Sunday, April 28, 2013

Year End Countdown

Just last week I finalized a date for our end of the year homeschool standardized testing. We have always used the Woodcock-Johnson III Test of Achievement and up until now, (it's our 7th year!) we have always used the same tester. This year our tester stopped administering tests so we had to find someone new which caused me a wee bit of anxiety. Anyone would be able to test Z~girl but that isn't the case with A~man and his special needs. Our former tester suggested this new person so I am sure it will be fine. I am hoping that she can meet A~man once before hand just to get a feel of how his mind works.

The test is scheduled for the middle of June so our last "official" day will be the Friday before the Monday testing. What does that mean for us? We pretty much do year around homeschooling as my son needs the routine and the repetition or he will become bored (meaning behaviors increase) and he will not retain some of the information he learns. What we do is take a break from our online curriculum and do more exploring and hands on activities.

 I try not to worry about testing. I try. This year for A~man academically I have solely focused on reading, spelling, and typing. Of course we work on other things, especially life skills informally but this year I decided I REALLY wanted to improve his reading skills. I feel like they have improved immensely. Of course as a homeschool mom sometimes we worry that the end of year testing will not show what has been learned. I have a love/hate thing with testing.

We do not really use "grades" in our homeschool and every time someone asks one of our children what grade they are in they look at me. Sometimes it takes me awhile as even Z~girl's learning material varies in levels. Technically though A~man would be finishing 7th grade and Z~girl would be a young 6th grader. Which brings me to the realization that in two years I will be thinking of high school homeschooling. *GULP* Thankfully I have sweet homeschool friends that have paved the way before me... that will hopefully be able to give me advice by that point...and offer me a tissue.

Those of you with little homeschoolers. ENJOY. Time really does go by very fast. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Living with Prader-Willi Syndrome

Living With Prader Willi Syndrome - The Doctors TV show

I just wanted to share this link for any readers that do not know what Prader-Willi Syndrome is as PWS awareness month is just around the corner. This sweet little boy has the same thing that A~man has. My son has rarely cried like this boy does because he is hungry, rather if we let him he would talk about the next meal/snack continuously. Everyone with PWS is different...with a lot of similarities...if that makes sense.

The video of him having a meltdown brought back memories as when A~man was younger we went through many pairs of the point we took a break from him wearing them for a short time. Fortunately meltdowns have really decreased over the years but it seems when one thing decreases another behavior emerges. Right now we deal with him sometimes saying something inappropriate or totally off the wall to strangers and friends.

Ultimately though with our son there are so many positives to his whole being despite his many challenges. I cannot describe how blessed I feel to be his mama. May is PWS awareness month and I hope to share more about the syndrome in my blog for that month.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Geography Club

I thought I would post a few pictures from geography club last week. Yes, we all survived and everything got done. As you can see at least Z~girl was smiling. A~man wasn't unhappy btw, but surprisingly my very outgoing son gets very nervous in front of a group and my more quiet and a bit shy daughter does not. (she must have gotten that attribute from her daddy) Both kids love to learn about geography and it really has helped to use geography games as well as more hands on activities like the geography club we belong too. I did not get this type of public speaking opportunities when I was a child which I believe is very beneficial!

If you read the comment I put in my previous post you will see that I made the banana cake. BUT I left out a very important ingredient. SUGAR. Yep, I made a cake without sugar. The funny thing? My kids didn't notice as we do not eat a lot of sweets and when I typically make banana bread I sweeten it with a bit of honey and also use unsweetened applesauce in it. I did notice a few murmurs and uneaten bread by other children. Sometimes you just have to laugh though.

Here is the recipe in case anyone would like to try it. Banana cake is thought to perhaps have originated in Papua New Guinea so that is why we chose it.

Banana Cake

  • 3/4 cup of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of white sugar (this seems like a lot, if I remade I would use half that amount)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of mashed bananas
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  1. In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, sift together flour, salt, soda and baking powder. (I also added a bit of cinnamon to this) Add these ingredients to the creamed mixture. Add milk and bananas to the batter. Beat together well.
  3. Grease (I used coconut oil) a 9x9 square pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. 
Oh and that super clean house pictured is not my own. I'm not sure how that mama keeps her house that clean but mine is NOT. My talents are elsewhere.

Next week hopefully will not be quite as busy as last week. Sometimes it is so nice to have a homeschool week where you mainly stay home. We will get our "school work" done in the morning and I may even play a hig pig game with A~man. Lately our afternoons have been spent outside exploring and watching our chickens that are so entertaining. Hopefully I will get a post on here soon with photos of our 5 hens and our rooster named stay tuned! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I'm not sure I should admit his. But I am the queen of procrastination. I'm not proud of the title, and each year I do improve, but this week I found myself wondering "Why did I not start this months ago?" Actually I did when I did the Growing Up Wild-Review back in November. Then I got distracted by oh so much in November and December and it ended up on the back burner.

Tomorrow the kids and I are to present on Papua New Guinea for our homeschool groups geography club. What did I do today? I spent the afternoon putting things together that should have been done last month. I am happy to say it is done except for the kids and I to run through it a few times...oh and we are making lemonade and banana cake (Papuan style!) for everyone to snack on after our presentation. 

It will get done and it will go well but...I do not like this trait in myself at all. Feeling badly about it can at times lead me to compare myself to other homeschoolers. (big mistake) I do not think I completely realized how bad it is to do the homeschool comparison game until recently I heard some of it come out of a fellow homeschool moms mouth. She was comparing herself to me and pretty much saying that I did a lot more with my kids than she did. What type of measuring tool is there to get this type of estimation? Fortunately it only exists in our own minds. 

I am sure there are homeschool parents out there that perhaps are not doing anything with their children and providing a huge disservice to them. I am happy to say though...I have not run across a parent that I have ever thought this was the case for. There are so many different learning styles, learning disabilities, and different family dynamics that I do not believe it is right to judge another homeschool family on how successful they are. 

I think that homeschool parents should sometimes cut themselves some slack (myself included) and not compare their own homeschool journey to their friends. I find myself learning everyday along side my children and sometimes you have to give yourself the same grace you give your children. Try and improve your shortcomings but do not become caught up in them to the point you have a difficult time moving on. (talking to myself here)

So tomorrow we will be working on some kitchen skills, making lemonaid and banana cake...(native to Papua New Guinea) and we will have fun teaching our friends about this unique country. We also may do some vocabulary context 
games in the afternoon afterwards and if the weather is nice go for a walk. What we won't be doing is stressing about our presentation. (repeating to myself 10 times before I go to bed)


Sunday, April 7, 2013

10 Homeschool Writing Resources

I am always on the lookout for new ways to teach the same thing. With the end of the "school year" drawing near the kids are often bored by now of the things we started the year out doing....even when they may not be mastered yet. (we normally take a portion of the summer off and just do some unschooling) So I have been on the lookout for some new writing resources. Here is a list I have compiled of resources and ideas I hope to be trying out soon.

  • Fun Writing Games for KidsCheck out these fun writing games for kids. Enjoy a range of free activities,resources and practice exercises related to writing letters, stories, newspapers, debates, advertising and instructions.

  • Scribblitt- Kids write and publish their own stories.

  • Write rhymes- As you write, hold he alt key and click on a word to find a rhyme for it.

  • For your older child help them create their very own blog. I have been trying to convince my 11 yea old daughter to do this. Of course I would supervise with an activity like this.

  • Inspire young writers- These resources promote writing across subject areas and cover everything from grammar basics to fantasy-writing inspiration.

  • keyboarding games- Learning keyboarding skills is vital for today's learners and tomorrow's earners. These free typing games are a great way to build typing skills.

  • Journal Buddies has lists of journal prompts listed by subject and grade.

  • Set up an email account for your child. This is something I haven't done yet but would like to as so many of our friends and family live far away. I do recommend g-mail for kids though, as there is virtually no spam or inappropriate advertisements.
What type of creative writing activities do you do with your children?