Monday, February 8, 2016

Birthday Love

Kaden is 9 now....time has flown by.  I remember just months ago it seems like that he was fighting for his life with RSV at just 6 weeks old.  And when he was diagnosed with Autism finally at 4, the relief was huge.  He's been through lot's of life moments both good and bad in his 9 short years.  I'm so thankful for every moment I have with him......even right now as I hear him pounding on his bedroom wall.  This morning has been a bit difficult, but nothing we can't handle as a Family.

Over the weekend for his Birthday we took him on a surprise see snow for the first time.  He was so excited, blown away actually and the smiles coming from his face made up for the fact that I HATE snow and cold weather.  His happiness kept me warm inside!!!!  The things we do for our sweet kiddos....endless Love I have for him!!  Happy Birthday Sweet Kaden!!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Blast from the Past with an Update!

October 2013 
Have You heard that saying the Proof is in the Pudding?   I'm sure you have, we all have.  I said this to my Son today and my 13 year old asked me what it meant exactly.  I explained to her and she was like, what's Skylar's pudding going to prove?  I don't know....that's why the Cake will rise, the Froth will form, the Peaks will be beat!  Ok, maybe It's that time of the month and I'm overly dramatic and craving a ton of sweets.  But, You get the idea!!

It's that you can Only do sooooooo much for your Children, before they need to fly off into the sunset and build a nest of their own.  You teach them right from wrong, you live by example and give then Valuable pieces of information that they will use many times down their long path called life.  You can teach them every story in the Bible and teach them at home from their Alphabets to Physics.  But, in the end it is what They choose to do with all those life lessons and Swirling DNA you passed down to them from the womb.
Am I an Emotional Basket Case right now???????  YES!  Yes, I am!!  My Oldest Son, is now in College and has a full-time Job and Life of his own outside of Our Sweet, Thomas Kinkade Painting of a Family.  Actually, we are a little more like a Picasso Rough Draft, but it's my Blog and I can write whatever I want to!  : D  

So, dealing with the changes in the Nest are somewhat of a Blunder.  I don't mean to be a Freak...Crying and Reminiscing at the drop of a Baby Sock or Stalk of Celery.  But, what can I say the Nest feels Colder, seems a bit Darker and just plain Different.

I'm sure I will write more about this......But, right now my Oldest Bird wants to Hang with the Rest of Our Flock!  ;D 

Update....He is Married now, working and still in college doing wonderfully.  The Pudding is Beautifully designed by God and it is Good!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Wedding Cake Pops...No Problem!

I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned that my oldest Son is getting married a few days soon.  Being the Groom's Parents kind of puts you out of the loop because it's the Bride's show...kind of.  And I understand, every since Skylar was a baby I thought geez his clothing options were the adorable over the top baby suits, onesies, or jeans and basic T-shirts.  When Mahala came around my eyes were opened to color, dresses galore and baby bling.  So, how fun could it really be to dress up the Groom?  Well, we did spend the day looking at bow ties together......don't laugh!

But, me being me I had to have my little hands wrapped up into something for this wedding.  So, we decided that Mahala and I would do the cake.  We decided on over 500 cake pops and a 2 tiered cake.  Were we crazy?  Yes, but I seem to thrive off of that.  As we went through the Holidays and Mahala's sweet 16 birthday this cake loomed over us like a bad dream.  Why, because it meant so much to us and worried about the turn out.  
It took almost 5 full days, but we got it all done.....and guess what?  It was beautiful, edible, it was delicious and most of all it was from our hearts.  It was made with so much Love....I'm thrilled My Skylar has found a beautiful soul to share his life with....thank you Jesus!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Essential Oils for Headache Relief

Poor Mahala has had the worst headache ever for the past week.  It regain with her 3rd sickness she had within a month, so we figured it was part of the cold she had.  But, it was fierce and making it almost impossible to sit up or even move from the couch.
She took Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Peppermint Oil, even a Chiropractor visit....nothing was calming it down.  Last night I decided that we would take her into the Doctor the next afternoon.  And as a last resort I looked through my Essential Oil books and tried to find something additional I could do to give her some sort of relief.  Peppermint Oil ALWAYS takes away our Family headaches, which is why I tried that first....but, this time it wasn't working. 
What I found in my book was a few different mixes.  One I thought would do the Best, because it included ones I was familiar with and used.  I mixed Frankincense, Valor, PanAway and Peppermint and applied it to her forehead, temples, back of the neck and on her hands so she could slowly breathe it in.  Five minutes later the pounding and stabbing pain was gone.  A few minutes later we left her home and we went to church.  I was worried when we got back that it might be back.  To my surprise she was giving me the thumbs up.  We went ahead and reapplied around the back of her neck and temples before bed for good measure.  The next morning I literally opened the door to her room and was stunned by her big smile!  I had not seen that sweet smile for days!!!  Thank you Jesus for Blessing our family with these oils!
She took a shower and we put the oils on again like I did the first time just because life has been pretty painful lately and we just wanted to double make sure we kicked that headache to the curb.  It's late in the afternoon right now and still no headache at all.  I think the Oils tore it up and life can go on now.  :)  If you haven't tried Essential Oils before it's really worth looking into.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Twinkle Lights and Hot Chocolate

I am fighting this whole take down the Christmas Tree thing!!  I Love my Tree and all it's twinkly lights....I miss it all year long and once it's up I dread the day we have to pack it all up in plastic bins and stuff it in the back of the garage for the following year.  The kids tease me and say that I should leave it up all year.   Hmmmm, maybe they are onto something.
For now I am keeping it up and lite to enjoy the glow with my hot chocolate for just a little while longer. :)

Monday, December 28, 2015

School is Back in Session Today.....

Normally we take the whole month of December off.  But, since I was having some health issues we kind of took off a little earlier this year.  We started relaxing a bit before Thanksgiving and our Family was honestly better off for doing that.  I've learned over the years that nobody learns a thing if we are all stressed and irritable.  It's better to do what your capable of maintaining instead of what you highly expect from yourself and others. 
So, we started back today slowly.  We started off with our Favorite Breakfast....Bagel Egg, Sausage & Cheese sandwiches and slowly dove into School Work.  Mahala ran to her room to work on Biology while Kaden and I sailed through our day downstairs, starting with Math.  No matter what kind of a School Day we are having we always incorporate Math and Reading.  This week I have an alternating schedule of worksheets and Khan Academy for Kaden's Math.  For Reading, he personally reads at least an hour a day on whatever book he has going on.  We have a Book going that he is reading for English and another one for History....we use Sonlight, so there is Never a shortage on reading here in our house.  I also have a New Book that I read out loud sometimes to all the Kids and sometimes, like right now it's just with Kaden.
It's been a few months since we have done a Character Study.  So, we started back up today.  I am so eager to get started consistently with Kaden, because he is ready now to soak it all in.  I will include Mahala too, even though she has been through it several can never have too much Character Training! :)  This week I have also included Bible and Journal Writing daily, Spelling twice and we are alternating History and Science each day.  
That's our Basics right now, later I will add on alternating days of Music, Cooking and Art.  I'll add daily English, Critical Thinking and bi-weekly Health and Spanish.  Just writing all that out makes my head spin....which is why for the this moment in time we are doing just the basics.  

I hope everyone is Blessed and Enjoying Their Sweet Families!!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Magic

Christmas is so magical to's a time of year where the sights, sounds and smells take me right back to my childhood.  I'm taken back to before my parents died, before foster care and before the Christmas days that were just regular days.
Every year I try to channel my Mom and decorate and plan activities that my Kiddos will remember forever and ever.  I know one day they will pause during the hustle and bustle when they have families and remember sweet moments of their childhood Christmases.  And that's what puts the extra pep in my step on days I would rather just stay in my warm bed.  For me it's more important to create memories within the family and celebrate the reason for the season joyously.  

Some of our longest standing traditions is the Christmas chain (1st-25th), the 12 Days of Christmas, Salt Dough Ornaments and Cookie making.  The Elf on the Shelf is something we've been doing only a few years now...Kaden loves it! 

The Chain is full of activities every single day.  From Jigsaw puzzles, ice skating, making a Birthday cake for Jesus, Movie night, Sleep around the Christmas Tree, Make s'mores around a fire, Make decorations, Read stories, Community Work and sooooo much more.  We add new things each year and I'll admit a few days had multiple because we have so many favorites that we just have to squeeze in.  Like the other day we had make a batch of candy to share with the neighbors and finish the day with a jigsaw puzzle.  Or we will do tomorrow make Christmas ornaments and then Kids get to make dinner!!!  We have so much fun with this....I almost wish we could do it all year long.  Which in a way I guess I kind of do, every day I connect with the Kids and my Husband in some way.  With words, an activity or by physical touch.  
What are some of Your Christmas Traditions?  I'll share more later....

Friday, December 18, 2015

Need More Meds!

Since I was still sick and coughing they couldn't put me under for surgery.  Kind of thankful that they could at least give me some local anesthetics and at least get the huge fibroid our fairly quickly.  Afterwards though the Doctor told me I have several smaller ones still there, he just couldn't stay in there any longer due to the fact that I would FEEL everything and they couldn't give me anymore local meds.  But, at least the Biggest one is out.  At least I don't pee every 5-6 minutes now.  Seriously before they wheeled me into surgery I had went to the bathroom 6 times.  That was just within the hour long wait to actually have the procedure done.  I just know the Nurse must have wanted to tie me down to the bed with my IV tube. :)  But, she was sweet and kind to me and I was careful to be just as kind and sweet to her.
I go back next month to plan what happens next, I can't wait to be done.  Next time hopefully I will be well enough to be put under and the whole thing get taken care of.  Praying that's done and I'm healed before we all take sabbatical this Summer. :)

Friday, December 4, 2015

Giving It All To Jesus Feels Good!

Wow, what a crazy past few weeks we have had.  I have been ultra Blessed these past few years and have had fairly good health....thank you Jesus!  Well, the time has come to rally the sick wagons, cause Momma's falling apart.  Well, actually I did feel that way...but I did something different this time.  I just gave it to God.  I told him, I'm no good with this.  If I keep it I will worry, google stuff until carpel tunnel sets in and just make myself so miserable that maybe I would prefer I short death.  
And that's what I did and what that did for me was to heal, stay present and do what matters the most to me.  And that's Live each day with my Family, Talk to my Jesus, Read my road map-aka my Bible and Experience something New each day.  I NEVER could have done this before my Husband's Recovery started almost 2 years ago exactly.  Nope, I was too crazy and busy living an imperfect life perfectly.  And now, that's just not the case....thank you Jesus!  
So, I had a miscarriage back 2 years ago January.  It was right at a time life was almost unbearable to wake up to and then the miscarriage happened and since then my periods have been a wreck.  And we have been so busy Recovering as a Family I just lived through the pain.  But, the pain changed recently and I finally made the appointment.  Long story short I have a few masses, possibly fibroids that are prolapsing out of me.  Yes, I said OUT OF ME! :)
I'm scheduled for surgery and trying to get through Thanksgiving and gear up for Christmas and I'm hit with excruciating pain.  Trip to the ER reveals a raging UTI and HUGE Kidney Stones.  Oh, but wait there is more......I have an enlarged Kidney and Spleen and what they think is the beginning stages of Cirrhosis of the Liver.  Yeah, that's one of the diseases that my Mom died at my age from.  Oh yeah, If there was EVER an appropriate time to freak out and be just a little bit crazy, this would probably make top of the list.  
But, what good would that do?  How would it solve anything or change the situation?  Will I feel empowered and less stress after hours of "controlling" the situation?  After asking myself these few questions the only answer for me was to give it to the Lord.  He already knows the ending of my story, why not release the temptation to try and rewrite what is already written.
So, we are waiting for surgery, taking necessary tests and Dr. appointments and resting as much as possible.  I know I couldn't have gone through all this at a time like this, just weeks from the holidays, Mahala's New Years Eve party and Skylar's wedding.  All will take place within the next month and the best thing for me to do is continue doing the things I LOVE to do......Live each day with my Family, Talk to my Jesus, Read my road map-aka my Bible and Experience something New each day.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Why is My Child with Autism full of Rage?

Typically you will find Kaden is a quiet person....he doesn't make a scene normally, he likes staying close to home and to himself.  He sometimes makes blunt comments to us and even to people he doesn't know because he is brutally honest.  He's also EXTREMELY passionate about whatever it is he is creating, building, reading or learning.  He has recently learned to be more compassionate to fellow Humans.....yes this is new as of the past several months or so.  He has always cared and loved animals way more then people...but we are finally making the list of cherished ones in his life now.  YAY for us!!! 

The thing that amazes me Most though is for a child that is extremely logic based and has everything in his life categorized as black or white he has an immense love for Jesus Christ.  It's not uncommon for me to find him reading and studying the Bible.  He knows what it means to be a Christian and has accepted Christ in his heart.  He has full Faith and Believes in the Lord, but that's where the road ends everything else in his life must be concrete and logical.  When I ask him about God he explains him as a being, more then a feeling...he is concrete in Kaden's eyes.  He has a relationship with God the way I did when I was little....he was my Friend and Heavenly Father.  I see the same relationship forming with Kaden.

For the most part Kaden is so sweet and kind and all of his deficits caused by him having Autism are things we can live with.  All but one thing, his anger towards himself and what manifested a few weeks ago into hurting me.  He has never hurt someone else in that way before.  And since then he has prayed about it and has tried to wrap his head around what had happened.  This was no easy task for any of us as we think about the future with Kaden.  What will it be like 10 years from now, even 5 years from now.  

To begin with we have to have a plan and be consistent with it.  And of course together as his parents we decided that any and all violent behaviors exhibited deserves punishment. For the behavior he had towards me last week we decided he would not be able to play any video game on his computer, tablet or game system for a week.  Also, he was not allowed tv unless we were watching a Family movie together.  For some of you that may not seem like a harsh enough consequence for what he did and others may think it was too harsh.  But, we carefully took into consideration where he sees violent behavior and where he zones out...that would be video games.  And when I say violent I'm talking about Minecraft....and that's not really a picture of violence, but there is killings and fighting even though we are talking about pixelated blocks.  Also, some of the shows he watches like SpongBob and Tom and Jerry may also fuel the behavior.  We did it for a week because he may almost be 9, but in his world when it comes to time he is roughly 4 or 5 years old.  Anything longer then a week would totally not be beneficial.  Another thing I want to clarify is that I do not think the shows or games are Bad and is causing him this behavior.  What I believe is that because of his deficits there are certain game plays, scenarios and situations that he doesn't comprehend at the level a typical child may.  An example, over the Summer we were watching Tom and Jerry....I grew up with that cartoon, all my kiddos did.  There was a scene where Tom was cutting himself up into pieces trying to get Jerry.  Kaden said, hey that's like me.  I asked him to explain and he told me when he feels overwhelmed the pain helps him feel like he's there in the room and not scattered.  I asked him why Tom was doing it and he said because Jerry is overwhelming him by running all around.  See Kaden is relating it to how he feels, he's not getting the whole segment of the cartoon, just like I wouldn't expect a young child to get it.  They would be scared to see a cat chopping himself up into little pieces.  So, what may be age appropriate for him is still not mentally age appropriate.  And we as his parents have to take precautions and be consistent in the boundaries we set for him.  

His week is up now and I can't wait to tell you how he was amazing and there were several hard moments too.  We saw him through a mini detox, but the outcome was beyond what I had expected.  I'll share more real soon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dealing with Autism Rage

It's been awhile since I've shared about Kaden's progress.  It's difficult sometimes to share, because there is nothing nobody can honestly do to make our day run smoother and I sometimes feel like a broken record, so I think why bother.  And will people really understand?  Most do not and that's fine....I'm glad that you might not.  But, for us our lives are sometimes more then a slight struggle just to get through day in and day out.  Don't get me wrong I Love this sweet boy, he makes me the happiest Momma ever and if I didn't have him in my life I would have a huge unfillable hole in my heart.

That being said, sometimes I'm scared of him.  I used to not be fearful of his anger, because he was 45lbs. wearing elmo slippers.  Things have changed over the past few years.  He is a little over 100lbs and turning 9 in a few short months.  His hormones are changing and the rage he experiences is tolerable on good days, it's the not so good days when I loose hope briefly.  And then the anger dies down and I see my sweet boy again and just like child birth pains all stress is forgotten.....well, kind of forgotten. :)
The other day we had an episode after breakfast.  I was picking up things off the floor so I could vacuum.  I asked him to help pick up some of his things left out from the night before.  Of course he didn't want to and protested.  I told him that if I vacuumed his little toys might get sucked up.  Still he resisted and started to get overwhelmed, I knew it was about to happen.  If I pushed it he would start hitting himself, bang on the walls and totally thrash his body until he would almost pass out.  Afterwards in his room he would nap or rest and then come downstairs completely oblivious to what just happened.
So, to avoid this as much as possible I rate the situations and ask myself how important is it for him to do or not do what I'm asking or if there is a change in it necessary?  At that moment I decided it wasn't important to have him pick up, so I told him that I would do it.  And then it happened....he lunged after me and clawed my face to the point blood dripped down my chin.  I was in shock, literally in shock he has NEVER put his hands on me besides pushing me away or kicking at me.  I was trying to block my face and he punched and kicked me with strength I had never felt before.  I was scared, he didn't look like Kaden, his eyes were set with rage, you could see it was fight or flight for him.  I had told him if I vacuumed them up they were gone and then I started picking them up.  A typical child would be like cool, now I don't have to do it.  But, Kaden felt threatened.  In his mind he lost control of his belongings and I was taking them away forever and then what goes in the trash next.  I can see this clearly just a few hours after the whole thing, but sometimes in the moment I think I'm making his life easier and instead I cause a bigger situation.  Every day I learn how to navigate life with a child on the Spectrum.  Every day there is new challenges and many fun Blessings too.  It's a balance and sometimes I feel like I've I did on that day.  

Afterwards he ran upstairs and laid under the coffee table with his weighted blanket.  For 15 minutes he ran back and forth to under the table to at the top of the stairs screaming.  He needed the blanket and the tight space under the coffee table to help him get back to the real Kaden.  But, he didn't know what to do with the emotions of what had just happened.  I know he LOVES me, I am his rock, soother, caregiver, protector, hugger.....I am his Momma.  He was terrified of what he did, he came and touch my face and asked how that could happen?  How did this happen?  And he started hitting himself and screaming how he should die.  Mahala had to hold him down to protect him from himself until he was calm.  And then he crawled and curled up at my feet making little puppy noises.  This is part of the process, at this point all rage is over and now I mend him back together again.  I pulled him up to my lap and held him, putting extra pressure on his main joints....this brings him back to us.  At this point I couldn't stop crying, I normally don't, but my face was on fire.  I went to clean up and Kaden rested.  For the rest of that day every time he looked at me he shuck his head with disbelief and would get this scared worried face.  He told me he was sorry and when I tried to talk to him which I normally always do he had nothing to give me.  He didn't know what had happened.  

I didn't scream or take things away or ground him until after I had talked it over with Dad.  With these situations you have to be careful, it's a delicate situation.   Nothing can be said or done without follow through.  When Dad came home we talked about it and came up with a plan.....I'll share that with you next.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Grapevine Studies~ REVIEW 

 photo 5 Old Testament Overview Part 1 Level 4_zps2tcp2coh.jpg 
My final Review for the year is one that I figured would be a winner all around when I heard about it.  For the past several weeks we have been using the Old Testament 1 Level 3 Creation to Jacob (for ages 10-12)  and a Teacher's Book from Grapevine StudiesThis curriculum is by far unique and in a league of their own with the use of Stick Figures to teach their Bible lessons.  I think it gives even the youngest Kiddo the opportunity to learn about God's word.  Like I said I was very hopeful that this would be a fun way to go through the Bible with Kaden.  He has read through the whole Bible twice already and can have total conversations regarding Biblical events.  He is only 8 years old, but his love for scripture is strong.  But, he's just 8 years old, lighten up a little and have some fun Kaden.  The concept Grapevine Studies offers You is the ability to teach Biblical Studies with simple studies for Kiddos of all ages.  Their Early method is to use the "Hear-Draw-Review" approach.  This is from as young as the pre-school age.  Once your Kiddo gets a little older, they will begin with the Read-Draw-Review which progresses further with age.  Here your Kiddos will be introduced to more Scripture, Bible Geography and learn how to use Bible Study skills.  All of their products are available Printed or as Digital Books.  You can go and find out more about each of the Levels offered and make sure you try out a Sample of one of their Studies. 
Level 3 has 12 Lessons, I'm going to go over what we attempted to do 2-3 times a week.  Each day we Reviewed the Timeline that we made at the beginning and with each lesson we add on to it.  Next we have our Bible verses that we are working on to memorize.  Right now we just finished Lesson 6 was on the Tower of Babel.  Kaden can go on for days about this particular story.  The Sections for this particular Lesson in The Landing, Noah and His Family Worshipped, The Promise, The Sign of the Promise, God's Command, The People Gathered and Built, God Confused the Language and The People were Scattered.  As you read the selected scriptures and stories you go through the pages and fill in "stick figure" drawings to go with the lesson.  After all the Sections are completed your Kiddo has the opportunity to draw their Favorite part in the Lesson they have just studied. 

This sounds like so much fun and I truly thought my Kaden could loosen up a bit and just maybe I had hit a secret gold mine.  Well, I was no where near a gold mine in his eyes, at least for him.  So, I would say if you have a literal, closed minded Kiddo that doesn't like to walk of the designated path EVER this program may not be for them.  Mahala, who just turned 16 actually thought that it was a non-threatening approach to someone who may be new to God's word or if Studying the Bible is new for them.  Her and I actually did most of all the drawings and Kaden looked up all the scriptures and even took on all other readings for the Program.  We are at the half way point with the 12 lessons and he still wants to complete all 12 of them, can't complain about that. :)

Would we use this program again?  It's so hard to say, because I LOVE the Program and think that it's an amazing Method to get your Kiddos in God's Word.  But, I can't justify the price if he's not fully committed to drawing.  As I'm writing this I had a quick thought....Kaden's drawing skills are way bellow average, that is just one of his deficits that he has from being on the Autism Spectrum.  So, I hadn't thought about the fact that that could have some play into why he is not willing to draw the pictures out.  But, it's okay, not every program out there works for every single Kiddo...they are all Special in their own ways!! :)  As he progresses and continues to meet milestones maybe we can look into this program again.
But, would I recommend it?  Absolutely and especially if you have a creative Kiddo or one that needs help staying focused on a lesson.  My oldest Son would have benefited from this program growing up because he had a had time focusing for more then 10 minuted.  This program would have kept him engaged! :)  

Take a look into it, it's definitely worth the time to check Grapevine Studies out.  You can stay in touch with them to with Social Media!
Periscope: @Grapevine Studies

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Grapevine Studies Review

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Practical Critical Thinking ~ REVIEW

I'm almost finished with Reviews for 2015, just 2 more to go.  This is one of those products I would have Loved having as a child.  The Critical Thinking Co.  generously gave us the opportunity to use their Practical Critical Thinking ($39.99) and Teacher Manual ($14.99) to use and Review.  It was like an early Christmas present to me seriously.  Honestly Mahala was feeling a bit worried as she pulled out 2 HUGE 370+ page books.  But, once she looked through some of the lessons and activities her heavy breathing returned back to normal.

I've admitted before that I had struggles in school, especially Math.  But, I always valued the art of learning no matter how difficult school became for me.  And I learned early on that you have to use what you do know to try and figure out what you don't!  One thing that we have always done in our homeschool is workbooks filled with puzzles, word problems and short mystery/cases to solve.  Critical Thinking produces Independent Thinkers....isn't that what we see in most Homeschoolers?

This workbook is divided into 4 Units with 2 Chapter within a Unit and each Chapter has up to 11 Lessons.  In the Practical Critical Thinking workbook you will find these Unit Titles.  

Becoming a Critical Thinker 
Adding to My Critical Thinking Toolbox 
Critical Thinking and Arguments 
Applying My Critical Thinking

Keeping things Fun and Interesting is key to learning a new skill or working on one that you have already gained.  Mastery doesn't have to be boring and routine.  In their workbooks your Kiddos will get to explore a wide range of activities that require critical thinking peppered throughout the workbook like the following:

Prediction Time-  Here they get to jiggle their brain to try and figure out what's coming up in the lesson.
Student Polls- This is sort of self explanatory....our whole Family took part in the polls, even a few unexpected guests. :)
Thought Experiments-  These also get that Brain Muscle pumping....thinking in ways you don't normally think makes a mushy brain strong(Kaden says)!

Group Activities- can be done with a group or solo, Mahala did most of hers by herself, but we did do some of ours together.

Since this is geared towards High School aged Kiddos I mainly did this with Mahala, who is in the 10th grade.  I did though have Kaden participate in a lot of the activities.  He is very Logic based, so this is something I think he would really benefit from.  Mahala, like I said earlier was a little worried because the workbook is so big.  But, after a few days I noticed when I came downstairs for my morning coffee she was normally working on it first thing.  So, I would say probably 4 days a week she would complete a lesson.  She found that the lessons were doable chunks, not too long or repetitive.  I think it's perfectly recommended for grades 9-12th.  

The Teacher's Manual is in black and white unlike the actual workbook that has color.  I love that the Teacher's Manual gives the answer and goes into a little extra explanation.  It was simple and easy to use.  Everything in clear cut, I hate when I can't figure out a Teacher's Manual or when the answers are easily understood.  It's not necessary to have the Teacher's Manual, but I'm thankful to have it.  On top of all Mahala's work load it was nice to have the answers readily available.  
So, what did we think of the Practical Critical Thinking workbook?  I Loved it, we loved it.  Mahala and I both thought that it was straightforward and interesting from the get go.  I honestly didn't know I needed this specific product until I was presented with it.  The Critical Thinking Co. have several other products that I can't wait to get into the hands of my Kiddos.  All of their products I've looked into are affordable.  And if they are anything like the Practical Critical Thinking workbook then you can add High Quality product too.  I can't think of a reason to not offer this product to your High School Kiddos, go check it out and let me know what you think!!!
You can always stay Connected with The Critical Thinking Co. by Social Media!!!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Eat Your Science Homework~ REVIEW 
Most of my Reviews I wouldn't call them Yummmmmmy.....but, this next one I sure can.  We are a Family that Loves to eat, so you can imagine our excitement when we heard that Ann McCallum Books was giving us a copy of Eat Your Science Homework ($16.95) for a Review.  The Best of both worlds for us, Science and Food! :)

Once we opened up and saw the actual book I was blown away by the artwork and quality of the book.  Kaden was most excited about the Atomic Popcorn Balls.  And I'm sad to say that we have not yet made those.....but we will be.  During the Review period Kaden was sick and he's still sick, we are going on 3 weeks now.  That being said we only attempted 2 of the Yummy Experiments/Recipes.  We have read the whole entire book though and here is a shot of the Table of Contents.
I haven't really went in any kind of order when it comes to teaching Kaden, we are a little unorganized in thoughts as far as subject matter and the order in which we teach it to him.  The other Kiddos had more of a schedule.  So, that being said he was impressed with the Scientific Method explained in the Discovering Delicious.  When I "discovered delicious" I found 50lbs....what happened?? :)  Kaden marveled at the fact that wheat he does every day actually has a name.  I have not gotten around to the formal name of  the Scientific Method, but Kaden is officially not deprived anymore.  He knows it, lives by it and all it well. :)  After you go through safety precautions you get to dive straight into the good stuff.

Even though we did not make the very first recipe of Atomic Popcorn Balls we did read through it and can not wait to enjoy both making and eating them soon.  Kaden did take Chemistry towards the end of last school year and this was a great review for him and once he's well, being able to use his hands and make something that he's familiar with in his head is something he will not soon forget.  That is one of the Main benefits I see with this kind of a book.


So, let me go over the two we did do.  The first one was the Loop, Whorl and Arch Cookies.  Of course we made the cookies and we also did the fingerprinting Science Sampler afterwards.  We needed sandpaper, tape and a pencil.  He was able to shave down the pencil to get a little bit of graphite for dusting.  I had him dust the plate before we placed the cookies on it and loads of finger prints shined dark gray.  He was shocked to see how a clean plate had been touched by many finger tips.  I used this opportunity to drive home the importance of Hygiene!!!  After he calmed down from all the potential cooties on this cookie plate he carefully placed clear tape over a few of the prints to lift them up off the plate.  And of course doing all this while working through the Scientific Method.  Kaden was mesmerized by the different loops, whorls and arches on our finger tips.  I honestly think he enjoyed this experiment more then eating the cookies. :)  He did have a little trouble with the directions for the cookies.  We didn't have any M&Ms so that was fine, but the whole place two cookies on top of another wasn't computing to him, I blame most of it on him not feeling well.  But, also being on the Spectrum causes him to see things in a different light sometimes.  And that's ok, we just modified it a little. :)

Oh my goodness, the next recipe we tried, we actually did 3 times....yes 3 times.  It was the Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna.  My two youngest Kiddos love all Rocks and Minerals.  So, once again Kaden was familiar with the topic right away.  Here you see the Mohs Scale of Hardness.  Explaining how Not all Rocks are created equally.  It compares the food needed in our recipe the same way.  He enjoyed this so much that he wanted to do one for Breakfast, Dinner and Dessert...and so we did.  Up first is the Breakfast Sedimentary lasagna.

Honestly, I don't think he would have ate that had he not been inspired by the book....Thank You Ann!!!  

The dinner version was more like the actual Recipe, he made that one with Mahala and Dad.  That one was super delicious, he was in charge of each layer....Mahala and Dad were just "Helpers" or I should say "Miners".

 The last variation of the Sedimentary Lasagna was for Dessert.  Yeah, this bad boy was just that....a BAD Boy, but very delicious.  Kaden said all Rocks should taste this good.  Dad and I had to confirm that he indeed had never ate a rock.  Just crazy Kaden talk. :)
At the very back of the book you will find a Science Review for each of the Recipes and a Glossary.  So, my thoughts on this book is that it's amazing, you get exactly what you need to understand each recipe and Scientific topic completely.  I didn't feel overwhelmed with a long list of ingredients, I actually had everything in my pantry already.  The format of the book itself is easy to read and understand.  The illustrations are out of this world cool and fun, they are sure to capture the eyes of most any Kiddo....even Kaden. :)  This book offers you a fun delicious alternative to your educational day.  If the Kiddos are having a rough morning or it's raining outside this book may be just what is needed to turn those frowns upside down.  Ann McCallum has many more books to try, we are definitely adding some to our Christmas list for sure.   

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Ann McCallum Books Review

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Blocks of Time

My Boy has been doing pretty well lately.  We have been working up a storm to set a routine in place that works for us.  Do you flip flop with your routine or schedule?  I's a constant evolving list of rules, timelines, dates, to-dos and to-don't!!!  We are trying to find out what works and what can be changed at a moments notice with out Kaden going into a complete melt down.  Right now we are using Blocks of time instead of actual times.  
We have a Morning Block that contains wake up time, eating, hygiene, quiet time and math.  Afternoon Block is when Kaden has lunch, a few subjects, chores and play time.  Almost Dark Block is filled with Reading, dinner and some form of project or creating activity.  The last Block of time is the Bedtime Block and that's when Kaden reads, bathes and gets ready for bed.  Each section has a color and they are loosely written so to not overwhelm him on days that life just happens and we have a game changer kind of day.  I have tried, but I can not predict the I have to make sure he knows at any time things could change and if it does then we will decide together how to handle it.
In between all of his Blocks of time he can be found outside playing, reading and playing Legos.  Another favorite hobby of his is creating in the Kitchen.  My boy loves to create new dishes and swapping ingredients around that surprise me every single time.  Depending on his mood you can find him in a corner reading, playing piano or loving on his Dog.  

We have lowered our expectations not his opportunities.  In Public School they gave up on my oldest, Skylar.  At least that was our experience and we don't want to do the same to Kaden, but we do recognize that he processes differently then anyone else in our home.  He is easily overwhelmed, but also highly intelligent.  So, we have to make sure his day is filled with many opportunities to engage him and stimulate his mind while eliminating stress.  It's a fine line I walk every single day.  And I know that every day he has to be somewhat pushed a bit into the uncomfortable zone because I understand that the real world is not going to roll out the red carpet for him and tiptoe around his sensory needs.  But, I do it with caution and I know when enough is enough on most days.

For now that is how we get through our days and it works well for the moment.  He is happy, learning and reading every single day and that makes me one Happy Momma!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3~REVIEW year my eyes were opened to the amazing Brinkman Family and their Adventures. I had never heard of this wonderful Missionary Family before, but was thrilled getting to experience Season 2 of their adventures.  Right after I reviewed season 2 Kaden was in my ear asking about the next season......for several months I was questioned and he even would go online and check out their website.  I was so excited to be able to share with him that Brinkman Adventures was giving us the opportunity to Review The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3.  And this time we were given a physical copy.  So, we could take it along with us anywhere!  

The Series is a Christian Audio Drama/Entertainment Adventure suitable for the whole Family to listen to and enjoy.  The Brinkmans are a Homeschooling Family with 10 Kiddos that are what I would call Real Modern Day Missionaries.  The Stories told are based on real life situations and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

BrinkmanAdventures: Season 3 is 4 CD’s and comes in a durable plastic case.  Great for safe keeping and car trips.  There are over 5 hours of adventure in Season 3!  You will be in suspense in all 12 episodes and each of the stories are roughly 20-30 minutes long. You can also get the season as a downloadable MP3.

Here is a look at the stories in Season 3:

*God's Mule
*Mountain Mover
*The Silent Ambassador
*Translating Trouble
*Acorns & Oaks
*A Saint's Story parts 1 & 2
*Busy Bees and a Bullhorn
*Missionary Tourist parts 1 & 2

Like I said before, Kaden was waiting a long time for Season 3.  So, when the CD package was brought in from the mail one evening after we had been out all day I reasoned with him to just wait one more night and first thing in the morning we would listen to them.  The next morning at 5 comes Kaden with the Brinkmans and a HUGE grin.  Ok Buddy, let me make a troff of coffee put on my slippers and I'll be ready.  After an hour or so of listening and then checking out their website for Behind the Scenes goodies I started making breakfast and he went off and played with Legos.  Long story short Kaden wasn't just playing Legos, but also listening to more Brinkman Adventures.  He hardly ever gets excited about anything.  Honestly, Nothing intrests that kid unless it has a Lego logo or has something to do with coding/math.  So, even though I was excited for him....I was thinking hey, I didn't get to listen. :(  But, never fear you can definitely listen to these adventures more then once.  I got my chance a few days later when we took a long car trip and again while out and about doing errands. :)  Kaden is  thrilled to just sit back and listen to any of the Brinkman's Adventures while I make breakfast in the mornings and usually by the time he's finished eating the episode usually has ended and then we have a chance to discus what took place and what he learned about it.  All kinds of questions were brought up during each episode. I Love when that happens!!  And the Unit Studies we were able to build off of the episodes were amazing, not to mention some really nice art pieces that he drew while listening.  We honestly learned about things we had not intended to study this year.  For example we learned a lot about Alaska, Survival in Nature, Africa, Bible printing and Getting it into the hands of many, Insects, Glaciers and many others to come as we go back through them.  

On their Website you can go check out the Real Stories Section, this is a MUST!!!  There you will find each episode listed with more information, amazing pictures and videos.  This was one of Kaden's Favorite things to do after each episode.  I almost forgot, but you can also listen to a Sample Episode online too.

We ended up listening to all 12 episodes (over 5hours) in just under a day......maybe not the norm, but what can I say! :)   But, we didn't just toss it to the side.....instead we listened to them over and over and over and look for things missed from before.  You know how Kiddos can get hooked on a certain movie and it gets played over and over.....that's The Brinkman Adventures to Kaden.  One thing that I thought was neat that both Mahala and Kaden did after this season, was to recreate small portions of a few of the episodes.  Just yesterday they were checking Homer's pack for smuggled Bibles out on our huge hill in our backyard.  It was a sight....I wish I would have snapped a picture of it. :( 

So, what did we we even like this Brinkman Family?  Big Happy Roll on the Ground, Love to the Moon and Back YES!  We Love it because it's really with a small twist of fiction.  It's not just read to you in a monotone voice.  It's action packed and full of excitement.  You hear back ground noises that you would assume would be there if you were actually there.  You hear crunching snow, animals in the back, dropped items and life....the stories come alive as they walk you through their Adventure.  I think most Families would highly enjoy the Stories and Adventures the Brinkmans have to tell.  And all the Extras on their Website is just Major Bonuses!!!  And guess what?  Kaden's already waiting on the next Season.....trying to wait patiently!!

Make sure to stay in touch with the Brinkman Adventures with Social Media!!

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Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review