Friday, January 26, 2018

My Cup Spilled Over and Made a Mess

This was one of those weeks where my cup was too full. Although my cup is always full, sometimes it flows over the rim. This was one of those weeks, and I plan to rescue the last two days of the week right now. I have been way too snappy, irritated and then downright took the bait and got into two arguments with my dear son in two days! I still have a bunch to jump through today and tomorrow, but I am going to have to make sure my needs are met, too. Mama needs some chill time.

Dance ~  Anne's dancing is consuming the whole family right now. She has been offered a host of special opportunities and for that we are grateful, but it has meant that I am out on the road with her a great deal instead of holding down the fort at home. Dear husband will have to step up even more while we get through the weekend, and Anne will have to be more selective in her opportunities over the next few months. This week alone from Sunday to Sunday she will log about 25 hours of dance/performances away from home and more practice at home. Her current projects include eight normal weekly dance classes, working on a solo dance and a trio dance for the upcoming showcase, two weekly Cecchetti ballet classes that are preparing her for her the level 4 Cecchetti exam out-of-state in May, dance teacher assistant job and performing with the adults in the local Fringe Festival. The festival will be over this weekend, so we can get back to a more normal, yet still too busy, schedule.
The dance group is doing a series of tableaus around downtown, where they hold their pose for 5 to 10 minutes.
This is the prom scene.
In this scene and the one below, they are at a winter beach party.

Tim ~ Our adult disabled son who lives with us had several cardiac tests this week. This required both of us to hang out in the hospital way more than anyone would want to do during flu season. He had an echocardiogram and a specialized stress test to see how his heart and lungs are working together. These are routine tests to see how he is doing. He had numerous congenital defects plus other cardiac problems, plus he was a Tetralogy of Fallot baby.  Children with his complications often didn't survive childhood, so cardiologists are still learning what issues may yet occur in adulthood. Sometimes the lifesaving surgery done in infancy does damage to the heart that shows up in the late 20's. We will have the results in a week or two.

The Dumping of My Brain ~ I realized that one of the things that was going wrong for me was the amount of stuff swimming around in my head. Trying to remember a long to do list in one's head can be quite stressful. I usually have a list of things written down but that list has wandered. So I wrote down all that I could think of on the white board. Now my husband can look at the list and try to take care of some of them. Hopefully, this system will work for all of us.

In between all the dance and doctor appointments, we also did a light school week. Hopefully, we will all avoid illness and life will settle down a bit next week.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday Wrap-Up ~ A Week with Snow Tubing and Book Lists

This week found us snowed in one day with a combination of ice and snow covering the roads. It was a nice day to just be at home and catch up on some well-deserved rest. Some of us never got out of our pajamas! I feel like each week I say how busy we are. I think it is just the nature of having active teens. I welcome the busy and I am looking for more opportunities for our dear son. He is left at home on his own too much (which leads to too much media), while I run dear daughter from one dance activity to another.

More Changes ~ Our friend Rose who has been homeschooling with us one to two a week for the last 18 months has decided to go back to public school next fall. She was pulled from some of our classes a month or so ago. Her mother has changed her mind repeatedly about keeping her with us one morning a week or not when Rose will have to repeat what we are currently doing when she goes back to public school next year (since we are working ahead of the school system). Currently Rose's mom has decided to pull Rose completely from our lessons, and in a few weeks, the mother is stopping the art classes that she was providing in trade to Dean. I am disappointed that he will be losing a class (visual arts II) that I am counting for high school credit. I will have to come up with an alternative in a hurry to help him complete this course. There is a chance she will change her mind once again, but I need to be done with this roller coaster ride. Honestly, I need more stability for our family and for Dean, especially. Even if she wants to comes back at this point, I will have to say no. We will call them if we are going to go on a field trip and invite Rose along, but I can't keep trying to figure out lessons based on whether Rose is going to show up or not.

Snow Tubing ~ We had a blast snow tubing this week. Each child brought a friend along. It was a perfect day and the parents were the last off the hill...ahem! Who says we are old!

Yes, We Did Some School ~
  • We watched A Tale of Two Cities and discussed how the American Revolution impacted the French Revolution.
  • Four math lessons were achieved by each teen.
  • Dean did three Earth Science lessons.
  • They both did one biology lesson.
  • We read several chapters in our new family read aloud book, Facing The Lion Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna.
  • Anne attended about half of her dance classes this week. The rest were canceled due to weather and road conditions. 
  • Each teen worked in their English workbooks.
  • Dean went to art class and learned more about drawing proportions of the face.
  • Anne spent hours working on her sign language skills.
  • Dean spent hours drawing eyes, lips and skulls. 
  • Dean also did guitar on his own.
  • They watched CNN 10 daily.
  • We played games -- Sequence, Blokus, Mathological Liar, 10 Days in Asia, Cash Flow for Kids, Equate, Guesstimation, Buzz Word, Scrabble and Exploding Kittens.
We also had ample time for crafts, reading, watching episodes of The Crown and baking.
Homemade Bath Bombs
A Special Opportunity ~ Anne was asked to perform with the adult dance company in a festival coming to our city in a few weeks. She is very excited. They will be performing three tableaus each night for three nights. Now, she has added rehearsals and gathering several costumes to her already busy schedule. 

Books ~ As I have said before, my kids are not readers. They both can read on or above grade level, but Anne is a slow reader and Dean just prefers to gain his knowledge in other ways. I use audio books in the car as well as having nightly family read aloud time, so they get enough literature. I am hitting a bit of a wall, however. The kids, especially Dean, are sick and tired of "depressing stories where the characters are mistreated, abused or otherwise have to rise above impossible injustices". It seems most of the books for this age level are filled with challenges and abuses. So, I am trying to rework our reading list for a few months. You may remember our 100 Books for Middle School post. We have made good strides with that list, but now I need some more uplifting books without all the drama. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Here is what I have so far on the shelf:
  • Facing The Lion
  • Stig of the Dump
  • Jo's Boys
  • Little Mem
  • Mrs. Mike
  • The Search for Delicious
  • Jack and Jill (Louis May Alcott)
  • The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
  • Doctor Dolittle's Puddleby Adventures
  • The Quilt (Gary Paulsen)
  • Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
  • Dragonwings
Blessings, Dawn

Friday, January 12, 2018

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Expectations, A Mockingbird and Dissection

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Ice over the local stream

What a crazy title for this post, but it is a snapshot of our week. It was a good week with exploration, growth and learning for all.

Last Friday ~ We attended our literature movie club as well as art club. Both of these clubs are monthly and not usually on the same day. We saw To Kill a Mockingbird in movie club. The kids really enjoyed it. The movie addressed history, the injustice of racism and just enough suspense with the character of Boo (Arthur Radley). Dean said that he loves old movies that have a court scene in them. They fascinate him, but he doesn't want to be a lawyer. Trust me, the thought never crossed my mind!

Dean then went on to art club at another family's home. The teens have been paying $10 a month to go to an art club sponsored by a local studio. However, since they usually did not participate in that club's activity but chose instead to sit apart and draw, they decided they could accomplish the same thing on their own for less. This was their first meeting on their own and there was much planning and scheming. The host mother was very pleased with their dedication to art and to each other. Anne and I spent our evening wandering around the Goodwill in the small town near the host family's home and eating at IHOP. It was a fun evening for all.

The Weekend ~ It was unremarkable and peaceful. There were dance classes, chores, board games, grocery shopping, speed walking at the mall and frigid temps outside. We also took a walk at the botanical gardens on a very cold day and took lovely pictures of ice and water.
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Monday ~ We were supposed to be hit by an ice storm on Monday. All of the schools closed and morning dance was cancelled in anticipation. However, the ice never came. Considering the New Year's Eve ice storm surprise, I can't blame everyone for being so cautious. I did an experiment with the kids this week. I wrote out all of their assignments for the week and told them they could work at their own pace on independent activities. I was curious to see if they would take to the idea. Anne immediately took to the idea. Dean is less than thrilled and will probably continue with a daily schedule. The kids decided to watch the 2013 version of the film, Great Expectations, to get that out of the way. They really haven't enjoyed the book like I loved it as a teen. That is okay. We just sped up and read excerpts of the most important parts. We can move on to another, more pleasing piece of literature soon.

Tuesday ~ Rose came over for the morning and we had a class on dissection. We dissected a frog that had been injected with dyes so all of the organs were easier to identify. I did most of the dissecting, but they all helped a little bit and no one lost their breakfast. So it was a win. I am a bit worried how well they are going to do with the dissection of the fetal pig we will be doing this spring. They were all more squeamish than I thought they would be.

Dean spent the afternoon in art class with Miss Laura, and Anne and I did lessons at the local coffee shop.

Wednesday ~ I went to breakfast with a group of mothers of special needs kids. It was the first time I have made it since mt dear son got his latest diagnosis. I needed to share about it with women who would understand and could also guide me on how to make him more comfortable about it. In the last year or so, he has had to cope with being diagnosed with two permanent conditions. Both reveal why he has struggled with social situations, emotions, motivation and academics. The diagnoses also open doors to more supports if needed. However, he is totally unwilling to even hear about the upsides of the situation or to acknowledge how well he is doing under these difficult circumstances. He really is a remarkable kid who makes me so proud of all that he can do and has already accomplished. His future is still bright, but he has such huge aspirations that would be hard for anyone to accomplish.

The rest of the day went by in a blur of lessons, therapies and dance class.

Thursday ~ We stayed home most of the day and just plowed through school work. We went to dance in the evening and then the family enjoyed our new game, Mastermind. It is hard, in my opinion, but Dean loved it and found it almost easy. Of course, he did.

Personal goals ~ I have walked 10 miles since Sunday and kept up with my diet. I haven't weighed myself yet. I don't really see the need to check my weight constantly since changing my shape, increasing my strength and finding an eating style that is maintainable are my true goals. The house is also as tidy as it was on the first of January, which is an achievement for our whole family. We will keep working on not letting the chaos of papers and incomplete tasks be our undoing.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New Year, New Me

1) Resolutions or no resolutions ~ I like to have a few goals to work on, but I am not a slave to them. This year we are concentrating on really keeping the house tidy and comfortable. The hardest part is keeping surfaces cleared off. Paper seems to take over our home. I am also concentrating on my health and losing a few pounds. I plan to walk 12+ miles a week and do core work three times a week.

2) Love snow or no snow ~ I love snow, but only on the weekends or when it snows enough that it closes everything down. We live in the southern mountains and snowplows can take a long time to come by the house. Getting only a few inches makes it hard to get out if we need to go to doctor appointments, work, or dance classes.

3) Name a new place you want to go this year ~ Hmm, I don't have anywhere in mind. We do hope to take some kind of fun vacation this year. Life is meant to be enjoyed.

4) Would you rather have a new hair cut or a new hair color? ~ A new haircut. I am not interested in putting chemicals on my hair.

5) Name one special thing you want to do for yourself this year ~ I want to stick with my walking/exercise plan, which means walking a minimum of 12 miles a week and lifting weights three times a week.

6) Least favorite thing about January ~ The grey, dead look that the southern mountains seem to have during winter.

7) Most favorite thing about January ~ There are still lots of fun holidays (New Year's Day, Three Kings Day and MLK Day). We celebrate them all!

8) When do you take down your holiday decorations? ~ We take them down on January 6 (Three Kings Day).

9) Do you diet in January? ~ Not usually. I am trying to change my diet right now but plan to do it throughout the year.

10) What area of your home do you want to organize the most? ~ I need to get the laundry room/work area section of the basement under control.

11) Favorite winter comfort food ~ Potato soup

12) Favorite guilty pleasure ~ Chocolate chip cookies

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, January 5, 2018

Weekly Wrap Up ~ Baby, It's Cold Outside!

The weather is playing havoc on the East Coast this week; and here in the mountains, we are experiencing extreme cold, crazy 40+ mph winds, and a freak ice storm. It has been an adventure, but nothing like people closer to the coast are experiencing.

New Year's Eve ~ It was a drizzly day filled with errands. My last errand was a haircut for Anne across town. On our way back, weather conditions unexpectedly changed in minutes, and we found ourselves miles from home on sheets of ice. Everyone who hadn't already slid off the road was crawling at 5 miles an hour. We decided to pick up Grandma and the pizza that had already been called in. We slid a few times but never left our lane or went through any stop signs. I was very grateful for the lessons my northern mother and my professional military driving husband had taught me about driving in snow/ice. When I wasn't praying, I was talking my daughter through all that I was doing to keep the car in the lane. By the end of our journey, she certainly understood the importance of driving extremely slowly, avoiding using the brake if at all possible and coasting over bridges. The rest of New Year's Eve was uneventful for us. We watched movies, played games and ate fun food. Grandma stayed over that night.

New Year's Day ~ We decided to kick off the new year with a small dinner and game party. Each family member was allowed to invite one family for dinner and games. Due to illness and weather conditions still not being optimal, two families canceled out; but three families came and we had a nice time. We had a baked potato bar with all the trimmings and the kids played lots of games while the adults talked. It was a nice start to our goal to socialize more with our current friends and make new friends.

Tuesday thru Thursday ~ We slowly got back into the groove this week. The kids struggled to go to bed by 10 pm and get up before 9 am. We had some appointments, including a lengthy cardiology appointment for our oldest (adult) son who lives with us. He had a good check up but needs a specialized stress test and an echocardiogram. His multiple congenital birth defects and repairs often cause issues in people in their thirties and forties, so they need a baseline now while he's in his twenties. They think his pacemaker will hold out a few more years and maybe long enough for some new cutting edge technology to be approved by the FDA that would make the replacement of his leads less dangerous. I also made a lot of phone calls to fix a snafu with Goldilocks' paperwork for services. The problems aren't resolved yet, but at least the system is hearing from me.

School ~ We did three math lessons, three earth science lessons, and two biology lessons. Dean did two art lessons, plus hours of music practice, while Anne did tons of stretching, dancing, choreography and sign language. We also read several chapters from Great Expectations. We decided that we are probably going to read the most important and memorable chapters from Great Expectations and then watch the movie instead of reading the whole book. Unlike my oldest son, these two kids just aren't academically inclined and don't want careers that require tons of academics. I find that when academics are in smaller chunks, their attitudes are better and in turn they learn better. Even without reading the entire book, they are still experiencing the richness of Charles Dickens' language.

Today ~ I need to make more phone calls and each child needs to do one science lesson. We have plans to go to literature/movie club and see To Kill A Mockingbird later today. Tonight, Dean has art club with his friends. I am sure there will be another game or two played as well.

Homeschool Coffee Break

Blessings, Dawn