Monday, March 28, 2016

Quick Update and Happy Easter

We made it safely to Washington, D.C. I am happy to report that my Dad is doing better than expected. He is even sitting up in a chair and taking short walks with assistance. We will not know if the medications work for months. However, doctors now think he has a higher chance of survival than they predicted last week. We do not know whether he will be going to rehab or directly home yet. Please keep him in your prayers. He has a very long road ahead. A little compliment to my kids. They sat on the floor in a tiny corner of the hospital room for hours each day without complaint. They have been brave and well-mannered troopers. 

Dean making his funny spy face!

On one of our trips into the city to see my Dad, we decided to visit the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin. They are at their peak. We were crazy to think we would be able to park the car and see them. There were thousands of people down there. However, we spent an hour crawling past the trees in traffic and got some great views from the car. Anne and Dean tried to pose for a picture in front of the cherry blossoms from the car. It didn't work out that well!

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Crazy Week and Getting Crazier!

This has been a turbulent week at best. My Dad had emergency surgery on his brain early this week. They removed an abscess the size of an apple from his brain. The cultures just came back and said that he has a fungus in his brain. It is very difficult to treat and he could use all the prayers he can get. Some of us are headed up to Washington, D.C. to be with him and see what help we can be. He is still in the Neurological  ICU.

To say the least, our school week has been limited. We did some of the basics and a few extras. Anne did her sign language presentation at co-op and they made it to all of their dance classes. We also had our annual Easter Egg Extravaganza with friends. The pictures from that fun event are below. There are still four eggs missing in our yard. I guess I hid them well this year.

This picture is just because....Boomer is so cute.

Thank you for your prayers and positive thoughts. I will try to update soon.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Are You Here, Spring?

It really feels like spring has arrived here in the mountains. However, we can't be sure of that since we do live in the mountains and it is only March. But we are enjoying the weather as long as it lasts. We pulled a million wild onions this week and started cleaning up all of the small branches that fell all over the yard this winter. I am already seeing bees and butterflies!

Anne pulled out her spring/summer clothes ~ Anne grew out of all of her shorts and most of her skorts since last year. Luckily, most of her t-shirts still fit. Her spring/summer budget this year was $75.00, so we set out for the consignment shop. We provide a sturdy pair of sandals, a pair of sneakers, three outfits, three pajama sets, dance clothes, undergarments and a bathing suit... it is up to her to buy the rest out of her budget. She spent $53.00 and got just about everything she needs. She has a bit left over for yard sales and one children's sale coming up in April. This is her second season working with a budget. I am pleased how quickly she learned to prioritize needs over desires. Anne was so delighted to find the dress which is an American Girl Doll dress. My girl has three passions ~ dance, American Girl Dolls and  photography.

A treat at the Woolworth counter ~ We often buy a drink on Wednesdays when we are out most of the day at homeschool co-op classes. Usually, we get a coffee for Dean to push him through the day. He really struggles with all of the sensory input that he must process on Wednesdays, and coffee has become his weekly treat. Typically, Anne just gets a juice box or hot chocolate. However, we were having Spring Fever this week, so Anne got an ice cream float at the Woolworth counter (the store is now a gallery featuring local art and a restored soda fountain). What a treat!

Hitting the books ~ We did lots of book work this week. We are wrapping up several reviews for late March and early April. We also finally started a unit study on Nellie Bly and journalism that I planned out last summer. I can't wait to share it with you all in a week or two. Dean received a new Tinker Crate and has started to explore it. There will be more to come next week on that. So here are the stats for this week:
  • Literature ~ 5 hours (both)
  • Language Arts ~ 4 hours (both)
  • Math ~ 4 hours (both)
  • History ~ 3 hours (both)
  • Fine Arts ~ 9 hours (Anne) and 5 hours (Dean) 
  • Home Economics ~ 4 hours (Anne) and 3 hours (Dean)
  • Physical Education ~ 4 hours (Dean) (Remember that Anne is done with P.E. and her dance hours now go in fine arts.)
  • Sign Language ~ 4 hours (Anne)
  • Science ~ 30 minutes (Anne) and 1.5 hours (Dean)

Shamrock shake recipe was in the American Girl Doll magazine and cakes frosted with our first attempts with fondant 
Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Field Trips Galore

We had a week filled with field trips. This is the closest we are getting to a Spring break this year, so I am glad we had so much fun during this week.

Monday was a normal school day.

Tuesday was International Pancake Day, and the IHOP was giving out short stacks for a donation to charity. We happily attended and had a delightful breakfast.

Wednesday we went to the symphony. It was a special school show and we loved it. You can read more about it here.

Thursday some friends asked us to go to the Biltmore Estate with them. They had extra tickets and gave them to us at no cost. We had all seen the house in the past, so we decided to skip the house this time, because the weather was marvelous and we all wanted to be outdoors. We visited one of the shopping areas and got ice cream, spent lots of time with the baby animals (the goats were three weeks old), and spent a good long time exploring the gardens and greenhouses.

A perfectly wide balance beam for cartwheels
Friday, we attended the Compassion Experience. If you have a chance to see this traveling exhibit, GO! It was wonderful. This is just the kind of event I like my First World kids to experience. What a contrast it was with their having gone to the Biltmore Estate just the day before. I won't kid you, this was a teary field trip, but it was executed in a very organized manner. You have the opportunity to go through three different children's lives to their adulthoods. We went through Kiwi's life (Philippines), Olive's life (Uganda), and Carlos' life (Guatemala). We walked into several rooms for each child. The rooms depicted important aspects of their lives, such as a realistic setting at home, school, and hospital. We listened to their stories on an electronic device, which gave us a tour and provided sounds that correlated with each setting, such as insect noises for an outdoor setting. Actual artifacts were in each room. To leave, we walked through a room with many photos of adorable children's faces along with their background stories. These children are from all over the world and one could be sponsored for $38 a month through Compassion International. We were not required to pick a child and there was no pressure to do so.

We did manage to get some school accomplished as well. The kids logged more hours in most subjects, as follows:
  • Literature ~ 3 hours ~ (both)
  • Math ~ 3 hours ~ (both)
  • Language Arts ~ 3 hours (Dean), 4 hours (Anne)
  • History ~ 5 hours ~ (both)
  • The Arts ~ 9 hours ~ (Anne) ~ 5 hours (Dean)
  • P.E. ~ 5 hours ~ (Dean) ~ Anne already completed P.E.
  • Science ~ 3 hours ~ (Anne) ~ 4.5 hours (Dean)
  • Sign Language ~ 2 Hours ~ (Anne)
Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, March 10, 2016

S Is for Symphony

We had the pleasure of going to the symphony this week. Our local symphony orchestra did a special school show that cost only $4 a ticket. I couldn't pass that up. The show was called Musicalympics and they portrayed how music and sports are related to each other.

It was a great show and special opportunity for my kids. Dean really appreciated how professional the orchestra was and remarked that, if you closed your eyes, the music sounded like it had been professionally recorded. But then, when you opened your eyes, the music was being played live right in front of you. He loved that. It's really hard for him to listen to poorly played music. We sat in the spacious balcony, which was a relief for my sensory-affected son as the music was not too loud up there.
Dear son takes his mission to avoid the camera seriously these days, LOL!
We heard several great pieces including:
  • "Star Spangled Banner" by Frances Scott Key
  • "Bugler's Dream" by Leo Arnaud
  • "Fugue in C Minor" by Bach
  • "Entrance of the Gladiators" by Julius Fucik
  • "Overture to the Bartered Bride" by Bedrich Smetana
  • "Olympic Fanfare" by John Williams
We are going to follow up our adventures at the symphony reviewing The Story of the Orchestra and listening to "The Best of John Williams," parts one and two (found on YouTube). John Williams wrote the music to Harry Potter and Star Wars! My kids were very excited to hear about that.

I am joining ABC blogging with ~ 
Through the Calm and Through the Storm

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Week 28 ~ A Need to Take Stock

I did not manage to take any pictures this week that had anything to do with school or our lives. Instead, I am showing you the above video of a show we were fortunate enough to see this week. It was awesome. 

I felt the need to take stock this week of where we are in our school year. I keep lesson plan books for the kids and decided it was past time to count up their hours in each subject. I was right. Anne was already more than 30 hours past her required hours for Physical Education.

Let me back up for just a minute. Our goal in our homeschool is to complete 150 hours a year for a full credit and 75 hours a year for a half credit. We are not required by our state to complete a certain amount of hours. I decided on the amount of hours by researching state averages and accepting the recommendations from the HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association). I do not record our lessons down to the minute. I do, however, record our lessons in 30 minutes or one hour blocks into our lesson plans so that I know approximately how long each lesson took. Lastly, we are completing 40 weeks of school this year instead of the typical 36 weeks. This allows us to take half days when needed, take more subjects than the normal public school student, have margin for doctor/therapy appointments and maintain a more structured lifestyle that my kids thrive on.

Below is where each child is currently (after 28 weeks of school) ~

Anne 6th Grade ~ 
  • Literature - 127 hours
  • Language Arts - 117 hours
  • Math - 110 hours
  • History - 101 hours
  • Physical Education - 183 hours = Complete
  • The Arts (theater, music, fine art) - 58 hours
  • Science - 58 hours (this is a half credit course)
  • Home Economics - 60 hours (this is a half credit course)
  • Sign Language -  41 hours (this is a half credit course)
Anne is doing well with her goals. For the remainder of the year, I will be recording her dance/theater classes under The Arts instead of under Physical Education. Considering that she completes a minimum of seven hours a week of dance, that subject will be filled up quickly. I do feel that her Sign Language course is not even going to get to the half credit point if we do not step it up. We will be adding more time to practice at home. If she doesn't complete a half credit, that is okay. Since I am not required by the state to record hours, this year is only a practice year to help me see how our days will need to flow by the time they're in high school. Then determining credits for transcripts will become very important.

Dean 7th grade
  • Literature - 127 hours
  • Language Arts - 126 hours
  • Math - 102 hours
  • History - 101 hours
  • Science - 91 hours
  • The Arts - 79  hours
  • Physical Education - 123 hours
  • Home Economics - 63 hours (this is a half credit course)
Dean is also doing well with his goals. He has less hours overall than Anne because he takes fewer dance classes, and with his sensory and attention issues, he needs a slower pace. His Science course will flesh out now that he received a laptop from his grandparents and will be able to attend a STEM class hosted most Saturdays at a local private school. Also, when his Physical Education hours have been completed, his dance classes will be recorded in The Arts category.

A Few Changes ~ Until now, I have tried to cover a little bit of time on most of their subjects each day. Naturally, we spent more time on the subjects that the kids either love and/or are my strong points. We are almost done with Literature. I told the kids that we would only be doing two or three more books this year. They are arguing debating about which two books from our Middle School Literature List that we will be read. We are currently deep into a unit study of Heidi. As we complete courses, we will be intensifying our hours in other courses. Over the next few weeks, our days will be changing slightly. We will be doing more science, math and history in the coming weeks. I am excited to see where the last 12 weeks of school will take us.

Blessings, Dawn