Friday, January 30, 2015

Meme Friday


This is soooo our house.  Caty never wants to wear clothes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

American Girl Grace - Book 1 Reading Comprehension Guide

I am very excited to have just finished the reading comprehension guide for the first American Girl Grace book.  This new Girl of the Year is a favorite in our house right now.  She loves to bake, she loves dogs and she gets to go to Paris.  Our girls love dogs and love to bake.  

This reading comprehension guide includes vocabulary and questions for each chapter.  I also included 1 or 2 extra project ideas.  At the end, I created a answer guide to help out parents if they are grading.  

Enjoy!!!!  You can download this freebie at the link below.

American Girl Grace - Book 1

**Please email me any corrections that you might see or information that I may have missed:

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 34 - A Dissection, Hotel Room and Packing up

We are in our 2nd week in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  We have been taking it easy this week since we had such a busy weekend.

On Saturday we went to the Fort Worth Zoo.  It was such a wonderful trip!!!  They have a nice zoo, but the best part was spending the day with our cousins that live near here.  We haven't seen them for a couple years.  It was a beautiful day.  It wasn't without its meltdowns, but we survived.

On Sunday we took a road trip to San Antonio.  It was a 5 hour drive for us, one way.  So we packed up the cooler and headed out.  I have always wanted to see the Alamo.  On Saturday night, we let Joey watch Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.  So of course he had to ask the Security staff (who by the way were all wearing cowboy hats and sunglasses), if there was a basement.  He snickered a bit and told Joey, "Son, we have one, but you can't visit there."  I grinned and said, "You can imagine what we let him watch yesterday."  He smiled and said, "Yeah we hear that a lot."  I love security guards that have a good sense of humor and don't mind humoring Joey with the off-the-wall questions he has a tendency to ask them.  

 In San Antonio we did the River Walk boat tour.  Our guide was very good about the history of the area.
 One more treat of the day....Rainforest Cafe.  We have never taken the kids.  They all had fun, even though it was loud.

 To keep Caty distracted this week, I found a sugar cookie Ice Castle kit.  She had fun licking frosting and putting it together.  But said she doesn't want to eat it.

We'll have two more field trips tomorrow, and stops along the way to Connecticut.  Tomorrow we are going to visit the Ross Perot Science Museum again and probably the 6th Floor Museum, depending on the weather.

In our school this week,

Lydia dissected a worm for science.  She learned more about earthworms.  And yes...we did this in a hotel

A homeschool friend started a group/Book Club where we share poetry with each other.  We also try to sit down once a week and have tea and poetry together as a family.  So we had our first Tea on Tuesday.  3 of our 4 kids do not like tea.  So they had milk or juice.  I got two poetry books at Barnes and Noble that had funny poems.  I figured these would keep the interest of the kids.

Here we are working on our mailing to our friends.

 Lydia wants to start collecting Breyer Horses...ugh.  This is the first one to her collection.  It has a chapter book too.
 It was warm here in Lewisburg, so we stopped and got ice cream and ate it January.  That's a new one for us :)
 And we gave the van a much needed bath.
Our plans were shook up a bit because Lydia became ill.  So we didn't get to explore on the day that we planned, which was also our last day in Dallas area.

But we did finish all our schoolwork. Brayden is nearing the ends of his presidents book.  Joey is reading about the time in American history after World War 1.  His history is covering the expansion of manufacturing in America.  Caty is chugging along in math and is using Looney Tunes Phonics again.  She found the states of New York, Minnesota and Kentucky this week.  I don't really have a system.  Just randomly selecting them.  Lydia took her 2nd chapter test in her math curriculum.  She does not like regrouping in the thousands....but who does?!?!

It was a crazy work week for me, and of course I am way behind.  Nothing unusual there.  So I am struggling to find a way to get it all done while we are traveling the next 2 days, especially with a sick child.  It's going to be interesting.  I have a feeling I will be praying a lot.

Hope everyone had a good week.  And next week, you'll see us in Connecticut.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Living on the Road with Special Needs - Part 1 In the Van

I am very grateful that my husband has a great job.  He needs to travel a lot though....and when I mean a lot....we are currently on a 7 week trip.  He enjoys us coming with him on trips.  He is not by himself in the evenings or mornings.  But it does present some challenges for me.

As most of our readers know, we are a family that has 4 children all with unique "special" needs.  We are dealing with autism, severe ADHD, mood disorders, OCD issues, food allergies, and I will just stop listing now.  Each child has various things they are learning to deal with.  Yeah...changing locations weekly can be a challenge.  Just as they get used to a hotel room, we switch again.

Fortunately we have discovered a great chain of hotels through Hilton.  The Homewood Suites has a great set up for our family.  Most of their "suites" are two-room with kitchenettes.  This comes in so handy, it's like moving in a new apartment each week.  Another chain that we use is Residence Inn.  Both are a nice option for our family, giving enough room for us to spread out and not be on top of each other.

Traveling with the kids though, means lugging school books, laptops, tablets, xbox video game systems, favorite snacks, favorite cups, favorite pillows....oh yeah, our van is never empty.  And we cannot forget medications.  The medications must get packed.  We also have a great support system in our family.  My sister-in-law and also my mom have been wonderful about mailing me medication refills for the kids when we are on the road.  Most of the important medications cannot be filled early because of laws.

But I keep their medication pill bottles separated into bags.  I also keep a list in the bag of the meds and who gets what when.  I remember, but what if something happens to me.  I use a 31 Utility tote with a zipper for this.  In the bag I also keep a couple spare bottles of water, a couple pouches of applesauce, allergy pills and ibuprofen in case someone has a severe headache.  I do not keep essential oils in this bag.  I keep those separated in another bag.  The ones we use most often, I carry in my purse.  I also keep alarms in my phone, so we don't forget.

So once I have all this packed, what happens then?  How do we stay on the road for this long?  I will use our trip to Dallas/Fort Worth as an example.  This was a huge driving distance for us....17 hours with stops.

Joe and I map out the trips to see where we are going.  I start watching the weather for a few weeks in advance to watch for trends, and to determine how to pack clothing.  This was really important this trip considering it was below zero wind chills at our house, but we were heading to a warmer area.  And then heading back to cold conditions.  We also do our best to pad the travel time.  We know the kids are going to need to get out and walk.  We are going to also.

I try to scout for activities that can get them out of the van between point A and Point B.  Example....When we went to New York, we stopped at Punxatawny Pennsylvania to see Phil.  That was a nice rest point for them.  This trip, we did not stop except at a few rest areas/truck stops.  The place we wanted to stop at was a little too cold for outside activity, at least for our kids.

But speaking of truck stops, we also have favorite chains to stop at.  We have seen the trend that they are cleaner and maybe offer extra options to customers like free internet.  These are the ones that we choose to stop at.  It depends on the section of the country we are in for which ones we are stopping at.  Then we can take a short break.  The kids might watch some Netflix or play a few games.  Joe has even helped troubleshoot friends computer troubles.

The ride to our location is usually full of listening to audiobooks (as a whole family through the van stereo) and also the radio or favorite cds.  The kids have Minecraft on their laptops, and they play on that for hours in the car.  We also have some strategy games we bought at Staples that we have loaded on their laptops.  This keeps them busy.  They are also loaded with Nintendo DS games and their tablets.  Lydia and Joey keep some books in their laptop bags.  Lydia also packs a journal just in case she wants to doodle/draw.

Caty has a bag that she packs and I also keep Look N Find books in the seat pockets for her.  I try to cycle them around so that the same ones are not in there every trip.  I also pick up new ones along the route and include them.  Another way that she cannot be "bored".  Here are some favorites right now:

Each child also has a blanket packed and the girls have pillows they carry.  They usually sit on their blankets and the pillows are packed next to them.

There are squabbles in the van along the way.  "SHE TOUCHED ME!!" or "Hey .... how did he get my game...that's my game."  "My battery is almost dead....I need plugged in!!!"

Speaking of plugged in...we travel with two of these in our van.  One for the back bench and one for the middle/front seat:

Joe and I work while traveling too.  I create classes and he keeps up on documents he needs to create.  We keep mobile hot spot on our cell contract for the two of us to use.  Some might consider us too connected, but tell me that to my face instead of hiding behind your own smart phone.  Both of us work in computer jobs that require internet.  Can't do our jobs without it.  The kids though, are not allowed to use our mobile hotspot while on the road.  We will occasionally allow the boys to use the search feature on our phones to look up a game code, but we limit that.

Traveling with all this technology is a pain, but WOW...does it help with some of their anxiety issues.  Joey can submerse himself in his Star Wars game or in Minecraft when he feels overwhelmed.  They have headphones, so they can play their games without bothering others.  This helps them with the mobile life a lot.

I also pack a favorite snack of each child, along with water.  We allow them soda in the van, so that helps a bit also.  Soda is not something we freely allow them to have.  So they are pretty happy when they get that 20 ounce bottle of "goodness".  But they also know that if they drink it all, then water is sitting there next.  Believe it or not, but soda does not seem to bother our kids and make them extra hyper.  I try to buy real sugar sodas and that also helps by avoiding corn syrup.

I do offer them frequent snacks when we travel.  Some may not agree with my thinking.  But it helps our kids.  They are not "bored" as often either.

After driving for so long though, we definitely need to stop and have a break.  On our super long trip to Texas,  I used the mobile site to scout out hotels when we decide where to stop.  We have to make sure they have internet so that the kids can veg a bit when we check in for the night with their tablets watching a favorite show.  Hotel cable is not the best when you are used to watching Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

Caty and Joey are the only ones who likes to play road games, but some favorites are:

(we only use the cards)

(again we only use the cards...leave the board at home)

We pull them out to play together, often shouting back and forth in the van as the debates get heated.  But it's still fun.

The drive is full of ups and downs.  But we survive and we get very excited when we start seeing signs of our new location where we are heading!!!

Next up .... Living in a Hotel.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What it's like to be Homeschooled? from Joey's Perspective

So I decided I need to "interview" my kids and see what they like and don't like about being homeschooled.  Each week one will be featured.

We'll start this session with Joey.  He's our oldest.  He's 14 years old and has a diagnosis of Asperger's, Severe ADHD and OCD disorder.

Me:  What are some things that you like to do?

Joey:  I like to play Pokemon (both the video games and cards) and Minecraft.  I build robots.

Me:  What types of things do you like to collect?

Joey:  Pokemon Cards!!

Me:  What's a favorite book that you have liked to read?

Joey:  I like to read Transformers books.  I haven't finished the latest one yet.

Me:  What's your favorite movie?

Joey:  Anything Pokemon and I like Real Steel.  I also love to watch the Night at the Museum movies.

Me:  What's your favorite TV show?

Joey:  I love watching the Generation 1 Transformers because you cannot beat the classics.

Me:  Do you have a favorite website or group you like to go through?

Joey:  I like going on our server and playing with the people we meet there.

Me:  If you could pick any meal to eat, what would it be?

Joey:  That's a good question.  I don't know.  I like your lasagna you make for me.  Oh and my mac & cheese!!!

Me:  We travel a lot.  Do you have a favorite place we have visited?

Joey:  We have been so many cool places.  The Oil Rig Museum in Galveston, Texas was a lot of fun.  That Statue of Liberty was fun to see in person.  The Museum of Natural History in New York was fun.  I love to watch the Night at the Museum movies.

Me:  Do you have a favorite subject that you like learning about?

Joey:  I like doing science experiments.  When we blew up the soap in the microwave it was cool!

Me:  You have been homeschooling for a long time now.  What is a favorite reason you like to homeschool?

Joey:  Going on field trips.  And you don't need to worry about parent-teacher meetings.  I can do my work on my own schedule.

Me:  Do you recommend homeschooling?

Joey:  Yes, I strongly recommend it.  I do not get it easy.  I still have work I have to do.  But I can do I am allowed to try and plan my daily schedule.

Me:  Is there something you don't like about being homeschooled?

Joey:  I can't get away with anything.  You figure it all out.

Me:  Is there anything you want to tell our blog readers?

Joey:  I don't really know what to say.  Maybe.....try homeschooling.  Some days it's hard, but it is worth it.  Oh and watch G1 Transformers, you'll like it.  And try out our server Homeschool with Minecraft.  I love to play with everyone on there.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Homeschool Travels - National Geographic Museum

I was so very excited to get a chance to visit the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC.  I have looked at and read National Geographic magazines for years.  The pictures and historical articles are so wonderful...for this history geek.  But what I was expecting was not what was there.

The National Geographic Museum was broken down into 3 sections.  During our visit, there was an exhibit on food, a dinosaur exhibit and a Mars rover replica.  I was fully expecting some sort of an exhibit of the history of National Geographic Magazine.  Or an exhibit on unused photos, something cool like that.  But alas, that was where my disappointment laid.

I will tell you the Food exhibit was very interesting.  It really laid out how much waste we as Americans have, and how other countries are able to overcome that.  And it also pointed how this waste is causing issues with other countries and their residents struggling just to survive.  I was impressed with the pointing to GMO products and not giving them a positive spin.

Cassava root

Are you as big as the biggest cod caught?

Types of potatoes
Square watermelons.  There is a farm near us that grows pumpkins like this.  This is a farm in California.
Different types of peppers
Oyster farm model
Food market model

New types of farming explored.  This is meant to be done in a city area, but not detract from a "Modern" look.
Smelling new scents.
Cooking pots from around the world.

Learning international cooking with an interactive display

Cookbooks from around the world.
More cooking pots

This is the amount of food that the average family of 4 throws away each year.
Dining room display from around the world.

Cake molds

Fossil cast of a bone.

Recreated head from bones.

She was in awe of the size.

And of course making a penny...

This was a nice couple hours.  But in my opinion not worth the admission charge.  Maybe we have been to too many museums and we are spoiled.  But I would recommend putting this museum low on your list of things to do in Washington DC.  Definitely others that should be explored first.