Apr 30, 2010

Download and Go, Expedition Australia--TOS Review

I was thrilled when The Old Schoolhouse sent me Expedition Australia to review. Ever since I became friends with a family from Australia and almost moved to Australia when I was a little girl, I have always loved and been fascinated by Australia. So having the opportunity to share this love with Princess Belle was very exciting to me. And it didn't disappoint, what a great study!

This unit study is set up in a five day format, making it simple and easy to use.

Day 1: Where on Earth is Australia?
Day 2: Some of the Special Places in Australia
Day 3: A Bit of Australian History
Day 4: Cool Things to Know About Australia
Day 5: Fun and Games in Australia

Due to her Austism, Princess Belle has a very short attention span and this unit was greatly suited to her personality. She loved every part of it. She greeted me each morning, eager to get started as soon as we could. She loved learning about the animals and the differences in way we use certain words. She thoroughly enjoyed the excellent activities and resources including: mapping activities, geographic features, unique animals, weather studies, activity sheets, video links, web page links, and more. By the time we were finished our week full of Australian Adventure, Princess Belle asked if we could go to Australia and she has an order in to celebrate Australia Day next year.

Product Description:

Title: Expedition Austrailia
Series: Download N Go Series (There are currently 10 books in this series)
E-book: 103 pages
Grades: K-4th
Price: $7.95


The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC
PO Box 8426
Gray, TN 37615
Phone: 1-888-718-HOME


Here are some pics from our Australian Adventure:

Apr 29, 2010

Homeschool Stuff

This week has been going well with homeschooling. We are really enjoying it. I have been putting off starting homeschool each day until after Princess Magpie goes down for her nap. And I do have to say, I really don't like starting homeschool that late in the day. I am hoping to get our replacement table (ours broke) sometime soon and once we do, I will be able to keep the papers and things up out of Princess Magpie's reach while we school and then we will start earlier in the day. When she happens to be up while we homeschool, she is cute. She tries to copy us. She tries to do the work too. I can certainly see why homeschooling moms of preschoolers tend to start them early. I can see doing that will Princess Magpie if she is so inclined, but for right now, she gets in on top of everything, she wants to grab everything so she can do it too. And she is more than a little distracting for my Autistic Princess Belle. We will work out the schedule I know, and in the meantime, we are still enjoying it.

Apr 28, 2010

Forever Grateful

I had a moment today. One of those mommy moments that make you stop in gratitude and take your breath away. I was holding Princess Snifflefritz as she slept quietly after having her four month needles today. And little bundle of sweetness that she is, she started to laugh in her sleep. I watched her little lips curled up in a smile and I could feel her laughter jiggling her little belly against mine. I remembered those last few days in hospital before her birth. I remember how scared we all were because she was getting so lathargic and still. I remember talking to her and holding my belly and whispering to her softly, begging her, "Hold on little one. Just hold on a little longer." And I looked down at her today in my arms, I thought of how gentle and happy she is and she brings such joy and light to our lives. I looked at her smiling, sleeping, holding tightly to my shirt and all I could think was, "Thank you, little one. Thank you for holding on until Mommy could hold on to you." I am forever grateful that I get to love and hold my girls.

Apr 27, 2010

Such Fun!

We are having so much fun with our Australia unit this week! I can't wait to provide you with a full update on Friday!

Asperger Changes from APA

I have been doing some reading and it appears that if experts have their way, Asperger’s syndrome and another mild form of autism, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (P.D.D.-N.O.S. for short), will be folded into a single broad diagnosis, autism spectrum disorder — a category that encompasses autism’s entire range, or spectrum, from high-functioning to profoundly disabling.

I know a lot of people are upset with this but they seem to be doing the logical thing to me - autism was a spectrum anyway, with AS included on it, and that AS and HFA were basically the same thing. When Princess Belle was diagnosed, I was told that both labels were interchangeable.

I do see that there are pros and cons. This is how I see it from the research I have done:


* More services could be available for all levels of ability. Most services require a diagnosis of classic Autism, leaving out the mildly affected individuals.
* All related health problems can be recognized and treated. People with Autism Spectrum Disorder often suffer with anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, seizures, and sensory integration dysfunction, along with Autism.


* Some people feel that milder cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder, those normally diagnosed as PDD-NOS or Asperger’s Syndrome, are more likely to be missed.
* Some people believe that the less affected individuals will not want the stigma of Autism placed on them. Asperger’s Syndrome carries a more neutral connotation than Autism. #Autism

Apr 25, 2010

Four Months old

My baby is four months old! Can you believe it? I took some pics and her 21 month old big sister wanted in on the action, and what's a mommy to do when cuteness calls? I took some pics!

Apr 24, 2010

Planning ahead

I have been having fun today doing research for a future unit study. This unit study will be on Medieval life and Castles with some Dragon activities sprinkled throughout for a little whimsy. This is going to be so much fun. Next week we will be doing a week on Australia but the week after that, I think I am going to go ahead with the medieval stuff I have found. There are so many creative and interesting things that I may decide to do it for longer than my usual one week. Princess Belle loves all things Princess and I think that this will be right up her alley.

Apr 23, 2010

Fun Days

Such fun. Today, Princess Belle learned one of the great benefits of living in rural Newfoundland. We went to get our new van inspected (she needs an alignment) and there were two farms next to the garage (which was working on a tractor LOL). She got to see, touch and ride a horse! And she got to see and touch a cow at the dairy farm across the road. She was totally excited and had a blast, all while I got some necessary errands done. I promised her that we would go back. I have to admit, I promised partly so I could come back when my camera has batteries so I can get some pics to post.

I was driving down the road, listening to her overflow with enthusiasm about her adventure and any doubts that I had done the right thing by moving here, evaporated. I know we belong here.

On a sidenote, I also met a fellow homeschooler for coffee yesterday! It was really nice to sit and chat about curriculums, challenges and adventures on our homeschooling journey. We promised to meet up again next time I am in town. I really look forward to it.

TOS Review… Wanna Be Series, Firefighter

I was recently really excited to have the opportunity to review some homeschooling curriculum for a homeschooling magazine called The Old Schoolhouse. As you know, I love to try new things and to bring new and interesting things to my homeschooling with Princess Belle. The curriculum I reviewed was one of their E-Books called Wanna Be Series – Firefighter. This Unit seems to be geared towards elementary or middle school age children.

This is a very informative book that is packed with information. Because Princess Belle is Autistic and has a very short attention span, I broke it down into smaller portions by reading smaller amounts and then moving on to the activities such as the science unit, handwriting practice, puzzles and math problems. Princess Belle loved learning about the firefighters, and really enjoyed the science and the games. I have to say, the E-book is really is wonderful and incredibly comprehensive.

We had a lot of fun with this unit. (I would include pics but my camera needs batteries! Ooops! I will include pictures of our adventures with new products for future reviews, I promise). I have to say, if you have kids would enjoy learning about Firefighters definitely head over and check out the the E-book which is available here.

For only $8.95 it’s a steal and packed with fun information and activities. Other units in the series including Doctor, Chef and many more can be purchased individually for $8.95 per unit, or the entire set as a 10-pack for $89.50. I think it is well suited for almost any school age child and fun for the whole family.

Apr 22, 2010

Back to normal

I am so glad to have a vehicle. I am so glad that I can call Grandma Great and tell her I am going into town and can I get her anything. I am glad that I take all my kids with me when I go to town and that I don't have to depend on anyone else to take care of them while I am gone.

We have been running around steadily the last two days, and I have had a lot of fun but I am glad that tomorrow we get to get back to our routine. I am glad to be quietly at home in our little cabin in the woods.

Apr 20, 2010

We have it!

In our driveway is our lovely new mini-van. It has two built in car seats which is perfect for when Princess Snifflefritz is out of the rear-facing carseat.

I also have a working fridge! Sitting in my kitchen is a fridge that is cold every single time I open it! Isn't that a wonderful thing.

I also have a new pair keds. I finally spent for me and I have shoes that have no holes.

And it is all paid for with cash. No owing money later.

I am tired, but it was a lovely day.

Apr 19, 2010

And where's that Award again?

There are days when it all goes wrong. When you get out of bed to the sound of three children crying at you. This one wants the treat she ate yesterday and won't understand that you can't produce another. That one woke up on the wrong side of the crib, has no desire to be reasonable, leaving you to wonder if 1/2 hour after waking up is too soon for a nap. And the littlest one is just cranky and crying and you don't know how to fix it. As you stand there, still in your nightdress, coffee in hand, hair not even combed yet, in the midst of the chaos, surrounded by children crying inconsolably, who seem to be convinced that you are setting out to ruin their day on purpose, with no idea how to turn this day around, and you begin to wonder when the mother of year award committee will be showing up at your door.

It is a day when you feel like you can do nothing right and as the day progresses it goes from bad to worse. The oldest has decided that she is starving right to death, but she now hates every item of food in your pantry and that is all your fault. The Middle one refuses to nap and has taken to throwing herself on the floor and displaying the loveliest version of a temper tantrum that would give any two year old a run for their money, and the baby is out of sorts, spitting out her food, refusing to be out of your arms. And you stand there, in your formula stained shirt, with a crying baby in your arms and a hysterical toddler hugging your leg, listening to your oldest stomp her way up the stairs to her room and you turn your red-rimmed eyes to check the driveway to see if that was the mailman bringing that mother of the year award.

Near the end of the day, your oldest brings you the "I'm Sorry and I love you" card she had worked so hard to create, the middle one runs by for an enthusiastic drive-by hugging that nearly knocks you off your feet, and your baby smiles sweetly into your eyes. And as the day comes to an end, you tuck exhausted children into their beds, hug them all softly, kiss their little foreheads, tell them you love them, and stand there and listen to them softly breathing in their sleep. You sit in the living room, listen to the quiet of the house, watch the music video "You Can Let Go Now" and sob uncontrollably, because in your exhausted, mommy worn state, you are completely aware that you will probably never be ready to let either one of these precious babies go. And you would rather have a lifetime of these "mother of the year" days, than one perfect day without either one of them.

A very good thing

I am so excited! We are getting our mini-van tomorrow! We will officially be a mobile family! No more relying on other people to give us rides. No more adding $50 to our grocery budget to account for transportation. We get to go places with all our kids. We can all fit into one vehicle and go places and get groceries. It is a very good thing!!

Apr 17, 2010

Saturday Photohunt: Covered


The theme this week is Covered. I picked these two pics of my adorable Princess Magpe with her head covered in the top part of a bumblebee costume. Isn't she adorable??

Apr 16, 2010

Friday Five

  1. I am excited that I just received a couple of products to review for homeschooling. I love to try new things with our homeschooling journey and it is fun to try them in Princess Belle.
  2. I am having fun watching The Biggest Loser this year. I love the camaraderie that the contestants seem to have with each other. I love that we have sometimes seen a softer side of Jillian. We see that she really does care. I am a big fan of a lot of the contestants.
  3. In a few days, we may be the proud owners of a new used Ford Windstar! We will have a working mini-van that we will be able to fit all our kids in as well as guests and groceries. I am so excited.
  4. We will also be buying a new used washer and dryer. Which is good because with the ones I have broken, my laundry room is fast becoming a room stuffed with laundry.
  5. We have decided that we are not going to move anymore. We are going to do what it takes to make it work here. When we worry about socialization, we will take it into our hands to get our daughter some socialization. (including signing her up for Tae Kwan Doe [spelling?] starting next week).

Apr 15, 2010

Thursday Thirteen #90

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen things that are on my shopping list to get at some point in the near future:
  1. a washer that actually works without creating a swimming pool in my laundry room
  2. a dryer that actually turns on
  3. a fridge that actually keeps things cold
  4. a vehicle to get me to the nearest shopping mall (45 minutes away)
  5. gas and insurance for that lovely car I want to get!
  6. next years curriculum (from Abeka)
  7. a dvd player that doesn't make weird noises and smoke when you use it (before you send the fire department, we have actually stopped using that dvd player)
  8. an ink cartridge for my printer that actually works
  9. a big pack of paper to print on with that ink
  10. shoes for me that have no holes (I never buy for me, my kids have three dressers of clothes each and footwear spilling out of the coat closet, I don't have shoes. Go figure!)
  11. a camera that isn't held together by a rubber band
  12. a sandbox for my kids to play in now that I have this lovely big back yard
  13. a wading pool for that same back yard (as opposed to putting in someone else's backyard LOL)!

Apr 14, 2010


Prince Charming is back home! He got back last night. We are all thrilled to have him home. The kids have been spending all their time cuddling him. And the kids even conspired to sleep more than they have since he left, giving me a better night's sleep (including the two youngest who weren't even aware that Daddy was home).

So we are taking a holiday today celebrating Daddy's return from St. John's. It is nice to have a Daddy day. We will probably make it up on Saturday.

That is all I can really say today. I hurt my hand yesterday and it really hurts to type, hold my baby, or do most anything with it at the moment. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better and we can carry on as regularly scheduled.

Apr 13, 2010

Rambling Parents Post

I don't know if I have mentioned in the past, but I am slightly estranged from my family. I mean, I love them dearly but for complicated reasons involving religion and making personal choices, we just don't see each other that much. Okay that may be a slight understatement. I have not seen my parents in over 4 years. And there are members of my extended family that I haven't spoken to in over 6 years. My parents do call me occasionally and we talk about the kids and who in my extended family is sick or doing poorly in some way. Then they make me feel guilty about my religious choices, feel their job has been done, and we hang up. It is uncomfortable and unpleasant but at least it is civil.

Yesterday, I was on facebook and I came across my brother's page. I was looking at his pics and I didn't even recognize my sister! I thought my mother was my grandmother. I caught my mistake within a couple of minutes but it struck me how sad it is that I didn't even know them. I used to talk to them several times a day. I wouldn't make any major decisions without calling my father to get his opinion. But I grew up. I made my own choices and even now 10 years after those choices were made, they aren't over it. I get that. I am not even angry about it. I love them dearly and don't want them to be sad. But I have no desire to call them for uncomfortable conversations which end in my mother making me feel guilty in some way or the other. And I have no desire to go there for a visit for an extended version of the "how can we make her change her life" game. And they obviously feel the same, since they haven't been to visit in over 4 years.

Anyway, since I kind of lost my family, when I married Prince Charming, his family became mine. They are a funny bunch and some of them live their lives like they are in Soap-Opera-land, but my Mother-in-law is one of my favorite people in the world. She loves me like I am her own daughter. I can trust her to love me and not judge me. I can tell her anything. We have discussed everything from our sex lives to our children and our philosophy on life.

I am not sad about my life. I love it. I feel bad for my parents. They are missing out on some pretty wonderful granddaughters. I am happy with my life. I didn't make these decisions to spite anyone and my life is nobody's "fault". I am a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother of three beautiful daughters. I don't practice any religion, life is to short to do so out of guilt. But I am okay with that too. And there is nothing wrong with my choices. I don't have to live my life their way. And if I am not good enough for anyone in my family then that is their loss.

Our Wall

Since we have worked our way through the books we had for science, health and social studies. I have been making our days themed days. We do math in the book and then we spend the rest of the day on a theme. Our themes last for a week. For example, the week before last our theme was Easter and last week our theme was Spring. So for the whole week, our Reading was based on stories about Spring. Our Science was based on Spring. Even our Art was Spring related. This week, our theme is Bugs. Every day we learn about a different bug. Yesterday was Ants. So for reading we read, "The Ant and the Grasshopper". We discussed Fables and what they were. We discussed the lesson in the story and then for writing she attempted to write a fable herself. For Science, I had this great presentation I found from a University website on insects that she really enjoyed and even talked about today. The whole day was Ant themed. Even Art was the letter A turned into an anthill with ants crawling up it. And for music she learned "The Ants go Marching Home". It was a great day.

Because of the theme days, I set aside a wall for all our art projects for the theme each week. This week, I left up the Spring things from last week because they seemed to go with the bug theme from this week. Every day after art, we go to the wall and she tells me where she wants to place the new artwork from that day.

Incidentally, we were discussing family and what each family member contributes our family. In the past, she always said that I contributed things like food and keeping the house clean and love. Prince Charming was always called fun and funny. Today, during our conversation about the things that family contributes, she said that I made homeschool fun. I was so glad to hear her express for herself that she found this fun and that she was enjoying it.

Apr 12, 2010

Great Book

I recently received a great, new book, entitled Never Tell Our Business to Strangers by Jennifer Mascia. The book is written by an amazing woman whose story is soon to be featured in Newsday, the NY Post, and People Magazine among others. It is definitely not your typical book of memoirs.

Today, Jennifer Mascia is a strong, independent young professional at the NY Times Metro Desk, but she had a very unusual childhood: She can remember a time when the FBI came to arrest her father right before Christmas. Jennifer asked her mother’s boss if this was real and her mother’s boss responded that this was not real and they were filming a movie. And though she was always told everything was fine, she constantly moved around the country with her parents, slept in strange places, met colorful people, and even changed names.

She only discovered as a young adult—through her own journalistic investigation—that the reason for their nomadic lifestyle was that her otherwise loving father was wanted by the FBI, used to be a business associate with Joey Gallo, a big time mobster before the Gotti family, was a Mafioso and a murderer, and they were in fact, “on the lam.”

I found lots of striking themes here, including:

* Loving and even forgiving parents (family) when they’re obviously flawed, (Jennifer’s father was dying of cancer when she found out his secret)
* Finding “Self” when you’re entire identity depends on flawed family (Jennifer’s parents were her whole world)
* And of course, overcoming life obstacles. (http://www.jennifermascia.com/)

This is a wonderful book and a fascinating read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it very well-written.


I have to say, I am exhausted. Princess Belle slept through the night just before she was 3 months old. Princess Magpie slept through the night almost from the day she was born. Now that she is two she has started to wake up once a night for a 5 minute snack. And Princess Snifflefritz at 15 weeks is showing no signs of sleeping through the night. And now that Prince Charming has been gone for a while, I am feeling the results. I too tired to come up with anything to tell you about. So, I will just share some pics of my girls. The last couple of days, they have been very cute. I especially enjoying how much they enjoy each other, how cute Princess Magpie is and the funny positions that Princess Belle relaxes in.