Friday, February 28, 2014

Review: Asia Its People and History

Over the years one of my children's favorite activities with our homeschool group has been Geography Club. Each year it is done differently and in addition to getting to meet up with their friends they come away with a greater understanding of people that live in far away lands. So I was pleased to be able to do a review for a book that would help us learn more about Asia. Asia Its People and History is a sixteen week course for children that are ages 8-12 that was written by Bonnie Rose.

Asia Its People and History takes a look at six Asian countries from a Biblical worldview and encourages prayer for the persecuted Christians living there. The countries the book explores are-

  • Laos
  • Bangladesh
  • Nepal
  • China
  • Iran
  • Vietnam

The suggested age range for the book is 8-12 so my children are on the older end of it at 12 and 14 although A~man is at a younger level so it is actually very adaptable to his learning needs. We have a blow up globe and it was fun to find each of the countries on the globe. Also, we do not do as many formal learning activities together as when they were young so this book is a nice opportunity to come together to learn. We have only so far "traveled" to Laos but I look forward to traveling through the rest of the countries in the next month.

Each section has a story about a child living in that particular country and it also has some discussion questions. The information includes both history and the geography of each country. The book is Christian based and portrays what it is like for Christians living there and the importance of praying for them. Each section also includes suggested activities such as crosswords, map puzzles, word searches and also there is free bonus content available on Bonnie Rose Hudson's website.

I would definitely recommend this book to other homeschoolers and I can also see it being a wonderful resource for even a Sunday school class or youth group wanting to learn more about Christians in far away places! It is a great resource for a special needs parent to teach their child about people in other countries without having to use a big text book...which may be more information than they can comprehend. I look forward to any other geography books she may write! Here is a short bio about the author, Bonnie Rose-

Bonnie Rose Hudson works with both and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine® as a curriculum creator and editorial assistant. Her heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She would love for you to stop by and meet the star of her children’s series at Exploring with Jakelook through the 10/40 window of the world and join others in prayer at Looking Out the 10/40 Window, or stop by her author’s  for fun printables and discover how you can write for the homeschool market. 

You can find this ebook available at The Old Schoolhouse Store for $6.95 which I think is very reasonable for this book. Also, there is a  promotional code here- 02asia14! (make sure to include the ! in the code) that will give you 25% off the cost until March 15th 2014. You can also find it on for $6.95, and at Smashwords for $6.95. At Smashwords it is available in formats for Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader and ibooks. Soon you will be able to get it as a paperback from CreateSpace.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Do Over Days

I originally posted this last year on my work blog at but I decided that on occasion I would post some of my favorites from the past over here. 

Have you heard of them? These types of homeschool days are something that over the years our family has implemented, especially when having to deal with special need issues.

 Particularly in the past when my son was much younger as he had great difficulty controlling his words and actions. Basically, he often would not think things through before doing something. When this happened repetitively, which was often the case, something had to change in the day.

My daughter too, especially when she was younger, has had to have a restart to her day when attitudes and words have gotten sassy.

But wait! I cannot forget myself. Years ago I had severe PMS issues that would cause my normally calm demeanor to be short tempered. Children are not the only ones that may need a restart to their day.

What did we do? Sometimes I would suggest we start our day over or one of the kids would say they needed a do over. A little bit of grace goes a long way in turning a terrible, horrible, not good day around. If there were days when we did not do this and instead muddled through, the day usually ended up being completely unproductive and quite honestly draining.

Typically we would go to a quiet place alone (the key) and either read quietly, play quietly, or take a short nap. After a certain amount of time we would come back together and if needed apologize and ask forgiveness. Usually hugging would be involved too. If it was a homeschool day I would try to pick a fun activity like reading a book to them, doing some art together, or exploring our yard to give the day a fresh and positive restart.

Do any of your homeschool days ever need a do over?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Review- Seekers of the Lost Boy by Taryn Hayes

This last month I read a new book with characters that are homeschooled that I really enjoyed! Yesterday I put the review up on but I thought I would also put a teaser here in my blog with a link to go check out the rest of my review. The review also includes a spelling word list and educational activities to go along with the book!

Seekers of the Lost Boy is an inspirational story about a homeschool family living in Cape Town South Africa. While out collecting shells for a homeschool project something catches 12 year old Simon's eye shining in some seaweed along the beach. What he finds is a bottle that has a brown envelope inside with a very special message written on it. The writer signed the message Joseph C, and also wrote the address of his school in hopes that whoever found the bottle could answer his very important question. Simon's family, including his three younger siblings, decide to search for the young boy who wrote the message and find out what has happened to him. What was the message? Well, you will have to read the book to find out! Go to to read the rest of my review on this book.
If you do end up reading this wonderful book I would love to hear what you think about it!

Here is an interview with the author Taryn Hayes-


This week we have enjoyed some spring like weather and taken lots of nature walks in addition to doing some second grade science worksheets with the A~man. I love being able to do sit down work on the days that the weather is not great and then bring what we learn outside to explore nature!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014


 It was a very unusual week here in WNC! I think it has been a couple of years since we have experienced a significant amount of snow fall. I LOVE SNOW! I was pessimistic though as I have been hearing forecasts of snow for a couple of weeks with nothing to show. It started out with a day that it snowed these HUGE beautiful flakes all day long but nothing stuck as the ground must have been too warm. I think my nose was stuck to the window about as much as Z~girls, just hoping for some snow to play in. Finally, on Wednesday I think we got 2-3 inches. 

Which was just enough snow to cover the ground so we could go sledding. (yes I went too!) But then...

We got another 5 or so inches the next day. I can only remember this much snow one time since living in our home and we have been here about 8 years. 

For dinner I made chicken soup with homemade noodles. I do not have a recipe for the soup as I just sort of throw stuff together (my granma would be proud!) but here is the very easy noodle recipe I used. (which I found here
1 egg
1 Tablespoon of milk
Approximately 1 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt

My only regret was not making a larger recipe so we would have leftovers!

What did I make with the soup? Homemade bread. I've never tried this recipe before and it was amazing

You may notice that both heels are cut off the bread. I cut this loaf in half as I sent Z~girl across the street to our sweet neighbor friends house with a mason jar of soup and part of our loaf of bread. (along with some other goodies) The other heel? Well, I had to taste it to make sure it was good enough to give to my family. (that's my excuse at least, okay?)

Last but certainly not least...

I think I may have made this once before kids but we also made the yummiest SNOW CREAM!!

What we did is put that big metal bowl outside in a deck chair and after a few hours it was full. Then Z~girl and I added approximately a half a cup of milk and a half a cup of sweetened condensed milk, plus a generous splash of real vanilla extract. IT WAS SO GOOD!

Even more amazing this week was the fact that even though we spent a lot of time playing in the snow, making new recipes, and watching Netflix....we still did school! My duo are obviously too old for kindergarten homeschool science  but this weather was perfect for talking about temperature, precipitation, and oddly enough after the earthquake last night, seismic activity...we had lots of hands on science. Check out my husband Techdadz blog too as he did a fun science project with the kids also! He made a little bot type creature similar to a Hexbug toy.  Plus they were quick to finish up the rest of their online work so they could play outside. Definitely a win/win situation!!

I'm also very glad I took the time to PLAY with my kids!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Through the eyes of your child...

I desperately need a new profile picture for work and for my Google+. Obviously anyone that knows me locally or has read my blog knows I love to take pictures!! But I do NOT like to be in front of a camera. It's not that I think I am unattractive but normally when I see a photo of myself I do not like it. I always have a "say cheese" very unnatural look on my face.

Exhibit #1- 

Now, while there is nothing really wrong with this photo it is not a real smile...and I do not care for it at all. This is my typical facial expression when someone tells me to SMILE

Next, I handed the camera to my daughter and had her take some photos of her mama. Yes, they are a bit out of focus but I LOVE them! A super model I am not but I hope these goofy facial expressions are something I display to my husband and children on a regular basis! 

Exhibit #2

Each one displays a more realistic image of my personality...

Exhibit #3

Which is obviously extremely goofy at times...especially when having fun with my family. 

Exhibit # 4

Me trying to grab the camera from "said" child's hands.

A close up is something I wouldn't dream of posting but this one Z~girl took of me I love! Wrinkles, age spots and all!

Exhibit # 5

For me I see very blue/green eyes and smiley wrinkles...which are completely okay in my book!

How does your child see you? I know plenty of times my duo see my angry look, (not pictured but I'm sure more wrinkles would be visible) but I hope they always remember me for my often silliness and smiles! 

Right now I have a bumper sticker on our "redneck mobile" (long story...but I may take a photo of it soon) it says "Wag more, bark less"....for this next week let me advise you all to SMILE more bark less...and think about the face your family is seeing. The face that they love!

Hint, Hint, I would LOVE to see some of my blogger friends hand the camera sometime to their kids this week...see yourself the way your children see you. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

24 Reasons to Homeschool Your Special Needs Child

I want to start out by saying that I do not think that everyone should homeschool. I absolutely do not think that and do not think less of people that send their children to school. It is a very personal choice. My hope with this list is to let people know the numerous benefits to homeschooling their child, especially a child with special needs, and that it can be done!

1. Socialization- I know it cannot be helped in "school" but often, at least in my son's case in kindergarten, they lumped kids with certain issues together in one room. How does someone learn appropriate social skills this way? Now, one of us is always nearby to help him learn the skills needed to be as socially appropriate as possible. It is such a huge benefit that he is around such a variety of people of all ages and all kinds of abilities.

2. Scheduling Dr. and therapy appointments- It is much more difficult to have to take your child out of "school" for appointments than to fit it into your homeschool day. Years ago we were even fortunate enough to have A~man's occupational therapist come directly to our home.

3. Who knows better than you what your child is capable of learning? I believe often the parent/parents know best what their child can do and how to go about helping them achieve their own personal potential.

4. Family relationships- I believe my children have a bond with each other and us due to the fact we are their teachers.

5. Interest led learning- You can use your child's interests and obsessions to help them learn. For my son he will get fixated on a subject and I try to find ways to help him learn more about it whether it is videos, books, or through the online science for elementary school classes that he takes.

6. Behaviors- When my son was in public school (preschool and kindergarten) I received absolutely no input about how he was doing until a 9 weeks IEP. At this point they were removing him from that particular school and placed him in a classroom that was not appropriate for his individual needs. Obviously even with us he is not perfectly behaved BUT I feel like we are able to set goals to improve his behavior that couldn't be done in public school. (of course that is my own opinion though)

7. Less distractions- You can create a learning environment that is beneficial to your individual child. This is a BIG one with my son as learning can be a challenge with ADHD. He hears every car that goes by, every lawn mower, dog barking, and he becomes focused on that. Obviously I can't get rid of those sounds BUT I can eliminate a lot of distractions inside our home so he can pay attention.

8. One on one instruction- This just isn't always possible in "school". Either my husband or I are able to give our children one on one instruction when they need it.

9. Your special needs child can learn from their siblings- (and the siblings can learn more than you can imagine from their sibling with special needs!) I think part of the reason my son has done as well as he has over the years is because he has a sister so close in age to him. She has learned a deep sense of compassion, tolerance, and empathy.

10. Bad day? no worries- If a day starts out exceptionally I am able to step back, evaluate, and sometimes we just go a different route for the day. OR, we decide to finish our work later in the day. Who says school has to be from 8-3? My daughter is known to do her math in the evenings and sometimes my son will finish his reading before dinner. Sometimes us moms (or dads) have a bad day too. I have discovered sometimes on days like that it is best to take a teacher work day. (mental health day) Instead we might watch some educational videos on Netflix or even go for a nature hike.

11. What better place to learn life skills than at home? Both of my children have certain things they have to do right now around the house. Currently I am teaching him how to wash and dry his own clothes. Both also have been learning how to cook.

12. If something isn't working it is easier to change it- If a certain curriculum is obviously not working it is simple to stop it...and find something that will work. I know curriculum can be expensive but there are also a lot of free resources out there too for homeschoolers.

13. Go at their own pace- I have learned over the years learning is not a race.

14. Breaks- You can take breaks from "school" based on what works for your family. For us taking 2+ months off in the summer does not work. Instead we spread our breaks out and have them for less time, but more frequently.

15. Safe environment- After hearing horror stories on the news it makes me glad my two are home learning. Bullying is also something they have only experienced a small amount of. But when it did happen it was resolved in an amicable way.

16. You get to know your child's friends and their parents- Many of the people we hang out with regularly we met early on in our homeschool journey.

17. Choose your own books- There is not a set list we go by of what we have to read each year. Yes, sometimes I do like looking at lists for possibilities but it is ultimately up to me what books are read.

18. Independent learning- As both of our children mature it is so rewarding to see them, even A~man, learning to complete their work with a lot less help than when we started homeschooling.

19. They do not have to eat cafeteria food- I'm only half joking about that one. With my son having Prader-Willi Syndrome, being able to control what he eats is a big deal around our home. I enjoy being able to provide a healthy meal and often have both kids join in when we cook.

20. Like my title states "Who's learning? Who's teaching? I can honestly say that I have learned as much as my children have through our years of  homeschooling through trials and through triumphs!

21. The opportunity to teach your child what will truly benefit them in the future.

22. Field trips- Locally the opportunities for hands on learning through field trips is bountiful! I think I learn and enjoy them as much as my children.

23. Real world learning possibilities are endless- I guess this could also be under social skills but learning how to grocery shop, count money, and communicate with others in the community is something we take quite seriously. Every where we go in our little city, everyone knows A & Z.

24. Fewer germs- When my son was very young he became sick very easily which often resulted in him being hospitalized. We are definitely not home bound but I admit, during the flu season we limit how much we get out. Also, fortunately our homeschool friends are kind enough to keep their kids (or themselves) home when they are sick.

Can any of you that homeschool a child with special needs add to my list of reason?

Monday, February 3, 2014

It Was a Yucky Day

It was a yucky day. was okay up until the middle of the afternoon when things spiraled down hill. Looking back I can always see how I could have prevented the day from a downward flush, but also I have learned that I am only human and there are going to be times I do not deal with situations perfectly.

We had Geography club today which I (and a couple of our other friends) did not remember about until two days before. The night before I could not sleep and felt like a slug for most of the day. It was a country we had studied before, Australia, and fortunately our family was only to present about notable inventions that came from Australia. But....two days is a lot to ask a typical child to prepare for, but a child with memory issues (sometimes I wonder if they are selective though ;) who ironic to his personality gets nervous speaking in front of a group, equals him being set up not to be very successful. Z~girl? She remarkably memorized what she was supposed to say with very little help from me. A~man? He got the deer in the headlights look that I am common for.

Anyway, I told him that he could have a cup of coffee later if he did as well at Geo club as he had been doing at home practicing. (*ducking* YES, I have been known to bribe him with coffee) He didn't. In the past we have told him he could have a cup of coffee (just a couple times a week) when we were done with a long walk...but looking back reinforcing him for being able to stand up in front of the group virtually unprepared was not fair.

I wasn't going to back down though as that would cause a whole new set of problems so I told him he could earn it back after his school work the next day. This didn't help.  Z~girl, and I were sitting in our redneck SUV (a whole nuther post) with a 14 year old A~man throwing a 3 year old tantrum while my hubby was in the bank. It wasn't purdy. I was so nervous someone would hear him and wonder what the ruckus was about. Before it got real ugly I sent Z~girl in to get hubby...thankfully so, as when she left he started throwing things...such as a tire pump. *note to self-clean out the car*

Once we got home he calmed down for a bit until after we were done eating dinner and then he got irritable again. I sent him upstairs and he remembered that he had lost his iPod that week...and started blaming hubby for its disappearance. We do not know what happened to it but it was not his daddy. Shortly after he went to bed, unhappy.

Days like this remind me that, days like this are not as common as they used to be. There was a time 3 or 4 years ago that he would have meltdowns a few times a week. Now it is just a couple of times a month. (well, the big ones) Something good about Prader-willi syndrome is that in the morning all will be right with the world too if I start the day out positively, which I will.


I do have some good news! After pestering my hubby for years to start blogging, as he loves to write, he has started to blog!! I encourage any of my blogging buddies to follow him as he will be posting about a lot of fun homeschooling things he does with A&Z!! 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Light Bulb Moments

Definition- A moment of sudden inspiration, revelation, or recognition; from the cartoon image of a light bulb lighting up above a character's head when he or she has an idea. 

What does this mean to a homeschooling mama of a child with special needs? It is indescribable.

If I were to tell most of my homeschool mom friends about this they just would not understand. My son is 14 and he is finally "getting" telling time. Yes, this is a skill normally learned in early primary grades, and he has had it almost learned for many years. He does understand that time is passing but he just has never been accurate with an analog clock. It just seems with many skills he gets to a certain point and there is no pushing it beyond that point. That is the point where I have learned to step back, reevaluate, and decide the next step. For us it is to work on a different skill. I have learned over the years this does not mean failure, but that for now it is time to back off.

BUT THIS WEEK...I think I actually saw the light bulb above his head!! The issue has been once the time is beyond the halfway mark that the small hand is pointing more to the next he assumes it is the next number. (e.g. He would think 2:48 is instead 3:48) I remember being confused myself as a child with this. Somehow now I can tell him (and he understands) that you must always look at what the small hand was pointing at first going clockwise. That sounds like gibberish but however I must have explained it to him must have "clicked"!! 

Now if I could get him to add/subtract without using his fingers. He can carry and borrow...but this year I tried to make an effort to get him to not use his fingers using which is like online flashcards. The results? He can use his fingers very fast to add. Hahaha! I think I need to come to peace with the fact he has to have the visual. (and has to verbalize it...much to his sister's annoyance)

With special needs learning it so much (at least for us!) three steps forward...two steps back. This can be frustrating at times but let me tell you what...when there is progress I feel like celebrating! It makes homeschooling challenging but so rewarding when you look back at how far your child has come. When we started he could not sit in a chair more than 10 minutes and pay attention and now he can for much longer! Also he wants to learn more and not just with the hundreds of somewhat random questions he asks but things beyond "is it living or non living" from his online science curriculum. He is now asking so many questions that even make us have to really think about the questions. I love to see the wheels turning in his head!