Saturday, May 30, 2015

Friday Wrap-Up ~ Scarlet Fever and Dance

We have one more week to go! Hurray! We have worked really hard these last few weeks to be at a good stopping point. We are taking a six or perhaps a seven week break for the summer.

Illness ~ This week added in an extra road bump in our days. Little Red Riding Hood came down with strep throat which then turned into scarlet fever within hours. She is terribly prone to strep throat, and even though we got her to the doctors as soon as we knew she had a sore throat and fever, it still managed to turn into scarlet fever. Thank goodness for antibiotics! Little Red Riding Hood has rarely needed them and they work really fast in her body. This is her third time she has gotten strep throat within days of a major performance. Luckily, the timing was perfect and she contracted the illness between shows and was able to get enough sleep and antibiotics to be cleared by the doctor to go on the stage by show time. She was beyond relieved. She is delightedly telling everyone that "the show must go on!"

I didn't get many photos taken this week. This picture of my kitchen counter pretty much sums it up.

Bobby pins, directions for next year's Tween Company, and Amoxicillin
School ~ We did manage to bang out most of the school I wanted to complete. We finished The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Minn of the Mississippi. We also watched The City of Ember on YouTube. The kids liked the book much better. We completed all of our map work for the Mississippi River. The end is within sight for language arts and math. I told the kids that they do not need to be completely done with Teaching Textbooks. If they have 15 lessons or less left, then they will have a fine review next school year (you know, the one that starts in July). They do, however, need to complete all language arts workbook pages. Little Red Riding Hood has 21 pages to go, which mostly consist of writing different kinds of paragraphs. It is going to be an intense last week for her. She decided to forgo camp this summer and receive a second American Girl Doll instead. However, she must complete all 5th grade work before earning the doll. She stands at my closet each night talking to Grace, the girl of the year.

Planning ~ I love planning the next school year. I have now pulled all of the books I own (except chapter books, which are already organized on the middle school reading shelf) for next school year. Now, I can start working on a list of what I need. I am glad to see that it will be less than I originally thought. Anywhere I can save money is a good thing. There is a big used homeschool book sale in just two weeks. I hope to have my final list written out and find some of it there.

Next Week ~ To finish off our school year we plan to do an end of the year presentation with friends. Most of next week will be spent pulling that together. We will also be testing using the CAT test, conducting the kids end of year interviews (which I will post next week), and finish those workbooks! Are you all done?

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Sneak Peek of The Mystery of the Seahorses

This post is mostly for the grandparents. We hope that someone is doing a video that can be converted to DVD. However, that has not been confirmed. Here is a tiny peek. The kids have completed four shows. They have four more to go. They are doing an awesome job and loving it.

Tom Sawyer as a crab solider. He leads the crabs who are searching for the dark water (pollution).

Little Red Riding Hood is on the left and Tom Sawyer is in the middle with one child in between them.

Just a tiny peek at the dark water dancing. This is a fast moving dance with the girls coming and going off the stage. Can you spot Little Red Riding Hood?

The seahorses are on stage several times. Little Red Riding Hood is the third seahorse to run past the camera at the end of the clip.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Wrap-Up ~ A Banner Week

Our week has been great so far. We have spent many hours at the dance studio this week preparing for the show. This weekend the kids will perform the show four times and then four more times next week. I treat extra busy weeks like this in the same way I treat our vacations. We have three blocks of time in a day (between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner, and after dinner). I make sure that one of those blocks is mostly restful so that the other two can be filled with intense activity. This week, our mornings have been filled with school, afternoons with rest, and evenings at the dance studio. I do as much prep work for the day before breakfast so that when we get home from dance we can all truly relax and get to bed. This system works very well for us.

School ~ We did math, language arts workbook pages, and CNN Student News daily. The main focus of our school this week was literature and science.

Photos, clockwise ~ 
  • The City of Ember ~ We LOVED this book and can't wait to listen to the sequel. I hope to get it for our trip this summer. 
  • Drawbot ~ The latest Tinker Crate box arrived and we started exploring it. Tom Sawyer made a drawbot. There are some great projects to explore next week.
  • Poetry Tea ~ We had a quick poetry tea this week and learned about alphabet poetry. Then the kids made one of their own. We had bread pudding, popcorn and strawberries. I love that a poetry tea can be elaborate or simple, depending on the time allowed.
  • Solar System Model ~ We made a model of the solar system this week. The kids painted the balls and added lots of glitter to the Jovian planets (Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, and Saturn). We then measured and assembled the kit per the instructions.
We also explored moon craters and did an impact demonstration with flour and spices (to look like the moon's surface), plus different size stones and marbles (to simulate meteors). Can you see the crater?

If all goes well, we will complete Focus on Middle School Astronomy and The American Story 100 True Tales From American History today. I like to see subjects being checked off the list!

Dance ~ The kids will have 24 hours of dance under their belts by the end of the weekend. Tech week and opening weekend are always extra busy. Here is a sneak peek of some of their costumes. Little Red Riding Hood is a crab soldier, seahorse, and dark water (pollution). Tom Sawyer is a crab soldier. The crab soldiers and seahorses go on several times during the show, so they are both busy and not backstage too much. There are some really fast costume changes for Tween Company this year and they all handled it really well.

Seahorse Costume
Crab Costume
Tom Sawyer (without his crab hat)
Dark Water
Little Red Riding Hood (third from the left)
Rest ~ The kids spent their block of rest time playing on the computer, listening to extra chapters of The City of Ember, and playing on the trampoline. I spent my rest time doing laundry (not really rest) and pulling books off the shelf to plan for next year. I love planning our school years, months and weeks. It was fun to see what I already have and to start formulating a plan.

Happy homeschooling!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, May 15, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ My Hands and Heart Are Full

What a Week ~ This week has been filled to the brim with activities. We had 11 out of the home commitments this week which included multiple dance classes, physical therapy for Tom Sawyer, genetics appointment for Goldilocks, interview with new mental health placement for Goldilocks, mental health therapy for son Tim, last day of homeschool tutorial classes, and mental health therapy for Tom Sawyer. Yes, my hands are very full, but my heart is full, too. I feel so blessed to homeschool. How would we manage this life of appointments if we didn't?

Life was busy on the home front as well. We had six more windows replaced. Two years ago, we replaced eight windows. We have been working our way around the house. Now, we just have seven to go to complete the house. I hope we can accomplish the last of the windows by Christmas, but the roof may insist on being replaced first. We also removed and sealed off the old metal chimney that went nowhere and pumped plenty of cold air into our basement during the winter. It feels so good to keep working away at the To Do List. Our house should be much warmer next winter with these improvements.

Highlights from the Week ~ 

Sunday ~ We had a lovely and calm Mother's Day. My husband and kids took my Mom and me out to Boston Market for lunch. We had a lovely lunch and spent the day hanging out. I told my husband that I didn't want to cook or even look at the kitchen all day. He made breakfast, took us out for lunch and then grilled dinner. It was awesome to have a day off from kitchen duty. My lovely white iris that my oldest child, Tim, gave me on Mother's Day last year is putting on a beautiful show.

Monday ~ Monday was filled with big and stressful appointments. The most stressful one was meeting and interviewing a new potential mental health placement for Goldilocks. It went better than expected, and I think the new placement will be a good fit for Goldilocks. We also ended up with a flat tire. Thankfully, we were in a parking lot, my Mom was able to come pick us up and my hero husband changed it that evening. We ended up needing two new tires, but all is well that ends well.

Tuesday ~ We managed to get a full day of school completed before 3:00 pm! I love it when this happens.

Wednesday ~ Between physical therapy and dance classes, we were away from home for hours. However, we got all of our school work done!

Little Red Riding Hood is in pink.
Tom Sawyer in an extra rehearsal.
Thursday ~ This was the craziest day in the week. We had a genetics appointment for Goldilocks, and it was the last day of homeschool co-op classes, complete with parties. When I arrived to pick up Goldilocks from school, the school was under perimeter lock down! I had to go through several check points to make it to the office and get Goldilocks released. Apparently, there was a suspected threat outside and the police with rifles had surrounded the building. It is so hard to let her be in school. It so goes against my principles. Frankly, I have seen nothing that increases my confidence in the public school system in this area.

Friday ~ Finally, we had a catch-up day. We balanced school and errands. We are facing the busiest week of the month next week. It is tech week before the big spring dance performance. Of course, there are lots of other important things going on as well. We are done with our required hours for this school year so the rest of school is all icing on the cake. I have a few more things that I want completed before we rest. We have just three weeks to go. I hope we get all of the loose ends tied up.

What We Did for School Time ~
  • Watched the movie I Remember Mama
  • Finished The First Four Years
  • Started The City of Ember (audio book)
  • Read a few chapters from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • Completed many language arts pages (Little Red Riding Hood has 130 pages to go which is great considering that she had over 350 pages a few weeks ago).
  • Did Teaching Textbooks daily
  • Went to co-op classes
  • Read Middle School Astronomy -- three chapters
  • Read a lot during independent reading time
  • Watched CNN Student News daily
  • Read aloud An American Story 100 True Tales ~ 12 stories that were all review of history we learned about this year
  • Completed Draw Write Now Book 2
  • Made bread, Banana Sour Cream Cake, and chocolate covered bananas
Blessings, Dawn

Friday, May 8, 2015

Inhale...Exhale...All Shall Be Well

As we say goodbye to the first week of May, we feel a bit frazzled. Yes, there is some panic in the ranks. Will the language arts workbooks be completed in the next four weeks...and what about those remaining math lessons? They seem to be multiplying instead of reducing in number! Let's not even talk about end-of-year testing (which I haven't even ordered) or the pollen count! Both my kids are experiencing nerves for the first time about their dances. Neither is feeling particularly prepared for the end-of-year performance. I am sure their dances will come together in the next few days, but they are shaken up more than I have seen them in the past. I think it is just the pressure of being in Tween Company. Little Red Riding Hood is on stage in every scene but one. That is a lot of dances and costume changes! Tom Sawyer has less to prepare for when it comes to dancing. However, there is a lot of prep work for the youth group Sunday (in which they run the entire church service). Yep, we are all feeling the pressure. At least, my Mom came through her surgery well and is doing better. Thank you for your prayers!

The kids made a Viking village from a paper kit.
Screen-Free Week ~ Yikes! As if we didn't have enough on our plates, I decided to have the kids join the challenge of screen-free week this week. A few local stores have some great incentives if they can hang in there and resist the lure of the screen. They are almost miserable about it, but they are struggling through. I have been limiting my time on the computer to writing this post and taking care of email and Ebay. It has been eye opening for all of us. I see there are certain hours when we all (some of us desperately) want to crash and chill out in front of a screen. However, I have seen a great improvement in reading for Tom Sawyer. In fact, he has read two chapter books and six graphic novels this week (so far). Little Red Riding Hood has been struggling with the lack of screen time much more than I thought she would. I definitely think this is something we should incorporate into our life more often!

Tom Sawyer bought this Lego set with his birthday money. It came in handy during screen-free week.
A Goldilocks Update ~ I haven't talked much about Goldilocks lately. There hasn't been that much new to report or at least that I feel is my place to report. I have a lot to say about her school experience. However, I want to wait until the year is out and make a complete report of her experience. Unfortunately, it has been extremely eye opening and in a very negative way. As for her mental health team, we are about to experience some big changes. She is going to be moving to a new mental health home in the next few weeks. Her current provider is beyond done and we are interviewing a new home next week. Hopefully, it will be a good placement. We are having a very difficult time finding someone who is qualified and is willing to do an in-depth assessment of her mental health. The team suspects a major diagnosis is coming and no one wants to be the one to give it to a child. We are probably going to have to travel across state to get services for her.

What we accomplished "school wise" ~
  • Went to writing class and math class
  • Almost finished reading The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Completed five more chapters of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  • Completed five more lessons Teaching Textbooks 
  • Watched CNN Student News daily
  • Completed PowerPoint on Vikings for Culture Club
  • Completed report on Norway and Vikings for Culture Club
  • Kids made two strawberry apple pies
  • Completed two lessons in Draw Write Now
  • Listened to survey of 1960's folk music (post on our music exploration coming soon)
  • Spent lots of time doing independent reading
  • Built a paper Viking village from a kit
  • Attended Culture Club
  • Spent 30 minutes a day doing workbook pages

The kids also attended all of their dance classes and extra rehearsals. We made it to the library twice this week. We are looking forward to a fun and peaceful Mother's Day. I am hoping to do some kind of fun outing but haven't had the time to wrap my brain around what we could do. I hope all of you have a wonderful Mother's Day!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, May 1, 2015

May is Here ~ Now the "Crazy" Really Starts!

The last week of April was a whirlwind. My youngest son turned 13!! This week there were parties, appointments, out of the home classes and lots of sugar. My son received some awesome presents that have kept our homeschool fun and educational this week. We are finishing the week off with a bang! My mother is having surgery today and we would appreciate your prayers. Since I am short on time, this will be more of a picture post than a word post.

Tom Sawyer on the far right invited four friends and his sister to go roller skating. 
They had a wonderful time.

We decorated the house with caution tape as a joke. Everyone says the teen years are so hard. My experience has been that some years are hard and some aren't, all the way from infancy, through childhood to adulthood. Actually, my 11 year old is giving me more issues currently than my 13 year old.

Awesome Learning ~ 

  • Thinking Putty was a popular gift that has been experimented with all week.
  • The Snap Circuit Rover is awesome. The kids have performed eight experiments with it so far.
  • We finished up our Tinker Crate box about polymers. The kids made plastic out of milk and expanded the polymers in a gummy bear (the before and after is in the collage photo above).
  • They love the Plus Plus building set Tom Sawyer received.
  • We continued with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and started The First Four Years.
  • The kids did reading, CNN Student News, math and language arts daily.
  • We started reading about the 1960's.
  • We enjoyed a "taste" of 1960's music (a list of songs will follow in a future post).
  • The kids did four lessons in Draw Write Now.
  • They attended all of their out of the home classes.
  • Dissected a rose under our stereo microscope.
  • Tom Sawyer made mustache cupcakes for celebrating his birthday with his dance class. Aren't they cute?
Making plastic out of milk

This is just the beginning of our busy season. The kids will be logging 59 hours at the dance studio before the month of May comes to an end. There is end-of-year testing and a host of subjects to wrap up. But the end of the year is within sight ~ not that anyone is actually complaining about doing school. What a blessing it is to homeschool! 

Blessings, Dawn