Sunday, December 30, 2012

Looking toward the future

Last week I was talking with a lady that teaches in the public school system. When she found out we homeschooled she asked if I would be putting Z~girl in high school when she was that age. I thought for a second and told her that we took it year to year and hadn't really decided. I lied. After both kids being homeschooled from the beginning (except for A~man's half year in kindergarten) I cannot imagine plunking them down in public school once they hit teenagers! Now, sure if it was my only choice BUT I would do everything in my power to keep teaching them at home.

I do admit, once Z~girl gets to that age I will get help (if needed) for certain subjects that might be beyond me. I have been to college but that was a long time ago. Fortunately, our local community college lets students attend at 16 PLUS, if I remember correctly, they can take classes there for free. So I think for us to homeschool highschool would be completely doable, and with help from the hubby especially, in the subjects he knows better than I do.

One thing I just started was keeping records. I started a homeschool portfolio this fall for the first time for both children. It's not intensive, I just basically print off their Time4Learning records off monthly which is very simple. I also plan to include some field trip, geography club, and Lego club photos into the binder. I might also put in some pictures of their volunteer work at a local shelter and of Z~girl volunteering at a local farm.

What about some of my homeschool friends reading this? Would you put your child in regular school for high school after homeschooling them for grade school and middle school? I know there are circumstances that could prevent a person from schooling till the end but I'm thinking with support we will do it until graduation.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

that's MY son....

One of the reasons I titled my blog "Who's learning? Who's teaching?" is because despite my sons challenges, daily I see the way strangers, acquaintances and friends react to A~man. I always say I can tell a lot about someone's character by their reaction. Also, sometimes I wonder how I would  react to him if he wasn't my son. The boy is engagingly quirky.

Today we went to the pool as it has been too cold to walk and I have messed my heel up too much to use the exercise room at the gym. This is fine with the kids though as they love to swim! For the most part hubby and I can go in the warm therapy pool and use the weights...and swim, while the kids swim laps in the big pool. The one issue we have is that A~man loves to stare. The reasons why vary; someones's pretty, they are very old, they are very heavy, they have an injury....the list goes on and one but it's something we are constantly working on with him. When he was little and did this it wasn't as big of a deal but he is a teenager now and I'm sure it can make people uncomfortable.

While we were in the pool an older lady who obviously wanted some conversation started talking to us. She had shattered her ankle at work and did therapy in the pool. We found out she was a teacher in a public school and taught middle school students that had severe/profound disabilities. I was happy to discover no negative comments when we told her we homeschooled our kids. (it was awhile before she knew we had a child with special needs) This lady was a talker and finally we told her that our son has autism and Prader-willi syndrome. I was surprised she knew what PWS was as most do not. I guess she had children with PWS in her classroom before. Finally she met A~man and I could tell she was enchanted by him and they had a very nice conversation.

Later, after Z~girl and I showered and dressed we went to turn our locker keys in and ended up behind two ladies (probably 10 years older than me), one of which looked familiar. They were talking about someone and I heard "the young man in the blue baseball cap". Hubby and A~man had gotten dressed before us so I looked over to remember which hat A was wearing. It was HIM they were talking about. I cannot remember exactly what they were talking about BUT it wasn't necessarily good. (not necessarily bad either) I believe it was due to him staring at them as he remembered one of them from a HUGE (HUGE) church we used to go to.

They soon discovered that they were standing in front of the mother of the child they were talking about as A~man made a beeline for me when he saw me. I can read the boys mind don't ya  know...he thought because I was standing in back of the ladies he was staring at it would of course give him the opportunity to talk to them. It was all very awkward to say the least. One of the ladies was in an Easter play years ago and A~man wanted the phone number of the man who played Jesus. (who in real life is a very nice doctor) The man looks so much like "pictures" of Jesus that in A~man's mind I think he truly thinks the man is Jesus. Obviously he isn't and you can see it was just plain awkward and incredibly uncomfortable. LOL

After the very nice experience with the older lady in the pool this really dashed my spirits with the attitudes of these other ladies. Honestly, they didn't say anything real bad about my son...if they would have I would have spoken up. The look on their faces realizing I had heard what they said was enough.  ;)

But seriously. How would I have reacted to someone like my son if he wasn't my son? I have known and worked with many kids and adults with autism over the last 20+ years. Each one of them has taught me something. Something about tolerance and understanding. Even with all of my son's challenges I think that is one of HIS purposes in life. To teach me, to teach his dad, his sister, and to teach even complete strangers to be patient and tolerant of his differences.

I truly think this boy teaches all of us far more than we will ever teach him!!

Here is a figurine I have that TOTALLY reminds me of my dear sweet boy who has a heart of gold. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's that time of year again!

A couple of weeks ago both A~man and hubby came down with a nasty cold. I honestly thought I had escaped it using every remedy imaginable- essential oils, vitamin C, garlic, chicken soup, YOU NAME IT! Last week it decided that there would be no escape from our home and it hit me like a brick. I'm congested, losing my voice, exhausted and it sounds like I may cough up a lung at any minute. I am so thankful that for the most part our shopping was almost finished before I got sick. Also, the presents that I made for the kids were finished before the cold hit except for one I HOPE to complete tomorrow. Of course there is so much more I wanted to do before Christmas day but right now I am resigned to the fact that I will be doing well to finish wrapping the presents and preparing a simple meal for the big day.


I love Christmas time, honestly I do, but it is so stressful for a child with special needs. Add in a child with multiple special needs and the stress multiplies. A~man was so hyped up yesterday. Hyped beyond his normal hyper self. This time of year everywhere you go food is involved and this is so hard on someone with Prader-willi syndrome. Add in the crowds, Santa helpers walking around, shopping, presents, changing the house around for decorations and that can throw someone with autism in a whirlwind. Heck, that can send the mom,dad, and sister of someone with special needs into that same whirlwind!


 The night before we are hoping to go to a Christmas Eve service at our church followed by stopping by a friends house that is having a drop in party...but that all depends on how tomorrow goes. It all depends too on if I am still sick! Before bed we will have our Jesus birthday cake. We are going to try our best to keep things simple on the big day. First we will open presents, then I will make a brunch.(haven't decided what yet EEEK!) Weather permitting, we will hopefully go for a hike in the afternoon followed by dinner. We go so much more basic than the holiday meals I had growing up! We will have ham, green beans, sweet potatoes, rolls and maybe a veggie tray. I haven't decided on dessert yet but I will make a pie. That's it. Growing up it seemed like there was food EVERYWHERE, and people ate all day long! (no exaggeration!) That is a tradition we had to definitely change. 

Originally I planned on taking the rest of December off until after the New Year but Z~girl had an awesome point that she would rather have a bit of extra time off when grandma and grandpa come the middle of January. So we will start back with our paragraph writing and homeschool math the day after Christmas! I hope to do a post in the next couple of days but in case I run out of time (hahah) I want to wish all of you a very Merry CHRISTmas!! No gift since that night can compare with the reason we celebrate this day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Company is coming...

and much sooner than I thought! First off, I am not complaining as we rarely have family come visit. BUT my mother-in-law and father-in-law (hubby's stepfather) are moving down here this summer and  in January they were going to come down to finalize some stuff. I was thinking (that's what I get for thinking right?) it would be the end of the month but I just found out it will be the middle of January! 

Now my house as a whole isn't too bad but our bedroom looks like Christmas exploded in it and our yard looks like a tornado went through it as we have had some trees cut down. Over the years I have also found that if I am busy working with the kids and taking time to do some crafting of my own, that it leaves little to no time for house cleaning. When anyone visits we normally let them stay in our bedroom as it has an attached bathroom which gives our guests more privacy...and people can keep any meds away from sonny and in that bathroom. So this busy month is going to get even busier! Oh and thankfully, I get along really well with MIL and it's all good!

I need to make up some lesson plans for January and February too so the wheels in my head are spinning! A~man is a visual spatial learner so I am always on the lookout  for new things to keep things interesting for both A and Z. Here is the Time4Learning Pinterest board that I get the pleasure of helping to pin things to. It has some great ideas on there to help visual learners! Here is another Homeschool Pinterest board that has a lot of creativie ideas that I hope to try soon. 

On a more solemn note, my heart aches for all affected by the shooting at the school in Newtown, Conn. Such a horrible tragedy. I pray that God brings all involved peace and comfort in the coming days.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

and in lighter news....

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year! I have always loved Christmas music and decorations and all that go with celebrating Christ's birth. (with the exception of shopping hahah I hate shopping!) Our tree is up though and I'm finding it hard to get in the spirit of things. I had big plans on us making ALL of our presents. But then life has a way of setting you off your determined course. I really like this website that focuses on the true meaning of Christmas.

Z and I have been working on some items for a craft type fair at church that has taken place for three of the last services but something always comes up. Last weekend we were out of town at Vanderbilt University. (I will post about that soon!) This last Wednesday everyone was too tired to go to the service at night and today hubby and A~man are sick. So we will not be able to sell what we made. THANKFULLY we will be able to use what we made as gifts!!

We have made a lot of our presents this year but it's not going to be exactly how I planned. I have made Z~girl a pair of leg warmers with a matching hat though! Hubby this weekend made A~man a really cool wallet using duck tape! Recently I went to a pottery place for a GNO and painted Z the cutest owl cup. What else do I want to do? PJ pants for everyone, Z wants me to make a Tee Pee for her and one for A~man.(mommy guilt...she has wanted one for years and she's about to the age she will not be interested in such a thing) I am making A~man a hat to match his coat and hubby is going to make them both a pair of stilts. I do not have pictures yet but I will share as they are completed.

As I have said we are taking December off from anything formal with "school" but we are still doing a few math games on the computer, cleaning the kids rooms, we will be making some Christmas ornaments and crafts, and making cookies for an exchange/Christmas party this week. Here is a cool craft link of a paper Christmas village that  Z~girl started working on today!

I need to go to bed but wanted to post a link to a free homeschool guide that Time4Learning has made. I have had quite a few friends ask me about homeschooling this last month and this How to Homeschool guide is a great resource for getting started. 

Prader-Willi Syndrome and elopement

The Friday after Thanksgiving we were awoken to what felt like a nightmare at the time. We had slept in until 9 am with little worries as we have an alarm that will go off loudly when our son opens his door. So who was knocking at our front door? I stayed in bed while my husband deactivated the hall alarm and answered the door. A sheriff and a social worker from DSS stood there telling my husband that they had our son, A~man, in their patrol car. He told them that they must be mistaken as he had to deactivate the alarm to even answer the door. WRONG. He walked out the door to see our son in the backseat.

He woke up before it was light out and crawled out his window without a coat or shoes. It was cold that morning!! This is something I would have never dreamed he could even do physically let alone the fact that he is afraid of the dark and cannot stand walking outside barefoot. He walked down our street, across a fairly busy road, (it was black Friday!) and into a different neighborhood.

He knocked on someones's door. Why did he pick that house? Because they had three mopeds parked in their driveway and he loves mopeds. Fortunately, the lady, (who was a mom) had worked with people with autism before. My husband went back and talked with the lady the next day. Oddly he refused food for a LONG time saying he couldn't. He told the lady what medicines he is on and that he is allergic to peanuts. He also made up a HUGE story saying that his parents lived in Texas and that he (A~man) had been living in a tent for awhile. The story was quite grand and unbelievable.  For a long time he wouldn't tell anyone his last name or our names. Finally they were able to get my name out of him and they did a search of some type and found our address.(BTW he has known our address since he was 5)

The nightmare continued. He refused to come in our home!! I'm not sure what the social worker told him but he fed on it. After the social worker talked with us she figured out quick that he lived in a safe environment. He somehow thought though that he was moving out. My only thoughts are that he knew he made a terrible choice and that we would be mad and scared like he had never seen before. He did not know how we were going to react and quite honestly we were so confounded we didn't know how to react. We were able to give the social worker the name of our old social worker (when he was a foster baby) and the name of our old guardian ad litem. We are in contact with both periodically and they know us. The woman and the sheriff were very kind I will say.

After they left he was acting very strangely. He was packing up all of his stuff and bringing it to the front door. He was pacing back and forth. He was convinced someone was coming to get him. He kept trying give stuff away to his sister like his picture and his Micky Mouse. (he LOVES his Micky Mouse) This completely shattered my heart into a million pieces! Both hubby and I put everything we have into raising both kids and I felt a rejection I have never felt coming from A~man. This went on for probably 4 hours. I had to follow him everywhere as I was afraid he was going to bolt. Meanwhile hubby had to go into work for a short time and Z~girl was very confused and upset. We were very close to taking him to the ER as he was really scaring us.

Finally, after he kept falling asleep in a chair I was able to persuade him into taking a nap with me. He slept for over two hours and when he woke up it was as if nothing had happened at all. That same day my husband went to the Lowes and bought a window alarm. We talked to A~man about how worried we were and that he could have been seriously hurt crossing the street. I NEVER let him cross the street without us beside him as he does not pay attention enough to notice a car and his reaction if he saw one would be too slow. I also told him that not everyone is nice and he could have went to someone's house that was not nice. He doesn't get this at all. He will argue with me that everyone is nice and that no one would hurt him. I am just thankful God was watching out for him. Would he try this again if given a chance? Yes. He refused food at first but ended up having Poptarts, Mountain Dew, and some candy bars, and that is just from the lady at the house he went to. The police also gave him some cheese crackers.

What did I learn in all of this? I learned that things can go terribly wrong even when you feel like you have everything under control. If someone before this was to ask me if A~man would try and run away I would have laughed in their face. I also had a few very supportive friends I was texting through it all and they helped me from totally losing it. One even brought a us a meal over that night! I have dear friends near and far that I am so thankful for.

PLEASE, if you are reading this and have a child with Autism or Prader-willi Syndrome, do not underestimate what they may potentially do. I'm not saying to constantly be worried, (this is something I have to work on not doing!) but to instead be proactive. It's been about 6 months since we put up our hall alarm and it is something I wish we would have done YEARS ago. Finally, after years I can get a goods night sleep. (although I'm dealing with guilt that I was sleeping too well not to hear him go out the window) Put a window alarm if you know you have an overly impulsive and curious child. An expensive alarm that went throughout our home would be nice but we bought our hallway alarm for under 30.00 and the one we recently put on our window was even less than that.

I feel like I'm still trying to get over the trauma of that day. I remember my hubby kept telling me, Don't think about the what if's, but that has been impossible. Every time I worry though I think of this picture...and can see A~man's guardian angels guiding him across the road to safety. Also, here is a helpful link on Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Running/Elopement Behavior that I found on the PWSA website.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Homeschool and Holidays?

What do other homeschoolers do during the holidays? We pretty much homeschool year round, except for taking a month off in the summer, and a day here and there throughout the year. I'm thinking about taking a break in December, BUT instead of just not doing school work....we will probably just do things differently. I have learned that completely taking off from school results in a loss of routine and a lot of boredom for both kids but especially A~man. He does not do well with complete downtime. With all of the excitement that goes along with this time of year I need something to distract him in particular. 

I would love to hear what other homeschoolers do! I do know that we will take a break from our online curriculum, plan some local seasonal activities like looking at Christmas lights, visiting a gingerbread house display, making some gifts and crafts, maybe go caroling, and go to some special church services. We will also make some cookies, although with the stress of PWS we limit that activity quite a bit. 

Meanwhile, I will go on a search for some unit studies or maybe even a lapbook to do over the next month. Does anyone know of any good ones about winter or Christmas that they would share with me? I might also make some flashcards to practice some spelling words over our break.

For now though, I will go decorate our tree!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Homeschool writing

We had a nice Thanksgiving on Thursday. We went for a long walk, had an early dinner and then went to the movie "The Life of Pi". The movie was rated PG and it seemed like both kids did ok with it, even though there are a few scenes that are a bit disturbing. I think this is the first movie that A~man hasn't fallen asleep in.

The day after Thanksgiving ended up being one of the worst days I've had since becoming a parent. I'm still trying to figure out if I should post about it as I have major guilt despite the fact the "situation" that happened was out of our control and very unexpected. What happened also goes along with Prader-willi syndrome and autism so maybe if I write about it (when I'm ready) it might help another parent. 

For now I will talk about how we do writing in our homeschool. It's a loose approach that most likely we will need to do more formally next year, but for now it works for us. Both kids like to write letters to friends and family which is very rewarding as sometimes it results in them also getting mail. For whatever reason Z hasn't had a lot of luck with "penpals", (maybe people just email now instead of snail mail?) but both kids know that sending a letter to one of their grandmas or my sister will always get them a letter back. Several times a year Z~girl will also make a newspaper that basically updates our family, that live far away, on what our family has been up to.  Here's a few photos of past issues.

And we cannot forget the comics!

This year both kids are also working on some keyboarding skills. I really like the handwritten papers (and plan to keep them forever! :) but I'm hoping with each paper the kids will be typing more of the articles for the paper. Z~girl is the head editor, but A~man has contributed art so far. Hopefully with the next issue he will type something up as he has been working hard to use the keyboard the last few months. Making a newspaper for family has been a great creative writing help!

Oh, I almost forgot! This last month I was able to read and do a review for Lets Homeschool High School which is a new website that concentrates oh the High School levels of homeschooling. The book I read was called Grading with a Purple Crayon: A Developmental Approach to High School Composition for Homeschooling Families. I had thought about posting the review in my blog but thought adding a link would give anyone reading this the chance to also check out the new website. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Such a simple word huh? Yet sometimes I know as a special needs parent I can take the stress of the week and focus on it, instead of finding things to be thankful about. I REALLY try during these stressful times to find something to be thankful for. I think taking the time to do this is a necessity when you are dealing with special needs learning and special needs parenting. 

Last week was not good. It started out with me waking up in the middle of the night with what must have been food poisoning. That same day A~man had a med check appointment to get new prescriptions on his meds. Unfortunately due to circumstances I'm still scratching my head about, the pharmacy would not fill one of the medicines (they said they were waiting for approval), which resulted in him missing two days worth of a particular med.

What is A~man like without medicine? He is like a squirrel that has drank espresso. I do not know any other way to describe it. He bounces here, he bounces there, and he talks a mile a minute. (and people that know him already think he talks a lot!) It. Is. Exhausting. The energy that it takes for the rest of us to keep up with that amount of energy is incomprehensible unless you experience it. Yet, when he gets like this he is hilarious!! We went to the mall to walk off some of that energy, as it was too cold outside, and guess who we saw?

Yes, we saw the jolly man himself getting the mall ready for his visit after Thanksgiving. Now A~man loves Santa, well this Santa in particular (heehee I even found his picture with a google search ;) This Santa came to our house when the kids were toddlers, before bed, to visit on Christmas Eve. This Santa knows both kids by name every time we walk by him in the mall. Now Z~girl knows about Santa (although she still loves this guy) but I figured A~man would always believe in Santa. After A~man thoroughly chewed Santa out for setting up Christmas decor before Thanksgiving (he HATES that), he asked about the other Santa that is sometimes there when the real one needs a break. He asked him *snicker* if the other Santa was passed out. The hubby and I just looked at each other confused but I figured out he was asking if the other Santa had passed away. He explained, "that Santa last year looked awfully old!". The real Santa was trying to keep a straight face. As we walked off A~man said words I never thought I would hear him say- I wonder what that guy's real name is! It was one of those times you just really had to be there but it was hilarious...the whole Santa experience that day was a riot. 

There were plenty of not so funny moments last week too. With him being so keyed up he was on edge and close to a meltdown very easily. We also had to watch him more carefully as when he gets a certain look in his eye (that thankfully I haven't seen in months) he can do dangerous things. He will also go out of his way to do things to get in trouble. Yet, we trudged on and no one got hurt. LOL It broke my heart at the end of one day after an event (last week is a blur) he started crying. He was practically begging us to go to the pharmacy as he wanted his medicine! Fortunately we were able to get him it later that day.

He is back to his "normal" A~man self...well the version that has more self control, focus and is a little less bouncy. I miss the extreme humor he has with out med but he is much happier overall when he feels in control of himself.

Tonight we went to our second Thanksgiving Feast that was at our church. I do not think we would have been able to take him if we did not get his prescription refilled before the weekend. As always we told him we would get him a little bit of everything (I'm talking a tablespoon of many choices) plus a slice of pumpkin pie. It went so well. Following the meal was a talent show and I was surprised that it didn't bother him that there was food remaining on the tables while we watched the show. 

Z~girl played four songs on her violin.

This is A~man and his buddy T playing the Shofar . I am so thankful for this church. They are very accepting of differences. The variety of different kinds of people here is really neat. I have seen people (that I assume may have been homeless) come off the street to attend the service. It's the kind of church that you can just come as you are. 

Our Thanksgiving celebration at home is always very low key. We will take off Wed, Thurs, and Friday from "school work". (although we might fill up some of our down time with some learning activities. We have turkey and a few other special foods but we have learned keeping the meal part like any other meal at home helps the Prader-willi syndrome anxiety that can come with this holiday. We normally go for a hike after our meal and then go to the movies. 

I encourage anyone reading this to take the time during stressful circumstances and find something to smile about and find something to laugh about. I have found that humor makes it that much easier to find something to be thankful about.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Growing Up Wild-Review



What family wouldn't like to kick their homeschool adventure up a notch by living in the jungle? (ok there may be a few of you out there that might not like that) If given the opportunity that is something I would love to do for a short time.  A jungle environment would be rich in learning opportunities and cultural experiences!


Through the Old Schoolhouse Review crew we were able to meet a family that did just that! This family created the 5 volume Growing Up Wild educational DVD's that allows you to experience some of what the Wild family did while living in Papua, Indonesia. The videos show the whole process including all the prep work they had to do before going overseas.

What was the motive for this family to go so far away from their home in the United States to set up another home in Papua? They went to help the people there with basic medical care and more importantly to share their love of God. Also they went there to give them a written language so that they could read the Bible. They taught the native people of Papua and in return learned even more from them! 


The first video in the series included three sections: Home Sweet Hut, Supply Trip, and Sun and Water. It was fascinating to see how they built a round house and all of the furniture to go inside it. The planning to get all of the food supplies they would need for their stay, plus actually bringing it over by plane took an amazing amount of planning. They did have some modern furnishings like a refrigerator, sink, television, etc. Which brings up the the third section as their power was all solar and they piped the water down from the top of the mountain! 


We were also able to watch volume 4 which included three sections: Amazing World Around Us, Adventures in Culture, and Tribal Calling. Each section is about 15 minutes long. This showed them exploring nature and some of the creatures of the jungle, learning about the people and the culture of Papua, and learning about God's purposes. At the end of each section there are different activities suggested to go along with learning about the country and culture of Papua.

Our whole family watched the videos and I can honestly say we all loved them! My son in particular came up with dozens of questions about their life there, which could be a good motivator for us to learn more about this remote country. I also now know what country we will be presenting for Geography Club this year! Oh, and the solar energy section from the first voume really interested my husband as he and the kids are about to start working on a solar food dehydrator and a supplemental heater for our basement.  I'm sure we will be adding some of the other videos to our collection. Also, I forgot to mention there is also a teachers activity guide video that goes along with each video. 

I noticed they also have a Jungle Journal blog that I haven't checked out yet, but I know my daughter would love to keep up with.

The price for each video is 18.99 (plus shipping and tax) which I find a little high (at least for our budget) but I do think the information and activities make it worth that price.

Be sure and check out what the other crew members thought about the Growing Up Wild video series!


Disclaimer- As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received these DVD's in exchange for my honest review of the product. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving Feast

One of the homeschool groups we belong to has an annual Thanksgiving feast. This event was through our Christian homeschool group. (we also belong to a group that has more of a diverse mix of beliefs) This thing is huge, I mean HUGE! Last year was our first year attending as...well...with Prader-willi Syndrome food issues, attending an event like this is no simple matter. But, in addition to the feast there were also lots of fun activities; making corn husk dolls, carriage rides, making butter, archery, gem mining, plus some I forgot. So even with all of the anxiety that comes with a food event we were also able to get A~man excited about the fun activities and also getting together with friends. I left my camera at home this time, but if I can figure out how to download pictures off of A~man's ipod I will post some later.

Some things that we always do that seems to help A~man during food events is to remind him before we go that-
  • only his dad or I can get him food.
  • this kind of goes along with the previous statement but he knows that he must ALWAYS ask us if someone offers him a treat. (he also has a peanut allergy) 
  •  we will pick him out a wide variety of yummy healthy foods.
  • no second servings (actually this is something we do at home too although on rare occasion he can have extra veggies)
  • we will pick him out an A~man size portion of yummy desert. 
Knowing in advance what he should expect cuts down tremendously on his anxiety of an upcoming event. Of course, he will repeat everything over and over (and over) up until the event which can cause anxiety for the rest of us! So to help with that we normally wait until the day before to tell him about a special event.

Aside from dropping his turkey on the ground (hubby went and got him some more) food wise the whole event went very well! 

He even was able to see one of his friends we met a couple of years ago that also is on the autism spectrum. They really like each other (sometimes other kids with autism have a hard time with A~man) but sometimes I do not think they really "get" what the other is talking about. It also reminded me I need to work on some context games. Sometimes I noticed him starting to get upset in a social situation as often A~man is not absolutely clear what the other person is saying.

Oh...and he has gotten into this bad habit of asking someone something, they will try and answer, and in the middle of them talking he will find someone else he wants to talk to and wander off. (I cannot tell you how this embarrasses me! ) Fortunately, most of the people that know him realize he isn't trying to be rude, but is easily distracted by interesting people! It's definitely something we are working to help him improve though.

I sort of got off on an A~man/PWS theme to this post but I cannot forget to mention Z~girl. She loved the event, especially hanging out with one of her best friends. People are encouraged to come dressed in a Thanksgiving theme dress and although the rest of us didn't, knowing how she still likes to dress up I bought her a new costume. She dressed as an indian and looked SO cute shooting a bow and arrow. 

It seems this is just the beginning of the holiday season that ends up being filled with food, which can cause great anxiety to people that have Prader-willi Syndrome. (AND their families!) I hope to share more in the next couple of months on ways our family takes the focus off food, to make it a more enjoyable and meaningful time of year.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Grace & Truth Books~ review


What books are A~man and I reading right now? As a member of the TOS review crew we were able to try out two books from The Boys Heritage Set, from Grace and Truth Books.

Photobucket The first book we read was called Gerrit and His Dog, which also includes the story The Royal Law. When we first started reading Gerrit and His Dog I admittedly became irritated. You see, Gerrit is a young orphan boy that has some type of cognitive disability. Of course this isn't the part that irritated me but the language that was used to describe the young boy did. (words like feeble minded) This caused me to do some detective work. (Joy remember to read the back of the book BEFORE reading the inside!)

Gerrit and His Dog (recommended for ages 10-14) is a story that has been reprinted and was originally printed in the early 1900's. So that explained why the language was very politically incorrect! That aside, this book very tenderly shows how a small town took this young boy under their wings to ensure he was safe, loved, and that his best friend Brownie was returned to his side.

It really was a sweet story that demonstrated a group of people coming together to show a young boy God's compassionate love.

The second story in the book was The Royal Law. It was also about a young boy that was in need of compassion. Hans Wiggens and his family were poor, and traveled from town to town selling things off of their wagon. Food and acceptance were scarce until his family learns about God's unconditional love.

A Faithful Boy's Influence

The other book we were given to read and review was A Faithful Boy's Influence. (recommended for ages 6-12) This title was originally published in the 1800's. The purpose of both of these books are to help influence a boy to have a Christian character, and this book demonstrated just that! Charlie Clement was visiting his relatives in Meedville and demonstrated to all around him a deep respect for the church and for the local pastor.

Up until Charlie Clement came to visit the town the local parishioners did not know what to think of the extremely quiet pastor who kept to himself. Charlie was able to befriend the man and also draw other people to get to know him. The young boy demonstrated a quality of respect and honor that was sorely missing from the children and adults of the community.

What did my son think of these books? With his learning challenges the reading level was too high for him BUT the content of the book was perfect for him! Because it was written so long ago some of the wording wasn't what he was used to but we used that opportunity to learn some new words and phrases. It also gave us a great chance to have some conversations about the Godly qualities demonstrated in the books. He loves dogs so his favorite story by far was Gerrit and His Dog. I would highly recommend these books and hope to order a few more to read aloud to both of my children.

The price for Gerrit and His Dog is 5.50 and the for A Faithful Boy's Influence is 6.25. This is a great price I think for these character building titles!

The Crew did reviews on numerous books by this company and I encourage you to check out all of the other Grace & Truth reviews!

Click to read Crew Reviews

Disclaimer-I received my copies of the books from Grace and Truth Books in exchange for an honest review of their products. All opinions are mine. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Blackberry Applesauce

While the weather was so horrible last week, we spent a lot more time inside. One of the things we did each afternoon after we had finished our online curriculum and playing hangman with our vocabulary words, is to make applesauce. We made it the same way we did last month when we made crockpot applesauce, but this time it was different. We added blackberries that we had picked this summer that were in our freezer.

I didn't really measure ingredients exactly. (do not add cinnamon and nutmeg) The kids peeled enough apples to fit, almost overflowing in the crockpot and I did use about 3 cups of frozen berries. 

Next I cooked the berries over low heat to liquefy the frozen berries.

Then, because I really did not want the seeds in the applesauce I strained all of them out of the pulp and was just left with blackberry juice.

I added just the juice to the already cooked applesauce,cooked it for an additional hour, and then I canned it in mason jars.

It resulted in such a pretty shade of red!

Of course I couldn't stop at blackberry applesauce, hahaha! Throughout the week, with the A~man and Z~girls help, I made strawberry applesauce and blueberry applesauce! (the fourth jar is the traditional cinnamon version)  Strawberry and blueberry were even easier to make as I just let the frozen berries thaw and then added them to the applesauce that was almost done, to cook for another hour. They all turned out VERY yummy but I believe blackberry was my absolute favorite. Not only did they taste delicious, but with only fruit, (no extra sugar was added) it is a very nutritious treat!

What's next? I have at least enough apples to try out another batch using CRANBERRIES! I'll let you know who it turns out.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Homeschool Art

Ever since I was a child art has always been one of my favorite things. As an adult though, I do not take time to enjoy creating often enough. In fact, this summer my mother in law brought some of my old art that she was storing, to give to me. It was so fun to see but I'm not sure I will put it on my walls, lol. Maybe some day I'll get brave and post some pictures of it though. 

I do try to periodically do art with the kids as they both really enjoy it. With soccer and baseball ending for the season we will have a little more time at home. I'm hoping to get Z~girl and possibly A~man involved in an actual art curriculum to go along with the fun art we do. Last week one of the homeschool groups I belong to had a fun arts/crafts festival! It was so much fun. Of course part of the art we were going to bring to it fizzled...and wasn't done in time. So instead we brought some arts and crafts that they had entered in the fair this summer.

Here are two of A~man's creations. The dark spot on the sunflower is a bumble bee! :) I especially LOVE this John Deere tractor painting with the cat beside it. I need to get it framed and put on his wall!

Here are Z~girl's creations. The fabric with the Z on it is actually felt she felted while on a Girl Scout field trip. I would LOVE to make some more of this as it was a lot of fun. The other bottom one is a crocheted dish towel that she received a red ribbon on at the fair. 

Time goes by so fast. I can hardly believe I have two middle school age children! Just like my parents kept my art on their walls,(until a few years ago actually as my mom had to move to somewhere smaller) I hope to keep A and Z's art around me to remind me of this very special chapter in our life. It's always full of ups and downs but I have loved our homeschool journey!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My homeschool mom confession for the month...

This week I came to the realization of the fact-I spend way too much time on Facebook. I can hear a few of you that are on my facebook snickering. 
It took her long enough!!

I can come up with some excuses for myself; I do not watch TV and rarely watch Netflix, it's a good way to keep in touch with my family as they all live far away, I have to check the Homeschool Literature Facebook page for work, it helps me unwind and vent after a stressful day filled with special needs challenges. I was able to converse about the pros and cons of homeschooling with other homeschool moms. I'm sure I could come up with more reasons but what they are is excuses for me using my spare time in a very unproductive, noncreative way. It is a way for me to divert my attention away from where it really ought to be.

I used one of those Facebook applications that processes all of your status updates to tell something about yourself. Most of it was right on target about my interests and what I like to write about. One thing in particular that I saw did not make me happy, although it is a bit amusing too.

It said that I had written the equivalent amount of words as a Harry Potter book. 


It was then that I looked around at the state of my home right now. Late spring it was looking so good when my inlaws were visiting. In fact I maintained it well for a few months. Now? Not so much. I must add that I mean normal messy not "call the show Hoarders" messy. Still I cringe looking around. 

September was a very stressful month and I was doing well to do daily homeschooling lessons, feed the kids, and fit a walk in daily. Yet, I still was able to fit in time on Facebook so the stress is not a good excuse but instead a handy escape. It has also caused me to not use the God given creativity I have to do something marvelous.  What could I do? What should I do? (well after I give the house a deep cleaning) I have various sewing projects that are 3/4 done, I have photos that I need to get printed and put on the wall, right now there are beautiful leaves outside just begging me to photograph them. I have a gorgeous yard that needs a lot of maintenance done to it to prepare for winter. I have this blog that needs some serious updating. Heck, if I have that many words in me maybe I should write a book

Instead of wallowing in my humiliation I am going to make a change. I am going to be more productive, more creative and I am going to do something marvelous. Yes, I will still be on Facebook but it will be extremely limited and will only happen after my daily tasks are complete. So, my friends, if you see me on Facebook on more than an occasional basis could you direct me back to this blog entry?

I will do something marvelous. For now though, I'm going to take a walk with my marvelous husband and children. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Wizard of Oz

 I cannot believe this week has flown by this fast! One of the many advantages of homeschooling is the fact that even though we arrived home much later than we had planned...we didn't have to worry about getting up early to put the kids on a bus. (A~man had to get up at 6 am to get on the bus for special needs preschool way back!)  

So anyway...we did end up going to a super fun Wizard of Oz event, higher up in the mountains from us. Here's a picture I took of the family on the ski lift up to Oz. I'm surprised the photo isn't blurry from me shaking as I was NOT liking being up so high. 

We had put a lot of thought into this trip as we do not have a lot of extra money right now and for us it was quite an extravagance this month. But as much as A~man loves everything about The Wizard of Oz we thought it would make a good addition to his birthday as we won't be having a formal birthday party. 

There was singing, dancing, and "real" characters at each turn in the road.

The VERY stoic tinman!

Here is Aunty Em telling us we must go down to the cellar as it's the safest place during a storm. The set up for the house was SO COOL. It reminded me of the set from the movie. Going down the stairs everything was all off kilter as if the house had been in a real twister. The floors were not level and it was hard to walk.

This picture has a lot of significance to me. A~man has loved The Wizard of Oz since he was probably 4. BUT he has been terrified of people wearing costumes,(as well as obsessed)especially the lion character. Even just two years ago there is no way he would be able to stand next to the lion!! He was very brave. :)

It was a memorable little weekend away (we stayed at a hotel with a pool which the kids loved!! hubby and I enjoyed the hot tub)I count this little adventure as "homeschooling" too. After all The Wizard of Oz is literature right? I may even follow it up by making up my own vocabulary list to go along with the book itself!

Oh and I'm including a rare picture with me in it. I'm rarely in a picture as I'm usually the photograher and well...I'm not real thrilled with the way I look right now as I need to lose weight. But...I do want the kids to see that I was with them on these adventures. KWIM?