Sunday, November 30, 2014

Working From Home, Homeschooling, and Making it Work

Being a homeschooling, work from home mom has both its challenges and also its very unique perks. I honestly feel like I was handed my current job as a wonderful gift. It was a little over three years ago and I was out hiking with a friend and she presented me with an offer I absolutely could not refuse. It was to do some online marketing for a homeschool site that I was already familiar with, because it was the curriculum that we had been using even before my children's third grade online curriculum. I am able to work from home for Time4Learning AND I get to feed my passion for books by being an admin for To say I was ecstatic is an understatement. (years later I still am!)

A few years ago I was also blessed to do homeschool curriculum reviews for the Old Schoolhouse Magazine. We were able to try out all kinds of fabulous curriculum and I did not have to spend much money at all for a couple of years on our curriculum. I've never really posted about this in my own blog but both my husband I also dabble in Doterra essential oils. Yeah, we are oily people. ;)

Here are just a handful of benefits I have found being a homeschooling, work from home mom-

1. I can set my own hours

2. I'm already a homebody so this helps me to able to stay at home sweet home.

3. I do not need an extensive wardrobe.

4. If a child is sick I do not have to call in to work...I just adjust my schedule around my family's needs.

5. I get to spend lots of quality time with my family.

6. I can pick what hours my children work best at and work it into my own hours.

7. To some extent as long as I have access to a computer I can bring my work with me if we take a short trip.

Of course there is also the other side of the coin-

1. I have no insurance as I only work part time. This is probably one of my biggest stressors. Fortunately I am pretty healthy and I am currently not using any medications but paying for health care out of pocket when I do need it is not fun.

2. Sometimes too much family time, hahah! There are definitely times when all of us need a short period of time away from one another.

3. Not being able to leave a building. What do I mean by this? I work from my computer and there are times I admit that I'm looking at work related stuff when I should be doing home/family things.

4. I do not need an extensive wardrobe BUT there are times I should probably dress up more. No, I do not wear my yoga pants everyday,haha, but I live in jeans and a t-shirt. I am now realizing that my daughter is picking up on this and it is hard to get her to wear anything else. Nothing wrong with wearing jeans and a t-shirt but it is fun to dress up every once in awhile.

This isn't for everyone but there are some key tips in making it work for my family-

I am not a real stickler for a seems like every year I try to adhere to one but it never ends up working in the end. Yet still with the many activities we have- school work, athletic events and practices, field trips, music lessons and work, I do have a bit of a relaxed schedule.

Most every week day I carve out at least 2 hour chunks of time in the day to work. Tuesdays it is 10 am- 12 pm but most days it is 3 pm- 5 pm with an occasional midnight work hour thrown in as I am definitely a night owl.

Our 13 year old daughter is an early riser and ends up getting up before us and doing a majority of her work before we even wake up. (did I admit that?) She does a lot of interest led activities in the afternoon and also reads a lot. In the evenings either hubby or I will help her with her math program which is an area she needs extra help with. After that she practices her violin.

With our 15 year old son with Prader-Willi Syndrome and autism I supervise his computer work with about a 2 hour chunk of time either in the morning or before dinner depending on what part of the day I work. In the afternoon he has a short quiet time in his room followed by working on some self help skills. (I will admit here to my special needs friends...when my son has a quiet time I typically take a short is what it is!)

Also, most every day unless it is REALLY cold we will either go walking or hiking for 3-5 miles.

Housecleaning? Well I'm finally coming to the realization that my house is not going to look like the pictures I see in magazines. I am always working on de-cluttering but with having two teenagers now, I have a lot of help around the house. I try and keep the living room, dining room, and kitchen especially as neat as possible.

It also is very important and beneficial to connect with other homeschool moms who work from home. An awesome way to do that is through this linkedin group called Homeschooling and Working ParentsWhat better way to get advice than from other homeschool parents who work from home?

I can't tell you how much I appreciate a particular friend who on occasion will take Z~girl with her own daughter to swimming. We all went last time to the homeschool swimming but I think it is good for her to get away from us and also from her brother too on occasion. I hope to reciprocate that in the future!

I feel blessed as my hubby is often home too and able to watch the kids so I can go out to coffee with a friend, or a hike....this month I'm looking forward to going to a mom's cookie exchange!

The way I do things may seem hectic but that is what works for our family and that is the key, finding what works for your own individual family. Having a child with special needs demands flexibility in scheduling.

What are some things that I will be working on in the coming new year?

There is definitely room for improvement in how I do things though. The main thing I want to do after Christmas is find a better space to work at that is quieter as I am easily distracted. Of course this would mean an additional computer as a lot of the kids school work is done on the computer.

I want to prioritize going on a date with my husband at least once a month instead of once a year. Our daughter is about old enough to stay home alone but I know she wouldn't be comfortable doing so. Our son requires near constant supervision so finding someone to watch him is no simple task.

I really want to get back into doing some of the hobbies that I love but have not done in a long time like sewing and art. It's easy to put me time on a back burner but I need to change that.

Is working from home and homeschooling easy? No, but it is definitely doable and I am thankful that I am able to make it work for our family!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

5 Ways to Make the Holidays More Enjoyable For Your Prader-Willi Syndrome Family

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone but for a family with a child with Prader-Willi Syndrome it can be extremely challenging. Time off from school, anticipation of presents, decorations, the hustle and bustle at stores, and all of the extra food and treats that go along with this time of the year can be absolutely overwhelming! There are things though that can be done to help life go on as calm and peaceful as possible. Of course what works for my family and I might be different than another family but I would like to share some things that we have discovered over the years.

1. Routine- Our children do not go to "school" as we homeschool but I have learned that time off, beyond a few days, only results in behaviors and anxiety. When a child with PWS gets bored...bad things happen, LOL. (laughing but NOT as it is the honest truth!) This is why for the most part we homeschool year around. We do take July off and a few days here and there throughout the year but keeping a routine going has only proved to be beneficial. Whether it is a first grade online curriculum (or whatever grade you child is at), learning games on an iPad, puzzles, workbooks, or even work boxes. (do a search for workboxes on Pinterest for lots of neat ideas!) We also have both children keep up with their daily chores such as taking care of our many critters, doing their own laundry, and helping around the house.

2. Food- Yes....the F word. I try and keep up with eating the same type of diet we normally eat. I usually only make a couple of desserts for Thanksgiving (easier to pick from two than say....6 choices) and he gets one piece that day and one the next. During Christmas we normally make small batches of a couple of kinds of cookies. For both Christmas and Thanksgiving meals we keep the food very basic. When I was growing up the counters in the kitchen were covered with every holiday food imaginable! This is just not a good idea for someone with PWS. Truthfully all that food is overstimulating for even me!  We will have ham or turkey, some type of potato, dressing, a couple cooked vegetables and always a tray full of raw vegetables. Often I prepare A~man's plate (I do not let him do it himself but he gives me input in what he would like) in the kitchen. (we do not place the serving bowls on the table) It helps to start with the raw veggies as they take up a lot of room on his plate and then add the other food. The only seconds he ever gets is a few more raw veggies. That sounds kind of strict but that is the way we have always done it so there are very rarely any complaints. After eating we try to put the food away as soon as we can as having it sitting can really cause him to feel anxious. He will actually remind us to put the food up if we do not right away.

3. Exercise- We walk daily (3-5 miles) and we especially try and keep up with it this time of year. Just this week though it has gotten bitterly cold so we plan our big walks for the days over 50 degrees...and on the other days we go walk at the mall. A~man LOVES to walk at the mall as it also gives him the opportunity to people watch. Our mall is never really busy but if it was it is also open before the stores are so people can walk in the winter. Another idea is swimming. A couple of winters ago we took the kids to an indoor pool and they swam laps (which they actually love) and played 4-5 times a week. We also have a treadmill which our son doesn't mind but we only have him use it if we cannot do any of the other options.

4. Activities- We keep things pretty simple with presents and make a lot of them ourselves. Shopping can be hard for our son as he gets so excited to be getting something for other people AND he sees so many things that he wants. Hubby and I normally take him out once each so he can buy a present for each of us but most of the shopping I do is online. I'm not a big fan of crowds myself.

There are a lot of extra fun activities that happen this time of year. We try to limit it to one a week and what works for our to only tell him the night before if we are going the next day. I know some people do well with calendars with the events happening over the month but this only causes our son to obsess, repeat what's happening, and get anxious about it. Of course telling him the night before doesn't always work as he has eagle ears and sometimes figures it out before hand. ;)

5. Last but certainly not least we talk about why our family celebrates Christmas. We have lots of books and videos that make this time of year very special for all of us. I'll share more on that later.

I'm hoping to do another post when I think of more things that work for us but I would love to hear what works for other peoples families during the holidays!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Five Freebies~ Kindle Books 10/3/14

Better late than never right? Well, I guess it is still Friday but I intended to have this finished up and posted this morning but it was a busy week! Now I remember why I do not plan out lessons daily because after a couple of weeks we always settle into our own schedule and everything pretty much falls in place. I do plan out goals and skills I want to cover during the year...but we always end up doing it in our own eclectic way. That's the awesome thing about do what works for you and your family!

Now on to the free (one is not free but it is cheap) books that I uncovered.

Elementary Books-

2. My Muddiest Adventure Ever

3. 101 Facts... Ancient China (101 History Facts for Kids) This one looks like it may also be good for middle school age children.

4.Orangey the Goldfish: Side Story No. 1

5. Cody Greene and the Rainbow Mystery  This one is only available for free if you have kindle unlimited. I have read this particular book and if you are interested in my review it is here at

Middle School books-

1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

2. Children's Book: Sacred Stories (Moral Stories for Children (Volume 1)) If I got these I might look through them before I had my child read them but it looks pretty interesting.

3. Prairie Academy (Carlile Corners Book 1)

4.Fierce Winds and Fiery Dragons

5.Adventures in the Neighborhood Woods #2: The Secret Baseball Card This one isn’t free but is 1.99. It’s a great read and if you want to read that review click here!

High School books

1.A Tale of Two Cities

2. End of the Road

3.Jump When Ready

4. Lake Caerwych (Copper & Cobalt Book 1)

5.Fallen (Chronicles of the Broken Book 1)

Mama books

1. Pride and Prejudice (I have never read this!!)

2.Lemon Cure: 45 Healthy Lemon Recipes for Skin Care, Hair Care, Home and Laundry Cleaning

3. An Unforgivable Secret

4. Mother Teresa: A Life Inspired

5. Speedy House Cleaning: How to Clean, Organize, and Declutter your Home in Half the Time A woman can dream can't she?


Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Five Freebies~ Kindle Books

It has been a busy month and a half with school starting back up and we had loads of fun entering things in the fair a couple of weeks ago. I've also discovered planning the school year for a 7th grader is a lot different than when I was planning around my daughter's 4th grade online curriculum. I have had a bit of a writer’s block the last couple of months so I had an idea since I LOVE books. Until the end of October and maybe later, I am going to come up with a free Kindle list of children’s books, plus some mama books for Fridays. I will also try and add a couple books that I have read that are inexpensive. I haven’t read all of these books but I’m pretty picky about books and the ones I will list are ones that either I would allow my child to read or that I would consider reading myself. (with the exception of the high school ones’ as my children are not to the maturity level of some I may suggest) Use your discretion on what looks appropriate for your own child.

Early Elementary Books

1. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

2. Search for the Pirate's Treasure

3. Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

4. A Hound for Hannah (Hannah's Island) This book is only free if you have Kindle Unlimited. I have actually read this book awhile back and if you would like to read the review here is the link at The plus with this book is that the main character is even a homeschooler!
5. A Tale of Four Birds and Their Quest for Food and Happiness This one is also only available through Kindle Unlimited but looks super cute!

Middle School Books

1. The Secret Garden

2. NO EXIT (The Apple Grove Gang Book 1)

3. Aster Wood and the Lost Maps of Almara (Book 1)

4. Deity Chronicles: Origins (The Deity Chronicles Book 1)

5. The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets (Stanley & Katrina Book 1) This one is only free through Amazon Prime. (and no, I do not work for Amazon this is just a fun list as I LOVE books) I actually downloaded this one to our Kindle today and briefly looked through it. hILaRiOuS, but keep in mind I have an odd sense of humor.

High School Books

This category gave me the most challenge. My daughter is still just in the middle school range, yet nevertheless a teen who reads through books fervently. She honestly DEVOURS books and she has since she was 5. She would much rather read than play on the computer or Xbox. Her strength is reading and she could read high school/college level books and comprehend a lot but her maturity level is not ready for much of it. Plus there is a lot of junk literature out there not worthy of the time spent reading it. I found a lot of the free Kindle books are junk literature for this age range...yet I’m sure I read a bit of this genre of books myself at a bit older age. I did have a recent mishap of a book she read that I thought would be okay when she brought it home. I picked it up after she was done and my jaw dropped. It was a classic but if I completely knew what the content was I would have NEVER let her read it at 13. 16? maybe. I did ask her a few questions about it later and I do not think she really got some of the content either. Good conversation for later I guess. My advice, for what it’s worth...make sure what your child is reading!

1. Little Women

2. Divergent: The Ultimate Interactive Quiz Book (Divergent Series Quiz Books 1) This is not the Divergent book but a Quiz book for kids that have read the book.

3. Keeper of Reign: Young Adult/ Middle Grade Adventure Fantasy (Reign Fantasy Book 1)

4. Zero (The Nephilim Chronicles Book 1)

5. The Key (The True Reign Series Book 1)

Mama Books

Moms need to take time for themselves too and reading is such a fun escape. I like to get a good book and hide in the bathtub... shhhh! Here is a list of books that I have not read yet but they definitely caught my interest!

1. Les Misérables (I can't believe that I have never read this one!)

2. Paradise Valley (The Daughters of Caleb Bender Book #1) I think this one is already on my Kindle waiting!

I hope you enjoy some of the books on this list and I look forward to searching for more to add next Friday so check back.



Friday, September 12, 2014

Dear Waitress Who Growled At My Special Needs Son

Yesterday we had an unfortunate situation at a local restaurant that left us extremely upset. Here is my response to the rude behavior we witnessed. I did leave out the name of the person. ETA- I am going to name the restaurant as I would hate for someone to think it was a different place. Fortune Asian is the name of the restaurant this happened at. 

Dear Waitress Who Growled At My Son,

As you know we have been in the restaurant where you work many times over the last year or more. We enjoy the food and it is near our home, but with each time we have gone you have made it more obvious how much you do not like for us to choose your restaurant to dine in.

At first I thought you were having a bad day, very quiet, or maybe just had a lot going on in your life that would make you look with dread each time you seated us at a table. Yes, I did notice the eyerolls you would give us when we ordered too. Looking back I wonder what kept us going back except that the food was very consistently good and reasonably priced. I was a waitress years ago and I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt which is why we kept returning. Yet, I still always hoped that someone else would wait on our table and every once in awhile someone else would. They were always courteous, polite, and made us feel welcome.

It has been over a month since we have dined there and we decided to return because our son wanted to go there. The look on your face when you saw us come in the door should have been enough. Yes, I noticed. My husband went to the restroom and my son tried to strike up a conversation with you. I heard it. You growled at him, gave him and I the stink eye and walked off. Initially I thought I was hearing things as why would an adult “growl”. I asked my daughter and she said that yes, you growled at her brother.

Once my husband returned to the table and I briefly explained your rudeness he agreed we should leave. On the way out the door I told you, “We will never come back here.” Your response? You smiled, shook your head and said, “okay”.

After talking with a couple of friends I still want to give you the benefit of the doubt as maybe you did not realize my son has special needs. Despite the fact that my son has always been polite and well behaved in your restaurant he does talk a lot. A LOT. He also asks a lot of questions and at times they are pretty off the wall. The question he asked you was not offensive and it wasn’t even really was just off the wall. He asked you if the other man working there was your son.

I know for a fact from other times dining there that your children often work there with you. He was not trying to be rude he was trying to strike up a conversation and he knew the one time he asked if the two children that were there were actually spoke to him.

I will be the first to say that my son can be challenging to be around. Maybe you should know though that he has autism and that he also has a disability called Prader-Willi Syndrome. Without going into too many unnecessary details a few of the ways these two challenges affect my son is with excessive talking, being socially appropriate, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and impulse control. (those are just a few of the many challenges he has to deal with daily, just a drop in the bucket) He tries so hard...and he has come a long way in his 14+ years.

One way that we try and teach our son is by bringing him out in the community and helping him learn how to act appropriately, and what is socially acceptable around people. With all honesty I can say he has never been a bother at the restaurant you work at except with sometimes being a little too loud and obviously by annoying you somehow.

I’ve explained my son’s challenges with his sometimes out of the ordinary behavior so you know why he is the way he is. I should also say that in any other restaurant we have been to in Hendersonville (and we have many favorites) he and our family have been treated with nothing but respect. In fact, he becomes a favorite of waitresses and customers, despite his many challenges he is the most charming person you will ever meet. Unfortunately, due to your rudeness (I would love to hear the excuse you have for your rudeness by the way) you will never get to know this. You are truly the one missing out on his pure and sweet awesomeness.

Did my son notice your rudeness? No. He did notice how upset his mama was after leaving your restaurant while I explained to my husband how you behaved. We were not mad at him for what he said but after he overheard what we were talking about the experience and kept saying, “I’m sorry!, I’m sorry!” He had nothing to be sorry for yet he stated to us “sometimes I feel stupid”. This is not something I have heard him say but a couple of times.

I came home and looked at your website to see who the managers or owners of the restaurant you worked at were as I wanted to contact them. What I discovered was that YOU are the owner. Shame on you! Good food does not make a needs equal amounts of kindness and being hospitable and you are sorely missing both of those traits.

I will be reviewing your restaurant at many different places including our blogs and Facebook. My husband and I will be passing this information along to many friends and families with special needs children. To growl at any child in your restaurant much less a child with special needs is pitiful. Fortunately there are many other restaurants in town that welcome our business and welcome our son.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Review- Adventures in Mindful Living's 6 Week Transformation

This spring I was able to try out a 6 Week Transformation that a local friend and homeschool blogger created. I definitely needed a kick start to change some of my old bad eating habits and this was just the thing! Weight loss is something I really need to focus on but more than that making wise food choices that would affect how my body worked. Sure, that doughnut for breakfast sounds appealing but 20 minutes later it will lay in your stomach like a rock. Amber from Adventures in Mindful Living gives you a healthy plan that assists your body to work they way God intended it.

                                                6 Week Transformation with Amber Neal Adventures In Mindful Living

So what is a good choice for breakfast instead of that doughnut? A protein shake full of fruits and veggies! This is something we already would make on occasion but Amber has some amazing recipes and combined with some Juice Plus protein powder it will truly stick with you until lunchtime. If I were to have a doughnut I would be hungry an hour later.

What about lunch? Typically I would make sandwiches for lunch. Amber gave me several recipes for healthy, hearty, and delicious soups for lunch. What I really liked was the recipes would make a huge batch of soup so I could eat it for more more than one meal. My family joined me in eating the soups too!

Dinner is the area that I didn't follow the plan like I should. Amber comes up with a weeks worth of dinner recipes but considering my husband loves to cook he ended up using his own creativity for what we had in the evenings. The meals I did make were very yummy and satisfying though and were tailored around whether you were a vegetarian or not. We like both types of meals so those were the recipes we were given.

The 6 Week Transformation goes beyond just a meal plan though. Each week she gives you a step to focus on to improve your health such as healthy snack choices and drinking enough water. She also gives you lots of recipes for some yummy snacks and plenty of recommendations for serving sizes with your nightly meals.

I didn't lose weight (I need to break the bad habit of snacking at night) but that was due to not following it exactly the way it is intended. I did gain a lot of good habits though as I am drinking plenty of water, I've about quit all soft drinks (except maybe a couple of times a month), and most mornings I am still drinking the yummy vitamin packed smoothies. My son now begs me to make him one too in the morning when I make one for my hubby and I. I will also be continuing with the soups for lunch.

If you are interested in the 6 Week Transformation I really encourage you to visit Amber over at Adventures in Mindful Living. That link will take you over to all the information you might need to get started! If you look through her wonderful blog you will also be able to find a lot of the delicious smoothie, soup, and dinner recipes that I was able to try out.
                                                Berry Cherry Smoothie! One of the many delicious and really good for you smoothie recipes on Adventures in Mindful Livings Smoothie Love Series! Come check it out!!

In fact here is a link to my favorite smoothie recipe- Berry Cherry Smoothie. I replaced the almond milk with rice milk due to allergies my son and I have. It is SO YUMMY! I also discovered by accident that if you by chance put your baby spinach in the freezer (oopsy!) that it works just fine in your smoothies. I think it even blends up better frozen.

I highly encourage you to check this program out if you need to make some changes in your diet whether it is for weight loss of just to feel better! Right now Amber is having a special where you get the program free when you order the Juice Plus Complete protein mix from her. I have tried out numerous protein powders over the last 30 (yes 30 hahaha) years and this was honestly my favorite.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review:Experience History Through Music With Diana Waring

When I was growing up in school history was one subject that due to lack of interest and a teacher that merely read from a textbook, was not a subject I adequately learned. In fact, I flunked my first history class in college (did I just admit that?). Most of the information I was learning for the very first time and it definitely made taking a Humanities class a tremendous challenge for me. That is one of the many reasons I decided to homeschool due to not getting the education I should of in History and in some other areas. When I was given the opportunity to try out Diana Waring Presents Experience History Through Music I was very excited. Despite the fact that history did not interest me when I was young (most likely due to how it was presented) I am very interested in history now and teaching my children about it.

It’s so much easier for a person to learn information, especially facts, when they are young. I have discovered with my own children that they learn best when history is presented in a variety of ways such as videos, hands on projects, historical novels, field trips, AND MUSIC! Ever since they were wee both of my children have responded so much to music. For years and years every Christmas my daughter Z~girl would ask for a fiddle for Christmas just like Pa’s from Little House on the Prairie. Almost four years ago she finally got her wish and started Suzuki violin lessons. Still...she wasn’t completely happy until a couple of years after that she also started fiddle lessons.

Experience History Through Music contains 3 book/CD sets. The CD is included in a pouch on the back cover of each book. Here is a look at the music:

Along with the music CD's are books. The books we received for this review were Westward Ho!

and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder

The other book is America The Heart of a New Nation

Each book allows you to experience the history that goes along with the music on the CD's. Included are dozens of historical pictures and interesting stories to help the reader, and the listener, experience a moment in history. Each of the songs goes along with a story in the book. The books also have sheet music and chord charts! 

What did we think of it? Well the minute I put the CD on my son A~man started dancing around the living room! A~man has special needs and it is so much easier for him to learn if he is able to move around and participate along with listening to a book. I'm also hoping to get Z~girl started learning some of the songs in the book on her fiddle. I personally LOVED the old photographs that went along with stories. For me it makes if feel so much more real to see photos from that time in history!

These books are available at the Diana Waring Presents website for $18.99 each but in July 2014, all three books along with the CDs are available for $50.00 as a set. For the amount of historical stories and music contained with it I think that price is very reasonable.