Weekly Update

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Wow, I can’t believe that we have made it through another week here at TADTown. It feels like we started only a few days ago and here we are at the end of week 3. Our routine is now more firmly established, although the twins are still waiting to start an online french class and writing class. Once those start next week we will be up and running on a full schedule.

 

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Working on his balloon globe with his Grandma.

Decca is working through all his work now. He spends about two hours a day on his Moving Beyond the Page work. This week we continued working through the geography unit and The People of Sparks unit. He is slowly adjusting to the amount of reading required at this age. While he loves to read and will often finish a book in one day, when the reading is a book that he didn’t pick out, it seems to take him a long time. Once his reading is done he enjoys doing the work that is scheduled. This week he did several writing assignments, worked with maps, created a newspaper, and created a setting. The work with Moving Beyond the Page seems to be more than busy work. It encourages the student to interact with the material in a meaningful way, and this is why I like it so much.

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A poem he wrote about the four wars and three plagues in The People of Sparks.

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Another work Decca did for an assignment in Moving Beyond the Page – This had to do with setting and was supposed to be a painting or drawing. After he tried for over an hour to get his painting right, he gave up and went to his computer and made this.

In addition to his MBTP work Decca completed another week in Latin, finished a unit in Beast Academy ( he is loving geometry), and began piano lessons with a new teacher that he clicks with. He is now practicing piano every day with no prompting from me.

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He also created a new user profile at Scratch called ScratchLatin and he plans to make videos teaching Latin to kids. His first lesson is already completed and he has begun lesson number two.

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The twins are keeping up with their workload. They are spending a good deal more time working on their school work since they are doing high school level work and taking many outside classes.

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Last year was somewhat of a bust for us because Autry was quite sick for most of the time, so this year we are having to do a few of the same classes again. They are working on biology again this year and Autry is taking Algebra 1 over. She did most of the class last year but she retained so little from it that she wanted to take it again. They are also doing US History again as we did not cover it at a high school level last year. Added to this list is Algebra 2 for Tru, economics for both, guitar lessons for both, French for both, English 1 with additional writing for both, piano lessons and choir for Autry, and fencing and astrophysics for Tru.

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Autry practicing piano.

They are also working on Spencerian Penmanship this year. Tru started this last year, but he didn’t get very far. This year I purchased a set of books for Autry and together they are both working through them.

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They are working through them very slowly, but it is the kind of program where slow and steady is the appropriate way to go. The script is very hard to learn, especially for Tru, but it is worth it. Tru struggles with handwriting  and needed a new program to work through. Autry wanted a program that taught beautiful handwriting,. With Spencerian both of their needs are met. It is hard for Tru, but he takes pride in learning it. They both do, and I have realized that even in the high school years handwriting is important.

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The twins outside the Irvine Museum of Art this week.

Also this week we had park day with our homeschool group on Monday and we went to a museum on Thursday. I am trying to find a balance this year between work at home and activities outside of the house. I want to be able to have time for both, and this week it seemed to work.  I am hoping it works this easily all year.

And that is our week in review.

Homeschool Monday – Drab

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The boy is reading The People of Sparks with his Moving Beyond The Page work, and today he had to define the word drab and then illustrate it in a small box. I decided to turn this into a bigger project, and I had him draw a drab picture and then a bright picture. He had to choose the colors to work with and he was allowed to draw whatever he wanted. There were no rules except for one had to be drab and dull, and the other had to be bright and vibrant.

He didn’t spend very long on his pictures, but he seemed to enjoy drawing them. Of course, being who he is, the pictures were of monsters.

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Autry got in on the act too. She loves to draw, and if someone is working on something creative, she is never far behind.

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Where was Tru while these two were drawing? Why he was in his room doing Algebra 2 for the second time today.

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And he was happy about it.

Decca’s Fifth Grade Plan

Decca is a very creative learner who needs to be constantly challenged or he will tune out. Knowing this I have picked out materials that I think will keep him engaged and interested in the work. Most of these choices he used last year or the year before, so I know they fit his learning style.

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His main curriculum is Moving Beyond the Page for ages 10-12. Decca had previously used the 7-9 and 8-10 levels, and he loved both the books and the work. Last year I decided to try something different, but this year we are back. There is nothing else I have found that has matched my creative, gifted learner as perfectly as Moving Beyond the Page. He has already started the first unit, and he is happy to be working through it again.

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Moving Beyond the Page covers language arts, science, and social studies, so it is a very complete curriculum.  Decca is a language arts nut though, so I have decided to add more studies to his year. We used Bravewriter’s Arrow last year, and we are using it again this year. A subscription to the Arrow is for the whole year, and it comes with ten issues for ten books. I like the selection of the books this year, as many of them are books Decca would not have read on his own. He finished the first book, The Lemonade War,
in two days and is now working through the work in the Arrow. I find these issues to be a nice supplement to his MBTP studies.

I have also decided to add in Latin this year. Decca will be using Latin for Children through Thinker’s Cap Academy. He has only just begun this, and although it is not his favorite part of the day, he does do the work without complaints.

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For math we are sticking with the same materials as last year, Life of Fred and Beast Academy. Life of Fred and Beast Academy are the only math programs I have found that keep him interested and engaged in the work. Math will never be his passion, but with these programs he almost forgets that. I will also have him work through some apps on the iPad, as he always has fun doing that.

In addition to his formal work, he is going to continue working on his writing, his scratch projects (click here to see his latest game Life of a Gumball),  and his graphic design work. He is also taking piano.

I have to admit that I spent all summer worrying about the twins and their high school year. I spent very little time thinking about Decca’s year, and I didn’t order any curriculum for him until last week (and some this week). I am pleasantly surprised at how well this has turned out though. I may just leave planning to the last-minute again next year!

Getting ready for a new school year

I spent the day getting our classroom area ready for a new school year. I am not very crafty or creative at all,  but I do have a mom that is, and that helps in making a nice area for the kids.

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Off the school room area is our patio with a wonderful, calming view. I am trying to encourage the kids to utilize this space more this year, so I have set up our science/craft table out there. I also set up a table for the kids to read at.

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I do not have all our plans finalized yet. High school has overwhelmed me so much this year that I have left all decisions to the last-minute, which is so unlike me. One thing I do have planned though is to highlight a different author each month. This month we are studying  Agatha Christie, and my mom and I put together this bulletin board for the kids.

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As soon as I have our plans finalized I will share them on my blog. Until then…

Summer Wrap-Up

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We made it home about a month ago. The drive home was fun, and although we all just wanted to be home, we took the time to see one museum every day. The first day we stopped in Hannibal Missouri to see the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. It was not my favorite museum, I think they are a little underfunded, but the kids seemed to like it. By the time we left they all wanted to read a Mark Twain book, so it must have inspired them.

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The next day we stopped in Hays, Kansas to tour the Fort Hays historic site. This was my favorite stop along the way to California. The kids and I learned a good deal about the cavalry days in America history which we had never spent much time on before.

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On our third day we made a lengthy stop in Albuquerque and explored the Old Town. We also visited the Art Museum’s outdoor garden. We love Old Town Albuquerque, and we seem to stop every time we go cross country. It is a great place to explore and stretch your legs.

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That night we stayed at a historical hotel in Arizona called La Posada. La Posada was the last built Harvey Hotel, and it was a wonderful experience to stay the night in such a historical hotel. The kids an I loved exploring the hotel and the grounds.

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Once we made it home we needed several days to recoup. After relaxing for a few days we went down to my aunt and uncle’s house to visit all our cousins. It was a wonderful day of visiting, swimming, and tractor riding.

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In other news we found out the cause of Autry’s sore throat/tiredness. She is severely anemic, and she also has some inflammation in her body. We are treating the anemia and already she seems to be perking up. We go back to have her blood drawn in a few months to see how her numbers are and to see if there is still inflammation in her body. I am so relieved that we got an answer to her issues, and I am very thankful that she is feeling better already. Hopefully this year will be better for her than last year.

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Decca built up his collection of Three Investigator books this summer and has read several of them too. He picked up three of the German books that are used in Germany to teach English to the kids. He loves these books, although they are a little awkward to read. The character’s names are changed and there is some bad words in them, but Decca is plowing through them and learning a little German along the way. He has collected so many books this summer that I decided to buy him his own bookshelves. We are on a tight budget, so I decided to find some bookshelves on Craigslist. I found this pair of lawyer bookcases and surprised him with them one day. He was excited to have his own bookshelves.

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We will be starting our school year next week, but we will only be starting a few subjects the first few weeks. By September we will be on our full schedule. I have been spending the past few weeks trying to plan out everything, and I am still in the planning phase. I am hoping to have everything ready to go by this weekend. I am feeling a little overwhelmed by it all but I am always grateful that I am able to homeschool the kids.

I see the adults that the twins are turning into, and I am happy with who they are becoming. And I look at Decca and see what a unique, lovely child he is, and I am content. I feel that homeschooling has truly shaped these kids and our family, and I am so thankful that this is the path we have taken.

Summer Vacation

We have been on vacation for almost a month now. We drove cross-country from California to Indiana in four days, and we have been here ever since. We have been having a good time although it has been raining for much of our time here, so we haven’t been able to get outside as much as we liked. We have been having a few adventures though, which is always fun.

Our first stop was in Albuquerque, and we stayed at a wonderful historical hotel. It was originally a hospital for workers of the Atchison, Topeka, and  Santa Fe railroad. We were surprised to see a dog at the check in counter but she was so sweet. The kids will never forget Molly!

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Being homeschoolers we had to check out all the historical aspects of the hotel. There were several displays of items found during the renovation.

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A final picture from our time at the hotel… the twins were trying their best to look vintage in this shot.

1011063_10151502486235922_1779532559_nAfter New Mexico we headed to Oklahoma via Texas. Decca had a great deal of anxiety on this leg of the trip because he had recently learned about Tornado alley, and he was sure we were going to run into a tornado. It didn’t help that we did run into a major dust storm in Texas that made it hard to see the road. We found a little tornado museum on the side of the road though, and he wanted to see it even though he is scared of them. I think he has a love/hate thing going on with tornadoes.

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For our third night we made it all the way to New Harmony, Indiana. This is a wonderful little historical town in southern Indiana that we often stay at. The hotel room had aloft with a spiral staircase and it immediately became Decca’s favorite spot of the room. He asked me to take a photo of him where he was pretending to fall off of it.

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I remember being a kid and staying at this hotel. We also had a loft room back then, and I remember being fascinated by the stairs. I love sharing the same memories with my own children.

After getting a good night sleep we woke up and explored the hotel and Historic New Harmony. First stop the giant chess board that Tru couldn’t wait to play a game on.

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Next we explored the roofless church which you can read about here.  It is a wonderful spot to sit quietly and take it all in. There is also a dome in the middle of it that houses a sculpture titled “The Descent of the Holy Spirit.”

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photo 5After we explored the town some more we headed up to Culver, Indiana to see my Grandma and my Uncle. Unfortunately my uncle is very ill with cancer and my mom and I wanted to see him before it was too late. This is why we didn’t take longer on our trip across the country.

We made it to Culver, and we had a nice cottage to stay in on the lake that is in my Aunt’s family. It just happened to be empty while we were there, so we were able to use it. It was so nice to be out of the car and to have a peaceful place to stay. There were thunderstorms most of our time there, which is another anxiety trigger for Decca, but the twins and I loved it. We also loved having deer in the yard in the morning and watching the sunset over the lake at night. Spending time with their great-grandmother was icing on the cake for them.

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After a few days we came up to my dad’s house, and we have been here ever since. The twins turned 14 here. How can they be 14?

1010662_10151511556735922_844518736_nWe had a nice little party for them with my dad, my brother Harold, and his family. Last year it stormed on their birthday and we had no power. This year it was sunny and beautiful.

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Other happenings around here…we found two abandoned kitties living in a car. We captured them, nursed them back to health, and found them both homes. It was fun for all of us to have two little kitties for a while.

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We had a  Fourth of July celebration with my brothers Jesse and Jim.

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Of course Decca was standing by with a bottle of water in case of a fire. He did enjoy the fireworks this year though, as opposed to last year when he spent the entire time inside.

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The next day we went to the dunes up at Lake Michigan to watch the fireworks with my brother Jimmy. This was an epic fail, as the twins would say, because we were too far away from the fireworks to really see them, but it was fun anyway.

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We went to Chicago to Millennium Park to meet up with other students from the twin’s online Latin class. They had a blast meeting the kids and they all walked around Millennium Park for a short time while Decca and I explored. After that we all went out to eat to an Indian restaurant. It was a great day.

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Other random shots from our time here –

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Right now I am sitting in the dining room of my dad’s house. It is only 10 in the morning, but it is so dark out. A storm is rolling in bringing with it thunder and rain, which I love. The twins are sitting on the front porch waiting for it, Decca is by my side scared. The lights just flickered on and off, but later today it is going to be hot again. It is a typical summer day here and I am happy that we are here to enjoy it.

Before long we will be back in the car heading home. I am sure we will have some adventures on the way which I will have to blog about. Until then…

Summer Plans

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Things have turned around for us here, which is wonderful. Tru’s eyes have cleared up enough that he was able to go to Astronomy Camp which is where he is right now. He left for camp on the 4th driving to Tucson with his Grandfather. He had a great time on their road trip, and then on the 5th he was delivered to camp at the University of Arizona  All the students and councilors had orientation and after that they drove up to Kitt peak where they will be staying. I haven’t heard from him, but I hope he is having a great time. I leave to pick him up on the 10th, and I can’t wait to see him.

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Autry  had her vocal chords looked at by an ENT doctor yesterday. She was sure that there was damage on her vocal chords, but they looked great. They were swollen from the sore throat she has had for weeks, but there is no damage at all and she is all cleared to sing again. She is going to be starting speech therapy to learn how to talk in a way that is good for her vocal chords. She is looking forward to her speech therapy, and I think she is going to learn many good techniques to help her.

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In other new we are leaving for Chicago in the third week of June. We will be staying through August 5th which is when Autry will be picked up from Interlochen. All the kids are looking forward to getting away for a while, and they plan to spend hours swimming, jumping on the trampoline, and eating ice cream. All in all we have a great summer planned, and we are all looking forward to it.

 

A Quick Check-In

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We have had such a few difficult weeks here, but I wanted to check in with everyone to let you know what is happening. Tru has had several chalazias on his eye since January. About a month ago they became infected, so I took him into the doctor. After several doctor visits with various specialists we figured out the problem and Tru started on antibiotic drops. After a week there was no change, so he was put on oral antibiotics, but he has had no change and will need eye surgery soon. I have to figure out if he will need it before or after space camp which he leaves for on June 5th. The doctor said he could get it after, but Tru’s eye looks so bad that I wonder if that is a good idea. We are going to go in one more time to the doctor to see what he says. I am hoping we can get the procedure done soon, so Tru doesn’t have to live with this problem anymore.

Autry has also been sick with a terrible sore throat for two weeks (we all have), and now she cannot sing. She fears that her voice is damaged, and that thought really scares her. We are not sure what has happened, but she was quite sick and now when she sings her voice is tight and sore. She also feels like she has been over-singing the past few months and that may have contributed to the problem. Regardless, she has been on vocal rest for a while now with no improvement, so she is on two more weeks of strict vocal rest and if that does not help we have to go to a specialist. I cannot explain how sad she is. It is like a part of her identity is missing, and she doesn’t know what she will do if she doesn’t get her voice back.

The whole situation with the twins is making me feel quite drained although I am trying to stay upbeat. I don’t talk about being a single mom that often, but it’s times like this that I wish I had a parenting partner. I am emotionally drained and financially stressed (doctor visits can really add up), so I haven’t had much time for my blog. I did however want to check in with everyone to let you know what is going on. Hopefully my next check-in will be more upbeat. Until then…