Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

For your entertainment heehee here is a video that Z~girl and her dad made.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Prader-willi syndrome

I saw this on my facebook tonight and I'm going to try and post a link - Prader-Willi Syndrome Awareness . Today I had a bad afternoon. Why? Well to start out with a haircut gone wayyyy to short. Then my son A~man threw a humdinger of a rage/tantrum. Let's see....bad haircut/VS the struggle of always being hungry,always wanting more (of whatever), always wanting to feel control when your little world is out of control. Add in a splash of autism and adhd. Sheesh....give me the crummy mama award for today seriously. Seeing this list that this other young man with PWS posted puts things completely in perspective.

Could you give up the things on this list?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

**~~Merry Christmas~~**

December has been a roller coaster ride that is for sure. I heard somewhere that the holiday season is one of the most stressful events for a person. While I definitely understand that I also think it's a bit sad that celebrating Jesus birth (for Christians) would cause such stress. Add in special needs and all that comes with learning disabilities and at least double the stress! We went to so many fun events this month, did lots of shopping and decorating but through it all I noticed that most of the pictures of A~man are similar to the one below which I could title "bah humbug"!.

I know it's overwhelming for me but add in all the issues that go along with Prader-willi syndrome and autism and it's more than a kid can handle! For holiday food we have kept it simple. I admit to getting jealous with the description of all the sweets people are baking. I LOVE to bake...but I only ended up baking one treat and it was for a cookie exchange. Our late lunch was YUM but we kept it to ham, dressing, cranberries, green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole! (that still sounds like a lot haha!)

Oh but last night Z~girl and I did make a birthday cake to celebrate Jesus' birthday.

All in all today really has been a fun day with only one short lived meltdown. (no it wasn't me;) The kids enjoyed their presents but I think their favorite was the beanbag chairs Santa brought. I had "thought" hubby and I were going to keep things simple with each others gifts but he ended up shamelessly spoiling me with a new lens for my camera and a handmade wool scarf made by one of our favorite farmers market friends. . I will get even. :)

The above picture was a "Play/Concert" that the kids have been secretively been planning all week. It involved four skits, violin/fiddle music by Z and guitar by A~man. We were able to record part of it. It was so much fun and our dog "Slick" played the part of a donkey. (I'm surprised they didn't bring the bunnies in and have them be sheep)

I hope everyone has had a Merry Christmas! Stay tuned next week as I have an exciting blog that is a sequel to my "Traveling through SD" entry from months ago. It will be about roadschooling at its finest!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I confess...

Since we started in the fall I have really been lax about reading aloud to A and Z. Now with Z this just means she reads independently but A~man will not. (at least not that I have observed although he does like to look at picture books and magazines alone) For him he is still learning to read bigger and more advanced words and it is always two steps forward one step back with him. He has to read with his online curriculum and he has to read independently to his dad and I but reading aloud to both children with words they might not know yet gives them the perfect opportunity to ask what new words mean. Besides reading together is such good family time!

So..after Christmas (right now we are trying to finish up some math before we take a week break) I'm going to start reading either Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming (A~man's current favorite movie hahah) or the Borrowers by Mary Norton. I still haven't decided yet but I picked those as I know Z hasn't read either of them yet and I know they would both be interested in them. There is even a literature word list already made at spelling city that I will be including in their lessons.

Since we are talking about books make sure and check out! The books on that site are about homeschoolers and there is something for any age. Plus I have a few reviews over there that I have done on some excellent books!


Friday, December 16, 2011

I See Cards-Fractazmic review

The I See Cards have a variety of games available but we were given the opportunity through The Old Schoolhouse to try out and review the Fractazmic game. I was very excited to be able to participate in this review but soon realized my children are not quite to the level to actually play the game. My daughter is at a 4th grade level in math and my son who has special needs is at about a 2nd grade level in math.Their exposure to fractions has been limited so far but it will be a subject we jump fully into in the new year! The game appears to be a fun way to reinforce and practice skills that a child already knows.

This is some information from the Fractazmic website about their product!

When children play Fractazmic, they know they're having fun, and you know that they're learning! Fractazmic is a comprehensive interactive fun lesson in fractions that gives your child unlimited practice at their individual level.

Each brightly colored card displays fractions, along with eye catching graphics, to ensure reinforcement. Players will quickly identify the fractions on their cards and calculate their way to fun and learning! Fractazmic teaches fractions, numbers and measurement.

Ensure the mathematical success of your children with Fractazmic!

Fractazmic Decks Include:

60 Math Learning Cards

Each card clearly numbered

Each card clearly labeled with the fraction and reinforcing graphic.

What makes Fractazmic Decks Special:

Quickly learn to convert and add fractions.

Reinforces relationship between fractions and measurements.

Shows real world use of fractions.

I really love how bright and colorful the cards are with cute engaging pictures! Since my kids are not quite ready for this deck I plan on some of the other games they have available as my children love to use games to learn and reinforce what they already know. They have other cards games for math and language skills!  I highly recommend this product and at a price of $6.95 it is very reasonable!

To read what other TOS Crew members thought of this product, click HERE.

Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. All of the opinions are mine alone and I received no other compensation for my opinion.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011



Thought it was a dog,
a fat dog with strange coarse hair,
everyone watches.

I used to LOVE blogging about our local extremely quaint downtown district and did it often as my husband worked many years downtown. Nowadays we are rarely there unless we are getting A~man's hair cut, going to the game store or visiting Narnia Studios. On the rare occasion of a date night we have a difficult time picking a place as there are so many great restaurants. My old blog has many entries about our walking adventures before picking up hubby at work. Well today we all headed downtown and hubby took A~man to the barber shop while my fellow elf Z and I bought a few presents. (Where? I will never say ;) On our way back to the barbershop I noticed this really big "dog" in front of us and Z whispered to me "is that a pig?" I honestly thought she was joking until it along with it's two owners turned to go on the crosswalk. I think my jaw dropped to the sidewalk. I've seen a LOT of things in this town but I have never seen someone take a pig for a walk downtown. I walked into the barbershop and asked "did you see THAT?" My husband said that everyone in the barbershop was pressed to the glass looking out the window at the sight. I only wish I would have either had a camera or thought to pull myself together and take a picture of it with my phone.

THAT was some pig!!

Here is a picture of our downtown to give you some idea.

Monday, December 12, 2011

gonna HAVE to get in better shape.

Today was a challenging day as dear son had three meltdowns. They were about a 6 on the richter scale. The first one happened when we took a walk which was about 3 miles but all flat so not too bad. It's been a long time since we have walked as in good weather we try to walk 3-4 miles five times a week. The weather has not cooperated and we have taken turns being sick the last month. Despite this A~man had lots of energy on our walk. There is a place in the trail towards the end where he likes to take a path through the trees and run up a steep hill to beat us all. Pretty remarkable really that he is able to do this. NORMALLY though as he reaches the top of the hill first he is so tired he has to stop. Not today. He kept on going and the trail has a busy road that runs through it. He had his mp3 going, he was ignoring us too, and would not stop and we were both yelling. I felt a panic. Hubby rolled a rock down the path (not at him mind you ahahah!) but to get his attention to look at us. He turned around and kept on going! I will say in all the years of walking with him when I yell stop (and I KNOW he heard us!) I have never had him not stop. So what did one of us need to do? RUN. Which I ended up doing meanwhile thinking of how much pain I was gonna be in after. He wasn't real close to the road but close enough to have me concerned as he cannot cross the road alone. I was able to get to him with plenty of time but he was furious! (over me having to cross with him? because dad threw the rock?) I'm still not sure but after I got him across the road he started screaming at us. There is a park maintenance building we pass and he was loud enough everyone came out of the building to see what was going on. He was yelling at me and I was telling him why we were upset that he wouldn't stop.

Needless to say it made me even more aware that I need to lose weight. Not a lot. But even 20 pounds. The way it is now I'm pretty much always hurting somewhere. I know I would feel better and not think twice about taking off at a run. I need to be able to keep up with this boy!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

TeacherGeek HYDRAULIC ARM review

I admit I jumped at the chance to try this out for the Old Schoolhouse Magazine review crew. I'm not sure if it was the geek part or what but it sounded very interesting. I was a little worried as it didn't come in the mail when I thought it would (before our trip) but fortunately our very nice neighbor took care of this special package until we got back home. That's when I looked at the box and thought "what was I thinking?" I'm a language arts/literature/music/art geek....not an engineering, math, science geek!

Here's a description from the TeacherGeek website-

We sell innovative products that teach students about engineering, math, science and technology while being just plain fun. Browse through our catalog and challenge your inner inventor, or check out some videos to see what our gizmos can do! We offer packaged activities as well as separate components—the possibilities are endless! Awesome teacher-created labs and guides are included for free with each of our activities.

Take STEM education to a whole new level. Teach students the best way possible—through hands-on learning and development with products that allow them to test their ideas and grow as creators!

This item is available at TeacherGeek for 16.18.

Fortunately for me I have a co teacher in the house that is much better at this type of stuff! So let me introduce my guest blogger Chris, aka hubby. Please welcome Chris!

It was with a little fear that I received the Teacher Geek Hydraulic Arm. I am not a technical engineering type of person and questioned my own ability to complete it. The Teacher Geek Hydraulic Arm comes with a 23 page application guide. Don't be overwhelmed by the number of pages. Each page is single sided with a few well thought out instructions and large pictures that are well described. There are a total of 39 steps from start to completion.Though my children assisted me and there are many steps that they could do in the assembly process the real fun was in the playtime that followed once the Teacher Geek Hydraulic Arm was built. My daughter age 10 was a little bored as we put the Hydraulic arm together, after it was complete she was excited to see it work and enjoyed playing for a long time with it, picking up various household objects.

I cut a piece too short during the build and fortunately there were extra parts. A few pieces were installed wrong but these mistakes were easily fixed. The mistakes that were made were due to my scanning a page and not reading the instructions correctly.Everything was included with the exception of a Phillips screwdriver and pair of pliers that were needed to tighten a part.

The Teacher Geek Hydraulic Arm is a great kit because it teaches skills during the build time and demonstrates hydraulics instead of just telling about hydraulics.

Pros: demonstrates hydraulic principle, extra parts included, and well written instructions 
Cons: instructions require very close reading!

My husband admits that most of the issues he had with the item were user error and he and the kids were overall pleased with the item. We used plain water instead of colored as...uhh...we were afraid the tube might come apart but id didn't!

As a member of TOS Homeschool Crew, I was provided with this item mentioned above in exchange for an honest review. Check out the other reviews that the Homeschool Crew have on this same item!

Accidental Homeschooler?

When we started homeschooling almost six years ago I did not know there was a term "Accidental Homeschooler" for our misadventures that year. Z was starting her second year of preschool at four years old and A~man was about to start the big K at six years old. Preschool had gone relatively smooth (for a child with special needs and I'm not talking about his bus issues...that's a whole different story ;) except for when he was four and doing so well that they tried to put him in a more inclusive classroom that did not have enough supervision. Once he was back with his "old" teacher (who was a fabulous teacher I might add) things evened back out. Kindergarten brought a new classroom with new children and teachers.

In his new K classroom I did not get very many updates despite asking and I assumed he was doing OK. Then came the 9 week IEP. We were blindsided. Not until 9 weeks were we informed things were not going well at all. We were told he would have to go to a new classroom for children with behavior issues. There was only about five kids in the classroom,one teacher and two aids. Looking back the problem with this classroom was they were trained to deal with more typically developing children that had behaviour problems. The were not trained (and in the end the teacher agreed) to deal with a child with behaviors that came from having MR/DD and having a syndrome like Prader-willi. He was there less than two months and they kept calling me to come get him as he was having a "bad day".  This classroom also had a time out room (honestly it was a padded closet) but we signed papers to insure he would not be put in a room for timeout. The literal straw that broke the camels back is when they called and said that he had been put in the timeout cube (chair) for two hours. After looking at the variance report later it was closer to three hours A~man was forced to sit in a chair. I do not know about you but I could not sit in a chair for 3 hours even as an adult.

I was NOT happy at all. The next day I called them and asked if I could come and observe what was happening to set off these behaviors as at the time he was not doing the same antics at home. What was there response? Parents are not allowed in the classrooms during school hours even WITH an appointment. It takes a lot to make me mad. I am sure steam was coming out of my ears. I responded back for them to get him ready with all of his belongings as I was taking him home. At that moment I do not think HOMESCHOOLING was in my head but I sure wasn't putting him back in that classroom where the only thing he was learning was bad words. After talking with my husband we decided that for at least the rest of the school year (it was February 2006 ) I would teach him at home. I'm really not sure why I didn't think of it sooner as before kids that is what I did. (I taught preschool and then tutored a few children with autism) Most likely it was because back then he was still considered a foster child and we did not have a complete say in such things.

Has our special needs learning been a smooth ride? Anyone that has read my blog or is my friend knows the answer to that question. What would be the fun in that anyway? Our home school journey has been full of twists, turns, and mountains to conquer. Plus a few potholes that have made my head spin. I can look back over the years and see how much my son has benefited from schooling at home, how my daughter has been able to go at her own pace. (sometimes fast sometimes meandering at a slower pace) Sometimes like the title of my blog states I believe I have learned just as much if not more from our learning journey.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Spelling Bee time!!

OK, so the home school spelling bee isn't until the spring but now is the time to make sure to be ready for it. Z participated in it a few years ago but sadly the one word she didn't know was the first word she was given. To this day she remembers that moment AND knows how to spell the word of course. (orange by the way ;) A few months ago I heard that one of our home school groups was going to have one this year and I put the bzzzzz in Z's ear about it. Not long ago she decided YES she did want to participate.

I also participated in the spelling bee when I was in grade school and one year I won for my school! (4th or 5th grade) I wish I could say that spelling came naturally for me but it did not.  In some part of my memory I can see my mom drilling the the words to me out of a little blue book. It was a painful process I have to admit hahahha! Today, even though I do not spell perfectly I can thank my mom for the hours and hours(and hours;) she spent helping me with my spelling as for the most part I retained it.

For our spelling bee in the spring we were given a list of words to study. Another excellent way to prepare would be to check out popular word lists listed at Spelling City. The cool thing about Spelling City is that you can plug your own words into the site so that it helps the child learn the words through spelling games and virtual tests! I really like this as it will be something Z can do by herself without me breathing down her neck. So that is the route we will be going.

Now excuse me while I go run spell check as I would HATE to misspell a word in this particular blog entry.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lego Smart Creativity Contest Results!

I'm happy and thankful to announce that we won the Lego competition in the homeschool category! Well I say we...but it was truly the hubby and kids this time. I was the proud wifey/mama! It was really a wonderful experience. We were able to attend the Lego Education STEM Summit. Going in I was expecting maybe some negativity as far as homeschooling as all the other participants were either teachers from private schools or public schools. I couldn't have been more wrong! We so enjoyed meeting all of the other teachers that won the contest in their categories.

After a rather long drive ;) there, we arrived late afternoon and then went out to eat at a VERY nice restaurant with a representative from Lego, Debra Smith (who I cannot say enough good stuff about...she was wonderful!) and all of the other teachers that won in their category. I'm proud to say my kids were so well behaved (phew...but how could I expect any less? ;) and our family really enjoyed talking with the other teachers. The grand prize winner Dottie was a sweetheart!

The kids even met an astronaut!! Here they are with  Leland D. Melvin. His personal story is quite amazing I must add. He is in charge of the NASA education project. (they are linked up with Lego) Z has always been interested in outerspace and space travel so I feel so blessed that we had this opportunity.

Oh and I cannot forget that we were able to meet Stephan Turnipseed, president of LEGO Education North America. In fact I was sitting next to him at lunch! I really got a lot out of the Summit presentations and was once again really surprised how pro homeschool the presentations were.  It was very interesting hearing how Lego is used as a tool to teach science and technology and get kids in schools involved in wanting to learn.

I'm so thankful to God for giving us this opportunity! We will be giving part of our winnings to our 4H Lego/Robotics club.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

visual spatial learning

Visual spatial learners are those individuals that "think in pictures". This really fits with my son and quite honestly that is how I learn the best also. If I am on the phone with someone trying to give me directions somewhere it is completely useless. Regardless if they give me excellent directions I always have to google a map and look at it before it makes sense to me. For my son if he reads words on a page that are not accompanied by a photo or illustration he does not retain it as much. One of his favorite books is an early reader that is about some basic facts on George Washington. Each page has a basic picture on the other side that relates to what the other page says. Using the pictures in conjunction with the pictures he is able to remember basic facts about one of America's founding fathers. Reading comprehension happens best if he can see a picture of what he is reading about.

Another great way to teach this type of learner is by using manipulatives such as my favorite- LEGO! Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for ideas on using Lego to learn.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I admit lapbooking is something we have not done a lot of. We are traveling right now (more on that later...I'm finding it challenging to get on the computer to blog) and I was thinking how nice it would have been to have some lapbooks along to entertain on the long hours in the car.

WHAT IS a Lapbook ?

A lapbook is a very inexpensive way to bring together a topic into a collection of mini-books, flaps, using a file folder. It provides a space and pockets for drawings, graphics, stories, graphs, timelines, diagrams, and written work. With the subject you choose you can include writing, reading, art....The possibilities are limitless. It can be used for preschoolers all the way up to kids in older grades. The possibilities are limitless.

Here is a picture of a science lapbook that I found online.

That is one of the many neat things about lapbooks. You can make it on any subject. That fits right in with our ecclectic learning style. We sometimes do workboxes and this would be a really fun project to put in a workbox to add variety. You can buy already to put together lapbooks to print out and put in a file folder or if you are the creative type it is easy to pull one together yourself to go with your childs special interests.

We are planning a similiar road trip for next summer and I have big plans for a state and state facts lapbook! Do any of my readers have ideas for lapbooks to make or care to share lapbooks they have made?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Teaching your child to read

I must say that reading is one of my favorite things to do with writing coming in a close second. To instil that same love of books to my children has been a huge goal for me over the years. I started teaching both of my children to read around the same time. A~man was almost 7 and Z~girl was 5. I used the book "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 easy lessons". I was a bit nervous at first because it was a slow start the first couple of weeks with both children. After a month though Z took off with no looking back. At the end of that first year Z was reading two years ahead of her grade level. Ever since she has been a  voracious reader. I used to love the reactions of the librarians when she would check out over a dozen chapter books and bring them back less than two weeks later. She doesn't consume quite so many books at 10 but she still brings a book wherever she goes.

It has not been an easy voyage with A's reading yet still he LOVES books and loves a good story. Teaching him to read has involved so many different approaches. His online phonics program has been invaluable to him learning how to put sounds together and also learning how to comprehend what he has read. For him it has helped that he can hear it read, read it himself, and then answer the questions the computer asks.  Learning sight words was also invaluable as memorizing is fairly easy for him. Plus we try to have him read to us every day. Sometimes I will make a chart of blocks and he can color in a block for each 15 minutes he has read to us. Scattered throughout the chart I will put motivators such as-a trip to the game store, renting a movie of his choice, a trip to the dollar store, and the very occasionally trip to go out to eat with just one of us. (he loves the alone time even more than the food I believe) Another thing I have done with the kids is for them to make a menu (or me) and to play restaurant. I know this might not work with some children with PWS but it's never caused a problem with A~man. Or we have played store by me keeping old cereal boxes/drained soda and water bottles/pizza boxes and I have made them a list and they had to go "shopping" for what was on the list. This was also a great way to include math by them paying the cashier for the items. They LOVED this.

I'm  not sure if reading will ever be easy for A~man but I hope both he and his sister keep their love of books.


Monday, November 7, 2011


I need a do over for this week. Have you heard of a do over? (I'm not sure where the kids and I got that term) On a REALLY cranky morning we have been known to go back into our rooms for awhile...have some quite time and come back out and start completely over from scratch with a happier demeanor.

The start of my weekend was ROUGH. Female issues and kidney stones. Way too much info for my blog but it is suffice to say physically I am drained. I feel depressed mentally due to feeling so physically drained. I haven't been too cranky today just really really down. I admit it. Even if my name is JOY sometimes I really get down. My poor compassionate and empathetic daughter kept asking all day long "what's wrong?" "did I do something?" on and on. Finally what did she do? She went to the store and came back surprising me with chocolate that she bought with her own money.

Oh but in my stupor? I forgot a homeschool event. I know I goes on but looking back I wish I would have told A~man...yes he bugs me with daily event planning but if he would have known I wouldn't have forgotten.

Here's to a much better tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hebrews 11:1

YOU TOO can blog!!

SERIOUSLY! I have been blogging since Jan 2005. I started out blogging somewhere else and ended up jumping over to Blogger a few years ago. My only regret was that I couldn't bring my old entries over here to blogger. I have been trying for ages to get my husband to start blogging as he is an excellent writer but he mainly likes writing fiction. (which might be interesting for a blog theme?) I have tried to talk friends into blogging about their life experiences but most just do not think that they are creative enough to do it or that they do not have enough time. I'm perhaps an atypical female as I do not like at ALL to chat on the phone. (much to my family in particulars displeasure) This most likely happened after having children. HAHAH. If anyone knows my son at all (well sometimes my daughter too) talking on the phone when my children are around is like skiing up a hill.  I like chatting in person OR sort of like the diaries of the past I like writing it all in my blog.

Not long after I started using blogger someone told me about a wonderful Blog Writing Course. I already knew the basics but I cannot tell you how helpful this course was for learning how to get people to follow your blog, (thanks people!) learning some about HTML, making your blog purty and easy to read.  (and so much more!) So it was very beneficial to me even as a somewhat seasoned blogger. Of course I'm still always learning...that's why I love to go visit so many blogs. My favorite thing about blogging is looking back over the years at what I have written. I'm NOT good at scrap booking...but as I understand it you can put your blog into book form if you want. I'm hoping to do this one day.

Now get out there people...and WRITE!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Math anxiety

Yes. Even as an adult math can make me break out in a cold smelly sweat. Math anxiety would cause me to almost have to repeat 5th grade. Ironically my husband also almost had to repeat a grade because of math. I ended up going to summer school that summer plus my mom trying her best to get it all to sink in. I sometimes see this with my children. It will seem like they know a concept and the next day *poof* they will have to relearn it. That is how it was with testing for me.  I would study and know it and then completely blank out when it was time for a test. In our home school environment we do not do testing though except for the yearly testing required by the state. So far the kids do not know the anxiety that comes from "TESTS".

For now we are still just learning the basics of math: addition/subtraction/fractions/multiplication/division....but in a couple of years I will have to teach**gulp** algebra. Now I did take algebra in high school and college but that was, ahem, a VERY long time ago. I'm thinking that soon I will have to to do some refresher work in math. Most likely I will have to take an online algebra program to get me up to speed to teach more advanced mathematics.

Monday, October 24, 2011

So Excited!

I have been such a blog hog this week! Anyway,even before kids my hubby has been writing,writing,and writing. (we love writing Over Yonder haha) When the kids were babies we paid to have a book that he wrote and had a very special artist friend of ours do the art for published. It's an early reader book about a boy with an imagination that takes him above and beyond! We didn't market it much back then but recently decided to try again. Especially since he has so much more wonderful material he wants...and needs to publish. So it is now on Kindle at Amazon It will be available in hardcopy in the next week or so. BUT I do plan on doing a give away as I have some of the copies from the first exchange for a review. More on that next week!

Super special needs video!

We have chosen to home educate but this video is awesome and can be applied to socializing at church,community, and in our homeschool groups. I really like this I am Norm program!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Art and Music

I must admit that these two subjects are some of our favorite things. We do a lot of art at home and Z~girl has taken art classes a few times over the years with other homeschool children.(art plus socializing-can't get much funner than that!)There is also much to learn about art and music online. We especially love using the skills we have learned and entering exhibits in the state fair. We do shoe box floats,A~man decorates a boot in the special needs category, and we make paintings using acrylic and watercolor. Most years the kids and sometimes myself do some pictures in pencil and colored pencil. It's a fun thing that the kids and I look forward to every year. Oh also yearly the kids and I participate in a sidewalk chalk art contest!

The above drawing Z made was two years ago.

This fabulously colorful one was done by A~man 2 years ago.

This last year we learned through picture books about famous artists and we also love playing this Go Fish game. This year Z and I decided to pick our favorite artist/picture and do it with chalk.

I did Van Gogh's Night Visions.

Z did Senecio by Paul Klee

Both A and Z just this year started music lessons. Z loves playing her violin/fiddle...ultimately she wants to play fiddle but the Suzuki Method she has been taught is fabulous. A~man just started playing the drums and is doing very well with it.

I think the "arts" are a very important part of education. It stimulates your brain like nothing else can. Whether through playing an instrument, creating art, or learning the basics through Art and Music games.
The creative possibilites are limitless!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lego and Robotics Education

Awhile back I mentioned that we entered this Lego Education Contest. All the entries have been submitted(and there are a lot of excellent ones by homeschoolers and regular school) so we are waiting...

Hubby and the kids continue to have fun learning with Lego and making lots of fun videos. Just this week we had Lego and Robotics club which is a 4H group we belong to. It is run by a an awesome homeschool mom that also has a very informative blog on all things homeschool. She featured us in her blog and I just wanted to share it with all of you. Please take a peek. Lego and Robotics Academy

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I love fall...

WAIT I already said that didn't I? Oh well I guess I will just have to post some more pretty pictures.

Happy Fall Y'all!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Homeschool Crew Review: Always Icecream

Geared to girls ages 7-12
$4.99 per month or $29.99 per year
Life-time membership $99.99

Zoe and I had the opportunity to try out the site Always Icecream the last couple of months to review for The Old Schoolhouse. I admit when I checked out the site before my daughter did I was skeptical. She is going through a very ungirly like stage and I assumed her reaction to so much pink (she does not like pink) and girlish stuff would cause a revolt. Also she is not overly fond of playing on the computer unlike her brother who loves it. My first impression of the site? I thought it was adorabley cute. I was pleasantly suprised that she did really enjoy the site.

Always Icecream is a safe internet site that is just for girls and it is geared toward elementary and middle school girls. Some of the subjects in the learning portion of Always Icecream are- language arts,foreign languages, basic math, advanced math, history, science, geography, music, art, computer skills, and also some religious education. Here are some of the various activities my daughter participated in-

Your Daughter's Recent Learning Progress

During the last 90 days, Zoe made progress in the following learning games:
•Typing for Beginners from level 1 to 9
•Bible Quiz from level 1 to 2
•Melting $coops
•Math Quiz - Adding from level 1 to 7, earning a Bronze Medal
•Countries in Europe from level 1 to 5
•Synonyms from level 1 to 10, earning a Bronze Medal
•States of the USA from level 1 to 10, earning a Bronze Medal
•Math Quiz - Multiplying from level 1 to 7, earning a Bronze Medal
•Dog Breeds Quiz from level 3 to 6, earning a Silver Medal
•Vocabulary Practice German - English from level 1 to 2
•Word Confusion from level 1 to 2
•Vocabulary Practice English - Spanish from level 1 to 2


Girls are able to earn achievement medals, virtual pets and icecream scoops (virtual currency) when they complete the learning activities and videos. With the Scoops earned they are able to participate in the fun games. My daughter especially liked making her "MiniMe"complete with red hair of course! :)

Your child is also able to get pets in "Pet World". Some of the fun games include pretending to run a daycare, be a waitress, or be a cook! Your daughter is also able to connect with other girls through this site although we chose not to use this feature.


I wouldn't use Always Icecream as a complete curriculum but with the wide variety of learning activities and fun games it would make a wonderful supplement to a home school program or even for an after school activity for girls in regular school. I like that it is very user friendly and that my daughter needs very little assistance while doing it and the fact that it is a safe site makes that even more appealing. I also like there is an area to learn Bible facts. The site also has a money back guarantee if you find the site to not be a good fit for your family.

I encourage you to check out what my other crewmates from the TOS have to say about Always Icecream!

Disclosure- I was given a membership to Always Icecream in exchange for my honest review of the program.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Prader-willi syndrome- siblings

I do not talk about weight issues regarding ds normally(eating issues maybe) but tonight A~man got on the scale not because I asked him to but he was in our bathroom and hopped on as he thinks it's fun. Ha Ha.  I had to hold back my reaction. He asked "is it good?". I didn't know what to say. So I said little. He has gained a LOT this month. A LOT! He looks good and if he was a typically developing child that was almost 12 it probably would be expected to gain before a possible growth spurt. I have blogged about him sneaking food and hiding it but he has not in the last few years ever had such a weight gain in a month. It internally freaks me out a bit. I'm guessing it's because we haven't been doing our daily 4 mile walk (hanging head) and when we had company I became a bit lax with portions.

On the flip side is our daughter Z. She is petite and most people think she is much younger due to her size than her 10 years. That is the norm for her though and although I am "the jolly green giant" (I say with a smile;) she is going to be petite like her great grandma and some of her cousins. I'm always telling her to "listen to her stomach" and if she is full not to eat and if she is hungry to find a healthy snack. She eats healthy but she doesn't eat a lot..and neither did I at that age.

YET...I want her to know there are times in between meals if she is hungry she can go get herself a snack. (she always asks...I honestly wish she would just get it) My sensitive sweet girl though realizes the unfairness in it all as A~man cannot go get a snack whenever he wants as his stomach will always tell him he's hungry. I'm babbling...but I wish there was a solution....

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Online homeschool curriculum choices

Choosing what curriculum to use is never easy. There are so many choices to be found! We use an eclectic variety in our home school. In the morning we do "sit down" work at the table which normally consists of math, grammar,and writing. Sometimes I do this one on one (depending on A~man's attention level at the time) other times I get one started with their work and then help out the other. Due to A~man's delays his sister passed him up years ago so for math and reading they are working on completely different levels. Which is the awesome thing about homeschooling- the fact you can individualize the school work to each student. My hats off to those of you with more than two children. I cannot imagine doing this with more than two children. I stay super busy with two. Other things we are able to do together like art, grammar, and science.

In the afternoon one of the programs we use is Time4Learning for our computer time. It's also great on the days when we are running around for field trips, doctors appointments, or on days when mama ;) needs a little break. The neat thing about Time4Learning is that they offer one month free in exchange for a curriculum review . That way a person can check it out and decide if it is a good fit for their family as a curriculum or as a supplement to their existing curriculum.

Another thing we are going to try out after Christmas is an online writing course. (for Z~girl and maybe even A~man) Up until now with Z we have worked on handwriting with copy work, writing letters to family, and creative writing in a journal. I'm thinking though that she is ready for a more formal writing course as she loves to write. It just needs some polishing up.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

I love fall!

Reasons for homeschooling

There are many different variables on how and why someone chooses to home school. Some families choose based on their religious beliefs and choose Christian curriculum and others choose a more secular homeschooling route. These are just a couple possible reasons. Depending on each state's requirements parents are able to make the choices that are best suited to their family. Our reasons for homeschooling were that the public school was not meeting the educational needs of our child with special needs. They quite honestly did not know what to do with him and were not open to us trying to work with them to make it work. The attempts they made in the the first of his kindergarten year were very hard on all of us mentally.

Fortunately homeschooling was a good fit for us. I will be the first to admit some days here can be difficult. We are able to get through those days with love, patience (most days;) On the days that our patience has met it's limit we are able to forgive for the occasional harsh word. (! ;) Fortunately the good days far outweigh the challenging ones! Although not all of our curriculum is Christian based (but it doesn't contradict our beliefs) we depend on our faith in God to help us all, even hubby and I, to try and achieve our  individual bests.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I admit...I am nervous

About my family visiting.  The house will get as clean and neat as I can get it but the one thing I cannot control is my son's reaction to a disruption to our routine. Even if it will be a fun and happy one. Change is change.  We will have my mom in our room as it has a master bath and hopefully all meds/vitamins she has can be kept in there. My brother will have A~man's room. I cannot think of any other way to do it as my brother had major back surgery this year and I do not want him to have to go up and down stairs. Plus I think A~ will be tickled that his uncle gets to stay in his room. But that means A~man, hubby and I will sleep in the homeschool room. (aka storage room as we do our work upstairs) Monday we will tackle the basement and make it as comfortable for A as possible (its' really dark :( )

Oh and I have this fear...that I just need to put right in God's hands. I do not want them to see one of A's HUGE behaviors. I guess the biggest they have seen was at the viewing of my nephews funeral. (probably also the biggest emotional outburst anyone has seen out of me) But it was appropriate...sad...but he completely lost it. That was over sadness/confusion though. Not many people have seen his outbursts over ANGER, anxiety,CONTROL, where things are not going the way they he thinks they should be and all of his self control is gone. This happens very rarily but it really is scarey. I cannot imagine what someone that has not experienced would think,feel, or how they would react. Our neighbor lady has seen it (while watching him while we had a date) and probably some of our neighbors may have seen/heard it...but I do not think any friends have seen the EXTREME scarey side. Gosh I do not want my mom to see it. (or my brother but I tend to think he will be more ok with it)

Prayers would be appreciated!

Hig Pig

I recently heard about this game and did a search to see what it was all about. Both of my kids love to find ways to entertain themselves while in the car or while simply waiting. Sneaking in a bit of learning is an added bonus!

Hig Pig is a rhyming game where you think up a pair of words and both words must rhyme. It the word has more than one syllable the second word has the same amount of syllables and  rhymes with the first word. You would start out with a single (hig-pigs) or double syllable (higged-piggeds) to start out with and then with skill (and a whole lot of imagination!) add more syllables.(higgedy-piggedies or higgedy-hig-piggedy-pigs!)

After you have come up with the rhyming pair you make up a sentence or phrase that is a clue to what the rhyming pair is. Here are a couple examples of a hig-pig- 
How do you get syrup out of a tree? with a sap tap
a wolf's song- a moon tune

Here are some higged-piggeds-
Who is someone that takes care of your dog while you are on a trip- a critter sitter
What type of dog lives in a palace? A regal beagle.

Then there is the more complicated higgedy-piggedies-
Who lives in the White House? the resident president

This would be such a good way to expand a child (er or MY) vocabulary. You could make great use of multiple meaning words or use it as a way to practice the meanings of your childs weekly spelling words.  Are any of my readers brave enought to try making one up?? PLEASE?

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Could someone please hand me an energy drink AND a cup of coffee?  In 10 days my mama and one of my brothers are coming to spend a week with us! I'm so excited as we NEVER get company regularly. I am a challenged housekeeper so I'm trying to get the house looking spiffy. My mom will be staying in our room as that way she can have her own bathroom and hopefully she will remember to keep all her money and important stuff out of harms way. With both of my kids being older sometimes people forget that stuff has to be out of A~mans reach.  Heck sometimes I forget! My brother (who had back surgery a couple months ago) is staying in A~man's room so he doesn't have to bother with stairs.  Needless to say his room needs scrubbed top to is long over due. Honestly his room looks the neatest (shhh he's much neater than Z and I) but everything needs a good scrubbing. This will be tricky as I will have to do it when he is not around as it causes him GREAT anxiety to have his room cleaned. (but he is so happily surprised when I have deep cleaned it) So I will have to do it Tuesday evening while everyone is at soccer practice. Any prayers or words of encouragement would be appreciated. Hubby, A~man, and I will be staying in the basement. While the rest of our house looks relatively neat (yet needs scrubbed down almost as bad as A~man's room;) the a nightmare. hahahaha! No,no nothing like the show I've seen a couple time "Hoarders" but it's going to take a lot of work. Such a nice excuse though to get the house back in order!

OH add all of that into our normal weekly activities and that's where I will need the energy drink. This week we have scouts, soccer practice, soccer game, an apple orchard field trip...I'm forgetting something. Oh yeah I have put off planning the Girl Scout camping trip I volunteered to do....hoping mid October after family leaves will not be too late to go camping.

I haven't even MENTIONED homeschooling. This week I have a light week of sit down work mixed in with our computer curriculum . While my family is here I'm not even going to plan sit down work. Our house is fairly roomy BUT with people wandering around I am going to keep things basic. I think we will keep doing our language arts and do some fun learning games.  Of course the kids read everyday but besides the computer I will let the school books have a rest for the week they are here. Our priorities will be spending time with our visiting family!