Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Desperate - Are you a Loner? - Chapter 2

So I have finished reading Chapter 2....The Go-It-Alone Culture (On Needing People).  I guess I didn't really think about this much.  But when reading all the parenting books, does it say...Go and find friends.  No they usually talk about socializing, but it's for the kids.

Many times as moms, we get caught up in our daily lives or "bubbles" as I call mine and we forget about the outside world.  Our daily bubbles seem to swallow us up.  We make sure our kids needs and most of the time our husbands needs are met, but then completely forget about our own.  Our need for friendship.  Someone to have coffee or tea with.  A hobby to take up and draw our mind from the daily repetition of dishes, laundry and other chores.

If we do not have this, the walls built up around us will literally swallow us and we could easily fall into a depression that will harm our families.  The old saying is that "If mamma ain't happy, then no one is." actually does have truth to it.  If Mom is having troubles, the family does suffer some too.

It's really important to seek outside hobbies and friendships.  How about an older neighbor or someone from your house of worship?  Maybe while taking the kids to the library, you might be an older adult who may or may not know what you are feeling.  But they may be seeking similar friendship that you are searching out.

We live in a culture that tends to isolate itself from others.  Social media does help with that, since you can now post on Facebook and several friends post back in a few moments with what troubles they are experiencing too.  You know that you have their virtual support.  But what about a conversation in person, at the local coffee shop.

Having friends that encourage you to do your best has the best feeling.  They are honest with you and help you climb those mountains that keep getting set in front of you.

Be sure to check out Chapter 2.....have you had a chance to read this great book.  There's time to still read along with us!

Linking up with other homeschool moms at....

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

T is for Tired

Blogging Through the Alphabet

In case you didn't know, we are the proud parents of 4 kiddos....3 of them are diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum.  Both our boys and our youngest daughter.  Our oldest daughter is ADHD.  Needless to say there is never a dull moment in our house.

I honestly do not know how single parents of a special needs child(ren) do it on their own.  Joe and I barely make it through each day working as a team.  I am usually barely able to stay away by about 10 pm.  But some days, ok... most days, between 10 and midnight is when I can get blogging work done.

I am not putting anyone down here....but it can be exhausting going through daily life making sure that the physical, spiritual and educational needs of a special needs child are met.  Some days it is all that I can do to make it through the physical needs and then I stress knowing that I am responsible for their educational needs also.  The only thing I can think....Am I doing enough???

I think the key word though in the last paragraph is ....... Stress.  I know this letter is T....but stress makes you tired.  It really wears on your body both physically and mentally.

After feeling like I have been drowning for several months, I prayed a lot and realized that I really need to get a grip on daily life.  We are floundering.  But I need to get a grip on a few things personally for myself, and this in turn will help out the kids.  So here are a few things that I have done to help with the Stress and "tired" I have been feeling.....

My first goal is to make sure I get in my personal Bible Study daily.  I wake up at 5 am now, so that I can spend 30 minutes in personal study and prayer.  I am not saying that I am the perfect Christian, not by any means.  I hit the snooze and sleep through the alarm.  I can tell it in my attitude anymore though if I miss this time.  I feel better in the morning when I am done.  It really gives me a peace before the storm of the day.  It also gives me a daily reminder, since it's written in my study notebook to read be slow to anger and quick to listen to the kids.  This is one stress trigger that I need to work on.  The kids make me angry and tempers raise, and then there is arguing.  Joey is great for yelling first and then I raise my voice because of this....I am working very hard daily now to avoid this.  Less stress on all of us.

My next goal is to work on the stress that is hurting me health wise.  So I have started exercising.  I have set goals of running/walking 5Ks. This has helped in forcing myself into an exercise routine.  Has this helped?  Actually it really has.  The early wake up helps with this.  I study my Bible, and drink a bottle of water while I am doing that.   Then I go and have my workout.  I have my iPhone loaded up with music and splurged for an armband holder and new headphones.  I never planned on taking up running, but I feel better and actually have more energy after I get done with a walk/run.  So this has worked.  Joe is going to be joining me soon in this training, because we have joined a fitness challenge and will work together at getting healthier.

So my morning goes, Bible reading/study for 30-45 minutes and then exercise 30-45 minutes so that I am back home from running hopefully before the kids really start waking up.

To go along with the exercise, I have really watched what I am eating.  I have limited my "processed" foods to only Kettle Cooked potato chips that are non-GMO.  I have been limiting grains and starting to follow a paleo diet that is good for people with fibromyalgia.  That has been hard, since I love the above mentioned potato chips.  So I have been limiting myself greatly.  I also have been trying to help Joe eat better by limiting the snacks that I purchase for him to eat.

My schedule is a work in process.  It really causes me stress, which makes me tired.  So I have already cancelled one club that we participated in and working on staying home 3 days a week, clubs 1 day a week and 1 day a week of errands.  Then leave weekends for projects with Joe and family time.  I keep praying for guidance in making this happen.

Another change I am working on, spending at least an hour without my laptop in my lap while watching TV with Joe in the evenings.  Just cuddling with my hubby while relaxing.  We can talk or just laugh at stupid humor on TV, not watching Facebook or Candy Crush...just each other.

These are my first steps.  I also am working on a schedule for each child.  A picture list of chores they can handle.  I have been working at simplifying our lesson plans more, and think I have found a wonderful online resource!  We are in testing stages now, so watch for future posts as we are introducing a new way of homeschooling to ourselves.  I may even be able to sell a bunch of unneeded curriculum if this test keeps going as well as it has!!!

Exercise has really helped with my exhaustion.  Life is not perfect, and I really do get tired still.  But believe it or not, between the personal Bible study I have added and the 30-40 minutes each morning I walk/run.....I seem to have a bit more energy during the day.  And shhhh....I usually do not have a problem sleeping at night, unless a cat lands on my head.

Linking up with other Moms at Blogging through the Alphabet at Ben and Me.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Homeschool Day Review

Everyone gather on the carpet for Circle Time.  Sit on your own rugs.  Let's sing the alphabet song.....

When most people hear the words "Circle Time" this is the first thing that comes to mind.  A group of preschoolers sitting around on colorful carpet squares.  When I saw that we would be reviewing the book Circle Time:Plan the Best Part of Your Homeschool Day by Kendra Fletcher ($4.99, PDF download) from Preschoolers and Peace I was very nervous.   To be honest, this is what I first thought of too.  I couldn't figure out how I was going to use this in our homeschool.  I have a 6th grader, 5th grader, 2nd grader and Kindergartener.  My older boys are not going to want to sit around with the girls.  That is why we do not teach many subjects together anymore.

But after reading Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Homeschool Day, I now have a better understanding of what a true Circle Time is.  This isn't the circle time from preschool, it's similar, but an updated version.  You don't have to worry about doing finger rhymes anymore.  Of course, you can still do finger rhymes if that is what your family likes...but it's not required.

In the book, they use Circle Time as a way to gather the children together and start their school day.  They pray together, work on Bible time and Scripture memorization together, and also subjects such as History.  They have the older and younger kids together.  The first thing I ask, is how does this work?  Our older kids do not like sitting and working with the younger ones.  They complain about easier work.  She explains how she adjusts the content she is teaching to keep both interest levels, but mainly the older ones.  She can catch the younger ones up later on, once they separate out to do their own subjects.  

Kendra Fletcher explains how to plan out your Circle Time and the printable forms are even included.  Planning a Circle Time for your family is easier than you think and it is also a wonderful way to spent quality communication time together.  

Circle Time: Planning the BEST Part of Your Homeschool Day really helps you to slow down and decide what you want out of your homeschool day and helps you to plan this out and work to achieve these goals that you set.  

Circle Time: Planning the BEST Part of Your Homeschool Day helps you to look at topics such as:
  • How long should our circle time be
  • How to keep circle time a peaceful time
  • How to keep the littles sitting longer and longer each day
  • Answers many questions you might have in making Circle Time work for your family
  • Words of wisdom from seasoned veterans who use Circle Time in their homes
  • and the Biggest of all....How to get ALL your kids on board with your plan
So you might be wondering how this program worked for our family........

As I mentioned earlier, I was really nervous.  Our kids really know how to push buttons.  We have been unable to do this daily yet, due to all the kids schedules and emotional attitudes.  So I decided up front after reading the material, that instead of shooting for actual subjects we would stick to Bible time.  So we have been working at sitting down for 15-20 minutes 3 times a week to practice a scripture memory verse and learn about a Bible character.  The memorization is not going well, but the sitting down seems to be going pretty good.  I really have enjoyed the information shared, and it is working well for our family.

Circle Time: Planning the BEST Part of Your Homeschool Day  points out to find a starting point and work from there.  Especially when asking the littles the sit for any length of time.  The beauty of circle time is that it is completely customizable for each family.  The length of time and the subjects you choose are totally up to you and your family's goals.  My dream will be in a year to have the girls combined on a couple of subjects like science, history, geography and art.  But by taking small steps and using Circle Time: Planning the BEST Part of Your Homeschool Day as my guide I think we may get there.  The points made by Kendra Fletcher in her book have already been helping me with Caty.

Several other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew had the opportunity to read and use Circle Time: Planning the BEST Part of Your Homeschool Day with their families.  Be sure the visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog and see how this book worked in their homes.


What we are up to this week....

It's a mild week for us.  Mom has a lot of physical therapy.  Lydia has violin and piano lessons.  Joey has golf, I think this week.  Joe and I start our fitness challenge, can't wait for that.  We are seeking a piano teacher for Caty now.  She has decided that she wants to learn piano.

Our biggest adventure this week will be going to see....

The girls are soooo excited!!!

Anyway on the school front, not as exciting....

Joey will be switching to his Bible reading to Hebrews this week.  In Science he will be reading/learning about food chains.  History involves the Pilgrims coming to America.   Compound words and sentence structure is the lessons for Grammar.  I'm switching up some of the poetry for Shel Silverstein.  The older stuff is starting to bug him.  In Math, he will be working on double digit addition and subtraction and learning about borrowing and regrouping.  Just something he hasn't caught on to yet without the use of a calculator.

Brayden is working on the American Revolution in history and reading the maps from Early America in Geography.  In Math, he will be starting to use Khan Academy.  I have him working on double digit addition with regrouping and double digit subtraction with borrowing.  In Health he will be finishing the human body unit.  In Science, he chose to learn about oceans.  Still working on his reading in the Planes book from the new Disney movie.  In Grammar, it will be homophones this week.

Lydia will be learning the Cursive G.  We will be continuing our reading of the Adventures of Jolly Robin.  In math she will also be working on number words, mostly review, but some are harder for her and cardinal numbers  In Science we are working ont he Digestive system.  In Music, it is percussion instruments.  More computer lessons this week on basic usage.  For these I am simply following Easy Peasy and letting it be refresher.  We'll be finished with this section really  This is our first week of reading classics for comprehension activities.  And of course, she will be continuing with Reading Kingdom.  For our geography, we are using the Old book, Home Geography for Primary Grades, this week is using stars to show direction and how to use the compass to show direction.  This is a great book to build map skills on.  You can buy the book or download for free on a Kindle app.

Caty will be working on the Letter D this week.  In Science we are working on What a Scientist is.  Some of the stories we'll be reading, Princess and the Pea, My Shadow, and The Shape of me and other stuff.  In Math we'll be working on

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!!!!  See you this weekend!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Our Favorite Homeschool Supplies.....

As I am trying to clear the shelves, I am finding myself checking out what materials the kids are really using.  Here are a few of the kids favorite "fun" know those things they don't need, but makes schoolwork that much more fun.

Caty would do all her school work in smelly markers if she could.  She absolutely loves them.  And the coloring takes on scent, so instead of the brown marker she asks for the chocolate one.  It is so funny.  But since I bought her scented markers, she actually doesn't complain as much about drawing and coloring on her schoolwork.  (She is not a big coloring fan.)  I also let her practice writing her alphabet with them.  Hey....whatever works.  I am not the Writing Instrument Police...

Mr. Sketch Washable Water Color Markers, 12 Colored Markers(19072)

Who doesn't love fun pencils?!?!  The girls love getting the pretty pencils, character pencils, and even touristy pencils when we travel.  Lydia and Caty even earned mood pencils from the reading program at the public library.  But these are some of their favorite.  They are a pricey in my book, but the girls love them as a treat every so often.

Educational Insights Smencils Colored Pencils 10-pack

These pencils are wonderful!!!  Caty has trouble gripping and so I originally bought them for her.  But Lydia loved using those so much that I bought her a set too.  

Prang Large Triangular Colored Pencil Set, 5.5 Millimeter Cores, with Sharpener, Set of 12, Assorted Colors (25120)

And some other fun supplies that the girls use.....

Caty loves her My Little Pony Folders.....(Walmart, $1.00 a piece)

Lydia found this folder at Walmart and fell in love.  It was around $5.00 there.  We use it for her daily work.  I keep everything together in there from her daily work.

The girls are not huge fans of sharing their supplies, and sometimes I am inclined to agree.  Lydia has special drawing pencils and the boys are not the greatest at taking care of supplies.  So we have community drawers of supplies in our school room area and then the girls each keep their supplies in an insulated lunch sack.  Now Caty's doesn't have a great handle on it, because it was an old lunch box she used at preschool a couple years ago.  I am looking for a new one for her, but Lydia's I found at a yard sale for $1.00.  And she loves it.  It's like this one....

BUILT Gourmet Getaway Lunch Tote

This makes grabbing supplies when we are on the go wonderful.  I grab a couple books they can do independently in the van and their supply bag.  And we are out the door.

Everyone have a great week!!!!  Have fun with school :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Schoolhouse Expo Homeschool Conference Giveaway!!!!!

I have difficulty attending Homeschool conferences in person, so I LOVE the Schoolhouse Expo Homeschool Conference.  There is nothing like attending lectures while wearing your pjs and sipping tea in the living room.

I am soooo excited!!!!  The Schoolhouse Expo is coming up the week of August 19 - 23, 2013.  You can listen online from 1:00 pm until 8:00 pm eastern (10:00 am until 5:00 pm Pacific).   You do not have to be present the whole week, and you can pick and choose who you would like to listen to.  

I listen to this conference every year and learn all kinds of wonderful ways to help our children and us through our educational journey.

Some of the guest speakers include:

If you cannot attend another homeschool conference, this is a wonderful way to get the encouragement you need as a homeschooler.  The conference is choked full of not only curriculum creators, but graduates from homeschools and other parents that have experienced or are currently experiencing what you are.

There is help for those with special needs, parents of gifted students and parents of struggling students.  There really is help for everyone.

And ....Guess what?!?!?  I get the privilege to giveaway 1 ticket to attend the expo!!!  Who wants this ticket?!?!?!  Just enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*****Disclaimer......I received a ticket to attend this event
 free of charge for the sole purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The views I have expressed are my own and are real experiences with my family. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255>:"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, July 26, 2013

S is for Silly Willy

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Ok....I am having a tough time with S.  I am sure there are so many things I could be writing about.  Segways, splinters, sweaty runs, spiral lollipops, but instead I am going to post about our very own Silly Willy.  You know the girl that keeps us guessing 24X7.......I never know what she is going to do or say.

These are just from the past two weeks, and the ones I have caught on the camera.

Hey Mom....I'm a walrus!!!
 What do you mean my unicorn is gone, I can't see it anymore.
 There are some more mashed potatoes in the kettle....I'm eating them right now.
Look into my eyes....and you will see....what you mean to me......(Think Bryan Adams).
I'm Chompers.....
 I am ready for Blueberry picking.  Watch out mosquitoes!!!
Let's get some corn in the rain....oh wait, there's no rain.  But I still need the umbrella.
 The candy is yucky...but the frosting is so yummy.
So meet our Silly Willy Caty...and let me say someday you will see her headlining a comedy act somewhere.  And if you are not familiar with the Silly Willy book...check this one out for a great read with your kiddos.  It has been one of our favorites since Joey was 4.

Linking up with others who are Blogging through the Alphabet.....Visit more at Ben and Me.