Saturday, June 25, 2016

Greek Acting Camp

Dean had another fantastic year at day camp. This year the theme was Ancient Greece. He spent two weeks (60 hours) learning about all things Greek. His favorite parts were playing all of the games, making a sword, climbing ropes, making his helmet and learning stage combat. He is gathering quite a collection of stage weapons from all of his years of camp. (Each year has a different theme, such as last year which was Vikings.)

He now has two metal swords, a battle-axe, a shield and multiple masks. They design their swords on paper and then take their templates to a welder who cuts the swords out of metal. The swords come back the next day and the kids sand the swords down so that they are dull. Then, they cover the handles in leather.

This camp is such a great experience for Dean each year. He learns so much more than stage combat and acting. He learns self control, team work, obedience, craftsmanship, creativity, growing confidence, endurance, compromise and so much more. He gets wonderful opportunities to role model to the younger campers and to spend ample time with one of his main male role models (Giles, the director).

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, June 17, 2016

First Week of Mom and Daughter Summer Camp

Dean is in a two week day camp that started this week. He is gone from 9 to 3. Anne and I have been keeping busy eating naughty food that Dean isn't allowed to eat because of his allergies -- at least that is what it appears we did when I look at my phone pictures. I save up coupons for months to use during this mother/daughter time. Here is what we did:

Monday ~ We went out for breakfast with our buy one get one free waffle coupon. We then went on to the mall and used our JC Penney coupons on some more shorts for Anne. While there, we power walked the mall and wandered around taking selfies. When I looked at the time, we somehow had managed to spend three hours in the mall!

Tuesday ~ We took Tim to a doctor's appointment and then went out to Rocky's Chicken Shack for lunch. They give a nice discount to teachers on Tuesdays.

Wednesday ~ We did lots of tie-dying projects. We made socks, shirts, and a leotard. The leotard came out great!

Thursday ~ We dropped off stuff at two different consignment shops, traded books in at the used bookstore and dropped off three bags at Goodwill. We used a coupon to get shakes at Chick-fil-A. The most exciting thing of the day was finding a pair of jazz shoes for Anne at the consignment shop in like new condition at a fraction of the cost!

Friday ~ We bought Anne's new pointe shoes. This makes pair number three. She also got a new dance bag, foot undeez and new toe pads. Most of the items were on sale and Anne paid almost half the cost with her earnings from working with kids the last few Friday afternoons. We also got free donuts with another coupon at Krispy Kreme. Lastly, we accomplished most of the grocery shopping for the next week and had some downtime at home.

We had a wonderful first week of mom/daughter camp. We have some great plans for next week, too. I hope I get some good pictures of Dean at his camp next week. He is at Greek acting camp. They are learning all about ancient Greece, learning a little bit of the language, making helmets and swords, acting, play fighting and all manner of other fun things. He is having a fantastic time as he does every year. Each year it has a different theme. Last year it was Vikings. I got only a few decent photos of him this week. On the last day the kids go to the camp owners' home to have a party (besides the camp, they also own our beloved dance studio). If the weather is good, they always end the day in the pool. Here are a few pool shots.

Lastly, I just want to send my prayers to all of those who have been affected by the three tragedies that took place in Orlando this week. The stories out of the nightclub shooting have torn me apart.  It really disgusts me how some "Christians" are spewing hate instead of prayers. Have they forgotten the teachings of Jesus (John 13:34 and Matthew 7-29)?  Since I actually have stood right on the beach where that little boy was killed by the alligator, it seems so real to me. And my daughter really liked the singer, Christina Grimmie. So many senseless acts of violence in one place in one week!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, June 10, 2016

Summer -- A Season of Growth

It is hard to believe that my youngest two are 12 and 14 years old. The time flies by so quickly! I have been thinking about their future and how soon they will be all grown up. Be still, my heart!

My focus this summer is on helping my kids come to age. Their childhood is transitioning into young adulthood, and with that, our summer goals are changing. Gone are the lazy days of summer at Splashville, going to all the playgrounds in a 10 mile radius, eating ice cream and watching movies all day. I did not buy bubbles, chalk and balloons this summer (okay, I did buy balloons but they are for an art project). I am not the cruise director of fun this summer. Don't get me wrong. There will be plenty of fun and adventures, but it isn't my main focus. It isn't where I am putting the majority of my energy. In fact, I am purposely trying to make their summer just a little bit hard and monotonous. Working hard and getting through tedious things builds character.

This summer we are growing and solidifying character traits that will last a lifetime. Being a special needs family in crisis for most of our children's childhood has caused certain things to fall through the cracks. I just haven't been able to do it all and have had to prioritize through the years. Thankfully, we have had relative peace recently and can start tweaking the areas that need improvement.

Goal 1 ~  Complete a task, no matter how small. Can I tell you a secret? My kids are droppers and half-doers. We get out of the car and they leave half their stuff behind. We enter the house and they drop the stuff they did bring in at the door. They get milk out of the fridge and either leave it on the counter or put it back in the fridge without the cap on. They use tools in the yard and bring only half of them back. Don't get me started on all the unimaginable places I find shoes and utensils! So this summer, we are really focusing on the old adage:

1. If you open it, close it.
2. If you turn it on, turn it off.
3. If you unlock it, lock it up.
4. If you break it, admit it.
5. If you can't fix it, call in someone who can.
6. If you borrow it, return it.
7. If you value it, take care of it.
8. If you make a mess, clean it up.
9. If you move it, put it back.
10. If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it.
11. If you don't know how to operate it, leave it alone.
So much of it is about staying present in the task at hand and not letting your mind and body wander off to the next thing before the first is completed. So far, I am seeing a small improvement, and I don't feel too much like a drill sergeant.

Goal 2 ~  To improve work ethic. My son is a distracted worker. He wanders away from work for water, food, to use the bathroom ... the list goes on and on. According to his recent extensive educational testing, he isn't ADHD, so it would appear that this is something that must be trained out of him. My daughter is a complainer and pouter. She doesn't like any jobs that have to deal with dirt (either in the house or outside) or bugs. She just wants to organize, which she is very good at and is fun for her. So this summer we are doing morning chores and evening chores as usual. Then we are adding one hour of concentrated chores or projects that fall in the not-so-fun category. We are doing tons of yard work, cleaning behind furniture, washing baseboards, cleaning the dark corners of the basement laundry room, and putting fresh caulk in bathrooms. Dean is not allowed to wander away from his work unless it is a designated break time. Above all else, they must put forth a positive attitude. Dean is finding that he actually kind of likes some parts of yard work. He especially likes anything involving chopping and sawing. Anne is doing better with gross jobs. Although she still wrinkles up her nose and complains under her breath. Hopefully, we will make even more headway with her attitude in the coming weeks.

Goal 3 ~ Take care of their morning needs. That means taking over making a healthy well-balanced breakfast for themselves and cleaning up afterwards, making their own beds, and for Dean, maintaining his dental retainer. All that kind of stuff. They have most of this down. The only real struggle is making breakfast, because they are both really slow to wake up and function first thing. They think eating a few crackers or drinking four cups of milk (Dean) should count.

Goal 4 ~ To continue with their personal growth activities each day. Anne is reading eight chapter books this summer, doing a one hour exercise program for ballet (daily) and keeping up with learning sign language. Dean is practicing guitar, doing his physical therapy stretches, reading daily, doing some math practice and starting to learn the piano.

We are well into our summer and have been keeping up with our goals so far. Next week starts a few weeks of camp and dance intensives. We will see how well we hang onto our goals. I think we will keep up with number 1 and 3. The other two may need to be adapted. Camp really exhausts Dean. The combination of vigorous activity, hours of social time, and all of his sensory issues tends to make for a very tired boy in the evenings.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Lazy Days of Summer

I don't really know that you could call this past week of our summer lazy, but this is about as slow as it gets around here. I have let the kids sleep until 9:30 am most days. That is late for us. We have been partaking of more media than we should and walking around in our pajamas until lunch time. However,we have accomplished a bit, too.

I purchased a Wreck This Journal book for each child. This is one of their summer projects. Anne has embraced the idea with a passion. She is very busy wrecking hers. Dean has done it a bit but doesn't really want to mess it up ~ LOL!

We got free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day.
Our summer airplane ~ we seem to need to buy a new one each year. 
Our goals and what we have accomplished ~
  • Get rid of 100 things a week ~ 100 things (40 pieces of clothing to Africa, 48 items to Goodwill, 7 things thrown away and 5 things sold on Ebay)  
  • Trim branches we can reasonably reach to clear the "secret garden" ~ I wish I had taken a before picture of the secret garden, and I lost the pictures of Dean up in a tree sawing away. However, Dean and Grandma have made huge accomplishments clearing trees out of the secret garden. We have many piles of branches in the yard to clear this weekend. Next week, we will work on clearing ivy and getting the trunks down to little stumps.
  • Keep up with our tiny garden ~ The tomatoes are in and being watered daily; the strawberries are thriving; the potatoes are sprouting into tiny plants; my sons' hot peppers are happy; and the blueberries are covered in nets. 
  • Pull all the books we have for next school year and begin ordering books we need ~ I have pulled all the books, created an order sheet for what we need, placed the first order and decided on a course of study for each child.
  • Do one small free to almost-free fun thing on most days ~ This week we went on a picnic, celebrated National Doughnut Day with a free doughnut, went to the pool at the YWCA with Grandma, had friends over for dinner, power walked at the shopping mall, and bought a Styrofoam model airplane and then flew it at the park.
  • Do 30 minutes of school work each day ~ Well, we did school work three days this week.

Lastly, Grandma bought an Everett console piano from the Habitat for Humanity Re-store for Dean. Well, she bought it for the whole family but with Dean in mind. He wants to learn a host of instruments, and a piano will be a perfect fit for him. My husband rented a U-Haul, and we hired two young men from the dance studio to help our guys move the piano into the house. All went well and we are now the owners of a new-to-us piano. I do need to get it tuned, but its sound really isn't too bad, considering its journey as of late. (Pianos always need tuning after being moved.)

Blessings, Dawn