Friday, August 28, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Saxon, Tinker and Guitar

It has been a good week. Everyone is back to good health, and we accomplished most of what we set out to do.

Co-Op Classes Started this Week ~ Dean (13) is taking a guitar class and a writing class this year. He liked both classes and was excited about all of the kids in the writing class. It looks like it will be a class with a good amount of collaboration. That is my way of saying that Dean will get to talk in class (much to his delight). The guitar class only had two students, which was exciting to me. There can be eight in the class so two is almost like private lessons for a drastically reduced cost. He likes the teacher and has been diligent about practicing at home so far.

Learning to Budget One's Wardrobe ~ Anne had the opportunity to shop for her winter clothes recently. We told her that we would provide undergarments, winter boots, a good pair of sneakers, winter coat and two outfits. The rest was up to her to purchase within her budget. We set  her budget at $100 for this fall and winter. We went to a huge children's consignment sale. She did an awesome job and still has $27 left to purchase leggings and tights. I think she was most excited about the glitter sneakers she bought. She is a bit of a shoe girl.

Celebrating Mother Teresa ~ We are learning about some of the important leaders of India this year. We will be reading biographies and celebrating their birthdays during their birthday week. Mother Teresa's birthday was this week. We made and ate food from India, read Who Was Mother Teresa, and made a cake for her. In her honor, we also bought some basic staples at the store and donated them to the food bank. We also listened to all of the information that our Intelliglobe had to offer.

Our Latest Tinker Crate ~ We loved our latest Tinker Crate (monthly subscription box). It was soda science. I put a post up here all about it.

Saxon Math ~ This is our 17th year of homeschooling and I have never used Saxon Math before. I never planned to, either. I hated math as a child and methodically avoided textbooks in the hopes my kids would like math. For the most part, they have liked math and done well. However, Anne is burned out on Teaching Textbooks (computer program) and wanted a change for 6th grade. We had a Saxon Math book that was laying around from a free book haul I got recently. It is very old and falling part. I had planned to put it in the Goodwill bag, but Anne got to it first. It happens to be a 6th grade book and Anne loves it. She says math is fun again. Go figure!! I am letting her write in the book since it was basically ready for the recycling bin anyway. So, everyone is happy and we are now a Saxon, Teaching Textbooks, Life of Fred family.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, August 24, 2015

Our latest Tinker Crate ~ Soda Science

We had a great time with our latest crate. It was soda science. We already had done a few of the experiments but that doesn't matter. The kids are always game to do an experiment again. We had never used citric acid before. What I love about these crates is they always stretch my kids a little bit further.
Today they learned about nucleation while watching raisins dancing in soda. They watched the creation of molecules while launching a citric acid/baking soda rocket. They learned about carbon dioxide in our foods (soda, pop candy) and attempted to make their own pop candy. We also purchased to store bought pop candy and compared it to our own. What a fun two hours spent with science!
Blessings, Dawn

Friday, August 21, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Week 5

I was surprised to see how much we got through this week. That quote from the popular kids movie, "Just keep swimming," came to mind a few times. Since I've had a bad cold this week, it has felt like one of those weeks where I could stay on top of the house, or stay on top of homeschooling, or stay on top of life (appointments, paperwork, starting one of our out-of-the-home classes, and phoning and phoning again people to try to get them to do what they said they'd do but then didn't). Since it would not do to only accomplish one of those parts of my life, I did the best I could with all of them. The results were better than I expected. The house needs a good cleaning, but it isn't scary, just too many incomplete tasks (like I still haven't unpacked from the church retreat that was last weekend). We managed to get through the whole week without buying anything on the road ~ not even a sweet tea! That is a savings. I finally got the receipts for the matinee performances we will be seeing this year. After two attempts to get the folks to email the receipts to me like they said they would do and as was their policy, I finally just went and stood at the box office until they printed them out and handed them to me. I even managed to get all of the scholarship paperwork filled out and dropped off to try to get Dean a scholarship for dance class this year! I also got three forms of medical paperwork filled out and mailed to the proper doctors and insurance providers. Remarkably, all that happened plus homeschooling, too!

What we did schoolwise  this week ~
  • We listened to D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths  ~ literature
  • Teaching Textbooks every day ~ Anne finished grade 5 today! Dean will finish grade 6 tomorrow. ~ math
  • Anne finished reading Designs by Isabelle, an American Girl doll book, and Dean finished Gregor and the Prophecy of Bain. ~ language arts
  • Two writing prompts ~ language arts
  • Spelling every day ~ language arts
  • Watched the first two hours of the DVD series, Our Planet Earth ~ science
  • ~ the kids did several hours on this site ~ computer science
  • CNN Student News every day ~ history
  • Two hours of swimming ~ physical education
  • Kayaking and paddle boarding for two hours ~ physical education
  • Sewed a tic-tac-toe game for a young man in the hospital ~ art
  • Did a picture study of Antaeus Kater, a Greek red figure bowl from 510 BC ~ art
  • Made a pot out of clay ~ art

Anne and Dean loved boating so much! They can't wait to do it again.
Goldilocks Starts High School ... A Short Update ~
Goldilocks is still living out of the home in a mental health placement. She has had many struggles over the last few months. She moved placements in June and is now living in a setting that specializes in teenage girls. Since she ran away in March 2014, she has been attending public school, where she had a rough year. The public school that she attended was ridiculous. They watched her like a hawk, which was good, but then gave her straight A's, even though she insisted she didn't understand anything. She entered eighth grade public school as a strong third grader, but they insisted that she was fairing just as well as all the other students in the school! When I argued it with them, they scoffed at me, saying it was just that she was homeschooled and I didn't know how to teach her. Well, then the end of grade standardized tests were administered and she COMPLETELY failed them. Finally, she got honest grades that showed how lost she was -- just like she had been telling us and what we knew to be true. She will be in a new public school this year in a new district. I hope we see more honest assessments and that it leads to her getting some real help. I have talked the principal's ear off about giving her authentic grades. I don't want to see any more inflated grades!

I walked Goldilocks through her class schedule four times this week. She is very nervous about starting school. Please pray that she is safe and that the school will be more honest about her learning challenges.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ Church Retreat

Pretty ~ We attended our church's retreat this year for the first time. We were blessed by receiving a full scholarship which made this lovely weekend possible. Below is the historic cabin we stayed in. It was a bit damp and chilly but such a beautiful location. The retreat was in a beautiful valley on a lake tucked into the North Carolina mountains. It was gorgeous!

Happy ~ Our church is a bit of a graying church and doesn't have a lot of children. However, the children that are there get along well together, no matter their ages. They all just play and learn together. I was so happy to see my children have the opportunity to learn kayaking skills and go out on the lake on their own. The kids swam in the lake, even though the water was in the very low 60's and there was plenty of evidence of water snakes. They loved it and wouldn't come out until they were blue.

Anne loved the kayak.
The boys returning with one of the fathers from a paddle around the lake. Dean is second from left on a paddle board.

Dear Husband and I made it out on the lake, too.
Funny ~ The kids learned about guerrilla marketing in their youth group classes. They created a symbol which they felt represented the love of Jesus and spread it around all over the retreat grounds with flour. 

We also had a dove release on the last day of retreat. We were warned that the doves were about to fly and many of us thought we were ready with our cameras. However, the doves took off and were gone in a blink. This was the only shot I got. Some of us didn't get a thing.

Real ~ While we were hiking, we found a mountain graveyard. I love graveyards. This one was still active, but if you went back into the trees, there were gravestones from the Civil War. I even found a grave marker for a couple who shared our adopted children's birth surname (which I will not be showing in this blog to protect their privacy). I will have to research to see if my kids are somehow related to this couple. The name is somewhat rare and the kids roots run deep in the Appalachian mountains. 

This one was built and carved by hand.

It was a wonderful weekend. One of the best parts was not having to cook six whole meals. What a treat to this Mom! I'm just keeping it real!

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Week 3 ~ Searching for Balance

I should have titled this post "Searching for balance and people who do what they say they are going to do the first time". I am so frustrated with the lack of follow-through I see all around me. This week alone I can count a half dozen experiences where people have failed to do what they said they would do the first time. I realize that part of this is because we are a complicated family that I am trying to juggle, plus we have a higher than average amount of appointments and bureaucracy to deal with on a daily basis than many have. But really, when you say you are going to do something, do it already. Why do I have to call over and over again to get things accomplished? I wonder why the world seems to be more complicated now when we have all this media and technology that is supposed to make it easier. On the bright side, Goldilocks' insurance is supposed to be moved back next week to her former pediatrician whom we love. (Her former mental health home wanted her with a different doctor because they didn't want to drive the 10 extra miles to take her to our preferred pediatrician.)  I have been struggling to get that accomplished since the first week of June! That is just one wrinkle in the quilt of life that is filled with dozens of wrinkles. Really, this little rant is not meant to be a pity party. I know we all have struggles; this just happens to be my sticking point right now.

This week has been a week filled with good things! I feel like I remained intentional and was able to do things that were important and meaningful for our family. We accomplished fun, learning, work, and shared loving moments.

We accomplished lots of science. Our most recent Tinker Crate was about flight and the Wright brothers. How perfect is that after our recent trip to the Outer Banks and the Wright Brothers National Memorial?! The kids made nine planes and gliders. Then they made a blimp (held up by helium balloons) and tested how much weight it could take by filling it with rice a few grains at a time.

We attended the movie, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It was fantastic and left us in stitches. We also visited our local mineral and gem museum, which we try to go to once a month with our annual pass. The kids are learning so much from going back repeatedly to the museum and doing their different scavenger hunts. This time the museum's geode cracking machine was working so we purchased a geode. The kids were so excited to see their geode cracked and be the first to see the inside. How amazing that something so beautiful comes from gas bubbles in a volcanic eruption!

Their geode was clear quartz and amethyst quartz
The kids made a Roman sundial to go along with our Ancient Rome studies. They really didn't enjoy this project, but it came out pretty good. However, they are really enjoying Augustus Caesar's World. I knew this book would be a perfect fit for them.

May I just say that I love Life of Fred? The kids just eat it up and are retaining what they learn. This format works so well for them. It isn't easy stuff, either. We are still in the elementary series, but they are already getting a taste of algebra. This is what our white board looked like after a few chapters this week.

The kids did a fair amount of seat work this week. They made it through all of the writing, spelling and math. We also completed Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson and started Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.

Anne always has that Rubiks Cube handy. She has figured out how to solve it in minutes ~
no matter how much someone messes it up.
Lastly, I decided to take all of our art supplies down to the basement. We had a ton and the art cabinet was always a disaster. This arrangement is so much better. It sure was a mess getting it all moved, though.

Now I can find stuff!

How was your week?

Blessings, Dawn