Sunday, January 31, 2010


I've been stealing a little time here and there lately to go out and work with Tucker.

I have so much fun working with him. Not only is he smart, but I think he's just the cutest little guy. In some ways he's like a giant fuzzy stuffed animal... His coat is thick and fluffy, and the snow white fur on his chest and belly is especially soft. He's finally grown calm enough to allow some hugs, which is nice... he's an animal that just looks huggable.

It's hard to believe how well he's been doing lately. Even when I don't get out to work with him as often as I'd like, he remembers so much of what we've done in the past that we can just pick up where we left off.

He's starting to show affection now too. Sometimes when I'm giving him a good scratch on the neck he'll stretch that huge head of his up to mine and nibble on my hair, or on the collar of my coat. The first time he did it I wasn't sure it he was being nice or trying to bite me, but I decided to trust him and discovered that he isn't trying to bite... just doing some friendly nibbling. I wonder if he sees it as some kind of donkey/human mutual grooming.

I'm still working on getting him used to having weight on his back, and am starting to think I should direct his training towards the idea of him being a pack burro some day. Donkeys live so long (30-35 years easily) that most of them have several homes during their lifespans, so it's important for them to be the kind of animal that CAN find a new home... Tucker's wildness (when we got him) seriously limited his chances for a good home. A trained donkey is MUCH more desirable than a wild one.

So I worked more today on leading him around with a little weight on his back, and he did really well. He tried to pull away a couple of times but his pulls are more tentative now than they used to be, and if I catch him quickly, and pull him back around firmly saying "no!" he'll stop. This is a great improvement over his former habit of jerking away so suddenly, and with so much force that he'd leave rope burns on my hands (through my gloves!) as I tried, usually unsuccessfully, to stop him...

He did so well today, working in the small pen, that I took him out (still all "tacked up") into the main pasture where R was riding Murphy. I decided to see how Tucker would do following Murphy (like a pack burro would follow the lead horse). Tucker was amazing! He followed Murphy without pulling away once, and even let me lead him back into the small pen while R took Murphy in a different direction. What an awesome little donkey...

He still has a long way to go (at some point I MUST teach him to load into a horse trailer... ), but it's great to see progress...

Maybe this will be Tucker's job some day...

Friday, January 29, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday


I've really enjoyed the Simple Woman's Daybook I've been doing each Monday. It seems like a nice way to start the week... both looking ahead to what the new week will bring, and keeping a record of many of the little moments that are all too quickly forgotten...

I've decided to try ending the week with "7 Quick Takes Friday"... a listing of 7 short bits and pieces from the week.... I see it as a nice way of reflecting back upon the week.

So, with that thought in my mind, here's my first
7  Quick  Takes


M had a good week, he even commented on how well he's doing. It's wonderful when he's in a good spot mentally... I enjoy his company so much.


We had drop in company this week, A.M. (the farmer we got Tilly, Tucker and Lili from) was in the neighborhood and stopped in for a visit. We always love seeing A... He's a big rough teddy bear kind of guy, in his 70's now, and struggled through the fall and winter with some serious health problems. It was good to see him up and around and feeling pretty good.  He was happy to see how big Lili is, and when we told him we were going to get a few more hens in the spring to keep her company, said he had some silkies he'd give us, and we could have some fertilized eggs too if we wanted to let Lili hatch them. R is excited about getting the silkies...


My youngest grandson turned 3 yesterday... We celebrated with a pancake dinner with his family and friends. Three is such a great age!   Here's the birthday boy back in November "helping" to make pies for Thanksgiving...


We have a lot of January birthdays... Counting the birthday party we have on Saturday for Joe's dad, we've had 5 birthday celebrations in two weeks! Once February gets here we'll be done with birthdays for awhile...


The kids had a pretty good week with school. They've both settled easily back into our regular curriculum, and we're still doing some FIAR in the evenings as we read A Cricket in Times Square... It seems to be a combination that's working well right now.


I bought the new wood floor for the living room this week.  (HURRAY!!)  This house was built by a young couple back in the 70's... It took them years to build and is an awesome house (in a quirky sort of way), but for various reasons it wasn't really finished the way they had planned. For example, the chimneys were finished with wood because they couldn't afford the stone they had intended to use (we tore down the old chimneys and had them rebuilt with stone in 2006)... and the house was originally heated with a big wood burning stove, because they couldn't get propane or natural gas out here then (a previous owner converted to natural gas, hot water heat back in the 80's). They also carpeted the whole house, because they couldn't afford wood floors. We're not going to put hardwood throughout the whole house, but we are going to pull up the carpet in the living room and put wood down. Our SIL is going to install it for us, and I think it's going to be beautiful... I can't wait!


The farrier is coming this afternoon to trim hooves... It will be good to get it done, Tilly's back hooves are looking long... hopefully she'll feel better once they're trimmed. M always loves visiting with Raul, the farrier... Raul is a character and always asks M to find him a girlfriend, so each time he comes he asks M where the girlfriend is... The same little joke has been going on between them for well over a year now, but it still cracks M up. :)


... working on shoes (Murphy and the donkeys go barefoot, but Grant had to have special corrective shoeing). That's M standing in the background...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

whine and squirrrels

M never does anything in an easy or predictable way...

He's been that way his entire life.

Whether it was learning to talk (took forever, years of speech therapy, spoke clearly for 7 years or so but is now barely understandable), or walk (he careened around crashing into everything in sight for years, was a mass of bruises for those same years, and still has a tendency to trip over his own feet).

Or more recently, having schizophrenia (having every medication side effect known to man, and symptoms that never go away despite the "best" medication), or... even more recently (like right now)... having an "enhanced" MRI prior to surgery (and ending up with some weird, no-one's-ever-heard-of-it complication... one that even after a trip to the ER and another to the pediatrician, is not going away and no one can figure out).

But I'm not going to blog about that.

I'm tired of talking, thinking, or writing about pediatricians, psychiatrists, orthopedists, ER docs, psych nurses, regular nurses, physical therapists, and/or hospitals or anything else even remotely related to the medical field... because at this point in time they seem to be greedily gobbling up great chunks of my life. (I'm thinking this probably doesn't bode well for my state of mind when M's surgery date rolls around in a few weeks!)

So I've decided to blog about squirrels instead.

I can think of no direct connection between squrrels and the medical field... This earns them a spot on my very short list of acceptable blog topics.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I looked out the window yesterday and saw a thief in my bird feeder...

He'd taken the top off the feeder and climbed inside for a bite of lunch...

When we lived in the city, we were absolutely overrun with squirrels. They were pests...

But we probably lived out here three years before we saw even a single squirrel (something that lives out here must like to eat them...)

(like maybe this coyote just outside the pasture fence?)

So now squirrels are kind of a novelty to us.

Mule deer in the front yard are commonplace... but a squirrel is something a little different!

I chased him off anyway...

I love the birds that come to the feeder, and didn't want him to eat all the birdseed.

He ran up the window, then stopped and peeked to see if I was still there.

I was, but he came back a moment later anyway... and even brought a friend with him.

I like this picture... see the squirrel all the way down inside the bird feeder?

I gave up then on trying to run them off...

If they are tough enough to survive out here, they can have my birdseed... they probably deserve it.

Monday, January 25, 2010




January 25, 2010

Outside my window... it's still dark, with just a few lights twinkling on the hill in the distance.

I am thinking... about the calls I need to make this week to get things into place for M's surgery.

I am thankful for... good friends, the early morning quiet, and a week without a bunch of doctor's appointments.

From the learning rooms... it looks like we are shifting gears. R is struggling more with her OCD and thinks it would help her to go back to our regular "school at home" type of school day. So... A Cricket in Times Square will become an "enhanced" read along, and we'll head back to the classroom for a more structured school day.

From the kitchen... after finding the most marvelous popcorn popping pot (say that fast three times!) we are eating lots of popcorn! I do love warm salty popcorn...

my popcorn popping pot...

... the inside stirring mechanism.

I am creating... no projects in the works right now, although I need to find a pattern to make with the yarn E (dd#1) got me for Christmas. Something not too challenging would be good... It will be nice to have some knitting to work on when M's in the hospital.

I am going... to try to get the dog house/chicken coop moved into Lili's pen this week. I think I'll finish working on it in there. It doesn't need much, just some trim and inside stuff done. It will be so nice when she's no longer sleeping in a box in the classroom!

I am reading... The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book my daughter lent me. For our read aloud we are reading A Cricket in Times Square, and Secret Subway.

I am hoping... the kids have a good day.

I am hearing... the boiler making very strange noises in the basement... I hope it's ok.

Around the house... I think I've got the flooring picked out for the living room. We are replacing the carpet in that room with hardwood. I may even run out today and buy the wood we've picked out, then I'll just need to find someone to install it.

One of my favorite things... this crazy, crooked, drafty, impractical old house.

A few plans for the rest of the week... I've got phone calls to make for M's surgery, but no appointments. I think we'll be home most of the week except for the kid's riding lessons.

A picture I'm sharing...

a barn still life

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

M had his appointment with the surgeon yesterday and the news wasn't good... Not only is the top of M's femur too wide, his hip socket is very deep... so bone rubs against bone when he moves. Without surgery we're looking at a very limited activity level, near constant pain (and lots of ibuprofen), and the probability that he will need his hip replaced sometime in his 30's or 40's.

So I agreed to the surgery...

Unfortunately arthroscopic surgery is not an option... So the surgery will be major (2 to 3 days in the hospital, 1 to 2 weeks in bed with a repetitive motion machine keeping the joint moving 8 hours a day, 6 weeks of being on crutches or (probably more likely) in a wheelchair, and 6 months to a year before he's back to 100%.

It seems like a lot to go through for his love of Special Olympics, but without the surgery he can't be active... and even if we cut out sports entirely (which doesn't seem fair to a 17 year old boy who LOVES sports), it sounds like  even a fairly sedentary activity level would be enough to cause the joint to deteriorate and need to be replaced.

The surgery is scheduled for Feb. 16th...

Prayers are greatly appreciated. (The surgeon is concerned that the stress of the surgery will cause an extreme psychiatric destabilization... he won't even do the surgery without a psychiatrist, on staff at the hospital, on board. I think M will be fine psychiatrically... but still... the surgeon's concerns are a worry.)

Monday, January 18, 2010



January 18, 2010

Outside my window... the sun is up, the sky is hazy but with a promise of sun and warmth later.

I am thinking... too much. Too many worries and uncertainties right now.

I am thankful for... this day.

From the learning rooms... we are still reading A Cricket in Times Square. This past week we learned about Connecticut, did some creative writing, learned about illustrator Garth Williams and compared some of his illustrations in different books,  learned about perspective in drawing (working on making things look near and far), and... my favorite lesson... we talked about "silver linings", and what it means to say "Every cloud has a silver lining"... then we spent the week looking for silver linings in things.

 From the kitchen... I've reorganized the pantries, and need to get the "big" shopping (a month's worth) planned and done before we run out of food.

I am creating... I've been doing some sewing lately... nothing major just some little stuff.

I am going... to shop later today (probably... if I can get the list done!)

I am reading... just our read-aloud... Secret Subway: The Fascinating Tale of an Amazing Feat of Engineeringby Martin W. Sandler (it’s about the building of the first subway in NYC)

I am hoping... for some peace, and some feeling of resolution in terms of all that is going on with M.

I am hearing... the clock ticking, R looking through the bookcase for something, and Quin pacing restlessly back and forth.

Around the house... I've been on a cleaning kick lately. When things are this unsettled, cleaning helps me to burn off stress. (So the cleaner and more well organized the house is, the more stressed I am... The house is very clean right now!)

One of my favorite things... the soft look in Tilly's eyes.

A few plans for the rest of the the month's shopping, take M to the pdoc, take M to see the surgeon, celebrate E's birthday, work at the library, get school done.

A picture I'm sharing...

Tilly again... a picture of donkey serenity.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Well... the MRI is done and M did very well.

It wasn't a regular MRI, as they had to insert a needle into his hip joint and fill the joint full of some type of contrast solution before doing the scan. They numbed his hip for the procedure, of course, but it was (and is!) still uncomfortable... His hip feels " full" and stiff.

Thankfully, he's been at Children's Hospital enough he doesn't stress too much about being there...

I even caught him dozing while waiting for his appointment ...

He handled the big needles they needed to use for the contrast well, and wasn't at all anxious about all the massive machines surrounding him..

M was going to watch Jumanji during the MRI (there is a tiny screen in the helmet kind of thing he had to wear in the MRI machine) but he dozed off and ended up sleeping through the movie (and the MRI!).

We see the surgeon next week to find out the results of the MRI and find out what we need to do to get M moving again.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Whew! (ode to a dog)

It's been a worrisome couple of days around here... Something has been the matter with Emma, our Golden Retriever, and we've been stressing out about it.

Emma is an old dog (somewhere between 10-11 yrs old). We got her back in 2003 from Golden Retriever Rescue.

(This picture was taken the day we got her. M looks a little different then, doesn't he? He'd recently started on one of the meds that causes weight gain, and we hadn't yet changed his diet to accommodate that medication.)

Emma has been an important, even crucial, part of our family since then.

(This picture comes from a book that both M and R are featured in called Nurture: The Essence of Intervention for Individuals with FASD .)

Emma is always ready with a smile, loves to "talk" (which sounds like little growls back in her throat), and is, in every way, a member of the family.

She's a big dog, and when people who don't know her are greeted with her smile, and hear her "talking" to them, they often worry that they are in danger of being her next meal!

She's been a healthy dog during the years we've had her, never really being sick... and she wears her age well. She still goes out to the barn with me each morning to chase bunnies, check out the neighbor's chickens, (and maybe eat a little horse manure as long as it's handy) while I do the barn work... and as recently as Christmas she even went sledding with us. Emma didn't sit on a sled of course, her idea of sledding is gamboling down the steep hill after the sleds, and then running back to the top as we slip and slide behind her.

She's probably the most loyal, steady, rock solid, dog we've ever owned... Quin is a great dog, and we love him dearly, but he's the comic relief to Emma's Gibraltar-like dependability.

Several days ago though, Emma started acting strange. Her smile was gone, she was obviously in pain, and sometimes she ate... and sometimes she didn't. R and I were in a bit of a panic, after losing both Grant and Sweet Pea within the last couple of years, neither of us could face losing Emma too.

I knew she needed to be seen by a vet, but I didn't want to take her back to the one we had been using. That vet had missed Sweet Pea's advanced cancer (her vet tech found it) and I didn't trust her to not miss something with Emma, so we called a new vet I'd seen around town.

The new vet's practice is very cool. She has a mobile veterinary service... so she comes to you! She couldn't come on Monday (when I called her) but came yesterday afternoon, and both R and I loved her. She spent an hour and a half with Emma, checking her over thoroughly, and even taking the time to explain to me the results of the blood work the old vet did a few months ago.

Thankfully the vet found nothing serious the matter with Emma, although her thyroid doesn't seem to be working well,  and she's hurt (twisted, sprained?) her neck somehow.

(Emma with Lili the chicken when Lili was little. When Lili was still too small to go outside, she liked to take "dust baths" on Emma's tail.)

It was such a relief to know that we don't have to say good-bye to Emma yet. She's really a one-of-a-kind dog...  I'm hoping she'll be like those retrievers the vet told us about yesterday that live to be 14/15 years old!

Monday, January 11, 2010



January 11, 2010

Outside my window... it's still dark out... there's about 5" or so of snow still on the ground, but the warm weather this week should melt it away quickly.

I am thinking... (once again) about how to get M the psychiatric care he needs... it's a problem that never seems to go away.

I am thankful for... the early morning quiet, and the promise of a new day.

From the learning rooms... we are still working on The Cricket in Times Square, learning now about mass transit, inventors, a little about the industrial revolution, shading and perspective techniques in pen and ink drawings, and community... what it means, how it's different for each person, and how it shapes ones view of the world. We're also still working on learning about New York state and NYC.

From the kitchen... I haven't been much in the mood to cook lately, but I did make some really good egg fried rice with chicken yesterday for lunch!

I am creating... I've been working on little projects around the house lately, doing some painting, some reorganizing, and hanging a small shelf in a corner of the kitchen (for my cookbooks). The cookbook shelf project forced me to go through and clean out my cookbooks, which then led to me working on a project I started 15 years ago and never finished... gathering our favorite family recipes in one place. I'll be working on that this week (and probably for the next few weeks), and also hope to get the dog house/chicken coop painted while the weather is warm.

I am going... to have to call M's old pdoc again about the summary of his treatment she was going to put together. I've been asking for this summary for about three months now, and we're at the point that I think having it is crucial... I wish she'd just finish it and give it to me.

I am reading... True Colors by Kristin Hannah, our read-aloud is Secret Subway: The Fascinating Tale of an Amazing Feat of Engineering by Martin W. Sandler (it's about the building of the first subway in NYC)

I am hoping... the news from Friday's MRI is good.

I am hearing... the boiler bubbling and the clock ticking, otherwise the house is quiet.

Around the house... I've been selling a few things on Craigslist, getting rid of some furniture we no longer need (it's funny how things accumulate, isn't it?)

One of my favorite things... peanut butter (yes, this is kind of random... I must be hungry) I especially love Peter Pan creamy peanut butter... a PB & J with Peter Pan, some homemade jam, and nice soft oatmeal bread is the best! I would take that over steak any day...

A few plans for the rest of the week... horseback riding lessons, a get-together with friends from the homeschool group, a class for the kids at the CCB, M's MRI... and school!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...a picture I took this morning, as I headed back from the barn

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Friday, January 8, 2010


Exploding from around the corner of the neighbor's house.

I can already feel your warmth beginning to melt away the deep chill of the past few days.

I'd like to do nothing but stand in the east window soaking up your light, feeling your warmth upon my face.

Welcome back... I've missed you.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

the countertop debacle


Main Entry: de·ba·cle

Pronunciation: \dē-ˈbä-kəl, di-, -ˈba-; ÷ˈde-bə-kəl\

Variant(s): also dé·bâ·cle \alsodā-ˈbäk(lə)\

Function: noun

Etymology: French débâcle, from débâcler to clear, from Middle French desbacler, from des-de- + bacler to block, perhaps from Vulgar Latin *bacculare, from Latin baculum staff

Date: 1802

1 : a tumultuous breakup of ice in a river
2 : a violent disruption (as of an army) : rout
3 a : a great disaster b : a complete failure : fiasco
I think definition 3 b pretty much sums up the work we had done in our kitchen last summer...

It started back last spring. I had a nice looking kitchen... I liked it and there was nothing the matter with it.

It had formica countertops which were in good shape. I wasn't crazy about them because I'd been spoiled by the solid surface countertops we'd put in the kitchen of our old house, and because the countertop on the island had been replaced and wasn't the same as the rest of the countertop, but they were ok, they worked. I had no plans to replace them.

But then Joe talked to a guy who works for the same company he does... The guy (RR) said he used to fabricate and install slab granite countertops, and he could get an excellent deal on some granite from a company that was going out of business... Would we like him to replace our countertop with granite?

It sounded like an awesome deal... so he and Joe went to look at stone, and he wrote us up an estimate.

It was a VERY reasonable estimate. (What's that old saying about if it sounds too good to be true...?) So we paid him half down, he bought the stone, came out and measured, and said he'd be out in a week or so to install the new countertops.

I should have known something was up when RR kept making excuses why he couldn't come out... But we live so far out it's not unusual for contractors to not be excited about driving all the way out here. They often seem to save work out here for a time when they have absolutely NO work they can possibly do anywhere closer to Denver.

But RR finally showed up and started work. I'll spare you all the miserable details of the days he was here, let's just say RR was NOT the person we should have picked to do any work whatsoever on our house.

Only part of the stone was fabricated when he got here... The rest he sanded and ground down right in my kitchen. This, of course, filled not only my kitchen... but my whole house... with fine granite dust. The cuts he made in the stone were very rough, and the slabs didn't fit the top of the countertop well. He tried to sand an edge on it here, but damaged the stone... leaving it scratched and pitted (even burned in spots), and the edges were wavy. The seams in the countertop didn't match up, and were misaligned (one side higher than the other), so he just filled the joint with caulk. (That seemed to be his "fix" for many things... he also knocked a big chunk of plaster off the wall and trying to hide it, filled it with caulk. Luckily I found it before the caulk set up so I was able to clean the caulk back out and fix it right.) There were 11 of his misaligned, rough seams in the backsplash alone, and he accidentally broke the stone in a half dozen places.

By the time he finally left I was in tears... My whole kitchen, family room and living room were completely coated with granite dust, and the countertop was a mess. Not only is this old house special to us, and we hate to see it mistreated... it is also a big part of Joe's retirement, everything we do to it is with an eye to increasing it's value when we eventually sell. The countertop was so bad I thought it would probably decrease the value!

It took me three solid days of cleaning to get rid of the granite dust... every dish, fork, spoon, pot and pan needed to be washed, as did every horizontal surface. I vacuumed and scrubbed... and I coughed. The pneumonia-like cough lasted for two months after the clean up was done... apparently my lungs seriously dislike granite dust!  In addition to leaving dust everywhere, RR had damaged virtually everything in the kitchen... he'd knocked the hole in the plaster, and damaged the frig, the dishwasher, the floor, the window trim, and the cabinets. It was a mess!

From a distance the countertops looked ok... especially the island (which had no seams and he'd fabricated in his shop). It had only a few minor problems. (The edges were scratched and gouged, but otherwise it was fine.)

But there were lots of problems with the rest of the countertop.

He'd broken the sink (it was held together with Gorilla Glue for months!)...

... but at least the sink was fixable. There was no fixing the seams that were filled with grout that was falling out, the pits and gouges, or the wavy edges...

There was no fixing the fact that he'd used two different slabs of stone that were noticeably different colors and patterns. Or the seams that didn't match up... or that the cracks in the stone that just kept getting worse.

There was no fixing the gaps that were opening up by the sink because he hadn't leveled or supported the granite properly from underneath, so that side was dropping...

Or that the backsplash he made (which was really just rough little pieces of leftover stone he stuck to the wall with liquid nails) was so thick that the electrical outlets no longer fit... leaving exposed wires that the switchplate covers wouldn't cover.

We knew we had to do something, the countertop was falling apart almost from the minute RR finished up and left. So over the summer we had three different stone guys out to look at the job and give us an estimate on fixing it.

Each of them said the only thing to do was to tear it out... It wasn't salvageable.

Needless to say we weren't happy... Every time Joe looked at the countertop he got more angry, and every time I looked at the countertop I wondered what we were going to do.

But finally we met Val. Val is our new stone guy... and he's amazing. He came out to the house without complaining about the drive, obviously knew stone, and said he'd put my kitchen back together at a price we could afford.

He and his helper started work the beginning of December.

First tearing out the old granite...

Funny how these kinds of things always look worse before they look better, isn't it?

Here's the first piece of new granite set it place... After the rough edges on the old countertop, I love the nicely finished, smooth edges on this one!

Here comes the long piece that goes on the sink end of the kitchen...

When they had the countertops in (it's only 4 big pieces, so it didn't take long) they were going to start work on the backsplash. The wall where the old backsplash had been was a mess from all the liquid nails RR had used... But I kind of liked how it looked to have the countertop run right up to the logs. So I told Val to wait on the backsplash... I wanted to try to clean up the logs and see how it looked.

So I stripped the liquid nails and other gunk off the logs...

... and liked it so much I decided to skip having a backsplash.

 I rechinked the logs, and treated them with a protectant, and called it good.

The new sink is an improvement, don't you think?

Here's the kitchen finally finished... (yes, I cleaned it for this picture!)

Beautifully matched stone, nice smooth, straight, rounded, edges... just a few perfectly aligned seams... not a single scratch, gouge, burn or pit.

I can't tell you how nice is it to finally have it done.
After thinking about it, and realizing that while all of us were ready to get back into our school routine, none of us were very excited about picking back up the school-at-home type curriculum we've been doing for awhile... we (I) decided it was time for a change.

So for the next month or so we'll be working out of Beyond Five In A Row, using the book A Cricket in Times Square as the jump off spot for our learning.

We did Five In A Row years ago, and the kids loved it... I stopped because I started worrying if it was "enough", I felt better with the structure of having a regular curriculum for each subject. I think we'll go back to that structure after a while, but until things settle down a bit around here I think the low stress FIAR program will be a better fit for us.

We started yesterday by reading just the first chapter in the book, which led to learning about New York state and NYC, and talking about the chapter itself and how the opening sentence draws you in and the ending makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. We talked about different kinds of literature, and how this is fantasy. And then both kids started their own fantasy stories...   first deciding on a main character, thinking and talking about that character's personality and appearance, then deciding on the setting for their story, other prominent characters, and the basic plot (and how a story should have a beginning-middle-end). Once all that was out of the way they sat down to write.

When I first brought up the plan of switching gears with school, R wasn't happy. She doesn't do change real well sometimes, and this was a big change with almost NO advance notice. After a few minutes she got into the story though, and really enjoyed the geography/map work and the writing.

In fact, both kids were so excited about their stories that they kept working on them after our regular "school time" was done... R even took her story to bed with her to work on.

I worry sometimes that although she can read well, her comprehension is shaky (which tends to be an FASD trait), but when I read her story I could see that she is picking up a lot from her reading...

Here's an example from her writing...

"...the moon shown dazzling white and the stars were sparkling bright in the darkness..."

I like the way she is putting words together! :)

M's story is, predictably, only loosely organized and involves attacking aliens... but that's ok, that's what he likes to write about and as long as the story makes some sort of sense and has a beginning, a middle, and an end, I don't care.

It was good to see the kids more energized about school again...

We'll still work on our regular math curriculum...  the consumer/daily living type math...  but I think I'll let FIAR fill in the rest.