Saturday, July 27, 2019

Summer Learning is Fun!

Anne finally got her Cecchetti exam results. She did great. In fact, she was commended, which means she passed with honors! We are very proud of her hard work, talent and devotion to dance. She is ready to start working on the Grade 6 exam. There are 10 grades in all, but very few go beyond Grade 6.

She also completed her first language arts book of the year, Life of Fred Australia. She is enjoying this high school language arts series and will continue with the next book in the series.

We enjoyed a lovely nature walk this week. We saw very busy bees, grasshoppers, butterflies, and ladybugs.

Dean and Anne started using this cookbook to make food. This neat book has very few directions and ingredients yet creates fancy treats. They are making one recipe a week. I really want to embrace easy but delightful meals with the kids this year.

Anne has wanted a pet of her own for a long time. We finally settled on a rat. She loves her new baby rat (Willow) and is busy bonding to and training her. Willow is already happily sitting on her shoulder and coming to snapping fingers for treats (within her cage). Rosie (the cat) is not at all sure about the rat ball.

Anne is totally handling her own banking now and is used to the ATM machine, banking inside the bank, and banking online. 

Dean is starting one Critical Thinking Company workbook on Monday. It is time for him to get back to school, too.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, July 26, 2019

Life of Fred Books

As part of my journey in minimalism, I have decided to get rid of all of our Life of Fred books in the math series. We are keeping the language art series until my daughter is done with them. However, I want to remember my feelings about them if I ever homeschol again. I wouldn't mind homeschooling future grandchildren or even taking on one special needs child at a time as a homeschool tutor/teacher two or three times a week. I have been so blessed to work in my calling for these last 21 years.
My children used these books on and off from the first book Apples to the Pre-Algebra series. We didn't consistently stick with the books year in and year out, because they were not a consistent fit for my crew. They always learned from the books and they learned so much more than just math skills. The books are chockfull of character training, interesting facts, a bit of science and history and so much more. My kids have always loved the literature approach to learning. However, they did not care for how silly (might I say even stupid naivety that Fred (the main character) shows throughout the books. My kids have always been on the serious side. Maybe they need to lighten up, but they never were that much into silly, crazy fantasy. Every time we have set the books aside, it has been because they couldn't take Fred's missteps anymore.

However, I love these books as a learning tool. The lessons are just naturally absorbed as you read along, and I have been amazed at how much knowledge they have acquired from these silly stories.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, July 19, 2019

Back to School Already?

Anne decided to start back to school this week. She decided on a very gentle start -- just two credits. She is working on English III and Earth Science. She started Earth Science with five weeks worth of field trips and experiments already completed from last year. It is wonderful to get away and travel, but there is also great comfort in routine and familiarity. We are striving to make Anne's school year as smooth as possible so that she has time for work, dance and real world life without experiencing burnout or compromising her education. One way we are attempting to achieve this goal is by starting school now with just two credits. She may add a third credit in two weeks. She is pleased with the arrangement so far. It only takes her about an hour to do her current workload each day.

Life of Fred Australia  and The Great Literature Copywork cursive book are her language arts portion of her English III credit. If she enjoys the Life of Fred high school language arts series, she will do all four Life of Fred books this year. There will be lots of literature and writing added into her schedule next month. Earth Science is mostly a review. She did so much of it in elementary school and early middle school that I decided to craft a course filled with workbook review, more field trips and a short course on environmental science. The gray notebook is just workbook review from workbooks, the Internet and magazine articles.

The brain injury program that Tim attends celebrated their 10th year anniversary this week. We are very grateful for this program. It has added so much to Tim's life. He has volunteering opportunities; chances to cook, learn and review life skills; work on memory techniques; go on lots of field trips; exercise and play games. Most of the clients in this program are high functioning. He gets along with almost everyone in the progam, and he has made several close friends through the years. He started this program in the spring of 2013, and it has been a good fit ever since.

Dean had his second week this summer of free time and unlimited computer time. He slept and ate a ton and played lots of video games. He also sewed patches on some of his foam and cloth weapons, went to the dentist and to therapy, went to the mall with his girlfriend and generally relaxed.

I am embracing minimalism. My father's death this year reinforced how short life can be and how much I don't like clutter or cleaning. So I am spending my summer sorting and drastically reducing our belongings. I love living in an organized and clean house, but the rush of the school year and dance season usually dashes my dreams of cleared off surfaces, caught up laundry and freshly mopped floors. I hope I can reduce our belongings enough that I can stay on top of the cleaning part once the school year is in full swing.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, July 15, 2019

Family Reunion 2019

We have just returned from a wonderful family reunion with my husband's side of the family. It was great to see everyone. My sister-in-law hosted the entire family at her home. Wow, she is an awesome hostess! We did tons of fun events. We ended up taking Faith (Dean's) girlfriend at the last minute, because of a family crisis going on in her family. She just needed a break and to be away from all of that. It was a bit more work for me to chaperone and keep line of sight 24/7, but we were delighted to have her along. She fits so well into our family. I can't believe that Dean and Faith have been courting for 2 years already.

We went on a beautiful hike.

We went rafting down the James River on a party float that had to be towed by the uncles in kayaks occasionally when the wind and current was not strong enough to move us along.

We spent a few lovely hours at the Science Museum in Richmond. The highlight was the Pompeii exhibit. This traveling exhibit is amazing. I strongly recommend going to see it if it comes near you.

Bread that was excavated from the site
We had so many marvelous meals both at home and in restaurants. The conversations were wonderful, too.

Oh, the desserts were to die for! My poor diet. 

When the reunion was over, we decided to travel a few hours further north to see my stepmother and take Faith around Washington, D.C. She had never seen D.C. before, and it was so exciting for her. It was fun rediscovering my hometown through her eyes. We started with a morning at the zoo.

The pandas slept through our visit but were great to see anyway.

Then we walked around the Vietnam Memorial and the Lincoln Veterans Memorial. We wrapped up our tour by driving by as many of the iconic sites as we could.

Lastly, we attended the ballet, Swan Lake, at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. It was performed by the American Ballet Theater. We hoped to see Misty Copeland, but she wasn't performing that particular night. It was absolutely fantastic anyway. We had seats in the orchestra. AMAZING! 

We had a lovely trip and are now home for awhile.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Our Attempt to Improve a Chartreuse Bathroom

We have a 1950's home which came with a chartreuse bathroom, a color we despise. Unfortunately, it goes all the way around our tiny 4 foot by 6 foot bathroom. There has been no money in the budget to replace the tile, so we have struggled to change the appearance of the tile as best we could. In the past few years, we have painted the walls different colors, but it has never been satisfactory. This time, we decided to embrace green and white which seems to make the chartreuse less glaring. We had a budget of  $100 for this makeover. Fortunately, this makeover coincided with my birthday, and my mother was happy to buy the rug and new lighting fixture as my birthday gifts. Their costs were not counted in my budget.

Before pictures ~ The walls were a blue gray and very dreary. The mirror and light fixture were old, rusting and about to fall off the wall. The hinges on the door were also rusted out, and the door wouldn't completely close anymore without slamming it.

We replaced the door hinges and shaved the door down. Then my husband painted the bathroom walls and ceiling in Behr Ultra Pure White high gloss paint. That immediately made the room less dreary. 

We then added a white shower curtain. It has a nice textured pattern on it, which gives it a bit of class. We still need to paint the window frame...hopefully, that will happen before the summer is done.

We also added two mirrors. The mirror over the sink came from a local thrift store and the mirror on the opposite wall came from TJ Maxx.

We changed out the old switch plate cover with a festive llama switch plate cover my mother got us. It goes with the rug she also gave me.

She also gave us a new light fixture, which really pulls the room together.

Here is the view from the bathtub.

Another view from the doorway.

Cost for our bathroom update ~
Paint and supplies $30
New Mirrors $50
Hinges $10
Shower curtain $18

My mom bought the switch plate cover, rug and light fixture, which were probably another $100 (she won't say). So we updated our bathroom for about $200. It is still simple and tiny, but we are very pleased with a space that feels so much cleaner and less chartreuse!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, July 5, 2019

Teens and Work Life

Anne has been in the workforce two mornings a week for just over six months now. She still loves her job at the consignment shop and hopes to stay there for years to come. The women are lovely, and they all have a great time working and laughing together. It is a perfect fit. Anne's current main job is organization of the store. She dresses the windows, dresses the mannequins, pulls clearance clothes from the racks, keeps all areas of the store organized and "pretty". She also tags clothes, but they quickly figured out that she is an organizing genius and patient with untangling messes. It is now her job to keep the hundreds and hundreds of empty hangers untangled, in order by style and size and ready for use. She also has the assignment of repairing American Girl Dolls that come in damaged. She has removed their heads and restrung their limbs, done lots of hair repair and generally cleans them up for sale. She is in her element and can't wait to get to work each day!

She has picked up a few tiny odd jobs here and there. Recently, she was asked to be a one day substitute counselor at a ballet camp for 3 and 4 year old kids. She agreed, even though she has very limited experience in child care and doesn't particularly enjoy working with very young children. As she left for work that morning, she told me that she hoped they were all potty-trained. I told her I would be more concerned with any of them being biters. The look of horror on her face was priceless. I almost laughed -- but I didn't. As it turned out, indeed one child was a biter. This child also threw many tantrums, spit, kicked and generally caused tons of disruption. The teacher of the class put Anne in charge of this particular child as a one-on-one. During one of the little girl's 10 minute tantrums, Anne was holding her and said to her, "how are we going to get you calmed down?" The little girl instantly stopped crying and licked Anne several times. Despite all that, Anne said she would be happy to go back and sub again. That is my brave girl!

Dean has been a camp counselor at two different camps this summer. He has struggled with co-worker relationships and much else that I spoke about in the previous blog post, but he has pushed on and completed what he set out to do. He enjoyed the second camp much more. It was new and filled with new games to teach. The second camp was all about monks during Medieval times. He liked all of the history teaching and large variety of activities. He did struggle with changing up his approach to counseling. At the first camp, the counselors were expected to use more drill sergeant approaches to encouraging kids. It was a much more pull yourself up by the boot straps kind of environment. The second camp required a much more gentle, loving and encouraging style of counseling. Dean made the adjustments necessary and ended up enjoying himself. He has expressed being exhausted and has a desire to just be at home for a while. Four weeks of working seven hour days was a hard transition into the workforce for him, but he did it! I am proud of him. He will do a bit of counseling in August, but can rest for now.

Blessings, Dawn