The Truth about the Special Needs Journey

The Truth about the Special Needs Journey -

The Truth about the Special Needs Journey

In November, I wrote a draft for a book. I’ve meant to get around to editing and revising ever since, but I can’t make myself do it. There’s something inherently wrong with what I’ve written.

I have pondered this problem for months, trying to figure out how to fix what’s broken. (Which is impossible, since I haven’t been able to find the problem.) Today it finally hit me. The book, as it is now written, attempts to tell my daughter’s story.

That story is not mine to tell.

It’s also true that I can’t tell our family’s story. I don’t know the inner thoughts and perspectives of each member of my family.

The only story I can tell is mine. The only story I know inside and out is the one I’ve lived.

So I’m going back to that manuscript, and I’m going to revise it so that it does a better job of documenting my special needs parenting journey.

I have grown and changed a lot in the past ten years. I am not the person I was before our second child was born. I have learned a lot about myself, and I believe I am stronger, more compassionate, and more kind because of everything we have been through. I am better at setting boundaries, managing my time, and standing up for myself and my children. I am less selfish, more generous, more sleep-deprived (just wanted to see if you were still reading ;) ), more health-conscious, and more patient. Would I still have developed all these characteristics if I wasn’t walking the special needs journey? Maybe so. But would I have developed them to the same extent? Probably not.

The journey is hard, but it is mine. The perspective I can share in telling our story is my own. The struggles, pain, joy, laughter, and heartache are mine. They have shaped who I am and who I’m becoming, but I see them only through my own eyes.

When you’re overwhelmed by all the medications, advocacy, case management, therapy sessions, hospital stays, and specialist appointments, remember the truth about this journey. It’s yours, and it is shaping you into an amazing person, even as your child’s journey is shaping him.

In what ways has your journey shaped you?

Posted in Parenting, Special Needs | 2 Comments

Stress Relief for Special Needs Moms

Stress Relief for Special Needs Moms -

Stress Relief for Special Needs Moms

This week was very stressful. There’s a lot going on here: my husband’s new job (and his office is now at home), an out-of-town specialist appointment for Princess Roo, and state-mandated standardized testing for both girls. That’s added to the usual crazy schedule I have, and the fact that Princess Roo did not sleep well this week. (And since she didn’t sleep well, I didn’t either!) By mid-week, I was exhausted and on the verge of tears all day.

Here’s what I learned and what helped:

  • Prayer. I found myself praying throughout the day. I prayed for help, for sleep for my daughter (and myself!), for grace and strength to get through the day, and for God to help me through whatever situation I found myself in at the moment.
  • Sleep. I can handle a sleep shortage for a night or two, but when this one kept going on and on because my hubby and daughter weren’t sleeping well (he was up and down all night several nights and she had trouble falling asleep most of the week), then I passed my limit of being able to function well. I was very tired, weepy, and overwhelmed with the mere idea of trying to accomplish basic tasks. The kids were tired too, so we had a day or two where we took some very short power naps, and at night I tried to shut down my activities as soon as Roo went to sleep so I could get as much sleep as possible.
  • Exercise. Because I was so tired, there were a few days that I didn’t exercise, and I normally do something every day (usually Holy Yoga or a 30-minute walk on the treadmill). I didn’t realize how much that helps my mental and physical energy levels. Now I realize that I need to make the time even when I don’t feel like it because I handled the stress a lot better on the days that I exercised.
  • Nutrition. I admit it. I turned to comfort (read “junk”) foods last week because I was tired and stressed out. On the days I did that, I actually felt worse. When I forced myself to stick to healthier foods, I felt better and handled the week’s challenges with more grace.
  • Friends. Having friends to talk to and pray for me, sending me texts to see how I’m doing and making sure I was taking care of myself, was invaluable. Knowing they were there to support and encourage me, and knowing they cared, was such a blessing.
  • Family. I am so thankful for family that supports, encourages, and lends a helping hand on weeks when we’re very busy and I’m overwhelmed.
  • Stop.  Because of some looming writing deadlines, I finally had to cry “Uncle!” and start taking things off my plate. I volunteer on the children’s ministry at church on Wednesday nights, but I had to beg off this week so I could polish an article for a print magazine. I rearranged Thursday’s schedule to wrap up critical tasks for the week, and we took a homeschool spring break day on Friday. (We had only taken one spring break day up to this point, so it’s not going to drastically alter our plan for finishing the year.) On Friday morning, we all slept late and woke up refreshed and feeling much better. (Sometimes we just need a day off, and there’s nothing wrong with taking one every once in a while! It’s a good thing we enjoyed the rest because we have another out-of-town appointment for Roo on Monday.)

The catch is to remember all of these and to use them even when I’m not stressed so that I’ll be in good mental and physical shape to handle the next stressful week that comes my way.

What’s your best stress relief tip?

Posted in Parenting, Special Needs | 6 Comments

Autism: The Blessing of Late Diagnosis

Autism: The Blessing of Late Diagnosis -

Autism: The Blessing of Late Diagnosis

Don’t misunderstand me. I know that the earlier a child is diagnosed with autism, the better. Early intervention is important, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. My daughter was six and a half before she was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. Chronic health issues, surgeries, and other problems masked the red flags that, in hindsight, were evident from birth. We finally got the diagnosis, began therapy, and have seen amazing progress in the three years since.

But I have beaten myself up more times than I can count that I didn’t see it sooner, didn’t ask questions earlier, didn’t get the early intervention that is so important. Until recently, I have seen this in a negative light, without looking deeper to see if there were hidden blessings waiting to be discovered.

When I was asked to speak briefly at the Second Annual United Texarkana Autism Awareness Rally to kick off Autism Awareness Month, I began reflecting on our journey, and I realized that a late diagnosis was a blessing in disguise.

A few years ago, just after my daughter’s diagnosis, we saw a neurologist. In the course of the examination, she asked about her extracurricular activities. When I mentioned that she takes dance lessons, she said, “She can dance?” She sounded surprised. I assured her that she has taken dance since she was three. Her response was, “As long as she is interested and you can afford it, keep her in dance!” (If it’s so therapeutic for her, I would love for insurance to help pay for it. ;) )

I have seen her struggle. I know she works harder than the other kids her age (and younger), and I realize she’s still a half-beat to a beat behind. I also know that she loves to dance, and I’m grateful for a studio that focuses on technique and instilling a love for dance, with no unreasonable expectation of perfection.  I hadn’t realized that, in the eyes of some professionals, she was doing something she shouldn’t be able to do.

Yes, there was a blessing in my daughter’s late diagnosis. I didn’t know what she was or wasn’t supposed to be able to do. Because I had no expectations or clear picture of her supposed limitations, we let her try something she wanted to try, something that ended up being both enjoyable and therapeutic.

What else have we let her do that she’s not supposed to be able to do successfully? We have no idea. She’s made amazing progress, and we’re proud of her. I have heard and read the evaluation report diagnosing her with high-functioning autism. I know her prognosis is very good, although there may be some areas where she will always struggle and need assistance. I also know no one really knows for sure. We are preparing for her seventh dance recital because we didn’t know that a neurological evaluation would indicate that it should never happen.

When it comes to dancing, she’s not nearly as hampered by her “limitations” as the professionals might think. I’m willing to take the chance this might be true in other areas as well.

“And you ask ‘What if I fall?’
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”

- Erin Hanson

 Note: After I finished this post, but before I could edit or publish it, I went to the rally and shared these thoughts. While there, I visited with the representatives of many organizations that serve the autism community. Janis McClure, Secondary Transition, and Matt Williams, Autism Consultant, from Region 8 Education Service Center gave away a lot of books to the parents who were present, but they donated one just for you!

If you, or someone you know, needs a copy of Ready, Set, Potty! Toilet Training for Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disorders by Brenda Batts, please leave a comment telling me one of autism’s hidden blessings you’ve discovered.

Giveaway details:

  • The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. ages 18 and older.
  • The giveaway ends on Thursday, April 9, 2015, at 9:00 pm CDT.
  • To enter the giveaway, leave a comment describing one of autism’s hidden blessings you’ve discovered.
  • Only one comment per household.
  • Duplicate or “extra” comments or comments left after the giveaway ends will be deleted.
  • The winner will be chosen at random using the plug-in And the Winner Is.
  • The winner will be notified by email within 24 hours of the end of the giveaway and will have 24 hours to respond with the requested information. If the information isn’t received, another winner will be chosen.

I look forward to reading the hidden blessings you share!

Posted in Autism, Giveaway, Parenting, Special Needs | 2 Comments

My Real Schedule: A Day in the Life of a Special Needs Mom

My Real Schedule: A Day in the Life of a Special Needs Mom -

My Real Schedule: A Day in the Life of a Special Needs Mom

I often have people ask me what life is really like in our family. So I’m giving you the real deal: a 24-hour peek into the life of a special needs mom on a pretty typical day:

12:04 am I see my younger daughter’s face for the last time before she finally goes to sleep. I’m not sure if it’s complete exhaustion or that she finally worked through the anxiety caused by my husband asking her to find the positive in her therapy session later this morning, but I’m thankful to finally be able to go to sleep.

5:00 am My husband gets up to get ready for training for his new job. I moved my alarm to 7:00 am last night before I fell asleep, knowing that five wasn’t going to be realistic for me, but the fact that he’s up and moving around the house keeps me from sleeping deeply. I dream about having a run-in with a neighbor over damage to their plants, an incident that never happened.

6:16 am I start to feel anxious that getting up at seven won’t be early enough to get everything done we need to do before Princess Roo’s Monday morning therapy session and my hours at work start. But I’m so tired, and my stomach still hurts. I’m beginning to think that I ate something with hidden gluten in it last week, despite reading labels. My GI system hasn’t been happy since last Wednesday. The vertigo and nausea from weather changes and sinus issues aren’t helping either.

6:46 am I give up, grab my phone, and begin reading my devotionals and Bible reading plan for the day. I listen to (audiobook) and follow along in a Christian living book I’m reading with a friend, and I pray for my husband and children.

7:00 am BookGirl’s alarm goes off, and she gets up while I’m still having my quiet time.

7:17 am I connect with BookGirl and my hubby in the kitchen, pray with my husband as he heads to the guest room to do his (online) job training, and make sure BookGirl is doing okay. She’s already had a shower and is working on her lessons. They won’t take her long this morning. She did a good bit of today’s lessons last night before she went to bed.

7:34 am I make sure that Princess Roo’s lessons are laid out and her morning medicine is ready and waiting. I make notes in my lesson plan book, mark attendance, and start some videos that will help me meet my daily Swagbucks goal. (Swagbucks has helped pay for Christmas, birthdays, homeschool supplies, etc. I try to meet my goal every day so I get more bonus Swagbucks at the end of the month! If you want to try it out for yourself, please use my referral link.)

7:46 am It’s the moment I’ve been dreading all morning—time to wake up Princess Roo. She’s not the happiest person in the mornings, and with the lack of sleep last night and the fact that she still hasn’t adjusted to the Daylight Savings Time switch, this could get ugly. Surprisingly, although she doesn’t move very fast, she doesn’t melt down over the wake-up call, and her cat helps me out by staying at the foot of her bed and purring when I place her there.

8:14 am Lunches are made. Showers and homeschool lessons for Princess Roo and me have started. (Not at the same time, obviously.) The morning is going pretty well, although Princess Roo is predictably struggling with her lessons more than normal, since she didn’t get enough sleep last night.

8:47 am I am mostly ready, towels are in the washer, Princess Roo has moved her homeschool lessons to the kitchen table (from the bathroom, where I was helping her while I dried my hair), and BookGirl is finished with her lessons, thanks to all the work she did yesterday afternoon and last night. She is happily reading the book of her choice at the kitchen table, eating a bowl of cereal. Princess Roo is trying to read her story to me, with breaks for the noise of making smoothies for the two of us to drink for breakfast.

9:00 am Interruption: A phone call from the immunologist’s office. We are trying to come up with a plan that will allow Princess Roo to continue her immunoglobulin infusions while we’re in the 90-day waiting period for health insurance with my husband’s new company. The nurse asks lots of questions, develops a plan, and promises to call me back later in the morning with what she finds out.

9:21 am Smoothies have been consumed, homeschool lessons are ongoing at the kitchen table. BookGirl is preparing our water bottles. She takes them, and the lunches I’ve already prepared, to the van for me.

9:32 am Time to put on makeup and brush my teeth. Princess Roo is still working on lessons. She manages to finish the most critical ones, and then she brushes her own teeth and finds shoes, socks, and a jacket so she can be ready to leave the house.

9:47 am  We leave the house.

10:00 am – 2:00 pm Princess Roo has an hour-long occupational therapy session, and I complete four of my ten hours for the week as an office assistant at the therapy facility. I get another call from the immunologist’s nurse. She thinks we’re on the right track, which is good news. While I work, BookGirl reads or plays with Princess Roo. They especially enjoy the big therapy gym area during the lunch hour, when it’s vacant and they can play there. They play in other rooms during the times when the big gym is occupied. I receive a text that my husband used his lunch hour to prepare the soup we will eat for supper, which takes one more thing off the list of tasks I must complete before bedtime.

2:35 pm I get home after making a quick trip to the grocery before coming home from work. I picked up some snacks for the family and some soft drinks for me – a vain attempt to settle my still unhappy tummy. Then I switch laundry loads around and settle down to tackle a list of things I’ve been putting off for over a week. They’re piling up. It’s time to get them done.

2:40 pm – 5:00 pm While working on other tasks, I meet my daily Swagbucks goal. The girls and I eat a snack. I respond to an email I received this morning from a blog reader who is just beginning to homeschool her son, who has chronic health issues. I call to find out what steps to take next to protect Princess Roo’s identity, which was compromised through a recent hacking attack on a health insurance company. I catch up on upcoming activities in a blogging network I belong to, and I apply/sign up for some of them. I start this blog post instead of working on one I need to publish immediately, because I’m easily distracted sometimes. ;) I return a phone call from a person who wanted me to be his literary agent, and I tell him I can’t help him. I halfway watch a show my kids are watching. I supervise the folding and putting away of the load of towels. I schedule posts for a book club I’m co-leading for other parents of special needs kids. (I’m sure I did a few more things, but I can’t remember what!) I get a lot of my list crossed off, which makes me feel better.

5:13 pm – 6:09 pm My wonderful husband heats up the soup he made at lunch, and we eat supper together. We read our daily family Bible reading and talk about the day together. My husband cleans up the kitchen while I return to working on my list. (He knows it is really bugging me, so he’s trying to help me out!)

6:09 pm – 9:47 pm My husband and BookGirl leave the house to stop by the grocery store and pick up a few things (because we obviously didn’t communicate before I stopped by the store earlier today). Hubby takes BookGirl to dance, where she will be from 6:45 pm until 9:30 pm. Hubby goes to the gym to work out and unwind from the stress of the day. While they’re gone, Princess Roo and I eat snacks, I write, and we (sort of) watch How to Train Your Dragon 2. She plays Minecraft PE, and I try to decide what’s still on my list that I can roll over to tomorrow so I can have some time to unwind and get ready to sleep earlier than I did last night. I debate a short walk on the treadmill but reject that idea because of the GI turmoil that continues. Then I change my mind and take a short, slow walk anyway. And it helps some. At least I feel like I’ve done something good for myself. I switch laundry again. Lights come out of the dryer. Darks go into the washer. While I wait for BookGirl to get home, I take my bedtime medicine and make sure Princess Roo takes hers. We work on her daily devotional together. Princess Roo and I look at a new book together, and I tuck her in. A few minutes later, BookGirl makes it home from dance.

10:00 pm Princess Roo has already been out of her room once, and I’m praying tonight won’t be a repeat of last night. Fortunately, she stays in bed and goes to sleep. My hubby, BookGirl, and I sit in the kitchen brainstorming people we can approach with the baked potato lunch fundraiser the girls’ dance studio is doing to help cover recital costs.

10:26 pm BookGirl is tucked in and is so tired that she forgets to take out her contacts. I hang up the clothes in the dark load that need to line dry, move the light clothes into a laundry basket, and put the remaining dark clothes in the dryer. Then I head to the kitchen for a big glass of water and start listening to an audiobook to help me unwind.

10:51 pm I finally head to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. I’m thankful Princess Roo is sleeping tonight, and I’m excited about an extra hour of sleep. Then I discover that the slow-draining sink in the full bath (the bathroom everyone uses) isn’t draining at all.

11:20 pm A box of baking soda and most of a gallon of white vinegar later, followed by some plunging and then cleaning out the sink,  has the water draining again, although it’s still slow. I breathe a sigh of relief and a prayer of gratitude that a call to our wonderful (no sarcasm involved; seriously, he’s amazing) plumber isn’t an absolute necessity tomorrow morning.

11:45 pm I’m a little wound up from all the plumbing drama, so I’m still listening to the audiobook and playing a game on my phone, trying to unwind and get sleepy again. It’s happening, gradually. (And yes, I know looking at a screen isn’t the best way to fall asleep, but I’m just being honest here.)

12:06 am Despite my best efforts, it’s after midnight. Again. But I’m finally going to rest for several hours. I’m hoping tomorrow is a calmer day, one that will involve more time for just hanging out with the kids, having fun doing our lessons at a slower pace (with more science and social studies), and no drama. It probably won’t play out quite that way, but I’ll dream about it anyway.

For more real schedules, check out What My Schedule Really Looks Like by the bloggers of iHomeschool Network!

What My Schedule Really Looks Like #iHSnet

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Posted in Homeschool, Parenting, Special Needs | 2 Comments

To: My Invisible Friends

To: My "Invisible" Friends -

To: My “Invisible” Friends

I have not been ignoring you. I heard the cry of your heart when you said you felt invisible to all but your online community. I heard the anguish of needing that local connection, fellowship, and friends to walk this journey with you. I have heard this—this feeling of being invisible—from several of you over the last month. I love you so much and have felt so helpless because I am, actually, part of your online community, although I would be much, much more if we lived closer together.

I just want you to know that you are heard. You are loved, if only from afar, and from every private message, email, text message, and phone call I can send your way. I wish we lived closer so I could show you how much you mean to me and how much I value your friendship and long to spend that face-to-face time with you that you crave.

I saw a poll online today. It asked people to choose which superpower they would like to have. Invisibility was a choice. I can see the benefits of that ability, but I don’t think many people realize that being invisible brings with it a curse too. It’s that curse you’re feeling now, and I hate it. With all the challenges you’re facing (financial, job, extended family, marriage, children, health, etc.), you certainly don’t need the added stress of feeling like you’re walking the journey alone. I know a few of you also have kids with special needs, and that’s already a lonely journey.

I’m praying for you, and I don’t say that lightly. I bring you before the Father every time you come to mind, and I ask Him to reveal Himself to you in ways you cannot deny—both by ministering to your spirit and by sending people across your path who will allow you to know, like Hagar, that He is the God Who Sees. He knows where you are and what you’re going through. He is working behind the scenes on your behalf to provide everything you need, including the fellowship you so desperately long for.

I love you. If you’re traveling this direction, please let me know. I would love to meet you for tea and a chat. I’ll do the same if I’m coming your way. You are worthy of others’ love and their friendship and affection. Those in your circles right now are missing out. I enjoy every interaction we have through social media and our cell phone providers! I’m believing God is going to bring others across your path for the regular, face-to-face fellowship you desperately need.

Hang in there, and remember I’m just a phone call away.


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Posted in Life, Special Needs | 2 Comments

To the Child with Special Needs

To the Child with Special Needs -

To the Child with Special Needs

What a ride we’ve been on together! It’s often a rocky one, but I can honestly say, despite the struggles we’ve had and the challenges we face, that I’m thankful that you’re my child, and I can’t imagine life without you.

There are a few things on my heart that I really want you to know:

I love you. Yes, there are times when I get upset and don’t handle stress or frustration well, but I LOVE YOU. Nothing can ever change that.

I’m proud of you. I have seen all the hard work you do, how you keep pushing through the therapy sessions, the pain and discomfort your body causes you, the medication regimens, the frustration and disappointment, and the anxiety that threatens to undo you, and I’m proud of your perseverance and endurance. Keep it up!

You are not a burden. While it’s true that your needs come with a high price tag, the truth is that any one of us could experience a life-changing event that would cause us to need expensive medications, therapy, etc. too. None of us are guaranteed an easy, inexpensive life. You are not a burden. We love you!

I see you. I see YOU, not a list of diagnoses, medications, and therapy sessions. I’m thankful that I get to share life with you. Those who are don’t spend a lot of time with you are missing out. You are wonderful, gifted with talents and abilities that surprise and amaze me.

I hurt. I know it sometimes seems like I don’t understand or sympathize when you’re upset about something, but the truth is I often put on a “front” when I’m helping you work through situations because it upsets you more to see me upset. But be assured, my heart aches when you’re hurting, and I cry tears you never see.

Fair isn’t equal. I know it’s hard to understand, but treating you “fairly” as compared to your sibling and other people we’re close to doesn’t mean that everything is the same. I often tell your sibling this too. You’re both individuals, and you will be treated fairly even though everything that happens may not seem “equal” to you.

I’m here for you. And I pray I will continue to be here for you, for as long as you need me to be.

Love always,

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Posted in Parenting, Special Needs | 2 Comments

Middle School Homeschool Science Made Easy

Middle School Homeschool Science Made Easy -

Note: I received a free Basic Science Mysteries curriculum set from Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum. I was compensated for the time required to write this review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Homeschool Science

Up to this point, teaching science to my girls has involved allowing them the freedom to explore nature and hands-on science museums to their hearts’ content. I have provided them with books, done science experiments in the kitchen with them, stopped the van to take pictures of large spiders to research with them, walked miles at state parks to look at trees and garden patches, and done actual science curriculum with them.

I have made it a point to provide my girls with living books that address science topics and have learned to make peace with the mess that comes with hands-on science exploration.

But as my older daughter gets closer to high school, I have found myself looking more and more for a company that provides solid academic resources that will be easier to count for credits than the more relaxed way we’ve done science to this point. My problem is that I haven’t found a curriculum that met our criteria or expectations—until I found Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum.

Middle School Homeschool Science Made Easy

PAC has been exactly what I wanted for my daughter. She has been working through Basic Science Mysteries this semester, and while it’s recommended for seventh grade, it has been exactly what my second semester sixth grader needs:

  • It’s a solid basic science course.
  • It is arranged so that she can work independently (although it can be used in classroom settings and is available in a digital course as well as a physical course).
  • My daughter finds it interesting and engaging.
  • It helps her improve her study skills as she prepares for quizzes and tests.

PAC Basic Science Mysteries -

When I asked my daughter what she likes about Basic Science Mysteries from PAC, she listed:

  • She can do it on her own, only asking me questions if she needs help.
  • The fiction sections at the beginning and end of each lesson make her want to keep going to the next lesson.
  • The life principles at the end of each lesson (most are well-known quotes or sayings, sort of like proverbs, that relate to the subject of the lesson in some way while also giving a life lesson).
  • She can go at her own pace (or the pace I set for her ;) ).

Another bonus for our family (since we’re often on the go for therapy sessions and specialist appointments) is that this curriculum is so portable. Instead of one large textbook, it is divided into five smaller books that contain the text of the lesson and five smaller books that contain the lesson activities. It is also available as digital files, which are formatted as PDF and can be viewed on tablets, laptops, smartphones, etc. This is perfect for families who aren’t always at home while working on lessons.

The Teacher’s Resource Kit is laid out well, explaining different ways you can use the course and providing the quizzes, tests, answers, and additional information to use as your student works through the coursework.

I am so impressed with Basic Science Mysteries from Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum that I’m already looking into other courses they offer for now through high school. I’m liking what I see so far.

Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum Science -

Getting PAC for Your Homeschool

I also love the prices – the entire Basic Science Mysteries curriculum costs less than $100 (physical products) and less than $40 for the digital products alone! And I love PAC’s heart for people who might struggle to pay for the curriculum.

Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum offers these discounts:

40% off for

  • homeschool groups (minimum purchase $1000)
  • single parents

20%  off for

  • ministry families
  • military families
  • farmers and ranchers
  • first responders
  • foster parents

All you have to do is call Paradigm at 325-649-0976 for a discount code to use during the checkout process if you fit into one of these categories.

 Connect with PAC

Have questions or just want to see what Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum is doing? Follow them on:

Posted in Homeschool, Homeschool Curriculum Reviews, Review, Special Needs | 3 Comments

4 Tips for Homeschooling When It’s Not Fun

4 Tips for Homeschooling When It's Not Fun -

Spring is nowhere in sight. In fact, we’re watching a winter storm move into our area right now. Summer is even farther away, but we’ve got some spring fever – or something. More days than not, my kids and I are struggling with feeling motivated to sit down and get to work. My younger daughter is struggling with her school work more than usual because of some neurological “glitches” (it will get better, but we don’t know when), and my older daughter is physically tired and wants nothing more than to curl up in bed with a good book, napping when she gets tired. It happens almost every year about this time, and when it hits, homeschooling isn’t fun. What do we do?

4 Tips for Homeschooling When It’s Not Fun

Here are some ideas for getting through the “not fun” times of homeschooling:

  • Take a break. Sometimes a break is called for, and that’s okay. One of the huge benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility. If you take spring break early, or just a mental health day every once in a while, you can catch up later in the year, on Saturdays, or not at all if you homeschool almost year-round and are already ahead of the game. Sometimes stepping away from it to rest and recharge is exactly what’s needed to return refreshed and with renewed interest.
  • Make changes. Look at what you’re doing. Is the curriculum still working? Have you quit doing the engaging hands-on activities your kids enjoyed so much at the beginning of the school year? Do they need something more challenging, or has the work gotten too hard? Taking a good look at your curriculum and activities may reveal some changes you can make that will improve the energy level in your homeschool.
  • Play. If you’re just experiencing burnout and don’t really need a full break or significant changes to what you’re doing, take a few days to focus on learning through play. Read books to one another and independently, listen to audiobooks, play card games and board games, spend lots of time in the kitchen baking goodies for friends and neighbors, go outside and make snowmen (if you have snow ;) ), watch movies or documentaries everyone is interested in seeing, allow lots of time for creative play (play dough, blocks, drawing, painting, etc.), encourage time for imaginative play, and just have fun together. It’s amazing how much your kids will learn while playing—without even realizing it!
  • Keep going. Part of living the homeschooling life is being disciplined enough to get the work done. Sometimes you just know that everything is okay except for some spring fever (or maybe cabin fever) and that you need to be disciplined and push through. Our feelings are not always a reliable indicator of what’s really going on. Sometimes if we keep doing what we’re doing, our feelings will follow our actions.

What are your best tips for homeschooling when it’s not fun?

Posted in Homeschool, Special Needs | 2 Comments

If You’re Ready to Give Up . . .

If You're Ready to Give Up -

If You’re Ready to Give Up . . .

Last week began with our “new normal” schedule, with a little visit to my family doctor thrown in on Monday afternoon. I wanted to talk with him about a little list of things that were bugging me, and the visit went well until the last item on my list. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in his scheduler’s office, getting an appointment for an echocardiogram. That happened the next day, and the results were good. (Hallelujah!)

But on Monday night I started a new medicine, and to say that my body had to do some getting used to it is an understatement. It was a difficult time because I felt really bad, and my family had to bear with me through the transition.

I got all my hours in at work and headed out of town with Princess Roo on Thursday evening. We spent an interesting night there because she wasn’t allowed to sleep for more than four hours. Friday morning we headed to Children’s for her EEG and neurology appointment, then drove home.

Saturday we all slept late and got some much-needed rest. And then I found two chipped teeth. I have no idea how or when it happened, but it’s done. Today was full of church and volunteer activities related to the children’s ministry.

And then there’s everything else: financial pressure, the need to get our tax paperwork ready for the CPA, the possibility of a winter storm rolling in (ice!), and the list goes on and on and on.

I know you’ve got a list too. We all do. I’ve struggled a lot the past week with fear, anxiety, and being weary of the fight. I’ve been ready to give up. I’m tired of trying to figure it out on my own – because I can’t. I can’t fix everything that needs fixing in my life.

Then I remembered some things that really resonated with me last month and realized that maybe I need them more now than I did then. I’m recording them here, thinking that they may encourage you to hope again too.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.

Galatians 6:9 AMP

God can take the seemingly impossible and make it possible. Keep praying.

From a Facebook Meme

Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

For from of old no one has heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who works and shows Himself active on behalf of him who [earnestly] waits for Him.

Isaiah 64:4 AMP

I’m waiting earnestly. Won’t you wait with me, doing the next right thing as it presents itself? We will get through this.

Posted in Homeschool, Life, Parenting, Special Needs | 5 Comments

Periodic Table Chemistry Game for Homeschool Families

Periodic Table Chemistry Game for Homeschool Families -

Disclaimer: I received a free download of the Atomidoodle app from Hero Factor Games. I was compensated for the time I spent working on this review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. This post may contain affiliate links.

Learning the Periodic Table – My Problem

It’s time for a homeschool mom confession: When it comes to science, I do really well at life sciences. Plants and animals, the study of the human body, those are easy for me. I found chemistry and physics intimidating and more difficult when I was in school, and that hasn’t changed. I get really stressed when I think about covering some of the subjects that I found especially hard. And explaining the periodic table? Terrifying.

But my older daughter is headed towards junior high, so it’s time to face my fears and get more serious about tackling the physical sciences, including the periodic table. And I found a solution to that problem: the Atomidoodle app from Hero Factor Games.

Atomidoodle from Hero Factor Games - The Solution 

Atomidoodle is the answer to helping my daughter become familiar with the periodic table. It’s visually appealing, which was a pleasant surprise when we opened the app for the first time, and it’s something I continue to enjoy. The title screen is beautiful, and the game itself looks like graph paper with hand-sketched lines—a virtual science notebook!

Atomidoodle periodic table Hero Factor Games

The game requires you to “build” different elements by using the fission and fusion widgets to get the correct number of protons for the various elements (it also explains fission and fusion), and each level has a challenge to complete. When you finish the challenge, you unlock a new element on your periodic table. You can return to the periodic table as often as desired, and clicking on an unlocked element reveals information about that element.

Atomidoodle periodic table elements chemistry

The thing I love about all of this is that Atomidoodle is educational in more ways than one! When my daughter plays it, she gets:

  • An introduction to the elements of the periodic table.
  • Addition and division practice.
  • Chemistry facts presented throughout the game.
  • Practice applying problem solving skills—you have to quickly decide which path the atoms need to take to meet the challenge and act before the atoms head the wrong way.
  • Fun! The problem-solving and challenges make Atomidoodle as much a puzzle game as a chemistry game, which keeps my daughter interested and returning to the game regularly.

periodic table elements Atomidoodle

Another thoughtful plus: The app has three “notebooks,” which means that my older daughter, younger daughter, and I each have a place to play where we won’t disturb someone else’s progress.

Take a look for yourself:

Hero Factor Games has created a beautiful and engaging way for kids to practice math skills and learn the periodic table. We’ll be using this to supplement our science lessons for a long time.

Atomidoodle for YOUR Family

You can join the fun by getting the Atomidoodle app on iTunes for $1.99 or on Google Play for $2.00.

More from Hero Factor Games

Love Atomidoodle like we do? Connect with Hero Factor Games for information about more great products! You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google +.

Posted in Homeschool, Review, Software Review | 2 Comments