Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve reflections 2008

2008 was a year full of ups and downs for most families - ours was no exception! I was looking back over the previous couple of years that I've been blogging, and specifically looking at the New Year's Eve posts. I came to a conclusion: each year on New Year's Eve I'm very glad to see the year come to an end - it's been a bad year, and I have wishes that the next one is better.

But you know what? Each year, we manage to survive! And not only survive, but in the middle of all of the struggles and the disappointments and the frustrations, we have made some nice memories.

So goodbye to 2008! You were a hard year, but we made it to the end! And there were lots of really cool things in 2008: my mom and I took a birthday trip to Disney World; I wrote a book; I ran a 5K for the first time! Of course there were difficult things, too, but there's no sense in dwelling there. And all in all, Austin and Reece made progress from where they were before.

So welcome to 2009... we have lots of changes coming this year. The biggest ones being a new church for my dh to lead worship in (and for our family to hopefully become a part of), and our son becoming a teenager! It seems scary and intimidating now, but I'm sure we'll survive it like we have all of the other years previously. And I'm sure we'll make some new wonderful memories along the way...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jesus

My favorite Christmas Song: Welcome To Our World sung by Chris Rice

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Break!

I'm not sure who was more excited about the beginning of Christmas break yesterday, the children or myself!! December was a tough month.

We will take the next two weeks off to celebrate Christmas and New Year's, and then we'll resume our lessons the Monday after New Year's Day. It's just enough time for the children to play with all of the new toys, and for mom to prepare for the remainder of our reporting year (which runs until July).

It's also a good time to take stock of what worked well during the previous months, and what needs a bit of tweaking. I'll also have some time to reflect on our first full year implementing the principles of education described by Charlotte Mason. Of course, we're not near fully implementing her principles, but that's a work in progress. I didn't expect us to be doing everything "right" already!

But for the next week, at least, my mind is off lessons! :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A post about... home education? WOW!

You might have begun to wonder if we even have the children at home anymore. After all, out of the last 27 posts, only ONE has had anything to do with the topic of home education! You've read much about baseball, Halloween, novel writing, Twilight movie and hat, 5K running, and visiting friends and relatives. But perhaps you are coming to a blog about home education to read about home education. And you have been sorely disappointed.

If you've stopped by here wanting to know how the world of autism has been going, then you would be disappointed with that as well, I'm sure.

To be quite frank and transparent, as I like to be, neither one of those things has been a whole lot of fun. And it's hard to write about it. Sometimes, it can be cathartic to talk about struggles, and sometimes it just serves to reinforce the frustration and sadness. Today, I'm attempting catharsis. And perhaps in the process, if you are struggling in the day-to-day of raising children on the spectrum, or home educating, or both, you will feel that you are not alone.

During these times when it's a struggle, I try to continue to learn to much about myself and about my children, which has its good and bad sides. It's easy for my personality to lay the blame on myself. Much easier, in fact, than taking credit for the successes. However, I've learned a lot about myself during the last 2 months of training for my running: I am capable of accomplishing something. I'm capable of setting goals and achieving them. I was beginning to wonder if I had lost this ability. You see, it's easy to set goals and make plans when you're homeschooling. There are tangible boxes to check, lesson plans to complete.

However, the goals behind those plans are more difficult to see come to fruition when you are dealing with children on the spectrum. Or perhaps I generalize there too much, perhaps it is my children. After all, children on the spectrum are so different from one another! Regardless, I can only speak now of what I'm living. We seem to run in cycles in this house. There are periods of great progress: great periods of organized thinking, in the ability to interact socially, resilience is at a maximum, stimming and perseveration are at a minimum. Then comes a time where those things fall apart, and very little seems to be accomplished, and some progress even seems to be lost. These times are very difficult for me, and as I have two children on the spectrum who don't seem to want to coordinate their periods of reorganization, it can feel like I'm always going backward. For someone like myself who needs tangible results as a confirmation of progress and success, this is very disheartening.

During the 5K, I learned quickly not to look around me and compare myself to the other participants. I did that at first... when the race started and everyone took off and ran past me, I immediately became discouraged. I thought maybe I should give up. I KNEW I was nuts. But I just put one foot in front of the other, and I kept going. I didn't look around me. I didn't worry about the people who could run faster. I just kept running MY race. And I finished. I accomplished my goal.

But, in home education with 2 children on the spectrum and one typical child, I can only do as much as I can do. And ultimately, I'm not running a 5K here. I'm not training for something with a tangible finish line. I'm not even on a course that only goes in one direction. All I can really do is keep placing one foot in front of the other, even when the course changes direction on me and has me heading back towards what looks like the start line. And since, unlike when I'm in the 5K, I'm not the only one to consider in this... sometimes I am going to have to stop and let someone tie their shoes, catch their breath, or even take a break from the journey for a little while.

Then we'll all get back up, and resume. One foot in front of the other. For however long it takes.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jingle Jog for Autism 2008

Today I did something I've never done before... I ran a 5K. I believe I've mentioned on here that I've been training. I wasn't quite done with the training program, but I decided to try it anyway! The race was a fundraiser for summer camp for kids with autism, so it's a great cause!

Here I am getting all set up. It was 40 degrees at race time... brrr!
"Runners, get SET!"
This is about 3 minutes into the jog... I'm smiling, but inside I was thinking I had made a HUGE mistake! LOL
Here I am coming to the finish line... I'd ditched the hat and mittens! I was smiling from ear to ear! I am really proud of myself for making this goal!
Here I am after the race!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Catching Up Post #2: Visit to Mimi's

The day after Thanksgiving, my dh took the kids to pick up his grandmother at the nursing home, and drove her down to his mom's house for a visit. The kids haven't seen their "Granny" (dh's grandma) in a very long time, and she's getting older now.
Mimi (dh's mom) got a new cat, after her old cat died last year. This new cat actually likes people, unlike the old one, and Riley got to hold it quite a bit!
Here's another picture of Granny with the kids! Granny has 14 great-grandchildren so far, if my counting is correct, and if none of dh's cousins have had more children that I'm unaware of! (He has TONS of cousins!)
Here's a picture with Mimi and the kids! It looks like they were trying to smoosh her!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I'm such a blessed person!

Austin brought in the mail while I was jogging today. I didn't notice there was a thick, white envelope on the counter addressed to me. After I was showered and dressed, I looked through the mail and noticed the return address was my friend, Sadie, who lives in California.

Eagerly, I opened the package. It was wrapped in tissue, tied with string, and from the string dangled a little tag which read "Twilight". I gasped, "She did NOT".

But she did! This is what was waiting for me in the tissue paper - Bella's hat!

This is the hat that Bella wears in a scene of the Twilight movie, on the beach when it's cold and she's talking to Jacob about the legends of his tribe!!! Sadie had showed me that there were patterns for it online, and I was again frustrated that I could not knit! But she made it for me! Isn't that so sweet??

Isn't it the cutest hat? And it's so soft and warm, too!
I was even already wearing my "Forks" shirt before I even opened up the package!

I wonder if you folks who knit/crochet realize how much those of us who don't know how to do it appreciate when we are blessed with the fruits of your talents? Between my new Bella hat, and my pirate socks from Jamberry, this will be the warmest and most stylish winter I've ever had!

P.S. I was also blessed with another talent from a friend this week, too, but you'll have to wait for Wednesday to read about that! :)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Weekly Review: 12/1-5

Well, I didn't do very well with the catch-up posts did I? ::sigh:: I'll work on those this coming weekend! How about a weekly review instead?

After a dismal and painful Monday and Tuesday, everyone settled back in to our learning routine by Wednesday. We resumed our full schedule, after having taken the month of November to work on our novels. Monday began a new term (I divide our year into 3 terms).

Together:
  • Began working on a new hymn - "Fairest Lord Jesus" (our version is sung by Natalie Grant)
  • Began studying Vincent Van Gogh with The Starry Night
  • Began listening to Chopin in Words and Music
  • Began a new character trait - Patience
  • Completed Lesson 3 in La Clase Divertida, Level 1
  • Began Chapter 2 in Minimus Latin
  • Finished learning about Earthquakes in Madame How and Lady Why, watched All About Earthquakes DVD from Schlessinger Media
  • Watched All About the Sun DVD from Schlessinger Media
  • Finished listening to The Mysterious Benedict Society on CD (LOVED IT!)

Austin:

  • Worked on Lesson 10 in Math-U-See Epsilon
  • 4 days of Spelling
  • 2 narrations, 3 dictations (using Fifty Famous Stories Retold)
  • Continued working on Pattern 1&2 sentences in Junior Analytical Grammar
  • Listened to mom read 2 chapters of Robinson Crusoe, discussion
  • Read a chapter of Story of the World, Volume 2
  • Did an exercise from Mind Benders A1
  • Read 2 chapters of Poor Richard

Riley:
  • Completed 4 exercises in Singapore Math 3B
  • 4 days of spelling
  • 2 narrations, 3 dictations from Writing With Ease, Level 3
  • Completed 2 lessons in First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 3
  • Read 4 chapters of Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
  • Read a chapter of Story of the World, Volume 2
  • Read 2 chapters from Christian Liberty Nature Reader 4
  • 3 lessons in Typing Instructor Deluxe

Reece:
  • Worked on Lesson 4 in Math-U-See Alpha
  • Read two Bob books
  • Completed 4 pages of Explode the Code 1
  • Completed 3 pages of My Printing Book from Handwriting Without Tears
  • Riley began reading her Ms. Frizzle's Adventures in a Medieval Castle
  • Austin continued read to her from the Christian Liberty Nature Reader 1

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Catching up post #1 : Jamberry's family comes to visit!

The pictures are not really "in order", but we're all flexible thinkers, right? Or we're wannabe flexible thinkers anyway and this will be a good exercise! It's late and I really want to post this before I hit the sack, so we'll just do the best we can! Once you see all these beautiful children, it won't matter that the pictures are out of order!

My friend Jamberry brought her family to our home for a visit in mid-November!! She and her big boys paid us a visit last winter, but this time we got to meet her husband and the newest Jamberry-boy! It was SO great to see them again!

Here is a picture of Riley carrying SB3 around, which made me SO incredibly nervous! I try not to hover, but dang, she was scaring me!!

I should probably note that SB3 got put down maybe 3 times during the duration of their visit, and those were diaper changing opportunities!! This little guy is SO adorable, as you can tell from the pictures!! Kissably adorable!!
Yep, the girls want a baby brother of their own. We tried to convince Jamberry's crew to leave SB3 with us, but for some reason, they were disinclined to acquiesce to our request.
Here is Austin playing Wii with Sly, while Riley puts on her best pout because we only have 2 Wii-motes! The boys had a great time playing together!
The dads got a little bit of Wii time in themselves!! Russ and Habeeb got along very well. It's a shame they live a state away!
Here I am with Jamberry!!
Here is J-man chillin' on my bed watching Indiana Jones 4. He helped me to realize that I'd put the wrong disc in - bonus features! Oops!!
OK, MY turn with SB3, and he fell asleep in my arms. Is there ANYTHING on Earth better than holding a sleeping baby?? He actually fell asleep two different times in my arms. The first time I let Riley take a turn to hold him - but the second time there was NO WAY anyone was getting him but me! :)
Riley and Sly did some sort of chatting thing with their Nintendo DS things. Don't let Riley's expression fool you (just a bad picture) - she had a blast with Sly! I noticed her Daddy shooting poor Sly a couple of nasty looks! He's a little less than 2 years older than Riley, so it's still totally innocent - but I think Daddy was getting a preview to a future that scares him to death!
This is my favorite picture, so I saved it for last. Austin took the baby into our room to show him "his first Nascar race ever"!!! It was an AWWWW moment for sure!!

Jamberry, thanks so much for coming to visit us! I wish I hadn't been so wiped out from the family picture experience that same morning! I felt like my brain cells weren't quite firing the whole rest of the day!LOL I hope we'll be able to come your way in the spring! :)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Final Word Counts for NaNoWriMo 2008

Mom - 62,251 (met my goal)
Austin - 2,174 (40% of his goal) *
Riley - 2,921 (61% of her goal)

* Austin's word count is by hand since I haven't finished typing his manuscript into the computer yet. It may change slightly once I get that done.

Reece is having a hard time letting go of her novel, so I don't have an exact word count, but she did a very good job, too! LOL

I think we all learned quite a bit during NaNoWriMo 2008, not just about writing, but about ourselves! It was a lot of fun, and I know I'm sad to see it end!

I've sorely neglected my blog this month, and I have a backlog of pictures and posts to share. So be looking for that this week, as I try desperately to get caught up with life outside of the world of novel-writing!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's official!!

I submitted my novel this afternoon, and I am an official winner of NaNoWriMo 2008! My official word count is 62,251, but that includes the prologue that had to be re-written. When I remove the original prologue, I'm left with a word count (according to Microsoft) of61,970. By the time you remove all of the "Chapter _" words it's probably closer to 61,900. Regardless, I did it!!

As you can see, I got my winner banners! There are two kinds and I can't decide which I prefer! The one below is technically a viking ship, but it is a ship nonetheless.

If you would like to read an excerpt from my novel, you can find it on my NaNoWriMo author page, under Novel Info. The excerpt is from Chapter 2. I don't know how to work the HTML, so the indenting and space between paragraphs is left out. But it will give you an idea at least!

This has been a very exciting month for me!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Blog Neglect

I know I've been barely posting, aside from word count news! I've got a backlog of pictures to post from our family picture photo session and from a friend's visit. But this is an overwhelmingly busy week between novel writing, the Twilight movie release in 13 1/2 hours, the re-reading of Twilight that must accompany the movie release, and Riley's Christmas musical this coming weekend. And yes, we're still doing lessons in there, plus dance classes, and my parents are coming to town tomorrow!

I will be back soon! Word counts for the kids are going slowly... everyone seems to have a bit of writer's block and is losing momentum as a result. I'm not sure they will make their goals, but I'm still proud of the work they have done so far!

Back to life...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The story is complete!

In a wee hours of the morning, after a marathon writing session that lasted about 6 hours, I completed my novel!

Well, to be completely clear, I completed the first draft of my novel. There are some sections that I need to go back and flesh out, so to speak. I was writing with only the roughest of outlines, and in a few cases the story diverged from where I had expected it to go. Over the next 12 days, I will go back in and develop the sections that had been unclear during my first writing, and rework the sections (namely the prologue) that don't correspond with where the story ended up going!

This isn't really part of the editing process, yet. There were a couple of places when I was writing the story that I wasn't exactly sure where it was heading. Or there was backstory that I wanted to include but didn't really have a firm grasp on at the time. I didn't want to get bound up in the details, so I just wrote what came to mind, with the intention of going back to work it out in more detail later. That's what I'll do for the rest of the month!

The writing process has been incredibly fascinating and invigorating. Well, with the exception of the sleep-deprivation resulting from the fact that I write best in a completely quiet house which only happens to come in the middle of the night! LOL

I did it!! I wrote a book! :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I WON!

In the wee hours of this morning, I passed 50,000 words on my novel, and became a NaNoWriMo winner on my first ever attempt!

Of course, no woman is an island, so I would like to thank my husband for his patience, encouragement, and help with meal preparation!

I would like to thank my kids for their patience during the times they would walk up to me with a question and I would hush them saying, "Shhh, I'm in the middle of a good scene."

I would like to thank my mom and friends for their support and interest in my project!

And I would like to add a very special thanks to Lisa, without whom this would not have been possible. I found out about NaNoWriMo because of Lisa. She did it last year and I got to be an "observer". She had so much fun that I couldn't help but be intrigued. Then this fall she kept bugging me about it, even after I had said there was NO WAY I was going to write a novel. Thanks, Lisa!!

One more quick thing about Lisa. This year, she bought the badges that are sold on the NaNo site which commemorate events that happen during the month. In this post on her blog you can see some examples.

I would like to give her, through my blog, another one. Here it is:

This badge is won when you help a fellow WriMo through a crisis point in their writing. On Friday night, with less than 1000 words to go, I didn't think I was going to be able to finish the story. I was in a panic. I was afraid that the story was terrible, and when I went back to edit it, I was going to hate it. I was afraid that anyone who read it would think it was absurd. I couldn't even open the file. I was afraid and I was stuck. I was so upset that I was in tears.

Lisa helped me through it, as only a writer can do. (I add that because my mom was also very encouraging, but I hadn't let on to my mom how terrified I was to continue the story. And besides, she's my mom so she's supposed to tell me how wonderful I am and how great my story will be! ROFL I still love you, mom!) But Lisa talked to me about the editing process as helping me rather than correcting me. I guess I had felt it would be like a punishment - let's find out all the places you did badly, rather than a chance to go back and fill in the places where the story was thin because I wasn't sure at the time where it was going to end up. And she reminded me that I don't have to let anyone read the story UNLESS/UNTIL I am ready!

With that encouragement both Friday and Saturday, I was able to resume the story and push through to 50K. I am excited about my story again, and can't wait to dive back into writing tonight! So Lisa, I wish I could give you the real badge, because you deserve it. But this will just have to do! Thank you, my friend, and WRITE ON!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Family Word Count for November 14th

Mom - 49,004
Austin - 1,406
Riley - 2,413
Reece - ummm, I forget, and I'm too cold to get out of bed to find out

I'm sorry for the lack of posting this week! It's been a very busy week, but very nice. I will try to catch up tomorrow. As you can tell by my word count, I'm just about up to amount of words I need to be a "Winner". My story won't be finished at 50K, so I'll keep writing until it's finished! I'm hoping to accomplish that this weekend.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Family Word Count for November 10th

Mom - 32,887
Austin - 1,326
Riley - 2,173
Reece - 342

Everyone got back into writing on Monday! Austin seems to have relaxed a little bit, and he keeps doing what I consider to be 'positive self talk' to encourage himself not to compare to his sister, and to just keep moving forward and not focus so much on numbers!

Riley and Reece are both typical girl storytellers! Like their mama, they get on a roll and it's hard to stop!

I'm going to attempt to start typing up everyone's stories! I thought it would be fun to be able to print them out for easy reading! The penmanship is not the greatest... but that would be my Inner Editor/Teacher coming out, and that's not allowed in November!

Write ON, NaNoWriMo's!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Word Counts?

I'll resume posting family word counts tomorrow! Neither Austin nor Reece worked on their novels at all this weekend, between respite on Saturday and football and Nascar on Sunday. We'll pick back up today, and I'll get the numbers posted tomorrow.

Austin was a little on edge about his novel. He set his word count goal higher than Riley's which was probably a mistake. But he is the older brother, by 3 years, and in a higher grade. He won't accept doing anything less that she will. But she has far surpassed what he has written, and it's frustrating to him. We've all talked to him about how they are different people. And how we are proud of him for what he has written so far. It's actually very expressive and humorous in places! He's putting pressure on himself, which for some people can be productive and inspiring. But for Austin? It's just bad news.

The purpose of this project for us all is fun and creativity and expression. I am hoping that Austin will be able to move past the stress, and move back into enjoying it! As I told him yesterday, we're only 10 days into this project! There's plenty of time!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

BIG NEWS!

My mom and I are taking Riley to Disney World for a week for her birthday in March!

We had been talking about it, saving money, and hoping for a great deal. Finally it happened! My friend Jan is a travel agent, and she let me know about this fantastic deal:

Spend 4 nights with tickets at a Disney World Value Resort, get 3 nights free, including tickets!! And if you book certain dates, you also get a $200 Disney gift card!!

That was an offer we couldn't refuse! The last sticking point was that my husband couldn't take so much time off to watch Austin and Reece. Imagine my surprise when my dad stepped up to the plate and offered to take care of them for those 2 days?? I've got some great men in my life, don't I?

I called Jan this morning, and she took care of all of the details, including booking a birthday breakfast for Riley at Cinderella's Castle!!! Oh My GOSH!!! We get to have breakfast in the castle again!! Um, I mean, of course, RILEY gets to have breakfast in the castle! ;)

If you'd like to get quotes on this awesome Disney deal, please visit Jan's Travel Site and she'll be happy to help you like she did us! She's not only a travel agent, and a great friend, but she's also a Disney Expert!!

In 4 months, Mom, Riley, and I will be Disney Bound!!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Family Word Count for November 6th

Mom - 23,126
Austin - 1,227
Riley - 1,809
Reece - 284

Riley made her next word count goal, so we'll take care of her reward tonight! Austin's slowed down his pace a little bit, but he has all weekend to write! I think he was really shooting for that Pizza Hut reward and once he got it, he was willing to slow down.

I'm really excited about the next part of my novel, but it's one of those scenes that I want to really focus on. Which means I need quiet. Which means I haven't written it yet today! Tonight, for sure!

Austin's Last Fall Baseball Game

I took a couple of snapshots of Austin before his game last night. He will be 13 in the spring, and the church where we play ball doesn't offer fall baseball for 13+, so he will only be playing in the spring from now on. This was his 5th fall baseball season, and it's hard to see it end. Here is a picture of Austin and Coach Dad before the game:
I snapped this one through the fence. This is the top of the batting order, and on their own they had come together to discuss some strategy! These three boys have played together for 3 years (6 seasons) either on the same team, or on opposing teams in the same league.
Our team won 20-5, and Austin pitched one inning. It was a great way to end fall baseball!


Word Counts for yesterday will be posted this afternoon! We are on our way out the door for a field trip!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Family Word Count for November 5th

Mom - 21,455
Austin - 1,000
Riley - 1,705
Reece - 194

Some good writing was accomplished yesterday, as you can tell! I was still writing at midnight, so although the NaNo counter put those words on today's word count, I still count them with 'yesterday'!

Austin made his next word count reward, which was dinner from Pizza Hut! It was more like a reward for all of us, so thank you Austin! The pizza was delicious!

NaNoWriMo is costing me more than I expected! But you know what? It's a small price to pay for the excitement and enthusiasm for writing stories that I've seen going on here the last 5 days! We're all still having so much fun!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Family Word Count for November 4, 2008

Mom - 18,003
Austin - 894
Riley - 1,460
Reece - 161


Austin and Riley and I made good progress on our novels, even with all the excitement of the election. I made my next word count goal of 18,000 which yielded me a trip to the convenience store for some preservative-laden, food-dye riddled, training-destroying junk food! YUM! While I was out, I also found some nice jogging pants (or pants that I will use as jogging pants!) at Target (which was my 10,000 word reward).

Reece didn't work on her novel today. She was having a bit of a day day yesterday. I had promised the kids they could play with their gameboys while we waited in line for me to vote. But when I arrived, there was a sign that said "No personal electronic devices allowed" (which including gaming devices). Our voting was done on computers, and apparently personal electronics can cause interference? Anyway, the big kids were OK with it, but Reece was crushed. We don't do video games during the week, and she was so excited. And since that was all I brought, it left nothing for her to do in the 40 minute wait. Had I known, we would have brought books or paper/pencil for coloring. She cried silently, and repeated, "It's all the president's fault!" much to the delight of those in line around us who found it all quite funny (thankfully). She didn't want to write yesterday, and I didn't push the issue, for fear of having a novel entry with sorrow caused by the president!

I've got to do a big blog post about this whole experience so far. I will try to do it this weekend! I'm so glad I decided to go with the flow this year and take on this novel project with my children!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Family Word Count as of November 3rd

Mom - 12,911
Austin - 662
Riley - 1,090
Reece - 161

Riley met another word count goal, and her reward was a video game rental at Blockbuster. She chose the "Littlest Pet Shop" for her Nintendo DS.

Austin's closing in on his next goal, and he's shooting for tomorrow! His is Pizza Hut dinner, so it's really a reward for all of us! :)

Reece's rewards aren't tied to word count, so I'll give her her next one on Friday!

I'm expecting to make my next word count this afternoon, assuming I can write during rest time again!

Monday, November 03, 2008

My Little WriMos

There's lots of writing going on at the Black Pearl Academy, and I thought everyone would like to see what it looks like! Nobody takes the same approach!

Riley does the "I write better in my jammies, on the loveseat, with a fleece blanket" routine!
Austin's more of a "I'm in my jammies, but at my desk, so I can have a firm surface to write on" guy.
Reece discovered that her imagination works better when she closes her eyes and puts her fingers in her ears!
It must be working, because she's done 4 pages. I do the writing for her from what she dictates, and then she does the illustration to go with it. Like her siblings, she prefers to write in her jammies!
Everyone is still very excited about their novels. Riley was up before all of us so she could complete her lessons and be free to spend the rest of her time working on her novel! Wait until you see her word count tomorrow!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Family Word Counts as of November 2nd

Mom - 10, 708
Austin - 400
Riley - 418
Reece - 112

I made my 2nd word count goal, which means I get to go buy some pants to jog in!! I first have to figure out what sort of pants one wears when jogging! ;) The kids made their daily goals! We're all having a great time!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Family Word Counts for November 1st

Mom - 4,700
Austin - 201
Riley - 172
Reece - 77

Everyone made their 1st word count goals (well, Reece doesn't actually have a word count goal, she just gets a reward every 5 days LOL), and they were able to get their rewards. Austin's was 2 bags of Cape Cod Potato Chips (YUM!), Riley's was a trip to Bruster's for ice cream, Reece's was a Snowboarding Outfit for her Snap N Style dolls, and mine was to pre-order the Twilight movie soundtrack which comes out on Tuesday!

I'm getting ready to start writing again now, so I'll post my word count tomorrow morning!

Testing

My first word count!

Early this morning, I wrote for a little more than an hour, and I made it to 1634 words!

My daily average needs to be 1667, but that's assuming that I am able to write that much every day! I would rather get ahead on days like today where there is nothing much else going on, to make up for the days where I won't have time or if I get writer's block.

I think I have learned one important thing from this morning's writing:

I might just take after Diana Gabaldon (author of the Outlander series) in my writing style. Why?

Because 1634 words into the story, and my main character has just finally crossed the bridge onto the Island! LOLOLOL

Stayed tuned for more writing updates this month!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Countdown to Writing!

At 12:01 AM, November 1st, 2008, I will attempt something I've never done before in my life:

I'm going to write a novel!!

You may find me a little less talkative on here than usual... I'm not sure how much time it will take out of my day! I will be sure to check in at least on Fridays for our weekly reviews!

Wish me luck!!

P. S. Scroll down for two posts' worth of pictures of the kids!

Halloween pics

Here are some pics of Riley and Reece, and our neighbor Ashley, before they went Trick or Treating tonight!
Riley as a Chinese Empress, American Girl Nikki as a witch:
Reece as a ballerina, in the top pic you can see she took her Bitty Baby dressed as a pumpkin:

Miscellaneous BPA pics

Riley is drawing a picture of her Nikki doll in the witch costume Nana gave her for Halloween! It's an excellent picture... I'll try to scan it or take a picture of it!
This is what Reece wanted to wear for Trick or Treat, instead of the Giselle/Enchanted costume Nana got her for Christmas. I didn't purchase a new costume for her for Halloween because, for the last 2 of 3 years, she has refused to wear it on the actual day of Halloween. Sure enough, she didn't want to wear the Giselle costume, and I wouldn't let her wear this getup! LOL So she wore her ballet recital costume and was quite happy!
One day last week, while Riley was at dance, I took a few pics of Austin and Reece. They are so close and it's so sweet. Austin carries Reece on his shoulders like this quite a bit. He says it helps them both (he gets pressure on his shoulders, and she has to balance and use her proprioceptive system!). Instant OT for two!
I love this picture!
This is what started it all! Reece looked so grown-up, even Austin commented on it! So I decided to take a picture! My baby is growing up really fast!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where has the time gone??

I had to steal this picture from Jan's blog --- on the left are Michael and Austin, both 12.5 years old, yesterday at the history center. On the right, are Austin and Michael when they were babies (I am guessing 15 months because they were wearing shorts, but I'll bet my mom knows or can find out if Jan can't refresh my memory!). They are wearing their Tigger and Pooh outfits!

Edited: My mom says this was in March 1998, so the boys were 22/23 months old! They sure look younger than that though!

Can you believe how big they are both now?? Oh my gosh! I think I need some chocolate, FAST!

Monday, October 27, 2008

What a busy weekend!

My parents came into town on Saturday morning for a busy weekend!

I had my autism support prayer group on Saturday morning, and as usual, it was excellent. (Oh wait, before I left for that, I had to get the roast, carrots, and potatoes cooking in the crock pot!) I am the only home educating mom in attendance, and I usually find that separates me from other folks in autism support groups. But I don't feel that way in this group. In fact, I find that we all have basically the same prayer requests and concerns. The way we spend our days may be much different (some homekeeping, some working, and me teaching), but the bottom line is that it's not fundamentally different. Except that I can't really complain about the teacher or services my child is getting! ROFL Well, I guess I could, but... ;) I do find myself not sharing my struggles with home educating, partly because I'm new to this group and partly because it's hard for folks who haven't done it to really understand. But during our prayer time, one mom specifically prayed for my home educating, and that meant so very much to me! I hadn't even asked for prayer for it, so maybe it just came to her, or maybe God led her to pray for me. It touched me deeply!

I came home and found the kids and Russ had already left to meet my parents at the outlet malls. The guys were looking for camping gear at the Coleman outlet store, and mom was getting the girls lunch and bringing the girls home. So while I had some time to myself, I ran my 2nd day of Week 1 in the Couch Potato to 5K running program. I came back inside and got myself cleaned up, and started cleaning the house a bit more. I also started the dough for my home made bread to go with the roast.

Mom brought the girls home just in time to leave for Miranda's 8th birthday party. Reece was so excited because she had been invited, too! But she made me promise not to leave her. There wasn't a chance of that, considering she hasn't been at her best lately. But overall she did well. She was a little young for the rest of the girls, especially developmentally. And what interested them didn't really interest her. But she loved the cake and ice cream, and loved it when Miranda opened her present and thought it was great! And she loved being invited to a party! She cried and ran from me when it was time to go home, but I caught up to her and spoke to her about proper manners and how we should act if we would like to be allowed to go to another birthday party. The rest of the night she talked about HER birthday party, so I guess I will be having a little party for her at home in March, if she's still talking about it! :)

We got home from the party, ate the roast and the bread, and then mom and I left for the grocery store. It had been raining on Friday night and I didn't want to get out in that! I didn't take into consideration how tired I was going to be on Saturday!

Sunday was slower-paced for the morning. I made blueberry muffins for everyone. Russ and Riley went to church. My dad and Austin went to the race. Riley, my mom, and I just hung out. Riley and Russ came home and had leftovers for lunch. Then it was time to take Riley to her rehearsal for the Christmas musical! While she was rehearsing, mom and I went to Target and the new Toys R Us. I found some socks on clearance for myself (none of which are as warm and cozy as the pirate socks Jamberry knit for me!) and some inexpensive mittens for fall/winter jogging. Mom found some Christmas gifts for my kids. At TRU, we found a Wii Fit, which is what I had asked for for Christmas but mom couldn't find. She asked me if I wanted her to go ahead and get it... but I said no. We (mom and I) are trying to save money to take Riley on a girls' trip to Disney World for her 10th birthday in March, and I'd much rather mom apply money to that rather than get me a present! I REALLY want to go back to Disney World! :)

We picked Riley up from choir rehearsal (listening to the Nascar race on the way to find out that Austin's favorite driver was the winner and he got to see it!), and we headed straight to the movie theater to see High School Musical 3. Well, straight, but with a stop at the house because Riley wanted to wear one of her new dresses Nana had bought her! LOL We got the movie in plenty of time and the theater was nearly empty. The movie was GREAT! I really enjoyed it, and recommend if it you are a fan. Dh took Reece to the "duck park" (where you can feed ducks) and to McDonald's for dinner, so they could have some special time, too.

We returned home pretty late from the movie, and the guys were home already. Austin was so excited and couldn't wait to tell us all about the race! We finally got everyone into bed, and I still had to plan our lessons.

This morning I slept in a little bit, but I did want to accomplish some lessons today. My mom went to a local branch to work because she had a number of conference calls to take part in. Dad drove her over there, and then came back. I started lessons with the kids, and when we were done, I did my last day of Week 1 in Couch Potato to 5K. Dad stayed with the kids. Then he took Austin to spend his Halloween Publix gift card from Nana, and they picked us up Subway for lunch! YUM! Dad left a couple of hours ago to pick up my mom, and they are on their way home.

So that's our busy weekend! We have a nice, full week ahead of us, too. I have a good bit of cleaning I'd like to get done before NaNoWriMo begins on Saturday! Plus I'd like to get ahead of lesson planning, so I don't have to worry about that in November. We have 3 more baseball games, which is unbelievable! It seems to cold to be playing ball now! LOL

I will try to post this week as I am able... I hope everyone is doing well!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A chapter in our lives is ending

Today I ended our relationship with our RDI consultant. It's been a long time coming, but a few things happened recently which pushed us to the limits of our patience.

It's a hard thing to do, when you feel like you've found "the key" for your children's future, and you have to go out on your own and try to make it work without official guidance. But the guidance we were getting wasn't everything we needed or expected, and too many key promises were not kept (both at the local level and with the national organization as a whole). We were not getting our money's worth.

Please keep our family in your prayers, and me in particular, as I seek to implement the principles of RDI and try to continue to move the children forward on my own.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A house full of writers!

You'll never guess who has decided to write with us in November?? Everyone!! I was shocked yesterday during our "What makes a novel" lessons, when Austin announced that he was going to write. Well, first, he wanted to know what would happen if he didn't make his word count goal. I told him, "You have to go to public school!" He chuckled, then said, "No, really... what happens?" LOL

I told him that nothing happens... a goal is a goal and something to strive for, but it's personal. If you don't make it, then you just don't. You can keep working on it later if you want to, or you can choose to stop. It's not an assignment, it's just a fun thing to try. He asked what happens if he does make his goal. I told him I'd buy whoever made their goal a Young Writer's NaNaWriMo t-shirt! I probably should have checked the prices first... $17?!? Well, you know, if they make their goals, I'll be delighted to spend all that money on a shirt! It's a big deal!

Riley was thrilled to find out about the t-shirt thing! LOL She spent all of her rest time yesterday doing research for her novel, which she wants to have it set in ancient Egypt! Reece also wants to write a book, hers will be about Pink World! But it's not as surprising that she wants to write because she's always 'writing books'.

So he decided to write. Last night when I got home from running my errands, Austin was headed for bed. I asked him if he'd decided on a word count. He said he wasn't sure... I told him Riley had decided on 4,750. He immediately replied back with, "5500." Then we did some little knunckle-hand-shake-guy-thing, and he was off to bed!

To say I'm speechless is an understatement! I hope Austin has fun writing, and I hope it's a confidence-building exercise for him! I think it's going to be a creative and interesting month in November, for all of us! :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Young Writers

I've mentioned before that I'm going to be writing a novel in November with NaNoWriMo. They offer a "Young Writers" program, and since Riley seems to be going through a writing phase, I decided to ask her if she would like to replace her regular Language Arts lessons in November with novel writing. She enthusiastically agreed!

Since Reece also likes writing/drawing stories, I am going to do this program with her as well, in a way she can feel successful. I'm going to have her draw a picture for her story every day, and then dictate the story to me while I write it.

What about Austin? Well, I think he would be great at writing a story, but he doesn't agree. He has told me he wants to think about it, which means "I don't think I can do it and I feel anxious and incompetent just thinking about it, but I don't want to tell you know because I know it would make you happy if I said I'd do it." I told him he doesn't have to let anyone read what he writes, and he could write about a boy with autism and epilepsy who grows up to be a baseball player who hits balls over the fence while racing cars in the off-season. ;)

In preparation, for the next two weeks, I'm going to give an overview of writing a novel for ALL the kids, using the Young Writers Workbook found on the website. We won't use it as a 'workbook', but more as a guide for discussion. If anyone wants to fill out any of the pages, I can print them off. This will also serve as preparation time for me, as I still don't know exactly what I want to write about!

I don't know if Austin will decide to write with us, or not, but there won't be any pressure from me (at least not intentionally). If nothing else, we'll all know more about what it means to write a novel before November starts up! :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall Break Meme

We took Fall Break this week, so in lieu of a Weekly Review, I give you a Meme I saw on Jan's blog!

I am: killing time until Crusoe comes on TV at 8.
I think: too much.
I have: good friends and family.
I dislike: housework.
I miss: reading the Twilight Saga (only 3 more weeks until I read it again)!
I fear: long bridges.
I feel: nervous because it's Friday, and Austin's 2 big seizures have happened on Fridays.
I hear: the sounds of the Barrett-Jackson auto auction on TV.
I smell: the fresh rain outside.
I crave: junk food.
I cry: at just about anything!
I usually: remember everything I write down.
I search: for answers by using google!
I wonder: if I will be able to run a 5K before the end of 2008?
I regret: my wild teens and early 20s.
I wish: to go to Disney World next year.
I love: my family.
I care: about what people think of me.
I always: get nervous when Austin is pitching!
I worry: that Austin and Reece won't be able to live independent lives.
I am not: in pain anymore from my foot injury.
I remember: how much fun it was to be in Disney World with my mom for my birthday!
I believe: that one day I'll understand.
I sing: all the time!
I don't always: have the most patience.
I write: to help me remember things.
I win: at WordTwist, more often than not.
I lose: to Abbey, at Scramble, EVERY time.
I listen: to all kinds of music!
I don't understand: how to explain RDI to people in simple terms.
I can usually be found: at home.
I need: to get groceries.
I forget: more and more as I get older!
I am happy: that there will be another Pirates of the Caribbean movie!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's going.... it's going.... it's GONE!

Picture this:

2 outs, 2 on, 0-2 is the count.

::CRACK::

It could... go...all...the...way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And it did! :)

Congratulations, Austin, on your first "out of the park" homerun!

(And no... I wasn't there to see it. Of course.)

Why on earth am I going to write a novel in a month's time?

This quote from the NaNoWriMo FAQs sums it up for me quite nicely:


"Art for art's sake does wonderful things to you. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It makes you want to take naps and go places wearing funny pants. Doing something just for the hell of it is a wonderful antidote to all the chores and "must-dos" of daily life. Writing a novel in a month is both exhilarating and stupid, and we would all do well to invite a little more spontaneous stupidity into our lives."


So now you know what's going on in my head! :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Paging the tooth fairy!!


Straight from Forks, Washington...

OK, I won't keep you in suspense any longer! Here are the things that came in my box from Forks:



There were also a few free goodies that were thrown in for good measure from a volunteer at the Forks Chamber of Commerce! There is a Twilight bookmark, a map of the important Twilight places in Forks, a sticker that reads "I was bitten by Breaking Dawn"...
... trivia sheets for the first 3 books, and an informational sheet listing 5 day trips in the Forks area!