Sunday, April 13, 2014

Love Your Local Library

In honor of National Library Week I wanted to share about how we use our local libraries.

Here are links to our most used library resources:
PLAC card - our Public Library Access Card allows us to get a library card at any library in the state. There is a fee for this card but since we homeschool I feel that it helps me have to buy less books and is very worthwhile.

Hoopla - Borrow free video, music, and audiobooks with your library card.
Enjoy on your PC, tablet, or phone. This was particularly helpful when we had a road trip last fall. We loaded several great audiobooks onto my husband's smart phone and we listened to a couple of classics on our long drive.

Evergreen - Is an open source integrated library system that includes more than a hundred libraries in Indiana. It has been a great resource to me in the past school year since we started using it. I can go on the website and search for books, videos, etc related to the topic that we are studying in school and it will allow me to put a hold on books from any library in the system and they will bring them to my local library and then notify me when the books are ready.

Throughout the school year local libraries often have programs on a variety of topics and subjects for all ages. Library summer reading programs are a great way to encourage kids to keep reading through the summer months.

It has been our experience that most library staff is very helpful and Nate has gotten pretty comfortable asking the librarians to help him find this or that. At times I have gotten great suggestions on new books for Nate to read. Different series of books that I hadn't heard of that are similar to ones he has already read.

Simple Homeschool shares how she used their local library early in their homeschooling years.

At Your Library featured an article sharing 60 Ways to Use Your Library Card.

Our Journey Westward has a printable scavenger hunt to help your kids get to know your local library.

How do you use your local library?

Monday, April 07, 2014

Pinterest Inspired Photo Collage

For a long time we had three large frames with pix of the kids hanging in the living room. And for awhile it was great. But my kids are pretty darn cute and I while I wanted to hang new pictures, I hated taking down the old ones. So I wanted to find a way that I could display more of the great pictures we have of our cute little family.

So to Pinterest I went... I was inspired by this pin.  There were several others that I liked too but this was one of my faves. I love the combination of pictures and other items and the unifying black frames.

In preparation, I spent months collecting black frames in all shapes and sizes from Goodwill. They cost anywhere from $.49 to $2.99.  The fancy "swoopy" frames and the non-photo frame pieces I got from Hobby Lobby when they were 50% off. They ended up sitting in a box atop my dryer for months waiting for us to tackle the task of hanging them.
 My hubby was such a huge help when it finally came time to hang them.  He was right there with a level and duct tape to make sure each and every frame was level.  There are some perks to having an OCD husband.  ;-)
And here is the view of this side of the living room. We even have a family pix on the tv!  ;-)  I am so happy with how it turned out. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Carly's Voice - Autism Awareness


I just watched this video with Nate a couple of weekends ago. I explained that a girl who is nonverbal and not unlike Joe and Christine helped make this video to show what its like to be inside her mind/body. It shows how sights and sounds are amplified. Nate asked if that was how Joe and Christine see and hear things. I said probably and asked him what he thought of it. He said it was a little scary. It breaks my heart when I think about Joe and Christine being so frustrated and misunderstood all the time. But after learning more about Carly Fleischmann's story it also gives me hope and a little better understanding of what my own children might be dealing with on a daily basis.


In honor of Autism Awareness Month I want to encourage you to help raise awareness and acceptance of autism and other developmental disorders. Currently, 1 in 68 children is diagnosed with Autism. Frankly, I had hardly heard of it before we began our personal journey into the special needs world. Now I hear the word everywhere.

I know it may not always easy to understand people with disabilities, but we can treat them with compassion and caring instead of pushing them away. If there is someone that you know who has autism or has a child with a disability, try reaching out to them. Remind them that they are not alone.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Muppet Movie Birthday Party!

 Well, its birthday party season here. My birthday was last month. Joe's is this week. Christine's in another five weeks and then my hubby's a couple of weeks after that. We will get a little break before Nate's. Which is good because he is full of ideas of things he wants to do for his. But that is for another post.  ;-)  This is Joe's birthday party post!
Last fall we found a whole bunch of cake toppers in the Walmart clearance and Nate helped me pick ones out for each of the kids' birthdays for this year. Joe got The Muppets. So we decided to have a movie "night" in the afternoon.
 We had juice boxes, popcorn and individual candy for the kids to munch on during the movie. We originally had aspirations of really creative Muppet-y themed food and decorations but practicality got the better of me and we kept it simple.
The kids did really well during the movie. But it probably would have been a little better had it been an hour instead of two. We ended up having a couple of the kids make puppets and eventually had Joe open presents while the movie was still going because they were gradually losing interest.
We ended up having the afternoon matinee be "friends only" and had the family come over for dinner afterward.  Thank goodness I split it up! It was crowded enough as it was! At both "parties", it was clear that Joe loved having his favorite people around. 
In particular we were very excited to have a classmate of his join us. It is the first time we've really connected with a schoolmate before. Joe and Katie have been in class together from developmental preschool on and have been buddies the whole time. When we told Joe that Katie was coming he was so excited he practically got whiplash trying to see if she was coming in the door. We had to explain that the party wasn't until later. It was really neat to see him communicate his excitement so clearly.
Here is our store-bought cake (I usually make my own, but again practicality won) with the clearance cake topper.  Pretty cute! Who doesn't love a little Kermit and Miss Piggy?
 Per usual, we took a pix of all five of us toward the end of the long party day. See Nate's face... that is exactly how I felt.  ;-)  But seriously, we are so blessed to have friends and family who love and accept our special kiddos. I am thankful to have so many who love us.

Kindness has a beautiful way of reaching down to a weary heart 
and making it shine like the rising sun.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hearts at Home Third Thursday Blog Hop - Love Your Now

The theme for the Hearts at Home conference last weekend was Love Your Life. And the theme for the Blog Hop this week is Love Your Now.  Hhmmm... are we seeing a pattern here?

I gotta be honest, I don't always feel like I love my life. On one hand, it looks like I have exactly the life I always wanted: a wonderful husband, three beautiful kids...

I mean, how cute are we? Pretty perfect looking, huh?  ;-)

But in reality, the life we have isn't always loveable. More often than not our house is a mess and the floors are sticky. Even when its tidy there are walkers and wheelchairs cluttering up the otherwise neat downstairs. There is a lot of screaming in our house. And only sometimes is it from me. Sometimes, but not usually.  With two non-verbal kids in the house they often resort to screaming or biting and scratching when they can't get us to understand their needs. Or they are upset by someone because someone else is upset.  We have seen more than our fair share of doctors who still have yet to give us a definitive diagnosis for our kiddos. My husband has OCD, a sleep disorder and I can't get him to care about his eating and lack of exercise habits. I homeschool my oldest who is a crazy challenging combination of me and my husband. And I struggle with depression, emotional eating and procrastination.

Sometimes its easy to focus on all of those things... the unlovable things. But there is so much more to us than that.  I DO have a husband who LOVES me.  He is a wonderful provider and adores the kids and I. To him, I am the most beautiful woman in the world. I LOVE him and am so thankful for having him in my life.
My children may not be easy but they think I am wonderful. My oldest tells me I am "the best" every day.  Even my nonverbal kiddos light up when they see me. For all their complications and challenges, they are sweet and loving kids.
We are so blessed to have wonderful supportive family and friends who love us and are happy to help out or babysit whenever we need them.  Honestly, I think we've only paid for babysitting once or twice, ever. 
And me... I like to say that I am a work in progress but I am more than that too. I am a child of God. I am a wife and mother who LOVES her family. I choose to stay home with my children because I believe that no one can care for them better than me. No one can love them more than my husband and I do(except for our loving Father).

This week I read a post from Hands Free Mama that seemed to tie into this idea of loving your life - loving your now.  She talks about being thankful for the challenges and disappointments for how they help us to love and appreciate the "Glimmers of Goodness" in each day.  She lists off several examples of these, the last one being:

Thank you, daily challenge. It is in looking straight into the face of sorrow, struggle, fear, frustration, heartache, and worry that I appreciate the fact I keep showing up. I shall pay attention and appreciate the fact that I Keep Showing Up.

So, even though its not always easy... I do, I love my life. And even when I don't, those are the times that help me to appreciate and love the best parts of it.  ;-)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hearts at Home Mom's Weekend!!

Another March... another Hearts at Home conference for this gal! This marks my third Hearts at Home conference and I have loved each and every one. I mean, what is not to like about a weekend away from home with your girlfriends where you basically go to "mommy-classes"?

The theme this year is "Love Your Life". Whew... frankly, not always an easy task around here! But it was refreshing hearing stories from other moms and being reminded that its not always easy for anyone to love their life. But with His help we can love the phase of life we are in no matter what phase that is.
We made goodie bags for the weekend with special treats including shirts that I'd freezer paper stenciled to go with the conference's theme.
Hearts at Home is promoting the soon to be released Mom's Night Out movie. Sarah Drew (the lead actress in that movie, and of Grey's Anatomy) shared about her mom's powerful reaction to the movie. I saw a screening a couple of weeks ago.  SO good!!
The featured comedian and mc for the weekend was Sally Bauke (pronounced bow-key) was a delight! She was so thoroughly entertaining she kept us laughing the whole time. I thought I might actually need one of the piddle pads she kept referencing.  ;-) 
The keynote speakers were Dr. Kathy Koch of Celebrate Kids and Angela Thomas. Each of them has a unique testimony that reached our hearts. God is seriously using these ladies for His glory. What a blessing it was to hear them share this weekend! Such wisdom and heart!
 My girl Lehi and I were pretty excited to meet MoneySavingMom! Her workshops were so great.  She has such practical tips for organizing your life and saving your family money. We're going through her new book Saying Goodbye to Survival Mode together.
Once again, this was a weekend to remember that I am thankful to have shared with these lovely ladies! Its a time of learning and fellowship. Its a time of tears and laughter.
 Personally... I think Hearts at Home should be quarterly.  ;-)  Waiting a whole year for another Hearts at Home conference is too long!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Homeschooling and My Heart

Homeschooling is an ever-changing creature in our house. We have tried different curriculum, workbooks, texts, websites, you name it... but what we had been needing to change was not the books.  It was me.  I was really struggling to stay on track with homeschooling because my head was in a million places at once.  If you know me or have read the blog much you probably realize that I have a lot going on (but don't we all).  And in an effort to clear my head I would escape it all through media.  I was spending too much time online - occasionally it would be on something important... but usually it was time wasters like facebook, Pinterest and Netflix.  I am NOT saying those are bad things.  But the way I had been using them was.

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.- James 3:1-5

Recently I read an article from the Multi-taskingMom about why they quit homeschooling.  Only it wasn't what you would think it would be about.  She just shared how their family went from trying to duplicate public school in their home to relaxing and turned the focus to creating a learning environment for their children.  And I love SimpleHomeschool's honesty in her post "What about Me?".  She opened up about how frazzled she had gotten trying to juggle it all amidst poor time management and a lack of prioritizing.  And she shared a couple of steps she took to make things more manageable for her and the whole family.

Mom's Mustard Seeds shared how she was quitting homeschooling to begin discipling her children. Oh, how I needed to hear that. She mentions how sometimes the world (even inside our homeschool or church communities) can be vindictive and tries to tell you to do things this way or that way, pulling you in all directions. Regardless of all the fuss over curriculum, teaching methods, etc... when it comes down to it, our primary purpose in parenting is really to lead our children to the cross.

But what to do?  Habits are so hard to change.  Seriously, when you are in a rut it is so hard to create new patterns of behavior. I have been in a deep rut.  One full of mud and muck that is keeping me from moving forward.  But its not going to be this way forever. I know that balance in my life is important and even thought it isn't easy, I am doing something about it. I am working on spending more time connecting with my children than connected to the internet. I am taking my focus off of reading about the various teaching methods and actually devoting time and attention to what my son is interested in learning. I've cut back on things that were a burden and am trying to do more of the things that fill me up. Little by little I am working on developing new, healthier habits for myself that will benefit me and my family.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. -  1 Corinthians 10:13