Washington D.C. Day 7

Day 7 was our last day in Washington D.C. Jeff took Madison back to the Museum of Natural History while I got everything packed up. She insisted on going back to the butterfly garden again. πŸ˜‚

They stopped to take pictures along the National Mall.

After we checked out of our hotel we headed to the Library of Congress.

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Before heading to the airport was none other than Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. We purchased tickets using our Explorer pass. Maybe I just like wax museums, but I thought this was a lot of fun. Some were much better than others, but being able to get up close and pose and have outfits to put on made it a lot more fun than just walking through and looking at them. I apologize in advance for the abundance of pictures. Madison really got into each scene so it cracked me up! I think she enjoyed this as much as I did!

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They have a bus seat after her wax figure that you can sit down in. When you do a light above you starts flashing and a voice of a bus driver comes on over a loud speaker telling you to move. Then it tells you to get off the bus. You hear sirens…it was surreal. An excellent part of the exhibit that really brings it to life.

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Madison for President!


That sums up our trip to Washington D.C.! We had a blast and cannot wait to go back and do everything we didn’t get a chance to do!

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Washington D.C. Day 5

On Day five of our Washington D.C vacation we had a wonderful visit with family in the area. It was great to catch up and spend time.

In the evening we decided to go to the World War II Memorial. Madison also worked on her National Mall Ranger Badge while we were there.

Then we headed back to the hotel to relax. (View of the lobby from our floor.)

This was hands down our best day of our trip.

Washington D.C. Day 4

On Day 4 of our Washington D.C. vacation we visited Ford’s Theater. It has changed a lot since I went when I was 12!

They now have a museum that you go through first. It was amazing! We opted for the audio companion as well. Madison also worked on her Ford’s Theater Ranger Badge during our visit.

Ford’s Theater still holds productions. The history of the Theater is intriguing.

After we toured the museum and the theater we went across the street to the Peterson house. They have added an amazing museum to this as well!

Madison was also sworn in for completing her Ford’s Theater Ranger packet and received her badge and patch.

We decided to explore the International Spy Museum next! Madison decided she would be Jane Meyer…

It was fun. I wouldn’t recommend doing it without purchasing tickets at a discount with the Explorer Pass. All in all, it was a fun filled day!

Washington D.C. Day 2

Madison had to get a picture of her on Madison Drive. πŸ˜‰

We started out day 2 with a docent tour of the National Archives Museum. We saw the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. The best part pf this tour is that we were in a small group and we were in the museum before it opened to the public, so we didn’t have to deal with crowds to see these magnificent documents. The rest of the tour was amazing and we learned a lot. We also were able to view the Magna Carta. Next time, we will go into the Boeing Learning Center. This museum is one that you should reserve online tickets for even if you do not take the tour.

Next, we set out to tour the monuments. The metro does not cover this area, so we chose to buy tickets for a hop on- hop off bus. I highly recommend doing this. There are several to choose from. We chose one from Groupon, but it did have downsides. The buses didn’t come as frequently and there were not as many stops. We did get a free night tour, so that made up for the other inconveniences. The Big Bus was popular and it can be bought at a discounted price with a purchase of the Washington D.C. Explorer Pass. We did end up purchasing an Explorer Pass for other things, but we found a better deal on it on Groupon.

Our first memorial stop was the Jefferson Memorial.


The second stop was the FDR memorial.



And the final memorial of the day was the Lincoln Memorial.


Before we went to the memorials we picked up a National Junior Ranger National Mall and Memorial folder with sheets to complete for each memorial for Madison to turn in and earn a National Junior Ranger pin. She was also able to stamp the back of the folder  with a stamp that had the date and the memorial name. The stamps were located in the bookstores by the registers of each memorial. The Jefferson Memorial had a really neat Park Ranger store.

Washington D.C. Day 1

This trip was very busy, but very rewarding. We had booked the airfare for this trip months in advance at a very good price. Finding a hotel was challenging, but in the end we feel we picked the perfect one within our price range. We ended up choosing the Grand Hyatt. It was in a safe area, was within walking distance to everything we wanted to see and we were able to access the metro from below the lobby.

September was a great month to visit because it wasn’t crowded and the weather was perfect. When we checked into our hotel we were offered to upgrade to the Club Level. We chose to do this because they offered breakfast, snacks, appetizers and deserts. It also included a coffee machine that made lattes and cappuccinos and included bottled water, sparkling water, milk, and sodas. We quickly added up the costs of bottled water ($4 in the gift shop), Starbucks for breakfast in the morning, etc. and the price for the upgrade was a better deal. We ended up eating a big lunch out everyday, but that was the only time we needed to eat a meal.




After we checked in we headed to the National Museum of American History. When we arrived, we took a Highlights tour. We learned the history behind many things including the Star Spangled Banner, George Washington’s uniform, Abraham Lincoln’s hat, the First Lady’s gowns, Julia Child’s Kitchen, Thomas Jefferson’s lap desk, Thomas Edison’s light bulb, the chairs and table used by Lee and Grant during the surrender ceremony at Appomattox Court House, and much more. The amount to see is overwhelming. Of course after all of the history Madison learned and even with her love of American History, her favorite sight was a doll house. Yep, a doll house. It is a super cool doll house and she is now inspired to build her own from scratch. She went back later in the trip just to have Jeff take a picture of each room. Here is more information on the Dolls’ House.

The top hat Abraham Lincoln wore the night he was shot. 

Madison posing as President with Regan’s administration.

After the American History museum we were tired. We had woken up at 3:30am to catch our 6am flight. We had watched the sunrise while in the air and we were exhausted by this point so we called it a night.

Washington D.C. Day 3

On our third day in Washington D.C. we toured the White House. To be able to tour the White House, you must contact your Member of Congress 3 months prior to your visit to request a tour. For the details to request a tour click HERE.

Also, please note that some things are prohibited on the tour, such as purses, backpacks, etc. Here is a LINK for more information.

We really enjoyed touring the White House and highly recommended it!

Then we made a stop by the Museum of Natural History.

Madison enjoyed the Hope Diamond and the Butterfly Garden the most. πŸ™‚

It was a very eventful Day 3 in Washington D.C.!

February 2017 Gifted Homeschooling Update

This month was a lighter month as far as activities go. Madison decided she wanted to join Homeschool Band and play the clarinet so we added one more weekly activity to the list. She enjoys practicing and does it on her own, so it’s been good so far. This month she learned about aquatic science in her Junior Master Naturalist program at the Perot and went on a field trip to the Trinity River Audubon Center. She lost me when she came home and started taking about leaches and eggs. 🀒

Madison is continuing her piano lessons and catechism classes as well as homeschool PE. 

We decided to spend a day at the zoo and Madison loves to take her treasures into the Nature Trading Center. She is collecting points and saving them up for something that has a high value. Madison also brought some additional items to get help identifying them. She loves to talk to the experts! 


Here she is feeding the giraffe. 


And she enjoyed hanging out with the birds.

It was Engineer Week and the American Society of Civil Engineers had a booth at the Perot Museum. They had a contest to see who could build the tallest building that could stand on its own by only using 2 sheets of paper, 10 inches of tape and 5 paper clips. 

This was an excellent challenge for Madison because she didn’t realize how hard it would be and it took her out of her comfort zone. She was very focused and was irritated when I tried talking to her while she was building it because she didn’t want me to give her any hints. She wanted to figure it out herself and it wasn’t coming easily for her. This ended up being a great thing, because she was happy to build it tall enough to get her name on the board and then when we got home she decided she needed to learn more so that she could understand structures and engineering better. It lit a fire. πŸ™‚ I have a knex bridge education set I’ll pull out and I’ve been researching more STEM ideas on Pinterest. 


Bless the Engineers who were working the booth that day. When Madison is determined and focused she can be quite a bear. That’s a work in progress. She wanted to go back and try again before we left, but I figured we had enough for one day. 

I think it will be easier for her to grasp the concept once she has high school physics and higher math. But it is so awesome to have activities like this to drive her to want to learn more and we’ll practice with other ideas in the meantime. 

It was also neat to hear from friends on Facebook who went on Monday and Friday and shared the different heights that were in the lead and to see pictures of their kids building their structures. 

We ended the month with an art class at the DMA. The theme this month was ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and the class learned about real and mythical creatures in a special exhibition called Art and Nature in the Middle Ages. Madison really enjoyed this class and learned a lot. 


Then they went to the studio and created their own mythical creature and wrote with calligraphy pens.


Madison also decided it was time to cut her hair. She is now 7 inches lighter. Thank goodness! It will be so much easier to maintain now.



Madison finished up Secret of the Andes and Incas, Aztecs and Mayans this month with a final project that consisted of writing a 5 paragraph narrative essay. We are trucking along through the rest and I am in the process of exploring more tools to help her socially and with her education. More to come on that next month. πŸ™‚ 

January 2017 Gifted Homeschooling Update

img_5797This post contains affiliate links. Please see my complete disclosure for more details.

It snowed in Texas!!! Not a lot, but enough! πŸ™‚

It’s funny, I wonder why I am always tired and have bags under my eyes and then I write a monthly update post and see what we’ve done in a month and then I remember why. At the same time I know it’s not forever and will last Madison a lifetime and that is what makes it all worth it.
This month Madison went to the Perot Museum quite a bit. She learned about Ornithology in her Junior Master Naturalist class and went on a field trip to the John Bunker Sands Wetlands.

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The Perot had a special event called Journey to Mars that was presented by Lockheed Martin. They had a school bus set up and the windows inside were screens that showed a simulation as though you were driving on Mars. Madison enjoyed building her own stomp rocket and launched it and made her own badge.

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Madison’s favorite part of this event was talking to Dr Z. She went to speak to him on three different occasions while she was there. He amazed her and she loved hearing everything he had to say. They had some great conversations.

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The Perot also hosted a homeschool day early in the month. The focus was on Nano meters. Madison had never heard of nano meters before so she learned quite a bit. She even got to see nano gold and learn how it is being studied in the medical field.

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Unfortunately, we have had a bad season of allergies this month. Madison had a lot of sinus headaches and lost her voice. I started her on Zertec and she improved immensely. While she wasn’t feeling well she watched the series American Genius on Netflix. She really enjoyed this series.

Madison has continued Thinkwell 7th grade Math and we are on track to start Algebra I in early February. She also plays Prodigy for fun which allows her to practice and solidify basic skills at the same time she advances in higher math.

We are currently working on The Secret of the Andes unit from Moving Beyond the Page. In this unit in conjunction with the language arts unit, we are also working on the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans unit from Moving Beyond the Page. We dug deeper into this unit by reading the Mountains Discover Kids magazine and coordinating lesson plans as well as reading the Peru book from Top Secret.

In Secret of the Andes, we covered present, past and future verbs, verbals, a gerund, an infinitive, a participle, a verbal phrase, and how to write sentences with different beginnings. We will wrap up this unit with her writing a narrative essay in the beginning of February.

In Incas, Aztecs, and Mayans, Madison learned Mayan and Aztec History and Geography, Daily Life of the Maya’s and Aztecs, Mesoamerocan Warefare, Mesoamerican Knowledge, Mesoamerican Religion mans Celebration, History and Government of the Ican Impire, Daily Life of the Incas, The Art and Beliefs of the Incas, Incan Knowledge and Warefare, and Legacies of the Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas. The Perot has a traveling exhibit coming in February on the Mayans that we look forward to seeing. Madison read about Peru in Geography of the World and then colored Peru in on her wall map of the world.

The Thinkwell AP American Government course Madison is taking has been going very well without any issues. She has covered The Foundations of Government, Political Culture, and The History of the Constitution. Each of these have 4 – 5 subsections. She answers questions after each subsection. She will take a practice test and test after each chapter. Hopefully she does just as well on those.

With the recent Presidential inauguration, we took the opportunity to learn about the history of inauguration, the current cabinet positions and nominations as well as our President’s 100 day plan. We are tracking the 100 plan as well. Before the inauguration Madison also listened to the book Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought) (Lives of . . .).

For science Madison completed the Astronomy Unit study from Intellego and read and did lesson plans from the Discover Kids Space magazine. She also received her first Tinker Crate which was about polymers. It was a hit. She loved making mars mud, bouncy balls, slime and putty all by herself and reading and reviewing polymers at the same time.

As far as Art and Music go, Madison is continuing her piano lessons and loving them. She read the booklet and listened to the Maestro Classics ‘Carnival of the Animals.’

Madison completed a couple of projects from the DVD from Home Art Studio. We are still on third grade. She loves these art projects. The video shows her what to do and all I have to do is buy the supplies.

She also started a kit to learn how to draw and paint with water color pencils.General Pencil Learn to Draw and Paint with Watercolor Pencils

We attended the DMA homeschool class where Madison learned about patterns and wax resist. We enjoyed hanging out with friends and we also met some new friends!



Madison is continuing Rosetta Stone Homeschool Spanish (Latin America) Level 1-5 Set including Audio Companion, Visual Latin, and Wordly Wise 3000 Level 6 online. She reads her Daily Devotions and attends her weekly Religious Formation class. Madison also attends Homeschool PE weekly as well as American Heritage Girls. This month they had an awards ceremony and she received her badges in Photography, Living in the U.S.A., Fishing, Geology, and Aviation.

She loves playing chess kids and chess with others whenever she can. We attended a chess strategy session at the Library featuring Alexey Root and then Madison had a blast playing chess with her friend.

We love board games and I love the classics, but Madison has recently learned how to play Ticket To Ride, SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception,and Castle Panic. Next on her list of games to learn is Catan 5th Edition. Check out the Gameschooling Challenge from My Little Poppies. It is so much fun to see all the games people are playing, what is out there and which are the most fun.

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January also included fishing and a Top Golf outing for Madison and Jeff.

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So, I’ve decided from my last post that we cannot do it all, but now We’ve decided to try. Ha. Ha. We don’t have a path or a plan. We’re on a week by week basis now. πŸ™‚

December 2016 Homeschooling Update

December was filled with family, friends, blessings, and fun.

We started off the month with Madison’s Speech and Debate Tournament.

It was a 13 hour day and in the end, she placed 3rd in Junior Open Interpretation, 5th in Junior Informative and 6th in Sweepstakes. We were very proud of all the work she put into this. The best part was the knowledge she gained from learning how to write. She formulated a thesis statement, 3 main points, an introduction, and conclusion. She also learned how to cut a chapter book so it tells the story in 8 minutes. She learned so much from this experience.

Here are the videos of her speeches:

We decided it would be a good idea to take a break for the Spring semester so we can get more school in and to enroll again next Fall.

Madison participated in the Annual Great Hope Floats rain gutter regatta race with her American Heritage Girls troops and the Trial Life Troops. By a stroke of luck, her snowball making boat won first place.

Madison’s happy place is Color Me Mine and she enjoyed painting gifts for family and friends throughout the month.


We attended a Christmas party with our local co-op and Madison performed a piano piece for the recital. We also decorated gingerbread houses with friends, had an ornament exchange, and went on a horse drawn sleigh ride around town to enjoy the Christmas lights.

Madison really enjoyed the Dallas Art Museum Homeschool class this month.


They discussed the art while learning about the difference between fact and opinion. The art was very engaging.

Madison attended a very fun camp through NuMinds called Santa Runs on S.T.E.A.M. The camp was very engaging and creative. It was perfect for gifted children. The creative and fun way they were learning really engages gifted learners and brings out their desire to take their learning to the next level and encourages their critical and logical thinking without them even realizing it because they are having so much fun.

If only the public and private schools would embrace this curriculum and way of learning in their gifted programs…

I would encourage everyone to ‘like’ their Facebook page. They are doing some wonderful things for gifted learners.

Madison enjoyed decorating a STAR tree again this year. A STAR tree is a sad tree along the road. πŸ™‚ It’s a little thing we do in our town to spread the Christmas cheer.

My oldest daughter, Alyssa came home from Austin for Christmas and my parents came to visit too.

Jeff turned 50 this year! What a milestone to celebrate!

Madison enjoyed playing chess with my father.

She received Greek Mythology chess pieces from my parents for Christmas this year. She loves them!

Jeff, my dad, Alyssa, and Madison enjoyed spending quality time at Top Golf.


We visited Alyssa in Austin after Christmas and went to the Bullock Museum and the Texas State Capitol.

We also went to a pizza place called Rebel. Madison was excited to get dye free cotton candy.

We managed to squeeze in a visit to the Sistine Chapel Exhbition.

As far as curriculum goes, Madison did school up until the 20th of December minus the days we had activities. She did Daily Devotions, Jesus Our Guide, Wordly Wise book 6, Texas Citizenship, Space, Thinkwell Math 7, finished the History of Us and read the books on the December 2016 book list.

Now that Speech and Debate and the holidays are over, I have a plan that covers more for the new year. We will continue doing what we were doing in December, but will also add more writing and grammar as well as an easy Geography unit and coding and Microsoft Office. I will write a more detailed plan for January in the next post.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!  Here’s to rocking 2017! Cheers!

Sistine Chapel ExhibitionΒ 


We are fortunate that the Sistine Chapel Exhibition is currently in Dallas through January 8th, so we decided to visit it today. I was able to secure a Groupon so it made it a little more budget friendly.

It was a very intriguing exhibit to say the least. Each painting is a replica of the original size.

You can purchase an audio companion for  an additional $2. I definitely think it’s worth it. The audio takes about an hour and half to listen to. They do have signs that briefly describe each painting as well, but not as in depth as the audio does.
The display starts out with painting above you so there’s a lot of looking up while listening.



The signs show you where each picture is placed on the ceiling. They are all numbered, but aren’t all in order so there is some searching required to find the next one.


The paintings are amazing and this is the next best thing to seeing the originals.

I totally would have brought a Clorox wipe for the audio companion if I had known it was going to be so close to her face for hours. πŸ™‚ But that’s me…

 

They have a video that explains everything Michelangelo had to do to paint these and it’s kind of hidden to the right, but is a must to see and preferably before viewing the paintings.


I think this exhibition was amazing and I’m glad we went. It’s not the same viewing pictures of the paintings from a book or on the computer. And the wealth of knowledge Madison gained was worth the price of the admission. It is during the Renaissance period, so there is a lack of clothing (none) on people in the majority of the paintings. I thought I had better mention that so there are no surprises. πŸ™‚ I had to watch how I phrased that so I wouldn’t come up in searches that I didn’t want to come up in. πŸ™‚

It is in Dallas until January 8th and it’s a gem!