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!


Skylar’s New Wheels!

I am so excited to share with all of you that Skylar finally got an adaptive bike! Let me share how Skylar came to be riding this fancy set of wheels!

Many of you might recall that I shared here on my blog several months back about how we were trying to raise funds for an adaptive bicycle for Skylar.  The bike we were originally looking at was priced at about $1,600.  Shortly after writing that post I received an e-mail from a couple, Henry and Yvonne, who were in a Bible study with my parents when they lived in Virginia years ago.  Both Henry and Yvonne are avid bikers and they wanted to come alongside us and help us pick out the perfect bike for Skylar.  We kept in touch over the next several months via e-mail.

Over the course of those few months my mom did a jewelry fundraiser and we sold autism bracelets to help raise the funds for the bike.  We also had multiple people who donated money to her bike fund as well.  We had raised a significant amount of money and were encouraged until the beginning of May, when Skylar’s physical therapist actually priced out the specific bike Skylar needed and it was over $2,200. That definitely took the wind out of our sails!  After seeing the cost of that, I told Chris that we needed to specifically pray that God would provide exactly what we needed!

A couple of weeks later while I was in Tucson, I received another e-mail from Henry and Yvonne.  Henry told me about a gentleman, Bill, that he had read about on one of the biking message boards he regularly reads.  You see, Bill has a passion for biking and a heart for individuals with special needs.  Bill had already built bikes for individuals with Autism, Down Sydrome, and Cerebral Palsy.  The best part was that Bill lived in the Phoenix area which put us in pretty close proximity to him.

Henry asked if I would be interested in connecting with Bill to see if he could build a bike for Skylar.  Of course I said “YES!!!” and within hours I had already heard from Bill and set up a meeting for the following week.  I actually sent a copy of what the physical therapist had stated she needed and information about Skylar’s cognitive delays, low muscle tone, and issues she has with her feet.  I was overjoyed and so encouraged when he wrote back and said that he would be able to build a bike for her and for a fraction of the price!

It took about 3 weeks for the bike to be built and we were so excited when we got word that it was ready for pick-up!  The pictures below are of Skylar and Bill, who is also known as “Yoda”, and the first time she got to ride her bike out in front of his house.

I can not begin to describe to you the range of emotions that I felt as I watched her peddle her new bike around the cul de sac.  Her huge smile made my heart burst!  I loved hearing her words as she rode her bike.

Look guys! I’m riding a bicycle!

I totally love my new bike!


Thank you Mr. Yoda for building me this bike!  It is perfect!

We left the next morning for Albuquerque and were thrilled to take the bike with us so that my parents could watch her ride.  I asked my sweet friend Sara, who was my co-worker in the health office when I was the school nurse, if she would come up and snap some pictures of Skylar and her new wheels!  Sara just started her own photography business, Two Brunos Photography, and I have been an admirer of her photography skills for years!  If you live in the Albuquerque/Rio Rancho/Santa Fe area and want to have pictures taken, check her out!  You won’t be sorry!

I’m so excited to share some of my favorite photos that Sara took with you.

And this is my most favorite!  She was on her way back to the car and singing her heart out!  It truly was just the most perfect moment!

I am thankful for so many things!

I am thankful for Henry and Yvonne who put us in touch with Bill!

I am thankful for Bill Irvine who made our dream of getting Skylar an adaptive bike a reality!  Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough!

I am thankful for my friend Amy, from Ohio, who spread the word about our efforts! Her family and friends were so generous in their donations!

I am thankful for so many of you who bought autism bracelets and other jewelry to help us raise the funds for the bike!  And for those of you who sent money with a simple note “I want to help Skylar!”

I am so thankful for my mom and dad who continue to pour their love and energy into this sweet girl who has brought us so much joy!

I am so thankful for Sara, who gave her time and talents to capture these pictures of Skylar and her new wheels!  You can like her page on Facebook here!


I am so thankful for all of you who continue to pray for Skylar and Hailey and the long journey that we have ahead of us!  We couldn’t get through without all of you and those prayers!

If you would like to get in touch with Bill “Yoda” Irvine regarding having a bicycle built and for pricing information, please shoot me an email and I can send you his information.  You can do so by either clicking the link in the upper right-hand corner of my blog or sending me a message to iamjujublog (at) yahoo (dot) com.

As always, I’m happy to answer and questions you might have.  You can either leave them in the comment section or send me an email.

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Make it great!


Differently Beautiful!

A few weeks ago I was down in Phoenix for Skylar’s physical therapy evaluation. Afterwards, we met up with my sister at her favorite local hangout, Luci’s.  Before we headed out for the 2 hour drive home I ran to use the restroom. The beautiful apple artwork above was hanging on the wall.  As soon as I saw it, I immediately had so many thoughts start running through my head.  I ran back to the table & grabbed my phone so that I could snap a picture. Oh yes I did!

Many of you might ask “What is so special about these apples?”

Well, I immediately saw my girls in these apples!

-They are both different in many ways from many of the people we come in contact with, but they are absolutely beautiful souls!

-Unfortunately, many people see individuals on the spectrum (or any individual with special needs) as “less than” other human beings.  They feel a sense of pity.  When I look at the picture above I think how the red apple is different from the rest, but it is still an apple!  My girls are still beautiful, unique human beings!  They aren’t “less than” anyone!

-Different isn’t bad! Different is different! Sometimes it is hard, but many times it is beautiful!

As I drove home I thanked the Lord for the beautiful reminder of how differently beautiful my sweet girls are!  It was just what I needed!

Thanks for letting me share!


Another Giveaway from Goosie Cards!

I was so thrilled when Jennifer, the owner of Goosie Cards, contacted me to do another giveaway!  I LOVE these cards and all the possible ways to use them.  These are the cards that I gave my 2 y/o niece for Christmas.  Her’s was an alphabet set.

Since gifting them I have thought of multiple ways to use them for my girls.  As most of you know, my girls are 11 and 13.  I knew I didn’t need to make them cards to learn their alphabets, but I knew that I wanted to make them a set to help them stay on task in the mornings. Both of them need multiple cues to stay on task and I figured that visual cues would be so much better than the constant verbal cues that only lead to frustration.  No matter how many times I ask them to do something, I can walk in the room and there they sit, looking dazed and confused.  I’m so tired of saying “Did you brush your hair?  Did you brush your teeth?  Did you make your bed? etc., etc., etc.”!!!! Mornings are difficult for us!

So I decided to make a set of cards for both of the girls with personalized pictures. They will include:  pick out your clothes, take a shower, brush your teeth, brush your hair, make your bed,  and put on your shoes.  They will be hole punched, on a ring, & hang on a hook.  I had really hoped to have the cards to show you, but alas, this month has been so busy and I just haven’t had a chance to order them yet. I’ve taken the pictures, now I just need to upload them & add the text.

Check out the Goosie Cards website for some great new card ideas!  These cards are really great for kids of all ages!  Alphabet cards, family cards, cards for therapy, etc. These would be great for speech therapists and behavioral therapists!

Leave me a comment, here on the blog, to be entered into the drawing for a set of 10 cards!  This giveaway is open to everyone, including my international friends!

“Like” Goosie Cards on Facebook here and follow Goosie Cards on Twitter here to stay up to date on all their specials, giveaways, and sales.

This giveaway will close this Saturday, April 28th at midnight Eastern time.

Good luck to all of you!

Have a great week!


The Talent Show!

Last Thursday Skylar performed in her middle school talent show.  I was so proud of her when she came home and told us that she wanted to try-out.  She loves to sing. She sings a LOT!  Most days she comes down the hill from school singing away.  That is usually an indicator that she is in a good mood.

I wanted to share with you why I am so proud of Skylar’s performance in the talent show.  Ten years ago I sat in a small room with a developmental pediatrician who told me that Skylar most likely would never speak.  He also told me that we would probably need to institutionalize her when she was a teenager and that she would be lucky if she could ever get a job bagging groceries when she was older.  I remember sitting in that office and saying “Dr. S, thank you for your time, but you REALLY need to work on your bedside manner….it SUCKS!”

I’m so thankful that I knew enough not to listen to that doctor and his very bleak outlook on Skylar’s life.  About a year later, Skylar found her voice and she has been using it to sing ever since!  Never let anyone tell you what your child can or can’t do!!

Below is the recording of her performance last week.  She sang ‘Free to Be Me’ by Francesca Battistelli. She sang this same song in her 5th grade talent show, but this year as the music started & she started to sing, we were surprised to see her doing movements to the song.  That was totally new! I got so tickled and couldn’t stop smiling & giggling.  My first thought was “That is AWESOME!”  I love her sweet spirit, her confidence, & her absolute ability to make people smile!  It doesn’t get any better than that!

Hey Girl!

I’m sure that many of you have seen the various “Hey Girl” memes about Ryan Gosling that have been floating around the internet for a long time.  A few months ago, Sunday over at Adventures in Extreme Parenthood developed her own Special Needs Ryan Gosling series.  When I first read them I was rolling on the floor laughing.  It is such a funny series & it was so funny to see her take issues that we as parents in the special needs community, deal with on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis and put a positive & EXTREMELY  humorous spin on it!  Those of you who know our family know that we try to deal with a lot of our difficult times with humor.

So this morning as I was surfing the internet, I came across a picture of Ryan Gosling.  I immediately knew what I wanted to do with it.  Sunday usually runs her series & invites others to link up on Friday, but that is when I do my No Filter Friday series.  So I’m going to share it today.  Hope it gives you a good laugh!

Be sure to check out Special Needs Ryan Gosling over on Sunday’s blog each Friday!  It is HILARIOUS!

Hope you are having a wonderful day!

Make it great!


Disneyland Day 3

Yesterday we spent time in both parks riding the rides we either missed or wanted to ride again.  We of course had to ride both Soarin’ Over California & Big Thunder Mountain Railroad again (and again!).  Those were definitely our 2 favorite rides of the trip.  Chris and the girls also rode California Screamin’ and had a blast!  Chris is in the very back of the coaster and you can see Hailey on the very right side of the picture.  Skylar was behind Hailey & I couldn’t see her from the pier.

Hailey begged for a turkey leg so Chris obliged.  It was almost bigger than her head! I laughed at how angry she looks!

Hailey had a couple of bites & then Skylar got ahold of it & she devoured the rest.

We made an impromptu trip to the beach to watch the sunset & let the girls run around.  It was super chilly with the wind coming off the water.  As soon as we got there Hailey saw the seagulls & took off after them.  The action shots tell it all.

I love that she stopped, flashed a smile, laughed, & then kept on running!

Oh to have even a quarter of her energy would be awesome!

It was so cold, but the girls loved running all over the beach.

After our trip to the beach we went back to the hotel.  Chris went out to grab some food because the food court in the hotel closed early.  While he was gone, Hailey went to blow her nose and came out of the bathroom and said the following:

I’d like to know what kind of tissues the Hilton uses!  They are TERRIBLE!  Also….the beds aren’t comfortable, the pillows sink in, the restaurants close too early AND our room is FREEZING!  Oh yeah, the channels on the TV are totally out of order!

I immediately started laughing as I thought her little rant was hilarious!  She gave me the most horrified look & then burst into tears!  I was shocked!  She then said “I can’t believe you are laughing at me mom!  I am SO upset!”

And that ladies & gentlemen is when you know that you have officially had “too much fun” and that it is time to head home.

Thank goodness we will be home this evening with good tissues, her own bed, pillows that don’t sink in, a thermostat we can control, & a TV with the channels in the order she knows and loves.  PHEW!

Have a great day!


Disneyland Day 2

We spent Tuesday morning/afternoon at Disney’s California Adventure.  There was quite a bit of construction going on, but there was still a lot to do.  We actually split up immediately upon entering the park because Chris & Hailey wanted to ride the Tower of Terror & Skylar did NOT!  She has ridden it several times in the past but has decided that she will no longer ride it.

Loved this photo I snapped of them looking “terrified”!  Such sillies!

While they were riding that Skylar & I rode Soarin’ Over California…one of our faves! She squealed & laughed the entire time.  As we rounded the corner after that ride we ran smack dab into Handy Manny!  Skylar loves him!  She was by far the oldest kid waiting to see him, but I’ve learned not to worry about what others think.  I just want her to be happy.  I love the absolute joy that is radiating on her face!

Here is a photo of Hailey curled over on a bench following her ride on the Tower of Terror.  I kid you not when I say that she stayed like this for over 5 minutes.

Here she is once she came out of the fetal position!

Love this shot of my 3 favorite people with the cool ferris wheel in the background.

One of the rides that Skylar has talked about for days is the swings.  She loves them!  It is the one ride she insists on going on when we are at Navy Pier in Chicago.  Loved this shot of Chris & the girls waiting for the swings.

I also took a sequence of shots of Skylar swinging.

This next shot is my favorite…LOVE the angle.  I can already tell I’m going to want to enlarge this picture and add some text for our project life album.

After many hours of fun we headed back to the hotel to rest.  Skylar complained that her feet hurt pretty bad and she didn’t want to walk around the park again, so she and I went to see the movie John Carter at the theatre in Downtown Disney while Chris and Hailey went back and rode more rides in both California Adventure & Disneyland.  Both girls enjoyed their 1 on 1 time with each of us.

Today we will be riding the rides we have either missed or want to ride again.  Can’t wait to share our adventures with you tomorrow!

Make it a great!


Disneyland Day 1

Hello from the Happiest Place on Earth!  We are so thrilled & blessed to be here. Just wanted to share some of our favorite pictures from yesterday.

The trees are beautiful and this is truly a magical place!  The girls were tickled to see Cruella de Vil first thing when we walked in the park. She is so MEAN! It cracked me up that Skylar told her so!

There are a LOT of people here! Since Skylar has autism, we were able to get a special needs access card to use during our stay. It allows us not to have to stand in all the long lines. It doesn’t always mean that we walk right onto the rides, but allows us an alternate entrance/waiting area. The cast members here at Disney have been so wonderful with both girls! I’ve had to fight back tears many times!

The best way for us to ensure a successful day (wherever we are) is to “go with the flow”.  Chris and I have both learned that with our girls we try not to have a set plan. Skylar usually has a plan in her mind & we just go with it!  Sometimes that means going back & forth all over the park & that is ok with us.  We want this experience to be a great one for all of us!  We spent 6-7 hours yesterday at the park then came back to the hotel for a nap.  After that we decided to head back to the park for some more fun! After a few more hours Skylar announced “I’m ready for bed”.  We knew that we needed to head back soon to avoid a meltdown.

Chris & the girls went on Splash Mountain. I opted out as I did not want to walk around the park all wet. Thanks to a great zoom lens I was able to snap this picture as they came down.  If you look closely, Hailey is in the very front, Skylar is in the pink hooded jacket, & Chris is in the last seat.  This has to be one of my favorites! Totally cracks me up!

You are NEVER too old for the carousel!

Love their sweet smiles!

Hailey thought it was awesome that on the Storybook Land ride they let her sit on the front of the boat to be the whale watcher.

We had a fabulous day and are looking forward to spending today at California Adventure!  I have quite a few funny stories to share.  The lack of filter with a huge crowd of people has been hilarious! And it’s not just Skylar! 😉 We laughed non-stop yesterday!  I’ll be back tomorrow to share our favorite shots from today’s adventures!

Make it a great one!


Focusing on the Positive

This year I chose a word to focus on throughout the year.  It is a word that I knew needed to sit in the forefront of my mind.  The word that I chose was FOCUS!  I don’t feel like I’ve  really “focused” this year.  I have been overwhelmed by a lot that is going on.  This weekend I sat down and really thought about the word focus and what it means to me.

When I first started thinking about the word focus, I immediately thought of things I need to focus on, but what I quickly realized is that the action of focusing has two sides.  I not only need to learn what to focus on, but I also need to learn that there are many things I do NOT need to focus on!  Too many things draw my focus away from where it should be!

When I sat down and asked myself, “what do you need to focus on?” these 4 things popped into my mind immediately.  They are:

-My family.

-My health.

-My spiritual health.

-Documenting our everyday.

That seemed pretty easy.  I knew what was important right away.  However, as I really thought about it more I realized that there are other things that I need to focus on as well. We have had a lot going on with the girls lately and many times I get really discouraged when I think of all the obstacles they face. It’s easy to get focused on what is overwhelming or where they need help instead of focusing on the positive.

It quickly reminded me of a time several years ago when Skylar was in elementary school.  She was in an inclusion class and spent quite a bit of time on the general ed side as she excelled in math.  The general ed teacher did not know much about autism and had not had many students with special needs in her classroom.  To make a long story short, the teacher came to me almost on a daily basis to tell me what Skylar was doing wrong and to tell me that many of her behaviors (all of which were part of her autism) were disrupting the class.  After quite some time of this going on I interuppted the teacher and said:

“Excuse me, but does Skylar do anything well in your class?”

I remember the look of horror on her face as she said “Well of course she does.”

I then responded “Well, sometimes it would be nice if you would tell me how well she did at something.  In 7 weeks of school, you have told me a multitude of things she has done wrong, but NOTHING that she has done well.”

I was amazed that once I addressed that issue, how the teacher focused more on the positive.  It also allowed me to educate her about Skylar’s autism and the behaviors that went with it.  It was definitely a learning experience for both of us.

I was thankful that the Lord brought that time to my mind this morning as I realized that recently, I’ve been focusing on the negative, the obstacles, where they fall short, and what I’m frustrated with.  So today I decided to stop and think about all the things that my girls do well. It was interesting to see, as I listed those things, how my attitude changed.  I smiled and even laughed at a couple of things.

I have to make a conscious effort to focus on what is important.  I also have to realize that there are some things that it just doesn’t help to focus on at all.  This morning, as I was thinking about focusing on the positive the song Acentuate The Postive came to my mind.  The chorus is so powerful.  The lyrics are simple, but they were exactly what I needed to help me put things into focus!

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium’s
Liable to walk upon the scene

We have a super busy week ahead so I’m off to get things in order!

Make it great!