Have A Whale Of A Time! A Review.

Fun fact: the phrase “a whale of a time” was coined around 1910 and of course means a great deal of fun. Not relevant to the review, but just another wrinkle for you!

Math is hard. I am not a math person. My dad and Hubby have math brains, Auntie Fred has a masters in physics, and I am over here drawing pictures to figure out how to triple a recipe. Cooking math is as hard as I get. Even percentages throw me, I have to break out the calculator (the one every math teacher growing up said I wouldn’t always have with me to do math problems) to figure out how much something will be on sale at the store.

So when we started homeschooling, Hubby and I agreed he would do math. Well that hasn’t always worked out with his work schedule, so I have had to face my stress-inducing subject and learn how to teach Bug math. Hubby still does a lot of math games and such with her, but we have very different teaching methods and strengths. Hes plays with hundred blocks, I play with Mobi.

We were actually sent the Mobi original by an out-of-state relative who lives less than a mile away from the best toy store I have ever seen. I had no idea what it was when I opened up the box and saw a whale. I thought it was a stuffed animal at first! I opened it up and saw it was a game much like Bananagrams and was instantly hooked!

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Playing with Mobi original was a weekly occurrence through our first year of homeschooling.

Then. Mobi came out with a new game…MobiKids. I was so excited! And after a lot of searching local stores and finding nothing, Hubby surprised me and bought MobiKids!! Now we have both! One can go in our to-go bag and one can stay in the house!

Now that we have both, I wanted to share the differences between the original Mobi and MobiKids. So for those of you reading who are not sure which version would be right for you and your kiddo, you can make an informed decision.

First, price. I was gifted the original, but it is $20 on Amazon. Also found on Amazon is the MobiKids for $17. Both are prime as well. If you are lucky enough to live near a toy store, you will most likely be able to find the original. MobiKids was just recently released in August of this year (2017), so it hasn’t made all the rounds yet.

So, the original Mobi served us well for our first year homeschooling. We played many different games with the tiles, none of which were probably intended when it was created, but we have never played any game how it is intended! We used flat marbles to represent the numbers, we played a similar game to find the sound (which we play often with our Word-A-Melon); find the number. I would pick a number tile out of Mobi and tell the girls to find two of something, or something with five or more stripes, or something that had four legs (usually our kitty).

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The original Mobi was great. Then we got MobiKids. The tiles are brighter colors, it comes with an activity booklet that I got lots of ideas from, and there are less math symbol tiles. There is only addition, subtraction and equal signs; Original Mobi has multiplication and division symbols as well.

MobiKids was an instant hit solely because of the colors! My girls love bright colors so they were so excited to start playing. We took it outside and played on our picnic blanket in the sun. We lined up the numbers 1-10, Bug HAD to find all the equal signs and put them in a line, Six was super confused because the 6 and 9 tiles are interchangeable and she couldn’t wrap her little brain around that concept (she’s four, we give her a break).

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We came inside and found our shape blocks and found the number of sides they each had and put the number tile with them. We counted how many legs their toys had, and we had to line up more equal signs.

Overall, the MobiKids is a much better fit for us. And I love the Mobi games in the little booklet. I would definitely recommend Mobi original or kids for any homeschooler. There are so many ways to adapt and play to fit your needs and it makes math fun which, to me, is very important.

We will continue to use MobiKids in our homeschool and keep Mobioriginal in our to-go bag for when we are out and about and have a moment to play a game. These are really great games as well because they don’t take up a ton of room. Board games are one of my most frustrating things to organize and with pouch games we can just throw them in a basket. Or if you want to be silly, like we are, you can get a fruit stand for all your pouch games!

I hope you will check out Mobi games and find one that will work for you! They are really great resources and fun, interactive, hands-on learning tools!

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Homeschooling On A Budget

Homeschooling can be expensive. Curriculums and games and toys and supplies can all cost a pretty penny. But I am here to help you if you don’t want to spend a fortune on homeschooling and still be successful.

Through our charter we have a budget for the year. This budget covers on-site classes, curriculums, games, toys, supplies, and even local classes. If the item is non-consumable (teachers guides, toys that aren’t made, books, etc) we have to return it to the charter eventually; if we ever leave the school or we no longer have a need for it. BUT I am a weirdo and don’t want to give things back. This is probably one of the main reasons we have so much stuff because I become attached to all our stuff and never want to get rid of it. But I digress.

So, because I want to keep the things we have our eye on, we buy them ourselves.

There are a few things we do get through our budget: printer paper and ink, gymnastics classes once a week, two on-site classes a semester and curriculums we don’t actually use but we get to keep our CT happy.

Most of the things we use on a daily basis, however, we bought or were gifted to us. So I would like to share some tips to not break the bank as well as some of our most-used, favorite homeschool must-haves.

First up: homeschooling on a budget.

  1. Shop around. Walmart, the Dollar Store, and even Target and Costco have workbooks, and of course school supplies. I was shocked when I went to our local Dollar Store for buckets and found half an aisle of beginning writing paper, workbooks, flash cards, calenders, and learning supplies.
  2. Yard Sales, curriculum shares/swaps, craigslist, and sales/clearance. I have found so many amazing toys and learning resources at yard sales, and have been fortunate (and unlucky) to live in a town that has lost a few awesome toy and school supply stores. So when they went out of business, I jumped on a ton of sale and clearance items that cost over half off of original prices!
  3. Share. Do you know any homeschoolers in your area? Maybe they have a kiddo a little older than yours? Ask if they have any unused or lightly used curriculums if you are going the curriculum route. Ask what their favorite homeschool resources are and ask to borrow them.
  4. Library! If you are not following a curriculum and are going more in the delight-directed homeschool route (aka unschooling), the library is an awesome place for resources. Our library had videos, CDs, books on tape and so much more besides books as well as some free classes and events.
  5. DIY. Getting an all-in-one curriculum sounds so nice, and there are some great ones out there! But if you are anything like us, a full-blown curriculum just doesn’t work for you. That isn’t the end of the world! There are still tons of stuff you can do to keep up learning! Podcasts, Youtube, the library, field trips, games, and so many more. One of my favorite bloggers Jill Krause has recently embarked on a homeschooling journey with two of her four kids and she has a fantastic idea for getting homeschooling done in a fun way! You can check that out here.
  6. Wish Lists. I am a HUGE fan of Amazon wish lists. I’m not going to lie, I abuse the wish list button a lot. I have so many wish lists for so many different things. But it has been really great for birthdays and Christmas. My family is awesome at asking what we would like or what we already have, so I create a wish list each birthday/Christmas and share it with them. My mom will usually take the items on my list as suggestions and get a ton of similar items, whereas my sister and aunt stick to the list. Either way is great, we are getting toys and games and books that will support us in our homeschool journey because our family wants us to be successful.

Next: homeschool must-haves

  1. A Laminator. You may think this is a frivolous purchase, but let me tell you something: this is my most used homeschool-related gadget. I use this thing so much sometimes I have to turn it off to let it cool down because I have been using it all day. You can make worksheets reusable to be used with a white-board marker, you can make your own books or photo albums, you can preserve artwork (I have many subject dividers in my homeschool binder that are the girls’ artwork), you can do so many things with a simple laminator. We got ours on sale for under $25!
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    Hey! Laminating another favorite!
  2. Bananagrams. I genuinely love all the Bananagrams products. We started with the original banana and it was great, but then we were given the My First banana, and Word-A-Melon and they have changed our homeschool days. We use one or both of these games DAILY. I’m not kidding, they are amazing! The original and My First bananas are $15 on the Bananagrams website or at Target!
  3. Rory’s Story Cubes. I go into depth about how we use these in my blog post, but in a nutshell; use to build imagination, a speech building game or to practice writing! There are MANY different packs/themes you can find, all of which I want desperately! But the original 3 packs can be found at Target for $8 each! We loved them so much I gifted one pack each to our Speech therapist and resource teacher at our charter.

  4. Mobi. I plan to do a review of Mobi Kids if I ever get my hands on one! But for now I will tell you about the original Mobi. This is another zipper-pouch game (we have a thing for pouch games apparently!), that is full of number tiles and math symbols. Think Bananagrams for math equations. There are so many uses for this game and not just as it is intended to be used. This is an ongoing theme in our homeschool, I don’t think we use many things as they were intended. But, this is a wonderful math skills game!20170324_183533-1
  5. Chapter books for reading out loud and Level Readers. We are raising readers in this household. My girls LOVE reading/looking through books/being read to. We have found bunches of children’s books, chapter books and level readers at yard sales, used book stores and curriculum swaps. They can be up to $5 at our local (tiny) toy store, or Target, but if you find clearance books they can be $2-3, or at used book stores for $1-2. Shop around! Chapter books such as The BFG or The Phantom Tollbooth are great for reading out loud. We read a LOT, we usually get through one chapter book a week. I have noticed a significant difference in both girls’ language since we started reading together last year.

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    Our last used book store haul!
  6. A basic all-in-one workbook (Brainquest or Scholastic brands can be found at Costco and Target). For us, we don’t follow one curriculum. I am currently in the middle of writing my own all-in-one lesson plan/curriculum I hope to publish someday soon. But for now, I jump around from book to book of the curriculums we bought through our charter. However, I have returned more often than not to the $15 Scholastic workbook Gwama got us at Costco (we don’t have a membership). It is really straightforward and laid out well. Because of Bug’s hatred of worksheets though, we don’t usually finish or use the worksheets, but I use them to play a game off of: let’s spell this word, let’s do this math problem etc.
  7. Internet + Printer; if you have access to the internet and a printer, you can do anything! I have Googled what 1st graders are taught or are expected to know at the end of the year and have based our learning off those guidelines. I have printed off worksheets and games and made our own Velcro game binder. I have found board games and their rules that I have printed and laminated then 3-hole punched and put in our binder.

These must-haves truly got us through our first year of homeschool. We made them a bigger part of this year’s homeschool after seeing how well they worked for Bug last year.

I was not paid for any of my reviews, I genuinely love using these products, and we love how versatile they can be. If you can think outside the box, you can think of some fun games to play, adding some fun to your daily homeschool!

I wish you luck on your homeschool journey. Please know, though, that just because someone is doing something, doesn’t mean you have to. That is the beauty of homeschooling, you do what works for you and your kiddo and family. Don’t let anyone tell you you are doing it wrong; if you are moving forward, if your kids are learning, then you are doing a great job.

 

Tell Me A Story. A Review.

Story cubes. A mystical game I learned about 3 weeks into our first year of homeschooling last year. As soon as I saw them I knew we needed them and I wished I had had them when I was in school. They would’ve made my short stories much more interesting I think.

There are a surprising number of companies that have a story cube product, but none have compared to Rory’s Story Cubes. This company is brilliant. When I bought our first two collections at Target ($8 each!) I had no idea we would become so addicted to adding to our collection.

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We have bought or been gifted by family: The original 9 story cubes in regular and jumbo size (aka Max), Voyages (9 cubes), Actions (9 cubes), Prehistoria (3 cubes), Enchanted (3 cubes), Clues (3 cubes), and probably my favorite Looney Toons (9 cubes).

One day we will own the rest. Maybe even all of their Storyworlds! But for sure the Mixes.

They are so fun and come in great carrying cases (if you get the packs with more than 3 dice) so they are portable and small (unless you get the Story Cubes Max) so it can fit easily in a purse or a backpack. We have taken them on our mommy-Bug doughnut dates at our local coffee shop where we have just rolled and came up with fun stories without worrying about writing it down or anything.

For us, we don’t use every single dice every single time. We have actually never used all nine dice ever. It is just too much right now. But that is the beauty of games like this, you can adapt it to fit your needs. And Bug’s needs mean using no more than four, but usually three at a time.

You can mix and match too. I personally love the stories that come from using 1 Prehistoric dice, 1 Enchanted dice, and 1 Action dice. We have had dinosaurs tripping over a glass slipper and volcanoes jumping on little old witches.

We are silly and I love it.

Right now we use story cubes for many things in our homeschool:

  1. Speech practice. The cubes have no words on them so we have to come up with a word for it. We can talk about what it looks like, what letter sound does it start with, what it can do.
  2. Imagination. Believe it or not, imaginative play actually had to be taught to Bug. But once she understood that she could be silly and use her imagination, she has not stopped. Using the cubes has kept her on her toes.
  3. Drawing/writing practice. With the way we are doing things now, Bug isn’t writing anything (this will be its own blog post soon), so when she creates a story I write it down. She is seeing that her thoughts and ideas are valid and real when we read it back together. Then she can draw a picture or tell me what to draw. Before her writing-ban, I had her help me write down a word or simple sentence from her story.
  4. Sharing. This may seem like a crazy way to do things, but when we get Six involved she always wants her own turn. BUT, I was losing the other’s interest if I had them take turns doing their own story. So, instead, we roll however many dice we picked out and each of them takes a turn telling me part of the story with every other dice. They still get to do their own stories, just on the days where each parent has a Jellybean each!

We have done a few themed-days where we have used a certain set of story cubes. we have had princess day where we only used the Enchanted set of three dice. We have had a Looney Toons day where we watched Looney Toons and made up a ton of our own stories. My personal favorite has to be dinosaur day (which included dino-foot painting and a dino bubble bath as well as rice krispy dino eggs for dessert!).

We have also gifted a set to our amazing Resource teacher at our charter as well as our speech therapist team at the charter, too. They are amazing teachers and thought they would love them as much as I do. Hopefully they do!

We will continue to add to our collection slowly but surely. We love Rory’s story cubes and share our love with anyone who will listen to me talk about homeschooling! They are a fun and sneakily educational game that is one of our must-haves for homeschooling, along with a laminator or any of the Bananagrams games (find reviews for FOUR of their amazing products here, here, here or here!)

I sincerely hope you will check out Rory’s Story Cubes products and love them as much as we do!

Welcome To The (Banana) Party!! A Review

This review took much too long to do! But in my defense I don’t have parties, so I had to badger Uncle C to come over and play Bananagrams Party Edition so I could do a proper review. That’s a lie, I offered him veggie pot pies and cookies, Hubby suggested video games till 3 am and he came right over. An introvert nerd party.

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Hubby looking up a word. Homeschool table a mess. Fun game.

The wonderful folks at Bananagrams were kind enough to send me the Party Edition a few months ago. I have actually been rotating the Party banana with the WildTiles, Original and My First bananas in our homeschool, but you can see how we use those here. For this review I wanted to use the game as it was intended! I know, it’s a crazy idea, stay with me!

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We ate some yummy food, sent the girls to bed and took over the homeschool table. After reading the rules and instructions, we decided, since there was only three of us and because we were playing for the first time, that we wouldn’t use all the party tiles. We ended up using six of the fourteen party tiles and that was perfect for the first time with three players.

We spilled out all the letter tiles and Uncle C arranged them into a perfect square while we were reading the instructions. We picked our 21 starting tiles and called out SPLIT to start.

Party Cube
Party Cube

We quickly tried to make a grid with our letters. Amazingly I finished first and yelled PEEL a little to loudly. We grabbed another tile each and I had picked a party tile. Right off the bat! I happened to pick the pouch head tile and gifted it to Uncle C. For the rest of the game he got to wear the banana pouch on his head; he even forgot about it and we waited to see how long it would take him after our game was finished to realize it was still there. 23 minutes!

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Pouch Head

 

Even with taking pictures, I got PEEL again and grabbed another party tile! I gave it to Hubby…it was a Switcheroo. I should not have played it on him. He left me with an X, Z and W!

Hardest letters ever!
X, Z and W?!

I ended up DUMPing the X, Z and W tiles but in exchange I had to pick 3 tiles per tile I put back. Ended up working great, honestly. Even with nine extra tiles I still got PEEL before the guys did on that round!

 

After saying PEEL, Hubby got a party tile and gifted it to me. It was the Single-Handed. It doesn’t sound like much of a challenge till you are racing to make a word grid first! With one hand behind my back I rearranged my tiles but Uncle C beat me to PEEL.

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I started over there!

We played for a good 2 hours. We did take a cookie break somewhere in there. But we ended up playing three games total. It is a really fun and silly game, especially when Hubby and I both played a party tile on Uncle C at the same time! He turned into a Thumb-less Flamingo and it was hilarious. No picture of that due to the amount of laughter that was going on.

We keep the Party Edition on top of our bookshelf now, where Uncle C charges his phone when he is over. We have played almost every time he has been over except a couple times where we have decided to try Word-A-Melon (following the actual rules…this won’t turn into a habit I promise) or the Original Bananagrams if one of the Jellybeans have used the other banana as a baby and cannot be found (happens more than you’d think!).

Next time we play I will take some better-lit pictures…especially if the Flamingo party tile is played because that was hysterical. Uncle C has the same balance Six has and it made me laugh a lot! Poor Uncle C, I’ll have to make him more cookies for laughing WITH him so much during this game.

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My vote is to check out all of Bananagrams’ products and find one that fits you best! I personally LOVE all the Bananagrams products we own; we use them daily in our homeschool as well as when our power goes out or Uncle C visits, or when Auntie Fred is visiting and staying at our parents’ house. They are portable, easy to play with and laugh-inducing.

A laminator and a Bananagrams banana are a homeschool must! Use it as it is intended or not, they are a great addition to a homeschool or a word-loving family. Have a Party!!

Autism Safety + First Responders

Fire fighters will always have a special place in my heart. At my preschool graduation my answer to “what do you want to be when you grow up?” was “a fireman like my daddy”. Well, moving, kids, autism, homeschool and life happened and I haven’t become a fire fighter. Maybe one day. But my dad ran out the door as soon as the whistle went off for 15 years, now I feel like I need to make a difference in the only way I can right now.

For the past few months, I have been sharing autism awareness and information to a few local fire departments.  As a mom of an awesome kiddo on the spectrum, I feel there is a huge need for first responders (EMT/Paramedics, Fire, and Police) to be aware of autism–the signs and behaviors to look out for during an emergency situation. Autism affects one in 68 kids. There are 3.5 MILLION Americans with some form of autism. First responders are there when you need them, and they need to be aware of the difficulties they may encounter on a call.

Parents can help with this. There is actually a lot you as a parent can do to help prepare our first responders for a call involving your kiddo on the spectrum.

  • Place high-visibility duct tape (yellow, orange) on seat belts near the shoulders with pertinent information such as: name, autism/diagnosis, challenges, allergies, medications etc and where to find medications etc in the car (glove box, seat pocket, etc). First responders will see the bright color and immediately know there will be a different approach needed. The soft seat belt covers will often be overlooked in an emergency.
  • A magnet or (laminated) sheet of paper on the front of the refrigerator with name, challenges, medications, allergies, etc. First responders are trained to look at the fridge in an emergency situation to see if there is any medications needed inside or information about an individual.
  • If you are placing a call to 911 (Fire/EMS/Police), let dispatch know there is an individual with autism who is the subject of the call or will be in the vicinity when they arrive. This will prepare the first responders to anticipate any challenging behaviors that may come with a stressful situation.
  • Teach your kiddos that firefighters are there to help us, and if they see a fireman in their house or at their car to hug them. Teaching them that firefighters are our friends and are there to help us can ease the stress of seeing them in all their gear. Show your kiddo pictures of firefighters and explain that if they see them that they are not there to hurt them but to help. Hug a fireman!
  • Medic-alert bracelets or necklaces are very useful in emergency situations. http://www.alertmebands.com/ is a great, cheap way to have peace of mind.
  • For an older individual, teach them to show an ID as soon as they are able.
  • Repetition. Teach your kiddo their name, how old they are, where they live, the color of their house, mom/dad’s name, phone number, or any combination of those questions. Repetition of answering these questions could end with scripting which will help first responders to help them easier.
  • Call your local fire department to schedule a private tour; let your kiddo know that fire fighters are our friends and are there to help. Getting your kiddo familiar with a fire fighter or two on one of these tours could be very beneficial if you are ever in a situation where their services are needed, your kiddo will be familiar with the uniform and the face behind it.
  • And finally, filling out a simple form and giving it to your local police and fire departments (not every town’s law enforcement/fire departments use the same dispatch system) so the information most needed in an emergency situation is readily available. You only fill out the information you are comfortable sharing, but the more you share, the more prepared our first responders can be in an emergency. that form can be printed here: autism_emergency_contact_form. This and other resources related to autism safety and preparedness can be found here as well.

This last one is one of the easiest, most impacting decision you can make. Print out the form and one of the hundreds (or thousands, if you are like me) pictures of your awesome kiddo from your phone, fill it out and deliver it….at your private tour maybe??

Preparing for an event we all hope never comes is hard. I get that. It is hard for me to think of an event or time I may not be available to help my daughter(s), but it is so important to be prepares. Even if you just put duct tape on their seat belt, you are helping our first responder better react to the situation if it ever arises.

We all want our kids to be safe, so help others be able to keep our kiddos safe too. These awesome guys and gals are here to help when we need it, so lets help them make a stressful situation a little easier.

 

A Love Story

A journey, a whirlwind adventure, a scary, stressful, wonderful, love-filled voyage. Crazy is putting it mildly. Some people in our lives still think we are crazy and I am sharing with the world so even more people think we are crazy.

Hubby and I have been together since 2007. Ten years in April of this year (2017). Married for seven and a half, eight in December. Two kids. Eight moves together. Three states lived in. Two deployments. And countless kisses.

Our love story started in high school. Yup, high school sweethearts. Hubby was a senior when I started my freshman year in a high school with barely 100 students total. So a little distance in our ages but nothing too crazy. We were great friends for eight months before he asked me out and of course I said yes.

Our time dating was short-lived as he went into Naval bootcamp just a few months after he graduated. He was positioned in the mail room at bootcamp so he wrote me a LOT of letters.

Unfortunately, our relationship was kept a secret so I was unable to go to his bootcamp graduation no matter how proud I was to call myself his girlfriend. For three years, long distance strained our relationship a bit. He moved so many times I lost track. We took a bit of time apart but couldn’t stay that way. My senior year of high school came around. Three months in was my 18th birthday. He surprised me by traveling the 800 mile distance between us to spend my birthday weekend with me! He also proposed to me on our favorite beach at sunset.

Now, I’m about to share the crazy that people still judge us for. No need to freak out.

Less than three months after he proposed to me, he came home to visit his family and me for his Christmas leave and we decided to secretly get married. That’s right. I got married before I graduated high school.

We took Hubby’s best friend (now known here as Uncle C) to the courthouse…on one of my off periods….and got married. Yes, you read that right.

We then kept that a secret. For six months. We then told our family and friends that we had gotten married on the day I was graduating. But we had been married for six months at that point. We even had some family members say they gave us six months before we would end it. Joke was on them!

It came out a year or so later. There were a lot of rumors in our small town, but the day after I graduated, I packed up my Focus and we drove the 800 miles to a place I had never been before that I would call home. Move one of many. No “proper” honeymoon was taken, but an interesting 15 hour one-day drive through cities I had never wanted to visit and a meltdown on an 8-lane highway was had before we reached our home.

Navy life was very stressful for my organizational/planning side. Plans were changed at the drop of a hat, sometimes multiple times. But we rolled with it.

One month shy of our one year anniversary, on our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple, we found out I was pregnant. I had just turned 19, and we were planning to move 3 states away in a few short months. We was so nervous but so excited.

We drove over 1,200 miles to our new home while I was an uncomfortable and sick 3 months pregnant. I do not recommend this method of moving. We did it all with a kitten on my lap as I drove because Hubby didn’t know how to drive a stick shift. It was a very interesting trip to say the least. On our way to our new home and a new state we stopped by our hometown and told family about the newest family member. It went….well enough.

We made it to our new home in our new state, and promptly sent Hubby off on a “short” underway which turned into a four month deployment. See how they changed their plans again?? Oh fine. Hubby got back when I was almost eight months along…only to leave two weeks later for another “short” underway. A return date which was four days after our little one’s due date. “I can keep her in there till he gets home” I thought. Ha! at 6:30 in the morning four days before Hubby was to be home, Bug decided it was time to join the world. I drove myself the 20 minutes to the hospital, while Hubby frantically got higher-ups to sign a leave form and catch a plane and beat our little girl. A 900 mile flight and a $200 cab ride and he made it to the hospital four hours before our Bug was born.

She extended our love story and I love that.

But our little family was not together for long. Hubby was about to embark on what was supposed to be a three month deployment but turned into a nine month deployment. We moved baby Bug and me back to my parents house for the duration. I endured countless weeks in radio silence as Hubby’s ship was bobbing in a very dangerous location, as well as many change of plans.

At the end of his deployment, he came to get us. He left us when Bug was barely four months old and returned a week before her first birthday. We celebrated her birthday on a cross country trip to our new home.

We decided to extend our family again shortly after we moved into our new place in yet another new state. Two weeks shy of Bug’s second birthday, Baby Six joined the world as fast as she possibly could (like, literally two minutes, no joke). Daddy was there the whole time this time around. Bug joined me in the hospital the next morning and daddy went off to get Six registered in the Navy’s system. I was left with a barely 15 hour old baby and an almost two year old in a recovery room for ten hours before Six and I were cleared to go home.

Home. It truly is where your heart is, my heart is firmly with Hubby and our girls. We have lived in three states, moved eight times in under five years and have never had a place that was just our own. No painting, no planting…We desperately want a place to call our own, even if our home is together.

Daddy got out of the military shortly after Six was born after serving seven years, we did another cross country trip with a newborn and a two year old, Bug was diagnosed with autism when she was two and a half, Six had a tongue tie, I had postpartum depression after I had Six. Our life together has been stressful, but we love each other and work really hard to keep our marriage happy.

Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Moving is hard. Autism is hard. Homeschooling is hard. Life is hard. But we keep plowing through.

I could write a book on this topic, but I will end here. Seven and a half years in and we still love talking to each other and being together.

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I am not a Photoshop master, but it is still pretty!

 

Week One Of Year Two

Last week was our official start of the school year. Bug had her first day last Monday and actually had to go into campus to meet with her teacher.

We started the “official” homeschooling up again a few weeks ago to get back into the groove of things. I started up a different organizational system and Hubby and I spent a few weeks brainstorming a new way to deal with the worksheets that are required of us.

But of course the first week back was super crazy, I forgot a few things, we had a couple change of plans including Hubby working during a time I had scheduled him to work with Bug, I needed to take Six to the doctor, and Gwama and Gwampa invited us to dinner one night. But I have had to roll with the punches since I was thrust into military life when I moved in with Hubby. So we rolled with it, and got everything done.

With all the craziness of last week, on Sunday I stared at my shelf of empty pink boxes I was about to fill up for this week and thought to myself, then yelled at Hubby in the other room, how thankful I was to have thought of this idea. It had kept me on track and gave me an effortless bunch of activities for the days where my brain was not in the homeschool mode.

So here is my setup for this year.

Six pink buckets. I got seven but only six would fit on our bookshelf. Labeled with washi tape Monday-Sunday; Saturday and Sunday share a bucket. On Sunday Hubby and I go through our curriculums and make copies or rip out pages from the subjects we need which goes into the Sat/Sun bucket.

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Then we/I choose activities, the amount per day is determined by our schedule for the week, and fill up the buckets for the week. If we put in the Roll A Sight Word game, for example, I will write the words that are on the language arts worksheet into the blanks on the page for the game so we are working on those words and becoming familiar with them before we do the worksheet.

Bug has a strong dislike for writing with pen/cil/crayon/marker etc and paper, but we are required by our charter to hand in proof of learning (worksheets), so I have had to think really hard about how we can make this all work for everyone.

Back to our week of activities.

Monday. We only had one hour with her teacher at school and Hubby had to go to work right afterwards, so we had all day to play! We blew up a balloon with yeast, played with our letter iSpy bottle and practiced writing the letters we found, used Pairs in Pears to spell out landmarks on our pack of flashcards, made an awesomely funny story with our Looney Toons Story cubes, played a rhyming puzzle, learned how to play the iSpy card game, and Bug read a level A book by herself! We also started Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, hoping to finish it within the week.

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Tuesday. We had Six’s doctor appointment and then ended up having to take Hubby to work as well as doing some shopping, so there were less activities than Monday’s box. We played with shape blocks using the guides and free-form, played find a sound with Word-A-Melon, read a level B book with assistance, and cracked into our deck of sight word cards. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory was what ended our day; we usually read in the morning after breakfast.

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Wednesday. We practiced the words on our worksheet with our Say it/ Build it/ Write it mat and My First Bananagrams, made butterscotch from the Revolting Recipes cookbook based on something they had in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, read a level C book together, and worked on sequencing with Room On The Broom. We also watched the 2007 Hairspray that we counted as both PE and Music because of all the dancing the girls did and the singing they did so cutely. We snuggled up with our butterscotch and read some more of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.

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Thursday. We had gymnastics in the morning then nothing else the rest of the day. Hubby ended up having to work but was able to take the car so I was able to play lots of games with the girls! I ended up adding to this menagerie, a 100’s chart that I put marshmallows on the 10’s column and we counted to 100. We started with reading a bit from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, played roll a sight word while Six practiced forming letters with the fluffy floam, did some math with the matchbox car mats, read a level D book, and did one side of our foam blocks math mat together.

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Friday. Worksheet day. I am surprised and delighted to say Bug completed all five worksheets with minimal help, utilizing a fidget, asking for help, using a reward system which I will do an entire post about soon, and using a new technique for helping hold a pencil. We also had the support and assistance from our behavior consultant which was so comforting and helpful.

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Saturday. We finished Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. I have a feeling we will be rereading this again soon. The girls loved both the 1971 and 2005 movie adaptations and loved making the Butterscotch recipe from the Revolting Recipes cookbook. Roald Dahl books have quickly become a favorite in our house, the silly words and funny ideas have made us giggle over and over!

And on top of all the activities shown above, we also do a daily calendar, weather, and the time every day–one of the only routines that we have done every single day of the week no matter what since last year! Mostly because we do it during breakfast.

Overall, it was a great week. I feel Bug and Six both learned a lot. Especially with Six’s love of questions, they both get a lot of information about the world every day.

I have quite a bit more curriculums coming in any day now so I hope to broaden our topics of interest weekly.

Homeschooling can be stressful, as I found out last year, but I have a lot of awesome women who I am thankful to call my friends, who are able to help me when I am stumped and talk to me about what we are doing. As well as an awesome Hubby who can take an idea and build on it with me until it becomes an idea that will work for us. Even though we are going into our second week of year two of homeschooling, I really feel this new system will work so much better for us as a family, for Bug, and for my sanity!

Just like I Love Lucy was never just a title, We Do What Works has never been just a name.