Saturday, June 30, 2018

A Recap of June

I haven't put up a weekly wrap-up in a few weeks. Life has been busy and restful at the same time.  Here are the highlights from June. Anne danced in the Hola Festival in our city. It was a big crowd. Dancing outside on an open stage in the middle of a festival is a new experience that she can add to her list of accomplishments.

Image may contain: 5 people, including Dawn Beasom Purdom, people smiling, people standing, people on stage, shoes and outdoor

Image may contain: 3 people, including Dawn Beasom Purdom, people smiling, people standing, shoes and outdoor

Image may contain: 5 people, including Dawn Beasom Purdom and Camille Cummings, people smiling, people standing, shoes and outdoor

Dean has spent the last three weeks at an acting day camp being a camp counselor. He did a great job and loved the experience. The director was very pleased with his work and said he was welcome back next year. He helped kids sew costumes, design and build shields, ran games, took them on hikes, watched them in the pool, created clay creations and generally helped keep things running smoothly.
His partially made Mayan shield.

While Dean has been busy every day, Anne, Tim and I have been busy doing some long neglected chores. We cleaned all the windows in the house (inside and out), washed curtains, sorted every single book in the house, did lots of gardening and got rid of about 200 items. We also bought a riding mower with our tax refund, and the kids have been taking turns learning how to drive it. Tim thought it was a bit fast, but I think he enjoyed his very first driving experience.

Anne spent much of the last month exploring thrift shops and buying clothes to modify. She has been sewing, tie dying, and generally having so much fun creating new styles. She spent her entire childhood only wearing dresses and then gave them up completely about four years ago. She is getting back into them now. It is fun to see her style emerging. 

Well, that really is about it for June. Here comes July, which I'm sure with have lots of fun, learning and excitement.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, June 22, 2018

Dean's 2017-2018 Year

This has been a year of real growth for Dean. It is such a contrast to last school year that was consumed with his depression and fear. This year Dean has coped with the hardship of being a special needs teenager (of course, every teen just wants to be normal and fit in) and is starting to realize that he can rise above labels and create his own destiny. 

He has worked hard on maintaining and growing friendships and has a small core group of friends that he doesn't see as often as he would like, but does see a few times a month. His core group of friends is 95% girl-based which seems to work out well for a person who needs to process his feelings and talk through social situations often. He has also had a girlfriend for the entire school year. His girlfriend is a sweet homeschooled girl who is a delight to have in our lives. They do not date but see each other in group settings, family settings and communicate through text daily. 
Image may contain: 6 people, including Andrea Freeman, Camille Cummings, Debbie Haeger and Dawn Beasom Purdom, people smiling, people sitting and outdoor

Dean has found some solace in his art and enjoys taking classes with Miss Laura. He hopes to continue with her next year, although it might be on a private basis instead of in a group class because most of his art class will be returning to public school. His teacher says he has a wonderful eye for color combinations and I very much agree. He is still highly critical of his work and is sure that most people could do better than him. However, he doesn't throw all of his art away anymore and is allowing me to hang some of it in the house. 

Photography continues to be an interest of his, yet only with his iPhone. He has no interest in learning the intricacies of a camera. He loves to photograph sunsets most of all but also loves anything with vivid colors, such as flowers, rocks and other beautiful things found in nature. Once again, he is highly critical of his photography and will rarely even allow me to see what he has shot because it isn't worthy of viewing. 

He was very successful on his art trip with his class a few weeks ago. It was his first time away from home by himself for more than 24 hours. He handled all of the social situations wonderfully, which is what we were most worried about. He did feel left out at times, but overall he came back feeling very positive about the entire experience. I think we will continue to see growth coming from the confidence he acquired over the next few months.
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, cloud, sky, outdoor and nature

Boffing has continued to be his favorite activity each week. His older brother has now joined him, and they can be found every Sunday afternoon at the park (rain or shine), playing with about 35 other kids, teens and adults. It is a wonderful way to get some exercise, learn to deal with all sorts of personalities, deal with folks who don't always play fair, enjoy role playing, learn team cooperation and model for the younger kids that play.

Dean has a mechanical mind and can quickly and accurately put together furniture and model kits as well as design his own stage combat weapons. He enjoys creating with power tools. However, as with everything in Dean's world, he has to be in the mood to do it, so there can be long periods of time between projects.

He is currently working as a camp counselor at the camp he went to as a camper for the last five years. It is a theater camp and the theme this year is everything Mayan. He helps the younger kids make clay figures, learn stage combat, play tons of cooperative games, learn some Mayan vocabulary, plus make costumes and shields. They go on a several mile hike through the forest on Fridays and end the day with a giant feast of Mayan food. He is doing a great job! I can see so many lovely teaching qualities in him as he directs and interacts with the campers who are 7 to 14 years old. The director is very pleased with his work, and he is having a wonderful time in his new leadership role.

Dean has a strong moral compass. He often starts conversations to wonder about why people are mean and why they make bad choices. He thinks carefully about what is right and wrong. He is so gentle with his kitten and loves to take care of her. Sometimes he nettles his sister and drives family members a bit crazy with how critical he is of them, but that is mostly because he has such a black and white sense of right and wrong. He needs to continue working on not judging everything about everybody, but he has made some progress in this area.

Dean continues to struggle with loneliness if he is alone for more than an hour or two. He loves social interaction. His new kitten is providing some relief for his desire to have something to cuddle with and talk to. He struggles to stay motivated to complete projects and being a self-starter does not come naturally to him. However, after nearly 15 years of my being his "cruise director", he is starting to come up with his own plans and sometimes puts them into motion on his own. It is a slow process, but I do see some growth in this area. Academics are a struggle, not because he isn't smart, but because so many things bore him or, in his opinion, require too much energy to learn. If he is not interested in it, he sees no reason to learn it. He is a kid that really needs school to be real world learning, hands-on and high interest. He also has terrible self-doubt in his abilities and resists even trying new things at home or away from home for fear he won't succeed.

We are in a sweet spot right now with several successes in a row, and I hope to keep up the momentum of building his self-confidence and helping him to move peacefully and confidently into adulthood.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Books for 2018-2019 School Year

This week was a nice quiet summer week. One of my chores this week was sorting through all of our books. I am pretty sure I touched every single book we own. I removed about 100 from our collection that were no longer needed. They have been passed on to others. I also pulled all of the books we will be using next year. I must admit, I became a bit overwhelmed by the piles of books I wanted to share with my kids next year. We just can't do it all, and truthfully, we are all slow readers in this house-hold. I am also a firm believer that a great deal of learning goes on away from books, so we will not become chained to this list of resources. However, I love having a wonderful pile of living books at my fingertips. By the term living books, I mean books that teach about life, character and the human spirit. They are the opposite of boring books. For example, living books bring history to life by telling the stories behind the history, whether through biographies, historical fiction, and classics, be they in picture book style, unabridged format, or anything in between.

I am not saying that we will read all of the books in the below list cover to cover. Some of them may only have certain units or short stories that we use, while others will be read in their entirety. I don't want to be tethered to any curriculum, schedule or book next year. I want our learning to be rich, relevant and meaningful, not turn into a checklist to be finished

  1. The Useful Book by Sharon and David Bowers
  2. Eat Your Way Through the USA by Loree Pettit
  3. How to Build a Fire by Erin Bried
  4. A Young People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
  5. Who is Malala Yousqfzai?
  6. Who is Sitting Bull?
  7. The Barrier Reef and Northeast Australia (DVD)
  8. Asheville A Postcard History Vol. 1 by Sue Greenberg
  9. Turning Points in History ~ People Who Changed the World
  10. Heroes of History Clara Barton Courage Under Fire by Janet and Geoff Beige
  11. Alexander Hamilton the Outsider by Jean Fritz
  12. Shh! We're Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz
  13. The Story of the World  Vol. 4 by Susan Wise Bauer
  14. The Story of the World  Vol. 4 workbook by Susan Wise Bauer
  15. Great Colonial American Projects
  16. Last Dinner on the Titanic by Rick Archbold
  17. The Geography Drawing Series ~ Drawing Around the World ~ USA
  18. Where Is Machu Picchu?
  19. A Slice of Pie by Liz Strachan
  20. Money Matters for Teens Workbook by Larry Burkatt
  21. Conceptual Physics (Prentice Hall) by Paul G. Hewitt
  22. Basic Physics a Self-Teaching Guide by Karl F. Kuhn
  23. The Story of Science: Newton at the Center by Joy Hakin
  24. Student Quest Guide for The Story of Science by Joy Hakin
  25. The Cartoon Guide to Physics by Larry Burkett
  26. Who Was Einstein
  27. 101 Things To Do Before You Grow Up
  28. Narration of the Life of Frederick Douglas
  29. Frederick Douglas for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities
  30. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  31. Little Men by Mary Alcott
  32. Christy by Catherine Marshal
  33. Beyond the Western Sea by Avi
  34. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
  35. Geography Through Art
  36. Learning Language Arts Through Literature American
  37. Everything You Need to Ace English in One Big Fat Notebook
  38. Use It! Don't Lose It! Daily Language Practice
  39. American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne
  40. Word Roots: Learning the Building Blocks of Better Spelling and Vocabulary
  41. The Old Man and The See by Ernest Hemingway
  42. Who Was Edgar Allan Poe?
  43. To Kill a Mockingbird and 24 More Videos
  44. Living Mathematically: Home Improvement
  45. Survival Math Skills
  46. Math in Everyday Life
  47. Math in Everyday Life (teacher guide)
  48. Scope Magazine ~ Scholastic
  49. Choices Magazine ~ Scholastic

We will also be using several resources for our monthly poetry tea. This year we hope to cover Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams and Langston Hughes.

That is a long lineup and I am sure that other books will slip in and out of our lives through the year, but this is what I have on hand to add richness to our days.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, June 8, 2018

Summer Learning ~ Week One

This week really started last Friday for us. It really was a great and successful first week of summer. We had a lovely balance of growth, work around the house, learning time and play. Hopefully, the rest of our summer will be as lovely as this week.

Dean's Artist Retreat ~ Dean had a wonderful experience on the artist retreat. It was better than I had even dared to dream it would be. All of the kids got along great and they had a wonderful time creating together. Dean came back with lots of positive stories and feelings. I am so glad that he had a great experience. This post is already picture heavy, so I am going to save the art work for his transcript post.
Image may contain: 5 people, including Andrea Freeman and Camille Cummings, people smiling, people standing, plant, outdoor and nature
The five student artists

Image may contain: one or more people, tree, plant, shoes, child, outdoor and nature
Sketching in nature

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, cloud, sky, outdoor and nature
What a view!

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, table and indoor
They took a class with some local Roanoke students.
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, cloud and outdoor
The Roanoke Star

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, table and indoor
Nightly music jams
The Scent Seekers Exhibit ~ We went to the scent seekers exhibit at the Arboretum this week. I sometimes think the exhibits at the arboretum are hit or miss, but this one was fantastic. The kids were able to smell a large variety of scents that have been used to make perfumes for thousands of years. They even got to make their own scratch and sniff scent cards. The only glitch was the kids started in the middle of the exhibit and missed the beginning part that told them to cleanse their senses with the coffee beans provided. Since they didn't do that between scents, they ended up giving  themselves headaches. Because I was trying to keep up with them, I missed the beginning, too! I really need to go back and reinforce the importance of following a sequence. I have noticed this issue a few times recently.

Work and Play ~ We cleaned the garage out this week. We emptied it to the walls, swept it out and put about half of it back, but in a more organized fashion. I think I found a year or two supply of weed wacker string. The rest of the stuff was donated, put away in different parts of the house or thrown away. That feels like a really good accomplishment. Now there are just 12 spaces to go, including the back building. This house is too big but will be way more manageable once it is sparsely filled.

We were invited to a music jam party at a friend's house. This is going to be a semi-monthly occasion over the summer. The teens jumped on the trampoline, giggled with their friends, played a few songs, and ate tons of food. The adults talked about summer plans, played some music or listened, and ate way too much food. Fun was had by all and we will go back again. 
Image may contain: 6 people, including Andrea Freeman, Camille Cummings, Debbie Haeger and Dawn Beasom Purdom, people smiling, people sitting and outdoor
What a cute bunch of teens.
Movie of the Week ~ We watched Holes this week. We had never seen this movie before, and we enjoyed it very much. It was much better than I expected, and we liked all of the layers and twists in the movie. 

This kids did their end-of-year state testing which was the last "must do" to complete the 2017-2018 school year. I feel so blessed to homeschool. It has been a wonderful journey. I can't believe another year is done.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, June 4, 2018

Summer Plans

It is that time of year when summer calls to me. Even Anne, usually so focused, is feeling the pull and is almost ready to set the books aside. She has worked so hard this year. It is time to shift gears and focus on other areas of growth. We will still do a bit of school, but it won't be the main focus of our days. Most summers end up having a learning theme for us and this year is shaping up to be the same. We plan to do lots of learning around slavery, the Underground Railroad and famous abolitionists. We currently plan to start back to school on August 20 which is a really long break for us. However, I find that with teens we get busier and busier, and while the seasons of learning change, they never pause.

Our Goals ~ Summer 2018

Read ~ We will be reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe this summer. I am really looking forward to sharing this book with my children. The children will also read books and magazines of their choice.

Watch ~ We will be watching a literature-based or history-based movie each week, complete with movie snacks.

Do ~ We will be working our way through all of the experiments centered on biology and earth science from The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science: 50 Experiments for Daring Young Scientists.

Exercise ~ We will go swimming once a week when we are together, and each child will continue with their passions of dance and boffing. I will walk every day -- one way or another!

Adventure ~  We are thinking about a family trip to Ohio, Indiana and Mammoth Caves, Kentucky. This would be an Underground Railroad Tour with a little bit of science thrown in for good measure. I still have to make sure I can make it affordable, but the plan is to do all or some of this adventure.

Stretch Skills ~ Dean just returned from an art retreat which was a great success. He will also be a camp counselor at his beloved childhood acting camp. He is so excited to be able to go to this camp once again, even if he doesn't get to play much this time around. Anne will be doing a two week dance intensive and working on street smarts downtown. I noticed on our trip to New Orleans that she got pushed around by the crowd more than the rest of us and didn't have a good sense of boundaries and maintaining a safe distance from strangers. We intend to work on this a lot during the summer.

Explore ~ We plan to explore some of the towns, lakes and waterfalls in our area that we have not been to in many years or have never seen at all.

Socialize ~ For the weeks that they will be home and have no commitments, we will try to set up some teen gatherings for them. Several of their friends are away for the better part of the summer, but there are still a few around that we will invite on outings.

Work ~ We plan to deep clean the entire house and finish painting the kitchen. Grandma is also offering some paying painting jobs at her house, which is very exciting to the kids. Lastly, we plan to prepare the wood frame shed for renovations. We will clean it out and assess what needs to be done in order to make it into a livable space for Tim (our adult son).
I always try to have a fun box of stuff for summer that I can dip into for the slow times.
This is what I found on my first Dollar Tree run. The Twizzlers are different flavors and intended for a taste challenge.
It is going to be a great summer and a well-needed change of pace!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, June 1, 2018

A Week of Stretching and Growing!

Children grow and stretch their abilities every single day, but some weeks the stretching and growing come in really big chunks. This was one of those weeks for both of my youngest.

Cecchetti Exam Anne spent the entire school year preparing to take the level 4 exam in Cecchetti (Italian form of ballet). South Carolina was the closest exam location and the big day was on Monday. Anne feels that she did a good job and is pretty sure she passed. We will know for sure in about six weeks when the results and reports come back. The whole experience was wonderful and she gained tons of experience.
Image may contain: 2 people, including Dawn Beasom Purdom, people smiling
A sweet pose with her friend who was also taking the level 4 exam.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing
Warming up in the lobby
The only difficulty in the entire experience was getting home. Our area has been under extreme rain for the past two weeks. In fact, we usually get 3 inches of rain in the month of May and we have gotten 20 inches of rain in the last two and a half weeks. To say the least, our area is under a state of emergency. There is a lot of flooding in our city and surrounding communities, so I had to take a few detours to get us home.
Dean Left for a Watercolor Artist Retreat ~ I decided a few months ago that Dean needed to do something big every three months or so that would stretch his comfort level. Some things will be bigger than others, but he needs to be pushed to try new things and build his confidence and skills. This quarter we agreed (he less than enthusiastically) that he would go on a three day weekend with his homeschool class to an artist retreat on a farm about four hours away. Thankfully, he warmed up to the idea by the time he had to leave today. So far, his art teacher is posting happy reports on Facebook, and his one text to me said all was going well. They will be visiting a museum, painting in watercolor on the farm, and taking a watercolor class with another teacher and her class in the area. It should be a wonderful learning and stretching experience.

The Rest of the Week ~ This was a short week and with Anne's big event on Monday and Dean's huge adventure beginning on Friday, the rest of the week was mostly unpacking from one event and preparing for the next. However, we did manage to wrap up Anne's sign language, performing arts and physical education courses. I will be posting them here soon for her high school transcript. We also enjoyed our latest Universal Yum box which was from the Philippines this time. The snacks were the oddest yet, but fun to try.

Lastly, a picture of Rosie. She is a real sweetie, but I forgot how much kitten proofing is needed for a kitten. She is into EVERYTHING when she isn't asleep.

Blessings, Dawn