Friday, May 27, 2016

Goodbye Middle School, Hello High School

She made it! We have officially promoted Amber to 9th grade, and thus given her the status of a high school student. I still can't believe it happened, yet it is done.

Wow! She really did grow too. She's even shoe-less in the last day picture. And the hair!!
It has been a rough week though. Amber's transition off of Reglan for her gastroparesis did not go well. She had one day of eating before her symptoms kicked back in and nothing digested on Saturday (yes, my birthday). We've had to do some crash learning on how true gastroparesis eating varies from her previous dietary needs, because she will be off of the Reglan for a total of 21 days before she can start again. I've chatted with GI already to ensure I'm doing all I can between medication cycles. We visit with the GI doctor towards the end of those 21 days to make final decisions on future treatment.

Amber clearly was not getting the nutrients she needs and that triggered a downward dysautonomia spiral by Sunday. She is delicately balanced in order to be functional, and Saturday put her over the edge. Her whole body was just wrong for a few days, however she's made great improvements over the week and is back to functional. She even fully participated in back to back PT and OT this afternoon!

I replaced my 20 year old leaking blender so it's easier to make smoothies, and acquired a couple of books to help me feed Amber better.
I had hoped she could finish eighth grade with a bang, but the actual lessons were not as productive as my plans. Still, Amber finished Early Modern History! Tapestry of Grace Year 2 is done! There is not one bit to complete during Summer school, and that was my final goal for her. While I would have liked IEW writing to also be complete, it is more of a continuous subject anyway. She's close with IEW while still making steady progress, so that's all I can ask for.

Despite extreme exhaustion and problems with her heart rate this week, Amber has kept up with her cardio exercise - even when she could only do 10 minutes on the recumbent bike. She pushed through to ensure she doesn't entirely de-condition. We did have to skip flute lesson this week though, since Amber's heart wasn't responding to the beta-blocker very well that day (or on Sunday) and her breathing was labored just walking around the house.

Her last 8th Grade assignment, plus work throughout the week.
We did make it out of the house with Amber at least once a day too. There have been her regular appointments at Children's, a slow and GP friendly lunch out with Grandma, strategic clothes shopping because Amber outgrew all of her shorts from last year and only had a couple pairs that we picked up a few weeks ago, and a trip to Target for "stuff".

Next week Amber starts her Summer school schedule: no more than 2 subjects per day. We also skip lessons on days when fun is to be had, for example her first day of Summer school will actually be a no lesson day since we have plans with friends. Hours recording for 9th grade begins on July 1st, with the official start being August 1st.

Goodbye middle school years - you were fun!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Linking With:

Weekly Wrap-Up   photo purpFFBut_zps970d6cbe.png Homegrown Learners

Monday, May 23, 2016

Transitioning to Homeschool High School

Over the past year, we've slowly been migrating Amber to high school level courses and came to where almost everything in eighth grade could earn high school credit.  It took me a while to realize that this slow progression was diminishing Amber's excitement over entering high school. Further discussions revealed she needed a distinct beginning to her high school years.


We decided to have a formal high school planning meeting, much like eighth graders in the public schools here do, where all of the specifics of her high school academic needs would be clearly detailed and plotted.

In order for Amber to feel she had as much control over her education as the public and private high school students, I spent time researching the course offerings at many local schools including my old high school. This research had the two-fold result of giving us new course ideas and helping me define the parameters / descriptions of Amber's core classes.

Our state does not have any specific high school graduation requirements for homeschoolers, which meant additional research on the public school requirements and the expectations of universities Amber is likely to attend. It took some time, but eventually I had a set of documents ready to present Amber at a formal sit-down discussion. I wanted her to understand every aspect of earning high school credit.


I truly thought this meeting would bore her, but she was excited and often checked on my research progress,  "Mom, did you want to have my high school meeting now? I have time and feel ready."  Once the day of the meeting came, I presented Amber with the general requirements for graduation and then specifics for the major she has indicated she would like to pursue. We also discussed what types of courses would ensure she is university ready for almost any degree field, should she change her mind during high school.

It turns out Amber had quite a few thoughts on her academic goals and was able to clearly communicate which goals she feels will be realistic and which will be a stretch. We even discussed how she wants to approach completing all of her goals, including the more difficult items. Amber wrote out, in her own hand, her course plan for the next 4 years and where each credit will go. She was ever so proud to be making her own choices.


Like many high school students, Amber didn't honestly have a wide array of choices to make given that she needs specific sets of credits for college. However, the process of selecting elective courses, history & science topics, and even how many math credits she will earn has given her ownership of her future. She knows what goals she wants to complete and why, instead of feeling like she is in an endless loop of continuous school lessons.

Our planning meeting helped Amber to feel that high school was a real change in her life. We created a tangible beginning to her high school education where she is an active participant in her life decisions.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Limping Along

I feel like a broken record, but Amber is still in the latest dysautonomia flare with her heart rate not quite under control along with having finished her six week course of Reglan and now has to be off of it for at least three weeks before she can resume. The hope is that she can stay off all summer long, but we will see the GI doctor the first full week of June to assess her needs.

Needless to say, it's not been the most productive school week. She's pushed on and on with things, but with the return of her insomnia and all day migraines, it's hard to ask her to do too much school work. Besides, the work she had done was not of the greatest quality. I'm not sure she actually learned anything and we will need to repeat some of that work. She did learn to make grilled cheese and boxed macaroni and cheese during a lunchtime cooking lesson with my mom. That was the biggest learning event of the week.

We did have our May "Amber and Mom Day" this week, where we relaxed, had Subway for lunch, and played LEGO Dimensions at home. It was a guilt-free non-school day, and to be honest Wednesday was also a non-school day except for flute lesson. Amber woke with blood-shot eyes and I decided then that she could have an "Amber and Mom Day- Part II".  Sometimes you just need a surprise pick-me-up day.

Amber is still technically in 8th grade through next Friday, but she is chomping at the bit to become an official high school student.  I don't have the heart to tell her that I won't begin recording hours toward her 9th grade year until July 1st, so all her June Summer school goes toward 8th grade. She probably realizes it though since we will technically be finishing a few 8th grade topics (like writing and literature). History looks to be coming in close and may finish next Friday, although Amber does have three medical appointments next week that will limit our available time.  Still, I think next Friday at 5pm I will officially promote her to 9th grade, like all of her similarly aged friends.

Waiting for her flute lesson and kitty cuddles.
We ordered Amber a new Fitbit Charge HR - we use them to track her heart rate continuously in real-time.  It is almost a necessity, especially when she exercises and at PT.  Her original Fitbit Charge HR is still working perfectly a year later, but it is a tad small now. Last year I waffled on size, and ended up ordering her a small because the large was going to be on the tightest notch. She began using it towards the end of the band and a year later with lots of growth she's wearing it on the last notch for the proper fit - it isn't terribly comfortable with a tiny nub sticking out. She now has a larger size pink Fitbit to go with her small size purple one.

Today Amber is going swimming with a friend at the indoor pool / natatorium at our community center. It's mostly water play and not really any actual swimming that happens.  Still, it's exercise and it gets Amber out with a friend.

Getting out for lunch, even though she felt crummy. It was a rare nice day.
Tomorrow is my birthday - I'm getting old and beginning to feel it. I found out this week that the pinched nerve in my lower back, which has been causing a rather unpleasant amount of pain, is a result of a congenital spine defect. I probably should have looked into the nearly life long lower back pain before my mid-40's, but who has time for that. Surgery isn't necessary at this point, thankfully, but I'll end up seeing pain management soon.

In case you missed it this week, I posted two reviews of quite possibly our favorite review items this year.  Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization from IEW and Traditional Logic I from Memoria Press. These are honestly two items we would have gladly purchased - one was on our planned list.

Happy (Birthday) Weekend! :)

Linking With:

Weekly Wrap-Up   photo purpFFBut_zps970d6cbe.png Homegrown Learners
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