Friday, September 28, 2018

Week 7 ~ Jacob Lawrence, Dance and Geography

My little helper was clearing all of the last few weeks of school papers all over the floor. I need a push sometimes to remember to file their school work.

We had a productive and fun week. The routine is set and we are comfortable with it. We have a nice all around balance going. The kids have spent tons of free time playing their new card game, Magic. It is always a delight to see them getting along so beautifully. They generally get along, but sometimes they just really have a great time together and that is such a blessing.
Dean is really enjoying his new Geography program, Geography Through Art. I think it is intended for a younger crowd so I am adding in reading assignments, research, map work and a meal from the country we are studying. The last two weeks he has been learning about England. He read, Where is Stonehenge. He also created his own model of Stonehenge (it is a partial model because he ran out of clay). He also made a sketch of Big Ben and did some research on Big Ben.

Fish and Chips for our our English dinner
Anne and I have tested all of the coffee shops near where Dean takes his art class each week. This is our favorite one. There is space to spread out, the tea is cheap and we can watch people pass by. It is also right across the street from Dean's class.
Anne is so relieved that her Cecchetti teacher has started teaching the curriculum for level 5 Cecchetti. The next exam isn't until next May, but it is a relief to start learning all of the material. She was all giggles during warm ups this week.
Grandma did her monthly class with the kids. They learned about Jacob Lawrence. Then we went off to the opening of an exhibit of Jacob Lawrence artwork at the Black Mountain College Museum and Art Center. It was great.

Well, it was a great week. We have some real treats planned for next week and a very special opportunity.
Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Week 6 ~ Working Our Way Through

Hurricane Florence was worn out by the time she got to us here in the mountains. We only got a few inches of rain and some mild power outages and flooding in our area. Our prayers and hearts go out to those closer to the coast. The devastation is incredible and has affected about half of our state. I used to live in Fayetteville, North Carolina and driven up and down Interstates 40 and 95 hundreds of times. It is shocking to see how badly hit were those areas that are more than a hundred miles inland.

Things have somewhat stabilized for our daughter Goldilocks. We did get some good news that she has been accepted to a great independent living program that she will move into next June. It is a relief to know that she will have somewhere to go after high school. Now to figure out funding from January to June to keep her where she currently is living. She has basically cut us off at the moment and we haven't talked to her in weeks. Her anger (and I think fear of growing up) is overpowering her ability to have any kind of civil relationship with us right now. She wrote us a scathing letter about our imperfect hugs and how we don't do things for her in the exact way she wants them done. Her anger was palatable and over such minor things. It was a typical RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) child letter. As her mother, I will never be able to meet her expectations, because they will change whenever I get close so that she can push me (us) away again. It has been a long, long journey and I am worn out by it.

All that aside, we had a much more productive and calmer week than last. We spent lots of time on biology lessons this week because I want it done. It is a carryover from last year and I am ready to wrap it up and move on to conceptual physics. Hopefully, we will have our hours done in the next three weeks. We are finishing up anatomy next week and then will be ready to review and solidify the most important facts.

We really enjoyed this kit this week.

We enjoyed creating Punnett squares (one of my favorite biology activities), learning about Dolly the sheep (first cloned mammal), studying Mendel and reviewing DNA and animal cells. Our attempts to extract DNA from a banana were unsuccessful. We are going to try with a tomato next week.

Our latest YumYum box arrived from Thailand this time. Most of the snack food was pretty good and we were fascinated by some of the facts. For instance, did you know that monkeys are trained to pick most of the coconuts in the country or that it is tradition to give two Siamese cats to a couple as a wedding gift? We loved the mango and pineapple gummy snacks. The only real loser was the big seaweed roll. We all agreed that it tasted gross.

Can you believe we are already talking plans for the Nutcracker performances at the dance studio?  Anne has been cast as the princess (the same main character role she had last year, but this year she will dance in pointe instead of flat ballet shoes). She also has been cast to dance group dances with the Junior Company as a cat, Pop Rock candy, elastic doll and a Siren (Greek Mythological creature). We are still waiting to see if any roles will come from the Adult Company class she is also taking. Anne is very excited! As for me, I am delighted for her AND blown away that it is time for another season to be underway.

We made it to all classes and completed the majority of the at-home assignments. I am claiming this week as a win.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Week 5 ~ Just a Rough Week

What is it about week 5 of each school year that tends to be hard? This was one of those weeks that just didn't feel very successful. It was just all around difficult. We struggled all week to get through  lessons and maintain our routines while taking on a full out-of-the-home schedule. Then there is the broken dryer that has been down for several weeks now and dear husband's car troubles which meant extra juggling and driving on my part. Then there is Hurricane Florence who is headed toward us. We are not sure how much she will impact us this weekend. They are predicting that we will get about 6-8 inches, which would certainly make our already high rivers flood and may make next week challenging (but nothing like those are dealing with near the coast ~ our prayers go out to them). Finally, our relationship with our daughter Goldilocks has taken another sad turn. She is safe and we are safe for the moment, but all of those underlying fears for our safety mixed with the desperate feelings we have for her future are very raw this week. We are praying that we make the right choices and moves in this endless life or death chess match with our mentally ill and emotionally unstable daughter.

Dean's homework for art this week ~

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, September 7, 2018

Week 4 ~ Tweaks, Adventures and Mom Helps

We are now at full schedule (at least for the month of September). We may add in one more Cecchetti class in October, but I need to see how everything else is flowing first. I am a bit shocked how smooth things are flowing at the moment. It is still early and the kids attitudes are great. They aren't tired yet.

Mom Helps ~ I love to buy local, but I really need to pull down spending to a minimum if we are going to achieve all of our goals and stay in budget. So this year I am going to be relying a great deal on Walmart's free grocery pickup and Amazon. It will help with time management and keeping down everyone's impulse purchases in our home. We aren't terrible about impulse shopping, but every penny counts. So far, I have pulled our groceries down by about $30 a week and will be able to do even better if I regulate the kids cooking days. Right now I am letting them pretty much pick what they want to make. They have creative and somewhat expensive tastes (expensive compared to my stated goal of making $8 dinners for five most nights, while using organic meat).

Adventures in the Mountains ~ Dear husband had the day off for Labor Day. We decided to scrap lessons and head out to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We just visited one small section. The park is large and we stayed completely on the North Carolina side this time. We visited a gristmill, the Mountain Farm Museum and Clingmans Dome.

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They were not very thrilled with the gristmill or the Farm Museum. I got comments like, "How many time do we have to look at old buildings?" and "What do you see in these places, Mom?" However, things picked up when we got a bit more into nature. We didn't see any bears or elk this time. However, we did see lots of wild turkey and some beautiful spider webs. 

We moved on to our hike at Clingmans Dome. It was an intense half a mile climb uphill. I speed walk about a dozen miles each week, and this really was rougher than expected. It isn't even wheelchair accessible because of the steep grade. We stopped along the incline to climb rocks because my children really are mountain goats. 

The tower was in the middle of a pine forest and it smelled like Christmas. The scent was wonderful and Dean and I were in heaven. We both love the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree. This place was delightful to our noses. 

Our last adventure for the day was to find the "Road to Nowhere" and wander through its tunnel. There was a lake and dam the government made years ago that destroyed several mountain coves and villages. The families who were displaced were promised a road that would allow them to return to their ancestral land and tend to the 28 cemeteries that were not flooded by the creation of the lake. The government started the project but never completed about 20 miles of road. The road just stops and turns into a trail, making it impassable for the elderly or anyone who isn't able to walk or ride a horse for 20 miles. It has been upsetting to our area for decades now. While researching our adopted children's birth history, we discovered that some of their family members relocated from Cades Cove when the government moved them to make way for the national park to Cable Cove but were displaced once again when the dam was created. It is a fascinating  history that our son may be interested in someday, although he is not currently, which is just fine. The tunnel was a quarter of a mile long and filled with graffiti. We used our flash lights on our phones to try to avoid all of the horse poop. It was a nice hike. 

Tweaks ~ Dean hated the United States Geography book I got him. He felt it was tedious and "lacking in education". We decided that he would finish all the chapters on New England and then move on to one of the other geography programs I have in the house. We also are going to have to do better about family time at night. The need for routine is strong in our family. I was seeing sibling issues by mid-week with the lack of nightly family time. Anne's schedule is very tight this year, so they are doing separate school most of the day. Consequently, they are not having as much together time as they are used to having, and Dean is more isolated than he should be because he doesn't like to take many classes or leave the house much. I will be compiling a list of fun, short activities. We played a new game called Shut the Box. It was fun and quick. We are planning a pub game night with friends soon, since we now have four pub games. 

Blessings, Dawn