Homeschool Photo-Of-The-Day Challenge

For the past few months, I’ve seen these Instagram photo-of-the-day challenges.  At the beginning of the month, I am determined to do them, as I like to take pictures.  However, by day 2, I’m so busy with other things in life, that I forget.  So, once again, one of these challenges makes an appearance, so I’m going to really try (really, really, really try) to post a picture daily.

For those who are interested, the details of the October Homeschool Photo-of-the-day challenge are available on Sprittibee’s blog at this link

So, being in line with today’s challenge, here is a picture of my grandparent 🙂

Grandma Theda and I

Grandma Theda and I




Another School Year Begins

1209276_10201584169182696_24027981_n[1]Yesterday was the first day of school for us.  Most of the other school districts surrounding us started last week, however the district that we live in, waited until yesterday and today.

I think that we’re getting a workable schedule figured out.  I sit and work with Kylin all morning, while Heather works on everything but Math.  Then in the afternoon, I sit with Heather and we both work on Math (because I need a refresher course) while Kylin works on chores or works out with the Wii Fit (it’s really too humid to exercise outside).

So far, so good.

A change in our routine included switching a couple of chores between the kids.  Heather is back to doing dishes (and doing a very good job at keeping up with them).  Kylin is learning to do laundry, finally.  Folding the laundry also helps with his hand/eye coordination as well.

As for the cats, well, nothing has really changed for them.  Except maybe being knighted as our school mascots.  They don’t seem to care.  They’ll go by any label as long as they still have soft furniture, something to eat, and someone to treat them like kings.

Welcome back to school!


We Choose Virtues….With Special Needs

My long-time, close friend, Heather McMillan (and her husband Elton), founded a curriculum company a few years ago, that teaches and helps instill the good, basic character qualities, that will help children learn in the classroom and succeed in life once they reach adulthood.  That company is We Choose Virtues (which can be found at this web address

Just so you know, I’m not being paid to promote this product and she didn’t ask me to.   However, she has brought it to my attention that there are parents of children with special needs, usually Autism, who have asked her if and how the Virtues can work in their particular situations.    My son is on the Autism Spectrum (PDD-NOS) and my husband and I have found plenty of opportunities to apply the Virtues in his life.

Before We Choose Virtues came on the market, Heather had an original list of character qualities for her own kids, and gave copies to several mothers in the MOPS group that I was attending.  I made copies of them and put them on the walls of my children’s rooms and went over that list with them.   My son was a lot younger and it didn’t appear that he was listening or paying attention to that list at all.  Then about two years later, out of the blue, he didn’t have a meltdown when something in the routine had changed.  I complimented him on controlling himself and he said, “That’s being flexible”.  So I knew then, that he was figuring it out.  I’ve noticed with my son, that if we just keep exposing him to things or situations, that he initially doesn’t like, that eventually, he accepts them and they become part of his routine.   That’s how we went from him not wanting to go to church at all, to where he is now, in that he loves it.  He used to sit in his seat during the worship service, not always wanting to be there (there was one night at church, where Elton came up and shook my son’s  hand, asking him how it was going.  My son, answered in a not-so-happy tone, “I’m flexible!”  Yes, I did laugh).

Once the We Choose Virtues curriculum became available for purchase, I bought the poster and the flashcards.  Since May’s designated Virtue is “Gentle”, I put it up at the eye level of my almost 15 year old.


I can find all sorts of areas to remind him to be “Gentle” because his initial response to life is anything but that.  If he is having issues because he didn’t like to be reminded to wash the dishes, he can be rather rough in his haste to get them done.  Or if he impulsively wants to hold a cat (who doesn’t want to be held), he can be a little rough in “loving” that pet.  If he’s trying to get past someone in a crowded mall, he might slam or shove a few people in his quest from getting from point A to Point B!  So the card is out where he can see it.  If you have more than one set of cards, or even the posters, you can put that month’s Virtue in various places all over the house (I would recommend laminating anything that might be tacked to the bathroom mirror, just so the steamy showers won’t wilt your paper).



IMG_3783For my son, who is high functioning,  I find this program to be very helpful.  The definitions are short and catchy for those who have a shorter attention span and aren’t cut out for lectures.  However, for us, it does generate a lot of conversations.  Mostly hypothetical questions about situations that aren’t realistic, but are focused on the attitudes of people “involved”.








IMG_3776 When I started with my son, I chose what I felt were the top 3 issues that needed work.  “Self-Controlled” came into play because when things didn’t go as expected or the routine changed without warning, he needed to learn to be flexible and control his urge to have a fit.  Another issues was learning to be patient.  If he knew something was supposed to happen at 10:00 and it wasn’t happening at that very moment, he needed to work on being flexible with his time and patient until the event did happen……… 10:03.  Perseverant is helpful when he can’t find something (Diligence is helpful in this area too.  They do go hand in hand).  My son used to just look at a room, looking for something, but not looking under or around anything, and say, “I can’t find it”.   We’ve been working on him quite a bit, encouraging him to keep looking, without melting down, and to be patient with himself if he can’t find the item right away.  Now, once he finds the item, he’s as pleased as punch with himself and is all giddy and tells me, “I was perseverant and I found it!”.

So that’s just an example of how I approach it with my older, high-functioning Autistic son.   Thankfully, he’s also very verbal, so there are many opportunities to reiterate what the Virtues are, which ones need work and which ones we’re seeing him choose (and we do impress upon him that he is in charge of whether or not he applies those Virtues.  It’s not the circumstances that are choosing them for him, hence, self-control).

Investing the money, time and energy is definitely worth it.  I don’t know how many times I’ve been complimented on my teenagers’ behavior and also how my special needs son behaves, and I think that using this program has been a contributor to that.

Here’s the link again, in case you don’t feel like scrolling up

Have a great day!

Elizabeth 🙂

The Drawer

This was my project today.  The file drawer where I keep the kids’ school records, tests to take, and tests already taken.  Master copies of various styles of chore charts also live here.

For at least 5 months of this school year, we’ve been sort of flying by the seat of our pants as far as school goes.   When the school year started, we had a schedule, a plan, a routine.  Kevin had a regular work schedule.  The schedule was somewhat secure.

Then, the campaign started, so the schedule was harder to adhere to.   School work was done, but I wasn’t always there to help, or a school day was interrupted.   Some might argue that with homeschooling, you can have a flexible schedule (and that is what I’ll call our experience this year), however, I have a student, who functions better with a schedule (so part of our “curriculum” this year involved a lot of opportunities to be flexible).

For now that season is over, and it’s time to regroup, and reorganize and plan once again.

Today, I cleared out tests, assignments, and artwork from the first 10 years of our homeschooling, categorized them and packed them away in manila envelopes.

One more thing to cross off of the “to-do” list.    Only 1,000,000,000,000 left to do!  At least it seems that way  🙂

I’m sure that I’m exaggerating………….a little.


What Curriculum Do You Use?

Since my recent post about Autism awareness, I’ve been asked about some of my curriculum choices  for my son, as I homeschool him.

So, I’ll share the journey of how we started with him, and the curriculum that didn’t work and what seems to be working now.

Fortunately, I have a VERY verbal son.  I have encountered parents with children on the spectrum, who have told me that their autistic teenager still doesn’t speak or has a vocabulary of very few words.  A cashier at Walmart once told me that she had yet to hear her 15 year old call her “Mom”.  I still tear up when I think about that.  I love hearing my kids call me “Mom”!    A lot of kids on the spectrum don’t connect with other people (unless those people are invading their space, then you have a connection that you don’t want, meaning possible meltdown).

When I started homeschooling my daughter (she’s fine and not on the spectrum at all), she was ready to read at age 4.   I figured that out after weeks of answering the question “What does that sign say?” while in the car running errands.   So I used “Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons”.   This program was actually the one used in my class when I was in the 1st grade.   It’s completely phonics-based.   So in a short time, our daughter was reading her books to herself (which gave us a little break from reading “Go Dog Go” repeatedly.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved to read to her, but I was hoping for some variety.   To this day, I can recite some of her books almost verbatim).    My son, was never interested in sitting down and having books read to him.  He was still in “examination” mode.   If you gave him a book to look at, he would examine it from every angle and then eventually toss it and move on to something else.  If I read a story, he wanted to be doing something.   Also, he didn’t start talking until he was nearly 3, so his vocabulary was limited and it only expanded about every 6 months.    So when it was time for him to learn to read, he wasn’t really ready until he was about 9.  I used the same program that I did with my daughter, and he caught on a lot quicker than he would have if I tried to force it at age 6 or 7.

For Math, I started with Saxon.   From level K through Grade 3, we did really well.  It was easy to teach and learn.  After that, the curriculum switches  to a text book and the teachers manual didn’t help me explain certain principals.  It just gave the answers.  Since then, I’ve checked out other math products and finally, found MATH-U-SEE, and now my daughter no longer dreads Math, and neither do I.   With our son, he grasped the concepts of adding and subtracting single digits, but multiple digits throw him off.   As far as multiplication and division go, he is totally thrown off.  He knows the answers to a few multiplication problems (anything multiplied by 0,1,2, 10, and some of the 5’s).

For History and Science, consumable workbooks and textbooks  don’t seem to work for my son.  So what I have been doing is checking out books and DVD’s from the library.   I’ve read to him (yes, NOW he’ll sit still and listen while I read) about various historical figures (when I told him that I was going to read about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, he asked, “They took the subway?”).  “Bill Nye The Science Guy” DVDs cover all sorts of scientific topics.   We’ve checked out DVD’s covering presidents, families in other countries, the United States, etc.  He grasps that information better in that medium.

Now as far as helping him overcome his learning obstacles, a friend had told me about a learning service in the next town who had helped her son.  So, I went there and had my son tested for what is called SOI (Structure of Intellect).  This basically told us where his strengths and weaknesses were as far as how his brain functions.   From that information, the company put together a workbook specifically for my son, full of worksheets to help his thinking and problem solving skills.  Some pages are easier than others for him, and I always need to make sure that he read the directions and didn’t just look at the page and “figure” out what was being asked of him (and he doesn’t like to go back and correct things, but then again, who really does?).    The SOI Systems website is here at

Another great resource is  Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD (yes, that is really his last name) who heads up the Amen Clinics.   He has spent years studying the brain and how nutrition and whatever else we put into our bodies affect brain function.   Occasionally, his seminars are featured on PBS and are really fascinating.   His website is WWW.AMENCLINICS.COM

My son is also taking part in a health study for a supplement called Juice Plus.  These are capsules that he takes every day and each capsule consists of whole fruits and vegetables.  Feeding the brain basically.   Their website is

I have also been advised to take my son to see an optometric doctor who specializes in therapies for developmentally delayed children.   A few years ago, I did have my son wearing Irlen lenses ( .   However, we’re holding off in putting him back into those until he’s seen the new eye doctor.

There are also daily exercises that he needs to do in order to help some things connect in his brain that will help him grasp what he learns.

Some other websites that have been recommended to me:

Future Horizons and    (for writing)            (helps with motor planning and sequencing related to poor rhythm and timing)  (Brainy toys for kids of all ages).

And, at least to me, one of the best programs in character building (and I’m not biased because my friend owns the company.  This is an excellent program)

Also the book, “Reflexes, Learning, and Behavior” by Sally Goddard has been recommended.

So that’s where we’re at now.    This year, progress with the SOI program and schooling has been slow as the last two years have been a bit chaotic for our family (a move last year followed by a political campaign this year.)


Civics Lesson for the Homeschooler

 (Originally posted on my old blog, April 10, 2011)

Before I start, I will be courteous enough, to warn you ahead of time, that there is a shameless plug coming up in this post.  If you don’t want to see it, I won’t be offended if you scroll past it.  If you do want to see it, it’s there for your enlightenment, so to speak.

About a year ago, I had posted an entry about how our state, city and transportation commission had decided to rename a stretch of highway, using our tax dollars, against the wishes of the majority of our town’s citizens.  I also mentioned that my husband and a few other gentlemen came together and organized protests against this move, as well as spoke before our city council and our transportation commission, trying to remind them that the majority of constituents were against this idea.   Signatures were gathered in an attempt to get something on the ballot so that things like this can be voted on by the voters, and not have the powers that be, make that decision for us.   Unfortunately, we didn’t get enough signatures.  However, that led to my husband running for office (he garnered about 5 % of the vote).  That experience also led him, and 3 other gentlemen (from the original group) to form a local political “watchdog” group, with the intent to bring things to the attention of the public, in order to keep our local government accountable to the public they were elected to serve.

Get ready……… comes the shameless plug……..

So that brings me to what prompted the civics lesson.  Personally, I think that any opportunity, to take your children to city, county, or state government meetings, that are open to the public, can count as civics lessons.  You can teach your children how  government is supposed to work, and then take them to the meetings so that they can see how it really works (how good or bad it works, depends on where you live).

Our local transit district is planning to place a rapid transit bus in an area of town that would be adversely affected by it’s installation.  The street that it’s intended for is lined with businesses that will experience a huge disruption in their income or will be forced to lose or have to move their businesses altogether.

There have been  city council meetings that were open to the public, hearings involving the transit district, and as of this past Tuesday, a hearing before the Metropolitan Policy Committee.  My husband, his friends in the watchdog group, and several other business owners spoke, hoping to convince the committee to postpone the plans for this rapid transit line.

So, I brought my kids to see their dad, and others, let their voice be heard.

This was my attempt to get them to smile.  My girl did a very good job.  My boy, looks like he’s trying to figure out how to pick on her or something.

When one goes to speak before a committee such as this one, one needs to get in line, and sign up for their time (which is about 3 minutes long, so speak fast)

The transit district also sent a couple of security guards.

My guess is that since there were only two, that it was either assumed that there wouldn’t be a full room, or we wouldn’t cause much trouble.  In either case, they were right.

Anyway, two hours and over 40 speakers later, the committee decided that it was time for a break.  Since my husband had already spoken, we decided to go on home.

Now for as much as my daughter was not looking forward to going to this meeting as it would be boring, she did remember what was said, and could discuss it with us a bit.  I also saw her page on FB where she was explaining to a friend what the meeting was about.  So I guess that counts somewhat toward an essay, written/verbal combo………perhaps.

My son probably won’t remember much about what was said at the meeting, but he does know what it was about, and he did do a very good job at sitting still and not complaining about how long the meeting was taking.  Very good, considering that he didn’t bring any drawing paper to keep him occupied.


Our First Day of the New School Year

 (Originally posted on my old blog, September 7, 2010)

I have a high schooler now.
And I have another middle-schooler, at least according to his age, he is one.

I had read about a tradition of another home-schooling family (Sprittibee), in which they take their children out for a “back to school” breakfast on the first day of school.   So we did that last year, and had plans for that this year as well.  Because of limited finances both last year and this one, breakfast was only for the children, and it came from McDonald’s (a.k.a. “Micky D’s” or “Mac & Dee’s Roadhouse” around here).

When I woke up this morning and came out into the livingroom, Kylin was on the couch, dressed and ready to go (I wasn’t).  Heather came out soon after and she dressed for pictures (because she knew I would take them and she didn’t want to look like she had just rolled out of bed).    The plan was, for us to leave as soon as Kevin left for work (he took the bus this morning  so that we could have the car).

When the time came for us to leave, my son was out of the door and waiting by the car, and I was still inside the house, looking for the keys.  I couldn’t find them anywhere, so I finally sent Kevin a text asking if he knew where they were.   As it turned out, he had them.  So he got back on the bus and came home.  While we waited for him and the keys to arrive, the kids decided to get started on their schoolwork early.

So here is my highschool gal

and here is my middle-schooler boy

When my husband arrived home with the keys, we then took him to work and finally made it to McDonald’s for this breakfast

I probably would have ordered a hashbrown for myself (because I LOVE potatoes), but they tend to stick with me longer than I like.

What I really wanted was this:

“Mama’s Little Helper”

So by 9:30 I think, the kids were finally having something to eat

Pay no attention to the table, it has just become a catch-all for a family starting to pack for a future move (and a boy who likes to draw a lot of pictures and then not put his supplies away).

The weather seemed to know that it was the first day of school as well.  We went from decent sunny weather yesterday, to rain all day today.   I didn’t mind too much as it gave me an excuse to make chili and the kids had some hot cocoa!

Eventually, I’ll get back to posting about our Seattle trip, and also about the move that I just mentioned………..when I get another free moment.


School Has Begun

 (Originally posted in my old blog on September 8, 2008)

We did it. We made it through the first day of school and all of our lessons. I arranged the schedule a bit differently this year in that I had both kids here in the kitchen and I worked with Kylin in getting through his subjects. He was finished in about an hour. Heather who is in 7th grade had all but 3 subjects that needed my undivided attention so I let her wait on those until after lunch, when Kylin went to his room for a couple of hours of “room time” (formerly known as “naptime”). We got through everything except math in the first hour. Her math lesson took up that second hour and she was yawning and telling me how tired she was and just not putting much effort into it. She’d rather stay in her room and read and have “roomtime”. I did remind her that if she were going to a regular school, that she’d be in a class or in P.E. at that very moment, so it’s not like she was the only 7th grader doing schoolwork at that time. I also reminded her that most kids her age also take schoolwork home to work on in the evenings and they are really tired.

Tomorrow, we get to do it all again. Hopefully, there will be less yawning (and just typing about it makes me yawn)

In other news, it looks like I’ll get to be an aunt again! My sister, after confirmation from her doctor, announced that she’s expecting her second child in the spring. Her firstborn just turned one just over a month a go. She is going to be sooooo busy, (at least one year of changing two sets of diapers) but she’ll be happy too.

So anyway, that’s my latest tidbit of news!