Oct 19, 2013

Adventures has a talker!

"Mom, there is a lot of low prices." (I didn't correct the verb tense.  I was just excited he was talking with me.)  

"Yes, there are.  How do you know that?" 

"The hangy "fings."  

(He points)

Ahh.... so he CAN read!  And he can tell me about "fings."  And while he still has diphthong and blend issues, boy is this kid talking about twice as much as he has his whole life!  Unloading the groceries, he asked again to head to the park to ride bikes with me.  I told him that since he had invited another mom and her daughter, our time changed to accommodate their schedule, so now we will go closer to dinner.  Then he said, "I never have an OPPORTUNITY to go!"  

First, yes, we are busy, and often, busy with bike riding.  Second, HE SAID THAT MULTISYLABIC WORD PERFECTLY!  Holy macaroni!  I hugged him after he said that.  I would have hugged anyone near me- even the dog, but luckily, he was the recipient of that excitement.  You just have no idea.  Apraxia is more than just poor speech.  For us, it is a whole brain issue.  It affects his learning, his understanding, and most importantly, his expressive language. 

I don't think home educating is for everyone.  I certainly didn't believe is was for us.  Just over a month into this, not only has this eight year old stopped night-time incontinence, but after a month without speech therapy, speech has improved- markedly!  Obviously, we are ALL thriving!  

Oct 13, 2013

Adventures with Ahrens enjoys being His hands and feet.

The priest starts his homily on "time and talent."  This was a first time where I felt no obligation to commit to something, seeing as we were visiting this church.  No pressure.  In fact, I began thinking, I can probably tune this one out and finish making a mental lesson plan for the week of home school.  Actually, this priest captured me with a story, and then he would ramble on about time and talent opportunities, and then grab me back into the story that unfolded through out the course of the homily tonight.

Weirdest thing though... I paid attention enough to hear him say, "Don't come if you are so sure you can make a difference that you are full of yourself... If you are unsure and afraid you won't be able to serve, WE WANT YOU!  Serve humbly!  He doesn't call only those that are qualified.. he qualifies the called..."

A while ago, I got this urge to do something that I just knew I was unqualified to do.  In fact, I was so surprised that this thing kept gnawing away at me, morning and night, and people kept coming into my days that were involved in this activity, that I wondered, "What the heck?  Are you serious, Gd?"  (Does he joke with us?  I doubt it.)  First of all, you put professionals in my life to do this sort of job.  I'm not even properly educated to do it!  If I mess this job up, it will affect so many more lives than just my own.

Another thing stuck out from the homily.  "If a servant is unsure of themselves, they will surely rely on G-d, and when that happens, He takes over, and that person is working through the Holy Spirit."  Not a bad deal, huh?

Well, all that culminated for me today.  What the heck am I doing educating a child with special needs AND a gifted child?  I guess working through the Holy Spirit, a wing and a prayer... I was able to see my calling, and respond. I was not in the least bit dreamy about what homeschooling would mean for our family.   I just trusted that He would provide what I needed, and guess what?  He has, and in the greatest bounty that some days I feel like I am floating on a cup that has runneth over, and other days, I just feel watched out over as I figure out our next steps.

Serving is what our family does.  When we were in the public school system, our family spent long days helping with fundraising efforts, and early mornings, too.  When the children went to vacation bible school, I served- literally, I served snacks.  When we found a child safety program, we took the course, then offered to assist each session, even when we were out of our home due to mold, and in major renovations, we found a way to make it to serve children in this amazing program.  (Shout out to the radKids volunteers!)  Now, we are into plays, and while I was not able to serve last play in the way that our family throws ourselves into events, this play might spotlight our talents.  (However, I offered to help with sets, and truth is, I have not worked on sets since high school, therefore, this could get kinda' ugly before it's all done.)  I am not qualified, but He will qualify me, because I will seek His help.  

Oct 12, 2013

Adventures with Ahrens wants coffee, and it's almost 11: p.m.

I have learned, over the past ten years or so, that I can focus more clearly, accomplish more, and get it all done in much better time, if... there is coffee nearby.  I am not the only person to have come across this nugget of knowledge, however, because I have worked my son's autism recovery through the use of biomedical treatments, I learned a great deal of other uses for other ailments.  My ailment of course, being so "scattery."  *My hope is to have put that in quotes to emphasize that word as a fraud, but I like it.

Anyway, I did some research on caffeine, and learned that it works in a similar way that prescription meds work in order to assist a person diagnosed with ADHD.  Those prescriptions have a slew of side effects, and while I have never been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, or anything close to it, I have noticed that caffeine can make or break a cleaning task, working with children on school work, even writing!  There have been about four (4) blogs that I have authored that I loved.  I remember now that each of those writings are fantastic mostly because they are so well written.  The sentences lend themselves to one another, the structure is concise, the punctuation seems to punctuate properly, the descriptions create imagery that I could not paint, etc.  Yup- coffee was the key ingredient during those writings.  

Can you tell, I am thinking I need coffee, and it is after ten at night, and honestly, as I fumble through the stack of books next to me, and try to figure out how to make play rehearsals, gymnastics practices, fit in the use of some free theater tickets, etc., I am drowning!  I am not sure how a cup of coffee could really hurt me at this point, seeing as I can't sleep since I have this need to get through some lesson planning and curriculum discovery, and everyone is asleep.  Best time to get some work done- in quiet. But sometimes, I feel the need for some music or back ground noise so that I can focus again.  See, the dichotomy that is me ;o)

I sat in a parent meeting for my daughter's play, and as the director reviewed much of the same info I learned in the last play, I fiddled with my phone and checked in with Facebook, looked at and deleted junk emails, and then, just to keep me in the seat, checked out the education section of Pinterest.  And yet, I seemed to hear everything that the director said, or asked of us.

I am learning how my children learn.  We have been at this home school thing for just over a month.  I read that if a child can not learn how we teach, we need to teach how they learn.  As an adult, I know that there are certain ways that I learn best, but they are so involved and time consuming, and I wish I could just learn an easier way.  (I'm lazy, at best.)  Figuring out how to best motivate (candy) each child was easy.  How to get them excited about what I am motivating- that is tough.  Especially when it comes to challenging concepts, or things that simply don't interest them.  I have found that if I am not as excited about it, chances are, neither will they be.  So, while my son might not care about telling time, as he fidgets with the hands of the clock, he is using his tactile senses as he actually listens and retains what was being taught.  As my daughter needs to have repetition of the same concept in order to retain it, we will occasionally do the same concept thirty times before she is proficient in that area.  (Bless her heart with math concepts.)

I am so blessed to have this time to grow and learn with each of my children.  I can now truly appreciate why the good teachers love their jobs.  I love that I am surrounded by supportive family, friends, and even, the community.  The alternative education thoughts are just as wide as the choices.  If you think you can't- you can.  I don't think every child should be home educated, but I don't think every child will thrive in the public/private/charter school setting, either.  We happen to be that family.  We also happen to be a family that is willing to sacrifice in order to provide a better future for each of our children.  I dream of a day that each child is fully independent of my husband and me, happy, providing for themselves and/or their families, and recognizes what our Heavenly Father has provided for them.  That is the day I will know it was all worth it.  
Just some of the books that I have from the public school that I have accumulated.  I am not totally for or against the Common Core.  I think there are issues that need to be resolved with it, before I can fully support it, however, if it is understood that the school systems all pick their own curriculum, and it is what they chose to do with that that is more important than actually the standards that are set by the Common Core standards.  I am always checking to make sure that I am at least providing what is necessary in order to reach the next stepping stone in this process.  (Gotta' teach the sounds of the letter before you can teach to read, right?)  Same idea.  Hey, this incredible ABA therapist filled me in on the coolest little tidbit- kids don't need to know the names of letters. They only need to be able to recognize the sound they make, in order to learn to read.  That is one of those ideas that weeks later, my brain is still trying to apply that concept to other education "school's" of thought. 

UPDATE- I knew it.  She did learn to ride her bike today- ON.HER.OWN.  I went to a parent meeting, and suggested my husband take them to the park to ride bikes.  And yes, by the time I got there, less than an hour into it, she has taught herself.  There was one thing I knew, and it was that she was determined, and she had to figure it out on her own.  And she did! 

She weaves left and right.  If you see this angelic figure on a path near you- GO THE OTHER WAY- FAST.  She is a danger to you.  (PSA for you sake, not mine.  I'm her mom.  I have to stay near her.  Save yourselves!)

Oct 11, 2013

Adventures with Ahrens meets the chickens!

Pretty chicken

Eggs- duh, you totally knew that.  

My girl migit

Petting a chicken with some weird, floppy, red junk.  I think it was called a "waddle?"  I might have misheard that, but that was the weirdest thing.  The whole time I was thinking, "what does that do for them?"  I mean, everything is with us for a reason.  I hate to question G-d and his creation, but this was one of those times I just needed to know what the plan for that was.  

The fluffy footed chickens were my favorites.  

This was most of the homeschool group.  It was really fantastic to meet other homeschooler's in the area, and the differences between their personal styles of educating their families.  There was a mom that used a well known program, then a dad that uses a bunch of combined things, and a grandmother that teaches based on the individual strengths and needs of that child.  I am doing a combination of all of those, but I do it online, for the most part.  

Here we are being given a talk on how the family came to have 18 chickens, and how they care for them, a little about the chickens, as well as a time for question and answers.  I had way more questions than a 37 year old should have, but I managed to just ask the ones I thought might be most interesting to my migits.  I had looked up information on chickens and reviewed it with the children, yesterday.  I was impressed to learn that a chicken has one opening for both urine AND feces.  When it started talking about fertilizing the egg, it referred to it as "grinding together," I giggled, and I am pretty sure that is when I stopped reading and assumed that while I am overly comfortable talking about human sexuality, talking chicken grinding makes me want to gag a little.  

We started our day at 8: a.m., and then, it took about two and a half hours to eat breakfast, make a packed lunch, gather library books to return, and have a dance party, all before we left for our field trip.  Luckily, the field trip was only about 10 minutes from home, and we finished our dancing just in the knick of time ;o)  

Shay decided she wants to learn to ride a bike.  This child is soooo different than her brother.  In some aspects, she is way easier.  Then, there are these instances that remind me- nope- not the easiest.  See, she is way less confident with her gross motor skills than the older brother. The older brother doesn't feel pain like most people, so the threat of hurting himself was barely there when I taught him to ride a bike at five years old.  Here comes sister, and she is almost seven, and I have attempted to teach her to ride a bike three times now!  I gave up, and now, she WANTS to teach herself.  She will get it.  One day.  I do believe.  
PS  Public safety reminder.... If your child is riding something that has wheels on it- WEAR A HELMET! 

PS  Barbara and family- We could never properly thank you for opening your home to the Ahrens Academy, today.  We had a really wonderful time, and Shay has already told three people about how the sick chicken was found and covered by the rest of the chickens.  Funny what sticks with them, huh?  Your home is full of love and learning, and we look forward to seeing you guys again!  

We got home at 4: p.m. after the field trip, library, optometrist to have glasses fixed, Walmart, and to drop of something we borrow at a friend's house.  We ate dinner at 7: p.m., and it's now almost ten.  I am ready to crash, and do it all over again tomorrow!  I will mix in some school tomorrow- yes, a Saturday.  I wanted to get a little done today, but the day just sort of happened to be more interesting out than in, so we will manage to write the papers and hit some math facts before Shay has her acting class and then, the parent meeting for the new play she auditioned for this week.  She will be in "Madeline and the Gypsies," in the first week of December!  YEA FOR SHAY!  

Oct 10, 2013

Adventures with Ahrens is bored, and trying something out.

Migits are asleep, and Geoff is working out.  That leaves me with Facebook, and even that can only take me so far.  Mom went home tonight, and I have just the dog, and even he wanted to go to sleep early tonight.  So, I thought about this writing assignment I found on Pinterest today.  I am forever digging and searching for writing prompts and ways to spark Shay's imagination and help develop her budding writing skills.  This assignment, simply called, "The Box," came from a high school literature teacher's repertoire.  Apparently, this is a fav.  I am not so sure, so I took the basics and added a little extra to it, and here is what I came up with.  (If this goes well, I will set this assignment up for Shay, and Gd willing, Chaz will do this, one day.

1.  No questions asked.  Be creative with the directions.

2.  When told to add it- add it.  But again, it could be as vague as you want it to be.

First, you write about anything.  While writing, the teacher instructs the class to stop, and add a box to the story.  The box can be a TV, a cardboard box, a pizza box, any type of box that might fit into the next sentence.

After the box was added, you can then wait a few more minutes, and tell the students to stop and add a tree, a ball, a car, a fire, etc.  I have chosen to take a turn and add a die.  First, I wrote out some suggestions of things to add from a FB post tonight that made me laugh.  Then, I chose to write out six possible settings to use as a springboard for the beginning of the story.  I rolled my die, and landed on a public restroom.  So, here I go.... And after 3 sentences, I will then roll and whatever number I land on, I will add that to the fourth sentence.   Then, I will try to work another one or two in after another three or so sentences.

"Did you hear what the boss said about breaks?  I thought we weren't allowed to smoke on the property, and now, we can smoke in the break room?"

"Yeah, I heard that the surgeon general is considering relaxing those warnings, anyway.  I met him on Match.com, and he was really so nice.  I just wished he hadn't smoked SO much.  Seemed excessive, but might be that I don't smoke.  Or that I'm allergic to smoking.  The smoking wouldn't have seemed SO bad, if he hadn't been doing it in his Speedo bathing suit.  First, it was the middle of February, and Speedo's are not recommended for blind dates at the aquarium.  He swore that sometimes they let people swim with the fish, but I had to explain that was only for the employees to clean the tanks.  What a nut job.  After I said that, he exclaimed, "Touche'!" but I thought he yelled, "Tushy!" and it made my brain wrinkle.  Why do I always get stuck with the crazies?  He then told me about this one time, on a cruise ship when he saw a mermaid swimming in the pool on deck 4.  He told me how she was skinny dipping.  I figured there wasn't much else for her to do.  That's kinda' the whole allure to them, right?

(I haven't rolled the "chest compressions, however, I can see how it would fit right in at this point.)
I really enjoyed the writing.  I hope the migits do too!  (The prompts will be a little more first and second grade appropriate- promise.)

Oct 4, 2013

Adventures with Ahrens is ready for Christmas.

Friday Family Fun Night, first Friday of October= decorate the house for Christmas!  We had a really great day of catch up on odds and ends in home school, then, a great two hour play date at a local park with a new friend we met at the play, and then, the fun kicked up a notch and we decorated whilst Christmas classics crooned in the backdrop.  (Whilst is a fancy word that I try to throw in when possible.) 
Made s'mores in the microwave for dessert.  On to decorating!   


Poor Brody...I think he is just as confused as the rest of us. 


Putting the new additions from the summer to use.... 

Made these tonight... I pieced the project together.  I can't show you the picture I chose for Charlie's craft.  You will need to come in person to see it.  All I can say is, that child will never be allowed to take pictures without my permission.  

It's dreidel time!

The festivus holiday table

I think tomorrow we will work on the upstairs decorating ;o)  

Oct 3, 2013

Adventures with Ahrens First W/end of October- You know what that means!

About four years ago, we began our trifecta- "Friday Family Fun Night, Super Saturday, and Sunday Funday."  Friday nights are a pizza or the like type of meal with either a game night, a movie, or if we are extra lucky, a local play.  We have done scavenger hunts, glow in the dark themed nights, etc.  Super Saturday starts out with the migits making a dollar package of muffins.  We used to be regular mass goers to the Saturday Vigil, and that was our major event on Saturdays, but over the past year, we have become "make-it-to-any-Mass-that-fits-the-schedule" type people.  (I know, I know.  That is a terrible attitude to take.  Where am I, and why am I in this hand basket???)  Some Saturdays we are at the YMCA pool, playing outside, at a party, etc.  Sunday Funday is a mellow morning of Mass, the occasional stop at my folks, if they are not at the cabin, and ends in the traditional steak dinner.  To have a meal that I don't have to get creative with is actually the fun part of the day for this mommy.
*When Geoff and I got married, we spent a few years without children.  We never had much money, but we liked the idea of having a date.  So, each Friday night, we would make a steak dinner and eat together on the couch.  Steak, salad, rolls, and while the steak was on the grill, we would munch on garlic Triscuits with port wine cheese as our appetizer.  We carried the steak idea over to our trifecta of family time.

However, as most of you know, I was deprived of Christmas for about 25 years.  I was raised Jewish.  I would like to say that I found Jesus, but we all know that He found me, and I began the conversion process, prior to meeting my husband.  (No he is not Catholic, but he is honoring my choice to raise them Catholic, and when they are able to, they will decide how they feel called.)  Therefore, every year, since living in this house, we have decorated for Christmas, the first weekend in October.  I don't decorate for any other holiday in the year.  ONLY Christmas.  And really, not outside much.  Last year, we bought a strand of lights to go over the garage doors.  Might stick a sign out front this year.  Nothing crazy.

So, tonight, we began staging.  We put the tree together, and made sure all the lights are working, and I fluffed the tree.  We will decorate the tree and stream our Christmas music all day tomorrow as we get through our work and then, begin our Friday Family Fun Night.  I was so surprised to see that our elf already found a hiding place to sneak in for a one day appearance.  Santa was so nice to let him out for the day!
Missing something there.  

That's not it!

These trees are out year round.  And I can get them to all light, perfectly.  Just sayin'. 

Nope.  Not quite.  

This is actually out, year round.  

Spot-it type book.  Notice the Jack-in-the-box?  Freaky.  

I enlarged it... one of the items is a toilet seat.  Nasty.  

Our entire tree is only decorated with ornaments that we make from pictures from the previous year(s).  Each year, I like to add about 8-10 new ones, that way we cover most months, and changes in the migits.  This year, we will have gymnastics, the play, camps, plays we went to, maybe a cabin visit, the new downstairs, etc.  I thought the search and find type book we got at the library would be perfect for in between work while we are home schooling in the morning.  

Silly lil' elf!
Looks like he left a note!  Cool- he knows cursive!  Wow.  His old writing must have taken so long!  (Just a guess.  So glad the elves were not educated with the new common core standards.)  Looks like his proper cursive is something "he" needs to work on, too ;o)  

Oct 2, 2013

Ahrens Academy Shares the Afternoon

Here's the idea.  A tabletop biosphere.  

This is a basic tutorial, however, I have spent days researching.  This one seems more challenging than the three part one, and I think I will do a hybrid.  I might make it a two part similar experiment.  

Here is some of what we collected today at the grandparents' lake.  

These were snails that Geoff and I spent about half an hour collecting to later be informed that aquatic snails and garden snails are two different things.  Crud.  Mother-in-law knows best!  Grrr.  Now, realizing that I will be doing a hybrid, I sorta' wish I took a few home.  I was truly hoping to get the kids hands on some bugs and such today.  Neither was so into it, and I even gave a glove out for the water portion.  

Hubster spied this.  He thought it might be a snack.  Upon further investigation I learned that it was a fishing lure in the boat by the dock.  Funny.

It's October, but only one person was overly dressed.  It was low 80's in N. GA today.  

We might not have gotten all that we needed, but it was a good start and we got out for a few hours, together.  

Took the kids to a free (with membership) class to play some games and get some exercise with some children their age.  Here's Shay making a run for it.  

There goes Chazman!  I love that a few days a week they offer children's class so that they can enjoy their time in the childcare center while I work out.  Admittedly, I have been away a full month while we began home school and play rehearsals and gymnastics monopolized our time.  Back into the swing of things! I love our local YMCA!  

There is a home school P.E. that is offered, at a nominal fee, but it's not an option for us at this time.  Plus, both children are very active, and I make opportunities for them to get plenty of socialization.  

We spent a ton of time reading library books on freshwater ecosystems recently.  I have grown to love the library now more than ever!  Also, while I have moved to creating lessons based on our interests in science, I have found the Brainpop Jr. website to be invaluable for both science and social studies units.  I might find something there to learn and quiz on, then, delve deeper into the study, on our own.  We read at least one Magic Treehouse book per day, and because they are from the library, we are not going in order.  The library by our house doesn't carry it, so we have to drive about 5 miles in another direction to get them.  No big deal.  

I have set up a field trip for next Monday.  (It's my birthday! SHHHH.  Let's keep it a surprise.  Unless you have a gift for me.  In that case, you can tell.)  Told the kids I found a lunch date.  Chik-fil-a does backstage tours of their cook area. The manager suggested if I come, the mornings are best because the biscuit making part of the tour is a "can't miss."  I'm sure we will be excited.  Just to skip a lesson in the morning will be exciting.  I will have Shay write a report on it in her journal, and Chaz will be asked a bunch of questions after the ten to fifteen minute walk through.  Just looking for an out ;o)  Low cost field trips are hard to come by.  Got any ideas?  

Today was an all day event, and I am tired.  Hope to report on the process a tad more for our biosphere, as we progress.  I need another two liter bottle, and to run to the store for the snails and ghost shrimp.  I might even pick up a bundle of the water plant.  Bummed that I could not get that plant at the lake.