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!