Sep 30, 2013

Adventures with Ahrens kills sea life in mass quantity.

This portion typed back in August 2013

Each birthday or holiday, I put a lot of thought into what gifts might best suit that child.  I not only have to work within a strict budget, but I also help one set of grandparents with ideas as well.  Last year, we found a really great set of gifts for our son, and just as I suspected, while it was a very large expense at the time, he used them, daily!  A trampoline, home made gymnastics bar, and super thick tumble mat that he drags to the bar or back into the living room to practice tumbling.  That was the most money we had ever spent on gifts, but we also took into account the therapeutic benefits that our son, on the spectrum and with sensory integration dysfunction, would be gaining through his newest passion.  It all paid off.  Charlie no longer comes home to spin in circles.  He gets joint compression and spelling study help through tumbling or bar work now! (This typed when they attended public school, over a month ago.  They are home schooled now.  What a difference a month makes.)

This year, we have both birthdays quickly approaching, a set of grandparents that give Chanukkah gifts and Chanukkah begins the same night as Thanksgiving this year!  I have to come up with a birthday gift from Geoff and I, one from my folks, and then, a gift for my folks to get each of them for Chanukkah!  EEKS.  Well, a few weeks ago, I thought I came up with the best idea.  Shay had really been hinting at wanting a bird.  I do not desire to care for or clean up after anything more.  So, I thought that fish might be a nice alternative for each of their rooms.  I approached each of them, and both were so excited.  Then, I talked to my mom about the possibility.  She was totally on board.  And then, I researched.  And after serious thought, I realized that I really didn't want to have to clean out even the smallest of tanks.  And, they will die, and I know one particularly sensitive child really doesn't need that on the heels of losing a very special cousin this past summer to Cancer.  So, how might I get them to "un want" these fish? 

I cleaned a house on Monday that had a small sea monkey kit on he kitchen counter.  (See, this was typed a while ago.. haven't cleaned a house in that long!) BINGO!  I came home, researched, and guess what????  NO cleaning at all!  Just add water, as needed!  AND--- they reproduce new shrimp, I mean, "monkeys," all the time.  As if this couldn't get any better, I found a ton of Youtube videos of these things mating!  They mate for days on end, therefore, it's sorta' hard to miss the fun.  I found the kits at  If you buy in the store, it is about ten dollars.  If you purchase online, and go to pick it up, it's only five dollars!  Holy cow!  So, I ordered two, and hoped for he best.  Luckily, I am pretty good at getting into their minds and making them think they want some thing- or not.  All it took was a viewing of Youtube and some ridiculous facts, and presto- I have two children that are eagerly anticipating their Sea Monkeys.  Phew.  Crisis averted.  

Look, as parents, we need to know that realistically, children are not able to properly take care of themselves, and we can not entrust other lives to them to properly maintain.  Having responsibilities like helping to feed the family pet is fine, but knowing our limits and how much time we have to devote to other pets in our home is really up to the adults to manage.  This adult knows sea monkeys are going to be just as captivating as a fish or a frog would have been.  They will love it at first, then the excitement will wear off as soon as they realized that they really can't do much with an aquatic friend.  However, my soon to be seven year-old is convinced that she will be training her newest pets.  I suppose, at some point, I will have to admit that these sea monkeys are not only NOT monkeys, but that the water is less sea and more bottled, than is advertised.  Until then, can we all just play along like these hard to see shrimp are really as much fun as a gold fish?  Thanks!

Sept. 30, 2013 Okay, this was typed and placed in a folder for unedited and random posts that I thought I  might pull out when I felt the cobwebs collecting on the blog.  Let me share our experience, to date.
Charlie turned eight!  It was anti-climactic as our family had recently gone through some intense drama, and his birthday was not celebrated as we normally have.  We did the best we could, and the grandparents that were gifting the sea monkeys had given him a 4th generation iPod and a globe earlier in the week.  By birthday weekend, they came just to drop off the little sea monkey kit.  He was too excited.  I bought the distilled water, prepared the water and a day later, we were ready to add the little egg packet.  It was amazing.  A few days later, those same grandparents came to the house and saw the little sea monkeys swimming around.  By that day, we could really see them, and there had to be at least fifty or more!

I had done a ton of research on this little guys, and turns out, they need to be aerated.  I could purchase the four dollar sea monkey aerator, or just make my own.  I made two types, and the second worked the best.  The second was attaching a dollar aeration stone to the end of a straw with super glue, and just blowing into the straw for a minute or so, each day.  Well, Shay warned me that this might not be the best choice.  And sadly, within 7 days, not one was living.  ALL.DEAD.  Oh my gosh, I can't even begin to tell you.  First, I ran and paid the one dollar replacement cost for a new set of eggs and water purifier.  Second, I had to explain that a 6 year old made a healthier choice than a 36 year old.  (I suppose brine shrimp don't care for coffee breathe?  Hmmmm, peculiar little fellas.)  Did you know that adult sea monkeys have three eyes and breath through their feet?  They are crazy weird.  Not as weird as the creator of these sea monkeys.

So, while I thought sea monkeys were my answer to a prayer when I realized I don't really want any more responsibility in the house, I was wrong.  So wrong.  However, I have a new obsession that I swear I will have up and going in the next week or two.  SELF.CONTAINED.ECOSYSTEMS.  I have found them on, where else, but, and just need two more 2 liter bottles.  Geoff just bought one today, and at the rate he is going, I am sure that will be ready in a day or two.  I need three total, so any neighbor willing to donate to the cause, you know where I live!  I am so excited!  Science lesson, pets, etc!  I will add snails and fish to the basement level of the ecosystem, and plant life on two levels.  I am not kidding you.  I am soooo getting into this. (All this while we await the replacement sea monkeys for child number one, and child number two will be receiving her first set on her birthday, in less than two months.)  It's an exciting time for aquatic life in the Ahrens home!   

Ahrens Academy has some extra projects for math, science and art today!

The ingredients to make apple pie doh...  All edible, but no body wanted to actually eat it.  Smelled SOOOO yummy in the house and actually wasn't as messy as real Play Doh.  Even I played with it!  I found the recipe on, but I had to modify due to available ingredients.  Honestly, we didn't feel like we missed anything.  
Our modified recipe 
1 c flour
1/4 c salt
1/2 tbs veg. oil
1 c water
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
red food coloring
*Original recipe on "Where Imagination Grows" blog that was found on Pinterest.  She had a bunch of clever apple themed projects.  Check her out!

Cook until the dough pulls away from side of the pot and and starts to become dry.  Ours was absolutely perfect.  Directions mentioned that if it is sticky, add a little flour.  Like I said, ours was perfect.  

Add the dry ingredients and mix.  Add the liquid ingredients and mix over a medium heat.  Took about 5 minutes. 

Mixing the liquid in.  

Directions say allow to cool and then knead.  We halved the loaf and waited about three minutes.  3.  Not long from start to finish.  

When I have the children split something, I let one cut it, and the other pick the half they want.  Just a little tip to make things super fair.  Shay got to cut today.  

Smelling it.  They were acting goofy.  It really smells like apple pie.  

He took off his robe after a while, and chose to duck down to take a picture with his hand print creation. 

I said, "Let's all make a cat head!"  Here's mine. The kids did use the cookie cutters, but somehow, I missed taking some pictures of those.  

I decided to pull out a quick science lesson on matter.  This is plasma.  I remember doing this in the upper grades of elementary school.  Corn starch and water.  Goes from a liquid to a solid and back again- over and over again.  It was a huge mess, but both kids enjoyed it as much as they loved making and playing with the home made Play-doh.  From the moment we started making the Play-doh and plasma, to the time we finished washing our hands- about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Art, science, math... hands on-- can't get better than that!  

Shay's cat face in her handprint.

Stored them in their own plastic baggies and promised that they could grab them during school breaks the rest of the week.  I think we will make ornaments to dry and hang this coming weekend.  (I will explain that later this week.)  

Before dinner, we went for a long walk into the next neighborhood.  We collected leaves and did leaf rubbings when we got home as I made dinner.  

Different leaves they found.

Charlie says he had never done this before.  Shay remembers doing it with me a few years ago.  I love nature in the Fall.  Not too hot, less bugs, lots of changes, etc.  

Ahrens Academy is getting rid of schedules!

It is our fourth week of Ahrens Academy, and as I rushed along after waking with the family at 9: a.m. I realized that we don't have to tie our day to a schedule.  So what if home schooling takes until five tonight!  The lesson plan is filled with FUN, and I bet some of it won't even feel like school.  By 9:30 a.m., we were at the breakfast bar for breakfast.  (Charlie chose to make a smorgasbord out of the seating, eating a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese, then a banana, medium apple, one clementine, and then two pieces of wheat bread that were toasted and had one slice of American cheese on piece of toast.)  I was still in rushing through to start school mode.  In my head, the first few weeks of Ahrens Academy was so fantastic since we all woke up early, began right after an early breakfast, and finished by noon-ish, just in time for lunch.  We have gotten off that rigid schedule, and while I have had to adjust, I think I like this more.

We don't feel tied to anything!  In fact, Geoff said that he was going to fill up on gas, and if we both left to get gas up the street at the same time, we could use our Kroger Fuel Points by filling up at the same time.  "Stop your language arts, kids!  Time to do some math savings!"  We came home, and instead of starting back on school, it was time for lunch, so now, at 1:15 p.m., they are finishing lunch, and I am looking at the schedule and see that there is enough time to two more subjects, and head to lots of arts that I planned for the day.  The children seem to be relaxed, and especially appreciate their school rooms.  Some times, they head to the master closet/office where a larger screen monitor is set up with a computer at the desk there.  Other times, they are at their desks with their laptops.  Today, both have opted to snuggle in a bed with their laptops.

I set my laptop up at the breakfast bar and let them watch the "water cycle" and "ocean habitats" on  Each animated video short was just under six minutes.  After watching those two lessons, I read some of the book we are in.  We finished that chapter book over the course of two breaks throughout the morning.  After breakfast, I had them head upstairs and Shay was to retell the water cycle in her journal and draw a picture of it, and Chaz is still working on properly forming the letters in the alphabet.  His focus was the letter "H,h" today.  Today was the best handwriting so far!  He has always began EVERY letter from the bottom line.  Today, it seemed natural to start at the top line.  I am soooo excited!  He was just as excited by his handwriting today.

I am making playdoh with a fun recipe I found on a, home school board.  It is called apple pie doh.  Everyone knows that I can not handle the smell or mess of Play doh, but the smell should be pleasing due to the spices, and I think cooking with the migits is important.  (measuring, etc.)  Plus, it's a a great art medium for them.  I am actually concerned about art as something they are missing in school, but I don't feel like they will miss much after I researched on  I search online each day to come up with different themes and ways to teach specific skills.  I have decided to focus on math facts up to 12.  Two weeks ago I purchased flash cards for addition and subtraction.  So far, we have done a few games with them, but last night I found there are a few websites that have math fact games and free, printable worksheets.  Will begin timing those, as we get further along in our memorization.

Our curriculum is an online setting that is called  It has reading, language arts, math, science and social studies.  I have learned to that there is a great amount of online resources that present the same, age-appropriate material in a different format.  I am happy that each of the lessons has a quiz and is recorded in the Time4Learning website for each child, but sometimes I want to present material a second time, in a different way, in order to reinforce the concept.  So far, with tons of help of from home school blogs, online searches, and, I have found my comfort level in educating our children.

Last week, Shay had a full week of play rehearsals before her play on Friday and Saturday night with a local community theater group.  She not only made some great friends, but she was given the opportunity to grow in her acting skills, and our education times allowed for sleeping in after late nights, or extra line running, song practice, etc.  A good friend of hers that attends public school was really thrown off by the lack of sleep, and busy schedule that her school, activities,  and the play, demanded of her.  Before I had children, I always knew that I would not hyper-schedule our children, even if our finances allowed for it.  Each child has one main passion that we have focused on, and allowing them to keep up with school, personal downtime, and one extra-curricular activity to balance them.  Each child seems to be thriving, and our family life seems to calming down as well.

Today's agenda.

Working in bed.

She works on journaling at her desk.  

While watching the morning science lessons, she asked for pencil and paper so that she could write down the information so that she could remember it for her journaling.  Freakin' genius!  A six year old, taking notes!  

After spending an HOUR both days on her hair for the play.  The make up was applied for each girl, before the show, in the green room.  She is wearing part of her indian girl costume.  She was a school girl and an indian that did a dance in a dream sequence.  

The final night of the performance brought a lot of friends and family to the show.  She LOVED the flowers and the fan-mail that everyone sent.  (Shay, far right, in the indian costume.)

Curtain call!

Almost the full cast....

Backstage with the "prayer bear" and some of her favorite older girls!  I am not sure how to explain this, but every child in this play seemed to belong in the cast.  From watching the interaction and growth over the two months, I am sad for Shay as she realizes that she won't have this sisterhood of girls to spend time with, a few days a week.  

The lead of the show, took on "Momma-hen" role to all the girls.  This was right before the final performance.  I was backstage just for the first change, and the lead gathered the girls, and told them what they needed to do while backstage on this performance night.  My heart melted as all the girls looked up to this amazingly beautiful spirit gently impart theater wisdom from her past experiences in productions.  

Killing time.  

I am famous for this picture.  I do it everywhere I can.  I might one day make a compilation scrapbook of all the places I have gotten people to partake in my silly, staged photo opp.
She had no idea that she 

If you home school, what is something that your family especially appreciates about the uniqueness of educating at home?  I'd love to hear from you!

Sep 29, 2013

Charlie got Hot Wheels and I cried.

Charlie turned eight this past week.  Our family has recently been going through the most challenging of years to date in this marriage, and yet, our extended family and friends have stepped up with prayers, carpooling, childcare, hugs, brownies, and extra special attention to the birthday boy, when we could not.  From the infamous mold issue this past summer, to the most recent struggles, we were so crushed knowing that some things were just out of our control, and emotional needs of our children were the highest priority.  Luckily, G-d placed the most amazing people in our lives, and for that, and for all that you did, THANK YOU!  You will never know how difficult it is for me to ask for help, and even more challenging is struggling to know that I could never repay you fully for what you did.

So, Charlie had some unexpected special gifts from some special friends this past week from a neighbor, radKids instructor, and even the director of Shay's play had a gift to give Chazman. How lucky is that that there are so many people who love Charlie so much and thought of him of his special day? Well, it was the Gotte's gift that made me tear up as he played with it.  He truly LOVED every gift, but I was especially fond of this one gift, because it just allowed me to see how far he has come in his personal journey with recovery.

The week after Charlie's first birthday, my husband shared with me that some of the family at the party were concerned with Charlie's development.  I was raging with hormones, and due with our second child in only two months following that first birthday.  I was angry.  It took a year of watching some odd behaviors before I took action.  At two years, three months old, Charlie was diagnosed with Autism.  He was also given a few other diagnosis at the time, and within the year after that, many more came.  Each time I was led to investigate and test for other diagnosis, I was validated and therapies were able to begin.  It was a difficult choice, but I opted to do some unique therapies, some that I did on my own, others, with a doctor.  Mostly, I did what other families were doing that had children that were like carbon copies of Charlie.  What we learned was that what works for one, might not work for another.  Biomedical therapy is becoming more mainstream, as is the understanding of gut issues with those diagnosed with Autism, however, there is still so much to learn and understand about this disorder.

This weekend the kids and I were looking at old pictures and videos.  Shay wanted to see her smash cake.  I pulled up both migits first birthday and smash cake videos.  While I was in that folder of pictures and videos, I found a video of Charlie sitting in his booster seat, eating.  I was videoing his rocking back and forth very hard, and it appears to be what I now know to be sensory seeking behaviors.  We learned that he has sensory integration dysfunction when he was three years old.  I am not sure how we didn't get that diagnosis at the expensive diagnosis we sought when he was only 2 years old.

Geoff and I scheduled with a local psychologist, and found that we had days worth of paperwork to fill out, prior to the initial visit.  We had three visits, each about 2-3 hours in length.  At the third visit, we got the diagnosis.  So, what did we do for all that time?  Mostly, Charlie was sat in the adjacent room to play with toys, and Geoff and I were going over a ton of questions about Charlie for hours on end.  Charlie would occasionally get a spurt of energy, and would run circles around the conference room table that we were seated at, with the doctor.  Every second or third rounding of the table, he would run smack dab into the corner, get knocked down, and hop right up to continue the mindless circling.  Never once did he cry in pain.  The doctor did ask, "Is that his norm for pain tolerance?"  Yep.  Sure was.  He never cried in pain.  He would constanstly play too rough with other children, and never get hurt.  They always did.

Another interesting thing was that he didn't play with toys.  He would mouth everything, and then, if given a little toy car, would take the toy car for endless hours and rub the wheels up and down his belly, arms, legs, etc.  After a few months, I was so devastated watching this behavior, so I directed his massaging skills, car in hand, and had a relaxing cry as I nursed his baby sister, and wondered what his future would look like.  That was the day I took all the cars, and threw them away.  I was angry.

Years later, lots of therapy and interventions, he received two huge packages of Hot Wheels from the director of the play and her family, for his eighth birthday.  The next day, he is sitting on the floor with his sister, playing with his Hot Wheels, just like I imagined he should have, so many years before.

Sep 18, 2013

The blog in which my son makes me laugh.

My son is homeschooling beside me.  It is 8:26 a.m., and I am exhausted.  I am sitting next to him as he goes through a lesson on the food pyramid and healthy lifestyles.  He saw meat and protein.  He says, "I see fish.  That is a protein.  I thought I no like fish, but I do like it."  I asked what type of fish he liked.  (I don't make fish.)  He said he likes the dead ones.

I need some more sleep.  That made me snort spit.  I love his silly self!

Sep 12, 2013

The blog in which I share my personal struggles.

My church posted a verse on Facebook this afternoon, and I was totally honest.  I have been struggling with every single point in that posting.  "To you hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those that hate you, bless those that curse you, pray for those that mistreat you."-Luke 6:27-28  My friend commented, "Well, at the very least, turn the other cheek."  I had some snarky remark about how about kiss my.....  Yeah, well, I'm a "tad" moody lately.  

I am sure it is no surprise that my marriage is not perfect.  Is any ones?  Right, well, we are having a very imperfect moment in this rocky road we traverse, and I am not feeling that generous of spirit while I am literally stretched to the max between the extra curricular activities (that would include basic needs some days) and Ahrens Academy.  Throw in a marriage with a dash of poverty and healthy dose of autism sprinkled amongst the group, and you have all the necessary ingredients for the perfect storm.  

First, I want to thank G-d for sending our closest friends and family into our lives and filling our days with grace when we can't seem to find any on our own.  The closest of friends have taken desperate calls, offered shoulders to lean on with some tough love advice, offered random drive-by hugs, and numerous offers to care for our children while we sort through the wreckage.  Thank you so much for understanding that I am exhausted.  That I am cranky.  That I need more sleep that I am given due to demands of transition right now.  

Second, I want to say that I wish I could follow where the children lead.  I am sharing this while I might have made the suggestions, it was children who have led the way.  Shay was having a difficult time with another actress in the play.  I was trying to explain all the reasons why someone might behave the way she was toward Shay, and she just couldn't understand it.  I addressed the issue with the director.  The director shared with me that this particular actress didn't have the easiest life.  My heart ached for her brokenness.  I got it. 

The next morning, I shared a basic understanding of the situation with Shay, and asked that she consider that maybe G-d placed her in this girls' path for a reason.  Maybe Shay would be the one to try to be a real friend to her- to show her love and kindness that no one ever got through to her with her thick exterior.  That she was to love, and this child to receive.  I suggested that she color a picture and write an apology note.  Shay got really into it.  She even used glitter glue to decorate it.  Then, she made a little plastic bracelet (a Rainbow Loom), and we/I folded the note up back in middle school style and put the bracelet inside it.  

When she got to play rehearsal, I could tell she was nervous.  I prepped her as we walked in.  Even though Shay really didn't do anything wrong, I told her to just say she was sorry, and hand her the note, and then, have a seat.  She found the child sitting in the last row of children seats, and handed it to her, then made her way a few rows ahead to join the rest of the girls.  (This child seems to stay on her own.)    Well, I stood to the side, and waited for the director to begin so that I could head back to Chaz at gymnastics.  I was glad we started a minute late.  I got to witness this child's face.  She yelled to Shay, and Shay turned around.  The child then mouthed, "Thank you- I love it!"  It wasn't the words.  It was the smile she had.  You can tell, that maybe, just maybe, not many people show her many kindnesses of the heart.  

I wish I could be as generous of spirit as my daughter is.  Like I said, I am struggling with Luke as of lately.  Be patient with me.  I will get there.  

PS  Ahrens Academy is going well.  Shay and I are attempting to level her out in language arts and reading since she is advanced, and working though math seems to be her hardest subject.  Chaz is polar opposite, but prefers I sit next to him for everything.  While I run back and forth between both their bedrooms no less than about 12-15 times through out our four-ish hour school day, most of it is sitting with him.  It has been so sad to me to see that he does not know how to correctly form any of the 26 letters in the alphabet.  We are really going back to basics with him.  We will get there- I just know it!  Looking forward to starting to form the numbers, as well.   

Sep 11, 2013 Review- Ahrens Academy Explains Our School Day.

I have been contacted by a couple of friends that are concerned about their own children and the school they are in.  (Namely, one with a preschooler, and another friend that has a child not thriving in a private school.)  We are onto day four, and honestly, the formula I had devised before we started actually works for us!  Yes, it is scheduled to the minute, but we are done with more academics in four hours than most children accomplish in a full school day.  Luckily, I have been able to hone in on specific needs for each child.  That is the beauty to our program of choice.

The Time4Learning online program was one of the first programs that came up when I did a search for "special needs" home school.  I had remembered that name, and realized that it was the same program that I used for our daughter when she was too advanced to send into pre-k.  I home schooled her that year, and while I made up my own curriculum for her, I had used the website for part of her core curriculum.  I loved it.  So did she.

You know the saying, "You get what you pay for?"  That is totally NOT the case with this.  First child is $19.95 per month and second child is $14.95.  So, for about $35 a month, we get the five core courses, instruction, practice, quizzes, tests, and every bit of it is electronically recorded for me to print or save for future reference.  If basing this on a nine month school calendar, my entire home school cost for two children is $315.  That is amazing when you research home education options.  There is nothing like this program. 

Yesterday, my first grader came to me and told me that she didn't do well on a math quiz.  I then sat down with her and went over the concept.  She got it, after I did some more review on the concept.  Then, today, she was about to work on math, and expressed to me that she wanted me to sit in with her as she did math.  I did.  And it was more review of yesterday's concept, building to the next level of understanding of the same concept.  She got it!  I stayed, because I was enjoying watching her confidence soar.  Luckily, math is not a challenge for her brother, and he enjoyed the freedom of having me out of his hair.  (I like to have both children working on the same subject, in their own rooms, at the same time.  Personal choice.)

The parent can review the lessons ahead of time. I don't pre-plan anything.  I like to follow the curriculum as it is presented.  You can always go back and re-do a section, or parts of it.  There are printable reports as well that are easy to access on the parent screen.  It tells you every single concept that was taught, the grade they got, and when they did it.  I don't keep an attendance book, per say, but I do log my day, minute by minute, so that I have that for reference.  The state of Georgia requires that each child that is to be home educated has a Declaration of Intent on file, for each year.  Then, it is mandatory that each child is given a standardized test every three years, starting in third grade.  However, the interesting part is that the parent or home school instructor in our state does not have to report the results to anyone!  The Department of Education website specifies that instructional days should total 180 days, or 4.5 hours of instructional time, for able-bodied students. The program must provide, at minimum, instruction in reading, math, language arts, social studies and science, per the law.  The first grade curriculum has everything except the social studies curriculum.  I had the second grade social studies added to my first graders curriculum.   Today, I changed reading and language arts levels to second grade.  I called, and on the second ring, a person WITHOUT a foreign accent answered my call, quickly maneuvered me through the parent admin. page to make the adjustments and then immediately verified and made the changes.  (Generally, the changes may take up to 24 hours.  The customer service representative told me to log her out of her student account and log back in.  Everything was added!  
Here's a look at how "Ahrens Academy" uses the curriculum that meets and/or exceeds the common core standards.  

The first day we had this reading assignment, he made a zero and a 22.  This is his second reading assignment, and while his words per minute goal is still 90, today his second attempt scored at 51!  Double his highest yesterday!  Way to go! I love seeing these results.  
This was today, as we were doing it.  I fill in the times as they happen, but allow for at least 30 minutes for core.  Generally, Social Studies and Science are done in less time.  I am learning that I spend a little more time on math, reading and language arts than the suggested 30 minutes per subject.  

This is interesting.  My second grader has handwriting challenges.  He does not properly form his letters, and his handwriting needs improvement.  So, instead of doing the journal time, he is working on handwriting each day until we can improve the handwriting.  I have started with the letters in his name, and letters that would be formed similarly. There was a method to my scheduling for each letter.  I had to write them, then pair them up.  See the column on the right?  That is the order.  

The past two days of work.  To the minute including each break between each half hour segment.  They get five to ten minutes between each subject, with a fifteen minute break for snack, halfway through the morning.  Today, my children each chose to skip a break.  They wanted to finish earlier and get to a new Wii game.  Motivation ;o)  

I correct spelling, and today, I began correcting punctuation.  This from a couple of days ago.  

That was the mornings' book.  We read about an hour each day.  


Classical music helps the brain.  It is a calming sound in our home, as we work.  When my second grader was two and a half years old, he attended a  school for children with autism.  They had classical music playing throughout the little school house.  I loved it.  

Handwriting- in pajamas!

I had to correct the dates.  I will use this as my attendance record.  (What year am I in????) 

As a member of Time4Learning, I have been asked to review their online education program and share my experiences. While I was compensated, this review was not written or edited by Time4Learning and my opinion is entirely my own. Write your own curriculum review or learn how to use their curriculum for homeschoolafter school study or summer learning.

Sep 6, 2013

Adventures with Ahrens begins "Ahrens Academy."

We woke up very early for our first day of Ahrens Academy (home school).  Early was 7: a.m!  Eeks.  I was awoken in the middle of the night by someone insisting on having a conversation, and had already gone to bed late as I was still working on pre-planning.  I was pooped!  I quickly began by rolling out of bed and greeting my students.  They were ready to begin.  That meant, it was time to move and find a smile to slap on my groggy self.  (A smile comes in the form of "leaded" coffee x's TWO.)  We had all eaten, and I felt the caffeine reach my brain, and I realized that I had choices to go over with my migits/students.

They chose a library book to read for half an hour in the chair and half.  I read with both children snuggled up next to me.  Even Brody stuck his head in my lap.  It felt nice.  What felt even more nice was the fact that I realized that my teeth and hair were not brushed prior to me coming downstairs, but Shay worked her fingers through my hair on the side she was sitting on, and luckily, at one in the afternoon, half my head has been finger brushed, and I finally had a second to spare and brush my teeth- after.lunch.  Better late than never!

After reading, it was time for the core curriculum that is an online education program we settled on.  I was VERY pleased with it, other than Shay's computer had some issues, but for the most part, she worked independently for her entire program.  That was really how she worked when I home schooled her two years ago, on this program.  I still go back into the parent portal and view what she did and how she did. I walked in on her learning about recycling, amphibians and reptiles, and other interesting topics during her lessons.  Charlie's lessons were excellent, and actually, the math carried over exactly the same as the work he brought home this week.  It was expanded form of numbers, and had many different applications for ones, tens, hundreds, and even the thousand's placement.  I was impressed.  He had a working knowledge of this concept, and I am eager to see how he does with future concepts that he might not have been exposed to.  In order to not run through my printer ink, I opted to hand write out the worksheet that came with the math lesson today.  For Shay's science worksheet, we talked it out, instead of printing the worksheet.  (Printer ink is more expensive than the Pope's ring.  True story.)  Most subjects take half an hour to complete, with the quiz.  Social Studies was much quicker.  However, we have way more to do than just our core subjects.  We do a lot of reading in our house.  Plus, I work on speech therapy homework with Chaz, line work for Shay's play, review religion, etc.  We did not do speech or religion today.  It was our first day, and we took one break for snacks and chilling for about forty-five minutes, mid-morning.  Shay wanted to email her class about her day, and how much she missed them.  I promised we would, and that is part of what we did during break.  Chaz worked on gymnastics, and Shay colored.  After we finished our work, it was lunch and Shay had to work on her journal entry.  I allowed Charlie to trace my writing for today.  I will be doing journal a little different in the beginning- using it as a handwriting lesson first, and later, he will instructed to use the journal on a topic.   Shay has been writing for two years now, and her handwriting is exquisite, with minor tweaking needed.  She has considerable spelling errors, but that will be more developmental than anything.  I will work on correcting misspelled words, in the form of correction to the journal.

As far as I am concerned, I believe today was a success!  I think the computer glitches made for a longer morning for Shay, and sitting next to Chaz seemed to help.  Next week, I think the computer side of things should run more smoothly, as they learn to navigate the program.  I will be able to add more, in less time, once we start "flowing" better.  Once Charlie begins to read to himself, I believe it will be a huge help to all of us.  I got tons of emails, texts, and a few calls, wishing us good luck today, and I loved the virtual support of each and every one of you!  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  We are in the honeymoon period, and I hope that as we leave this stage, they appreciate that my motives are for them, and their success.  Shay has had the option to stay in school this year, and she made the decision to home school.  If she wants to go back to public school next year, and if Charlie is not ready due to academic needs, she will be welcome to.  At this point, she is happy at home.  That is not to say that she does not miss her teacher or friends.

I took tons of pictures to share with you guys the sights of the morning.  Enjoy!

This free service on our Roku is on the free Pandora channel.  This is streaming classical music for studying.  It was beautiful.  Let me not forget to mention.. the "Paparazzi" song by some quartet during lunch really took my by surprise.  For the most part, it was true, classical music that gently wafted through the home as we did our studies.  

Shay at work.

Chazman at work.  

More work.  Notice that our school has a uniform?  Our board of education is really open with interpretation of the dress code.  Any form of pajama is acceptable as the school uniform.  

This was inspirational.  It took about three minutes.  Wait for it.  Charlie got to pick his drawing for his folder, as well.  

Aristocats for Chazman!

Each child has their own folder, their own journal, plus there is one religion folder, and Charlie has a speech folder.  As soon as the school system speech therapist is able to, we will arrange speech therapy at the school.  

Lesson time!

Lunch time!  

Shay's journal entry was about the "Katie Kazoo" book series she loves.  That is what we read from, this morning.  

Here was what actually happened. 

This is the lesson for the day.  We achieved a great deal of what was on the schedule.  Not in order, or for the exact amount of times for each event.  

Blocking out his tight-whities, but this was his choice for free reading- Lego magazines.  

Shay just decided to glitter glue color in a coloring book.  

Time for running lines with Shay and a shower before we drop her off at rehearsal tonight.  Chaz and I are headed to the YMCA pool while she is in rehearsal.