Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Week, Briefly (#34)

Monday was a dreadful start to our week--complete with temper tantrums by the children (both younger and older!) and a lack of self control on my part.  The better part of the morning was spent dealing with Little Brother's behaviors and dealing with my own inadequacies, faults, and character flaws.

However, I eventually took Little Brother into my lap in the blue rocking chair and just held him until he, at least, felt better.

For my part, I am praying hard and putting together an anger-management-for-mom study program.  I've already got this book, and I've ordered this one.  I also have the scriptures.  I've been working on this life skill for well over a decade now.  It seems it is a much harder skill to learn than canning pickles or teaching a child to read.

We did get through school with an hour to spare before dinner, so I left the older girls in charge of slicing bread, warming up soup, and watching the babies while I took the 6 middle-littles to the park to play in the pouring rain.

Once the kids were good and wet, the slides were like water slides--sending Little Brother airborne off the end every time!  It was hilarious!  Ladybug explored an 8 inch deep puddle; we got slightly acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Mallard who were resting in the park stream; and the kids played Polar Bears and Penguins all over the playground.

I guess we'll have to have a geography lesson about the North and South Poles, but for now the game was terribly fun.

We came home wet to the skin in spite of our many layers protecting us against the unseasonable cold, and we ate freshly popped popcorn, warm soup, and buttered french bread in our jammies.

The day that did not start lovingly at least ended lovingly.

Sometime during the day, we had some academic lessons--here is Nature Angel exploring the concept of hemispheres and seasons of the earth.

Little Princess has been on a Beatrix Potter kick.
 We finally got to the library on Tuesday afternoon (it was closed last Tuesday), but we'd lost many of our books that were on hold.  It was a disappointment.  The books we did get are a joy, and everyone from little to big spent quite a bit of time reading a little bit of everything from science to science fiction.

Grocery shopping, therapy appointments, and caring for grumpy babies dominated the rest of that day.  We did have our Morning Meeting, and 3 of the big girls completed some math, but that was it for school until bedtime when Ladybug and Mister Man each got a turn to read for me.

Oh!  I forgot!  Actually Ladybug and Mister Man had a reading session in the afternoon, too.  They pulled out A Fly Went By and Ladybug tried to read it while Mister Man sat next to her and helped her.  I was enchanted to watch their interaction.  My favorite moment was when Ladybug reached the word "with" for the second time, and got stuck.  Mister Man sweetly pointed out, "It's the same as that word right there," as he pointed to the first word "with" he'd already helped her read on the page.

I hope I never forget their cute cooperation.

The littles discovered and observed a ladybug.  I give our Ladybug, Brother, and Little Brother a lot of credit for not stomping on it--they wanted to, badly.  It is clear that they were taught, in their life before joining our family, that all insects are pests.  Notice how Brother is hanging back--he's quite nervous around animals and insects, but he, and the others, are learning that nature observations are very interesting.
In the evening Dad took the 4 oldest off to the temple along with other youth from our ward to do temple baptisms.  One of the ward members provided many of her own family names, and one of the names was exactly Rose Red's real name.  She made sure that Rose Red got to stand in for that particular ancestor.

Sir Walter Scott said it caused more than one person to look up in surprise.

Wednesday and Thursday were two of a kind--kind of long, dragging days with behavior challenges with Ladybug, Brother, and Little Brother, but also good days filled with acts of kindness by various family members . . . especially Pixie, who has been my right-hand-"man" almost constantly.

(I'd like very much to give her a break and a reward.) 

We maintained our routines of Morning Meeting, double math, outdoor play, storytime for preschoolers, and evening reading.

The babies keep us on our toes.
 We were also flexible about school because I brought home from the library a book about sewing monsters.  Coupled with the fabric that a church member gave to us, Nature Angel and Little Princess have been in heaven.  Between the reading, the measuring, the cutting, the sewing, the following of directions, the designing, and the focus, I couldn't ask for a better educational experience for them.  They've made a dozen monsters so far--for themselves, for their siblings, and for their friends.  Belle even spent much of Thursday afternoon with Ladybug on her lap, helping Ladybug sew a monster of her own . . . such a therapeutic activity!

Pixie continues to develop as our resident Occupational Therapist.  She researches ideas with me and then implements them.  We spent some time together on Thursday figuring out just what was reasonable and what was not reasonable for a 4-year-old to be able to do by giving various OT tasks to the other littles in our home and recording our findings.

One day for preschool we made rainbows.
I learned a lot about how Brother's brain works, and I will strive to help him overcome his academic weaknesses by teaching to his strengths.

Oh!  And we filled out our homeschool yearbook questionnaires.  It took quite a while to get 10 questionnaires filled out and submitted, but some of the answers were hilarious--quite worthy of appearing in the yearbook.  Pixie spent time looking up pictures that can serve as portraits, and I now have 8 days left to upload photos and design our personal pages.

Guess I'll be rather busy for a while.

Friday and Saturday were the homeschool campout!!!!!

The majority of the day Friday was spent cleaning and packing.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Have you ever taken 14 people camping?

It's not something I'll be in a hurry to do again any time soon.

But I'm glad we went because I learned that we can successfully take the new children away from their home routines . . . at least for overnight.

We climbed trees, kayaked, swam in the lake, dug in the sand, sculpted with kid-harvested clay, followed bugs, explored hiking trails, made new friends, and listened to night sounds.

I didn't take a single picture because my hands were busy every single minute.  But some friends did:

They found a frog!
I hope to receive a few more photos in the coming weeks.

Until then, Belle is doing triple and quadruple math every day, and estimates that our school year will officially end on Tuesday of next week.  As a result I've been working on a summer routine that will allow our littles to feel safely ensconced in familiarity, but allow us the freedom to breathe and explore and enjoy a summer that feels like summer.

(Linking here)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Week, Briefly (#33)

I'm ready for school to be over.

Which is funny because that means very little in this home of ours where firm routines are necessary to happy functioning and where we'll just keep on doing what we're doing now even though we'll call it summer time.

I'm working on a summer schedule . . . and I'm dreaming of a vacation.

I guess that's what I really want. :)

But I these two (Sir Walter Scott and Pixie) . . . 

gave me a morning off in the kitchen on Mother's Day.  :)
We had a solid school day on Monday--lots of math, reading, grammar, writing, geography, singing, OT, etc.

Our Morning Meeting looks much the same as it did last week.  I do think I forgot to mention that we're learning to sing "All God's Creatures Got a Place in the Choir."  We printed lyrics and sing along with this video.

Too fun!!!

Rose Red hit her waterloo in Calculus Without Tears.  Even though we decided that her math goals will be practical skills, we were continuing in CWT because she was learning to work with decimals, developing graphing skills, and coping with formulas--all in a manner that was working for her.  But we hit a section that caused me to have to think twice, and because I was not confident, she panicked.

"If you can't even do it, how am I supposed to do it?" she cried.

"I need to study it for a few minutes to make sure I can explain it to you clearly," I answered.

"No!  No!  I can't do this anymore!  You're not explaining it so that I can understand, and you're lost, and I'm lost, and I need to do another kind of math!" she exploded.

So we put it away and pulled out Math-U-See Zeta for some review of concepts she'd forgotten since January.

Mister Man, Brother and Little Brother each got a turn on my lap to narrate their memories of going to the temple as a family back in March.  I used the professional pictures we'd had taken that day to jog their memories (I should have done this right away, but I didn't.)

I still need to sit with Ladybug and do the same.

We tried to go to the library on Tuesday, but it was closed for a staff development meeting.  So we filled the book drop with the books we were returning and ran errands instead.  Now Baymax and Little Brother have the requisite black pants to wear in the dance shows this week.

We did have Morning Meeting, and Rose Red did a full day's worth of school assignments.  Belle faithfully did math lessons with Mister Man and Ladybug, and then she did her own double math assignment.  Super Star and Pixie got their double math done, too.

Sir Walter Scott and I got Brother and Ladybug to their various therapy meetings while Pixie and Super Star got out the hose and the sunscreen and babysat the rest of the littles outside in the sunshine.

(All photos are by Pixie.)

Mister Man insisted on applying his own sunscreen, and he has a whopping sunburn.

("He's 4 years old.  He cannot put on his own sunscreen yet," I said when I saw his raw shoulders.  Pixie was very, very apologetic.)

Sir Walter Scott installed 2 ceiling fans and wired another room for a central light/fan by dinnertime.  Then he helped me get the littles ready for bed and took the 6 oldest off to the church for activities.

I drove the seminary carpool Wednesday morning in the crazy thunderstorms that kept us company all morning.  Since I couldn't safely go running, I spent my wait time ordering library books for the summer and planning reading lists for Rose Red's and Pixie's next school year.  They won't get through half of what I have, but they certainly have options!

I came home to peace and order because of Pixie's and Belle's hard work.  They even had the little boys dressed and the dishwasher loaded!  I scarfed down some cereal before calling everyone to Morning Meeting.

And our school day began--mostly a regular day for everyone, but the littles and I ran to the grocery store to but a rainbow for lunch.
Oops!  Forgot to show the beets we had that were purple!
 In the afternoon we all spent quite a bit of time organizing costumes for Thursday's double nursing home performances.  I discovered that Ladybug didn't have a base costume (white collared shirt, black slacks) because she didn't join the group until January of this year.  I freaked out a little tiny bit.  However, I found that by raiding my stash of extra clothes, I could move Mister Man up a size, give his slacks to her, and she could wear his white polo shirt out of which I'd just successfully removed the red sidewalk chalk stains from earlier this week.

During evening reading Rose Red doubled over in abdominal pain all of a sudden.  I checked her out and decided she was being melodramatic.

Thursday was show day!!

We got everyone dressed, groomed and out the door by 8:15--right on time.  We also had the coolers packed and every single costume piece checked off the list.

The little boys--corralled (for the moment) and waiting for their turn to go on stage.

Pre-tantrum and quite cute.

Singing together to warm up their voices.

Whiling away the time by watching what happens to paper in front of a fan.
We took a large group photo for our director who is retiring after 10 years of volunteer service.  I loved catching these two--over 10 years apart in age--communing with one another.
Our finale this year was "God Bless the USA."  Here are the littles lined up and ready to join the big kids on "stage."
 Show 1 was fun--other than the fact that Ladybug utterly melted down into a tantrum 2 minutes before she was supposed to go on stage.  We had to line up the littles without her, but at the last second Dad was able to bring her to join us.  A quick swipe at the tears on her face had to suffice because it was show time!

All of the littles were darling--lots of happy sighs, giggles, and smiles from the nursing home residents.

The older kids did such a good job!

We paused for a picnic lunch with some of our dance friends and then we were off to show 2.

By this time Brother and Little Brother were melting down.  I pulled them (and the rest of the littles) out of the dressing room to stand at the back of the performance room to watch the other dancers.  This was a big help, and when their turn to dance came, they were all smiles.

However, Rose Red was getting quite pale and nauseous.  She said the abdominal pain of the night before was back and that she felt terrible.

Uh oh.

She carried on for the duration of the show, but Dad took her directly to urgent care (who sent her to the ER) as soon as the show was over.

I headed home with the other 11 kids to make scrambled eggs for supper and get them to bed EARLY.

Ladybug couldn't handle the stressful day and tried to take her seatbelt off while we were driving home.  By the time we were home, she'd torn her tights up and had that look in her eye that told me we were in for it.

However, the simple supper and familiarity of home helped settle her down.  Pixie, Super Star, and Belle were extra helpful, and we got all of the littles tucked in by 6:00 pm.  We had a quiet evening hanging out on the back deck and reading together and waiting for updates on Rose Red's condition.

Lots of tests were run.

All of them negative.

She's a perfectly healthy (if melodramatic) teen.

The best the docs could suggest was a muscle strain.

Most of us woke up Friday morning wanting a day off to rest and relax, but our littles can't handle non-routine days, so we stuck to the routine.  We had lots of odd and difficult behaviors from our fragile ones, but in the end the routines provided comfort, and the day was good enough.

We did all of our school except Ladybug's reading lesson because she flatly refused.

No problem; I'm in no hurry to push her through school.

Preschool consisted of chalking the little boys' initials on the sidewalk and jumping from letter to letter to learn the letter names and sounds.

Nature Angel practiced the art skill of finding and developing a focal point for her pictures.

Little Princess and I snuggled into the overstuffed armchair for some quality time with Beatrix Potter.

Brother, Little Brother, and Ladybug joined me on the porch swing with a stack of read alouds.

Pixie gave Nature Angel and Little Princess each a violin lesson.

Brother did OT with Pixie, too.

Belle is learning how to adjust math lessons to Ladybug's and Mister Man's individual needs.

The older girls did their double math lessons, and Rose Red completed a full school day list of assignments before leaving for work.

I took the 8 youngest to the zoo park in the afternoon--Pixie decided to come along to help me.  Thank you, Pixie!!!!!

We tucked everyone into bed fairly early again in preparation for our final dance performance of the school year on Saturday afternoon.

All of the littles woke up with plenty of energy on Saturday morning, but it was Dad and the oldest 4 who headed out the door by 7:30 am to represent our family at our turn to help clean the church.

I stayed home to feed the littles and organize costumes.

We got an hour or so of housework done, an hour or so of yard work (Sir Walter Scott did more like 4 hours outside) and then we got ready to go.

The show was a delight all the way around.  I'm hoping to get some photos to share eventually.  Our dance year is over . . . we own our Thursdays again.  It will be both lovely and lonely.

(linking here)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Week, Briefly (#32)

The first day of school in a new month mean we changed our opening song and scripture for Morning Meeting; now we're memorizing Joseph Smith--History 1:17 and Praise to the Man.  We're still studying Mosiah; we worked our way through chapters 24-part of 26 this week.

This was our first day of doing double math lessons.  No one loves it, but no one is dying from it either.  The end of our school year is in sight!

On the flip side we started a math book for Mister Man and Ladybug.  Belle is math teacher to them both.  In a complete reversal from my usual approach to math, I felt prompted to start them both in a Kindergarten math program, and I felt particularly guided to Horizons.  I showed Belle the teacher's guide at our homeschool convention a couple of weeks ago, and she fell in love with the idea of becoming a math teacher.  So, just as the older girls are ending math, 2 of the littles are starting.

And they LOVE it.

Belle is a patient, wonderful teacher.  She works with each child one-on-one.  I couldn't ask for more.

Pixie continues to do OT with Brother.  This week she helped him use scissors, practice tracing his name (I printed his name in light gray in really large font, and Pixie helps him hold triangular crayons that are teaching him a correct pencil grip.  He's learning his name and developing fine motor skill--a terrific two-fer!), and we found this great site that is teaching us all a lot about OT for littles.  The exercises are very hard, but Pixie is sweet and patient, and Brother is a willing pupil.

We learned that a friend from church was looking to hire some yard help, so Super Star mowed her ginormous lawn.  She ended up not getting paid for it!!!  However, we decided that her service earned her enough credit for us to pay for her admission to the homeschool formal dance this Saturday night.  Rose Red and Pixie will also attend the dance, paying their own way.

In addition we also accomplished on Monday:
*Working on two more color pages in our color books for preschool
*Reading lessons for Ladybug and Mister Man
*Geography, spelling, writing for Nature Angel
*Grammar and creative writing for Little Princess
*I printed 3 Hands of a Child activity packs--one each for Belle (Veterinary Science), Nature Angel (Butterflies), and Little Princess (Nocturnal Animals).

In harder news, Ladybug is still recovering from last week's visit, and she had two horrible tantrums and a peeing-on-herself incident.  Lola got sick and threw up all over me more than once because she was so full of mucus.  Little Brother had a passel of violent tantrums.

Evening reading was short that night, but we're now reading The Indian in the Cupboard, so it was fun!  The older kids keep saying, "I forgot how funny/good this book is!"

In Morning Meeting we realized we had Isaiah 5:20 memorized, so we exchanged working on that one for Psalms 24:3-4.

We continued double math assignments for the older girls, OT for  Brother, math for Mister Man and Ladybug, individual school lessons for Nature Angel, Little Princess, Ladybug and Mister Man.

Rose Red finished her vocabulary book!!

The preschoolers finished their color books.

We got Ladybug and Brother to their therapy appointments and I attended the follow up meeting for Little Brother at the ACEs clinic.  He's a lot like Brother; however, he has some extra needs such as AFOs for his ankles because he walks on his toes, and the speech therapist wants a follow up visit in 6 months to assess his vocal cords because he has a raspy voice.

My new phone arrived (I lost my other one!), and I had to spend time learning how to use it.

In the evening, the 4 oldest girls headed off to the church for an etiquette dinner.

I've noticed that ideas are starting to come together for next year's school plan.

With both babies sick--Lola really in the thick of it, and Baymax recovering--the day was long and hard.  School took the whole day to complete, and it wasn't a whole lot of fun.

I put out colored rice and letter rocks in dishpans for a sensory/literacy activity for the preschoolers, but it was a bust in the end as they started throwing rice around the room.

They were looking for rocks with the letters of their names and then matching the letters to a name sheet I made for each of them.  It was good while it lasted.

The weather got truly lovely, though, and Pixie watched the kids outside while I made dinner inside.  It was good for us all.

After morning meeting we gathered to work on our family number, Sisters, for the upcoming dance performances.  We've adapted the number to include all 12 children, and it is pretty cute!

(They sing, " . . . Eight different faces . . ." and the 4 little boys run on at the end and jump into the girls' arms at the end.)

We squeezed in a bit of school for some of the littles, a single math lesson for the older girls, and OT for Brother before heading out the door for a 3 hr dance practice.

In the evening Mister Man and Ladybug each had a reading lesson before bed.

And Lola showed us that she's almost ready to go on stage:


This was a way better day than Wednesday was.  Lola and Baymax were feeling better, and we got all of our school done before lunch.  And that was with adding our "Sisters" rehearsal to our day.

I forgave the preschoolers for their unpleasant behavior on Wednesday, and I pulled out the supplies for making a cloud in a jar for preschool.

In the afternoon I took Pixie shopping for some fabric to turn her strapless dress into something modest and appropriate to wear, and we knocked off some grocery shopping as well.  We closed the week with pizza for dinner and seeing Rose Red off to the church prom with her date.

We ran another 5K--this one put on by our church to benefit local food banks.  It was hard work pushing the strollers along the hilly course, but we did it!

That afternoon the 3 oldest girls got ready for the homeschool formal.  (Poor Belle was 6 months too young to attend--she was stuck helping me at home.  I must do something nice for her!)

Pixie gave herself an awesome manicure:

I heard she gave manicures to her sisters as well.

In the end Rose Red, Pixie and Super Star were gorgeous!

I've begun to dream of a Saturday at home without a thousand commitments so that we can do chores. :)

(Linking here. )

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Week, Briefly (#31)

It has been a wretched week.

Too wretched to describe.

So I won't.

But I will say that Ladybug, Brother, Little Brother, and Lola visited their birth family this week.  I believe that having a relationship with the birth family should be a blessing, but our littles are too broken and too fragile for it right now.  We'll send updates to the birth family, and we'll try to keep lines of communication open, but we cannot have real contact until they are better healed from the years of trauma they've experienced.

Here's what we did for school:

Morning Meeting--same as last week.
Preschool--almost nothing.  We spent the days dealing with trauma.  We did, though play with rainbow rice on Friday afternoon.
The 4 preschoolers each got a rainbow array of rice in jars, some spoons, some scoops, and a big bowl.  They happily scooped and mixed colors for a full hour.
These two (and Little Princess) layered the colored rice into pretty bottles to make rice art, but then they got the idea to count how many grains of rice would fill a bottle.  They faithfully counted and recorded their findings for a couple of hours, but they only filled the jar 1/4" by the time they reached 1,000 grains. They did some estimating and got overwhelmed by how much counting there was to go, so they put it all away for later.

And we read stories.

And we played outside with bikes and sidewalk chalk.  These are some of the portraits Super Star made for our littles:

I'm pretty sure this is Little Princess.
LDS Family School--we finished our last music lessons, and that means we've also finished our year.

Math--Super Star and Belle are successfully sharing a math book.  Rose Red continues plugging through Calculus Without Tears volume 2--though it does make her want to cry.  Pixie is 3/4 way through Saxon Algebra 1/2.

We've decided to do double math lessons starting next week until Belle has finished her book.  She should do that before the end of May, and that will be the official end of our school year.  Rose Red and Super Star will simply stop where they are at that point.  Pixie, though, will keep plugging away until she's done--which might be only an extra week of work.

Learning to Read--
Mister Man finished Sonlight reader 1 and started reader 2.
Ladybug is sounding out 3 letter words, developing fluency with sight words, and spelling 3 letter words.  She's a good speller.

Baymax has been sick for days, which means the 6 youngest and I did not attend dance.  The older 6 did, though--3 hours worth of dancing and singing!!!  Only one rehearsal left until our spring shows.

Running--we're regularly running over 1.5 miles--sometimes closer to 2.  Adding in our walking warm up and cool down, and we're crossing the 2 mile mark daily.

Saturday morning was Uncle M--'s 5K cancer fundraiser that was organized by his principal (Uncle M-- is a 6th grade teacher).  The volunteers were all teachers at his school.  It was raining on the morning of the race, and that kept a lot of the would-be participants at home, but we and over 100 others showed up.  We got awesome Dr. Seuss-inspired t-shirts with an image of Sam-I-Am that read "I do not like cancer here or there.  I do not like cancer anywhere!"

My family showed up with a baby backpack and 4 strollers:
*Sir Walter Scott wore Baymax on his back and pushed Brother and Little Brother in the double stroller.   With that load, he walked 1/2 of the route, getting under cover just before the worst of the rain!
*I pushed Lola and ran the route.  Lola was a trouper, tolerating rain blowing under the cover and into her face the whole time.  I'd pause periodically to wipe her face off, but she stoically endured.
*Rose Red pushed Ladybug and walked--except for a little while when Ladybug ran and Rose Red chased her so as not to lose her.
*Pixie pushed Mister Man in the jogging stroller--which is why she was able to push someone so close to her own size.  She ran most of the route but kindly stopped to let Mister Man out to run for a little while and also to let one of our little cousins take a turn to push the stroller.
*Super Star and Belle ran the route free and clear and scored times of less than 30 minutes.
*Nature Angel and Little Princess ran, walked, and ran again, completing the whole route in about 45 minutes.

Uncle  M-- is currently cancer-free, but epithelioid sarcoma is agressive about coming back, so this is only a preparatory rest before the next battle.

Reading--we finished The Witches.  We're not sure what we're going to read next, but the kids vote for another light, fun read.  We're continuing to slowly work our way through Augustus Caesar's World.

Planning for the future:
Rose Red and I had a heart to heart about what she can truly accomplish in the next 2 years.  2 years ago, she asked me to create a rigorous high school plan designed to get her to her dream university at age 18.  I did so, but it was a plan that could not and did not work for our girl.  She's matured enough to see the flaws in the previous plan and be ready to discuss other options.

I do, however, think she considers the other options second best, and that makes me sad because she still doesn't see her wonderful strengths--only her personal flaws. 

Our discussion got us to this plan:
*Continue to read and study a variety of subjects in order to broaden her knowledge base and develop critical thinking skills.
*Accept her difficulties in math as a part of who she is, letting go of lofty goals of higher level mathematics and focus on developing practical math skills that will enable her to function as an independent adult.
*Continue to develop communication skills (effective writing) that will open doors to study and work and problem solving for the rest of her life.
*Plan and prepare for becoming a wife and mother, but also plan and prepare to be able to support herself or her family should life circumstances be less than ideal.  This means figuring out what work might be a joy to her to pursue and the course of study she'll need to complete to be qualified to do that work.
*Work toward high school graduation (12 credits to go), followed by a season at a local community college.  We need to study the offerings of the local CC campuses and perhaps have her take a class or two not-this-year-but-next in some subject areas she might enjoy studying.
*She will not take the SAT or ACT which will highlight her academic weaknesses rather than her strengths.   We recognize that many scholarships require SAT/ACT scores, but we will focus on trying to acquire those that do not.
*Get serious about studying a foreign language because one of her real dreams is to be able to study abroad as a young adult.

I feel like I, as her mother, can finally breathe again now that she's let go of the go-straight-to-a-4-year-school plan.  She's a delightful person with many talents, but rigorous academic study isn't one of them, and I was having to ride her so hard while she fought back even harder.  She's felt like a failure, and I've felt like a failure, and I'm grateful, grateful, grateful to get out of that ugly cycle.  I love my eldest daughter, and I hope the next 2 years will be joyful.

Pixie will begin high school this fall, so we've had a couple of heart-to-heart talks, too.  Her plan is more tentative than Rose Red's because she has more time ahead of her, but she's also more goal-driven.  Her plans are:
*Prepare to be a wife and mother, and should circumstances prove less than ideal, she'd like to be able to support herself as a free-lance photographer.  Even under ideal circumstances, she'd like to have a part-time photography business just because taking pictures brings her joy.
*Work toward high school graduation with the goal of simultaneously earning a cosmetology license.  She's got quite a knack for doing hair, make-up, and nails, and she could work her way through college by working in a salon.
(And the two skills can really complement one another.)
*After graduating from high school, attend a 2-year college with a focus on business/accounting so that she will be prepared to run a photography business (she's interviewed a professional photographer, and he says his work is 10% picture taking, 90% business).
*Keep her options open about pursuing a higher-level degree someday.
*Develop her photography skills with independent classes, community classes, and mentoring with local professional photographers.
*Enter as many photography contests as she can.
*In a couple of years seek work/apprenticeship as a photographer's assistant.

She's only 14, so her dreams could change, but they feel bright and happy, and they play to her strengths, so I feel they are entirely achievable for her.

We welcome the month of May with open arms--the closing down of one season and the opening up of a new one!

(Linking here)