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.