Monday, October 8, 2012

A message to the elderly woman in the waiting area...

To you, yes you, the sweet looking elderly woman sitting in the waiting area at a (not so) local Cardiology office. I saw you notice us, I saw you notice us about the same time my completely adorable, red headed freckled faced son darted across the room, toward the door that leads to the parking lot. I noticed you notice me leave the front desk where I was checking in, and try to get my son to come back with me. I saw the judgement in your eyes when I finally picked up all 60 pounds of my kicking, giggling, squirming son. I saw you glance at your husband when my other child started crying, then screaming, then he started smacking at us as we tried to comfort him. I could read your thoughts....

"If that were my child I would...." 

I wonder, if that were your child what would you do? How would you have handled the daily struggle. The struggle to do what is right, while the everyone in the world tells you that you are doing it wrong.

I know you don't know much about my children or my situation. How could you? I saw you notice the braces on my youngest sons legs. That much is visible. But, how could you know that he was born so early that the doctors gave him no hope. How could you possibly guess at the doctor appointments, surgeries, and hospitalizations he has endured.  How can I expect you to know about my six year old's Asperger's and his ADHD? How can I expect YOU, a stranger to understand, when there are those who are close to us that really don't understand. 

Those that think a good spanking would do the trick. That my child is spoiled and willful. Those that will never understand the fact that his senses are at war with themselves. That the lights buzz, and everyone is talking, and yes, that even he can "feel" your thoughts, and all he wants to do is run. Though he may be to young to understand, he can see your judgement. 

So, I am sorry for whatever situation brought you to a Cardiology office, I am sorry that you felt my children ruined your morning. I hope that one day you will understand. 

You will probably never read this post, but I hope that this post will help someone just like you. That it will make them want to understand more about children like mine, and more about what parents like me go through every day! I hope that this will make someone do a little research. Make them learn a little more about Autism, Asperger's, and sensory processing ...I can only hope! 

The extremely frazzled mother chasing a child around a waiting room, while her other child sat in a chair screaming! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Comfy cozy and Crazy socks!

Day two and three of International Homeschool Spirit Week have been a blast! Tuesday was comfy cozy day, and we made sure we were comfy cozy! A was in his pajamas and we did lessons on the couch, the recliner, and in our cozy homeschool reading corner!

Today (Wed.) is crazy sock day! So we pulled out our crazy socks! 

We wore our crazy socks to a awesome field trip to a local Apple Orchard.

 We are doing a unit on Johnny Appleseed and Apples, we will end the week with a field trip to a local celebration! The Apple Festival! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Homeschool Away From Home Day!!

We are celebrating "International Homeschool Spirit Week" this week.

Today was homeschool away from home day! We took it to the park and then we joined some local homeschoolers for some 4-H fun!

 I took some photo's to enter them into a contest sponsered by "Great Homeschool Conventions".

Here are some photo's from our day!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I am so tired, and I don't just mean normal end of the day tired. I mean I am exhausted, dragging, can't keep my eyes open (but have no choice) tired. Why am I so tired?

Well A and his brother little E (who may or may not have a ASD diagnosis in his future) have both decided they don't need sleep any more. I don't mean they are pushing their limits by staying up a hour past bedtime. I mean they really, truly do not seem to need sleep, so where does that leave me? You've got it...exhausted. No matter what I do, A does not want to go to bed, when I finally do get him in bed he usually starts crying...then I hear about every little thing that has been bothering him for the past six months...for example, last night (or should I say at 2:00 AM this morning) A was in tears... "I want a parrot...pig....monkey", "why won't Bubba (big brother) let me play on his computer", "I don't want to do lessons" and "why do I need to sleep? I can stay up all night....". 

Little E (read more about his story here), he will go to sleep, and he will sleep good for a couple of hours, then he gets up.  I tell him "E back to bed" and he goes back to bed, only to pop up again in about a hour. The last thing I remember is hearing E talking and laughing in his room at approximately 3:00 this morning. A's crying spells doesn't help and usually they wake little E up!

I remember when my boy's were newborns, I remember the exhaustion of waking every two hours, well I feel like that, except maybe worse. I sure hope this is just a phase, I wonder how long a person can go without sleep before totally going bonkers!  Ugh!

Actually, I am almost used to it! I guess the body adapts!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Curriculum, curriculum, and more curriculum!

Wow, I have done a lot of shopping in the past few weeks.  Mainly online, though I have picked up a few workbooks at a local book store, and some Mozart and Beethoven CD's at Goodwill! I think I  have finally (one week before we start school) got my curriculum. So here is a quick list of some of the fun and amazing things we we are going to learn this year!

  • Math- This is the subject we struggle with the most. I admit  that math is not my favorite subject, so I do stress about it. I have changed curricula multiple times, searching for the right  math for "A". He likes structure, and is a hands on learner.  I have researched and read, and I have finally decided to use Singapore Math- Primary Math. We will be using the teacher's manual, workbooks, and manipulatives with this curriculum. 
  • Reading- One of our favorite subjects! I am sticking with the Pecci Reading Method, "A" made such wonderful progress in reading last year and I feel that he is currently performing above grade level. I also plan to add in spelling and basic grammar. 
  • Science- For science I will be creating our curriculum using, library books, the internet, and I will probably order kits from the Young Scientists Club. I also plan to continue using  Moving Beyond the Page, and of course simply getting outside to learn about nature through experience!
  • Social Studies/History- I am so excited about this! We will be using Beautiful Feet Early American History- History Through Literature. 
  • Art- For art we will do creative activities, and read about famous artists and view their works. 
  • Music- For music we will start the year off with The Story of the Orchestra, book and CD. We will also discuss and listen to the works of famous composers, and will use the Classic for Kids web page.  We hope to start piano lessons this year! 
I plan on lots of learning and fun. We love field trips and hope to visit the zoo, the park, the theater, and some museums! I really want to take A to see a performance by the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, if they offer performances for children that is!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Finally planning!

I am finally starting to get some planning done for the upcoming school year. I am finding it easier to plan each unit/subject one at a time and am planning for the first month right now.  I just finished planning our first Science unit. I decided to (loosely) follow the Virginia standards to give me a starting point, and I would like A to  learn things that are similar to what his peers are learning, but I am skipping around. I am also going above and beyond the state standards, simply to keep A from becoming bored! That doesn't mean I'm tying myself to standards, if there is something A wants to learn that isn't in the standards, well then we'll do it (like dinosaurs, monster trucks,  or Spanish)!

I wanted to share our first Science unit with you. I have decided to do Science on Tuesdays and Thursdays and alternate with History/Social Studies on Mondays and Wednesdays, I may change my mind though and do one week of Science and one week of Social studies to keep things consistent.  I'm just not sure how that will work yet! If you homeschool your elementary aged children, how do you schedule units like Social Studies and Science?

Our first Science unit for first grade will be "All About Animals"!

"Animals" published by  American Education Publishing. 
Large folding project board to use for charts 
Two smaller poster boards( also for charts)
Glue and scissors  
Poster Paint or Markers
Various books about animals, habitats, etc. 
Pictures of different animals cut from a magazine or printed from Internet, or you could even use pictures that  you take at the zoo! 
Computer or IPAD with Internet access- for related videos and websites 

Day one

  • Discuss animal safety and how we stay safe around animals. 
  • Discuss life needs of animals and humans 
  • Read "All about Penguins" in "Animals"/grades 2-3
  • Discuss Penguins, discuss their needs and their habitats. 
  • Introduce descriptive word chart, paste a picture of a penguin on the chart 
  • using descriptive words describe penguins, write the words under the penguin picture on chart 
  • Color penguin activity page
Day Two

  • Animal Habitats- discuss and review what he learned in Kindergarten ( we did a whole unit on habitats in K, complete with a field trip to the State Park) 
  • Start our Habitat Chart- Chart will have the following pictures, Forest, pond, desert, ocean, arctic, and a house (for our tame animals/pets). 
  • Discuss animal adaptations and defenses using pages 228 "Animals"/grade 2-3.
  • Watch a video or read a book about Penguins (habitats and adaptations).
Day three

If weather permits we will take this lesson outside, to enjoy with our pets!
  • Read about Gray Wolves (p32) in "Animals", Bald Eagle(p30), and Giraffes(p99), add each of these animals to descriptive word chart, and habitat chart. 
  • Talk about animals we have around our home (pets), discuss the difference between tame and wild animals. 
  • Read page 176 Cats, page 187 dogs, and page. 190 Guinea Pigs ( all pets we have). 
  • Add Cats, Dog, and Guinea pig to habitat page (lives with people as pets), and descriptive word chart. 

Day four

  • Read pull out story about frogs in "Animals" p193. 
  • Compare and Contrast frogs and toads using Venn diagram 
  • discuss the life cycle of a frog. 
  • Make life cycle of frog book found a Enchanted Learning
Day five
  • In "Animals" read about: Jellyfish, Lobster, Octopus ,Sea Horse, Shark, Starfish, and Whales 
  • Add these animals to habitat chart and descriptive word chart, discuss adaptations. 
  • Go to National Geographic Kids and learn about ocean animals. 
  • Go online and find pictures of favorite animals and finish chart, make sure each habitat has at least one animal under it!
Field trip to zoo!! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A not so relaxed stay at home mom!

I don't know how many times I have heard "you are so lucky to be able to stay at home with your kids", and I know I am. I am very thankful that I am able to be here for my boy's, I am thankful that I am able to home-school "A". I am thankful that I am able to meet his unique needs, and help him learn and grow, he is after all a very intelligent little boy! I am not a stay at home mom by choice, but I am not complaining.

When my youngest son Elijah was born at 24 weeks, we brought home a very sick four month old. "A" was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism about a year later. It didn't take me long to figure out that life was going to change drastically! I know that many of you special needs mommies know how it is. The appointments, often traveling hundreds of miles to get the medical care your child needs.  Dealing with the schools, which is often a major heartache and headache, and the way it feels to hand your home over to strangers. Early intervention, therapists, social workers, nurses, aides, all of the people who spend hours a day in your home, to help with your child. I have almost forgot what it is like to just kick back on the couch while the kids take a nap.

So when I say I am a stay at home mom I am sure some people think that I do my housework, put the kids down for a nap and then turn on my favorite television show or soap. Or maybe I kick back and read for a couple of hours. That isn't how it is, at least not for me.

Housework, well that is something that I do in between appointments, sometimes I reserve housework for after the kids go to bed. Needless to say, I will not be winning any awards for the cleanest, best decorated home. The wallpaper is still half off the walls in the kitchen where I have been meaning to repaint, it has been that way for a long time! You won't find flowers in my flower bed, but you may find a few weeds! If you stop by without calling first there may even be a few dishes in the sink and my living room will probably look like a preschool! I don't even want to talk about the basement area!

Television, well what few shows I do watch I DVR, and I try not to fall asleep as I am watching at midnight or possibly later.  Most days I enjoy bits of Nick Jr. and Mario jumping across the screen. I love to read, but that is something I don't do near as much as I used to.

During the school year our day is a blur of lessons, appointments, and running errands. Some days I catch myself in "survival mode", where it feels like I am just doing what I need to do to get through the day. I really try not to do that . I try every day to recognize my blessings, I realize there are others who are so much worse off. I get to wake up every morning to my boys sweet voices, many never hear their child speak. I am able to teach A at home. Many parents have no choice but go work, send their child to school, often not knowing for sure if their child's needs are really being met. I see Elijah improving every day, far past the doctors expectations. I have a wonderful 17 year old son who makes me so proud!

 I know how fast things can change. I know, because I've been there. So my plan is to strive to find a blessing in each and every day, because the blessings are always there!

 A and his newest pet

A and baby brother

A and big brother

Friday, June 29, 2012

Loving summer, but looking ahead!

I am sorry I haven't posted in a while. I must be the worlds worst blogger! Hopefully my posts will pick back up when school starts in August and we have more going on. Yes, that is right. We haven't done school at all this summer, and I am accepting that this is okay! We are still learning, but just doing some old fashioned learning with play and looking at books! I think that a little down time will help "A". Especially after our leap into homeschooling after a difficult start to Kindergarten in public school. 

I am starting to plan some for the fall though. I have been shopping around a little for workbooks and books to read. I will begin planning lessons soon! I plan on sharing my lessons on here, maybe someone else will use them and benefit from them. I am constantly borrowing ideas, it is amazing how creative people are! I am so glad that I am homeschooling in today's world of internet! 

The last time I posted I told you about A's stomach problems. I am pleased to report we are doing much better, and we have a appointment in the Fall with a specialist. I am considering starting a Gluten free diet with A, but the idea scares me, so I am still in the thinking about it stage.

We are having a blast this summer, I hope you are having a great summer as well! 

Summer Fun! 

Playing the sensory box! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tummy problems and summer plans!

So far our summer is not going as planned.  It started out good, with a planned break from lessons and some visits to a local swimming pool and some backyard fun.  About a week ago A became ill with typical tummy virus symptoms, but, even after a night in the hospital for dehydration his fever would not go away. We finally visited a children's ER to have his tummy x-rayed and found out that A is extremely constipated, to the point that it was making him ill. We are working on getting that taken care of without going back to the hospital but A still doesn't feel well. Prayers are appreciated!  This has been a ongoing problem and is getting worse, so it looks like we get to add another doctor to A and his brother's busy schedule.
So, we haven't even got around to school this summer, not even the fun field trips I had planned, but we will get there! Speaking of busy, I am having such a hard time keeping up with two blogs and I am trying to figure out a creative way to combine A's blog with his brother's so I can update on them both in one blog! Both boy's are in therapy this summer and are doing great! I am extremely pleased with baby brothers progress!

I am hoping to get back to some fun learning activities with the boy's soon, I hope everyone is having a great summer!

 Backyard fun! 

 Spending time at the Ronald McDonald House. 

Baby Brother! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summer school....or not?

I have really been debating on what to do this summer. Should I continue to do lessons or take a break like the public school does? I have decided that we will do some academics this summer, maybe two times a week and then we will do fun learning activities during the rest of the week. My thoughts are reading and math two days a week and then fill the rest of the week with music, art, and nature studies, and pretty much anything the boy's want to do. I also want to fit one of our "Moving Beyond the Page" units in.

We will have a pretty busy summer, with therapy for both boy's, some pool time, and some field trips thrown in. I really want to take A to the theater and a couple of museums this summer. We will probably take a few weeks off in July just to relax (and so mommy can finally take a class she has been putting off for months).

I'm looking forward to a busy summer, and hopefully some relaxation thrown in there somewhere! I'll leave you with a picture of A, making dinosaur tracks in clay during our dinosaur unit! A loves learning about dinosaurs and he had actually already taught himself about these giant creatures, thanks to Netflix and dinosaur documentaries!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy Birthday A

I can't believe that A is six years old! We celebrated with a party at Chuck E Cheese! It was a spectacular day!
 Hanging out with the mouse! 

 We had the best hostess, she made A feel very important! 

Ticket Blaster Fun.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A awesome post about a awesome kid!

"A" during his reading lesson. 

It's been a long time since I have wrote here. Things are going well for "A", homeschooling him was definitely the right thing to do right now. I have seen a lot of changes, and well to be honest, the child is so much happier now! We are finishing up our unit on Weather and will be studying Dinosaurs next. I continue to be amazed at his reading skills, he has flown through his second primer and I figure he is now reading on a mid to end of the year 1st grade level. Math is a little trickier for him, though we keep moving on with it! I am planning on continuing lessons in reading and math through the summer, but only for a couple of days a week. The rest of the time I plan on learning through play and discovery. The best kind of learning there is.

 "A" having swim lessons and loving them! 

Now I would like to talk a little bit about Asperger's. I haven't mentioned it much lately, probably because "A" is doing so well. It has really just become a part of who he is, just like being smart, quirky, funny, and  having red hair and freckles is a part of who he is. I was in a discussion in a facebook group and I made the following comment:

"I guess what I am trying to say is that Autism does not always mean what a lot of people think it does, I get very frustrated with that sometimes. People expect my son to be either intellectually delayed or some kind of savant, actually he is just a smart, funny, quirky, little boy who sometimes gets anxious and melts down due to sensory overload and who would rather play a video game and be on the computer than play T-ball, guess what that is okay, it's who he is....and I love him for it!"

After this post I realized this is exactly what I want to tell a lot of people, that it is okay if my son doesn't play ball, or become a social butterfly, it's okay if he decides one day that he would rather spend his senior year writing computer programs than going on the school trip and to the prom. It doesn't make him any less or any better than any other child, don't feel sorry for him because I'm sure he'll be just as happy programming computers as your child will be punting a football. It takes all  kinds of different people to make this world go. Einstein didn't even speak until he was four, but that isn't what he is remembered for, he is remembered for so much more! So if you read this, now you know how I feel!

"A" with baby brother during a outing. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

More home school updates...and our little break!

I know in my last post that I didn't want to use a pre-made curriculum and workbooks, well I stand by that decision (at least the workbook part). After becoming increasingly frustrated with my son's math (the only workbook we have been using), I have decided to use Moving Beyond the Page, a hands on curriculum that uses a unit study approach.  For math I am going to try Right Start Math. We should be getting both of these in the mail soon, so I will let you know how it is going! We did a unit on habitats last week and ended it with a fun field trip to our local state park. Next week we are going to study Ireland, a field trip to visit Dollywood's Festival of Nations is being planned in the near future! We decided to take a week off from lessons (a early Spring break) and visit a waterpark resort in the Smoky Mountains! We also visited the Wonderworks museum!  We had a blast!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Homeschooling perks!

Hi everyone. I am busy today trying to pull my lessons together for next week. I guess it would be easier to do a pre-made curriculum, but I hate the idea of being tied down to workbooks for everything. We do use a workbook for math, but that's it. I think we will do a unit on winter this week, and "A" is still reading from his primer. We have a few letter blends to learn this week in reading.

Last week went well, we actually got ahead in reading, I am glad for that! I got a call last week from the UVA medical center asking if they could see "A" earlier due to a cancellation. I said yes, then went into a frenzy trying to pull together medical records. The trip was about four hours one way, so that of course took a whole day and then we needed the next day for some much needed rest!

We will have to catch up a little with math this week, but do I feel guilty? No, that is the joy of homeschooling! We are planning a visit to the lovely Pigeon Forge area for a stay at a indoor water park in the near future, I am sure I can work something educational into that, there are some wonderful educational opportunities in Pigeon Forge!

I am finding many "perks" to homeschooling! We can sleep in a extra hour and still get our lessons done by lunch! We can take awesome field trips to water parks! I don't have to feel guilty any more about missing school for medical appointments, and everything can be turned into a opportunity for learning!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Another Magnificent Monday!

It is so unusual to be excited about Mondays, but I am now. Things have changed so much since I started homeschooling "A", even baby brother  seems happier, I think a lot of stress and anxiety has been removed from our household. "A" wakes up ready to do his school work, he seems like he is having fun.
Two weeks ago I could barely get him to put three sounds together to make a word and today he read word's like John, look, and that. The reading curriculum we are using seems to be working! So far math is going good, I started him at the beginning of the Kindergarten Horizons math workbook,  it is a lot of review for him but he is flying through it, doing several lessons a day. I am sure it will slow down a little when we get into some of the harder concepts. We ended our lessons today with our unit study, "Rocking Robots" . Alex is enjoying learning about all the things robots can do, especially the fact that they have been to Mars! In today's unit study we also talked about the Solar system.  We have had a great start to the week and we are both pleased!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

And the journey begins....

We have been homeschooling for about two weeks now. Things are starting to fall into place. We took it slow for the first couple of weeks, so we could both get used to the change. Homeschooling is pretty awesome. I am surprised that A does his lessons so well with minimum fuss. We have been concentrating mainly on reading and math for the past two weeks, and we have read a few books from the library for science and history, we have learned about George Washington in history and about shadows in science. We also started reading "Moby Dick".

 During the past two weeks we have worked on reading skills and phonics, and we have reviewed in math. We enjoyed morning story time at our local library last Tuesday and we were able to meet a local home school family for lunch one day!

 We got our new Horizons math book and the Pecci reading series in the mail last week so we are ready to take off. I am waiting on science, social studies, and bible.  I have also decided to do some unit studies. I downloaded a few from Unit Studies by Amanda Bennet and I let A choose which one he wants to do next week! He chose a unit about Robots! I am looking forward to a fun week next week, one full of learning! 

My little Mr. Smarty pants! 

Computer time! 

Finished with lessons and playing his Wii...