Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 Goals

I don't like New Years Resolutions, they don't work. But I recently read an article explaining that if you have goals and a plan for your year, it tends to be more productive and directed. I liked that concept. I have a lot of things floating around in my brain that I want to accomplish or change, but I figure I'll get around to it someday. So this is my record of things I want to accomplish this year. I hope to update occasionally my progress.

1. join a Bible study
2. follow through with a regular quiet time
3. finish the study Earl and I are doing
4. read through the entire Bible

1. monthly date nights
2. read power of a praying wife and 5 love languages (use what I learn)
3. make his lunch
4. SHMILY surprises more often

Household projects:
1. plant a successful garden
2. redecorate master bedroom
3. redecorate/add shelves to laundry room
4. redo hallway
5. find Caroline a twin bed, and maybe one more for Alex?
6. make and use cloth napkins

Monthly Habits
1. meal planning
2. laundry system
3. "swish and swipe" bathrooms
4. morning routines
5. evening routines
6. baking bread weekly
7. eating meals in the kitchen (teaching kids better table manners)
8. Waking up early, getting dressed and ready
9. finding healthy breakfast options, making a list they can choose from and having it available
10. finding healthy lunch options, making a list they can choose from and having it available (no more ramen noodles and spaghettio-s

1. using WII fit or some kind of exercise 3x a week
2. drink more water
3. start eating cleaner/healthier

Homeschooling goals:
1. find a workable schedule for Brian and keep at it
2. teach Alex to be more independent
3. teach Caroline how to read
4. bring Daniel home and teach him/therapy followup
5. park times at least twice a month
6. 1 special day/field trip a month

Kid raising goals:
1. better manners
2. more consistent discipline
3. more spiritually "heavy"
a. daily Bible time
b. family Bible time
c. memorize verses
d. special lessons and activities to teach

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Advent Project

So it's been a while, a LONG while, since I've been on here. But we've been busy with life. I started a Thanksgiving Advent Project today, and wanted to share! We are a bit late to start with November 1st, so our first project today was to start a Thankfulness Jar. This is just a mason jar, that we are filling every day with something we are each thankful for. This is our list, with ideas borrowed from here and here. I put each days activity into a cup like this although mine probably won't turn out as cute :) You are supposed to fill the cups with treats, but I don't have any, so I don't think I will. Happy Thanksgiving!

3 – Popcorn estimates, turkey math

4 – Symmetrical pattern block turkeys

5 - Make hand print Turkeys.

6 -Bible Lesson: The 10 Lepers (Luke 17:11-19).

7 - Make Indian Tepees and Pilgrim forts out of blankets and household furniture.

8 - Election Day - Go to the poll to vote and pray for Godly leadership.

9- Mayflower Day!

10 - Make cornucopia craft and snack.

11 - Veteran's Day - write thank you letters to our veterans and soldiers.

12 - Learn about giving.

13 - Say "Thank You" as many times as you can day

14 - Pilgrim Project

15 - Turkey placemats (from Oriental Trade), also cut out food from grocery store ads and glue the food on a construction paper made table to make a Thanksgiving feast.

16 - Tell the story of the first Thanksgiving and then act it out with our little people. Create a mayflower boat for little people to ride in.

17 - Dress Up! Make these Pilgrim hats and Indian headbands.

18 - Make homemade thanksgiving day cards and thankful cards to give to teachers 19 - Thanksgiving Movie (Charlie Brown)

20 - Bible Lesson: King David constantly was giving thanks to the Lord in the book of Psalm (Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever)

21- Make these adorable pilgrim hat treats

22 – Make thankful tree.

23 -. Make my assigned thanksgiving dish for Thanksgiving

24 - THANKSGIVING......Gobble until you Wobble

25- Black Friday SHOPPING!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Homeschooling with Auditory Processing Disorder

We suspect that our six year old, Brian has auditory processing disorder. This means he cannot hear and process information easily. Our speech therapist noticed this, because she does what is called speech babble with Daniel to work on his language. She'll say bee bop bay (or a million other combinations) and Daniel has to repeat it. When Brian sits with us to help Daniel, she'll ask him to repeat the babble first to help Daniel understand what to do. He cannot repeat it. So our speech therapist recommended Earobics. This is just a simple game that builds the child's auditory processing skills. Brian's favorite game is a drummer that plays his drum and you have to count the number of beats and then repeat it. Right now we are focusing on his hearing and vision before we stress the academics. If he can't hear or see well, how can he learn?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Is it better to homeschool a special needs child?


Of course I do believe in homeschooling all of my children, but having 2 special needs children now are presenting a unique challenge. With these challenges come the question, wouldn't school be better for them? And believe me, I have been asking that. Maybe if my 6 year old had been in kindergarten last year he would have done better, or maybe they would have caught his problems earlier. And how can I possibly find the time to do all the therapies at home for him and his baby brother. Wouldn't a public school teacher be better equipped to handle all of this?

To give you a better idea of what "all of this is" I'll share my chart, it's not quite complete yet. When I look at it, I know I won't be perfect at getting all of this done, but how would a public school teacher be able to accomplish three hours of work with Brian a day not during regular school time? And if I had to do it when he got off of the bus at 4:00 what kind of life would he have? Plus, no school system offers vision therapy like Brian needs. It's not universally accepted yet, so they wouldn't do any of the other activities with him. He would be treated for visual processing delays, without the correction of mechanical difficulties that will always be a problem for him. So tell me, why is public school better than personal tutoring with someone who loves him and wants what is best for him? This is only my first of many reasons why I believe homeschooling is best for a special needs child!

Brian (6)

Daniel (2)

Patch right eye for 3 hours 4 days a week and left eye 2 days a week for 3 hours (not during regular learning time) while doing fine motor activities

Patch eye 2 hours a day

15 minutes of handwriting

Read a book

Wheel barrel walking, arm exercises, upper body exercises

Sing songs

Auditory practice (on computer 15-30 minutes

Stringing beads, puzzles,

Brain training (crossing the midline)

Jumping, stairs, rotating

A variety of eye exercises after patching

Speech babble, “wh” questions, story sequencing

Oral motor strengthening

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Backyard Bird, weeks 3-9?

I haven't remembered to post weekly for our bird class, but we've been doing simple projects and learning lots! We played a memory game using soft birds I had that chirped like a real bird. We practiced identifying birds by sounds. We did boys vs. girls on the various birds, then questions about what we've learned so far. The three best projects though were:

Peanut butter bird feeders on pine cones! These were really easy, very messy and lots of fun! We talked about how bird feeders should be visible, but not in a high traffic area and should be near bushes or trees to give the birds a safe area.

Next was bird house gourds. The kids were really creative with their painting and designing. This time I had the kids run around in the yard and pretend they were birds looking for a place to live. Then we talked about why each choice was good or bad. The worst was several boys who wanted nests at the top of the playground slide!

The best thing we did though, was dissecting owl pellets! By class vote the last bird they wanted to learn was an owl. Owl pellets are what owls vomit after
an small animal-birds, rodents, moles and voles. It is the skeleton and fur of these animals. The kids really enjoyed it, and were only slightly grossed out! We found lots of cool bones, including whole skulls! This was a great class to teach, and I hope you take the time to learn
more about the birds our wonderful Creator made for us to enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How do you get it all done? Part 2

So yesterday I shared about how Jesus Christ always took time for his followers and gave his all. And that fruitful labor is what we are called for. But a friend pointed out to me that homeschooling is the equivalent of a full time job. Her point was that the children should be pitching in to help with household chores to allow you to "work" your full time job. But as mom's do we treat our day as if we did have a job? I've been seeing this on facebook lately

"So you ask...Do I work? Uh yes, I work 24 hours a day. Why? Because I am a Mother. I am an alarm clock, a cook, a maid, a teacher, a nanny, a nurse, an EMT, a handyman, a security officer, a photographer, a counselor, a referee, a chauffeur, an ATM, a jungle gym & a comforter. I don't get holidays, sick pay or days off. I work through the DAY & NIGHT. I am on call at ALL hours. Post if you are a proud mother...

Yes this is true, it makes us want to applaud mothers. But I've been thinking about Earl. When he has work the next day, he goes to bed at a sensible hour, sets his alarm, gets up and gets ready for the day, packs his lunch, and goes to work. He gets a lunch break, but not a nap, he has to accomplish certain tasks whether or not he is tired. His work has to meet a certain standard or he doesn't have a job. There are times when he is on call, and has to work extra hours without a choice. How much different is being a mom? What if we looked at our day like a career instead? We can be a CEO and delegate to our children, we can ASK our spouses for help if we need it or if affordable we can hire help. But what if we actually set our alarms, got up before our children and were ready for our "job." I disagree with this quote, in the sense that we do get breaks and we never work day and night. There are times when we do but then just like in a real job we can have a day of rest to catch up.

For more ideas on running your house on a schedule, check out this blog. She mimicked her husbands work routines in her home.

Jesus took time to rest, and so should we. But just like our husbands, it needs to be after the work is done.

Monday, March 21, 2011

How do you get it all done?

I have had several conversations with people recently about "those" people. You know who I'm talking about-the women with many children, homeschools perfectly, has a clean house, cooks healthy meals, looks great and is involved in many church and outside activities. Someone even accused me of being that-hahahaha!!! Not in a million years. We all think we know at least one of those women. But in my experience it is a mask. If you get to know them you will find out that they don't have it as together as we think. Everyone struggles with getting it all done. But I want to consider two important things.

The first is our teacher, Jesus Christ. He took time to eat, sleep and care for himself, but he never put anyone off for a rest. When he met the woman at the well, he had just sat down for a break. He could have ignored the woman, but he took the time to share the truth with her. My second example is the storm. Jesus was so tired that he slept through a storm! But when they got to the other side of the water, people were waiting for him. Instead of saying, "look this has been a long day, come back later" he started teaching! A friend shared this with me this week, and it really has been convicting. How often could I get more done if I didn't take so much "me" time or breaks. If in an afternoon I can read a dime novel, how much of the daily jobs could I get done? I'm not saying we shouldn't take a break, but we should be devoted to fruitful labor. (Philippians 1:22-go look it up!). My challenge to myself this month will be to take less breaks to get what I supposed to done, but also not look at others around me and compare.

I will talk more about my second point tomorrow-even though we may not get it all done, homeschooling is better!

Friday, March 18, 2011

To Sign or Not to Sign

With a deaf child that has cochlear implants (especially one who got them less than three months after becoming deaf) there are several schools of thought about teaching them sign language. Since I love to talk to EVERYONE for opinions, and when I can't talk in person I Google lots. I have been able to boil these opinions down to two major groups.

Some people believe that even with the implants, a child will have a language gap or delay and sign language will fill in the gap. They also believe it will help them when the deaf child is in a crowd or a noisy area to "hear" what is going on-like a college lecture hall or even church. Finally, they believe that for the times he is not wearing his implants, like baths, at the beach or when he is just being a brat we can still communicate with him. My problem with this belief is one-I am not fluent in sign language and don't have time with h
omeschooling and therapies to take a college class and learn it right now. Also, we were in a noisy playground the other day and I said "Daniel" and he came running. And with things like FM systems (special microphones that amplify a speaker) Daniel will be able to hear the speaker. But I can see the benefit for "deaf time."

The other side is the audio/verbal therapy. They believe (and this includes Daniel's speech therapist) that sign language will be easier because the children don't have to work to hear and it is easier to sign more than learn to hear it and say it. This
could potentially cause the child to choose sign language over listening and speaking and it is not what we want for Daniel. Our therapist frequently says, when Daniel is running away from me at the beach, is he going to turn and look so you can sign to him? My problem is I like the idea of sign language. I have seen how learning little bits have helped us make Daniel's life easier the past year. So I've been struggling with which method I am going to follow.

Yesterday, I met a mom whose brother in law is deaf, so she has taught her children sign language and they use it in their daily life. She said she started learning little things, and quickly the little things turned into sentences. Here is my AHA moment! Instead of stressing about a philosophy we will continue doing little things that make our life easier. And if an opportunity comes along for us to learn more sign language without add
ing stress, we will take it. But speech will still be our top priority. I will leave you with my new favorite sign. STOP!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Eye Patching

We have to patch both Brian and Daniel for vision problems. Daniel has a nerve palsy in one eye, which means that the nerve that controls his eye muscles, the dilation of the pupil and the eyelid was damaged in his stroke. We patch the good eye to encourage him to use the damaged eye in the hope that the brain will re-engage that nerve. Brian has a weak and a strong eye, and they don't track well together. He does not have a wandering eye, but he could. We went to a developmental eye doctor for Brian who checks for visual problems that a regular optometrist wouldn't see.

Both doctors recommended that while patching, they should be doing close visual activities (although Daniel's doctor said it's not as important since most toddler activities are close work). Brian is supposed to be patched on both eyes for at least an hour each, and Daniel on one eye for two hours. We have found many fun things for Brian to do. One easy way is video games! Playing a video game is an easy way to distract him. Another is coloring a picture or doing a craft. Looking at a book is another way to accomplish our goal. The Lite Brite was suggested as a good project, but we haven't found one yet. We can do his eye patching during school time, but I don't want to make school even harder for him. And he does not like patching, so having fun activities makes it easier.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One year ago yesterday

One year ago Daniel got a stomach bug and was violently throwing up. We took him to the doctor because I thought he wasn't responding well and they gave him a shot to stop the vomiting and said to hydrate him as much as possible. That was at lunch time, and he came home and slept for over four hours. He was so tired and weak he couldn't even lift up his head to get a drink. Concerned about him, I decided to let him sleep in the pack and play in our bedroom so I could better hear and help him through the night. At some point in the night I heard him moaning in his sleep, but I left him alone. After I got up for the day, he was still moaning strangely and I decided it was time for him to get up. I walked over and greeted him like normal and he didn't respond. I called his name loudly and he still didn't respond. Then I picked him up and he screamed. I laid him on the bed and he stopped screaming and looked at me, he had a high fever and one eye wouldn't open. I thought he was severely dehydrated and called the doctor. She told me to bring him right in. Thinking he was so dehydrated we would end up at the ER, I dropped the kids off at a neighbors house. When I got to the doctor they raced him back to a room, and the doctor said he had to go to the ER, and by ambulance. On the way to the ER, sitting in the back of the ambulance I remember thinking they are using sirens. I had just read 50 things your "EMT and ER Doctor want you to know" in Readers Digest, and two things that stuck out to me during this ordeal is we don't always use sirens, only in an emergency and just because you go to the ER in an ambulance doesn't mean you will see the doctor quicker. When we got into the hospital we immediately saw the doctor. After a few tests, they told me he was being airlifted to Pitt Memorial Hospital to go to the Pediatic ICU. My mom had joined me by this point, and we drove as quickly as we could to Greenville, and when we got there the doctor was prepping him for a MRI. They later had to do a blood transfusion so he could have a spinal tap and determined that he had bacterial meningitis. He had streptoccocal pneumonia a rarer strain, that is not vaccinated against. It actually was meningoencephalitis, because it had invaded throughout his brain. We were not sure he was going to make it. It was two days before I could even hold him, and he was unresponsive still. We spent 34 days in the hospital with a long time in rehab. There are so many things I could say about this, so any things that have happened in this year and in our lives that have changed because of this day. We now have a deaf child, a child with a traumatic brain injury, who will probably always suffer from problems because of it. But, we have our child. And we love him. And we thank God daily for all of our children because you never know what tomorrow might hold.

Backyard Bird, week 3

We had a week off in our class for a Valentine's Party, so this week was our third week. We finished our page on bluejays, and then went outside to make birdfeeders! I found huge pinecones, which we painted with peanut butter and then rolled into birdseed for a quick and inexpensive feeder. We also talked about where birdfeeders should be located. Not in a high traffic area, not where they are near cats or other predators, and should be near a bush or a tree so they can quickly fly to safety.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Motivation is a big part of homeschooling in our family. For a child in public school, peer pressure, grades and their parents reaction is a big motivator. But in our homeschool there is neither motivator. I want my children to learn the material, so an 80% is not acceptable to me, they have to correct everything until it is all done perfectly. So we have had to look for other motivators, and we have used several methods successfully, I think each one is good for different periods in our lives.

The easiest motivator I used was a piece of construction paper with 20 circles making a trail. The trail leads to something exciting, like a field trip the child has been dying to go on. Every good day of school (no bad attitudes, and hard work) they get to fill in a circle. When the path is complete we go on the field trip! This is a picture of our current chart, with a picture of a playground at the end, which is where Brian, our six year old picked!

Another method we have used is based from thinking outside the box homeschoolers. We made a big poster to hang with four areas. Our school was a spy school with a secret mission for top secret clearance spies. Each subject done well raised our oldest's security clearance, and the secret mission was a fun treat or activity. Also on the chart I put a "well done" area for each child so that they could hang the best sheet of the day up. For my preschoolers we did a red, yellow and green light to keep them motivated. A green light at the end of the day merited a special treat.

I think I've mentioned this earlier, but now we use a natural consequence for our nine year old adhd child. If his work is done before lunch he gets to watch an hour of tv in the afternoon or play a WII Game. If it's not done he doesn't. Since we have started this he gets his work done without fail!

How do you motivate your homeschoolers?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Backyard Bird, week 2

Last week I had to much work planned, so we were going to finish this week, but I was running late and missed part of the class. So instead, the kids colored a picture of their favorite bird, and then they each described it like we learned last week. (Paying special attention to the back, breast legs and beak colors.) The kids did amazing, and really had good details in their pictures, we had a kingfisher, a killdeer, a cardinal and a "brown bird!" The blessing of the day was that a mom covered for me and randomly decided to have them draw the pictures. I got there as they finished and we were able to play the guessing game with them. What excited me about this? How great the pictures were! I wish I had a copy of some of the pictures-these kids have talent!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Homeschooling a child with Cochlear Implants

Our two year old, Daniel, suffered through a strain of bacterial meningitis last Feb. This has caused many delays and difficulties, but the hardest has been that he is now completely deaf. Thankfully, we were able to get him bilateral cochlear implants (from a company called Cochlear, which gave him their newest N5 which has a cool remote to go with it!). With cochlear implants his hearing is now at almost a 20, which is in the range of a normal child! Woo-hoo! However, we have a weekly speech appointment, and a session with a teacher of the deaf, to help him learn how to hear with this technology and to continue to get to age level with his language. He is catching up very quickly, but it is a lot of hard work. We don't do school yet, of course, but we do lots of singing, nursery rhymes, playing with toys and working hard on language. They recommended that Daniel go to preschool next fall, but we are going to stick with homeschooling, and embrace the challenge. With older siblings, AWANA, and our co-op we feel he will get plenty of peer language exposure.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Backyard Bird homeschool unit

I am in a co-op, and am teaching this semester a class on backyard birds. Each week we are going to do two things. The first is a basic bird watching class, on how to set up a place where you can begin to watch for birds. The second part is identifying birds common to Eastern North Carolina. You can easily do this at home, let me know if you are!
This week is the first week. The first lesson is that we need to observe birds! What color is their wings and what color is the belly? What about their beak? Noticing little details will help you identify it later. We are going to make a nature journal to record what they see at home in. I got the idea from this website . I cut printer paper in half and didn't make a cardstock cover on mine, but I may do that tomorrow if I have any. I used birdseed as glitter to decorate the cover. The bird of the week is the bluejay!

We are making a lap-page using minibooks from We will be doing what the nest/babies and gestation is, what they eat, where they live, and their song. I also am gluing a few sunflowers seeds to the page as a reminder that to attract them you need sunflower seeds-it's their favorite feeder food!

I got a picture of the bluejay from

Happy birdwatching!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thoughts on homeschooling an adhd child

My oldest is adhd, which translates to he never stops moving! EVER! It also makes it hard to focus on his schooling. I found a few tricks over the last couple of years that makes it easier for him.
The first is a focus phrase. For him it was to take the bull by the horns. We taught him it meant to hold on for dear life and focus on the task at hand. This phrase was cool to him, because in Story of the World we had just learned about bull jumpers!

Another tip was a timer. It helped him to know he only had to work for xx minutes and then he could have a break.
Now that he is older, a list really helps him. I have to make it very specific-do 2 pages of math, study spelling words. But giving him that list and telling him work has to be done by this time or there is a consequence (no tv in the afternoon usually) works wonders on his focus!
When he was younger he did very little independent work. He hated handwriting so we did almost everything orally, or with me writing the answers except in handwriting practice. We also have used (as I remember) supplements-starting the morning with protein and caffeine seems to make a difference, and we also used flax oil.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Changes and a new direction

In November we had Brian tested for learning disabilities, and the results were both encouraging and discouraging. The doctor labeled him as developmentally delayed, and said he was borderline mentally retarded, he tests at more than a year delayed in most areas. This was a tough thing to understand and accept about our sweet Brian. However, we've been struggling with basic kindergarten skills at 6 and a half years old. The psychologist told me we should enroll him in school because I could not homeschool a special needs child. Although, she believes that his delays are unrelated to homeschooling, and his self-esteem was very high for a delayed child. In our quest for finding out how to best help him, we had him evaluated for physical, occupational and speech therapy. Physically his upper body is weak, but not needing therapy. The occupational therapist found he was delayed in visual processing and find motor skills, so he is now getting therapy for that. We are still waiting for speech results, but she believes he has auditory processing disorder. Today we took him to a developmental opthamologist, who found his vision was poor even with glasses, that he has a weak eye, and that his tracking skills are not smooth. So now he needs patch therapy every day.

All that to say, I am now a homeschool mother of four, two with special needs. I hope to update this blog more frequently with my new adventures and tips for anyone in the same boat.