Saturday, March 17, 2012

Busy, Busy!

This past week has been busy, busy, busy, thus the reason there was no post on Sunday. We've been busy shopping for a car, finally deciding on and buying a car (2002 Ford Windstar...LOVE IT!), purchasing homeschooling equipment (more on that later), and Hubs has been temporarily moved to second shift beginning this past week, so things have been a bit chaotic. We've still be homeschooing, it's just been pretty informal and a lot has been "in the field" leaerning for the children. Watching us car shop was a great learning experience to them and I'm happy Goober got to take part in that experience because this was his first week schooling at home. In addition to our on-site learning, we also had a trip to the circus this week, which the children loved and, naturally, I hated. The circus is an evil place, I think. It turns even the best kids into "gimme" kids who want everything in sight. Ugh. They did get to see some pretty cool stuff and learn about self-control, I suppose.

So far, the Time4Learning curriculum is going very well, but I won't delve completely into that stuff just yet but will save it for my later review. I do, however, want to talk about the new "gear" we got. We decided to do our homeschooling "plugged in", meaning we plan on utilizing technology to the fullest. We are eco-friendly and hate to be wasteful, not to mention I don't need any more clutter in my house, and homeschooling brings in a lot of clutter, so we feel like using technology to the fullest is our best bet.  We started researching our technology options and narrowed it down to using laptops or iPads, with each kiddo having their own device to use. In the end, we decided to go with iPads. The main reasons were the versatility, total portability, and battery life of the iPad. The iPad is so much more than a computer, so they can use them for so many things. Laptops are small and portable, certainly, but iPads are smaller and more portable and their battery life is about 9 hours, which is spectacular! Their work can even be done in the car, which is an option not available with using a laptop. Plus, the iPad has options for homeschooling that laptops don't. Like textbooks from iTunes U, educational apps, and the ability to practice handwriting using a stylus and special apps for that. We really feel the possibilities are endless with the iPad.

With the help of the internet and helpful people at a local store, we have purchased four refurbished/used iPad 2's. Hubs will mainly use his for fun, I'll use mine for fun, homeschooling, and some other side jobs I have, and the kids' will be for school, educational fun, and mindless fun as well. Also, Goober will start fostering his love of math and technology by learning coding with the iPad and Bub is going to be using his for bringing out his creative side. So far I am thrilled with the iPads! I never dreamed of the possibilities we'd have when we bought them and I am so excited that we will be almost completely paper-free in our schooling. I've found out that I can scan and convert any worksheets I come across (mainly from borrowed books) to PDF's and they can be handwritten on their iPads and submitted back to me electronically. I've even found a journaling app, which we do a lot of, that the kids can make e-journals where they can hand write, type, draw, insert pictures, and more. They store all their journals on virtual bookshelves and can keep writing on and on. They can practice any subject on the iPad as well, via fun paid and free apps, to solidify what they're learning. I am so excited, and so are they! This will be so much fun!

Special thanks to my hard-working Hubs for making this possible for us. My income is meager now that I'm a homeschooling mama and without him, we couldn't have bought these.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What I Want

I wish broccoli tasted like pizza.

Or peas like white chocolate.

Or that pizza and white chocolate tasted like broccoli and peas.

I wish I loved exercising. Like, really loved it.

I wish marriage were easier.

And parenthood.

Heck, life in general.

But I'm also thankful in a weird way that it's not, because nothing worth having is ever easy.

I wish that things worth having were easier to get.

I wish I were thin.

I wish everyone could truly know who they are.

I wish I had more money so that I could bless people who need help.

I wish I were more motivated.

I wish people listened and paid attention more.

I wish people were more empathetic to the needs of others.

I wish every person in the world knew that someone out there loves them.

I wish everyone in the world could be happy. Truly happy.

I wish peacefulness in one's self was a given. The world would be a better place if everyone had true happiness and peace.

I wish everyone understood the impact they have on others and the environment.

I wish more people would be others' cheerleaders and encouragers instead of their obstacles and sense of self loathing.

I wish people would just leave each other alone to live their lives as they see fit, so long as they are doing no harm.

I wish people were honest.

And respectful.

I wish everyone had self-confidence that no one ever could tear down.

I wish I were brave.

I wish I were everything I want to be.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A BIG Announcement

The past few weeks, Goober has started having some difficulty at school. First, it was a "friend" of his (he's such a sweet kid, everyone's his friend even if they don't deserve that title) who is teasing him in a non-friendly way. Then it was his grades, which are suffering because he is so bored and has just lost interest in waiting for everyone else to catch up to him. He is very bright and masters things pretty quickly, something a lot of people just don't do. The final straw was the sudden sadness and envy in wishing he could be home learning with Bub and I. He was actually making himself physically ill because of his regret of not getting to homeschool. Now, that final reason alone was not enough for me to decide he should homeschool, but combining that with all the other things, I decided it was time to have a discussion.

Goober and I talked very heavily over the upsides and downs of staying at home. In the end, he said he wants to try because he wants to see what learning at his own pace would be like. He's a math whiz, so he is really looking forward to the-sky's-the-limit math problems.After weighing pros and cons (both his and mine), thinking, prayerful consideration, and many, many discussions, we've decided to give it a go. There are only 2 1/2 months left of 4th grade, so we figure now's a great time to try. If it isn't working out, we'll spend from now until August making sure he's ready for 5th grade and he'll start back in the fall. If it is working, then we'll stick it out for 5th grade and beyond.

Goob is a very social child, so socialization will be heavy on the agenda for him. We will attend many field trips, group trips, and small group "play dates" so he gets lots of interaction with children and adults of all ages. He will miss his friends, but knows that he will make new ones and with children who are like him in many ways, not just in age. His close friend at church is a homeschoolers, so he is looking forward to spending lots of time with him. The only reservation Hubs and I have is this issue, so I will make sure it's got resolution. I would never do anything to make my children's lives more difficult, so part of doing what's right here is making sure he gets to see lots of people. As for the rest of it, that will be a breeze with my little smarty.

We are fully aware that this will not be without strife and is a huge sacrifice for each of us to make, but we know that the right decision for now is to give it a whirl. We are not looking for anyone to back us up, we know we've made the right choice, but we would hope that you will keep any negative opinions about this to yourself. I am more than willing to answer questions, but not willing to argue or to be convinced to change my mind. We will be using a fantastic curriculum and I have no doubt that Goob will blossom educationally from this choice. We are both thrilled and excited to get started.

Beginning in one week, I will be homeschooling mama of two. I am excited, scared, thrilled, nervous, and oh-so thankful we are getting this opportunity. I can't wait to get started!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Week in Review: February 27

It was a week dedicated to the fabulous Dr. Seuss! We had a blast this week with tons of crafts and hands-on learning experiences. Plus, we bought this:
So next week we'll start lessons for the ukulele! We're very excited.

Language Arts: This week Bub learned -ip and -im sounds with Hooked On Phonics. I am so proud because he has almost reached the halfway point in his HOP kindergarten level. Essentially, he's done half of kindergarten language in about 6 weeks. Photobucket He's such a smarty! We also read tons and tons of Dr. Seuss this week. He loved reading The Cat In The Hat, Fox in Socks, Green Eggs and Ham, and The Sneetches most, but didn't dislike any of the stories. Dr. Seuss has that effect on kids.We also continued our reading of Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby series by completing both Ramona the Brave and Ramona And Her Father. We did library storytime this week on Monday as well and that was a snow-themed storytime where they read Jingle, Jingle, Jingle and a couple others. Bub particularly enjoyed throwing paper snowballs there.

Math/Science: We used our new math game site, quite a bit and we did a lot of dice addition with these cute little dice-in-dice this week. They are so cute and fun and Bub loved adding and subtracting with the dice. We also did lots of great activities with our new Super Sorting Pie including introducing simple fractions. Math is not Bub's favorite, but he does a great job at it for a kindergartener.

Social Studies/Life Skills: We continued working out of our Visual Perceptual Skill Building and Tuned In To Learning for social skills. We also had a home visit this week with a local home educator support group who helped engage Bub in one-on-one conversations, which he did great it. We also did conversational practice at the library storytime. He's getting so much better with his eye contact! I rarely have to remind him anymore. Yay for progress!

Bible Study: We continued reading in our devotional Bible as well as our regularly attended church services. We also talked a lot about being judgmental and trying not to judge others. I feel that, as a Christian, it's very important to teach my children that true Christianity is not judgmental of others, but accepts and loves everyone. I want them to know that it's not their place to judge. Photobucket On Saturday we went to our local Christian book store and bought a new devotional, Veggie Tales 365 Day Starter Devos For Boys. Veggie Tales rocks!

PE: In OT this week, Bub did lots of arm strengthening activities and got to play in shaving cream, which he loved. We had gorgeous weather this week, so at home, we did lots of playing outside and building big obstacle course to get those muscles working. He really loves pulling himself around using his arms on a skateboard. That, and his tunnel.

Foreign Language: We're still working on mastering the alphabet. It's slow going, but it uses so many fine motor muscles and takes so much self-awareness that it's difficult for him. He's about halfway through learning them though, so he's getting there.

The Arts: Finally, it's time for our crafts for the week! I have tons of pictures to illustrate our fun for the week, so enjoy!

Pardon the fuzzy pics (iPhone photos), my messy background and hideous wall paper. Feel free to share my pictures on Facebook or Pinterest, but do not claim them as your own or crop them. Thanks!

First we made The Cat's hat and later Bub decided it needed a "real Cat in the Hat" attached to it. He did all the work to the cat himself, with a little helps from me with the bow and hands. I was pretty proud of his handiwork.
The Lorax moustache. Every time he holds it up he uses a "man" voice and says, "I'm the Lorax!" It's cute!

Our very, very one-of-a-kind pipe cleaner Cat in the Hat. We didn't have any black pipe cleaners or pompoms, so we improvised. He's unorthodox but oh so cute!

Thing One & Thing Two handprint art. Adorable!

This one and the next one are our (also unorthodox) felt Thing One & Thing Two. We filled them with plastic Easter grass, so they're "crunchy" and we used hot glue to close them up. They turned out so cute!
The other side.

We definitely had a craft-heavy week! He also played with chalk outside lots, painted, and made loop-weaved potholders. Bub really, really loves being artsy!

Saturday we had a fun day with a Veggie Tales movie premier, Robin Good, which was super fun and FREE! We love Veggie Tales! We also pet puppies and kitties at the pet store and visited a music store to buy an instrument. We decided on the ukulele because it will be an easy starter and can segway into the guitar, violin, or other strings later if they choose. Plus, it's the perfect size so either child can play it and it was super cheap. We also got each kid a recorder so they can start practicing winds as well. I played the clarinet and saxophone and can also play the flute, so I think between the recorder and ukulele, they'll have a good foundation for playing anything they want later. We also went to church on Sunday, which is always a pleasure.

I leave you with one more picture of our Dr. Seuss' birthday breakfast for Goober, Bub, and my nephew (6). Green Eggs (and bacon). None of them would eat ham, so I improvised.They loved it and weren't at all freaked out. Well, my nephew didn't eat it, but he's very picky.


We had a great week celebrating Dr. Seuss, who I think is a genius. Next week is a transportation-themed week with Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel as our FIAR book.

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than you!" ~Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Crazy Musings

I know that everyone has little things that amuse them (and possibly only them), myself included. I'm not talking about hobbies, I'm talking about other random things. Sometimes I think I must be nuts for some of the stuff that I find funny. 

For example, TV shows. Friends and How I Met Your Mother are my favorite shows that many people like. They wouldn't be so popular if not, right? Here's what's different about me: I can watch them over and over and over and over again. And still laugh like they're new ever time. It drives Hubs crazy. Will and Grace and Frasier have the same effect on me. Now I'll take it one step cheesier: I love, love, love Full House. Yes, Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, John Stamos (ooh la la!), MK & Ashley Olsen...that Full House. I watch it nearly every day and dream of owning the big Tanner house-shaped boxed DVD set.

Yeah, I love it that much. (If you wanna buy it for me, I'll love you forever!I'll dedicate a whole post to how awesome you are. Anyone?) I also really like Cheers, but no where near as much as Full House.

Another thing that amuses me is giving non-verbal living things around me voices, such as animals and babies. For instance, Little Miss, in my head, has an English accent. This is particularly true when she's crying. She screams things at me like (get your British accents ready folks), "Change my nappie and knickers Auntie J! I made a stinky poo!" or, "You aren't my Mum, you bloody imposture!" or, "My dummy fell out you ninny!" (dummy = pacifier) or, "Isn't it tea time yet? I'm bloody starving!" You get the picture. It makes her crying seem must less stressing, and much more hilarious, when it's got a British accent behind it. I do this with my dogs too. Hungry Dog sounds like Eeyore, "Oh, why bother. I'll just have to get up and move again anyway." Footlong Dog sounds like Jennifer Tilly, kind of dumb yet sweet. And Rat Dog sounds like...well, you know the Doberman on Up when his collar is all messed up? Yeah, that. I haven't decided on voices for my cats. I know, for shame!

I'm coming out a little crazy, aren't I? Oh well.

Since I'm all in, here's my craziest little musing: I have created an alter-ego of myself. She's married to a wonderful man who almost never messes up. She has four perfect and healthy children whom she never gets terribly annoyed at and/or yells at. (What?! I never do that either.) She buys only natural/organic foods and never eats fast food. She has a wonderful extended family that supports all her choices. She is smart, beautiful, thin, confident, and secure. She has a beautiful clean house, happy marriage and children, and is in love with every aspect of her life. Sure, she's had strife, but she's made it through with dignity and class. She's perfect. I kind of hate her.  And envy her. Even her stupid name is perfect: Charlotte. Beautiful, feminine, chic...just like her. Sometimes when I'm feeling low, I imagine what she'd be doing with her imaginary family and it entertains me. I even write blog posts in my head that show how perfect she is. And how she's got everything figured out. Stupid Charlotte. And yet, I continue imagining her. What does that say about me?

Now that I've thoroughly proven what an idiot I am, how about you? What silly things do you like/think about/do that amuse you? I know I'm not the only, so fess up people!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Week in Review: February 20-26

We took a much more eclectic and "unschooling" approach to our week. I'm not really going to categorize what we did this week, but instead just give the rundown. We had many trips this week, and those made up most of our schooling. I'm getting really good at making every place a chance to learn, so even a trip to the grocery store can be a lesson (can we say math?)! We did do our Bible Study, Sign Language practice, and Hooked On Phonics (he learned -id and -ig sounds this week and added sight words she, this, & what). We also did our social lessons and the pragmatics stuff. That was really all the "formal" stuff we did. We continued our reading of Beverly Cleary books by reading all of Ribsy and then starting the Ramona Quimby books. We absolutely loved reading Ribsy! It was our favorite of them all. Even Hubs was interested in Ribsy's journey.

Wednesday, we went to the library for storytime and learned about tigers. Bub had a blast pretending with the other kids and learned a lot about how tigers stay healthy and grow to be so big. He also learned some silly nonsense about tigers sleeping, but he understood that was all in fun.During OT they focused on building arm strength and she helped me reinforce learning to write his numbers (he's really struggling with "2"). He got to ride around on a wheelie board and pull himself with his arms and pick up tiny toys around the room. He loved it, but it was quite a workout! We also had some errands to run in between bigger trips that day, so it was an opportunity for social interaction and helping him learn to deal with money.

Thursday we had our second edition of Mad Science at a local pizza/game place. This Mad Science was titled "Detective Science" and showed the kids how using their 5 senses can help them solve a mystery. While Bub did enjoy it, it wasn't the most age appropriate one for him. He did enjoy the fingerprinting though. Before the science presentation started, the teacher had asked Bub to put away his "toys" (a Tangle and Silly Putty) so he could concentrate and not be distracted. Because he has Asperger's, those things help keep him from being distracted, and I nicely told him that. He kind of tried to refute me, but quickly gave up when he realized that I wasn't going to back down and the other moms in the room totally had my back. I loved it that all the moms in the room immediately stood up for him and me and made sure he understood that all kids learn differently and he shouldn't be asked to put away his toys. It made me happy that they understood it without me having to defend our reasons. Photobucket I love homeschooling! That trip was made especially good by that and just being able to talk to other homeschooling moms who understand why we homeschool. One even had a kid on the spectrum, so she completely understand how this has been so good for him. We actually ended up spending 4 hours at the place eating, chatting, playing games, and doing the science class. It was super fun for us both and Little Miss was a complete angel the whole time. I love having her around. Photobucket

Friday evening was the trip we've been looking forward to since seeing Annie!; James and the Giant Peach. A local kids theater group put this one on and the whole family got to go this time. It wasn't the most fancy play ever, but the kids totally loved it and both want me to look into theater classes for them. I think Goober would be great at acting, his personality is so big and charismatic, and it would be a great lesson in interaction and overcoming anxiety (if he could) for Bub. I will be researching that option on Monday for them both. The next play is Charlotte's Web and I'd love to see them in it.

Our biggest (and best) field trip for the week was to our local kid-focused museum for Dr. Seuss day. It was a day of fun, learning-based activities, freebies in honor of Seuss, and tons of exercise! We even got to meet the Cat in the Hat, which Bub loved. Goob was way to old for that. LOL Hubs loved the momentum exhibit where he and Goober went spinning very quickly in circles. They almost vomited. I really loved all the Dr. Seuss themed events and that they kept engaging the children the whole 2.5 hours we were there. Goober's favorite part was running in the hamster wheel-type exhibit and Bub's was the same spinning thing that Hubs liked. He also liked making "Oobleck", aka slime.

Of course, we went to church today (and will go to the night service) and it was family Sunday so the kids stayed with us. It was Baptism day and 16 kids were baptized in water, which was awesome. It was the first time Bub remembers having seen baptisms and he was very interested. After church, Hubs took Bub (Goober was with his dad for the afternoon) on a walk and to a fishing expo at a sporting goods store and later to the park. Later Bub and I worked on parts of a sentences and did some math-based sorting activities. He spent the rest of the day learning about fishing and going over fishing stuff with his Daddy. I've been completely lazy and blogging, catching up on emails, Facebooking, and just general laziness. I've had a very busy week and my chronic pain has caught up to me. I'm just trying to relax it away. I did get a really fantastic email about a series of classes, geared for kids 7 and up. I had emailed about Bub saying that he is very smart and mature for his age (both true) and that I think he'd do well. He will have shortcoming with motor issues and the fact that he can't read, but I'll plan on staying with him to make up for those. I also assured her if it wasn't working out for any reason, we would withdraw without asking for refund so there would be no worries about him disrupting the class. I figured it was a long shot and probably wouldn't happen, but I'd never know unless I asked. I'ts a Lego-animation workshop and he would absolutely love to be involved and I would love to give him the chance. I was extremely thrilled when the person heading the class replied that she is a homeschooling mom of a special needs child, so she completely understands that things aren't always black and white with special needs kids. She said she would love to give him the chance, and let me sign both he and Goober up. They are both so excited about this workshop and I think they'll love it. I love it that the homeschooling community is so accepting and understanding about children and how much they know and how they learn. It warms my heart to know a group of people so willing to accept my quirky kiddo. Photobucket

Tomorrow starts a whole week of Seuss. Yay for Dr. Seuss week! We'll also be seeing a Veggie Tales movie premier possibly doing Sensory Night at a bounce house place.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why So Hateful?

This is something that has bothered me for years, so I'm dedicating a blog post (or two) to the subject. I will preface by saying that I have no interest for any hateful, demeaning, or rude comments on this post. I am open to questions, in fact I welcome them, but have no intention of leaving anything hateful up to be read by anyone. Please do your best to be respectful when replying to this. Don't waste your time or mine with your hostility. 

Why are human beings so hard on one another? This is especially true about mothers. I've seen it time and time again, especially on the Internet, that moms find pleasure (or something, there's got to be a reason) in tearing each other apart. Be it the breast/bottle feeding debate or any other, moms can be really rude and disrespectful of one another's parenting choices. Since we are all of one sisterhood, why aren't we more compassionate? Aren't we all trying our hardest at making the best decisions for our family?

As a side note, of course I am talking about parents who truly are doing their best. This category does not include the abusive and neglectful parents of the world, who are not giving their child the best and what they deserve. Make no mistake about who I am speaking of.

I am one of "those women" who have made parenting and lifestyle decisions that haven't fit society's view of "normal". I have come to these conclusions and made my choices based on research from reliable sources, prayer, discussions, asking questions, getting input from my husband, and good old-fashioned instincts. Every serious decision has been made painstakingly with many, many hours devoted and sometimes with many tears and sleepless nights as well. Make no mistake, I have not taken these lightly. I have had terrible, unspeakable things said to me both in real life and online for these choices. From extended breastfeeding to co-sleeping to homeschooling and many things in between, everyone has an opinion and they have no problem telling me theirs; sometimes in the most arrogant, judgmental, and contemptuous way they can. Why so much hatred? Just because my research led me to a different decision than you, why does that make me wrong? I don't think it makes you wrong that you're doing what you think is right, so why am I not afforded the same courtesy?

I pride myself on being informed and not being ignorant to anything that matters to me. It's one of my best qualities and part of what makes me, me. I stand by my decisions. I always say to make a choice and own it, and that I do. I am confident in the choices I've made and know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that they were what's best for my family. This is all I want for others. If you have made educated and informed decisions for your family, and your conclusions were not the same as mine, then good for you. Being informed is always right. Being secure in what you know and in your life and your family is essential to being happy, and if you are secure and confident in what you've chosen, then why the need to tear others down?

Now, I always welcome respectful opposition. In my opinion, opposition threatens ignorance. If I've made a decision and someone brings up a point I hadn't thought of or never came across, it's always good to re-evaluate with new evidence or opinions. Ignorance isn't, actually, bliss and adversity helps teach me and helps me evolve. I know that most people in the world, heck most people I know, don't agree with me and I welcome respectful discussions. I always enjoy a spirited, courteous debate.

This standpoint rolls over into my views about Christianity. I'm not a religion-pusher so I'm not going into that here, but if you're interested, you can see that post here.

No two people are the same, and that's the beauty of life. If we were all walking around looking, acting, feeling and believing the same things, the world would be so boring. This is what's brilliant about humanity and society, we are constantly growing and changing. I doubt anyone is the same now as they were 10 years ago, unless you are just not trying or don't care. Or, I suppose, you could already know everything, and then kudos to you (note the sarcasm). I welcome change and am constantly working to improve myself and I appreciate others who are doing the same. 

In closing, I just truly wish that others would use their resources, talents, and voice to do something worthwhile with their lives. Instead of pushing your beliefs on someone who disagrees, why don't you help by respectfully sharing information with someone who is struggling? Instead of advocating so hard against a person or group of people, why not advocate for someone or a group of people who need it? Wouldn't it make people happier to not spread such hate? Maybe then the world would be a better place.

Basically, what it all boils down to is...

True Christianity

Small note from me to preface...
This will be a two-part post. They were originally going to be one, but because I have no intention of shoving my religion down anyone's throat, I decided on two. I do not want to be another Christian who has offended someone in the name of God, so this gets a separate post so no one has to read it that doesn't want to.

My post that will follow is about hatred and this goes along with that. So many "Christians" spew hatred in the name of the Lord, and it's not right. To everyone who has been hurt by "Christians" and The Church, I am truly sorry. Even if you read nothing else I say, I want to say that Jesus was never that way and I'm deeply sorry that you were hurt and judged by someone who had no right to do so you. It's about time the real Christians start fixing what's been broken by hypocrites, so I apologize sincerely from the bottom of my heart.

I am a Christian, a follower of Christ. Not a hate-mongering, Bible thumping, sign holding, anti-rights, hater of sinners. I believe in the Bible and what it teaches: Love. Jesus hung out with thieves and prostitutes, not the wealthy and influential. God teaches us through His Son and His Word to love our neighbor and show the world the peace of the gospel. So why do so many so-called Christians feel the need to spew hatred? Why is it that they use God's (in my opinion) perfect Word to validate their viewpoint when the Bible preaches exactly the opposite of what they are speaking? Christ would be ashamed of them. Actually, I think He is completely disappointed by them. The fact that my beliefs that I hold so dear are used as a tool to hurt so many is abhorrent and unbelievably sad to me. Why must "Christians" judge others? Where in the Bible does it say that we are to be the judge of others? It doesn't.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV)

Christians need to be secure in themselves and their God and not feel the need to constantly "convert" others with their words. Be a Christian and show people what true Christianity, not hypocrisy, is all about with your actions, not your words. Use your resources to do good instead of to spew hate. Show love by advocating for someone, instead of against. Give compassion, understanding, peacefulness, kindness, unselfishness, and love a try. Understand that not everyone believes the same as you, nor do they have to, and it's not your right to prove to them that they're wrong. Everyone is allowed to believe what they feel is right and true, and it's no one's job to change their minds. You certainly won't do it with hypocrisy. Stop letting everyone else change your walk with God, have a relationship with Him that's not defined by anyone else. Stop judging and worry about your own sins and shortcomings. Better yourself.

(Remove the Jesus stuff and that's good advice for everyone.)

This quote from John Cusack sums it up nicely.

I completely agree.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Week in Review: February 13-19

Language Arts: For this week, we did our previously planned unit on snow and winter. Our FIAR book was Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost. We read several other winter/snow themed books, Bub's favorite being Red Sled by Lita Judge. We did a whole day dedicated to winter sports and Bub really loved learning about snowboarding and skiing. We also focused a lot on poetry, and read several children's poetry books, including ones by A.A. Milne. We are coming right along with reading our Beverly Cleary books, and we finished Henry and the Paper Route at the end of the week.

Math/Science: We started math out of our new Everyday Math book, the kindergarten edition, and did a lot with our balance scale and sorting stuff. We also have a subscription to now, which has been a fun way for him to learn math. We're just working now on writing numbers, recognize place values, and skip counting. Pretty simple and basic, but that's really all kindergarten math is. For science, we're mostly just looking up stuff on the internet and watching documentaries. Whatever he's interested in or our theme. This week, it was a lot about weather.

Social Studies/Life Skills: Last weekend I found two really great books for our "social" lessons at a used book store. One is Visual Perceptual Skill Building, which focuses on paying attention to complete tasks. The other was Tuned In to Learning: Social Skills & Pragmatics for Autism and Related Needs (vol. 1) which focuses on building social skills. This books is amazing! It puts social situations into cute, easy songs that Bub can learn and will help him in real life situations. He responds so well to music, so this is perfect for him. I cannot tell you how valuable these will be!

Bible Study: We have a kid's devotional Bible we're reading out of now. We read the simplified Bible story, then the "real life" application and discuss it. Usually we have time for two in one period. I'm open to suggestions on any good, kid-friendly Bible studies, if anyone has any.

Foreign Language: We have officially started our Sign Language lessons with some basic words and the alphabet, which will take a while to master. We'll stay on alphabet and then learn numbers before moving on to any more comprehensive lessons.

We had a great week learning about snow. To add to our delight, it snowed several inches on Monday, so the timing was perfect. We got to play with real snow, instead of the tube stuff, and have many sensory experiences with it. Hands down, the highlight of our week was seeing the musical, Annie!, together on Friday evening. Seeing that he's only five years old, I wasn't sure how Bub would handle a musical for the first time. We brought along his "busy hands bag" so he would have more success at paying attention and also brought his weighted compression vest, to help keep him calm. Turns out, neither of these were needed. As soon as "A Hard Knock Life" started, he was engaged. He sat, open-mouthed, the whole time taking it all in. It was such a good learning experience and he completely loved it! I think he has developed a love of theater now, which makes me smile.

We had a great week! Next week we have several field trips, so we're going to do a kind of unschooling week. We'll still do some of our lessons, but probably not a FIAR book.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Failure IS an Option

Tonight we had an in-home training with a local autism advocate. These training sessions are just in general and help educate parents with children on the spectrum. They are required to receive the therapeutic services we do from this group. Anywho, tonight's training was about Thinking Sets and helping change the way people view disabilities. I pride myself in being educated about things that are important, and my children top that list. Plus, I've worked with children for many years, including children on the autism spectrum and children with other various disabilities, so most of these training topics were not new to me. So, here I am bopping along bragging about our reward system which gives them rewards for completing their chores instead of punishments for not completing them. And the freedom I give to my children by letting them have many choices in their day, such as choosing their clothes. And how I use "people first language" (i.e. a person with autism, not an autistic person) when I speak about people. And a whole bunch of other things that only Mother of the Year can do (*this is an unofficial title, I haven't actually won any awards*). Here I am, thinking I'm all high and mighty when she said something that shattered my world: Let them fail.

What? Failure?! Why would I let them fail when I could just help them succeed? What could possibly be learned from failure. Nothing! Nothing I tell you. Failure has never helped anyone and I'm doing a huge service by keeping them from experiencing it.

Except, I'm not.

I honestly hadn't put too much thought into it, or I would have been working on it before. I pride myself on being self-aware, which was why this revelation shattered my world. Here I am, going along with life thinking I know myself and then I learn this. This was truly an epiphany to me and caused me to take a good, hard look at the issues and annoyances we (I)  face.

Everyone leans on me for everything. Not sure where a dish goes? Ask mom. Don't know if these clothes match? Ask mom. Need to know what to cook for supper? Ask mom. The list goes on and on. These people (and I'm adding my hubs into this category as well) can't accomplish anything or make any decisions without my approval. And. it. drives. me. crazy. So now I'm forced to re-examine it and realize that maybe, just maybe...

I caused this?!?  (<--both of those are me beating up myself)

Really? In subconsciously trying to keep them from experiencing failure, I have created a whole household of human beings that are dependent on me for everything. And it's irritating. Oh so irritating. And what's more irritating is that I caused it. There's nothing like being irritated by something that you caused. It's being irritated by yourself. That's a whole new level of irritation, I tell you.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm happy to know because now I can fix it (ignorance ain't bliss, ya'll) and teach my family to be self-sufficient and learn from their mistakes. I can stop Hubs from feeling like he needs to check in with me on every. single. thing. I can teach Goober and Bub to pay attention to their surroundings and learn from their mistakes the only way they can: by making them. There is much to be gained from this earth-shattering revelation, and I plan on fixing it.

Wish them luck. There will be many failures in the near future.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Week in Review: February 6-12

There is really nothing to review for this week. Our intention was to read a book of poetry and talk about winter activities and weather. Sadly, Bub was feeling pretty crummy post surgery, so we didn't accomplish a lot at all. Plus, I am now babysitting my niece, Little Miss (8 weeks old ), and she was having a hard time adjusting to being away from her mama. It was good to have an adjustment week to get on a schedule with the baby one around, so we took advantage. We did a lot of reading (Beverly Cleary books, mostly) and finally made a trip to the library Saturday because Bub was finally feeling somewhat better that day and wanted to get out. Our trip the library was fun; he picked out five comic books and played a round of checkers (with my help) with Goober. We finished up by getting some cookies in the coffee shop and chatting just us three. It was pretty great.

We had a pretty low-key, uneventful week with lots of movies, books and lying around cuddling. Except for Bub being in pain and taking meds around the clock, it was a pretty good week. He was so sweet and lovey and just wanted me to rock him for hours on end. Since I don't get to do that much, I was happy to oblige. Goober was even home most of the week fighting a nasty cough and cold. He gets over that stuff pretty easily though, he's not nearly as sickly as his brother, so he just needed rest and some TLC from mama. Sometimes life just calls for laziness.

The good news is that Bub is doing markedly better now! He's only taken two doses of pain meds the past two days, which is a vast improvement over 5-7 doses per day. He is sleeping really well and isn't complaining of his throat hurting at all. Praise God, he's finally healing! I look forward to a 2012 with no strep throat or ear infections. And no antibiotics would be nice as well.