Friday, August 23, 2019

My Favorite Things

My favorite things this week.

Watching my son build and create. He did one of his Eureka Crates this week. It took him about two hours to build it and another few hours of tweaking it and playing with it. He cheerfully talked about how great the directions were (the directions are very visual for my visual learner) and enjoyed learning all about the history and physics of pinball machines.

Watching my daughter dance is still a thrill after all of these years. Even when they are just trying a few new moves and it isn't cleaned up at all, I love it.  She sure didn't get her flexibility from me.
We continue to love our monthly Universal Yums box. It was from Turkey this month. It came with lots of fun things to try and great information in the booklet. We liked the mints the best this time and really disliked the Turkish delight.

Lastly, I love these flowers that Trader Joe's gave me for free, because I asked if I could have one flower from a bouquet added to another and readjust the price. They told me to just take the extra bouquet and rearrange the flowers at home. WOW! 

There were some real difficulties this week, but all of these wonderful blessings made it an easier week to get through.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hands-on Geography

I spent much of the summer sorting our belongings. Here is another teaching technique I want to remember. I found these from when the children were young. They are simple cut-out shapes that fit one inside of the other. The smallest is called "Our House" and has our street address written on it. That circle fit into a bigger circle that says "City" and listed our city's name. Next is a shape for "Our County", "Our State", "Our Country" and "The Continent" that we live in. This is a visual way to understand our place in the world. It also helped our children realize that cities fit into counties which fit into states and so on.
We no longer live at this address, but I blacked it out just in case.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, August 16, 2019


Our summer is winding down. However, we aren't ready to transition to fall yet. There is still a huge road trip to plan, execute and have a wonderful time on. Also, we are wrapping up my long list of summer projects.

Project 1 ~ Continue the Journey of Reducing our Belongings and my Workload
Just one box of Lego bricks off to the consignment shop
Every item you own needs to be maintained. I am really over taking care of so much stuff. I would rather invest my time and energy into people and animals. I needed to get my kids on board with getting rid of tons of stuff, too. It turns out they don't want to spend their free time cleaning and organizing either (outside of normal chores). So we are actively reducing our belongings. It is a work- in-progress, but progress is being made. Last week's biggest accomplishment was dropping off all of the LEGO bricks and figurines at the consignment shop. We had 25 years of accumulated LEGO kits in our home. Four kids plus LEGO sets from friends over the years meant tons of LEGO bricks and figurines, all unassembled and mixed together in a huge drawer. We washed, sorted and packed 27 gallon size bags for the consignment shop. They are ALL GONE! If I had it to do all over again, I would never let our family end up with so many LEGO kits and bricks. The kids stopped playing with them because they were too overwhelming, but they didn't want to let them go because they were fun to play with before they became all mixed together. I should have kept that part of our life way more under control and limited so playing with LEGO would have remained enjoyable.
Piles of figurine parts that needed to be put together.

This was our Lego drawer. An empty space!
Project 2 ~ Our Big New England Trip
I have spent hours upon hours planing for our New England trip. We are taking our immediate family, the maternal Grandmas (one is a step), and Dean's girlfriend. That makes eight of us which won't even fit in our mini-van. We are facing 14 hours of driving just to get to the starting point of our multi -state New England road trip -- not to mention lots of motel hopping and a budget to stick with as well. Did I mention that we have a host of special needs that will impact this trip?! It is a huge undertaking for us. I feel like it is finally coming together. I think and hope we are going to have a grand trip. 

Project 3 ~ Our Ultra Gentle Start to School
School is very gently underway. The teens are doing about an hour of school work a day. They will be increasing to about three hours of book seat work in September. We are getting a feel for how long different subjects will take and how to flesh out the schedule once the full school year starts in September. So far, I haven't needed to make any drastic changes. I decided not to do a back-to-school curriculum post this year because I feel like how we use our many resources will be an evolving process. Instead, I will be posting our monthly goals and resources based on what real life opportunities are being offered to us. Once I know what our month will look like, I will add in the living books and lessons that will enhance or fill in gaps of their real life opportunities. They will still be doing plenty of school work, but this is a shift in my attitude that school work is the most important thing going on in their lives. Instead of trying to squeeze in tons of school around their lives, I will be using our books and resources to provide them with a living education that enhances their daily lives. I have lots of resources pulled from our shelves plus many, many lesson plans set up, so it will still be easy to grab things as needed. I am also hoping that this new attitude will help the checklist person that I am stay in the present and reduce worry for the future.     

Project 4 ~ Painting the Back House
We are all working on painting our back shed or house as most of us call it. It could be converted into a living space some day, if needed. Right now we are only using it for life lessons. We had the windows replaced. After we paint the exterior, we will pick a new project. Perhaps learning how to replace the door or lay a floor on the inside (it only has a sub floor). My crew hates to paint, so this is an ordeal for them. They are earning money for our trip as motivation. We hope to have the three sides we can easily access completed by the end of today. We will work on clearing the vines and weeds behind the house this fall and paint the back in September or next spring.

Project 5 ~ Assembling Furniture
One of Dean's goals this year is to do an Industrial Arts project every week. Besides painting the back house, he assembled a chair for Grandma this week. It was a quick project and I think he enjoyed it. It certainly built his confidence. He was smiley for most of the day afterward.

Project 6 ~ Socialize
I am not sure this is really a project, but I didn't want to leave out some of the fun we had during the last two weeks. Dean did his last week of camp counseling. It went well. Anne got to go roller skating with a friend. This was the main thing on her bucket list for the summer. Our closest rink is about an hour away and hard to get to with limited hours. I am glad we accomplished her wish. Dance is still happening a few times a week so that Anne can stay conditioned.

Camp Counseling

Anne is my very own flying squirrel.
Blessings, Dawn                                                                                                                                   

Friday, August 2, 2019

August Goals--A Mix of Work, School and Travel

Wow! It is August already. I can hardly believe it. The summer is racing past us and I have so much more I want to do. I shall not whine about it, though. I have got lots of de-cluttering done and lots and lots of weeding. We will see how much more happens over the month of August.

We are adding a bit more school each week to our schedule. I have worried, re-evaluated and re-evaluated once again over Anne's subjects and the materials she will be using this year. Her dance, work, and family required activities schedule is so packed on paper that I am concerned that she won't be able to do more than three subjects a day (most days). She has agreed to do school work six days a week and she understands that she may be doing school into June. However, if she keeps to three subjects a day with rotation of some subjects weekly, she will be done with all that she is attempting to complete by mid-May. I am hoping that reducing her daily work load and spreading it out will help her not burn out. She started three weeks ago and has already finished one Life of Fred book (Australia High School language arts) and two units in her Earth Science curriculum.

Our school plans for August are ~

Anne plans to complete another Life of Fred book and her cursive book this month.

Dean is working through his Critical Thinking book and doing very well. He enjoys the lessons.

I am reading two books right now. The fetal alcohol syndrome book is really good and is stretching my thought process during these years of raising a young man with fetal alcohol syndrome. The second is just a book by John Taylor Gatto. I like anything he has written about education.

We are reading books about Salem and Milton Hershey before our New England trip. They both will be reading these.

We are doing a few projects from this book before leaving and a few more once we return.

We are also listening to The Scarlet Letter and working through some of the comprehension questions before visiting Nathanial Hawthorne's home on our vacation.

Dean will be a camp counselor for one more week starting Monday. It is the Wandering Swordsmen camp, and he is really looking forward to it. I am glad he is going to get a little bit more on-the-job training. It is so good for him. Anne continues to work two days a week. She loves her job. She is also dancing three to four times a week in the month of August. Her new schedule is out for fall, and she signed up for 17 hours of dance each week!

We are gearing up for our big trip to New England. We are still firming up plans, but it is going to be an amazing journey.

Lastly, we are squeezing in lots of fun. Anne hopes to invite one more friend for an overnight this summer and she got to go out to lunch with her best friend last weekend. Both teens went to the mall with their twin friends for their birthday.

It's going to be a great month!

Blessings, Dawn