Saturday, October 27, 2018

Week 10 ~ Quarter Review

I was really ready for a very productive week...then it started to rain in the basement family room last weekend. The end result is that we had to rip out many ceiling tiles and some of the backs of my kitchen cabinets to find the huge leak (the main kitchen drain pipe was rusted out in seven places). Then the plumber had to replace the drain pipe as well as lots of other cracked nuts and bolts, and then he attached the dishwasher in another way so it wouldn't cause trouble in the future. To say the least, the bill was huge. Also, fixing the cabinets, laying new insulation and new ceiling tiles still needs to be accomplished. SO, I spent the week washing dishes in the bathtub, sorting through piles of wet stuff, helping dear husband rip out insulation and lay new insulation. The repair of the ceiling will have to wait a bit. I am beyond tired of this house showing us its innards! The year of 2018 is going to go down in history as the year of water damage and leaking pipes. I know there are issues that need to be dealt with soon in the boys' bathroom. I guess this 1955 home is feeling her age. I do feel abundantly blessed to have a working kitchen again. Also, the part came in so my husband was able to fix the dryer that has been down for two months. I am very happy to have these conveniences back in working order!

School continued on at a slow and steady pace this week. We are in week 10 so it is time for our quarter review. I am relieved that all of our at-home curriculum is currently working. Anne and Dean are doing Literature, Physics and Health together. All of these courses are going along great. They have completed two poetry studies (Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe) so far this year.

Dean (16) 10th/11th grade ~ This quarter Dean has been doing three out-of-the-home classes. He loves his class with the Wandering Swordsman. This is playing various live action combat games using padded weapons to role play fantasy scenarios. I am counting this as a sport and physical recreation. He is also enjoying his art class at co-op. He is rather unhappy with his photography and photo editing class. It will end in five weeks and Dean can't wait to move on to something else. On the home front, he really likes the Who Was/What Is series. He has read 10 of them so far this year on topics ranging from The Hindenburg, Alcatraz, Hurricane Katrina, Machu Picchu, The Great Depression and Blackbeard. He gets tons of information out of each one, and we have some interesting conversations. He has also completed one consumer math workbook and is currently working on his second workbook, Survival Skill Math. Dean is currently working on how to work out the tips and tax on bills. Dare I say that he is actually enjoying math a little bit? He has also completed 10 writing prompts and is on target with his goals in writing. He completed Biology and now has only one more required science credit to complete his high school science credits. The only course that I am still struggling with a bit is his World Geography. I know what I want to do, but implementing it is proving difficult. He is enjoying Geography Through Art, and I have created unit studies around two of the sections so far. He has studied the United Kingdom (mostly England) and Peru this quarter as well as performing lots of USA map work.

I decided last year that he really needed to start stretching and growing more step by step. He is resistant to change of any kind and finds much of the world anxiety producing. So each quarter, I am having him do at least one major stretch. This quarter was to return to the homeschool co-op and take two classes. He has done that and is experiencing success. He also (with tons of encouragement) attended the homeschool dance at the co-op and had a positive experience.
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Anne (15) 10th Grade ~ This quarter Anne has been incredibly busy balancing classes at two dance studios as well as at home and co-op. We decided to reduce her Cecchetti ballet classes to only one morning a week for now. She is still studying for the level 5 exam and has the same goal of completing level 6 by high school graduation, but a slower pace is okay right now, since the next exam isn't until May and she is picking it all up easily. We will increase to two mornings a week when she needs to study more intensely. She now takes a two hour class in modern dance on Saturday mornings with the adult dance company at her regular studio. This is considered part of her apprenticeship with the adult company and she loves it. The class is one of her favorites and she is completely holding her own. She was granted the honor of dancing a main character role in the Nutcracker again this year. She will be the princess (again but dancing in pointe this time), and she is also dancing with the Junior Company as a Cat, Pop Rock Candy, Elastic Doll and a Siren Mermaid. She is taking all of the Junior Company classes that are offered each week. She is also loving her sign language class at co-op. She is very comfortable with all of her out-of-the-home activities.
On the home front, she is managing all of her classes. I sometimes feel like she is burning the wick at both ends. However, she continues to manage everything. She did come to me and say she needed a change with Algebra a few weeks ago. She completed lesson 24 Algebra Teaching Textbooks but felt that she was becoming increasingly confused with each lesson and needed the second change option the program provides most of the time. We decided to set it aside for now and do the Learn Math Fast program and try to shore up the gaps that she was experiencing. She completed Vol. 2 in a matter of weeks and is quickly moving through Vol. 3. She is feeling her confidence returning and still wants to return to Teaching Textbooks when she has completed Vol. 4 of the Learn Math Fast program. I really am okay either way. As long as she has a strong foundation in the math she will use all of her life and a working understanding of Algebra and Geometry, I will be happy. She completed Biology recently and is moving on with Physics. She is enjoying reading Story of the World book 4 and doing some of the accompanying activity book which counts for her World History course. This course was a carry over from ninth grade and she is almost done with it. She has completed 10 writing prompts and seven weeks of daily grammar. She has completed all of her reading assignments and is focused on all of her goals.

It is such a relief to have quarter one safely tucked under our belts. Quarter two is always more challenging because of Nutcracker and the holidays. We are starting to feel a bit tired at the edges, and the routine gets harder and harder to hang on to as the weeks get closer to the holidays. November always proves to be an intense experience in our lives, but usually a very positive one.

Blessings, Dawn

To see more wrap-ups go to weekly wrap ups.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Week 9 ~ Learning Through Life Experience

I knew walking into this week that it would be heavy on life experience and lighter on book learning. Almost every day had something extraordinary, time consuming and rich with hands-on learning to accomplish, so I only planned light book school and a bit of that wasn't even accomplished. But that doesn't matter in the scheme of things. Great learning was accomplished. We did manage to finally finish biology. What a relief! Onward and upward to conceptual physics.

For her 15th birthday, Anne had a wonderful sleepover in which almost no one slept. All but one girl got less than three hours of sleep. Anne selected a fantastic group of girls to come over and they had a sweet time. Dean had a friend over who he hadn't seen in months and they hid in his room, playing games and talking late into the night. It cracks me up how many people act like boys are more rowdy than girls. That hasn't been my experience in parenting. As usual the boys were the calm ones -- I had to check on them now and again to make sure they were okay. They were that quiet. . The boys were asleep by 1 am. However, the girls' squeals could be heard all over the house all night long (even when they were trying to be quiet). Her friends held her hands at the mall while she got her second piercing.

My father did a fly-through visit one day this week. We were a good stopping place on his way to Florida. He was here less than 24 hours and we enjoyed his company. We played games, watched shows and talked.

Another day was almost entirely consumed by clothing shopping for Dean. He decided to go to the homeschool formal with his girlfriend and needed suit pants, a vest and dress shoes. We live a rather informal life around here. Getting a very opinionated, sensory and fashion driven guy outfitted on a budget was a harrowing experience, but we got it done with loads of nervous giggling and an entire pack of gum consumed to chew our stress away.
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My husband had his birthday this week. We decided to have a game night at a local board game cafe. What a fun concept and right up our alley. We were able to try out a few games that we had been curious about. The game "Snake Oil" is going on our Christmas list.

Anne had the opportunity this week to take class with a well-respected ballet teacher in our area who is nearing retirement. Her Cecchetti teacher wanted this other teacher to see Anne dance and for Anne to have an opportunity to experience a different and more intense style of teaching. She loved it. The class doesn't work with her schedule (she had to skip two classes to attend this one), but she will go back on a drop-in basis when she can. The teacher said Anne was lovely and graceful and welcome anytime to her class, which is by invitation only. We will hear more of her opinions after she talks to Anne's regular Cecchetti instructor.

Friday was completely consumed with DMV and flu shots. We drove far away to try to get to a DMV in a more rural area so the wait would be less. It was a bit less and more pleasant than our inner city DMV, but the wait was still over two hours. My adult son needed his non-driving ID (he can't drive) renewed so that he will be able to vote and attend small rock concerts. That is about the only time he needs an ID.

Friday night was the much anticipated and worried about dance. My son was only semi interested in going to the dance. He expected it to be a rough experience that really triggered his social anxieties. It went better than expected because he has a sweet girlfriend and there were a lovely group of young people at the dance. The music was way over the top loud for his taste, but he had a positive experience that will bolster his self confidence. 

AFTER (exhausted)
I also wanted to show his latest painting. 

Lastly, I always try to be honest on this blog. Several of us had meltdowns this week, including me. However, those moments will pass into distant memory. I chose to document the wonderful moments that we want to remember. 

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Week 8 ~ A Whirlwind of Joy

We had a lovely week in our little corner of the world. Life flowed smoothly and we were abundantly blessed. Autumn has finally arrived!

We made our annual trek to the apple and pumpkin orchard. We got lots of apples, had apple donuts and apple slushies. We also explored the corn maze. It was lots of fun and we found three of the four hidden markers in the maze.

We had a fantastic time making elephant paste and watching it ooze out of a pumpkin. We also reviewed the term catalyst and how it speeds up a chemical reaction. I need to buy more yeast so we can do this again. The kids loved it!

Dance is going great! Anne is getting to explore so many new props in belly dancing. The belly dancers will be sirens in the Nutcracker performance.

We had a fun, spooky tea time with Edgar Allan Poe. We studied The Raven and ate lunch during tea time rather than snacks. Anne designed the table setting with things from around the house. I think she did a fantastic job. We are continuing to study Edgar Allan Poe for the rest of the month. 

We also studied all of the shells we found at the beach. The kids were most interested in the sand dollar and learning more about its life.

By Thursday hurricane Michael had made it to our area and caused lots of flooding, mudslides and downed trees. Fortunately, it didn't cause any deaths in our area. Our hearts go out to those on the coast.

My sweet girl turned 15 on Friday. Oh, if I could just slow down time! I am trying to savor every moment. Anne is such a joy to raise. She had two friends over for the evening and they went downtown to have a photo shoot. Tonight she has three more friends arriving for an overnight. Dean is also having a friend over for the night, so it is bound to be an exciting weekend.
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They had so much fun setting up scenes for the photo shoot.

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Taking pictures of their feet ~ Converse Nation
In between all of the adventures, the week was also filled with math, biology (just three more lessons and we are done), writing skills, grammar, a study of Peru for Dean and the family read aloud of Christy -- not to mention, lots of dance classes, sign language class and two art classes. Life is full and rich!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, October 5, 2018

Our Trip to Charleston

We had a unique opportunity this week. My sister-in-law offered us a gift of a few days in their rental home near Charleston (rent free). The days fell during my husband's scheduled vacation, so how could we refuse? It wasn't a perfect situation. The A/C was broken and it was very hot all the days we were there. We are used to living without air conditioning at home, but the humidity in the low country of South Carolina is very different from our mountain home. It was rough going at times when the house temps climbed into the high 80's, so we purchased fans for the bedrooms. Nonetheless, we were very grateful for this wonderful opportunity to explore a new city.

It was important to us to do Charleston on a budget. I was pleased to find there were lots of free or nearly free things to do in and around Charleston. One of the first things we did was visit the Angel Oak Tree on Johns Island. It is estimated to be between 400 and 500 years old and is considered to be the oldest tree east of the Mississippi River. Angel Oak is a Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) that stands 66.5 feet tall, measures 28 feet in circumference, and produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet. Many of its limbs lean down to the ground and are supported with wood beams. My photos don't do it justice. It is gorgeous, majestic and awe inspiring!

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A wide angle picture I took from the Internet.
We also walked around the streets of Charleston's historic district. It is a lovely city with wide streets and lots of colorful buildings that date back to the 1700's. It wasn't terribly crowded, either. We found it easy to drive around and find parking.

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Rainbow Row

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The kids really wanted to eat out in the city, but we could only afford to eat out once a day. Thanks to a little research and some awesome reviews, we found some great "hole in the wall" places to eat that were quite affordable. The ambiance was sometimes a bit uncomfortable for the kids, but I reminded them how we often got the best food on our New York City trip from eating at the "hole in the wall" joints. The kids got to try true, authentic Soul food for the first time. We also had Mediterranean food. It was delicious. Dean also enjoyed seafood whenever he got the chance.

We also had the opportunity to visit the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only tea plantation in America. My daughter and I love tea, so this was right up our alley. There was a free tour through the tea processing factory and lots of free samples of tea in the gift shop. You could opt to take an informative trolley tour through the fields of tea, but it was expensive, so we decided to just read about it in the brochure they handed out. We learned how green, black and oolong tea comes from the same tea leaf but is prepared differently. Did you know that tea plants can live for hundreds of years?! It was a really cool and informative tour. The gift shop was so much fun, too. My daughter and I struggled to contain ourselves. LOL There were lots of adorable things we could have bought for our monthly poetry teas.

Grandma loved this frog
We also visited the Exchange and Provost Building and took the dungeon tour. This tour was a little pricey for a family of six, but was very informative. The week before our trip, Dean read all about the pirate Blackbeard and his blockade of Charleston harbor and thought it was interesting to see where Blackbeard's boss (the pirate Bonnet) had been held before he was hung. 

Some of our family wanted to see Patriots Point and climb around in the three ships that could be toured. This was an expensive activity for us, so we only sent the ones who really wanted to go. The rest of us walked around Charleston some more.
Tim and Dad especially enjoyed exploring the aircraft carrier. 

We spent each late afternoon and evening at the beach. The water was the perfect temperature and the waves were calm. Dear daughter loves to perform and the backdrop of the ocean was perfect. The kids and Dad also spent hours boogie boarding. 

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We also saw so much wildlife. I didn't get many photographs, because we were very busy observing. We saw jellyfish, horseshoe crabs, sand pipers, eastern brown pelicans, great blue herons, one conch, great egrets, a whole family of deer on several occasions and, of course, the infamous palmetto bug (cockroach on steroids).

Lastly, our big expenditure was to go to a historic rice plantation. Grandma paid admission for all of us to visit the Middleton Plantation. It was very hot, so we decided to only do the self-guided tours in order to move at our own pace. The gardens were built by the same man who designed the Palace of Versailles in France.

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An aerial view taken from the Internet.
The house was nearly destroyed between the burning of the plantation during the Civil War and a major earthquake in the late 1800's. They had rebuilt only a small portion of the house when we visited. We really enjoyed the animals.

It was a great trip! I love that there was plenty of hands-on learning for which I can give biology and history credit -- not to mention the cultural experiences and tons of physical education!

Blessings, Dawn