Year-End Field Trip: Mid-America Science Museum

 We recently took a year-end homeschool science field trip to the newly renovated Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs, Arkansas. You need to go!

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I wrote it to share about our homeschool field trip, and for no other reason. I received no compensation or discounts for this post or our trip.

Our Year-End Field Trip to Mid-America Science Museum

This year my lifelong best friend and I decided to do science together. We did the lessons individually at home and then got together every few weeks to discuss and do activities related to the chapters we had read since our last meeting. It was a lot of fun, but we all had spring fever towards the end, so we decided to plan a year-end science field trip to motivate us to push through and finish. Our destination: the newly renovated Mid-America Science Museum (MASM) in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

We have been to MASM many times before, but this was our first visit since they finished a major renovation project. The difference was amazing, and we were excited to explore what they have added since the last time we were there.

Some of our favorite activities of the day (which all happened to be new):

The brand-new Skywalk, including the Teleidoscope and the rope netting play area.

Teleidoscope on the Skywalk at Mid-America Science Museum - jenniferajanes.com

rope netting on Skywalk at Mid-America Science Museum - jenniferajanes.com

The new Gyroid Climber, which provided us with some interesting discussions about why you never end up where you thought you would!

Gyroid Climber at Mid-America Science Museum - jenniferajanes.com

The electricity exploration area in the Tinkering Studio.

Tinkering Studio at Mid-America Science Museum - jenniferajanes.com

The two-story interactive water feature that anchors the Fluid Motion Workshop.

water feature at Mid-America Science Museum - jenniferajanes.com

And although it wasn’t my necessarily my kids’ favorite exhibit of the day, the 3-D Rain and Terrain sandbox still has me thinking. How did they use an XBox 360 to sense and project changing elevations onto the mountains and valleys the kids were creating?

If you haven’t been to Mid-America Science Museum lately, you need to go!

Posted in Homeschool | 2 Comments

Join the Odyssey Adventure Club for a ‘Buck’ (Plus a Summer Challenge)

As an Odyssey Adventure Club blogger, my family enjoys a complimentary membership to the Odyssey Adventure Club. (We have listened to and loved Odyssey for years, so this was a great opportunity for us.) Because we love it so much, and because they’re running such a great deal from now through May 31, 2015, we wanted you to know and be able to take advantage of this special offer:

Join the Odyssey Adventure Club for a ‘Buck’ (Plus a Summer Challenge)

oac-may

Memorial Day is just around the corner, which means school will be out for the summer! Parents, does that fill you with dread, knowing all you’ll hear for the next few months is, “I’m bored!”? Keep reading because we have a deal for you—one that will only cost you a buck and that will keep your kids safe online while allowing them to have fun and to grow in their relationship with Jesus.

Buck Oliver is back in the latest Adventures in Odyssey album, and to celebrate, you can try the Odyssey Adventure Club for just a buck for your first month. Sign up before May 31st using the promo code BUCK! *This deal only applies to first-time accounts and is good the first month only.

Members receive:

—24/7 streaming access to more than 750 Adventures in Odyssey episodes (a $1500 retail value).

—A new, members-only Adventures in Odyssey episode every month.

—A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine.

—A web quest of video stories and online activities reflecting the biblical theme of that month’s episode.

—On-the-go access with the OAClub mobile iOS app.

—Growing access to Odyssey books, a daily devotion, access to select Radio Theatre dramas and more.

Additionally, a portion of each Odyssey Adventure Club membership benefits Focus on the Family partner organizations, such as Carry the Cure and Mission Aviation Fellowship, providing parents with an opportunity to teach children about the value of serving others. The Odyssey Adventure Club hopes to spend another 25 years hand-in-hand with parents seeking to teach biblical truth to their children while inspiring the theater of their imagination.

OAC-May-Offer

Your favorite Adventures in Odyssey characters are also Taking the Plunge in Album 59 and now you can, too! This summer, dive into your faith and grow closer to God by joining the Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine Taking The Plunge Summer Challenge. It includes these simple things:

  • Learn 5 memory verses
  • Get active with 5 family activities together
  • Share God’s love and your faith in 5 different ways

When you commit to the Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine Taking The Plunge Summer Challenge, you’ll receive:

  • A promo code for an exclusive Odyssey Adventure Club first month offer (for new members only)
  • Adventures in Odyssey special studio message
  • “Strange Journey Back” book excerpt
  • “Jones and Parker Mysteries” book excerpt

To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Never Say No by Mark and Jan Foreman {Review}

Never Say No by Mark and Jan Foreman {Review} - jenniferajanes.com

Note: I received a free copy of  Never Say No by Mark and Jan Foreman from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Never Say No: Raising Big-Picture Kids by Mark & Jan Foreman

When I began reading Never Say No: Raising Big-Picture Kids, I was swamped with projects and deadlines and wondering why I had committed myself to reading this book. But by the time I finished the introduction (and had underlined at least a quarter of it), I knew that I needed to read this book. I have struggled with being intentional in parenting my children, and this book promised to help me raise kids who find God’s purpose for their lives and say a resounding “Yes!” to what He has for them.

That’s what I want—for my children to find the reason God made them and serve Him and others through the pursuit of that passion. The more I read, the more I realized that this being intentional, this parenting the way my heart longs to parent, is much easier than I thought. The Foremans encourage parents to really enjoy their children, to take delight in spending time with them and to watch how the relationship flourishes (and the discipline problems diminish) as the parent-child bond grows stronger. (While the Foremans advocate saying “yes” to your children, they mean it in the context of taking time to play with them, read to them, etc. when they ask, being involved in their lives. They do not mean “Never Say No” in the context of not setting limits for children.)

There is a lot in the book, from stories the Foremans share about how they raised their children and the struggles they had along the way, to Biblical wisdom and questions to ponder as you examine your relationship with your children. The book is easy to read and would make a great small-group study as well as independent reading, and it covers parenting infants through young adults, which means it will touch a lot of parents.

The book has helped me realize that parenting with intention isn’t as difficult as I thought. It involves praying for my children and spending time with them, enjoying life together. I am looking carefully at my daily activities and priorities, which also involves setting aside certain things, at least for a season, to have more time to spend with my children, showing interest in the things they’re passionate about and really listening to them as they talk to me. I have a long way to go, but I can already see the delight in their eyes as they realize they have my undivided attention.

There is no judgment in these pages, only encouragement and gentle guidance toward a way to parent that creates and respects boundaries for both parents and children. It’s a book that I will return to and will recommend to other parents for a long time to come.

Posted in Book Reviews, Parenting, Review | Leave a comment

Our Homeschool, The Beginning (Why We Homeschool)

Why We Homeschool - jenniferajanes.comMany people assume that we started homeschooling because we have a child who needs (and thrives in) the one-on-one, flexible, hands-on learning environment we can give her at home. That’s not true. Our homeschool journey began a few years before she was due to start school, and it took my husband and me by surprise. (It might surprise you too!)

Our Homeschool, The Beginning (Why We Homeschool)

I had it all planned. My older daughter would attend the elementary school just a few blocks from our house. When the weather was nice, my younger daughter and I would walk her to and from school. In the afternoons, we would chatter away about everything she had done that day, returning home to freshly baked cookies and glasses of milk I had prepared earlier. We would do her homework each night with no tears, I would tuck her into bed, and she would drift off to sleep. The next morning we would do it all over again.

Of course, I knew that our life wouldn’t be this idyllic, but I was allowed to dream, right?

I grew up in public schools. I taught in public schools. Both my husband and I had family members serving in the public school system as administrators, teachers, counselors, and aides. We had turned out okay. We believed in the system. It was the only choice for our kids.

Or so we thought.

When BookGirl turned three years old, I began to think about kindergarten round-ups, which of our school district’s elementary schools would be the best fit for her, and of the school day scenario I’d imagined in my mind over and over again.

And I began to question everything.

I couldn’t understand why I was doubting if public school was best for her. Homeschooling kept coming to mind, but I knew very little about it, other than the fact that my best friend had homeschooled for one year in high school and that kids facing disciplinary action in the public schools I taught in would often withdraw before their hearings to “homeschool.”

I replayed my perfect day tape in my mind often, excited about the prospect of partnering with great teachers in my daughter’s education. But homeschooling kept coming to mind. Finally, one night I confessed to my husband, “The more I think about BookGirl starting kindergarten, the more I think about homeschooling. Why is that? I don’t even know anything about homeschooling!”

To my shock, my husband replied, “I know. I keep thinking about homeschooling too.”

I quickly replied that I thought we should “pray about it,” but I knew we were sunk. If we were independently thinking about homeschooling BookGirl without even understanding what homeschooling was, what were the odds that God would let us off the hook?

We continued to be haunted by the idea of homeschooling, so we finally gave in and decided that the year before BookGirl was supposed to start kindergarten would be our “trial” year. I would work with her on age-appropriate concepts that I wanted to make sure she knew before kindergarten anyway, and we would see how it went. In the meantime, we would try to figure out what homeschooling was all about.

That first year went well, so we dove in with both feet. Here we are, eight years later, and still going strong. Our homeschool doesn’t look like it used to (public school at home). My understanding of homeschooling as a lifestyle of learning has developed through the years, and we now have a good mix of curriculum, field trips, and other life experiences to round out our days.

It’s true that we began homeschooling in response to a still, small voice we couldn’t ignore, but we have discovered new reasons every year why it really is the best educational option for our family.

To read more about why families homeschool, check out the stories of the bloggers of iHomeschool Network!

Why We Chose to Homeschool - iHomeschool Network

Posted in Homeschool, Special Needs | Leave a comment

What Special Needs Taught Me About Learning

What Special Needs Taught Me About Learning - jenniferajanes.com

What Special Needs Taught Me About Learning

My education consisted of very traditional teaching methods that involved lectures, diagrams or notes on chalkboards or overhead projectors, textbooks, workbooks, and worksheets. Hands-on projects were reserved primarily for science, and they weren’t in abundance there. It worked for me. My brain effectively processes and stores information received through visual and auditory methods.

One of my daughters also thrives on learning using primarily her eyes and ears. Her learning style is very similar to mine, so I know how her brain processes information, making it easy to choose curriculum for her and keeping me pretty comfortable in my role as former classroom teacher turned homeschooling mom.

Then my other daughter started kindergarten. It quickly became evident that her brain doesn’t process information the same way mine does. The traditional textbooks, books, workbooks, and explanations didn’t help her much. To get the information into a form that she could do something with, I was forced to get out of my auditory-visual box and do hands-on learning as much as possible.

It was difficult at first, but I incorporated more and more multisensory activities. Gradually, I realized how much learning takes place doing the daily hands-on activities that make up our days, and I began to use those teachable moments to full advantage. Instead of relying solely on curriculum, reference cards and charts, and books, I discovered how many basic math skills can be “caught” while playing board games together. Measurement can be reinforced through cooking and working on crafts projects. Reading practice is everywhere. Field trips have been a very effective way to teach science and social studies (and to jumpstart studies on subjects we haven’t touched on yet), and science also happens while observing the world around us. These observations often lead to research and projects I would never have thought to do with the girls (like the time we studied the Arkansas Chocolate Tarantula after seeing one cross the road on the way home from a specialist appointment).

I have found that homeschooling is really about developing a lifestyle of learning, and that is the best way for both of my daughters to learn. I order books and curriculum every year, and we use them every day, but much learning takes place in the natural flow of our days, from running errands together to doing household chores to planned (and unplanned) field trips. I used to see these as interruptions to our “real schooling,” but now I embrace and actively seek them out. I know that my children are not only learning academic concepts in these moments, but they are also learning life skills and developing a love of learning that will serve them well throughout their lives.

I’ve also seen how much I discover alongside them, and I try to be a role model in this lifestyle of learning by allowing my children to see me research topics that interest me, learn new hobbies by pursuing them with passion and lots of practice, and read a range of topics and genres.

Having special needs in our family taught me that there’s much more to learning than the book stuff. That’s important, but we’re pushing through to a lifestyle that keeps us open to the wonder and excitement all around us.

How does your family embrace a lifestyle of learning?

You might be interested in:

Want to see how other homeschooling families embrace a lifestyle of learning—and why? Check out My Lifestyle of Learning with the bloggers of iHomeschool Network!

Lifestyle of Learning - iHomeschool Network

Posted in Homeschool, Special Needs | 3 Comments

Christy Nockels Let It Be Jesus Review

Christy Nockels Let It Be Jesus Review - jenniferajanes.com

*I received a free digital download from Propeller Consulting, LLC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Christy Nockels Let It Be Jesus

Life has been a little stressful lately, and one thing that helps me to combat stress and get my thoughts off myself and my circumstances and back onto God and His ability to solve any challenge I face is praise and worship. For that reason, when I was offered early access to the new Christy Nockels Let It Be Jesus album, I took it. Who doesn’t need new music to listen to?

I haven’t listened to a lot of Christy Nockels music in the past, but I have heard enough that I was interested in hearing more. I wasn’t disappointed. Let It Be Jesus was different from what I expected. I guess I thought that it would be more upbeat, like many modern worship songs are (and I love them!). There were a few songs like that on the album, but most of the songs on Let It Be Jesus were very deep, rich, and mellow, full of Scriptural truth that ministered to my spirit and brought peace and comfort to me. The more I listened and focused on Christ and what God says about me (and my circumstances), the less fearful and anxious I was. It is exactly what I needed in this time of uncertainty and stress.

This album has been a great addition to my music playlist. It’s great to listen to and keep me grounded while I prepare meals, fold laundry, and wash dishes, and it is a wonderful addition to my early morning devotional times as I try to start my day focused on God and His Word.

This may be my first full Christy Nockels album, but it certainly won’t be my last.

Connect with Christy Nockels on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and find the album on iTunes.

Giveaway for Let It Be Jesus by Christy Nockels

FlyBy Promotions/Propeller Consulting, LLC is offering a download code so one of you can get a free digital download of this album! They have a few words to share with you:

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Now, giveaway details from me:

  • The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. ages 18 and older.
  • The giveaway ends on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, at 9:00 pm CDT.
  • To enter the giveaway, leave a comment sharing why you would like to have Christy Nockels Let It Be Jesus album.
  • 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. The information will be passed on to FlyBy Promotions so they can send the download code!
Posted in Giveaway, Music Review, Review | 5 Comments

The Truth about the Special Needs Journey

The Truth about the Special Needs Journey - jenniferajanes.com

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 | 5 Comments

Stress Relief for Special Needs Moms

Stress Relief for Special Needs Moms - jenniferajanes.com

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 | 11 Comments

Autism: The Blessing of Late Diagnosis

Autism: The Blessing of Late Diagnosis - jenniferajanes.com

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 - jenniferajanes.com

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!

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