January 2013 Wrap Up

Here’s a glimpse at what’s been going on with our little family.

January started off with sickness for all of us:  bronchitis, pneumonia, and sinus infections.  We went through 4 boxes of tissue in 36 hours.  CRAZY!


When Skylar feels bad, she insists on sleeping on this mat.  This is pretty much where she spent most of her days and nights.


Sickness brought a LOT of television watching for us.  We got rid of our satellite t.v. last summer so we watched a couple of new shows on HULU and Netflix.

Oh Downton Abbey…how had we not met before?


And this show is totally addicting!


With the start of a new semester in school, we started a new curriculum!


We are LOVING this curriculum!  Both the girls really love the art lessons.


They also love the cooking segment each week.


After studying the state of Massachusetts, we made a Boston Creme Pie.  It was delicious!


I also had the opportunity to attend the It Works Global conference in Tampa.  One word:  INSPIRING!


I got to dress up for a party one night of the conference.


The night before I flew out to Tampa, I stayed at my sister’s house.  I loved taking silly pictures with my niece, Rebecca.


Jenny, Jeff, Chris, and I also enjoyed a date night out when I returned home from my trip.  It was great!  The four of us don’t get to go out by ourselves very often.


And last, but certainly not least, we finally got therapy services set up for Skylar here at home.  No more driving 4 hours round-trip to Phoenix every week.


So there you have it.  A month filled with illness, travel, and new adventures.  It was crazy, but it was good!

I can’t wait to see what February holds for our family.  I’m planning on doing lots of reading, crafting, and wrapping!

You can read my full post on It Works! HERE

I’d love to hear what you all have been up to!

Make it GREAT!


My Favorite Things About Homeschooling (So Far)

Last week I shared a post about what I’ve learned since starting to homeschool with a virtual academy.  If you missed that post you can read it HERE.   We are now in our 7th week with homeschooling and we are definitely into a better groove.  We still have days that are tougher than others, but overall we are doing well!  When I get overwhelmed or discouraged, I like to focus on the positives of our situation.  It makes me feel so thankful for where we have been and how far we have come. So,  today I want to share with you my favorite things about homeschooling so far.


-There is nothing better than witnessing the moment when your child “gets it”!  I have been so blessed to be able to witness many light bulb moments since starting school 7 weeks ago.  I have found that most of these moments for my girls happen during math.  It truly excites me to know that I’m a part of my child’s learning!


-In the program that we are using, the girls typically have a short assessment at the end of each lesson.  It is usually anywhere between 6 -10 questions and tests whether the girls have captured the information from their lesson.  Immediately upon completing the assessment, a screen pops up with their score.  I absolutely love the reactions that we see when they get 100%.

Skylar squeals with excitement and screams “I got 100!”.

Hailey usually says “I totally ROCKED that lesson!” or “Oh yea, I am SO smart!”.  I love hearing those words!


-Pretty early on we did a science lesson on the scientific process.  You know….observations, forming a hypothesis, testing, dependent and independent variables, conclusions, etc.  Well, a few days following our lesson Hailey opened the refrigerator and said “If I don’t put these tacos in the fridge, then they will go bad!  How’s that for a hypothesis mom?”  I loved it!  Since then, she has formed MANY hypotheses!

-We also did a lesson in history/geography on longitudes and latitudes.  Chris and I have been watching reruns of the show Alias.  In one of the episodes they were using a GPS device and the longitude and latitude coordinates popped up on the screen.  Hailey was walking by and quickly said “Hey!  Did you see that?  They just showed the longitude and latitude of where they are.  Now they will be able to be rescued!  That’s cool!”

I truly love these moments!  They may seem little to some, but they are HUGE to us!  I also love that I have been able to share these moments with other parents that have children with special needs and that they rejoice with us.  One thing having 2 girls on the autism spectrum has taught me is:



-This was my least favorite thing about getting the girls up and ready to go to school each day.  Both of our girls move at their own paces and trying to get them to move faster would only lead to frustration, tears, and bad attitudes.  By the time I got the girls dropped off at school I felt like I needed to come back home and take a nap. Chris even mentioned this week how much he doesn’t miss the morning chaos.  He said that the absolute chaos often sent him to work in a bad mood and it would take half his morning to really relax and be settled.


-We are pretty routined, but it is nice to know that we can pick up and go when needed.  My sister moved this past week and we went down to Phoenix on Monday and Tuesday and helped her unpack.  The girls worked solely on Math and Language. Hailey also worked on Spanish.  I knew that this would most likely stack the end of our week heavier, but it allowed us to help my sister and her family.  We also got to see my niece swim in her high school swim meet.

-We don’t have to follow a strict schedule each day.  As long as we complete all our lessons for the week (5 Math, 5 Literature, 5 History, 5 Spanish, 3 Science, and 3 Art) we are good.  If we choose to do all 5 Math lessons on Monday, that is fine! This week we did only Math and Language on Monday and Tuesday because those are the subjects that the girls can work on a bit better on their own.  That allowed me to help my sister a bit more.

So these are my 5 favorite things about homeschooling so far.  I look forward to adding more things to this list as time goes on.

Do you homeschool?  I’d love to hear your favorite things about homeschooling! Please share them with me in the comments.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Make it great!


Homeschooling With A Virtual Academy: What I’ve Learned So Far!

This past spring we made the decision not to send our girls to the local middle school for the 2012-2013 school year.  For those of you who don’t know, both of our girls are on the autism spectrum.  Skylar was diagnosed with autism in 2002 and Hailey was diagnosed with Asperger’s earlier this year.  (You can read the story about Hailey’s diagnosis HERE!)  We absolutely knew that the girls needed something more than our public school district could give them.  The big thing being TIME!

After exhaustive research of various homeschool curriculums and virtual academies, we decided to use the K12 program.  You can read all about what K12 is HERE!  Now that we have a full month under our belts I wanted to share some of the things that I have learned so far.


-When we decided on this program, everyone told us it would take at least 3-4 weeks to get into a good routine.  It was totally true!  I will be totally honest when I say that the first 3 weeks of school were BRUTAL!  My husband was gone for the first 2 1/2 weeks completing some military training in Mississippi so I’m sure that added to the stress, but getting a routine down was really hard.  I cried!  The girls cried!  There was LOTS of crying!  I’m pretty sure that when Chris called me each night he had NO idea what he was going to get.  (Some days were REALLY bad!)

-I’m so thankful for those friends, family, & the girls’ case managers through the virtual academy who were such encouragers to me during that time period!


-Our first 2 weeks of school we were putting in close to 9-10 hours of work a day PLUS we were working through the weekends.  I remember thinking “There is NO WAY I can keep up with this schedule!”  I was exhausted both physically and emotionally.

-We are no longer putting in that many hours. We usually put in anywhere from 4-6 hours of solid work.  That does not include breaks and lunch.  Surprisingly, Skylar likes to do multiple subjects back to back so she can take breaks that are a bit longer.  Hailey likes to take a small break between each subject.


-This curriculum is NOT easy.  Yes, there are some easier subjects, but overall the curriculum is rigorous. Those of you who are looking for an “easy” homeschool curriculum….this is NOT it!  That being said, they are learning a TON!


-This is more focused on Skylar.  Hailey usually has no problem going through the entire lessons, doing all the reading, and completing every question.  Skylar however, loses focus quickly, gets overwhelmed with massive amounts of reading, and doesn’t always complete every question.

-Chris and I have talked about this a lot since starting.  It is important to us that Skylar learns, but there are definitely things that we come across that we say “This is not helping Skylar at all!  It’s just NOT important.”  We tend to touch on the main points in History, Science, and Literature and move on!  Both girls struggle with concepts in Literature such as theme, mood, & symbolism, but Skylar REALLY struggles.  If it isn’t “black & white”, it’s difficult.  These concepts can be difficult for neurotypical individuals, so you can only imagine how difficult these concepts might be for individuals on the spectrum.

-Skylar’s case manager is also getting together videos that she can watch for her History lessons so that she won’t have to read as much.  It is amazing how much information she retains after watching a video.


-Oh yes.  I just threw out a sports reference.  I’m married to a sports fanatic!

-Some days things are just NOT going to go as planned.  Either or both of the girls might be overly-emotional, tired, or not feeling well.  One day while Chris was gone, both girls were weepy.  They were crying at every little thing.  I finally said “Ok girls! Get your shoes on.  We are going out to lunch and to a movie!”  I knew that no work was going to get done in the emotional state they were in.  I recognized that they missed their dad and needed a change of scenery.  That weekend we did work on Saturday morning and got everything done.

-Last week, 3 of the 4 of us had bronchitis and sinus infections.  We were a hot mess!  One day we only completed 2 lessons because we could barely keep our eyes open.  We ended up making that work up another day and that was just fine.  Being flexible is key!


-After one month, we have only had 2 days in which we started school by 8:00 a.m. and were done by 3:00 p.m.

-On Friday’s we have therapy down in Phoenix for several hours.  With travel time, we usually aren’t even home until 2:00 pm or later.  We try to work ahead during the week as to not have a lot of work on Fridays, but if that doesn’t happen, we start late.  This might really drive some people crazy, but it just doesn’t bother me.


-This is possibly the biggest understatement EVER!  The girls usually need my attention for most of the school day.  This obviously cuts into the time in which I would normally clean, do laundry, etc.  There are some lessons (usually math) that they can do with a lot less help.  When they start math, I usually jump in the shower, fold a load of laundry, & put the dishes away.  This past month has taught me that I can accomplish a lot in 15-20 minute bursts.

-Last week I shared how the house being overly messy & cluttered throws all of us out of whack. Go HERE to read about how I am working towards alleviating a lot of that stress & clutter!

So there you have the things that I have learned so far!  I know that as time goes on I will learn more and more.

Next week I will be sharing some of my favorite things about homeschooling through a virtual academy so far!  My list makes me smile!  As always, I welcome any questions or comments you might have.

I hope the rest of your week goes well!

Make it great!