainbow Resource catalog (tsk-tsk). However, I found a few treats to put in our first day of school box.

The next morning we decided to move onto another city. We decided to explore a free horse statue park before bidding farewell to Lexington.

What Characters!

We headed south to Corbin, Kentucky. This is the home of Colonel Sanders KFC. We did not eat at that original restaurant but drove by it on the way to our hotel. We spent the afternoon at Cumberland Falls State Park. I didn't get many pictures because we discovered that the battery was dead in my camera. My dear husband stood in the bathroom at an outlet recharging my camera for a few minutes so we could squeeze out a few photos. This was a really nice state park. The falls were lovely and the kids had a great time mining for gems.

Our last day we went to Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area to see the abandoned Blue Heron coal mining town. We took the Big South Fork Scenic Railway  on a 14 mile round trip through the gorge into Blue Heron. It had a 1.5 layover  in which we were able to see the displays. Of course, my favorite was the schoolhouse. I also enjoyed walking on the trestle.

We had a great time and could have stayed at the park for longer. However, it was time to go home. We had a great getaway and now it is time to get back to the books. Yep, tomorrow starts our 2014-2015 school year!!

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

An Attitude of Gratitude!

An attitude of gratitude makes all the difference, don't you agree? Do you look at the cup half full or half empty? I really try to always see the positive in things ... most of the time it makes life so much easier. I also love to count my blessings. I have so much for which to be grateful -- even when things are less than smooth and easy. Here is a look at the last week of June.

We had a camp out in the backyard. Little Red Riding Hood and I slept on the trampoline, which was very comfortable. The guys slept in the tent. It was fun to look up at the night sky. This home is so much quieter than our last, and camping in the backyard is much more enjoyable.

I am not much of a pool person myself, but it sure makes my kids happy to get into a pool. They had two opportunities to go to local pools this week. I loved seeing how grateful they were for wet fun.

We visited with some relatives we hadn't seen in a long time. It was a peaceful afternoon.

I am grateful for a few good friends. My dear friend took me out for lunch to celebrate my birthday this week. 

Little Red Riding Hood and I had lots of fun making Ink-a-doo tattoos. I have been so blessed by this special time with my girl while Tom Sawyer was at camp. Speaking of Tom Sawyer, he had a wonderful time at camp. There were no injuries and he got along well with all of the other boys.

I turned 42 this week. Forty-two feels pretty good. We had berry pie this year and then went to a baseball game. Goodwill was offering free tickets to anyone who donated three gently used pieces of clothing. What a blessing it was for us to go to a free game on my birthday!

Making an owl cup
Little Red Riding Hood had a great time making a cup at the ceramic place. She is such a crafty child. 

Dear husband pulling pork at the church picnic.
We went to our church picnic. This past year with our new church has been such a blessing. This community of people reminds me of my childhood church. They are so warm, welcoming and civic/charity minded. 

When something goes wrong, it is harder to have an attitude of gratitude. However, I still like to find the bright side. It is amazing how often there are numerous things to be grateful for even when the going is rough.

Example 1 ~ We dropped our muffler on the highway on the way home from the church picnic. However, there was so much to be grateful for even in this situation. We were on an exit ramp transitioning from one highway to another when it happened. After determining that it was still partly attached and that we weren't safe staying on that ramp for even a minute longer than necessary, we slowly moved to the next exit dragging our muffler behind us. This particular exit was right next to an ExpertTire store, which is open on Sunday and which we had visited before so they already had a record of our car. There was no wait and our car was immediately taken in for service. The muffler was unharmed and we were able to buy a universal strap and have it installed. We were back on the road in less than an hour with only a tiny dent put into out pocketbook!

This is not the way your car is supposed to look!
Example 2 ~ Sunday night our area was hit with intense rain. It was coming down in buckets. Before long our basement was taking on water and we were flooding in two rooms. I am so grateful that we were right there and were able to go into action. The family came together and worked steadily. We didn't lose very many items (only a few papers and two card games that were from a fast food place), and we were able to redirect the water to the sump pump. The next day Tim went up on the roof and checked the gutters which didn't seem to be the main problem. However, the drainage pipes of the gutters did seem to be clogged a bit and we dug them out. Hopefully, we can resolve this by reworking the drainage pipes so we can avoid the expensive of installing a French drain. Another blessing is that last year we did lots of work on the other side of the house to regrade and seal the garage. That side of the house didn't leak at all, so the work that we have done has paid off. Now we just have to do the other side. 

The remaining amount of water on day two.

Blessings, Dawn