Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's a Lifestyle

I have noticed that everything I do is not a career or an event or even an activity/ chore.... it's a LIFESTYLE.  The problem is making sure my lifestyle choices match my family's needs.  When I was a public school teacher, it was definitely a lifestyle for me.  I ate slept and breathed school work and trying to figure out how to reach that one tough kiddo.  That lifestyle cost me lots of firsts in both of my oldest two lives.  

Recently, (as in a year ago), I embarked on transitioning from public school teacher to home educator.  When I was in the process of this change (all of last year), I was told that homeschooling wasn't school it was a lifestyle.  I was bound and determined to keep it like my previous lifestyle.  Although, the more I saw what my family needed, the more I started to change how I managed my "school."  This included helping our family find a church, inviting God back into our lives, and doing what the kids needs as opposed to what I thought they were supposed to be doing.  

Now a year later, I have a 12 year old who is on grade level, and learning some serious life lessons (how to help those in need, how to have integrity with all the work he does, and respect for people in charge), a 3 year old who is learning what a schedule and school feels like, and a baby who is teething.  I am learning to embrace the multitasking part of the day and getting house cleaning and school done at the same time!  Today, I found myself embracing this new lifestyle, as I danced a crazy animal dance with Eve while wearing Kohl and still helping Wayne with some of his grammar.  

So, what does the homeschooling lifestyle look like?  That I am not sure about.  At our house it is noisy, chaotic, intense and disciplined!  It looks like a tornado at the end of the day, and feels like we could all use a nap.  However, it can be very rewarding for all involved.  No, not everyday is perfect.  But each day is an adventure that we all learn from!  

Embrace your lifestyle what ever it may be!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Traditional Versus Healthy

Wow, how I have changed.  Throughout the last three years, I have slowly started to look at how SAD the Standard American Diet really is and have started to slowly make more natural, more healthy choices for myself as well as my family.  Although, I am still not where I need to be with my weight, I can say I am healthier than I was 5 years ago.  

Today I took a journey with a friend and her children.  We made a total of 8 batches of cookies.  One batch used the traditional ingredients we have all grown to love along with the traditional amounts of sugar.  All in all, a batch of traditional cookies contained 4 large eggs, 2 1/2 cups of butter, and 3 cups of sugar.  Then we made "Healthier" cookies.  The changes were just a few simple substitutions.  I replaced the eggs with 2 tablespoons of flax and 8 oz of water, the butter with apple sauce, and then reduced the amount of sugar in 1/2.  The other change was I used wheat flour for 1/4 of the amount of flour called for.

The biggest difference was the texture of the cookies.  The healthier cookies were a little more like cake than cookies, but the flavor was huge and a perfect sweet spot filler.  Overall, by making those simple changes, I managed to cut the calories of the cookies in half and the fat to 1/3 of the traditional fat.

So here is the how to for your Healthier Bake a thon!
1.  Gather dry ingredients and zip lock bags (gallon and quart).  The ziplock bags are to pre measure all ingredients so the little one can help you and you have a smaller mess.
2.  In the gallon size bag, measure 4 cups of flour, 4 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. (If you want chocolate cookie dough, add 1/4 cup of cocoa)
3.  In a quart size bag, measure 1 cup packed brown sugar, and 1/2 cup raw granulated sugar (you can use traditional sugar if you want).  Zip and put in the gallon bag with the flour.
4.  In a second quart bag, dump 1 small (regular) size of chips (your choice, we used heath bits, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and white chocolate chips).   
5.  Repeat for each type of cookie you want.   

The day you bake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove the quart bags from the first batch of cookies.
2.  Put into a big bowl, 2 1/2 cups of apple sauce, 1 cup of warm water, 2 tablespoons of vanilla, and empty the bag of sugar.  Blend until sugar is dissolved.
3.  Slowly pour the flour bag into the mixture and stir/ mix.
4.  Mix in chips from chip bag.
5.  Use a teaspoon to drop on cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.
6.  Repeat with each batch until your prepackaged cookies are done!
7.  Eat two cookies and know if you added the other ingredients that you could only have 1!

Many thanks to my own little ones, The Briggs little ones, and their Mommy Sara!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Homeschooling: The Perks

I will admit I was not quite sure what to expect out of homeschooling this year.  However, I have learned alot of things mostly from my children.  I thought for those of you who think I am crazy and for those of you who wanna give it a try, I would share some things that I have learned throughout the year.

1.  LEARNING:  This means to acquire new knowledge for long term.  "If they can't remember it tomorrow it ain't learnt!"  
  • Learning is not always academics.
  • The kids are not the only ones learning.
  • Everyday, someone in your house will learn something new
2.  TIME:  Time is a precious thing that you do not want to waste.  For what ever time you waste, you will never get back.
  • Time with my children is precious and should not be squandered off.
  • School time does not have to be 8-3, it can be 6- noon, it can be all day, it can be in the evenings, over nap time, you decide what is best for your family, or each kid.  
  • Our best time varies by kid and parent.... Example:  Wayne is best early in the morning, Mom is not good until 9 am, Eve is good to go around 7:30, Kohl runs his own schedule that interferes with everyone else!
  •  You must take time to watch your children learn (if you blink they will be grown up), and that aha moment in your own children is far more valuable than that moment you get watching others learn.
  • If your day screams, RUN AWAY FROM SCHOOL, you can do this (Declare it a Holiday!)  run have fun and play.  you have 180 days you must account for learning out of 365.  If they learn something while you are running away, it is a school day.  If they do not, then it is a break.
3. CURRICULUM:  Is just what and how you are going to teach your child, it is not the text books you buy or anything else.  It is your plan of what and how.  
  • Buying structured curriculum works if you need structured lessons.
  • 1 size does not fit all, do not compare what your friends are buying, what worked for the previous child, yourself or your husband, find what fits your kiddo.
  • When the curriculum isn't working, add in your own ideas to help him learn.
  • It is perfectly ok to use the library as your reading, science and social studies curriculum.  Ask questions of what your kids read, show them how to research and read about the stories of history.
  • Make sure to walk away from the text pages for a little fun every now and again
  • MAKE an individualized learning plan (IEP in Public schools) for each kid, plan what you want them to learn as opposed to just getting through a book!  Test these skills often and modify your plan as needed!
4.  HOLIDAYS:  Not only do you choose your schedule, but if you do fun activities during the holiday, it counts as school (public schools do parties, movie days, etc throughout the school year, why can't you?)
  • Save family vacation for times that are not regularly scheduled for the rest of the school world (better travel, more fun!).
  • Use family vacation as school days if you can!
  • Make the holidays about the family as opposed to about the hoopla that is advertised.
  • Kids love: making gifts, decorating, and hosting friends.... let them!
  • Alot can be loved from being charitable, try even at a different time from the holidays!
I have really learned alot over this last year, I am going to enjoy the last 15 days of the school year, and see what I can do to make next year easier.  Over the next 3 weeks we will be writing educational goals, making summer learning packets, AND having a practice Summer Vacation Day!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Recognizing Metamorphisis!

        I have often as a child sat and dreamed of what my life would be like as an adult.  Although, I can safely say, that I have not accomplished all I sat out to accomplish, and am nowhere near what type of person I thought I would be.  This morning, I had a revelation.  This revelation was not profound by any nature to the average person, but was by far the most profound thing I have experienced. 
        I spent many of my early adult years avoiding what I have become.  In fact if anyone would have implied that I would come anywhere near this person I would have screamed.   To put it to you bluntly, the adult I have become is probably a surprise to everyone, but most of all me!
        As my wise Grandma predicted, it all started with the right man.  There were men before him, but once the right man came into my life, I slowly started to morph into this new woman.  It started with paying a little more attention to cleanliness.  Yes I said a little more attention.  Then it turned into wanting to spend time with my family instead of my career.  I truly wanted to spend just about every waking moment with my children and husband.  Finally slowly, major life decisions were being made, so with confidence and others with total fear.  It seems like just yesterday, I was an angry single mom who taught school and went out drinking to wash away her life. 
         Today, I had a moment.  I had a moment when I knew that my life had done a complete 180 and for that I am proud and thankful.  Through a slow process with minor changes happening with ease and joy, and some major changes happening with fear and worry, 4 years in the making, this morning I saw for the first time this woman I have become.  It was just as awe inspiring as the great reveals in make over shows.  However, my outer appearance hasn’t received a make over, it was my soul.  I have slowly changed from an ugly caterpillar to a moth (or butterfly) on the inside.    When I saw myself, I cried, laughed and was overwhelmed with a since of pride.
       So now I share this new person with you, my friends and family as I experienced the  reveal.  I woke up this morning not feeling any different, in fact like always, I was kinda dreading Monday.  As always,  I was getting Wayne ready for a successful day of school, feeding Kohl, and encouraging Eve to welcome the world with a smile.  All of this I was taking for granite.  At some point, I found myself on the front porch after laundry had been done (around 8 am) and saw the most beautiful 3 year old in my life catching chickens and hugging and kissing them, a very jubilant 5 month old playing in his positioner, and a studious 12 year old at the kitchen table doing his school work.   I was hanging laundry on the front porch.  It was like I had become June Cleaver!  So, this is what I have become: 
  • ·         I am the mother of 3 wonderful children who light up the world daily.
  • ·         I am the wife of a patient man who loves me despite my flaws.
  • ·         I am a teacher to the most precious gifts from God (my own children).
  • ·         I am the person who does laundry with love and enjoys hanging the laundry on the line.
  • ·         I am a powerful woman who has decided to change the world by living in a more spiritual manner.
  • ·         I am not only a super mom, but I am THE SUPERMOM of my humble abode.
         To my friends and family, you are always welcome to come and visit, just please understand that we will probably be hard at work being inspired in our classroom or living our life to the fullest.  Full of simple things.  Like laundry on the line, learning what it means to use proper grammar at the school table, or chasing the butterflies we released.  Feel free to join in the activities, or enjoy some of your own adventures in our woods or the community around us.  For today and everyday, I am thankful I have been given the time to stop and watch the world spin and the ability to morph into the woman I am today.  Happy growing to all whether in height, weight, or wisdom!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Absent Minded Professor Academy Report Card

You homeschool!?!?!? Aren’t you smarter than that? Didn’t you go to college to become a teacher and have a career? Your son is autistic, how are you going to ensure his social skills are developed? You are a public educator, why are you pulling your son out of public school? You know the system works!

These are all questions that were asked to me and that I asked myself when considering this adventure. Even my own family in education thought what I was doing was a huge tragedy for Wayne, and for me. When I say that choosing to homeschool was the toughest decision in my life, I truly mean it. All other tough choices were clear. This one was a cluttered choice with me having to dig deep as to what was my goal and motive for homeschooling.


1) I knew I had missed out on 2 of the most valuable years in my daughter’s life by giving my all to a group of children who were not my own children. I felt a struggle as I neglected my own children by leaving them in the care of others or just flat out not paying attention to them. Being pregnant, I did not want to miss out on those things with my 3rd child, and I wanted to be able to give my daughter all she needed from me during her later preschool days.

2) I have taught almost 100 high risk to special needs children and helped them grow significantly and almost overcome their gaps in education. However, I did not have the time or energy at the end of the day to help my own special needs child close his gap. Over the last 3 years, I have watched him make gains but only fall further and further behind instead of catching up. I knew he could do better, and I was the one who could make sure he did.


1. Provide quality curriculum in an intense but loving manner to help my son catch up to his same age peers.

2. Surpass all the IEP goals set for him by the public school system and encourage him to continue to grow.

3. Encourage, cheer, and observe my daughter grow and become excited about her own education.

4. Be a full time mommy and help encourage the 3rd (unborn at the time) to meet all of his developmental milestones and know he is loved and needed.

5. Grow as a family closer with more respect towards each other and how we are our own community.

The Main Events:

This school year, we have had meltdowns, blow outs, and battles of wills. It has been full of ups and downs. From the beginning, we had to establish roles, Mom the teacher, Mom the mother, Wayne the student, and Wayne the son. We also had to figure out where Eve fit in the picture. She was a strong willed toddler when we began the year, and although she is still only 2, she is a curious preschooler. After starting early, July 4, we plunged right into school with learning our levels and setting our own learning goals.

In September, we did something all school kids would love to do…. A field trip near the equator! We took off to Costa Rica and did school early in the morning before the rest of the group was up, and then spent the rest of the day learning through tours, trips on the beach, or just plain observing life around us. To wrap up the field trip and our learning, we celebrated with Costa Rica night.

In October, we hit burn out mountain, we were all tired. I was only a month away from delivery and worn out. We plunged through October, watching learning goals be met, the word “I can’t” disappear, and independence on the brink. We also took 2 field trips in October, 1 to King’s Mountain and 1 to Columbia to the State Museum. The State Museum was a blast that we shared with the Ropplets.

November was a fast but fun month. We tried to squeeze in all the school we could get in, along with the holiday fun we were accustomed to. Come November 24, school would be done and the first half of the year complete. With Braxton hicks contractions hitting almost daily, we managed to finish the first half of the year out with a bang. Wayne was ready to begin on all new levels come the spring semester. He had met over half his annual goals.

We had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Landis side of the family and enjoy the festivities. Kohl (the 3rd) made his debut on his father’s birthday, November 30. We hosted Christmas with the Landis’ at our house, enjoyed a quiet Christmas on Christmas day at home, and then headed to Louisiana for more family fun.

When we arrived back home in January, we waited for about a week before truly hitting the grindstone again. Wayne continued to work hard, but would have mini meltdowns and would just struggle with getting back into his

schedule. I do not blame him; his baby brother had no schedule yet! We struggled through January and hired Kerri in February to help with Eve and to get through the distractions of school. We also started heading back to the library for Homeschool at the Library. Our learning goals had also changed in February, by the end of February, Wayne had met all of his annual goals and we needed to set new ones. Also, Wayne moved up to his 5th grade math book, and reading with books on tape to a 6th grade level. He was reading on grade level 60 wpm. We have seen tons of improvement. However, with effort, Wayne had been attacked by the 5th

Grade virus. This is the virus that keeps all 5th graders from acting like the sweet young children they were just before Christmas but instead makes them act like crazy lost minded victims of puberty. Also a huge highlight of the year, Wayne posed with a mascot!

We have approached March and are close to spring testing (later this week). Wayne has out done the expectations that I have had for this year. I believe he is actually enjoying school and knows that he is growing. This school year will end on May 24, but Wayne will continue to do 5th grade until the 1st week in August to help him finish meeting the second round of goals.

The Hardships:

Let’s be realistic: this year has not been the most fun all the time where the world is roses and my kids have just naturally learned to be great students and children. There were downs. Just as Dr. Seuss predicted in Oh The Places you will Go! There were drab times, waiting times, and times we just wanted to give up, however, we did not give up! So let’s look at the doldrums.

1. The students do not go home. Yup, that is right they are your children, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and if you want a parent teacher conference, you have to look at yourself in the mirror.

2. There is a TON of work to do each day. For some reason, when you stay at home, your house gets messy. Now to save you the “If you give a Mouse a Cookie” Story. Basically, you have to find a way to balance the house, the big children (students), the little children (your daycare), and the husband (your principal).

3. The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men: You can have a plan, in fact a plan is suggest. A plan for everything, meals, lessons, chores, etc. However, what you do when the plan fails, truly shows your flexibility and how you react to stress. I think I am still growing here.

4. Discipline: You are going to see the best and worst in your child while homeschooling (their character, their academics, and their motivation). It is the worst that you are going to be the most surprised about and most lost!

Buried Treasure:

Along with the bad times, we have experienced many great times. Those “high flying times.” Some involve friends, others successes, and many family.

1. Birth of a Baby: I have never witnessed the bond between siblings that I have seen with Kohl, Wayne and Eve. They are all so sweet to each other (almost all the time). The true miracle of the birth of the baby has brought joy, love, and overall peace to the family.

2. Finding Faith: I have always hated other people pushing their religious beliefs on me. I have also always had a unique way to view faith and religion. Therefore, I never wanted to push those beliefs onto my children. I wanted them to find God for themselves. This year, I have learned that finding God is a family effort and takes the whole family to learn and grow. If you do not introduce your children to Him, how will they ever know and love him.

3. Goals MET: The most exciting part of being an educator is seeing children meet their goals. Wayne has met and exceeded many goals this year! We have taken this special needs boy who was failing in school and moved him up 2 grade levels as far as development.

4. Seeing Thinking: I have been able to watch my children learn to think for themselves, learn letters, shapes, complex math problems, and character. All of these great steps have been a blessing to observe and know that I helped contributed.

Lesson Learned:

Learning does not happen unless everyone involved is a learner and a teacher.

· I have learned many things and am still striving to master other things.

· I have learned that there is no greater joy in life then seeing your own flesh and blood succeed where they have never been successful.

· I have learned that it is best when the shit hits the fan, to turn it into a bad weather day and see what lesson life will teach you about yourself, your kids, and everyone’s character.

· I have learned that the Serenity Prayer is not enough if you truly do not try to strive for those blessings.

· I have learned that sometimes, talking about it is better than shouting about it.

· I have learned that if you expect a child to persevere, then they will. If you let them give up once, they will want to quit every time!

· I have learned that an education system without policies and procedures, but the highest stakes laid out, both the student and teacher will succeed.

· I have learned that public education policies and politics are what have kept my child from shining.

· And…. The lessons continue to come on a daily basis!

What’s Next?

This was just a one year experience and you are putting Wayne back into public school next year right? HAHAHAHAHA! As far as I am concerned, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This year was a huge success. I think as a family we have grown as well as in academics. I feel that although there are some changes that will be made to next school year, we will continue to do the homeschooling avenue until it is no longer the correct placement for Wayne. At this point, I feel that if I were to put him back into public education, I will be doing him a disservice and say to him, you are a failure even with one on one, so go back to the garbage heap. You belong in a self-contained chaos class where you will learn to your minimal capacity.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Healthier Me, Healthier Family: Week7/8 Back in the 80's?

How did I do?
Ok, today is official weigh in day and I actually have time to blog about it. I back lashed. I have gained a pound and am back in the 180's. This is just the icing on the hermit cake. I have not exercised in 2 weeks and have eaten whenever it felt good.

The Journey:
So, last week I celebrated getting to 179 by eating some icecream, cake and other yummies. Then I hit the baby blues really hard! I did not want to leave my nursing corner or go do anything in the afternoon (my normal exercise time). I also found that I was unable to get most of my chores done during the day and just felt a general blah. I found the worse I felt the less exercise I would get and then the next day I would feel even worse.

I spent the last 4 days trying to pull myself out of the funk so I did not have to go to the doctor to try and address depression. So, I have limited my nursing corner to nursing and pumping (no lingering). I have also made a point to make one small change a day. I guess as I climb out of the funk, the weight will start coming off again. However, mental health is key right now.

This Week's Goal:
Weight/ inches: Loose 2 pounds, Be at 169 by the end of March.

Exercise: Add movement each day until I am back at walking and exercising every day.

Food: Eat only when hungary, avoid eating to satisfy a feeling or mood. When I feel the need to eat because I am bored, try move or drink water.

Motto: Time to celebrate but not too much!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Healthier Me, Healthier Family: Week 6 a New set of 10's

How did I do?
Woohooo! I lost the weight and met my goal FINALLY a week late of 179 pounds. Not to mention that I lost 3 inches.

The Journey:
I tried to stress less, work out more,and drink tons of water. Other then that I really feel the weight gain was related to hormones.

I am super excited about the weight loss, and hope to continue down.

Also changed weigh in days to Fridays.

This Week's Goal:
Weight/ inches: Loose 1 pound, Be at 169 by the end of March.

Exercise: Take a small break and try to get exercising in 3 days this week.

Food: Another Small celebration of goal, and then keep meals small, eat when hungry but healthy choices.

Motto: Time to celebrate but not too much!